Jump to content

Media Lens

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Media Lens
Media Lens Home Page
Screenshot from Media Lens (22 March 2013)
Type of site
Media analysis
Available inEnglish
EditorDavid Cromwell and David Edwards
Launched2001; 23 years ago (2001)[1]

Media Lens is a British media analysis website established in 2001 by David Cromwell and David Edwards.[1] Cromwell and Edwards are the site's editors and only regular contributors.[2][3] Their aim is to scrutinise and question the mainstream media's coverage of significant events and issues and to draw attention to what they consider "the systemic failure of the corporate media to report the world honestly and accurately".[4][5]

Media Lens is financed by donations from website visitors.[5] The editors issue regular "Media Alerts" concentrating on mainstream media outlets such as the BBC and Channel 4 News which are legally obliged to be impartial or on outlets such as The Guardian[6] and The Independent which are usually considered left-leaning.[7] The site's editors frequently draw attention to what they see as the limits within which the mainstream media operates,[8] and provide "a riveting exposé of the myth of liberal media based on a variety of empirical case studies", according to Graham Murdock and Michael Pickering.[9]

Media Lens is admired by John Pilger, who has called the website "remarkable" and described the writers as "the cyber guardians of honest journalism".[10] Other journalists, in particular Peter Oborne,[11] have also made positive comments about the group, although it has come into conflict with other journalists. The Observer's foreign editor Peter Beaumont asserted that the group ran a "campaign" against John Sloboda and the Iraq Body Count for underestimating the number of deaths in Iraq.[12] George Monbiot wrote that Media Lens was "belittling the acts of genocide" in their defence of Edward S. Herman, who had questioned the number of deaths in the Srebrenica massacre.[13]

Foundation and influences

David Edwards and David Cromwell of Media Lens receive the Gandhi Foundation Peace Award, 2 December 2007

By the late 1990s, David Edwards had concluded that there was a "media suppression of the truth about the effect of the sanctions" against Iraq, and an indifference to climate change: "the media were still celebrating the idea that Britain might soon be blessed with a Mediterranean climate". Another motivation came from interviewing Denis Halliday, former head of the UN’s humanitarian aid program, after concluding its actions in Iraq were "genocidal".[14]

Meanwhile, David Cromwell had found coverage of certain issues to be "paltry",[15] and had gained a negligible response from the newspapers to which he had written.[16] The two men first met in 1999, and Edwards suggested beginning a collaborative website.[17]

Central to Media Lens analysis is the Propaganda model, first developed by Edward Herman and Noam Chomsky, in their book Manufacturing Consent (1988).[18][19] The theory posits that the way in which news media is structured (through advertising, media ownership, government sourcing and others) creates an inherent conflict of interest which leads to systemic bias and propaganda for undemocratic forces.[18][19] Edwards has also cited Erich Fromm, who thought "a society that subordinates people and planet to profit is inherently insane and toxic",[14] and his practice of Buddhism as influences.[20]

Media Lens has expressed admiration for Australian born journalist John Pilger on several occasions. Around 2006, Media Lens said The Guardian would not publish Pilger "because he’s honest about the media" and "draws attention to the vital role of the entire liberal media establishment in crimes against humanity. So he is persona non grata".[21] In a 2007 interview, Media Lens said Pilger was a "huge inspiration" and, while discussing his work in the mainstream media, stated that "on the one hand, his work has a tremendous effect in enlightening a lot of people. On the other hand, his work is used to strengthen the propaganda system‘s false claims of honesty and openness".[22][17]

Writing in Z Communications in May 2014, Elliot Murphy said that Media Lens pay careful attention to the writings of George Orwell, "noting the prevalence of clichés which should arouse suspicion in any reader of the press or listener of parliamentary debates. These include 'at a time when', 'demands difficult choices', 'pivotal moment', 'towards', 'inextricably linked', 'courage', 'human being', 'some people say that', 'left of centre', and 'history tells us'. Cromwell and Edwards observe that 'it is not important to make sense in the media; it is important only to be able to bandy the jargon of media discourse in a way that suggests in-depth knowledge: Iran-Contra, IMF, G8, the "roadmap to peace", "UN resolution 1441", and so on' ".[8]

Activities and main arguments


In 2001, Media Lens began issuing regular online Media Alerts, scrutinising media coverage, the arguments used, source selection, and the framing of events to highlight bias, omissions and direct lies.[23][24] The media alerts are distributed without charge by email to an international readership. According to Media Lens, the readership was around 14,000 people in 2009. Funding is through reader subscriptions and donations.[23][5]

The editors engage in email and Twitter exchanges with British journalists and editors.[5][8] They also invite their readers to challenge journalists, editors and programme producers directly via email, specifically discouraging abusive contact.[18][25][26][27]

According to Cromwell and Edwards, journalists in the mainstream media articulate an "'official' version of events ... as Truth. The testimony of critical observers and participants" and "especially those on the receiving end of Western firepower – are routinely marginalised, ignored and even ridiculed".[17] The editors "reject all conspiracy theories. Instead, we point to the inevitably corrupting effects of 'market forces' operating on, and through, media corporations seeking profit in a society dominated by corporate power ... Media employees are part of a corporate system that, unsurprisingly, selects for servility to the needs and goals of corporate power". They believe that mainstream journalists gradually absorb an unquestioning corporate mindset as their careers progress, becoming unwilling to question their occupations or governments claims, but not consciously lying. They also say that the limitations of the corporate media are not unexpected as "[w]e did not expect the Soviet Communist Party's newspaper Pravda to tell the truth about the Communist Party, why should we expect the corporate press to tell the truth about corporate power?"[28]

In Cromwell and Edwards' opinion, western government actions have followed an "historical pattern of deception" going back several centuries,[29] and "the corporate media is the source of some of the greatest, most lethal illusions of our age".[29] Edwards wrote that, because of these corporate distortions, "we believe, society is not told the truth about the appalling consequences of corporate greed for poor people in the Third World, and for the environment".[30]

According to Cromwell and Edwards, the centre-left wing of the mainstream media are gatekeepers "of acceptable debate from a left or Green perspective, 'thus far and no further'"[31] and that dissenting views have difficulty gaining attention in a corporate system.[5][7] They have contrasted positive comments the mainstream media make about western leaders, with the epithets used to describe politicians such as Hugo Chávez, Venezuela's former President.[32]

In 2013, Media Lens described the corporate media as "an extremist fringe" from which progressives should completely dissociate themselves.[33]

In May 2011,[14] and more extensively in January 2015, Media Lens advocated "a collective of high-profile writers and journalists willing to detach themselves from corporate and state media, and to place themselves entirely at the mercy of the public" with their output freely available "from a single media outlet" and financed by donations.[34] "The support would be vast, if the initiative was posited as an alternative to the biocidal, corruption-drenched corporate media", they said in an interview with The Colossus website in January 2016.[35]

Cromwell wrote in 2016 that, to find coverage of the Yemeni Civil War, "[n]ot unusually, one has to go to media such as" the Russian television network RT and the Iranian news network Press TV, which are "so often bitterly denigrated as 'propaganda' operations by corporate journalists".[36]



In December 2002, eighteen months after the site's creation, Australian journalist John Pilger described Media Lens as "becoming indispensable".[24] In a New Internationalist interview in 2010, Pilger said Media Lens "has broken new ground with the first informed and literate analysis and criticism of the liberal media".[37] Regarding their work on the invasion and occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan, he wrote that "Without [Media Lens'] meticulous and humane analysis, the full gravity of the debacles of Iraq and Afghanistan might have been consigned to bad journalism's first draft of bad history".[10] In a 2007 article about them, John Pilger mentioned their first collaborative book, Guardians of Power (2006), and wrote that "not a single national newspaper reviewed the most important book about journalism I can remember",[10] including the left-wing Morning Star. The Morning Star did review their second book, Newspeak In The 21st Century, in 2009.[38]

Peter Barron, former editor of the BBC's Newsnight commented in 2005: "In fact I rather like them. David Cromwell and David Edwards, who run the site, are unfailingly polite, their points are well-argued and sometimes they're plain right."[39]

In June 2006, Peter Beaumont wrote in The Observer that Media Lens "insist that the only acceptable version of the truth is theirs alone and that everybody else should march to the same step", and described them as "controlling Politburo lefties". He likened the group's email campaigns to "a train spotters' club run by Uncle Joe Stalin".[12] Media Lens responded that "Beaumont was unwilling to challenge even one of the thousands of arguments and facts published in 2,000 pages of Media Alerts and in our book Guardians Of Power – so, instead, our 'nastiness' was the focus of attention".[40]

The journalist Peter Wilby, wrote in January 2006 that "their basic critique is correct" and he occasionally commissioned Cromwell and Edwards while he was editor of the New Statesman. He also wrote that "the Davids are virtually unknown; as leftist critics, they are marginalised."[6] Writing in The Guardian in July 2008, Wilby described Media Lens as "formidably researched. It avoids easy targets, such as the Mail and Sun, and criticises the Guardian, Independent, Times and Telegraph, arguing the "liberal media" isn't as liberal as it thinks it is. Edwards and Cromwell might be described as early examples of citizen journalists".[41]

In his 2007 book The Triumph of the Political Class, journalist Peter Oborne wrote that while researching media coverage of the Iraq war, he had found the site "extremely useful". Media Lens are "often unfair but sometimes highly perceptive".[11]

On 2 December 2007, Edwards and Cromwell were awarded the Gandhi International Peace Award.[42] The award was presented by Denis Halliday, the former United Nations Humanitarian Co-ordinator in Iraq, and himself a recipient of the award in 2003.[43]

Oliver Boyd-Barrett, an academic specialising in Communications Studies, said in 2010 that Media Lens possess a "relentless commitment" to assessing the media "on criteria of rationality and humanity, for what they write and fail to write, and doing so in a tone that is determinedly polite and respectful, even when the content is highly critical".[5]

In February 2011, John Rentoul wrote about his interactions with what he called Media Lens "adherents". He said an email exchange,

"may continue until journalist is too busy to reply or until the snarl of Chomskian-Pilgerism is unwittingly betrayed and journalist realises he or she has not been engaging with a reasonable person. At this point, Media Lens adherent then posts the email chain on the sect's website, without notice or permission [beginning a thread]. This is supposed to embarrass the apologist for the corporate media/torture/Tony Blair and expose him to ridicule by other sect members".[44]

In January 2012, The Guardian's Michael White, accused Media Lens of suggesting the newspaper's two most left-wing writers, Milne and George Monbiot "trim their sails and pull their punches to accommodate their paymasters".[45] He added: "Media Lens doesn't do subtle. Nor do its more acceptable heroes, such as John Pilger or [The Independent's] Robert Fisk".[45] Media Lens responded that corporate journalists did more than merely “trim sails”. There were “whole areas of thought and discussion are demonstrably off the agenda” and “the corporate nature of the mass media tends to produce performance that defends and furthers the goals of the corporate system”.[46] In May 2016, White wrote that their work suggests "their own editing priorities may be as partisan and un-self-aware as the corporates they so severely condemn".[47]

In February 2012, the philosopher Rupert Read criticised Media Lens' use of Michel Chossudovsky and articles by Robert Dreyfuss and Aisling Byrne as sources for the situation in Syria.[48][49]

In May 2014, Elliot Murphy wrote in ZNet that Media Lens "have carefully exposed the shortcomings and lies of the press" and "their Alerts are invariably well researched, well argued, and often entertaining". He described their book Guardians of Power: The Myth of the Liberal Media as a brilliant assessment of the "balance of reporting when it comes to ‘our’ crimes versus ‘theirs’". He criticised them for generally confining their suggested actions to email campaigns rather than "direct action, non-violent civil disobedience, or even the odd promotion of an upcoming rally or lecture" and suggested that they "rethink their tactics when trying to influence, typically through electronic means, the actions and thoughts of other political writers and their general readership". Regarding Media Lens’ criticism of left-wing sources, Murphy wrote: "Writing detailed critiques of corporate media reports is admirable, but isolating yourself from those who could not only help you out, but who may in fact also need your help in undermining the very corporate media forces you’re attempting to expose as fundamentally subservient to power, is not the action of an organisation trying to improve the world".[8]

In August 2015, Helen Lewis, deputy editor of the New Statesman wrote about an interview she had with Yvette Cooper. Media Lens messaged Lewis on twitter asking why she had not mentioned that Cooper had voted in favour of wars that "wrecked" Iraq and Libya. Media Lens said that Lewis did not reply but New Statesman columnist Sarah Ditum wrote an article in which she said Media Lens are "largely engaged in an endless project of separating the anti-war sheep from the goats to be purged".[50] In response to Ditum, Edwards wrote: "Cooper’s voting record of course has grave implications for the near-certainty of future wars waged on more states around the world. Any reasonable commentator understands the need to pay careful attention to the candidates’ record and thinking on war".[51]

David Wearing, writing in openDemocracy in September 2015, commented that while the group has "a vocal, dedicated following", it also has "a long record of alienating potential allies with their purity tests and aggressive oversimplifications".[52]

In February 2016, Oliver Kamm described Media Lens as a "far-left pressure group" who are "doughty defenders of Venezuela's revolutionary regime".[53]

In March 2016, journalist Owen Jones wrote that the editors' "attack me with even more force than writers who actually defend the status quo. Those writers confirm their analysis, after all: my presence disrupts it, and therefore I’m actually arguably worse", accusing them of "once tweeting a paragraph I wrote summing up the arguments of those who attacked critics of Obama, and pretending those arguments were what I actually thought".[2]

Padraig Reidy wrote in an August 2016 piece for Little Atoms, that Media Lens "is only ever asking questions it thinks it already knows the answer to".[54]

When one of the Media Lens' editors suggested on twitter in 2018 that young writers should "follow your bliss" (a term coined by the American writer Joseph Campbell) and contribute "what you absolutely love to write to inspire and enlighten other people" rather than bothering about prestige or financial reward, extensive responses were posted on the social media platform.[55] Journalist James Ball responded that writers should try the mainstream first to gain attention for their work as "virtually all of the best journalism comes out of 'corporate' or 'mainstream' media", such as the parliamentary expenses scandal, "the exposure of offshore leaks", "Iraq War Logs", "Libor rigging", and "dozens of other major pieces of accountability stories".[56]

Case histories




Justification for war


In 2002, prior to the Iraq War, Media Lens argued that it was fraudulent for the UK and US governments to justify a war on the basis that Iraq still possessed a credible Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) threat and had an active WMD programme.[57] Media Lens cited the work of former chief UN arms inspector Scott Ritter, who had stated 4 years previously that a thorough investigation by UN inspectors had found that Iraq had "fundamentally disarmed" with 90–95 per cent of its WMD capability eliminated. Media Lens further cited Ritter's opinion that it would have been impossible for Iraq to rearm "from scratch" within the four years since the UN had left, given the level of scrutiny they were under.[57]

A 30 April 2003 Media Lens database search, covering the period leading up to and including the invasion of Iraq found that, of the 5,767 articles published by The Guardian and its sister paper The Observer, only twelve made any mention of Scott Ritter. According to Edwards, this constituted "a shocking suppression of serious and credible dissident views", which he said were "soon to be entirely vindicated".[58][59] Eddie Girdner agreed with Media Lens and cited it as one of the few who had drawn this conclusion before the war began.[citation needed]

According to Richard Alexander, writing in 2010 about the Iraq war, Edwards and Cromwell "trenchantly dissected the servant role the British media played in bolstering the lies to the British public purveyed by the UK government".[60] After referring to the "mountain of evidence" assembled by Cromwell and Edwards for their argument, John Jewell wrote for The Conversation website: "It must be remembered that the press was not completely united in its support for Blair" pointing to the opposition of the Daily Mirror to the invasion of Iraq as an example. Jewell's assertion about the "anti-war" Mirror was not entirely shared by Media Lens who criticised its respect for Blair's "patent sincerity".[61]

Nick Robinson in Live From Downing Street (2012), refers to an exchange between Media Lens and then Head of BBC News Richard Sambrook in late 2002 a few months before the invasion of Iraq:

"[W]e believe you are a sincere and well-intentioned person ... but you are at the heart of a system of lethal, institutionalised deception. Like it or not, believe it or not, by choosing to participate in this propaganda system, you and the journalists around you may soon be complicit in mass murder. As things stand, you and your journalists are facilitating the killing and mutilation of thousands, perhaps hundreds of thousands, of innocent men, women and children".[62]

Robinson responded to this argument: "It is absurd – not to mention offensive – to suggest that journalists who report both the case for war and the case against it are morally responsible for those who die in it".[62]

Reporting of conflict


In 2003, Media Lens compared the BBC's reporting on the Iraq war to "Boys' Own war pornography".[63] They cited a rhetorical question posed by BBC correspondent Bridget Kendall in 2006, about whether the Iraq war was "justified" or a "disastrous miscalculation" as a demonstration of personal bias, and not meeting the requirement for reporting to be impartial. In their opinion, Kendall's question excluded the view, held by the anti-war movement and ex-UN secretary general Kofi Annan, that the war was "an illegal war of aggression".[64]

Media Lens cited comments made by Andrew Marr in 2003, while he was the BBC's political editor, in support of their argument that journalists regularly present inflated assessments of the accomplishments of western politicians. They considered Marr to be overtly sympathetic to Tony Blair.[65] In 2003, Cromwell and Edwards said that "there never was an Iraqi threat" and "If Tony Blair and George W. Bush are not guilty of war crimes, who is?"[66]

Casualty figures


Media Lens has challenged the mainstream media coverage of the effect of the 2003 invasion of Iraq and subsequent occupation on the Iraqi mortality rate.[5][26][67]

The Lancet surveys

The Lancet published two peer-reviewed studies of the effect of the 2003 invasion and occupation on the Iraqi mortality rate at two separate points in time. Both surveys used recognised statistical methods. The first survey was published in 2004 and estimated an excess death rate of 100,000 Iraqis as a result of the invasion and occupation of Iraq up to that time. The second Lancet survey, published in 2006, estimated that, as at the end of June 2006, 655,000 more deaths had occurred since the invasion, than would have been expected in the absence of conflict.

The 2004 Lancet survey was discussed by mathematician John Allen Paulos in an article published in The Guardian. Following criticism of the article by Media Lens, Paulos acknowledged he had been wrong to use a "largely baseless personal assessment", to call into question the findings of The Lancet study.[68][67][69]

In 2005, Media Lens challenged The Independent's senior leader writer on foreign affairs, Mary Dejevsky, to explain why an editorial in the paper said the results of the 2004 Lancet study were obtained "by extrapolating from a small sample" and that "[w]hile never completely discredited, those figures were widely doubted". Dejevsky responded that, while the sample may have been standard, it seemed small from her "lay perspective". Her main point "was less based on my impression than on the fact that this technique exposed the authors to the criticisms/dismissal that the govt duly made, and they had little to counter those criticisms with, bar the defence that their methods were standard for those sort of surveys". The response was considered incoherent by Edward Herman who called it "Massive incompetence in support of a war-apologetic agenda".[70][67] According to Mukhopadhyay, the exchange was evidence that journalists, who do not have the statistical expertise to evaluate technical reports, "do not always take the obvious step of seeking expert advice".[67] Reviewing Media Lens' engagement with press coverage of The Lancet study, Arvind Sivaramakrishna drew a similar conclusion stating, "Political correspondents are clearly ignorant of sampling frames and techniques, confidence limits, significance levels, likelihood estimators, and so on."[71]

The 2004 survey findings were described as exaggerated and flawed by the US and UK governments which cited a much lower figure, a position which was largely supported in US and UK media coverage. Media Lens said the media "fell into line" with the governments' view despite earlier accepting the estimates from a similar study by the same researchers, using the same methods, which had estimated 1.7 million deaths in the Congo.[26][71]

The Iraq Body Count

The Iraq Body Count project (IBC) was set up by Hamit Dardagan and John Sloboda as an attempt to record civilian deaths resulting from the US-led 2003 invasion of Iraq. Project volunteers examined news stories for reports of civilian casualties. Each incident reported by at least by two independent news sources was included in a database.[72] As at the middle of 2006, the IBC study estimated between 38,725 and 43,140 civilian deaths arising from the 2003 invasion.[73]

Starting in January 2006, Media Lens began examining the IBC project.[74][75] Its criticisms were that IBC results were not produced by experts in epidemiology and were not peer reviewed, unlike the two Lancet surveys. They also said that studies similar to that of the IBC had been found to only capture a fraction of actual deaths. The lower count produced by the IBC’s method was, Media Lens argued, used by politicians and journalists "particularly of the pro-war variety" (they named Herald Sun journalist Adam Bolt(sic) and the Liberal Democrats as their examples) to "downplay the tragedy of the civilian death toll" and "suggest, for example, that the results of the invasion have been far less severe than the consequences of leaving Saddam Hussein in power".[76][74][75]

In April 2006, David Fuller, a BBC Newsnight journalist, wrote about Media Lens' four campaigns against the IBC project's methods on the BBC website.[75] The Media Lens editors refused two invitations to appear on Newsnight as they did not believe they would be treated fairly on the programme.[77] In response Fuller accused them of "[refusing] to engage in any way that does not allow them total control of the interaction".[78] In an interview with Fuller, Sloboda said Media Lens was "a pressure group that use[s] aggressive and emotionally destructive tactics".[79] He acknowledged that Iraq Body Count were "amateurs" but stated this did not have any negative connotations for their work.[72] Also in April, Iraq Body Count published a paper defending its work against criticism. It described the criticism of Media Lens and others as "inaccurate and exaggerated, personal, offensive, and part of a concerted campaign to undermine IBC's reputation among those who use our data".[80]

In June 2006, Peter Beaumont, foreign affairs editor for The Observer newspaper, accused the Media Lens editors' of a "campaign apparently designed to silence" John Sloboda and the Iraq Body Count project, because it produced a victim count lower than The Lancet study.[12][76][79]

Srebrenica: Chomsky and others


On 31 October 2005, The Guardian newspaper published an interview with Noam Chomsky conducted by Emma Brockes.[81] Chomsky complained about the interview in a letter to the readers’ editor, Ian Mayes, on 3 November 2005, after which Media Lens responded with their first article on this issue on 4 November.[82][83] Within a few weeks, The Guardian apologised to Chomsky for three significant errors in the story including that Brockes had misrepresented Chomsky's views on the Srebrenica massacre and the nature of his support for Diana Johnstone. The Guardian also wrote that "[n]either Prof Chomsky nor Ms Johnstone have ever denied the fact of the massacre".[84] Media Lens responded to The Guardian's apology in a second article posted on 21 November.[85] The repercussions of the Brockes interview continued for some time. Ian Mayes, then the readers' editor of The Guardian, wrote on 12 December 2005 that he and Brockes had received "several hundred" emails from Media Lens followers, who were protesting about Chomsky’s treatment.[86]

In December 2009, Media Lens removed Edward S. Herman and David Peterson’s article, Open Letter To Amnesty International from its site. It explained to its readers that the removal was in response to "ill-tempered" comments from some readers and to avoid "publishing defamatory statements from either side". Soon after, Kamm wrote in his blog for The Times newspaper that the article Media Lens had removed repeated false claims about Serb-run detention camps in Bosnia which had led in 2000 to a successful libel action brought against LM magazine (originally Living Marxism) by ITN.[87][88][89]

In 2009, Media Lens summarised Herman and Peterson’s articles on Srebrenica by saying that, although Herman and Peterson were "not denying that mass killings took place at Srebrenica", they "do not accept the figure cited by Kamm and others, but that they are perfectly entitled to do".[90] In June 2011, George Monbiot wrote that Media Lens "maintained that Herman and Peterson were 'perfectly entitled' to talk down the numbers killed at Srebrenica".[13] He also wrote that Herman and Media Lens had taken "the unwarranted step of belittling the acts of genocide committed by opponents of the western powers".[13] In response, Media Lens said their argument had been that Herman and Peterson were "perfectly entitled" to debate the facts not that "they are entitled to falsify, mislead, wilfully deceive, or whatever 'talk down' was intended to suggest". They also wrote that journalists reporting on the effects of the Iraq war were not accused of ‘genocide denial’ if they chose to use the IBC’s estimate of 100,000 deaths over the Lancet study’s estimate of 655,000 Iraqi dead in 2006. They said "typically, someone is adjudged guilty of ‘genocide denial’ only when they question accounts of crimes committed by official enemies of the West".[91] Regarding the use of the term 'genocide' they wrote:

To be clear, we reject the right of any court, any government, indeed anyone, to apply labels like "genocide" to historical events and then, not merely argue but demand that they be accepted. The assumption that human institutions are in possession of Absolute Truth belongs to the era of The Inquisition, not to serious debate.[90][91]

Kamm wrote in October 2012: "The International Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP) has revealed the identity of 6,598 people missing since the fall of Srebrenica, through DNA analysis of human remains in mass graves. It estimates the total number of victims as around 8,100. If ML maintains that deniers [Herman and Peterson] are 'perfectly entitled' to their position, it must believe that the ICMP has faked that analysis".[49][90] In his opinion, Media Lens "stands with genocide deniers" in its connection with Herman and his colleague, David Peterson, both of whom he linked in their statements about Srebrenica with Holocaust deniers.[49]



Rupert Read, an academic and Green Party politician said that Media Lens tends to talk up the numbers of victims of western actions but minimise those of governments in conflict with the west, such as those of Bashar al-Assad in Syria and Slobodan Milošević.[48] He described the articles by Aisling Byrne and Robert Dreyfuss, which Media Lens had used as sources for fatalities in the conflicts in Syria, as "dubious".[48] He said the effect of this is "tacitly to increase the credibility of Assad's black propaganda".[92] David Edwards responded that there was already enough media coverage of the "crimes of official enemies" which, he said, tended to empower the "US-UK war machine". He said Media Lens preferred to "challenge the false assumption of US-UK benevolent intentions, the hypocrisy in media reporting, and the belief that war is the only alternative".[93]

In May 2012, Media Lens had an exchange on twitter with cartoonist and writer Martin Rowson.[94][95] Rowson had published a cartoon after the Houla massacre depicting a bloodstained Bashar al-Assad. The cartoon also depicted "Angela Merkel and Christine Lagarde lashing a pile of human bones with euro-laden cats-o’-nine-tails".[94] Media Lens asked Rowson what evidence about the massacre he had used in drawing his cartoon. When Rowson replied that he had "no more evidence than media & UN reports, like anyone else. Also used cartoonist’s hunch", Media Lens asked whether he would "rely on a “hunch” in depicting Obama and Cameron with mouths smeared with the blood of massacred children?"[94][95] Tribune magazine published an article by Howson about the exchange in which he asked why Media Lens had not sought his "evidence for alleging that Merkel and Lagarde have really truly desecrated corpses, as depicted in my cartoon". He said one possible reason was they were "shilling for tyrants".[94]

In February 2017, Media Lens compared the media coverage of comments made on Syria by Jeremy Corbyn’s spokesperson Seumas Milne in October 2016 with the coverage of UK foreign secretary Boris Johnson’s comments in January 2017. Media Lens wrote that Johnson’s change in policy, announced in January 2017, to accept that President Bashar al-Assad should be allowed to stand for election and remain in power, was the result of newly elected President Trump’s opposition to Obama’s war for regime change in Syria. They said Milne’s comments were "not defending Assad, merely calling for greater attention to US-UK atrocities". They described the media reaction as "ferocious criticism of Milne’s innocuous comments and the complete absence of any criticism of Johnson’s policy shift". According to them, the reason for the difference was that "the corporate media system is ideologically aligned against an authentically left-wing Labour leader, is working to undermine his reputation, and to protect the reputation of the Conservative government". Media Lens described the media’s "supposed compassion for the Syrian people" as "manufactured, fake".[96]

In June 2017, the German newspaper Die Welt published an article by Seymour Hersh in which he said the attack by the Syrian government at Khan Shaykhun in April 2017 did not involve sarin and that US intelligence knew this. Hersh wrote that his sources said the attack struck a building which housed "fertilisers, disinfectants and other goods".[97] Media Lens tweeted that their search of a newspaper database showed no mention of Hersh’s report. In June 2017, journalist Brian Whitaker criticised Media Lens for being unconcerned that Hersh had not provided the sources for his story. Whitaker wrote that Media Lens had previously criticised The Guardian for quoting "unnamed American officials" in a story about Iraq.[98]

Further reading


The editors of Media Lens have co-authored three books:

  • Guardians of Power: The Myth of the Liberal Media, London: Pluto Press, 2006 ISBN 978-0-7453-2483-8[99]
  • Newspeak in the 21st Century, London: Pluto Press, August 2009 ISBN 978-0-7453-2893-5[100]
  • Propaganda Blitz: How the Corporate Media Distort Reality, London: Pluto Press, September 2018 ISBN 978-0-7453-3811-8[101]

David Cromwell's Why Are We the Good Guys?: Reclaiming Your Mind from the Delusions of Propaganda (September 2012, Alresford: Zero Books, ISBN 978-1780993652) also draws on Media Lens' contact with journalists.[102]

See also



  1. ^ a b Clarke, Joe Sandler (6 November 2013). "Interview: David Cromwell and David Edwards - Media Lens". HuffPost. Retrieved 24 January 2018.
  2. ^ a b Jones, Owen (21 March 2016). "Obsessive Angry Detractors". Medium. Retrieved 21 February 2017. Media Lens, or rather two men called Dave who have appointed themselves watchdogs of the corporate media
  3. ^ "Who Are We?". Media Lens. 22 December 2016. Retrieved 10 September 2017.
  4. ^ "What is Our Objective?". Media Lens. Retrieved 14 December 2012.
  5. ^ a b c d e f g Boyd-Barrett, Oliver (2010). "Newspeak in the 21st Century - Book Review". Media, War & Conflict. 3: 371. doi:10.1177/17506352100030030903. S2CID 147200571.
  6. ^ a b Wilby, Peter (30 January 2006). "On the margins". New Statesman.
  7. ^ a b Clark, Neil (15 May 2013). "The Left vs. the Liberal Media". The American Conservative.
  8. ^ a b c d Murphy, Elliot (6 May 2014). "There Will Be Tweets: Media Lens and the Death of Friendship". Z net. Retrieved 22 January 2016.
  9. ^ Murdock, Graham; Pickering, Michael (2008). Narrating Media History. Routledge. p. 169. ISBN 978-0415419154.
  10. ^ a b c Pilger, John (29 November 2007). "The cyber guardians of honest journalism". New Statesman.
  11. ^ a b Oborne, Peter (2008) [2007]. The Triumph of the Political Class. Pocket Books. p. 272. ISBN 978-1416526650.
  12. ^ a b c Beaumont, Peter (18 June 2006). "Microscope on Medialens". The Observer. See also Edwards, David; Cromwell, David (28 June 2006). "A Superb Demolition – Part 3 – Squeaky Spleen – Beaumont Strikes Back". Media Lens.
  13. ^ a b c Monbiot, George (13 June 2011). "Left and libertarian right cohabit in the weird world of the genocide belittlers". The Guardian.
  14. ^ a b c Walby, Sam (10 May 2011). "Interview with David Edwards from Media Lens". UK Indymedia. Interview also reproduced at "Interview with David Edwards". Now Then. Archived from the original on 17 May 2011.
  15. ^ Cromwell, David (2012). Why Are We the Good Guys?. Alresford: Zero Books. p. 30.
  16. ^ Cromwell, David. Why Are We the Good Guys?. p. 35.
  17. ^ a b c Pedro, Joan (6 October 2007). "Interview with David Edwards and David Cromwell of Media Lens". alterzoom. Archived from the original on 11 October 2007. Retrieved 30 March 2020.
  18. ^ a b c Freedman, Des (2009). "'Smooth Operator?' The Propaganda Model and Moments of Crisis" (PDF). Westminster Papers in Communication and Culture. 6 (2): 59–72. doi:10.16997/wpcc.124. Retrieved 22 March 2013.
  19. ^ a b Edwards, David; Cromwell, David (2006). Guardians of Power: The Myth of the Liberal Media. Pluto Press. pp. 4–5. ISBN 0745324827.
  20. ^ See the last chapter of Newspeak in the 21st Century (London: Pluto, 2009) where Edwards explains this part of his life.
  21. ^ "UK Watch Interviews Media Lens". Media Lens. 15 January 2013 [c. 2006]. Retrieved 17 February 2018.
  22. ^ Pilger, John; Albert, Michael (16 February 2013). "The View From The Ground". Z net. Z Communications. Archived from the original on 19 February 2013. I have worked all my career in the mainstream. I've done this by expending a huge amount of energy in maintaining my place, and fighting my corner. It has been often and literally a struggle, but in time I learned to navigate through and sometimes around institutions. Learning to navigate is critical for young, principled journalists.
  23. ^ a b Townend, Judith (2 December 2009). "Q&A: Media Lens – 'Our book will likely be more or less ignored, as other similar books have been'". Journalism.
  24. ^ a b Pilger, John (5 December 2002). "John Pilger prefers the web to TV news - it's more honest online". New Statesman. Retrieved 20 April 2018.
  25. ^ At the end of each alert is the advice: "The goal of Media Lens is to promote rationality, compassion and respect for others ... we strongly urge you to maintain a polite, non-aggressive and non-abusive tone." See for example: Edwards, David; Cromwell, David (22 June 2011). "Three Little Words: WikiLeaks, Libya, Oil". Media Lens.
  26. ^ a b c Brock-Utne, Birgit (2011). Expanding Peace Journalism: Comparative and Critical Approaches. Sydney University Press. p. 86–. ISBN 978-1920899707..
  27. ^ See for example Cromwell, David; Edwards, David (15 October 2009). "The Balance of Power – Exchanges With BBC Journalists". Media Lens.
  28. ^ Media Lens, About Us, archived from the original on 24 February 2010, retrieved 2 March 2010
  29. ^ a b Quoted in Barker, Dan Raymond (12 January 2011). "Rax Interview with Media Lens". New Internationalist.
  30. ^ Edwards, David (Spring 2004). "An eye to media compassion". Dharma Life. Archived from the original on 23 September 2015. Retrieved 18 December 2014.
  31. ^ Sinclair, Ian (13 November 2006). "All Eyes on Media Lens". Morning Star. Archived from the original on 28 May 2012. Retrieved 6 August 2011.
  32. ^ Barnfield, Graham (12 November 2009). "Newspeak in the 21st Century". Times Higher Education. London. For Media Lens articles on this point see "Ridiculing Chavez – The Media Hit Their Stride – Part 1". Media Lens. 16 May 2006. and Edwards, David (13 March 2013). "Death Of A Bogeyman - The Corporate Media Bury Hugo Chávez". Media Lens.
  33. ^ Sinclair, Ian (April 2013). "Fourth estate agents". Peace News. No. 2556.
  34. ^ Edwards, David (29 January 2015). "Feral Journalism - Rewilding Dissent". Media Lens.
  35. ^ "An Interview with Media Lens". BS News. 5 January 2016. Retrieved 24 January 2018. (Original published as "An interview with Media Lens". The Colossus. 4 January 2016. Archived from the original on 10 September 2016.
  36. ^ Cromwell, David (13 September 2016). "Menwith Menace: Britain's Complicity In Saudi Arabia's Terror Campaign Against Yemen". Media Lens. Retrieved 29 September 2016.
  37. ^ "Interview with John Pilger". New Internationalist. 1 December 2010. Retrieved 17 February 2018.
  38. ^ Coysh, Daniel (25 September 2009). "Newspeak In The 21st Century". Morning Star. Archived from the original on 4 March 2016. Retrieved 20 June 2012.
  39. ^ Barron, Peter (11 November 2005). "Could you do better". BBC News. Retrieved 11 November 2005.
  40. ^ "A superb demolition - Part 3". Media Lens. 28 June 2006. Retrieved 16 August 2020.
  41. ^ Wilby, Peter (7 July 2008). "On the press: Publish and be damned". The Guardian.
  42. ^ Greenslade, Roy (30 November 2007). "Media Lens win Gandhi award for exposing the faults of liberal journalists". The Guardian. Retrieved 17 January 2016.
  43. ^ Hayat, Omar (2 December 2007). "Gandhi International Peace Award 2007 citation". Archived from the original on 20 February 2009. Retrieved 20 November 2008.
  44. ^ Rentoul, John (27 February 2011). "Banging the Drum Against Human Rights". The Independent. Archived from the original on 20 June 2012.
  45. ^ a b White, Michael (27 January 2012). "Media Lens shows it doesn't get the whole picture". The Guardian. White was responding to "Silence Of The Lambs: Seumas Milne, George Monbiot & 'Media Analysis' In The Guardian Wonderland". Media Lens. 25 January 2012.
  46. ^ "Snow, White And The Two Daves - The Guardian Responds". Media Lens. 2 February 2012. Retrieved 17 August 2020.
  47. ^ White, Michael (16 May 2016). "Iraq, Syria and the cost of intervention (and non-intervention)". The Guardian. Retrieved 17 May 2016.
  48. ^ a b c Read, Rupert (19 February 2012). "Syria: my enemy's enemy is not my friend". Open Democracy. Specifically Read was responding to a two-part alert ("UN 'Travesty': Resolutions Of Mass Destruction – Part 1". Media Lens. 14 February 2012. and ".Part 2". Media Lens. 16 February 2012.) These alerts were reprinted on the New Internationalist website here and here. Media Lens responded to Rupert Read on their forum on 21 February. (Archived from the (unavailable) original on 27 March 2012.) A later version of Read's piece: "The Left must support the Syrian uprising". New Internationalist. 23 February 2012. was partially disowned by NI. Read had written about Media Lens use of sources earlier in "Exposed: The pro-Assad useful idiots in our midst". Left Foot Forward. 22 October 2011. Retrieved 3 October 2016.
  49. ^ a b c Kamm, Oliver (22 October 2012). "Media Lens: a warning". The Times.
  50. ^ Ditum, Sarah (24 August 2015). "Being right about the Iraq war has made the left insufferable". New Statesman. Retrieved 24 August 2015.
  51. ^ For the response and context, see Edwards, David (4 September 2015). "Corbyn And The End Of Time - The 'Crisis Of Democracy'". Media Lens. Retrieved 15 September 2015.
  52. ^ Wearing, David (2 September 2015). "Six problems with Sarah Ditum's article about Iraq and the left". openDemocracy. Retrieved 17 January 2016.
  53. ^ Kamm, Oliver (27 February 2016). "The Pedant: Orwell was wrong: let's embrace passive constructions". The Times. London. Retrieved 27 February 2016. (subscription required) [dead link]
  54. ^ Reidy, Padraig (August 2016). "Russia Today is not alternative news: it is propaganda". Little Atoms. Retrieved 29 November 2016. For the article to which Reidy was responding, see Robinson, Piers (2 August 2016). "Russian news may be biased – but so is much western media". The Guardian. Retrieved 19 April 2018. We also need to think about exploring alternative news and information sites such as Media Lens
  55. ^ Edwards, David (7 March 2018). "'Follow Your Bliss' - The Tweet That Brought Corporate Journalism To The Brink Of A Nervous Breakthrough". Media Lens. Retrieved 8 March 2018.
  56. ^ Ball, James (2 February 2018). "Telling journalists to "follow your bliss" by writing for free is as anti-socialist as you can get". New Statesman. Retrieved 2 March 2018.
  57. ^ a b "Iraq and Arms Inspectors - The Big Lie, Part 1". Media Lens. 28 October 2002. Retrieved 20 March 2013.
  58. ^ Edwards, David (2010). Peace Journalism, War and Conflict Resolution. Peter Lang Publishing. p. 309. ISBN 978-1433107269.
  59. ^ Cromwell and Edwards wrote in The Guardian in December 2004 about the limited media references to Denis Halliday and Hans von Sponeck, both of whom resigned from the UN over the sanctions they had administered in Iraq. See Cromwell, David; Edwards, David (15 December 2004). "Balance in the service of falsehood". The Guardian.
  60. ^ Alexander, Richard (2010). Framing Discourse on the Environment. Routledge. p. 110. ISBN 978-0-415-88835-6.
  61. ^ "Tony Blair took Britain to war in 2003 – but most of Fleet Street marched with him". The Conversation. 5 July 2017. Retrieved 17 February 2017. For his assertion about Media Len's "mountain of evidence", Jewell cites: Edwards, David (10 June 2013). "The Iraq War Was Not A Media Failure". Media Lens. Retrieved 17 February 2017. Media Len's assertion about the Mirror is also taken from this source.
  62. ^ a b Robinson, Nick (2012). Live from Downing Street: The Inside Story of Politics, Power and the Media. London: Bantam Press. p. 393. ISBN 9780593066805. Robinson cites from: Edwards, David; Cromwell, David (1 January 2003). "Update: BBC Director of News Responds on Channeling Government Propaganda". Media Lens. Retrieved 24 January 2018.
  63. ^ "Horror, Cruelty And Misery – The Real Meaning Of 'Liberation'". Media Lens. 9 April 2003.
  64. ^ Cromwell, David; Edwards, David (14 September 2009). "BBC controversy: Is the BBC really independent?". The First Post. Archived from the original on 23 December 2009. (extract from Newspeak in the 21st Century, 2009).
  65. ^ Edwards, David; Cromwell, David (17 September 2010). "A Journey Unchallenged – Andrew Marr Interviews Tony Blair". Media Lens. Marr was one of their earliest critics, he described one argument they presented as "pernicious and anti-journalistic", see "The BBC's Political Editor Responds". Media Lens. 13 October 2001. For a hard copy version of this exchange see Edwards and Cromwell Guardians of Power, London: Pluto Press, 2006, pp. 105–108
  66. ^ Edwards, David; Cromwell, David (19 August 2003). "Adventures in Media Surreality – Part 1". Media Lens.
  67. ^ a b c d Mukhopadhyay, Swapna; Greer, Brian (2007). Sriraman, Bharath (ed.). "How Many Deaths? Education for Statistical Empathy". The Montana Mathematics Enthusiast (2007 Monograph 1). CiteSeerX ISSN 1551-3440.
  68. ^ "Burying The Lancet - Update". Media Lens. 12 September 2005. Retrieved 3 August 2020.
  69. ^ "Burying the Lancet - Part 2". Media Lens. 6 September 2005. Retrieved 23 March 2013.
  70. ^ "Burying The Lancet - Part 1". Media Lens. 5 September 2005. Retrieved 3 August 2020.
  71. ^ a b Sivaramakrishna, Arvind (23 February 2010). "Critique of the mainstream press". The Hindu. Archived from the original on 11 April 2013. Retrieved 22 March 2013.
  72. ^ a b "Interview transcript – John Sloboda". Newsnight. BBC. 28 April 2006. Retrieved 26 September 2012.
  73. ^ "Iraq Body Count". www.iraqbodycount.org. Retrieved 4 August 2020.
  74. ^ a b "Iraq Body Count – Media Lens responds". Newsnight. BBC. 28 April 2006. Retrieved 26 September 2012.
  75. ^ a b c Fuller, David (28 April 2006). "Virtual war follows Iraq conflict". BBC News.
  76. ^ a b "Iraq Body Count – A Shame Becoming Shameful". 10 April 2006. Retrieved 21 January 2018.
  77. ^ Edwards, David; Cromwell, David (3 May 2006). "Maelstrom of Vitriol – The BBC Smears Media Lens". Media Lens.
  78. ^ Fuller, David (6 June 2006). "A cracked lens". The Guardian.
  79. ^ a b "Transcript of an interview with David Fuller for Newsnight". BBC News. 2006.
  80. ^ Dardagan, Hamit; Sloboda, John; Dougherty, Josh (April 2006). "Speculation is no substitute: a defence of Iraq Body Count". Iraq Body Count.
  81. ^ Brockes, Emma (31 October 2005). "The Greatest Intellectual?". The Guardian. Retrieved 21 January 2018. As reproduced on chomsky.info/. The readers' editor had advised the paper to remove the interview from their online archive, see Mayes, Ian (12 December 2005). "Open door". The Guardian. The removal was something Chomsky had not asked The Guardian to do, and it is his official website on which it is reproduced.
  82. ^ Mayes, Ian (12 December 2005). "Open door". The Guardian. Retrieved 23 September 2012.
  83. ^ Edwards, David; Cromwell, David (4 November 2005). "Smearing Chiomsky – The Guardian in the Gutter". Media Lens.
  84. ^ "Corrections and Clarifications". The Guardian. 17 November 2005. Retrieved 23 September 2012.
  85. ^ Edwards, David; Cromwell, David (21 November 2005). "Smearing Chomsky – The Guardian Backs Down". Media Lens.
  86. ^ Mayes, Ian (12 December 2005). "Open door". The Guardian. This article was in response to a complaint about the newspaper's retraction of Brockes' interview with Chomsky by David Aaronovitch, Oliver Kamm and Francis Wheen.
  87. ^ Kamm, Oliver (10 December 2009). "Retreat of the Srebrenica deniers". The Times. Archived from the original on 12 July 2010.{{cite news}}: CS1 maint: unfit URL (link)
  88. ^ Edwards, David; Cromwell, David (6 December 2009). "Deleted Thread: 'Open Letter To Amnesty International'". Media Lens (forum). Archived from the original on 24 February 2010.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: unfit URL (link)
  89. ^ See also Simpson, Daniel (23 January 2010). "On Media Lens, Lying, and the Balkans". Balkan Witness. Retrieved 2 January 2016.
  90. ^ a b c Edwards, David; Cromwell, David (25 November 2009). "Dancing on a Mass Grave – Oliver Kamm of The Times Smears Media Lens". Media Lens. Retrieved 21 September 2012.
  91. ^ a b Edwards, David; Cromwell, David (2 August 2011). "A 'Malign Intellectual Subculture' – George Monbiot Smears Chomsky, Herman, Peterson, Pilger And Media Lens". Media Lens. Monbiot returned to this subject in a slightly later article: "Media Cleanse". monbiot.com. 4 August 2011. See also "Our response to Monbiot's June 13, 2011 article". Media Lens forum. 16 June 2011. Archived from the original on 16 November 2012.
  92. ^ Rupert Read "The Left must support the Syrian uprising" cited above.
  93. ^ "Response to Rupert Read's latest". Media Lens forum. Archived from the original on 27 March 2012.
  94. ^ a b c d Rowson, Martin (17 June 2012). "Life through Medialens – but not as we know it". Tribune. Archived from the original on 19 June 2012.
  95. ^ a b "The Houla Massacre". Media Lens. 31 May 2012. We recognise the bloody ruthlessness of the Syrian Baathists, epitomised by Assad's father and continued now by his son, Bashar
  96. ^ Edwards, David (6 February 2017). "Undermining Democracy – Corporate Media Bias on Jeremy Corbyn, Boris Johnson and Syria". Media Lens. Retrieved 6 February 2017. See also Edwards, David (13 December 2013). "The Media's Hypocritical Oath - Mandela And Economic Apartheid". Media Lens. Retrieved 28 February 2017. In this article, Edwards writes: "Oborne compared the results of Mandela's strategy with those of the West's Official Enemies: 'Hitler, Stalin, Mao, Idi Amin, Pol Pot, Milosevic, Saddam Hussein. The list goes on and on.'" In Peter Oborne's original article about Nelson Mandela, the quote is introduced as follows: "This epic generosity of spirit is rare in the history of political action. Just think of the 20th century and the monsters it created: Hitler, Stalin, Mao, Idi Amin..." See Oborne, Peter (6 December 2013). "Few human beings can be compared to Jesus Christ. Nelson Mandela was one". The Daily Telegraph. Archived from the original on 9 December 2013.
  97. ^ Hersh, Seymour M. (24 June 2017). "Syria: Trump's Red Line". Die Welt. Die Welt. Retrieved 13 August 2020.
  98. ^ Whitaker, Brian (1 July 2017). "Syria, Seymour Hersh and the Sarin denialists". Al-bab. Retrieved 1 July 2017.
  99. ^ "Guardians of Power", Media Lens, 12 November 2010.
  100. ^ "Newspeak In The 21st Century", Media Lens, 8 November 2010.
  101. ^ Edwards, David; Cromwell, David (September 2018). Propaganda Blitz: How the Corporate Media Distort Reality. London: Pluto Press. p. 336. ISBN 978-0-7453-3811-8. Archived from the original on 5 December 2018. Retrieved 5 December 2018.
  102. ^ Ian Sinclair "Why Are We The Good Guys? Reclaiming Your Mind From The Delusions Of Propaganda" Archived 7 March 2016 at the Wayback Machine Morning Star, 25 November 2012.
  103. ^ Hackett, Robert; Carroll, William (2006). Remaking Media: The Struggle to Democratize Public Communication. Routledge. p. 63. ISBN 0203969928.