War doesn’t determine who’s right; it determines who’s left.“The conscious and intelligent manipulation of the organised habits and opinions of the masses is an important element in [a] democratic society. Those who manipulate this unseen mechanism of society constitute an invisible government which is the true ruling power of our country.
The first casualty of war is truth.
Currently, the ongoing conflict in Ukraine is being presented as an existential battle for truth with accurate reporting, supposedly, coming from one side only (Western media vendors) while being malevolently surreptitious from the Russian side.
Multiple Russian media vendors such as RT and Sputnik have been censored and removed from Western palettes while McCarthyist rhetoric is ramped up in all countries to scapegoat all Russians, not just the ones in the Kremlin.
Russian businesses and individuals alike are being scapegoated for being existentially aligned and supportive of Vladimir Putin and Russia’s foreign policy. Russian sports teams and athletes have been banned from competing internationally. A new iron curtain was erected in less than a month, but it would probably be more apt to say it was made of silicon rather than iron.
And yet, the typical calls for geopolitics being kept separate from sport are nowhere to be seen. Despite the rhetoric, the politicisation of sport is completely justified -- as long as you propagate an “appropriate” political message.
It would seem that people can relay any political message -- as long as it supports the existing media narrative, including its pungent double standards and cringy ethical contradictions.
One of Britain’s national daily newspapers, The Guardian, published an article that serves as the ideal demonstration of the double standards and hypocrisy in various Western media outlets.
In an article published on February 25, 2022, titled “Pure Orwell: how Russian state media spins invasion as liberation”, the author presents Russian media sources as being Orwellian and systematically deceptive with the ultimate goal of brainwashing gullible Russians.
However, the author fails to acknowledge that every duplicitous trick implemented by megalomaniac Russian elites is also being implemented by American, British and European elites - equally megalomaniac and equally ambitious to deceive.
To demonstrate the superficiality of Western media coverage, I present a copy of the Guardian article, followed by a copyedited version where the narrative’s characters are reversed (to highlight how opaque media reporting really is).
In my copyedited version below, every mention of ‘Russia’ is replaced by ‘Britain’ while any mention of ‘Ukraine’ is replaced with ‘Iraq’, and so on. The resulting article is as poignant as the original while making just as much (non)sense.
The copyedited alternative could conceivably be published in a government-approved Russian news outlet, to the likely delight of Russian liberati nationalists.
Actually, both articles are just as deviously mistaken as each other.
‘Pure Orwell’: how British state media spins invasion as
State propaganda mobilised to soothe the public’s deep unease over incursion into Iraq
Evaluating media narratives
The reality is that both Russian and Western media lie to their constituent populations most of the time.
Any grains of truth discovered by the public is accidental, not intended. Any realisation of the lies being propagated by both sides is coincidental and circumstantial rather than purposeful and strategic.
The incontrovertible truth is that governments are not in the business of disseminating facts and protecting their citizens. They are in the business of suppressing facts and manipulating the narrative to cajole gullible consumers into thinking, feeling and behaving in particular ways to suit the ruling class.
In war, truth is not only the first casualty; it’s also the most significant one.
Written by George Tchetvertakov