Oh, what a wonderful MSM.

I’ve been following the various investigations into the hacking of voice mail and other criminal activities by elements of the mainstream media (MSM) in the UK. They longer they go on, the more varied and widespread the abuses are being found to be; email break ins, computer break ins and the routine bribing of law enforcement officers for information. I’ve no doubt that the investigations will uncover other more sophisticated practices, such as bugging people’s mobile phones, because if you can do all of those other things, it’s relatively easy to drop bugging software onto a person’s phone to turn it into a microphone, which is always on. People tend to trust their phones and personal digital assistants (PDAs) but the reality is, the security on them is abysmal. You might as well write the details of your private life on the nearest billboard.

The big lie that they’re trying to pull off is that it was only happening in one country, at one down market newspaper and by a few rogue reporters using a few shady hackers but the truth is that the practices were widespread and not just confined to the gutter press of the UK. After all, the owner of the News of the World also owns both the Times newspapers as well as considerable media interests in America and I have little faith in Chinese walls when it comes to such a competitive industry. There’s nothing more vicious than a group of news hounds fighting for an exclusive. If you think it wasn’t happening in your country’s MSM, whatever its high moral tone or political stripe, then you’re living in a fool’s paradise.

The other bit of the big lie we’re supposed to swallow is nobody ever asked over the years, where all these wonderful scoops were coming from. Not the fellow journalists, sub-editors, editors, managers or even the owners. Well, I’m sorry but I simply don’t believe that. Journalism of all professions, depends totally on curiosity and ferreting out facts. Every one of them knew exactly the source of these scoops or they should never have been working in journalism in the first place.

Containment and minimisation of damage is now the name of the game but none of the hackers worked for free, so following the money trail would provide all the answers but that does not appear to be an avenue of investigation that’s being pursued very strongly. You can draw your own conclusions from that.

All these abuses are not the problem; they’re just the symptoms of a much bigger problem. We have an institution which has a lot of power that it exercises with little or no responsibility. Yes, there are a few complaints procedures and if you’ve got the patience of a saint and stubbornness of a mule, you might be lucky and get a retraction printed at the bottom of page fifty-eight, in a few year’s time. It’s only when they’ve been caught out doing something totally beyond the pale, like breaking into the mobile phones of a murdered girl and her grieving family for a story, that they seem to be held to account for anything.

They don’t appear to care about how a story was obtained, whether it’s accurate or not and the possible effect it might have on ordinary people. Sell the scare irrespective of whether it’s true or not because it’ll bump up the circulation.

I’ll give you a classic and disgusting example of this “publish and be damned” attitude that really harmed and continues to harm ordinary people. A few journalists started a scare story about the safety of the MMR inoculation, based on the work of a single doctor, who was subsequently struck off the medical register for fraudulent research. Because of the seed of doubt planted by it, a lot of parents decided not to run the risk of that injection or any other immunisation, so now some of their children are dead or permanently damaged or wobbling around on crutches, because things like measles, mumps and poliomyelitis are all doing the big comeback tour. Nearly all these scourges of childhood had become virtually extinct in the developed world but now they’re back. In any other profession, acting like that would be termed reckless endangerment or negligent homicide but no journalist has ever stood trial over it or ever will either. They got an up blip in the circulation and that’s all that counted.

They played on that understandable fear of every parent never to take a risk you don’t have to with your child and having introduced a perceived new risk, where there was none before, they got their circulation boost, so that was okay. Everyone was happy because their career and the circulation numbers were so important, much more important than any possible consideration of a few dead or damaged kids or a bunch of spastics with leg braces and those weirdly shaped aluminium crutches. Yes, the parents made a bad decision and yes, their children paid the price for it, but the responsibility lies with the MSM and those journalists.

The next lie that’s going to be foisted on us at the end of all these investigations, is that any new proposed restrictions on the MSM must be resisted. It is the notion that freedom of the press is something so vital that it must be defended at all costs but it’s the widespread abuses by the MSM itself that have placed it into that danger zone. The question I have to ask is, if restrictions are to be placed on it, so what? It no longer reports on anything of substance and its methods and practices are now on a par with the lowest of the low. If I’m going to fight for the freedom of anything, it won’t be the MSM but the freedom of the internet, especially as I know that particular fight is coming at us.

They simply won’t put their own house in order, even when the worst excesses are uncovered. A typical example of this is the treatment of the award-winning and high-profile journalist Johann Hari of the Independent newspaper, which prides itself on its high moral tone on pretty much every issue it covers. An internal investigation found him guilty of plagiarism and other, even more dubious practices but instead of firing him, he was sent on a journalism course, presumably to teach him good journalistic practise, if not some integrity. The day that he was not fired and frog marched out of that newspaper with his things in a cardboard box, was the same day that any integrity left the Independent newspaper. It didn’t come as any surprise that his plagiarism was discovered and broadcast by the blogosphere, rather than the MSM itself. The MSM no longer does any significant investigative reporting; that’s all moved online because that’s the only home left for it.

Every organ of the MSM is owned by someone and in this modern deregulated age, that someone tends to own whole swathes of it; newspaper groups, portfolios of magazines, chains of syndicated radio stations and whole TV networks. No matter what’s said about journalistic independence, that person or corporation exercises their influence when required to suit their own interests. Nobody owns or can own the internet, so all they can do is try to exercise control of it under various pretexts, all of which will be presented to us as being for our own interests or protection. This they will try to do. You can bet the house on that one.

There are journalists of integrity and independence in the MSM but they’re simply too few and far between. Even then, there is a vague sense that they’re only just tolerated because they provide an illusion of diverse opinion within it.

I do not think there was ever a golden age of unimpeachable journalism but I do know it used to be a damn sight better and by a long chalk. At some point, the MSM left behind the idea of reporting the news and instead moved into the area of presenting the news. The distinction, though subtle, is vital. The facts of a story are now sifted through and only the ones which support the particular desired spin are used, with the rest being ignored. Journalists are nowadays more about PR than news reporting.

If you doubt this, have an honest read through the climategate emails and then try to tell me they were acting as impartial reporters, rather than advocates. All too often, they’re hand in glove with what can only realistically be termed vested interests, because they share a certain approved worldview with those interests. Nobody ever goes near the business interests of the owners or big advertisers, which is why there are so many comfortable cartels and monopolies that nobody ever asks any awkward questions about. As an example, the next time you buy a new ink cartridge for your printer, ask yourself how much it actually cost to mass produce compared to the retail price and how come it’s impossible to buy its equivalent at any significant discount.

The MSM is in decline. I stopped reading newspapers and watching television some years ago and I notice most young people doing the same. I, like them, get my news from the internet, as well as my entertainment. Nobody, except the very young or the very old, bothers with it any more. All the numbers are going south and newsrooms are being relentlessly culled, as the advertising money moves online, where its target audience is or has decamped to.

It hasn’t moved with the times. Indeed, in an age where the internet provides unprecedented plurality of political and social opinion, it has become a monolith pushing a single and not too subtle viewpoint on any significant issue. It’s more about telling people how they should feel about an issue rather than reporting on what people actually think and dissent is simply not tolerated.

Increasingly, the MSM looks like a tired and broken down old dinosaur, limping towards extinction, while that new and nimble species, the internet, looks to be taking over its niche. You’re watching natural selection in action.


Related articles :

The death of journalism and the irresistible rise of the blogosphere.

The MSM and Climate Alarmism.

Another body floats by.

Click for a list of other articles.

14 Responses to “Oh, what a wonderful MSM.”
  1. Hillbilly33 says:

    Hi Pointman. You’ve nailed it again and given everyone a whole new swag of quotable quotes. I’ve reached critical mass myself at what the MSM has become (tame unenquiring publishers and biased promoters of alarmist handouts) and have started to fire my own shots aided by the great help of contacts made on blogs. Check these out.

    Windpower in Australia – The Musselroe Bay Wind Farm Travesty in Tasmania by TonyfromOz


    My own effort which Jennifer Marohasy has kindly enabled through her site.


    Unfortunately, the 56 huge idols being built to the Great God of Windpower at Musselroe won’t have feet of clay. Each “foot” will contain 403m3 of concrete and 40T of reinforcing and that’s without what’s in the large adjacent hardstand required for each. As we still ponder over the massive monuments of Easter Island and other places round the world, I wonder will some future generation look at these idols which, if Altamont Pass, Tehechapi, San Gorgiono in California and Kamaoa and other places in Hawaii are anything to go by, will be left standing when the bubble bursts and the massive taxpayer-funded subsidies dry up, and similarly ponder “Why did they do this”?

    Finally, a big Hi to all my fellow posters here (especially fellow Tasmanian Black Swan) and if you feel the same way as I do, please help in spreading the word. We may not be successful in stopping the desecration and destruction of this magnificent part of my home State and the inevitable bird slaughter, but we can make sure they’ll have to do it not covertly with the acquiescence of a compliant noncritical MSM and silence from the usual selfstyled champion defenders of the environment but under the scrutiny of genuinely concerned people all over the world! This may help stop similar destruction happening in other pristine areas.



  2. sleuth says:

    Happy New year to you Pointman and readers. I think Newt has single handedly changed things somewhat ! As they say in the classics “a picture paints a thousand words ” but in modern times I hope that video has gone viral, along with the brilliant words. Grigich has opened the flood gates, lets hope the others take the lead, especially Paul, and make it a deluge. I would be interested in your opinion on when FOIA makes the next move, P. Can’t come soon enough for we in Oz. Cheers Sleuth.


    • Pointman says:

      The same to you Sleuth. We had to wait 2 years for CG2 so I suppose we shouldn’t hold our breath for CG3. Have you got a link for that Newt video?



      • sleuth says:

        A grandmother (youngish) with her head totally buried in the sand, I’m afraid, however you will find it on Andrew Bolts blog. A very fine man of enormous integrity who has the most widely read political blog in oz..You will find him worthy of a must read everyday and Mark Steyn is amongst his many fans. Enjoy P Sleuth


  3. PaulW says:

    Whilst I generally agree with you that the standards of journalism have basically collapsed. I feel you didn’t raise the fact that news has diverged from the presentation of factual content (news) to become entertainment and a platform to promote the journalists agenda. In fact a lot of journalist energy goes into republishing news releases, forget investigation.

    We are not longer afforded the opportunity of being provided the core facts from which we are able to form, informed opinions. We are given the answers, without understanding the question, by media that has its own agendas and will manipulate the statistics / facts to suit their own agenda.

    A recent example in Sydney was a news “item” regarding the rise in pedestrian accidents due to the use of head phones for iPods, phones or other devices. The article implied (I will not say state) that the use of head phones has lead to an increase in accidents. However there was no basis for this ascertion, no accident rates per thousand over time.

    This is an ongoing news ploy. The fact is there are more people on the planet, therefore there will be more – of anything. More people having accidents wearing headphones, more houses destroyed in a storm, more people being hit by lightening……

    In a properly based news item, the background facts as well as the reasoning for the claim would have been provided. But it seems these days we are all to dumb to workit out for ourselves and need to be told what to think. While the medium may be the massage, has it come to a point whereby our independent thought has been put to sleep.

    With 24/7 news programs running you have to fill it with something, so if you do not have the facts – make them up. The old adage – never let the facts get in the way of a good “story”, has never held more true. How many time do you hear a news story where the initial coverage bares little resemblence to the final story, nor what other outlets are reporting.

    There is a movie, a poorly made movie, called Idiocracy. Whilst the movie is certainly B grade, it could be seen as a docudrama in a few years.


  4. NoIdea says:


    Insulted tainted doctor saint
    Insane foetid demon paint?

    Mainstream truthful hacks
    Oxymoron churnolistic facts?

    Autistic viral truths revealed
    The wisdom of the crowds concealed?

    Culpable bull shed singers
    Honest factual data bringers?

    Religiosity owned by anathema
    Colitis conflated with asthma?

    Biopic bondage boundaries driven
    Maverick whistle blower riven?



  5. Edward. says:

    Just a couple of observations P,

    The witch hunt against the NOTW was inspired by the anti Murdoch brigade who truly feared the setting up of a ‘Fox like’ news channel in Britain – if Murdoch’s takeover of Sky had been allowed, the luvvies were Kaking themselves…………….”we can’t allow our left wing monopoly to be broken!” thus:

    Labour leader Ed Miliband has called for new media ownership rules to limit Rupert Murdoch’s “dangerous” and “unhealthy” concentration of power.

    Which is a bit rich considering that the media is stitched up by a straitjacket consisting of PC and fawning adherence to the political mainstream EU loving Socialist junta.

    As you say P, the MSM in Britain [and much of the western world for that matter] has been inexorably sidelined by the ‘web’ in recent years, well the press has.
    Unfortunately for Britain, the Beeb retains a place in the hearts and minds of the British which imo is quite incredible but the beeb are slick propagandists and the use of agitprop has and remains very successful – catch ’em young.
    It means the beeb can freely promulgate its mendacious and insidious crap of; cultural Marxism, a dogmatic PC agenda, mass immigration, the ‘benefit’s of belonging to a communist bloc/EU and eco lunacy in an open way, there is no other word for the beeb – it is a propagandising monster and it’s values, hymn sheet and direction has always been as Socialist Workers party mischief makers. The destroyers from within, a trojan horse full of Trotsky agitators eating away at the nation’s collective soul.

    It’s easy for the beeb, all you need to do is throw in some nostalgic pap, Eric and Ernie and Christmas TOTPs and bob’s your friendly beeb cuddly uncle [Attenborough] and they [the boneheaded idle British] luv yer! – cunning, low and so BBC. I do remember reading somewhere that 87% of the population still ‘trust’ the BBC – amazing…………. but they are slick.

    **** the BBC I say. For far too long the beeb/Al Jazeera ‘northern’ studios – has been a major part of the REAL problem in Britain, we rumbled the Cambridge five but their spiritual collaborators stayed on in the BBC and their like minded ‘progeny’ remain so, to this day.

    How to get ‘shot of ’em’ is anybodies guess, the politicians are running scared/on the same side, so the only thing to do…………….is to switch off and tune out.



  6. Brian H says:

    From your link on WUWT.

    Edit note:
    “the worse excesses ” worst.

    I’m less sanguine than you about the news reportage on the internet being an “alternative”. Most of the material is cribbed or copy-pasted from the MSM, with, of course, a wide range of options and ability to compare and contrast and cross-check.

    Independent sourcing is less common and not free.


    • Jack Wilder says:

      Most of the news in the MSM is cribbed or copy-pasted from each other too.

      We’re moving from an oligarchy of opinion formers to a democracy. From a small select group to hundreds of millions of people all voicing their own opinion. It’s a shake up. What we find is that 99% of the new content is half baked and ill formed, opinions that are frankly not worth listening to, but for those guys who get through, like WUWT, and this blog too, it’s a godsend.

      This new democracy will at some point become an old oligarchy itself, which although lamentable is infinitely preferable to keeping the stagnant fossilizing status quo.

      The spread of the printing press and the chattering classes made the MSM. Not so terribly long before that only the aristocrats and the monasteries controlled information, and who’d want a situation like that?


  7. Laci Karg says:

    Fantastic blog post.Much thanks again. Awesome.


  8. John JJS says:

    journalism isn’t dead, it’s extinct


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  1. […] Oh, what a wonderful MSM. from Pointman’s by Pointman […]


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