Oh dear gods. You stop blogging for a couple of days and in the meantime the Scottish Unionist establishment and their media pals go into a collective fit of hysterical meltdown because a private individual decides to take a gig with a telly channel which is owned by Russia. Alex Salmond, let us remember, holds no political office. He is perfectly at liberty to do as he pleases. Personally I’m not champing at the bit to appear on a Russian propaganda broadcaster which puts a favourable gloss on state inspired homophobia and attempts to justify Russia’s illegal war in the Ukraine, but then neither am I champing at the bit to appear on a British propaganda broadcaster which puts a favourable gloss on the state inspired xenophobia of Brexit and which attempts to justify the UK’s illegal war in Iraq.
The editor of The National is often asked by the BBC for the contact details of National writers so that they can appear on the Beeb when a pro-independence commentator is required to be outnumbered by three or four Unionists. He always gives them my details, as I live in Glasgow, and as well as writing for The National I have a degree of prominence within the independence campaign. Not once have the BBC ever contacted me with a view to putting across the pro-indy view on one of their programmes. And it’s unlikely that they ever will, since I’m one of those people that former BBC Scotland boss Ken McQuarrie once referred to as “those bastards from Newsnet”. I wear this as a badge of pride. Russian TV wouldn’t have been my choice, but it’s hardly surprising that some people in the independence movement look elsewhere for the platform which is so blatantly and obviously denied to us by the British media.
All sorts of pundits and politicos who have themselves been quite happy to appear on Putin TV have lined up to condemn Alicsammin for producing and appearing in a new chat show on Russia Today. If hypocrisy had an actual physical smell, instead of just a metaphorical one, by now the entire country would only be inhabitable if we were all wearing gas masks. As it is, the deluge of criticism of Alicsammin’s decision from people who’ve been perfectly happy to appear on RT when it suited their own agendas is like standing in a downpour of month old Jackie Baillie.
Yes, yes. We KNOW that Russia Today is a propaganda outfit. But we also know that about quite a lot of other telly broadcasters. If the BBC’s coverage of Scotland and its independence movement had been the very epitome of fair handed neutrality, then perhaps, just perhaps, those who’ve leapt on His Eckness’s decision to produce and present a chat show for RT might have something approaching the moral high ground that they could stand on. That is, if they hadn’t been so eager to appear on RT themselves when it suited them. But you certainly don’t get to stand on the moral high ground when you are happy to prevent Scotland getting a public service broadcaster of its own. Scotland is woefully represented in the media. The critics do their damnedest to ensure that Scotland has few outlets for pro-independence views, and then do their damnedest to damn anyone who chooses an outlet which is less than ideal.
Scotland’s media is hideously biased and one-sided. We live in a country where approximately half the population are in favour of a particular view of the constitutional settlement – they back independence – yet only one daily and one Sunday newspaper out of some thirty odd publications agree with them. Meanwhile we have a state broadcaster which takes its news agenda from that highly skewed and biased pro-UK print media. And that’s before we even start to consider stuff that British nationalists want to dismiss as tinfoil hattery.
There are many and copious examples of egregious and obvious BBC bias, despite the fact it’s a supposedly neutral national broadcaster that we are legally obliged to pay for if we own a TV set. RT is likewise propaganda, but we don’t have to pay for it under threat of imprisonment. The BBC takes Scotland’s money and pumps us back propaganda in return. RT does it for free and unlike the BBC they’re happy to give pro-independence views an airing. At least if you want independence from a state that Russia seeks to weaken. RT is biased, but let’s not kid ourselves on that the BBC is much better when it comes to the Scottish independence movement.
One of the clearest and most blatant examples of this came during the independence referendum campaign. A Conservative MP, Rory Stewart, was given your money and my money to write and present an hour long “documentary” which aired Rory’s frankly asinine view of ancient history, which supposedly demonstrated that Scottish nationhood was a fiction. Rory, who spent much of the documentary assuring us in his Eton vowels that he was really Scottish, is an establishment figure to his very fingertips. Can you imagine the BBC commissioning a known supporter of independence to produce an hour long documentary during the indy campaign which demostrates that a sense of Scottish nationhood is far older and far more organic than Britishness? No, neither can I.
But it gets a whole lot murkier. Rory Stewart denies he has any connection with the intelligence services, despite the fact that Craig Murray asserts that he met Rory in Rory’s capacity as an intelligence services officer when Craig was the British ambassador in Uzbekistan. So it’s germane to ask just how this documentary of Rory’s came to be commissioned. Where did the first approach come from? How was it decided that this “documentary” was a good idea? Who considered that it wasn’t an attempt to influence opinion during an important and politically sensitive time in Scotland? Whatever the details, what happened was that the BBC broadcast an hour long propaganda exercise presented and written by someone apparently connected to the intelligence services during the Scottish referendum campaign and this propaganda piece was presented to the viewers who had paid for it as a historical documentary. There was zero attempt at balance elsewhere in the schedule where a pro-independence supporter was given an hour to air their views. Isn’t that precisely the sort of thing that supposedly only happens on Russian TV?
Apparently Alex Salmond’s own production company is going to be responsible for the entire content of his new show. He claims it is not going to be censored or directed by RT. However we all know that RT is a propaganda outfit. Few would pretend that it was anything else. But that means its bias is open and honest. You can make allowances for its bias and apply the appropriate mental filters accordingly. It’s not presenting itself to us as a neutral and unbiased purveyor of truth. And it’s not demanding that we pay for it on pain of imprisonment.
Most people won’t care who broadcasts Alex Salmond’s new telly show. They’ll watch it or not depending on how good it is. I wish Alex had chosen a different TV platform, especially during a time when Russian manipulation of the media is such a topic. I suspect that one reason he chose RT was precisely because he knew it would send his critics in the monstrously biased Scottish media into the paroxysms of hysterical hypocrisy that we’ve witnessed over the past day or so. And in that respect, if nothing else, it’s job done.
The Wee Ginger Dug has got a new domain name, thanks to Indy Poster Boy, Colin Dunn @Zarkwan. http://www.indyposterboy.scot/ You can now access this blog simply by typing www.weegingerdug.scot into the address bar of your browser, the old address continues to function, the new one redirects to the blog. The advantage of the new address is that it’s a lot easier to remember if you want to include a link to the blog in leaflets, posters, or simply to tell a friend about it. Many thanks to Colin.
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