George Monbiot: guardian of corporate-sanctioned consensus?

Tony Gosling tony at
Sat Oct 20 21:06:02 BST 2018

In a 2014 
the journalist Jonathan Cook called Monbiot “the 
left’s McCarthy,” and wrote that Monbiot “is not 
a guardian of our moral consciences, as he likes 
to think, but a guardian of the outer limits of 
corporate-sanctioned consensus.”

The Guardian’s Alarming Recent Record of Propaganda, Misinformation and Slander

OCTOBER 18, 2018 BY 


George Monbiot.

Rainer Shea 

As has often happened to progressive-minded 
people who’ve reached a more radical point in 
their political evolutions, I’ve become 
disillusioned with many organizations, leaders 
and media sources that I used to rely on. One of 
these dubious sources is The Guardian.

At first, it seemed to me like The Guardian is a 
good alternative to the American mainstream media 
outlets. It’s often featured quality articles 
about subjects like climate change, and its 
columnist George Monbiot is the one who first 
me what the term “neoliberal” means. But this 
good material is what gives a feel of reliability 
to the misleading claims that The Guardian very often puts out.

And Monbiot himself has been one of The 
Guardian’s main sources of these claims. In a 
the journalist Jonathan Cook called Monbiot “the 
left’s McCarthy,” and wrote that Monbiot “is not 
a guardian of our moral consciences, as he likes 
to think, but a guardian of the outer limits of a 
corporate-sanctioned consensus.” Cook provided 
good reasons for these characterizations; when 
the scholars Ed Herman and David Peterson argued 
that recent conflicts in Rwanda and the Balkans 
have been falsely characterized as “genocides” to 
benefit Western narratives, Monbiot wrote a 2011 
column in The Guardian denouncing these scholars as genocide deniers.

This was an accusation that lacked nuance, since 
Herman and Peterson did not deny the deaths that 
had happened in the conflicts. And the extreme 
nature of Monbiot’s intellectual attack on Herman 
and Peterson hinted at how Monbiot would approach similar issues in the future.

I’m referring to Monbiot’s coverage of Syria in 
the last eight years. In 2011, Monbiot 
two expat businessmen and one British man as his 
personal consultants over whether the West should 
impose sanctions on Syria-while the opinions of 
the Syrian people were completely ignored. This 
journalistic practice was biased to say the 
least, and it indicated that Monbiot would stay 
within official Western narratives in his reporting on Syria.

Monbiot has since consistently pushed narratives 
about Assad’s government that help advance the 
U.S./NATO empire’s goals for Syrian intervention. 
In 2014, Monbiot 
a column in The Guardian which characterized an 
al-Qaeda fighter’s act of terrorism as an “act of 
extraordinary courage” because the fighter had 
targeted an Assad-controlled prison. In November 
2016, Monbiot 
that Assad and Putin had been carrying out a 
“destruction in Aleppo” when there had been no 
massacre in Aleppo, and when the rebel fighters 
were allowed to leave with their families and 
their weapons. And whenever Monbiot’s fellow 
journalists have questioned Assad’s role in 
Syrian chemical incidents, Monbiot has 
them in the same aggressive and closed-minded way 
he attacked Herman and Peterson.

But I’m not basing my overall judgement of The 
Guardian off of the behavior of just one of their 
columnists, nor off of the fact that I don’t 
always agree with what The Guardian publishes. 
The paper has not just featured material that’s 
biased towards Western pro-imperialist 
narratives, but has repeatedly featured material 
that uses dishonest framing or even outright 
misinformation in order to argue for those narratives.

One example of this is an 
from last December by The Guardian’s Olivia 
Solon, titled “How Syria’s White Helmets became 
victims of an online propaganda machine.” As 
others have 
out, the piece seems to be carefully crafted so 
as to influence readers’ beliefs without giving 
any real evidence for its claims. It starts with 
unsupported characterizations of White Helmets 
skeptics as Russian propagandists, only cites 
“positive international recognition” of the White 
Helmets as evidence for the White Helmets’ 
legitimacy, and uses several supposedly 
authoritative but actually unreliable sources to 
paint a vague picture of “agitation propaganda” 
in relation to the White Helmets.

The telling part of this article is that it 
deliberately doesn’t include the arguments of the 
people it accuses of being Russian agents. It 
doesn’t mention the fact that the White Helmets 
to have recruited jihadist sympathizers in 
multiple instances, or that the witnesses to 
Syrian disasters have 
that the White Helmets ignore most of the war 
victims while only saving people when it’s 
convenient for them to film it, or that terrorist 
leaders have 
praised the White Helmets as allies in the fight to overthrow Assad.

This omission of the larger picture shows the 
manipulative nature of the piece; someone who 
hasn’t heard about these problems with the White 
Helmets will very likely be swayed by this 
slickly presented assertion that the White 
Helmets are the victims of a smear campaign.

There have been many other instances of The 
Guardian engaging in similar kinds of 
disingenuous propaganda. So much that in 2015, a 
series of people around the world started an 
independent site named that’s 
been mainly dedicated to exposing the false 
claims that the paper’s editors allow for.

Off-Guardian has been able to point out quite a 
lot of lapses in the paper’s journalistic 
integrity. For instance, The Guardian recently 
made a video wherein Owen Jones toured around 
London to point at properties that are owned by 
Russians. The message of the video is undeniably 
and racist, because it denounces the properties 
as “dirty” purely because they’re owned by people from Russia.

As Off-Guardian has also 
The Guardian’s recent coverage of Nicaragua has 
been deeply misleading. In a column from last 
month, the paper 
that President Ortega had “expelled a UN human 
rights mission after it published a report 
denouncing government repression” when Ortega had 
done no such thing, and when he’d even invited 
the UN team. The article also claimed that the 
anti-Ortega Sandinista Renovation Movement has 
been “outlawed,” when it’s simply failed to gain 
enough votes to qualify for the legal status as a 
political party. These and The Guardian’s other 
misrepresentations of the events in Nicaragua 
have served to create public support for 
Western-led regime change in Nicaragua, not to 
report on the truth about the issue.

Out of these and 
<>still many 
other cases of dishonest reporting by The 
Guardian, there have been some which rise to the 
level of journalistic malpractice.

to the journalist Craig Murray, The Guardian told 
“deliberate lies” about WikiLeaks in its 
from last month titled “Revealed: Russia’s secret 
plan to help Assange escape from UK.” Whereas the 
article claimed that Russia wanted to transport 
Assange from the Ecuadorian embassy and Assange 
planned to live in Russia, Murray’s inside 
information about the affair tells us that The 
Guardian was outright fabricating its claims. 
Here are some of the statements from Murray’s resulting blog post:

I was closely involved with Julian and with Fidel 
Narvaez of the Ecuadorean Embassy at the end of 
last year in discussing possible future 
destinations for Julian. It is not only the case 
that Russia did not figure in those plans, it is 
a fact that Julian directly ruled out the 
possibility of going to Russia as undesirable. 
Fidel Narvaez told the Guardian that there was no 
truth in their story, but the Guardian has 
instead chosen to run with “four anonymous 
sources” ­ about which sources it tells you no more than that.

Murray continues:

It is very serious indeed when a newspaper like 
the Guardian prints a tissue of deliberate lies 
in order to spread fake news on behalf of the 
security services. I cannot find words eloquent 
enough to express the depth of my contempt for 
Harding and Katherine Viner, who have betrayed 
completely the values of journalism. The aim of 
the piece is evidently to add a further layer to 
the fake news of Wikileaks’ (non-existent) 
relationship to Russia as part of the “Hillary 
didn’t really lose” narrative. I am, frankly, rather shocked.

Though after what we’ve also seen The Guardian do 
this year, this shouldn’t shock us at all. On 
April 19th, The Guardian published an 
by Heather Stewart which included the following paragraph:

One account, @Ian56789, was sending 100 posts a 
day during a 12-day period from 7 April, and 
reached 23 million users, before the account was 
suspended. It focused on claims that the chemical 
weapons attack on Douma had been falsified, using 
the hashtag #falseflag. Another account, 
@Partisangirl, reached 61 million users with 
2,300 posts over the same 12-day period.

Stewart mentioned these accounts because she 
claimed that they were automated accounts run by 
the Russian government. This claim, sourced from 
a supposedly reliable report by the UK 
government, was completely false. The day after 
Stewart’s piece was published, the man behind the 
Ian56 persona 
an interview on Sky News to prove his humanity. 
Maram Susli, the woman behind the Partisan Girl 
account, has also been 
known to be a real person. The Guardian has still 
not edited this part of the article, nor has it 
apologized to these people who it’s so blatantly slandered.

When The Guardian has recently carried out these 
many journalistic offenses, and when it has yet 
to walk back on them, the factual reporting that 
it does should not make us see it as a reliable 
source. Its mix of truth and falsehoods 
essentially puts it on the same journalistic 
level as 
Jones’ InfoWars, which also reports some facts 
but is nonetheless distrusted because of the 
dangerous disinformation that it frequently puts 
out. It may be time to start treating these two 
outlets with the same amount of caution.

How We Were Misled about Syria: George Monbiot of The Guardian

Hayward 13 April 2018


George Monbiot is an influential journalist, and 
his words on Syria over the past seven years will 
have carried weight in shaping public opinion. 
Some critical readers, however, have been 
concerned. For while Monbiot has declared himself 
morally opposed to military intervention, and is 
demonstrably aware of how the media can 
manipulate news reports, he has repeatedly 
published statements – in his weekly Guardian 
column and on Twitter – that lend significant 
support to key interventionist arguments. His 
position is premised on acceptance of the 
mainstream narrative about the war in Syria. Not 
only does he defend this, in the face of serious 
questions about it, he even criticises – at times 
with some hostility – its questioners.

I have sought to understand the reasoning that 
has brought Monbiot to the position he holds with 
such apparent moral certainty and factual 
assurance. This inquiry falls into three parts: 
in the first I trace his public thinking about 
Syria and the war until the end of 2016; in the 
second I discuss some of his responses to critics 
concerning the verifiability of knowledge claims 
about certain events of 2017; in the third I 
analyse more closely the moral stance that 
Monbiot has adopted. In each part I show how the 
public could have been misled about the basis and 
morality of foreign policy on Syria.


Before 2011, Monbiot had not written about Syria, 
but he had demonstrated awareness of United 
States involvement in regime change interventions 
elsewhere. In 2001 he had written about a 
training camp in the United States that had for 
55 years been turning out regime change 
operatives, the number of whose victims dwarfed 
those of officially designated terrorist 
Terrorism’). In 2002 he wrote deploring how the 
officially independent Organisation for the 
Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) was in 
reality vulnerable to manipulation by the US 
State Department 
Coup d’Etat’).[1] In 2003 he foresaw that the USA 
looked like invading other countries after Iraq, 
and Syria was potentially high on the list. He 
feared there might be 
Way Out’ of instability and conflict in the 
Middle East ‘until the oil runs out.’

Nor was he under any illusion that the choice of 
US presidents would ever be other than between 
Bad or the Terrible’. For none was very likely to 
‘take on the corporations which have bought the 
elections, and challenge the newspapers and 
television stations which set the limits of political debate.’[2]

In sum, Monbiot’s writings prior to 2011 indicate 
a clear awareness of the US having the means, the 
opportunity, and a motive to stimulate a regime 
change war in Syria. One would expect this 
awareness to provide some critical perspective on 
events as reported by those media organisations 
that, as he says, ‘set the limits of political 
debate’. One would also expect his intimate 
acquaintance with the British establishment to 
leave him under no illusions about the depth of 
transatlantic synergies in matters of war.
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'From South America, where payment must be made with subtlety, the 
Bormann organization has made a substantial contribution. It has 
drawn many of the brightest Jewish businessmen into a participatory 
role in the development of many of its corporations, and many of 
these Jews share their prosperity most generously with Israel. If 
their proposals are sound, they are even provided with a specially 
dispensed venture capital fund. I spoke with one Jewish businessmen 
in Hartford, Connecticut. He had arrived there quite unknown several 
years before our conversation, but with Bormann money as his 
leverage. Today he is more than a millionaire, a quiet leader in the 
community with a certain share of his profits earmarked as always for 
his venture capital benefactors. This has taken place in many other 
instances across America and demonstrates how Bormann's people 
operate in the contemporary commercial world, in contrast to the 
fanciful nonsense with which Nazis are described in so much "literature."

So much emphasis is placed on select Jewish participation in Bormann 
companies that when Adolf Eichmann was seized and taken to Tel Aviv 
to stand trial, it produced a shock wave in the Jewish and German 
communities of Buenos Aires. Jewish leaders informed the Israeli 
authorities in no uncertain terms that this must never happen again 
because a repetition would permanently rupture relations with the 
Germans of Latin America, as well as with the Bormann organization, 
and cut off the flow of Jewish money to Israel. It never happened 
again, and the pursuit of Bormann quieted down at the request of 
these Jewish leaders. He is residing in an Argentinian safe haven, 
protected by the most efficient German infrastructure in history as 
well as by all those whose prosperity depends on his well-being.'

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