Thursday

Media critics complaints go bloggers

The only way to complain about biased and unfair reporting in Sweden has so far been filing complaints with various branch organizations and state authorities. The judges in those cases are either former colleagues or persons who write and/or speak in the media or are connected in other ways to those the complaints are filed against. One example is when a former Social Democratic minister (who begun her political career in the Communist party) had written a biased accusation in Aftonbladet against the Israeli society at large, headlined “Stop the Israeli violence against children” (where of course nothing was mentioned about violence against Israeli children, or against Arab children from within the PA controlled areas), in the capacity of her new role as CEO for the influential Children’s’ Rights Foundation. She was also, after the article was published, participating in the state authority’s work group for the broadcasting commission, who decided and overruled incoming complaints. Viewers had pointed out errors in the translation from Arabic to Swedish in a story segment, where children in Hamas operated terrorist camps had been interviewed. The children had, in Arabic, said before the camera that they “hated Jews in general” which was translated to “Israelis”. The decision to overrule the complaint, claiming there was no foul play, only in a lesser degree (while at the same time admitting that translation error in fact was true) and thereby covering up the pure Jew-hating remarks for the Swedish audience, by claiming: “But the children meant Israelis” – according to the state authority of the “translator’s intentions”. Needless to say, perhaps, the official Hamas political charter also speaks of exclusively killing Jews, not Israelis. So perhaps it would not be too farfetched to conclude that the “fair and balanced” media might agree with this view and that they have a rather unhealthy and tight grip on a society with such various collaborating agendas, where some investigators might, every now and then, at some point need the media platform in order to get their political messages out and their 15 minutes of fame.

And so the bloggers arrive on the scene. A blog like this is described as a weblog (blog is an abbreviation of web-log) where every day anonymous (or not) individuals or groups can comment on daily topics, like the media. And then the readers of the blog can usually comment on it. An easy and cheap way of getting messages out about what’s on your mind, while having a dialogue as well and exchanges of thoughts, on an international as well as local level. Internationally the bloggers like “Little Green Footballs” in two cases challenged and sank dinosaurs of media profiles, the first one known as Rathergate, with founded proof of fabricated computer notes regarding president Bush, before the election campaigns.
I too started a blog as a test run. In less than 6 months I had some 6000 hits and readers. So it’s easy to see – you do get your message out, both the political as well as the media complaints. Some Swedish politicians adopted this new tactic as well, and started blogging. Leftist Ali Esbati for example, the former youth leader of the Left party, tended to censor lengthily the well-written comments that was too hard for him to understand and respond to.

By the end of 2004 and in the beginning of 2005 one of the more successful Swedish bloggers was “Alicio in Wonderland”. In one of his blogs he discussed an SVT-run program, called Faktum, where a journalist had made a program about terror. Alicio first dissected the program, and then went even further by doing a background check with the help of material available for the general public online, of the journalist behind the story, regarding the journalist’s political affiliations. Alicio then proceeded with checking the factual story, and came to the obvious conclusion that what was and had been aired on the show, had been more in the territory of obviously biased propaganda, where blunt factual errors regarding terrorism had been presented to the general public. Factual arguments and transcriptions were added in the blog. A political columnist, Peter Wolodarski, ran an opinion-editorial in DN about this specific case, pointing out Alicio’s findings. Suddenly Alicio had made it to the big crowd of readers. There was a complaint filed regarding the program, and the blogsphere rejoiced over the power of the ordinary citizen, the Everyman.

But there were those who didn’t celebrate. The left-wing bloggers were angry and upset over the political accusations and allegations, and they had stalked Alicio for a long time. Now it seemed they were jealous, but mainly they were furious over Everyman’s victory, since Alicio, among other things, rightfully had pointed out the journalist as an active member of a political communist section. Alicio was now counter accused of “McCarthy-ism”. This resulted in large parts of the established bloggers to use a new founded saying, “Lex Alicio” as an extension of Goodwin’s law, when verbal counter attackers dismiss the first stated main subject, in obvious attempts to try to sidetrack the main issue from the very beginning. But the interest for Alicio didn’t end there. Outspoken leftist bloggers which had stalked him now focused even harder, trying to get his true identity known, with accusations ranging from everything from Alicio being a Timbro (a liberal publishing company) employee, to being on the payroll of the Mossad (Israeli intelligence), rather than to counter his actual and factual writings regarding the subject of terrorism. And this time it seems that they succeeded, by checking the media complaints to the state authority board commission, since complaints cannot be made anonymous. Once what was believed to be the real name was out, some had gone further with personal calls to that person’s parents posing as “friends”. The blog that first allowed this kind of spectacular “outing” and wild guessing and harassments in the comments section to begin with, had been and was the Left’s established previous youth leader Ali Esbati's blog, in the posting "Alicio" + Wolodarski = McCarthy .

And when miss Klein of Aftonbladet later discovered this new phenomenon of “blogging”, she, from the editorial and elevated power position first posting ever, regarding the issue and local politics formulated that, in a shorter description of Alicio as, “clearly a right wing extremist”.

Another blogger, well worth mentioning, with hundreds of thousands of readers, aiming for the international arena, using English as primary language, was the Norwegian “Fjordman”, ,that made several in-depth analyses of the Swedish political situation. The outcome verdict from the neighboring countryman factual postings consisted mainly of harsh criticism against the Swedish appeasement with regards to Islam, and the subsequent following failures of integration.

Continue to chapter, State funded Broadcasting commission “Impartial”?



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