However The Daily Mail / Mail on Sunday editors appear not to bother to fact check the output of some of their Opinion Commentators who tend to spout utter nonsense, often as an unsourced "throwaway" aside to the main thrust of their opinion articles.
Is this because of the financial pressures of a modern newsroom or are the editors in awe of the "celebrity" journalists and commentators they employ ? The end result looks like collaboration in the odious Whitehall habit of political and bureaucratic media spin and anonymous briefing, or of external lobbying interests with their own hidden agenda.
The quotation by Humbert Wolfe always springs to mind when reading any British newspapers:
You cannot hope to bribe or twist, thank God! the British journalist. But, seeing what the man will do unbribed, there's no occasion to.
Spy Blog has been annoyed enough to be roused from blogging lethargy (too much @spyblog Twitter, not enough blogging) to comment on a couple of Mail on Sunday opinion pieces.
The first is from just before Christmas by Peter Hitchens in The Mail on Sunday. Spy Blog can agree with and disagree with Hitchens' various polemics, but this particular article deserves criticism:
Spy Blog @spyblog Dec 21
10:44 AM - 21 Dec 2014
How best to counter Peter Hitchens @ClarkeMicah false @RT_com style #Putin appeasement propaganda in MoS ? http://www.dailymail.co.uk/debate/article-2882208/PETER-HITCHENS-Forget-evil-Putin-bloodthirsty-warmongers.html
Peter Hitchens @ClarkeMicah Dec 21
@spyblog @RT_com you could try engaging with my argument.
Spy Blog @spyblog Dec 21
Too many errors & omissions in MoS article to rebutt via twitter - perhaps a blog post, but I don't expect to change your mind @ClarkeMicah
Peter Hitchens @ClarkeMicah Dec 21
@spyblog One would do. Otherwise one might be tempted to think you're a blowhard. My blog is open to reasoned argument.
The opinion article in the Mail on Sunday:
PETER HITCHENS: Forget 'evil' Putin - we are the bloodthirsty warmongers
By Peter Hitchens for The Mail on Sunday
Published: 00:23, 21 December 2014 | Updated: 10:33, 21 December 2014
This is all the most utter garbage. Since 1989, Moscow, the supposed aggressor, has - without fighting or losing a war - peacefully ceded control over roughly 180 million people, and roughly 700,000 square miles of valuable territory.
The EU (and its military wing, Nato) have in the same period gained control over more than 120 million of those people, and almost 400,000 of those square miles.
"the supposed aggressor, has - without fighting or losing a war"
Reads like as RT.com pro Putin propaganda:
List of NATO member countries
East Germany was merged with West Germany into Germany in 1990.
At present, NATO has 28 members. In 1949, there were 12 founding members of the Alliance: Belgium, Canada, Denmark, France, Iceland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, the United Kingdom and the United States. The other member countries are: Greece and Turkey (1952), Germany (1955), Spain (1982), the Czech Republic, Hungary and Poland (1999), Bulgaria, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia (2004), and Albania and Croatia (2009).
Even if you ignore the facts that:
- the EU's "military wing" is not NATO (in what way does Brussels control the US or Canadian military ?) but a bureaucatic hodge podge under the Common Security and Defence Policy and the Synchronised Armed Forces Europe etc.
- NATO does not control any of the ex-Soviet occupied countries in anything approaching the way that the Communist dictatorships did
The numbers claimed by Peter Hitchens' article do not add up:
Since 1989 the new members of NATO were (square miles and population figures via Wikipedia):
|Country||Area Sq Miles||Population|
Even if you pretend that the former Yugoslavian countries of Slovenia, Croatia and Albania were somehow "under the control" of Russia and that they were "peacefully ceded" to the European Union and NATO (ignoring the Yugoslav civil wars against Serbia) since 1989, the numbers quoted in Peter Hitchens' article are just wrong.
Total Square Miles = 290,769 (article claims 400,000) Total Population= 103,031,394 (article claims 120 million)
Hitchens' claim that since 1989 Russia was not "fighting or losing a war" conveniently also ignores:
- The destruction of the city of Grozny in Chechnya in early 2000, when Putin was Acting President
- The cyber war Distributed Denial of Service attacks by the Putin worshipping Nashi cult against Estonia in 2007
- The Russian war with Georgia in 2008 and other former Soviet provinces in Carpathians.
Until a year ago, Ukraine remained non-aligned between the two great European powers. But the EU wanted its land, its 48 million people (such a reservoir of cheap labour!) its Black Sea coast, its coal and its whhttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Useful_idioteat.Why can't these resources be sold and bought freely on the international markets ? There is no way that that any EU country wants a flood of underpaid Ukrainians in their own labour markets
So first, it spent £300 million (some of it yours) on anti-Russian 'civil society' groups in Ukraine.
Then EU and Nato politicians broke all the rules of diplomacy and descended on Kiev to take sides with demonstrators who demanded that Ukraine align itself with the EU.
Where does the figure of £300 million come from exactly ?
Note the Russian mindset spelling of the capital of Ukraine Kiev rather than the official Kyiv (even the UK Foreign Office spells it this way e.g. British Embassy in Kyiv Ukraine on Twitter . At least Peter Hitchens does not call it "the Ukraine", implying a province that is not an independent country. c.f. Ukraine, Not the Ukraine: The Significance of Three Little Letters
Even if accurate, £300 million only buys you a couple of oligarch palaces in London. Anybody who has looked at how administration overhead heavy such "civil society" groups are, will know that perhaps only a tenth of that money would ever find its way to the people on the ground in Ukraine.
To pretend that the money spent by Non Governmental Organisations is entirely funding foreign intelligence agency activities, is pure Putinism. The Putin regime has clamped down on such foreign funding within Russia, perhaps because it assumes that such activity must be the sort of front organisations that the Soviets used to fund in the Wes,t when Hitchens was a Trotskyite.
It is typical RT style propaganda by omission not to mention the massive Russian interference in the the "free elections" in Ukraine and then the supposed referendum in the Crimea
The fact that almost the entire Ukrainian Security Service (SBU) apparatus was infiltrated by Russian synpathisers, who then defected to Russia, is a lot more significant than any alleged Western NGO money or influence.
Hitchens seems to dismiss Putin as being merely a corrupt politcal leader, but in his eagerness to often correctly, criticise the failings of the British political elites, he has written an article full of distortions and omission and so gives the impression of being as much of a "useful idiot" for Putin's Russia, as his former sociiast "fellow travellers" were when influenced by Soviet Russia.