Monday, 17 December 2018

Carole Cadwalladr is trashing her own reputation


Let me start by saying that I think the Observer journalist Carole Cadwalladr has done some fantastic work exposing the dodgy dealings and deceptiveness of interlinked Brextremists like Arron Banks, interfering foreign billionaires like Robert Mercer, Vote Leave, and the network of dodgy opaquely-funded hard-right pseudo-charity like the Taxpayers' Alliance and the IEA.

The work she's been involved in is a prime example of the kind of large scale investigative journalism that mainstream media organisations can do incredibly well when they focus on holding the powerful to account rather than attempting to shape public opinion through the dissemination of their groupthink-inspired political narratives, blatant smear campaigns, and/or recycling government press releases or the output of shady publicly-funded propaganda units.

The scale of the abuse she's received from Brextremist mobs like the Arron Banks' Leave.EU propaganda operation is a testament to what a good job she's been doing.

If Brexiteers like the BBC's Andre Neil really believed she was the ridiculous cat lady crank woman they routinely portray her as, they'd ignore her completely, rather than deliberately whipping up storms of online abuse to try to intimidate her into silence.


The problem of course is that if you set yourself up as a political integrity campaigner, then you need to make sure you're absolutely clean yourself, and unfortunately Carole has dropped a total clanger, that doesn't just undermine her integrity, but damages the fightback against the shady Brextremist liars by association.

When the Institute For Statecraft scandal broke people were rightly outraged that this UK government-funded pseudo-charity has been caught interfering in the domestic affairs of our European neighbours and smearing the government's political opponents at home.

Sure people should be allowed to criticise Jeremy Corbyn if they like, but if the Tory government has just flooded £2 million+ into their covert propaganda operation, there's absolutely no excuse for them repaying the favour by launching social media attacks on the Tories' political opponents.

Just imagine if it was the other way around and Jeremy Corbyn had handed £2 million in public cash to a shady left-wing propaganda unit to attack and smear his political rivals, the media outrage would be white hot and relentless.


In the wake of the breaking scandal Carole Cadwalladr made what seemed like a very strange intervention with a Twitter thread that clearly and quite brazenly pivoted criticism away from the Institute For Statecraft and back onto Jeremy Corbyn and other senior Labour figures.

Who writes a thread about the scandalous smear tactics of a publicly-funded propaganda outfit that bounces criticism back onto the target of their smears by basically repeating all the hyperbolic accusations?


At the time I pointed out that what she'd done was a classic example of a propaganda pivot, but what I didn't know then was that Carole had deliberately concealed her own personal involvement with the organisation in question while she was deflecting criticism away from them and back onto the target of their smears.
 

Deliberately pivoting criticism away from a very dodgy government-funded propaganda unit by echoing their attacks on a political rival of the party that pumped £2 million+ into their coffers is bad enough, but omitting the fact that she'd actually worked with them just a month previously, well that's exactly the kind of deceptiveness and lack of integrity that Carole has so successfully exposed in others.

And given that she's an award-winning investigative journalist, there's absolutely no believing that she failed to spot the link between the Integrity Initiative organisation who invited her to speak at their lavish taxpayer-bankrolled seminar for journalists, and the Integrity Initiative Twitter account she worked so hard to pivot criticism away from in her Twitter thread just a month later.


She's been caught red-handed playing the exact same deceptive propaganda games as the people she (rightly) criticises, but her reaction isn't to stop, take stock of how damaging this mess is for her campaign for greater political integrity and accountability, or to apologise.

Nope, it's to play the victim and create false equivalence between the right-wing Brexiteers who abuse her so disgustingly, and critics who point out that she's been caught making a shocking lapse in judgement.

Of course Carole can involve herself with the shady government-funded Institute for Statecraft if she wants to, and nobody with any sense of proportion is going to say that she's a "deep state operative" for giving a speech at one of their many lavishly-funded anti-Russia seminars.

However people can rightly point out that if the Putin government had been caught red-handed pumping £2 million into a shady psuedo-charity propaganda unit that works to create a 'new cold war' siege mentality in European politics and the media, deliberately interferes in the domestic politics and media organisations of European democracies, and spreads anti-opposition propaganda at home, Carole would obviously have been all over it rather than actively running social media distraction for them.

People can justifiably claim that she's spectacularly undermined her own credibility by writing a prolonged Twitter thread pivoting criticism away from them and onto Jeremy Corbyn, without even bothering to mention her own connection to the organisation in question.

The sensible approach would obviously be for her to attempt to repair the damage with an apology for her appalling lapse in judgement, but we'll see what happens.

Judging by her antics so far, it'll be more spinning, more deflection, and more efforts to dismiss people's legitimate concerns about her behaviour with straw-man 'the Russian stooges are calling me a deep state operative ho! ho! ho!' tactics.


In the hope that you're reading this Carole, please just apologise for this terrible lapse in judgement, undertake to try and avoid such poor and deceptive choices, be open and honest about your associations with any organisation you write about in future, and get back to what you're good at (investigating the shady behaviour of people like Arron Banks and dodgy opaquely-funded hard-right pseudo-charities like the Taxpayers' Alliance and the IEA).



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