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John Pilger talks to the BBC World Service

Dartmouth Films Ltd on April 04, 2012 10:38

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John Pilger talks to the BBC World Service about journalism, war reporting, Julian Assange and Wikileaks

Dur 7mins 45 secs

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This is world update from London. John Pilger is also, an Australian investigative journalist, he’s upset pleny of politicians in the past, too. He is part of a goup of campaigners, promising to do what they can to protect Julian Assange and is likely to be there at the court trying to support him. He has also just made a documentary about the way mainstream media willingly support governments in wartime, misleading the public and endangering lives. Before we talked about Wikileaks, I asked John Pilger about his film.

The War You Don’t See is raising a number of questions that aren’t generally raised in the media: that is what part do journalists in the making of war, in beating the drums of war, in sustaining war? Mainly, it focuses on Iraq and Afghanistan, and especially Iraq, which as we all know now, but which journalist ought to have known, was begun with a series of deceptions and lies and disinformation. The former BBC world affairs correspondent, Rageh Omar, gives a very illuminating picture of, as he said, what went wrong with the reporting of the invasion of Iraq. David Rose, of the Observer, says that his newspaper under his name published a pack of lies.

I guess, journalists would claim they have moved on since those who reported on World War I, they’re less gung-ho. On the other hand, particularly, TV journalists want dramatic pictures

Well, I think that’s true, they want dramatic pictures and that’s part of the problem; there is enormous pressure on journalists, particularly broadcast journalists, to be almost like the old musical character of the drum on the back, to do almost everything and not have time to reflect. I mean, the consensus is that it is increasingly difficult to do an honest job of work, while being asked to, as the jargon calls it, multitask. But that’s not the only reason, I think, what the film does look at are the age old assumptions that the journalist take on board as sort of a holy grail, and you know, you have journalists saying “well, I was really objective and impartial” well then how do you explain, for example, the University of Wales study that found that the overwhelming BBC coverage and the run up to the Iraq war was reflecting the government point of view.

Would you be more comfortable then with the Fox News approach which is, they are unapologetically from one point of view?

With all respect to you, that’s a silly question. Of course not. Fox Television is the apogee of what kind of cartoon journalism that we al know. But, the thing about Fox Television is we are left in no doubt, we know what it is, it’s not from one point of view, it is from a fabricated point of view. But, where the real power comes from is, the so called, respectable media.

You’ve obviously got some examples in mind of those who have avoided, what you think of as this, self deception, this self-censorship. I guess, because he appears in the film, among them would be Julian Assange, the founder of Wikileaks. What’s your reaction to what is going on at the moment with him?

Julian Assange and Wikileaks, have changed almost everything; I think we have something of a revolution going on, because what they’ve done is prove that the real inside information, that should be the basis of good investigative journalism, usually comes from whistle blowers. I think Wikileaks has shamed most of us in journalism, they’re doing the job that we should have done. They’re telling people what we, later on, tell them when the files have been opened and historians have their say

And when some of those mentioned are no longer in danger there is that aspect to it, isn’t it?

That is a complete red herring. There is not the slightest bit of evidence that anybody has been put in danger by these releses.

What about the one that identified essential and strategic sites that would make a pretty fine to do list for those who wanted to blow things up.

If your assumption is that these sites are themselves part of a benign force, which they are not, and what are these sites doing in foreign countries, anway? That’s the question that should be raised.

Pharmaceutical companies in Australia,

I don’t see the problem of identifying sites that demonstrate the thinking of the of a great strategic power. You’re looking through the wrong end of the telescope. The problem is the power not those who expose its various plans, it various strategic interests. If you want me defend every cable that has come out of wiki leaks, I can’t do that because I haven’t seen them all and I am sure there are going to be imperfections among them though my reading as an investigative journalist, of some experience, is that this is an extraordinary, important flow of information; something that is sweeping aside the plague of deception that we’ve had to put up with for so long and that is giving us information .

That’s John Pilger, the investigative journalist, who told me that he is likely to attend the court, where Julian Assange will face his first hearing today.


1 timed comment and 1 regular comment

  • Al Williamz
    Al Williamz on May 15, 2012 17:32

    John Pilger is a legend.

  • Dartmouth Films Ltd

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