Friday, 29 March 2019

Beyond BuzzFeed: The 10 Worst, Most Embarrassing U.S. Media Failures on the Trump-Russia Story

Glenn Greenwald

BUZZFEED WAS ONCE notorious for traffic-generating “listicles,” but has since become an impressive outlet for deep investigative journalism under editor-in-chief Ben Smith. That outlet was prominently in the news this week thanks to its “bombshell” story about President Trump and Michael Cohen: a story that, like so many others of its kind, blew up in its face, this time when the typically mute Robert Mueller’s office took the extremely rare step to label its key claims “inaccurate.”

But in homage to BuzzFeed’s past viral glory, following are the top ten worst media failures in two-plus-years of Trump/Russia reporting. They are listed in reverse order, as measured by the magnitude of the embarrassment, the hysteria they generated on social media and cable news, the level of journalistic recklessness that produced them, and the amount of damage and danger they caused. This list was extremely difficult to compile in part because news outlets (particularly CNN and MSNBC) often delete from the internet the video segments of their most embarrassing moments. Even more challenging was the fact that the number of worthy nominees is so large that highly meritorious entrees had to be excluded, but are acknowledged at the end with (dis)honorable mention status.

Note that all of these “errors” go only in one direction: namely, exaggerating the grave threat posed by Moscow and the Trump circle’s connection to it. It’s inevitable that media outlets will make mistakes on complex stories. If that’s being done in good faith, one would expect the errors would be roughly 50/50 in terms of the agenda served by the false stories. That is most definitely not the case here. Just as was true in 2002 and 2003, when the media clearly wanted to exaggerate the threat posed by Saddam Hussein and thus all of its “errors” went in that direction, virtually all of its major “errors” in this story are devoted to the same agenda and script:

10. RT Hacked Into and Took Over C-SPAN (Fortune)

9. Russian Hackers Invaded the U.S. Electricity Grid to Deny Vermonters Heat During the Winter (WashPost)

8. A New, Deranged, Anonymous Group Declares Mainstream Political Sites on the Left and Right to be Russian Propaganda Outlets and WashPost Touts its Report to Claim Massive Kremlin Infiltration of the Internet (WashPost)

Too long, too detailed and with too much graphics and links to reproduce here, go swing by the source, pronto!

Thursday, 28 March 2019

The Day after Mueller...

The pushback has begun: 'never Trumpies' and CNN/Rachel Maddow-groupies alike are licking their wounds by sticking their heads firmly up their arses.

Over at wewerefuckedbythemammoth for instance commenter 'Seraph4377' knows something!

Russia interfered in the 2016 presidential election. That is not in question. That is fact. We should be doing a lot more about this.

She vigorously shook that snow globe, et voilà, presto! Or as dumb fuck Bill Maher once exlaimed (re. Mueller): "I don't need an investigation, I've got television!"

Seraph4377 continues:

As for bellicosity, this was an act of war. If they’d tried this thirty years ago, the nukes would have flown, and rightly so.

Oh dear: willing to risk nuclear winter for the Russiagate hoax: such dedication.

To claim to defend a 'democracy' that is not in great shape (and declining) of a country that hasn't quit interfering in other peopls' democracies (and counting) is truly hilarious.

PS – You used the UK English spelling for “endeavour”. Are you perhaps writing this from somewhere in Europe, comrade?

Probably a Russian spy, Seraph! They're everywhere nowadays.

You just can't fix stupid, can you?

Monday, 25 March 2019

Breaking: sales of facial scrubbers skyrocket with so much egg on Dems' long faces

Two words: No Collusion.

From what I'm seeing on RT News, Dems are't willing to throw in the towel just yet.

Wednesday, 20 March 2019

The Neoliberal Brain behind Juan Guaidó

While online audiences know YouTube comedian Joanna Hausmann from her videos making the case for regime change, her economist father has flown below the radar. His record holds the key to understanding what the U.S. wants in Venezuela.

By Anya Parampil

If you’ve followed Venezuela-related news on social media, you’ve undoubtedly stumbled across a video released by comedian Joanna Hausmann in which she promises to tell you, “What’s Happening in Venezuela: Just the Facts.” Despite a title designed to instill confidence in the uninformed viewer, upon closer examination the “facts” presented in Hausman’s video hardly stand the test of reality.

Hausmann, for example, attempted to pass off dubious assertions that Venezuelan opposition leader “Juan Guaidó is not right wing,” and that he “did not just declare himself president” of the country. She also claimed that President Nicolas Maduro “made up” the National Constituent Assembly, neglecting to mention that that governing body was clearly defined in the country’s 1999 Constitution, and was ratified by 71.8 percent of the country through a democratic vote.

Hausmann’s performance ended with a teary-eyed appeal for sympathy: “On a personal level… my father is exiled from going back home.” For a video dedicated to “just the facts,” Hausmann’s rant omitted an especially pertinent piece of information: her exiled father and the rest of her family are no ordinary Venezuelans, and are, in fact, key players in the bid to bring down the elected government.

Much of Hausmann’s script echoed talking points outlined by her father, Ricardo Hausmann, in a 2018 article ominously entitled “D-Day Venezuela.” The piece amounted to a plea for the U.S. to depose Maduro by force, with Hausman arguing that “military intervention by a coalition of regional forces may be the only way to end a man-made famine threatening millions of lives.”

But Ricardo Hausmann is much more than a prominent pundit. He is one of the West’s leading neoliberal economists, who played an unsavory role during the 1980s and ’90s in devising policies that enabled the looting of Venezuela’s economy by international capital and provoked devastating social turmoil.

Much, much more...

Tuesday, 19 March 2019

Latest Threat to "Jewish Life in the UK"?

From a bizarre open letter to The Times (paywalled):


The Equality and Human Rights Commission is launching an investigation into whether the Labour Party’s handling of anti-semitism within its ranks complies with equalities law. We British Jewish Holocaust survivors do not believe that any prejudice against or hostility towards Jews is being perpetrated by Labour; and if any exists within the party, it is minimal and no more prevalent than in any other political party.

Jeremy Corbyn has in fact bent over backwards to help Jewish people. Media attention on the Labour Party in general, and on Corbyn in particular, is being generated by anti-Labour and anti-Corbyn mischief makers, who unfortunately are over-represented within the so-called Anglo-Jewish leadership — a leadership whose legitimacy is not recognised by the mainstream Haredi (strictly Orthodox) Jews.

The real current threat to Jewish life in the UK is the anti-religious education policies being relentlessly pursued by Ofsted. To our chagrin, they receive full backing and support from these so-called Anglo-Jewish leadership organisations, together with certain secularist groups, which display no compunction in discriminating against people with religious beliefs.

Jacob Ostreicher, Avigdor Langberg, Leah Stern, Minia Meisels, London E5;

Mendel Glausiusz, Eli Schreiber, Kurt Winter, Tauba Posen, Roslie Kornbluh, Abraham Just, Hushi Schreiber, London N16;

Hyman Bindinger, Tyne and Wear

Strangely, they've got that first bit completely right but what are the threatening "anti-religious education policies being relentlessly pursued by Ofsted"?

We're talking about the new New relationships and health education in schools initiative:

All schools will teach children about good physical and mental health, how to stay safe on and offline, and the importance of healthy relationships under bold new plans published today by Education Secretary Damian Hinds.
Under the proposals, all pupils will study compulsory health education as well as new reformed relationships education in primary school and relationships and sex education in secondary school.

Predictably, the initiative came under fire from a number of religiously minded people, although they appear mainly Muslim.

It would appear the signatories of the above open letter aren't very representative of British Jews as a whole.

Friday, 15 March 2019

Horrific antisemitic abuse suffered by Luciana Berger MP!

Luciana needing police escort after suffering horrific antisemitic abuse

This is a little old but I've only just come across it, so bear with me. Yesterday I saw this facebook page, where a Daniel Sevitt (who?) indulged in a bit of whataboutery:

While I’ve got you here, how come JVL has never published a single word about Kenneth Campbell’s racist abuse of Luciana Berger?

What abuse is he referring to? Well, a quick search coughed up this page from the Ziorag "The JC":

It has since emerged that the proposer of one of the motions, Kenneth Campbell, has called her [Luciana Berger] a "disruptive Zionist" and shared a Facebook post that called Jewish Labour MP Dame Margaret Hodge "utterly shameless", the Hurry Up Harry blog revealed.

Funny, isn't it? Objectively, Berger is a proud Zionist (and member of 'Labour Friends of Israel') 'Disruptive' is of course a subjective adjective, nothing more.

So how does this constitute 'abuse'? Aren't we allowed to question politicians any more?

Concludes The Brown Sauce (HP):

It’s hardly surprising that Berger needed police security while Labour Party conference took place last year.

So it appears British Zionism is ideally suited to the British nanny state!

Wednesday, 13 March 2019

The Making of Juan Guaidó

Juan Guaidó is the product of a decade-long project overseen by Washington’s elite regime change trainers. While posing as a champion of democracy, he has spent years at the forefront of a violent campaign of destabilization.

Before the fateful day of January 22, fewer than one in five Venezuelans had heard of Juan Guaidó. Only a few months ago, the 35-year-old was an obscure character in a politically marginal far-right group closely associated with gruesome acts of street violence. Even in his own party, Guaidó had been a mid-level figure in the opposition-dominated National Assembly, which is now held under contempt according to Venezuela’s constitution.

But after a single phone call from from US Vice President Mike Pence, Guaidó proclaimed himself president of Venezuela. Anointed as the leader of his country by Washington, a previously unknown political bottom-dweller was vaulted onto the international stage as the US-selected leader of the nation with the world’s largest oil reserves.

Echoing the Washington consensus, the New York Times editorial board hailed Guaidó as a “credible rival” to Maduro with a “refreshing style and vision of taking the country forward.” The Bloomberg News editorial board applauded him for seeking “restoration of democracy” and the Wall Street Journal declared him “a new democratic leader.” Meanwhile, Canada, numerous European nations, Israel, and the bloc of right-wing Latin American governments known as the Lima Group recognized Guaidó as the legitimate leader of Venezuela.

While Guaidó seemed to have materialized out of nowhere, he was, in fact, the product of more than a decade of assiduous grooming by the US government’s elite regime change factories. Alongside a cadre of right-wing student activists, Guaidó was cultivated to undermine Venezuela’s socialist-oriented government, destabilize the country, and one day seize power. Though he has been a minor figure in Venezuelan politics, he had spent years quietly demonstrated his worthiness in Washington’s halls of power.

“Juan Guaidó is a character that has been created for this circumstance,” Marco Teruggi, an Argentinian sociologist and leading chronicler of Venezuelan politics, told The Grayzone. “It’s the logic of a laboratory – Guaidó is like a mixture of several elements that create a character who, in all honesty, oscillates between laughable and worrying.”

Diego Sequera, a Venezuelan journalist and writer for the investigative outlet Misión Verdad, agreed: “Guaidó is more popular outside Venezuela than inside, especially in the elite Ivy League and Washington circles,” Sequera remarked to The Grayzone, “He’s a known character there, is predictably right-wing, and is considered loyal to the program.”

While Guaidó is today sold as the face of democratic restoration, he spent his career in the most violent faction of Venezuela’s most radical opposition party, positioning himself at the forefront of one destabilization campaign after another. His party has been widely discredited inside Venezuela, and is held partly responsible for fragmenting a badly weakened opposition.

“‘These radical leaders have no more than 20 percent in opinion polls,” wrote Luis Vicente León, Venezuela’s leading pollster. According to León, Guaidó’s party remains isolated because the majority of the population “does not want war. ‘What they want is a solution.’”

But this is precisely why Guaidó was selected by Washington: He is not expected to lead Venezuela toward democracy, but to collapse a country that for the past two decades has been a bulwark of resistance to US hegemony. His unlikely rise signals the culmination of a two decades-long project to destroy a robust socialist experiment.

Much moar!

Tuesday, 12 March 2019

Dem Jews: Just how much do you really, really, REALLY Luuurrve Israel?

A new initiative started by Elisabeth Pipko, called Jexodus (geddit? Geddit??) aims at luring Jewish Democrat voters away from the 'anti-Semitic Democrats' to Trump's Republicans. From the site:
(Can you see why some Americans question the dual loyalty some Jews may hold?)

Who Are We?

We are proud Jewish Millennials tired of living in bondage to leftist politics. We reject the hypocrisy, anti-Americanism, and anti-Semitism of the rising far-left. Progressives, Democrats, and far too many old-school Jewish organizations take our support for granted. After all, we’re Jewish, and Jews vote for Democrats.

Until today.

We are determined and we are unafraid to speak for ourselves. As combatants and veterans of the campus wars, we know the threat progressivism poses to Jews. We’ve had front row seats witnessing anti-Semites hide behind the thin veil of anti-Zionism. We know the BDS movement harbors deep hatred not only for Israel, but for Jews. We’re done standing with supposed Jewish leaders and allegedly supportive Democrats who rationalize, mainstream, and promote our enemies. We’d rather spend forty years wandering in the desert than belong to a party that welcomes Jew-haters.

The initiative may succeed merely on the grounds that Pipko, an international model, is probably sexy enough to lead most of American Jewry to the edge of the Earth (where the Republicans reside ;-))

Sadly no pics of Elisabeth 'in bondage' (to leftist politics or to whatever) could be found to date...

Sunday, 10 March 2019

Jeremy Corbyn and the truth about Tom Bower's book

A biography about the Labour leader systematically distorts the truth, writes Peter Oborne

Those of us who report on politics are at liberty to express, within limits, whatever opinions we like. These limits include an obligation to observe standards. We should strive to be accurate. We can make strong arguments but ought not to distort the truth or suppress relevant information to make our point.

Writer Tom Bower fails catastrophically to meet these standards. It is not only that Dangerous Hero: Corbyn's Ruthless Plot For Power, his new book on Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn, contains numerous falsehoods. It systematically omits relevant facts in order to portray Corbyn as a ruthless Marxist and anti-semite hell-bent on destroying Western liberal values.

The Times, the nearest thing that Britain has to a paper of record, has awarded it a prominent review. Ditto the Sunday Times. Tom Harris, a former Labour MP, was not far short of reverential in the Daily Telegraph, calling it a “meticulous and highly readable account”. In the US, an interview with Bower has appeared in the Washington Post.

If this book was floating around harmlessly on the internet I would not give it the time of day. But it’s published by William Collins, a respectable publishing house. It’s soared to No. 2 in The Sunday Times bestseller list. It has been praised in prominent newspapers.

Meanwhile, Bower’s ruminations have been publicised at enormous length in the Mail on Sunday (a sister publication to the Daily Mail, for which I write a weekly political column).

This is not good enough. I believe that we in the British press should care about accuracy and integrity. I don’t believe I can be entirely alone in this. The ugly truth is that Bower is not straight with his readers, let alone Corbyn.

Again and again he withholds relevant information, with the result that the Labour leader and his colleagues come over in the worst possible light.

During the last 36 hours, I have made numerous attempts to make contact with Tom Bower in order to give him the chance to defend himself. I've contacted him by mobile phone, by text message and at his direct line at his London home. No answer. I also emailed a list of questions to Bower yesterday morning, both to his private email address and to his publicist at William Collins. He has not responded to me.

Bower has made an astonishing number of factual errors – more than I have ever come across in a book from a mainstream publisher. While something has clearly gone horribly wrong with the editing process at William Collins, Bower is the author and must take full responsibility.

This consistent inaccuracy is made worse by the fact that there are no references nor citations. Quotes are frequently provided without naming the source. Bower says that he does not provide references because he does not want to compromise those who have given him information. He also cites “legal reasons”, though he tantalisingly does not explain what they are.

Time after time, Bower makes assertions that are not backed by any evidence. The problem is so bad that I resolved to carry out my own investigation into the truth of some of the assertions made in Bower’s book. This article is the result of my research. Again and again, I have been able to prove that his account of events is false, misleading and, in some cases, pure fabrication.

Speeches and strikes

To start with a characteristic example, take Bower’s account of Corbyn’s first party conference speech back in 2015. Bower describes how the Labour leader “adopted a speech written by Richard Heller, a freelance speechwriter, in the early 1980s that had been repeatedly offered to every Labour leader since Michael Foot, and always rejected as too extreme".

I rang up Heller. He confirmed that he had indeed offered the speech to all Labour leaders since Michael Foot. But he said Bower’s assertion that his speech was rejected as "too extreme" was false. Heller (who is a friend of mine) told me: “None of the previous leaders replied to me at all.”

Bower manages to leave his readers with the impression that Corbyn used a speech that had earlier been rejected as "too extreme". There is no way he can have known this. He made no attempt to establish the truth from Heller himself.

Bower manages to leave his readers with the impression that Corbyn used a speech that had earlier been rejected as "too extreme". There is no way he can have known this. He made no attempt to establish the truth from Heller himself.

As so often, Bower provides no evidence for his (if true) significant revelation. I asked the BMA whether this was the case. A spokesperson told me: “It was not true that any outside political group directed this action or that political parties were involved in its planning or execution, and there is no evidence to suggest this was the case.” I also put Bower’s words to Momentum, which denied the claim.

Bower challenges Corbyn’s argument against the privatisation of the National Health Service by saying: “The NHS had never produced a single drug.” He at no point acknowledges British public-funded research from which pharmaceutical companies develop new products.

According to Bower, Corbyn excused the monstrous crimes of Argentine leader General Leopoldo Galtieri – notorious for engineering the ‘disappearances’ of tens of thousands of his political opponents – during the 1970s and 1980s as “the price for liberating the Falklands from Britain”. A serious allegation which may, for all I know, be true. But no evidence is provided. He asserts that Corbyn is “dedicated to destroying Western liberal society”. Another damning allegation – but no evidence is provided.

Bower makes much of a confrontation between Labour activist Marc Wadsworth and Labour MP Ruth Smeeth at the launch for Shami Chakrabarti’s report on anti-semitism in June 2016. He writes that “Wadsworth snapped at her that not only was she ‘working hand-in-hand’ with the right-wing media by speaking to the journalist, but she was also a Jew”.

The brief incident is recorded on video. I have examined this video. Nowhere in the footage does Wadsworth say that Smeeth is Jewish. I spoke to two eyewitnesses to this event, both of whom confirmed to me that at no point did Wadsworth say that Smeeth was Jewish.

Bower’s account of Labour MP Naz Shah’s suspension from Labour in April 2016 also contains important omissions and inaccuracies. Shah was suspended after an anti-semitic Facebook post from two years earlier came to light. The post suggested relocating Israel to America and was accompanied by a map with Israel inside North America. Bower neglects to mention that Shah was sharing a satirical post from the website of Norman Finkelstein, a Jewish historian.

Bower writes: “Once the ‘transportation’ was complete, she argued, evoking the image of cattle trucks arriving at Auschwitz, ‘the Middle East would again be peaceful’.” Bower wrongly attributes these words to Shah when they were attached to the original image. His own reference to cattle trucks and Auschwitz is gratuitous.

Again and again, Bower makes assumptions about the motives of Jeremy Corbyn and his inner circle that strike me as unwarranted. One telling example is Bower’s account of the well-known episode in July 2018 when Margaret Hodge confronted Corbyn in the Commons and reportedly called him “a fucking racist and anti-semite”.

Bower says Seumas Milne, Corbyn’s media adviser and right hand man, insisted that Hodge should be disciplined, adding that “he would not tolerate criticism from Zionists”. Again there is no evidence for this claim that Milne said this. Even if there were, it is an unreasonable assumption to make. Hodge had made a savage public and personal attack on the Labour party leader. I can’t think of a single one of Corbyn’s predecessors who would have tolerated it from any of their MPs. Bower supplies no reason to explain his assertion that a pointed refusal to ‘tolerate criticism from Zionists’ was behind the decision.

Charges of anti-semitism

On page 240 of the book, Bower writes: “For Corbyn, Jews were automatically assumed to be rich capitalist financiers and bankers backed by Wall Street, and were all undoubted swindlers. They were not victims of racism, but the enemy of the working class.”

This is a travesty, all the more so since Bower ignores the fact that Corbyn has a long record of opposing anti-semitism.

To take just one example, in 2002 Corbyn tabled a motion expressing sympathy with members of a synagogue in Finsbury Park after it was daubed with racist graffiti. Of course this does not in itself refute Bower's claim that Corbyn is an anti-semite. Nevertheless, in any discussion of Corbyn’s anti-semitism, it cries out to be taken into consideration. I have checked as thoroughly as I can and can find no mention in Bower’s book of Corbyn's sustained parliamentary activity against anti-semitism and in support of Jewish rights.

Bower is not at all clear on where Corbyn’s supposed anti-semitism comes from. He points to the notoriously anti-semitic 1843 essay by Karl Marx called On The Jewish Question. However, he also writes that Corbyn barely reads books, so Bower presumably does not think his anti-semitism comes from Marx.

Dangerous Hero is contradictory and muddled. At first Bower writes that Corbyn railed against predominantly Jewish employers in the garment trade during his time as a trade union official, but then in the next sentence adds that most union members were also Jewish.

Bower tells how Corbyn "conjured a tale of a brave personal fight against exploitative Jewish employers of sweatshop labour. Parochialism and fantasy fed the original source of his anti-Semitism – namely, as he saw it, the malign collective power of Jews. Corbyn was immersed in an unfamiliar world. The union was dealing with struggling, overworked, self-employed Jews".

Bower fails to mention that several Jews occupy senior positions in Corbyn's inner circle, among them Jon Lansman, the founder and head of Momentum. Once again, while not in itself refuting Bower’s picture of Corbyn as an anti-semite, it seems relevant to point this out.

Bower also fails to entertain the proposition that the Labour leader's attachment to the Palestinian cause might be based on a passionate concern for human rights and international law. There is no more serious or damning charge than anti-semitism. If he is to level it against Corbyn, Bower has an obligation to explain exactly what he means.

Also troubling is Bower’s description of Milne: here is how Bower describes him after the arrival of members of the Board of Deputies of British Jews in Jeremy Corbyn’s office: “In the presence of Jews, his body language had visibly changed.”

No evidence or source is provided to justify this (if true) wholly damning assertion. Allegations of such magnitude should always be backed by evidence which can be publicly assessed and verified.

David Hearst is editor in chief of Middle East Eye. Before that he was a journalist with The Guardian.

“I sat for a number of years opposite Seumas," he told me. "I am Jewish, as are a number of my former colleagues on The Guardian. At no time did any of us sense that Seumas’s body language changed in our presence.

"He was part of the team, held in high regard for his knowledge of the Middle East and often consulted on it, particularly by the person who sat next to him, fellow columnist Jonathan Freedland. That opinion of Seumas was shared by our editor at the time, Alan Rusbridger, who kept him as comment editor for six years.”

Bower gets it wrong on Islam

Bower makes a great deal of Corbyn’s Muslim links, often in order to discredit the Labour leader through association. Once again his accounts of Islam and the Muslim world contain smear and distortion.

Consider this passage: “In planning London’s next Stop the War demonstration, Corbyn welcomed the support of the Muslim Association of Great Britain. The group was attached to the Muslim Brotherhood, a terrorist organisation sponsoring suicide bombers to impose Sharia or Islamic law across the globe.”

There is no such organisation as the Muslim Association of Great Britain. Bower presumably means the Muslim Association of Britain. A minor point for sure, but Bower’s book contains numerous elementary factual errors of this nature. (I have not space to list them all here, but if anyone doubts me I am more than happy to send them a list.)

More troubling is Bower’s description of the Muslim Brotherhood. In March 2014, then-prime minister David Cameron launched a government inquiry to sustain the proposition that the Brotherhood in Britain had connections with violence in Egypt. The review by Sir John Jenkins could not find any evidence to support that view. This is nevertheless a gross misrepresentation of an organisation which came to power through democratic means in Egypt in 2012 before being supplanted in a bloody military coup a year later.

Bower goes on to say that the “principal supporters” of the Muslim Association of Britain were Iranian Ayatollahs. Piffle! I checked with a founder of the MAB, Anas Altikriti. He told me Bower’s claim is false. Anyone with a rudimentary understanding of British Islam knows that MAB is a Sunni organisation, whose principal backers were emphatically not Shia Ayatollahs based in Tehran (only around 10 percent of the Iranian population are Sunni Muslims).

Bower censures Corbyn for protesting against the murderous crackdown by the Bahrain dictatorship on pro-democracy protesters who organised street demonstrations in 2011, claiming that the dissent was organised by Iran – and that Corbyn knew this.

Here, Bower accepts the official narrative of the Bahrain and Saudi governments. In my view he does a grave injustice to many brave Bahraini protesters, many of whom have been tortured and are still wrongly jailed.

Bower’s concern with anti-semitism is clear. However, he talks of other minority groups with a language which he would be unlikely to tolerate if used about Jews. Take this passage describing Corbyn’s dealing with his constituents: "By 1998, new arrivals from Somalia, Pakistan and Bangladesh had packed into Islington North. Queues of migrants and asylum seekers at the Red Rose sought Corbyn’s help to obtain homes, welfare benefits, character references for bail, help to reduce their sentences after criminal convictions, and intercession to avoid deportation."

In this passage, Bower is painting the Somali, Pakistani and Bangladeshi communities in north London as criminal. I have no doubt that there were some criminals among them, as there are in any community. However, this blanket condemnation of Muslim immigrant communities in north London makes me feel squeamish.

When I rang Corbyn’s office, I was told that constituency surgeries and advice sessions had taken place at the Red Rose in the 1980s. However, they were not held at this location from the late 1980s onwards owing to “disability access issues”.

I showed this passage to Colin Yeo, a celebrated immigration lawyer. This is what he told me: "The casual conflation of immigration with crime is extremely unfortunate. I seriously doubt there was much call for his assistance with bail, benefits, character references or criminal appeals, more like help with family members and refugee claims."

I also sent this passage to Hashi Mohamed, who immigrated to the UK from Kenya as a child and is now a barrister and broadcaster. Here is his response: "In the mid-1990s, as one of those recently arrived Somalis fleeing war and death as a child, in another constituency in London, Brent, we too sought help from our local MP. We sought out compassion and understanding, we sought help wherever we could find it, in a language we barely understood, in an environment completely alien to us. The surgeries held by local MPs were a clear lifeline."

This book fails at a basic intellectual level. For example, Bower often seems to equate Corbyn's criticism of Israel with anti-semitism. Yet he makes little attempt to explain why the two should be treated as identical. The failure to explain his methodology is made worse by the lack of serious analysis of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance definition of anti-semitism. Bower says it is internationally recognised, but fails to add that as of September last year, it was thought to have only been formally adopted by eight countries. He also fails to address the concerns of experts who remain alarmed that the definition is confusing and conflates criticism of Israel with anti-semitism.

Why has this book been welcomed?

There is a problem here which goes much deeper than Tom Bower himself and raises questions about the British media and political culture. Bear in mind that Bower’s book is not just intellectually dishonest, it is a farrago of falsehood and insinuation.

Yet it appears to have had no difficulty finding a mainstream publisher, while receiving a generous reception in the mainstream press. To their credit a handful of reviewers – above all Stephen Bush in the Guardian – have exposed some of the errors in this book. But even the Bush review hardly touches on the extent of the collapse of journalistic standards in Bower’s account of Corbyn.

Are British journalists allowing hostility to Corbyn to get in the way of telling the truth?

British journalists need to ask themselves a question. Is there something rotten in British media discourse which allows someone like Bower to get away with this?

I have frequently criticised Jeremy Corbyn. Middle East Eye readers will know that I think he has serious questions to answer about anti-semitism. I have never made a secret of my Tory sympathies.

But I do believe in fairness. Are British journalists allowing hostility to Corbyn to get in the way of telling the truth? Has there been a balanced discussion of the anti-semitism claims against Corbyn’s Labour? The warm reception for Tom Bower’s ugly hatchet job on the leader of the opposition suggests that something has gone badly wrong with British public life.

We need to pause and reflect.

Peter Oborne
Peter Oborne won best commentary/blogging in 2017 and was named freelancer of the year in 2016 at the Online Media Awards for articles he wrote for Middle East Eye. He also was British Press Awards Columnist of the Year 2013. He resigned as chief political columnist of the Daily Telegraph in 2015. His books include The Triumph of the Political Class, The Rise of Political Lying, and Why the West is Wrong about Nuclear Iran.