Media under fire

The pressure on the BBC by the government of Tony Blair to stop its investigation and criticism of Britain’s complicity in the war in Iraq has an invisible side to it, but one that is very important: That is the sudden expansion of the role of the media and the difficulties under which they are required to fulfill their mission. Not only are they left politically exposed, but they have to confront the silence, the neutrality or even the hostility of those political forces which should be their natural allies in the process of informing the public correctly and objectively. Take, for example, the case of the BBC. Its investigation and revelations regarding the Blair government’s distortion of the Iraq file so as to convince the public of the need for a US-British invasion, would normally have been the job of the opposition, in this case the Conservative Party. But what sort of criticism can one expect from a party which for centuries has been pro-American and approved of the Iraq war without even waiting to hear Blair’s «proof» of the nuclear and chemical weapons which Saddam Hussein was supposed to possess. Of course, the blurring of ideological and political differences, including those between socialist and liberal parties, is not restricted to Britain. Let us accept that this confusion is due to the «ebbing of socialist ideology before the neo-liberal tide» as PASOK’s new general secretary, Michalis Chrysochoidis, said in a speech a few days ago. The matter is of little consequence whatever we call it. The fact is that the annihilation of socialist ideology has given rise to a vacuum. It has wiped out the clash of ideas and leveled out policies that once inspired various social movements. Major issues such as globalization and saving the environment have effectively been left outside the debate between traditional political rivals. Will the media be able to fill this vacuum?

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