Tackling big tech and democratizing journalism were the main topics I took from this year’s Media Democracy Festival in London this Saturday.
These things are planned long in advance so I shouldn’t expect people who have been preparing talks on structural problems in the media to have an entire programme based on very recent news.
However one thing I felt could have got more attention is the impact of the various reviews and reports that have come out about the media in the last few weeks.
Vanessa Baird of the New Internationalist mentioned the risks that the recent government commissioned Cairncross Review will lead to large corporates cannibalising a newly proposed fund. A fund that’s supposed to support local and public interest journalism.
The thing I worry about is that the recent Anti-Semitism affair is a sign of things to come in a future where politically motivated government backed digital regulators provide additional censorship on top of that already imposed on social media by the likes of Facebook, Google and Twitter.
Natalie Fenton, one of the organizers of the Media Democracy Festival, told me that the small print of the Cairncross Report makes provisions for a digital regulator.
In recent weeks Tom Watson, Labour’s Media and Digital Secretary and member of Labour Friends of Israel, has called for a Social Media Regulator.
Watson recently set up a party within the Labour Party called The Future Britain Group.
Despite having once written a book called Dial M for Murdoch with former Independent journalist Martin Hickman in which they attacked Murdoch, Tom Watson now clearly bats for Team Rupert.
Cairncross’s Report was clearly designed to protect Murdoch and other Press Barons from “big tech” and also from strict official regulation.
Cairncross, when calling for Social Media Regulation , made no mention of Leveson2 – the uncompleted aborted inquiry into phone hacking and rampant press criminality.
The press in this country are above the law.
Damian Collins, the Tory Chair of the Media Select Committee called Facebook “Digital Gangsters” in a recent report but he himself voted to end the unfinished Leveson Inquiry along with the rest of the Tory Party and the DUP.
Murdoch criminality is ok, so long as he is your friend.
Watson himself, though being in receipt of hundreds of thousands of pounds from billionaire press regulation campaigner Max Mosley, has remained completely silent on the subject of press regulation since the announcement that the Press Regulation pressure group Hacked Off were to take the government to court over the binning of the second half of the phone hacking inquiry into criminal activity at Murdoch’s News International publications which include the Sun, the now defunct News of the World, the Times and the Sunday Times.
Watson’s quote at the time was brilliant though scarcely reported.
He said that the conclusion of the inquiry into press criminality was essential and that Murdoch had gagged several phone hacking victims (and possibly journalists) by settling out of court but that an inquiry would have the legal right to give a platform to those witnesses and victims whose silence had been bought by the Murdoch empire.
Since then, Watson has slimmed down and aspires to be the Labour leader and PM.
Which he can’t do without Murdoch.
So it seems clear to me that Watson is in bed with Murdoch.
Both are staunch Israel supporters. And both backed the Iraq war. So, having bonded over their mutual imperialism and disdain for all things Corbyn, Watson and Murdoch now collaborate.
The concern for me is that the new digital fake news regulator will engage in gangland retribution on behalf of Murdoch and the State.
For example, the Canary and Novara have been feeling the Facebook algorithm changes that have led to them getting less traffic.
Social Media is a de facto public utility – so it is bizzare that Facebook, YouTube and Twitter employ unaccountable moderators to use silence ‘bad actors’.
But what rules are the following?
Are they written down?
How different is this to China?
Who controls access to the public sphere?
And how easily can this be captured?
A digital regulator will work for Murdoch, May, and Watson and take out their rivals.
It will also help undermine any call for regulation of anything run by the Press Barons.
Newspapers currently have more online and digital subscribers than hard copy.
And the most popular site of them all, the Guardian, moderates it’s comments section but is also not regulated.
Same goes for the other papers.
So the system is set up to silence dissent while claiming to be free and self-regulated.
The solutions to this problem, as I have been told, are to migrate over to Web 3.0 and the decentralized blockchain.
I have come across Steemit, D-Tube and the soon to be launched Bywire, which is part run by Byline, a new online publication. I know and get on well with the people at Byline.
Byline are also on good terms with Watson and Collins, whom I cannot stand.
I have never been able to work that one out to be honest.
Byline do great work and Peter Jukes, one the driving forces behind Byline, helped break the Cambridge Analytica story and has done excellent work on the far right links in the Conservative movements tied to Brexit and the Conservative party.
I interviewed Peter last year for Real Media and I really recommend the two videos we released!
One of the presenters at the festival, a Lithuanian female gamer, I forget her name, talked about 4chan and how there alt-right is strong in gamer communities.
I have heard of Gab which is supposed to be like Nazi twitter but I have never been on it.
Tom Watson also made lots of noise about paedophilila a few years ago and mysteriously stopped talking about it.
He said that Leon Brittan was part of a Westminster VIP paedophile ring.
He talked about Rotherham too. But that all suddenly stopped.
Rotherham was etched into the NZ mosque attacker’s gun.
But like his Tory rival Sajid Javid, Watson has chosen to blame the NZ attack on Social Media and said nothing about the role of the Murdoch press.
Whereas Sajid Javid chooses to grandstand against refugees and compete with Tommy Robinson over who is coming down hardest on ‘Asian paedophiles’ – Watson likes to point his own gun at Social Media and, like Javid, at “anti-Semitic Corbynistas”.
I believe a significant share of the antisemitic allegations that have been directed at the Labour Party are politically motivated. Murdoch himself commissioned Tom Bower to write a book about Corbyn which is full of falsehoods and is itself a racist tome. The book was serialised in the Mail on Sunday and when the author appeared on Sky television (recently sold by Murdoch), he labelled a left wing guest, Michael Segalov, “a self-hating Jew”.
Watson has had plenty of soft interviews with Andrew Marr recently in which he has been allowed to set out his stall. His main problem remains that he has no charisma.
He and Javid clearly don’t mind racist populists so long as they are Islamaphobic.
Like the ex Liberal leader, David Steel, Tom Watson will be sitting on lots of info about child sex abuse in the UK but has chosen to pursue his political career in lieu of obtaining justice for the victims.
Javid, May and obviously Murdoch are awash in paedophile info.
Maybe, like his new friend Murdoch, Watson is having too much fun playing with the possibilities of Kompromat.
In many ways, Murdoch and Watson are the perfect evil double act.
Could Watson somehow take over without winning a Labour leadership election?
Well of course.
All it takes is for Corbyn to die.
The Australian politician that got egged this weekend got more attention than Corbyn did when he was recently attacked in Finabury Park.
Is there any footage?
Why has none of it been shown?
And why has Watson’s twitter feed not called out the Murdoch press for its racism and Islamaphobia?
Feels like everyone else has.
Is Watson really an opposition Minister or is he controlled opposition?
Vladimir Lenin said the best way to control the opposition is “to lead it ourselves”.
I’ve been reading Inside the Mind of Xi Jinping this morning, which is brilliant.
More on that to come..