The Art of Gatecrashing: The Hesitant Rise of Dissident MediaMark Gullick
The late comedian Bill Hicks had a skit in which he described the average Joe turning on the TV for the news and getting: Death! Famine! War! Disease! Aaaaargh! The guy turns off the TV and looks out of his back window to hear quiet, apart from the gentle drone of crickets. He thinks, “Where the hell is all this going down?” Another comedic Bill, Bill Burr, updated this observation recently on YouTube political channel Triggernometry. On Twitter, he said, everyone is screaming at one another. Then you go outside for a walk and everyone is smiling at each other.
The psychological ramifications of online, virtual psychosis versus an easy and interpersonal communitarian calm is a subject for another day. But the difference between Hicks and Burr’s observations is that the former was performing in a time in which what we now call the mainstream media (MSM) was dominant, and the latter in an age wherein social media (more like S&M) has taken a racing line and leads the field.
Social media users have a quasi-journalistic effect now, relative to their fame, and increasingly resemble those insects who disguise themselves as other creatures and live among them to their advantage. Celebrities can now operate outside of their usual milieu, their twittering the subject of national comment rather than just their acting or footballing skills. Their egos have been given another theater in which to perform. But inured as we are to these “new journalists,” we should remember that this is a relatively new media environment, and we know that because of what one expert on the media wrote and did not write 15 years ago.
Alastair Campbell, Tony Blair’s notorious and Machiavellian press secretary, wrote a piece about newspaper magnate Rupert Murdoch in the New York Times in 2007 which is of interest not just because Campbell was a thoroughly malign influence on British politics (he it was who “sexed up” the dossier on Saddam Hussein’s famous and non-existent weapons of mass destruction and which ultimately led to the United Kingdom’s involvement in the Second Iraq War), but also because he is a master of his art and knows the media with blueprint accuracy. But although the piece is of interest for what Campbell says, it also holds the attention by what he does not, and cannot yet say at that time. And this blind spot was not from natural public relations reticence, but from the fact that he didn’t see it coming.
Campbell gives a personal time frame for the evolution of the media:
When I started out in newspapers 28 years ago, “the media” for most people meant a newspaper your family took daily and the TV news for a few minutes, in my country on the BBC. Today the scope and scale of the news media is unrecognizable by comparison.
So, in the UK from 1979 to 2007, the media expanded its range of effects due to changes in the televisual format of the news — as Campbell goes on to explain below — and latterly the advent of the Internet, like the sudden flux of type-printed books across Europe in the decades after Gutenberg’s printing press. But the Campbell of 2007 sees this expansion purely as taking place within the recognized industry. He sees no interlopers or outsiders or gatecrashers. We would come later. Campbell continues, “The advent of 24/7 news has arguably been the single biggest factor in altering the nature and tone of newspapers.”
Campbell’s brief and talent, and thus his usefulness to Blair, was always taking barometric readings from the media and deciding how government policy could best be disseminated to the public using that controlled conduit. What he sees as the expansion of the media is a cause for concern for Campbell:
With TV and radio becoming the most immediate purveyors of information, newspapers have changed. Many have become players as well as spectators in the political debate, something that suits the style of Mr. Murdoch, with his clear conservative worldview. [italics added]
Now, Campbell has been called a political opportunist, using his background in the traditional northern English working-class town of Burnley to gin up a Left-wing image, and that if he had thought the Tories would be the party of power during the Blair years then he would have been a media carpetbagger for the Conservatives. But I don’t believe Campbell would or could have worked for anyone else but Labour. In interviews it is clear that he hates conservatives on a visceral level, which is what illuminates the italicized sentence from the NYT piece.
For Campbell, a master of the dark arts of media manipulation, newspapers as “players as well as spectators” are anathema. He was, and presumably still is, an advocate of centralist government control over the media, and was famously dismissive of the press’ tendency towards op-ed. The only opinion that should be published is that of the government, and any bolshiness in the Fleet Street ranks was notoriously dealt with firmly by Campbell, who was allegedly a bully, among his other unpleasant personality traits. I saw him once on a canal towpath when he was out for a morning run. I looked long at him as I passed, without smiling but conveying the fact that I knew exactly who he was. I can’t recall ever having had a stranger look at me with such malevolence.
But nowhere in the NYT piece does Campbell mention either social media or what is now loosely but accurately described as the “dissident media.” This shows how quickly online involvement has sprung up. Now, if Campbell didn’t see it coming, I very much doubt anyone else did. In media terms today, everyone is at least potentially a player and not just a spectator, and that provides the MSM with a rich seam of distraction. “Twitter-storms” involving celebrities now become whole stories. This suits the MSM, as a large part of their remit is to distract the public while the dark machineries of globalism grind on in the background. Even the Right-of-center MSM news outlets FOX News in the United States and GB News in the UK can be found in the intellectual playground that is Twitter, eking out stories from the chatter of the gormless but famous.
But there is another locus now for media, a sort of shadow operation — resistance fighters, maquis snipers taking pot shots from the forest on the hill. That would be us. This is the adaptation of the media which must most appall Campbell: They’ve let in the hoi-polloi. These people are not even trained journalists. A personable YouTuber called Mahyar Tousi not only presents a well-informed series of daily videos, he also has as his catchphrase: “We are the media.” This is Campbell’s nightmare, an open-access media sphere where those previously disbarred from the Freemasonic guilds of traditional journalism are suddenly free to barge in. “Dissident media” is a strong description (I also like “vigilante media”), but “gatecrash media” will serve as well, because that is what has happened. The party was being held behind locked doors, and with security standing outside. Now, we crashed the party. The big-dollar question is: What do we do now we’re inside?
The greatest problem facing the Right-wing dissident media is that diversity is not its strength. That the Left marches in ideological lockstep as precisely synchronized as a Chinese military march-past is self-evident. The problem for the Right is that they instinctively rebel against and reject ideological conformism. This sounds libertarian and liberatory, but it also means that a lot of time on the Right is spent in internecine warfare, shooting at the same side — friendly fire rather than the unfriendly fire they need to be aiming at the other side of the river.
I don’t particularly like American football, but I am fascinated that each player is striving for the good of the team despite having precisely demarcated and very different roles to play in the game. In soccer there are of course assigned tactical roles, but a defender, midfielder, even a goalkeeper can score a goal just as a striker can, and that same striker can clear the ball off the goal line to avert disaster. There is not such flexibility in the American game, and it is instructive as a metaphor for the Right. Each of us have to work independently, according to our skills, but together according to our common aim. If not, and to extend the sporting metaphor, the Left’s winning streak will continue.
A friend of mine, when I used to repeat during a pub conversation a phrase I had used many times before, would mime stamping out an old-fashioned library book, as though to say that we’ve heard that one before. He will wield that invisible stamp once more if he reads this, but as famously noted, if we don’t hang together we will assuredly hang separately, and the Right is shuffling towards the gallows, with its traditional 13 steps leading to the traditional 13 knots of the hangman’s noose, and they will not even look each other in the eye as they shuffle. And yet this is the time that Right-wing media could storm the castle keep. They are weak and we are strong and getting stronger.
Changes in the mainstream media on both sides of the Atlantic have been at first gradual and, recently, rather sudden. Newspaper publishing in Britain (and I assume in the US) is heavily reliant on advertising rather than the chump-change of cover price income, and if ad sales drop off so do sales, followed by the workforce, and eventually the title itself. I worked in magazine publishing, and the advertisers were second only to the publisher in terms of power. British papers were fairly inept at making the leap to online publishing, with the exception of the Daily Mail, which it seems to me is cited more in the American media more than the NYT and WaPo. As for the new media, it may not yet be aware of its own possibilities. A change is not gonna come, it’s already here, we just haven’t noticed yet.
As Campbell noted, the media was a fixed quantum a few decades ago. The media disseminated information, with some limited and uncontroversial opinion, and the consumer received this intellectual tickertape and processed it without the possibility of interacting, apart from the writing of letters to The Times and so on, and even that was on a tight editorial leash. As the media evolved to adapt to the constant presence of news, augmented by the World Wide Web, the globalization not just of resources and population but also of the media grew apace. This is the type of globalization the progressives don’t want to see.
There used to be a ritual element to the news, sitting down in front of the television at 6 PM to see what had happened to who, and where. In those pre-lapsarian media days the BBC didn’t really do “why?” Now, of course, they do nothing but, although there are only three answers to questions as to why what they think is a deleterious event has taken place: racism, Tory cuts, and climate change. Journalistic outcomes are easy when you have your answers on hot keys. So, I don’t imagine anyone reading this will be getting a post at the Beeb any time soon. As for attempting to write for at least the British print media, good luck with that if you have been seen drinking in the wrong taverns.
The MSM won’t touch me with a long pole because now everyone is thoroughly vetted to see who they might have written for. You may be forgiven for thinking that perhaps the newspapers and magazines I approach have a standard I can’t attain, that they just don’t think I can write, but I don’t believe so. Contemporary journalism is almost entirely lacking in flair, which is something that can’t be said about my work, and it is rated accordingly by competent editors. I recently had a piece which ran in between features by Pat Buchanan and Ann Coulter. I hate to blow my own trumpet but, as my late father said, if you don’t blow it, son, no one else will blow it for you. I can write; that isn’t the issue. The issue is who I have written for.
The problem is one of association. This involves the deliberate excision of a figure from discourse that seems at first glance to champion free speech. GB News, for example, recently ran two 10-minute segments on Mark Steyn’s show dealing with the “Pakistani” (they rarely say “Muslim”) grooming gangs in the north of England. The pieces featured a very erudite young lady who had been a victim of the rapists for a decade. Steyn, a great journalist, was visibly annoyed at the whole sordid fiasco, but at no point did either he or his interviewee mention Tommy Robinson’s film The Rape of Telford, reviewed by myself at Counter-Currents. This is not shoddy journalism, it’s just the usual position that even the supposedly alternative media take when it comes to Robinson. It’s partly a vestigial bourgeois attitude to the working class, partly fear of how it could affect advertising. Peter Whittle’s otherwise excellent New Culture Forum did exactly the same thing with their piece on Telford. I e-mailed both, but at the time of writing have had no reply.
The magazines that have published my work in the last year have been, each and every one, American. There is a British Right-of center press online – The Spectator, Unherd, Spiked, The Critic, and others — but they gave me the same reply to my pitches as did the MSM: answer came there none. I have always thought this failure to give even a brief courtesy reply bloody rude, incidentally, but a good friend who works for The Times of London tells me this arrogance is standard.
Association toxicity, as you might call it, is not confined to people, but extends to publications. In July, I had a piece in Taki’s Magazine about Britain’s newest political party, Reclaim. Since then, leader Laurence Fox has become known to the American Right via the new movie My Son Hunter, in which Fox (son of actor James Fox and nephew of Edward) plays Hunter Biden. It has kicked a hornets’ nest as far as the US Left are concerned, but a few weeks ago no one Stateside had heard of him or Reclaim. I wrote a pretty glowing piece. Bloody hell, looking back at it I might have been auditioning as their press secretary. But I had one small criticism: They wouldn’t talk to me. “Not really one for us,” said their PR guy when offered free publicity read by tens of thousands of people.
I know perfectly well why. It is because they checked out who I had written for and didn’t want the taint of “far Right” attached to their brand. Reclaim champion free speech but, like a lot of English middle-class activists, FOX and friends have to be sure who you have spoken freely for. The same thing happened when I wrote a long piece for The Occidental Observer about Hope Not Hate (HNH — think the Southern Poverty Law Center or Anti-Defamation League with English accents and teeth) and their obsession with a British far Right they have mostly invented to guarantee their funding doesn’t dry up when it is realized they are chasing phantoms. I contacted a dozen or so UK players within what HNH terms the “far Right,” and only half of them replied. A couple got back to me and, when I told them who I had written for never contacted me again, even after being nudged. There were notable exceptions, and I will be writing a piece here in the near future about Patriotic Alternative and their championing of home schooling.
But the truth of writing for the dissident media is that it separates the wolves from the sheep. The reputation that comes with writing for the magazines I write for is too rich for the blood of some purportedly Right-of-center outfits. But not all. I recently got an — exclusive, as far as I know — interview with a citizen journalist in the UK who is currently giving the best coverage of the immigration crisis there I have read. As always, I told him exactly who I have written for and write for regularly to save him the time (he is a very busy man) of having to chivvy me out online. He came straight back to me with a great interview that should run sometime this month.
How different from the Reclaim Party, the Reform Party (Nigel Farage’s old outfit), and Resistance UK, who come on tough over social media but meekly told me they weren’t a political organization when I pressed them. Optics are everything for the weaker members of the dissident media, just as they are for the big boys. And that doesn’t just apply to established parties and organizations who are part of that shadow fourth estate; it applies to the reader, too.
I appreciate that appeasing Big Tech is a walk between the raindrops. Look at the case of The European Conservative, dropped by British retail outlet W. H. Smith for a cartoon and a couple of phrases written in Wrongthink. Censorship doesn’t even kick in for expressing the wrong opinion online; the wrong word or phrase will have you taken down. If I were still on Facebook, I wouldn’t be able to link to this article because Counter-Currents is blacklisted by Zuckerberg’s people.
No one is going to countermand the mainstream media except us. Write. Get your subject, research it, approach dissident magazines. Start your own. We need an intellectual version of punk rock, where everything suddenly went through its own great reset. We are smarter and more capable than the Left, and we should not be on the back foot. If you don’t feel publishing is your milieu, start a weblog if you haven’t already. Contact other bloggers. Try to reclaim the ground stolen from us. Our time may well be coming when the lights go out and the stores are empty. In the words of Byron, battle for freedom wherever you can, and if not shot or hanged you’ll get knighted.
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