A is for Astroturf
That is what has brought our media, and especially broadcast media, into disrepute: here’s a climate scientist, and here’s a paid shill from an Astroturf lobby group armed with talking points that hold, more or less, that it isn’t happening. Broadcasters like the BBC are stymied by the legacy of people like Robbie Gibb: there must be “balance”. Here’s someone who understands climate change, and here’s James Delingpole. Who doesn’t.
So it is with the pandemic. And we do not have to look far to see who is pushing the “both sides” narrative: we have been bombarded in the last two days by talk of the “Great Barrington Declaration”, claiming lockdowns are not the way to go. This claim was front page lead in yesterday’s Daily Mail, promoted even as Covid-19 infection rates are rising significantly - and hospital admissions of those infected are also on the increase.
Matt Reynolds of Wired has written a must-read article on the Great Barrington Declaration (see it HERE), and the American Institute for Economic Research, which is behind it, is quite explicit about the narrative it is trying to shape, telling “The writers of the Great Barrington Declaration expressly recognize both sides of the equation”. Both sides.
Peter Geoghegan of Open Democracy responded to the Reynolds piece earlier. “Really interesting piece. Lot of effort going into constructing a Covid 'both sides' narrative - heard on Radio 4 this morning about herd immunity, as if it's actually a thing - whereas scientific consensus is really very clear. Very, very similar to Tobacco Tactics playbook”.
Note his mentioning that the “herd immunity” idea - rejected by our own Government back in March after a brief initial flirtation - has been pitched on the Today Programme. And there, Geoghegan had a warning. “And media is so easily played on this stuff. Tobacco lobby adopted tactic of using 'white coats' to push narratives, even when white coats were in entirely different fields media will report 'scientists'. Heard same thing yesterday with the 'Great Barrington Declaration’”. It’s a “Great Declaration”. It’s serious.
Matt Reynolds concluded “there is little about the Great Barrington Declaration that feels convincingly scientific” and signed off with this thought: “We should be careful about how we interpret any so-called divide when it comes to Covid-19. And when we’re weighing up whether one approach is better than another, we should be extremely clear about what is science, what is supposition and what is just surface”. But is the media listening?
We’ve been here before, most recently with climate change. And once again, it seems that the obsession with “balance” is easily exploited by those pushing the “both sides” narrative - you’ve got to have both sides represented. Except there really aren’t “both sides”.
All it needs now is the free speech obsessives to claim someone is being “cancelled” because of their views. You’re being played, broadcasters. Meanwhile, people are dying.
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