Media mediate. The clue is in the name. All media come between the parties to a communication episode. They intercede to shape the message. They may alter that message to a varying extent and for a variety of purposes. Their reforming of the message may be done with different degrees of artfulness and the extent and purpose may be more or less apparent as a result. But media mediate. There are no exceptions.
The splenetic reaction of British Nationalists to news that Alex Salmond is to host a talk show on Russian TV channel, RT, represents yet another display of the imperious British exceptionalism which is such an integral part of that repugnant ideology. Mediation is fine so long as it’s British mediation. It’s fine to intercede if it’s on behalf of the British state. Shaping the message is perfectly acceptable if it serves the purposes of the British state. ‘British’ is the exemplar. ‘British’ is the standard by which all else is judged.
Four legs good! Two legs also good! So long as they are British legs!
That a devoted, not to say slavish, servant of the British state – let’s call him Andi Kneel (See what I did there?) – is afforded multiple platforms in the British media from which to defend and promote the established power of the British ruling elites, is not seen as at all problematic. Because he is British. Because the media is British. Because what is being defended and promoted is British. British is synonymous with benign and beneficent. Everybody knows that!
But so much as suggest that someone who is prepared to challenge the concept of a divinely ordained British state might have access to media resources which will allow them to convey a message unmediated by servants of the British state, and a veritable storm of spluttering, spittle-flecked outrage ensues.
Is RT a tool of the Russian state? No doubt! But no more so than the BBC is a tool of the British state. There may be differences in the way they go about it. But both serve established power. Both work in various ways to shape the message for particular purposes. They’re media. They mediate. Get over it.
Is the Russian regime hoping that Salmond’s programme will discomfit and embarrass the British regime? You bet it is! But I’m perfectly comfortable with that. I’m quite content that any regime should be discomfited and embarrassed. I see no reason whatever why the British regime should be the exception. I reject the notion that the British state should be able to act with impunity. I do not accept that the British establishment should have the sole and exclusive right to mediate the message.
And, when it comes to the media, don’t ask me to pick and choose between British and Russian. I’m Scottish! I don’t see that much difference. I don’t see either doing much to serve Scotland or Scotland’s people or Scotland’s politics. I’m sure as hell not about to assume that, even if the Russian media are malign, this implies that the British media are benign.
The Brits are raging. They’re raging because Scotland’s Yes movement may have found a broadcast media outlet. They’re raging just as they raged, and continue to rage, at The National for daring to break with the cosy consensus of a London-centric British perspective on Scottish politics.
They can only be raging because they desperately want to prevent the Yes movement getting its message to the people of Scotland. They can only be raging because they really don’t want people to realise that a different perspective is possible. They are raging because they fear to lose control of the message.
Just think for a moment what this implies. The British state wants the British media to deny a voice to a lawful, peaceful, democratic political movement supported by something approaching half the people of Scotland. And a far larger proportion if one includes those Unionists who, despite their reservations about independence, nonetheless adhere to democratic principles. In what way can this possibly be better – in any sense of that term – than whatever it is that the Russians are being accused of?
This is not just raging. It’s British Nationalist raging. It wouldn’t be British Nationalist raging if it wasn’t anti-democratic. And thick with the contradiction and inconsistency that marks British Nationalism as an ideology of the gut, rather than the mind. Watch while British Nationalists gloat over the SNP ‘distancing’ itself from Alex Salmond’s latest project. They drool gleefully over what they choose to interpret and/or represent as ‘disapproval’ in Nicola Sturgeon’s rather mild comments on the matter. But watch also as they insist that Salmond represents the SNP as he appears on RT. Because the alternative is to admit that what he is actually representing is the Yes movement. But they can’t allow the Yes movement to have a voice.
It’s a dilemma that the British state resolves with obfuscation, distraction, distortion and downright lies. But only so long as it gets to mediate the message.
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