Media Truthers: A Damascene Conversion or Personal Enrichment

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Udo Ulfkotte - Courtesy: Udo Ulfkotte

By Ann-Marie de Veer
Saturday 21 February 2015

In biblical mythology, the New Testament of the Bible narrates the conversion of Paul the Apostle, aka. Saul of Tarsus, who previously revelled in the persecution of Christians. Saul was travelling on the road from Jerusalem to Damascus, a routine mission to round-up and incarcerate believers in Jesus Christ, when a resurrected Jesus appeared before him in a great flash of light. The biblical account of the event recounts the dialogue:

Jesus: Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me?"
Saul: Who art thou, Lord?
Jesus: I am Jesus whom thou persecutest.

The myth also recounts that Saul was blinded by the event and had to be led into the city (Damascus) where he neither ate nor drank while prostrating himself in prayer for three days. Soon thereafter, a disciple, Ananias of Damascus, on instruction from Jesus, met Saul and restored his sight. Saul was subsequently baptised Paul and his Damascene Conversion was complete. Thus Paul became a fervent adherent to the Jesus is the Son of God brand of Christianity and proselytised the faith widely before being martyred in Rome.

However, there is absolutely no similarity whatsoever between Paul the Apostle and any member of the mainstream media who, for their own nefarious purposes, suddenly claim they have experienced a Damascene Conversion in renouncing their previous deceit of the general public with a new found desire to publish the unvarnished truth.

As is common knowledge, the Fourth Estate, aka. the mainstream media in modern parlance, is routinely considered a societal or political force whose influence is not consistently or officially recognised but claims to hold the privileged and powerful to account on behalf of the general public. A lofty notion that it invariably fails to achieve.

Peter Oborne - Courtesy: Sean Smith

Enter Udo Ulfkotte and Peter Oborne, two writers a little over a decade apart in their saintly endeavours, who have both been complicit in espousing the propaganda of successive German and British regimes respectively.

Ulfkotte was recruited by the German foreign intelligence agency, the Bundesnachrichtendienst (BND) after finishing his PhD at university, who placed him as a reporter in the German newspaper, the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (FAZ). Oborne was recruited by the British Secret Service, aka MI5, whilst at Cambridge, who engineered his career via Fleet Street, the House of Commons press gallery, various roles in TV media and finally writing for The Spectator and The Telegraph. As their careers progressed they have sucked on the eternal teat of money and privilege provided for those obsequious sycophants that populate the media profession by successive despotic regimes. In essence, they both become stenographers for their numerous masters over the years only to develop a moral conscience as they neared the natural end of their careers by claiming a Damascene Conversion.

Ulfkotte's fall from grace and favour began a year after he resigned from the FAZ on medical grounds. In 2004 he was offered a large sum of money by a German politician to spy on a political rival and, citing his newly acquired penchant for honesty and having developed a conscience, he refused. Naturally Ulfkotte immediately became a target of the security services for his failure to play the game and has suffered differing degrees of harassment from them ever since. Nonetheless, he has gone on to exploit his previously privileged access to the corridors of power and has since published more than 15 works, enjoying both the financial rewards and the notoriety they afford in early retirement.

Oborne's demise erupted in the mainstream media on 17 February 2015 when he resigned from the The Telegraph citing the unscrupulous relationship between the newspapers editorial and commercial departments as the primary reason. Like Ulkotte, Oborne had developed a conscience as his online valedictory diatribe posted on the OpenDemocracy website on the day of his departure clearly shows: The Telegraph were guilty of a litany of issues going back years. Naturally Oborne's departure has yet to merit a response from MI5 but there is one thing that can be guaranteed: a prolific outpouring of truth will emerge in the media, for a price.

The notion that the general public should somehow be grateful to these former operatives in the mainstream media for finally telling the truth, akin to the reformed sinners in biblical times who have corrected their aberrant behaviour, is ill founded. These writers have knowingly misled and lied to the general public for years whilst enjoying the benefits their patrons and taxpayers have bestowed upon them. Their sudden enthusiasm for the truth is not a Damascene Conversion in acknowledgement of the error of their ways but simple fiscal expediency: their careers are nearing a natural end and they are desperate to maintain the income stream to which they have become accustomed. The fact that they are prepared to prostrate themselves before the court of public opinion in furtherance of this endeavour only adds to their reprehensible and shameless self-serving behaviour.

That the role of the mainstream media is to be an independent and objective arbiter of the truth in holding the rich and powerful to account is known, albeit that they routinely fail in this task. Nonetheless, what is less well known is how the many operatives working in the media industry transition from being a poacher to gamekeeper without attracting the ire of the public.

The likelihood of these writers' works, and any other operatives' works in the mainstream media, past, present or future, being offered at cost for printed versions and freely available online is nil.

Principal rarely prevails over profit.
Ann-Marie de Veer