Media/Film Bias Continues Apace
It is widely accepted that, through its films and those acting in them, Hollywood favourably portrays the left and criticises the right. Because it has established this position over the years, most viewers/readers take account of this bias when commenting on a film and simply say no more than “well just as one expected”. But occasionally the bias is so bad that an observer feels forced to draw attention to it.
That is the case with the film “Vice”, which has just appeared and has received five stars from some film critics. But while The Australian’s Foreign Editor, Greg Sheridan, acknowledges that the film is “superbly made, indeed brilliant”, he portrays it as “profoundly dishonest in its treatment of Dick Cheney, George W. Bush’s vice-president.” Indeed, he rightly points out that “it has a wider cultural significance, for it demonstrates one reason it is so difficult for conservatives to prevail in Western societies. The Left has colonised and politicised much of elite and even popular arts production and uses them to project political messages. Vice is a supreme propaganda film, using all manner of sly tricks to dehumanise its villains. It is full of specific falsehoods. More generally, the innuendo and the physical mockery of its designated villains makes it manipulative and dishonourable”.
Sheridan’s comments, which are worth reading in full (see Hollywood on Cheney), reflect my own now rather hazy recollection of what happened under Bush as President and Cheney as his Vice P. I note in particular Sheridan’s comment that “Far from Bush and Cheney lying about the intelligence, they reported the same intelligence as the Clinton administration had. I confirmed this with many senior Clinton figures who had all believed Saddam had WMDs”.
Sheridan reference to the film’s “wider cultural significance” is also important. Such a well-made, five star film will be widely seen and its bias will be more accepted as fact than might otherwise be the case. One of the bias objects in “Vice” might be to pose the question of whether the Trump administration is “as poor as” the Bush one seems to be portrayed in the film. I don’t know when the film was made but the latest Pew survey published on October 1 in the US summarises the result as “Trump gets lower ratings than his predecessors in recent midterm years – Barack Obama, George W. Bush and Bill Clinton – for being trustworthy, empathetic and well-informed. However, Trump fares comparatively well in public perceptions of his ability to get things done” (See Pew Rating on Trump).
The extent of the opposition to Trump in the US might have influenced the way the film makers presented Bush/ Cheney in “Vice”. My own perspective is that, although as Pew says “Trump Gets Negative Ratings for Many Personal Traits”, his policy decisions have made an important positive contribution to the way the US has been seen domestically and rescued it from the negative perspective which developed under Obama both domestically and here in Australia.
Trump’s Negative Perspective on Syria
In my 24 December Commentary I said that Trump’s decision to withdraw US troops from Syria was sending “the wrong signal to Islamic extremists, and to those with Islamic beliefs in other countries”. An editorial in today’s Australian rightly argues that”Mr Trump failed to take into account the historical perspective of what has and has not worked in the battle against Islamist terrorism since the US-led invasion of Afghanistan in 2001”.
It also suggests that Trump has “not understood the implications for the West and Israel of recent moves that have highlighted the way Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, at best a very uncertain NATO ally, is now working in lock-step over Syria’s future with Vladimir Putin, Iran and the Assad regime, with each seeking to consolidate their gains in Syria” (see Trump on Syria). It is encouraging to have such points made in a leading editorial.
The importance of continuing to draw attention to Islamic terrorist activity, and the need to respond to it, is reflected in the latest reporting of the stabbing by a “Muslim terrorist of two civilians and a police officer at a train station in Manchester. He shouted ‘Allahu akbar’ and other pro-Islam sentiments upon his arrest but the authorities have arrested him under the ‘Mental Health Act’. Thankfully they are using the counter-terror unit to investigate, but probably only because witnessed heard him shouting those Islamic sayings. Had he not uttered those sentiments, the British authorities might very well have ignored the need to investigate it as a terror attack and preferred to deal with it as a ‘mental health’ issue (see Terrorism Again in Manchester).
A detailed report of the recent murder of two Scandinavian students while hiking in the Atlas Mountains in Morocco is particularly interesting. The author, Bill Muehlenberg (an expert on Islam who is known to me), says “the horrific deaths (including decapitation) were videotaped by the Islamists and images of it were sent to parents of one of the girls. But as has now become the norm, much of the mainstream media in the West has put its own spin on the story. Thus we are once again left to get the actual facts from the alternative media. And there are several issues here which need to be addressed. The main one has to do with the nature of Islam. There is nothing unusual about these murders for the devout Muslim. It is all covered in, and approved by, the main Islamic religious texts. Beheading the infidel is simply par for the course. I document this here in some detail: billmuehlenberg.com/2014/08/27/beheading-and-islam/” (see Morocco, Muslims, Murder and Media Mischief).
Since Trump made the announced withdrawal, and the resignation of some military advisers, there have been reports that he is backtracking. However, it appears that all that he is saying is that the time of the withdrawal is not yet determined.
Romney Attacks Trump Too
The former presidential candidate, Mitt Romney, who has now become a senator, has also attacked Trump “on balance, his conduct over the past two years, particularly his actions this month, is evidence that the president has not risen to the mantle of the office” (see New Senator Romney Attacks Trump’s Character). In the attachment,Michelle Moons, who is a White House Correspondent for Breitbart News, reports that “Romney acknowledged that Trump had enacted “policies mainstream Republicans have promoted for years.” He praised aligning “U.S. corporate taxes with those of global competitors,” deregulation, cracking down on China’s “unfair” trade practices, criminal justice reform, and appointments of conservative judges.
But he went on to assail Trump’s character: “With the nation so divided, resentful and angry, presidential leadership in qualities of character is indispensable. And it is in this province where the incumbent’s shortfall has been most glaring.”
But Romney’s assail may need to be assessed against the “gaffes” he made during his presidential campaign (see Romney’s Gaffes).