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Date: 02/01/24

No Mere Messenger

It seems that no year can now pass without some of the truth being taken out of the world:

Photo of John Pilger

John Richard Pilger
Journalist, author and documentary film-maker
b. 9 October 1939, d. 30 December 2023

John Pilger was a journalist. No, he was more than that; he was a Journalist. The capital letter is sadly necessary to distinguish him from the corporate fluffers, state functionaries and glorified gossip columnists who represent the public's notion of 'journalist' - especially 'political journalist' - in these grim and misled times.

Although he worked for some of those corporate entities, his unerring desire to tell the truth, to strip off the illusions presented to us daily by those in whose interest it was to mislead, to go and simply report on the realities on the ground, meant that it was often an uneasy relationship, and Pilger had more than his share of run-ins with editors, proprietors and broadcasting panjandrums. As what is termed 'news' has became increasingly what is termed 'managed', it is scarcely a wonder that his documentary films - screened at peak times in the 1970s and 80s - could latterly find little purchase anywhere in the controlled ecosystem of television today, and his writings - as powerful, as persuasive, as true as they had ever been - were to all intents banished even (or perhaps particularly) from the mouthpieces of self-regarding and self-described 'liberals' or 'progressives' such as the Guardian.

(Bear in mind, for example, that that ineffectually limp organ has in the past year alone effectively sacked one veteran cartoonist (Steve Bell) and - to all intents and purposes - sent another one (Martin Rowson) to a re-education camp; in both cases after fake smears of antisemitism from the Usual Suspects).

Whether it was reporting on the scandal of Thalidomide in the UK; or on the constant oppression of his native Australia's native Australians; or the even greater magnitude of Zionist terror against all Palestinians; or - most frequently and notably - his exposure of the real results of US foreign policy in Cambodia, East Timor and elsewhere; in all these things, John Pilger presented the consequences of the moral corruption of Power for real people in real places, and did it with an erudition, a power and a passion completely alien to the state-corporate hacks and flacks who were, latterly, his contemporaries.

There are few enough real truth-tellers left in the blighted media landscape of our age, and we have lost one of the greatest and most effective.

John Pilger was a Journalist, in the truest, purest sense of the term. There are few left, and all of them have to operate as independent voices because of the pressures of conformity which have become almost total in the 'mainstream' media. It is our duty to ourselves and to our societies to seek out those voices - such as Jonathan Cook, Peter Oborne and Chris Hedges - and those channels such as Double Down News, Declassified UK and Media Lens. Even if you don't agree with them, you will at least be better informed about what those with seemingly unlimited power over our lives least want us to know.

And that would be the greatest tribute to John Pilger we can offer.