Info Wars

“The first casualty of war is truth”. 

This very relevant axiom is being much quoted and misquoted in all forms of media; especially in light of the terror attack on Israeli civilians on 7th October and the desire to make subsequent events conform to our own particular worldview. 

The mainstream media appears to have got itself in a bit of a pickle. 

The correct quote is actually “The first casualty, when war comes, is truth’” and was said by Republican senator Hiram Johnson during World War 1, according to the top search on the Internet. 

Rather interestingly he died on the very day that the United States dropped an atomic bomb on Hiroshima, it says. 

Or did he? 

I mean we have no verification beyond the internet and that is so often wrong. 

Have we any good reason to doubt it? Is it even important? 

I searched further and found a site called ‘Quote investigator’ who credited the quote to one Ethel Annakin who was the wife of the British politician Philip Snowden, saying, “Someone has said that ‘truth is the first casualty of warfare,’” she continued, “and this has been proved by the appalling misconceptions that have been spread broadcast since the war began.” (Speaking of WW1) 

Even Ethel realised then, that her quote had come from elsewhere. 

So how can we ever get to the truth of the matter? 

In this case it doesn’t really matter who first said it. The words speak for themselves as a cautionary maxim. 

In other matters the truth is rather more important.

People, and especially politicians and terrorist organisations will try to turn every event, no matter how ghastly, to their advantage: tragedy, wars; pandemics. You name it, someone is always on hand to profit from lies and half-truths. 

The Society of Editors claims that ‘It is the media’s role to seek the truth and place the facts as it can honestly determine them before the public.’ A noble ambition. 

But is that their role? State broadcaster, the BBC, champions its great impartiality but merely watching the daily news suggests this is not the case. There are definite agendas at play and they are not as impartial as they would have us believe. 

Media corporations and newspapers are all backed by someone- often the same person or the same big corporation. There are narratives and agendas; vested interests to accommodate. 

Being our trusted “Auntie Beeb”, the BBC recently began a fact-checking platform called ‘reality check’ and BBC Verify to combat misinformation, disinformation and downright lies. 

It fell at the first hurdle as the BBC’s chief fact-checker and disinformation correspondent,(I think she misunderstood the job description) was caught lying on her CV to apply for a job in Moscow. 

Not the best start for Ms Marianna Spring; and that’s the biggest understatement since Adam accused the serpent of spoiling his afternoon with some rotten fruit and getting him in a spot of bother to boot. 

In a recent social media post she warned, ‘As ever, a reminder that there’s a wave of disinformation, conspiracy theories and hate right now on social media – and this site in particular – as violence unfolds and people are killed on the ground.

It can have serious consequences. If you’re not sure, don’t share.’

She and the BBC then went onto share a piece of incendiary information, without verification, provided by terror organisation, Hamas, that Israeli rockets had struck a hospital in Gaza “killing hundreds.”

Given the heated anti-Jewish sentiment, demonstrations, and crime in many of our major cities, one would hope that they might take their own advice and get their facts straight. 

Then, slowly, as evidence emerged in the form of intercepted telephone conversations between Hamas leaders and video footage, which appears to show that the hospital was struck by Hamas’s own rockets being fired towards Israel, the story was corrected. 

Now no one believes either side, or the media who reports it. 

In the wake of the Online Safety Bill and other measures to restrict freedom of speech and information, I wonder who will fact-check the fact-checkers? 

And the truth? I suppose it’s just another casualty of war. 

2 thoughts on “Info Wars”

  1. Again, agree 95% of what you’ve said, especially about people (BBC) quickly jumping to conclusions that the rocket was fired by the IDF. The IDF however are not saying Hamas fired it but that it was by a separate group called Palestinian Islamic Jihad. A small distinction maybe, and who knows the Israelis could be wrong and it could be Hamas, or we could all be wrong and it could be IDF. But my point is war fogs the already biased lenses we observe these events through. I genuinely don’t think there is a sustainable solution to Middle Eastern conflict and I worry equally about conflicts in other parts of the world, not to mention the fear of potentially resurgent conflict on our adjacent island of Ireland. War is abhorrent, misinformation is dangerous , relying on only one source for news equally so.

    1. Cheers mate. Not sure what 5% we disagree about in that case.
      I saw the update about the PIJ but it kind of underlined the point that we need to be able to get a range of information from different sources and not simply believe what we are told. ????

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