Six months after one of Britain’s worst post-war disasters in which dozens died and hundreds lost their homes, the Times newspaper has attacked activists seeking justice for victims, and chucked in another swipe at RT for good measure. Because why not?
The Times story gets off to a strong start in its RT story with the line “A Kremlin-controlled TV station seized on the Grenfell Tower fire to try to foment ‘class war’ in Britain.” It’s a scary accusation, albeit an inaccurate one. RT only aims to foment class war in the early spring. A quick glance around the office shows you’re more likely to find staff fermenting grapes than fomenting class war.
But RT has become so helpful for The Times in filling its pages it should be sending over a cheque for advertising revenue. Make it out to a Mr V. V. Putin.
When a story goes in this strong, it’s hardly surprising that reality and facts cower in the burning glow of feigned indignation. The use of the word ‘seized’ is interesting. You could replace it with, for example ‘reported on.’ Hard to say what RT UK as a news organization was supposed to report in the wake of such a massive story. Perhaps The Times’ newsdesk can check RT’s stories before they go out, to make sure none of Rupert Murdoch’s minions are offended.
The paper usefully quotes “class war,” but it’s not really obvious where that quote is from. Top investigative reporter Dominic Kennedy wasn’t in the mood to make that clear. The word ‘foment’ is not part of a quote – that is The Times’ own little addition. So essentially it appears RT is accused of putting the words ‘class’ and ‘war’ together… and saying them out loud!!!
If RT is trying to “foment class war” with its coverage of Grenfell (I asked around, and it’s not) you have to wonder what kind of war The Times is trying to ‘foment’ with its unending, sensationalist and misleading coverage of anything linked to the word Russia.
The article goes on: “An RT reporter said: ‘£10 million was spent on cosmetic changes to the outside of the building to make it look better for rich residents who live near by.’ In fact the £10 million figure was the cost of the entire refurbishment between 2014 and 2016, not just the cladding.”
If this did happen, and it probably did because we have to trust that The Times has studied the hell out of the coverage in order to squeeze out any accusation it can, could it be that the RT reporter made a mistake? Or is it really more likely Vladimir Putin is micro-managing RT UK’s coverage of the Grenfell Tower disaster from a comfortable chair in the Kremlin? When it comes to reports accusing RT or Russia, there are no mistakes. There is no human error. There are no humans. There is only ‘fomenting.’
You’ll notice the story is more concerned with a misquoted figure rather than the more serious suggestion that people perished because of cladding added to improve the view for the wealthy.
Then the article gets really personal. “Afshin Rattansi, one of the channel’s presenters, asked if ‘state-backed neglect, corruption and cuts to services had led to social cleansing at Grenfell.’”
Someone asked a question. A question! The same question more or less everyone in Britain across the media was asking in the aftermath of the Grenfell disaster. Including some commentators in publications as well-respected as… oh… the Times.
But generally, The Times doesn’t like those questions about people less fortunate than its average reader, and its coverage of Grenfell 6 months on has more than a hint of class activism itself, although it’s probably fighting for the class of people living in the other parts of Kensington and Chelsea beyond Grenfell. You’ll find them in the big houses that come equipped with gardens, nannies and sprinkler systems.
“Activist groups,” ”a volunteer network for victims,” “a woman who accused the local council of having blood on its hands,” are all attacked by The Times alongside RT, every one of them assigned their own little conspiracy theory, while being accused of being conspiracy theorists.
These are groups working for the good of people caught up in a humanitarian disaster, but of course they don’t deserve your trust like The Times deserves it. Because this is the newspaper of the establishment don’t you know!
Towards the end of the report is this scathing revelation.
“The channel’s [RT] reporting is influential in the Grenfell Tower neighbourhood, Lucy Knight, a volunteer in the area, told the Times. ‘People get their news from all kinds of places such as Al Jazeera and RT,’ she said. ‘There’s a sort of general feeling that the BBC don’t have quite the approach they used to in terms of journalism. The international people are more aware of the other stories that are out there.’”
Dominic! Why isn’t this the lead!? People feeling let down by the BBC are having to go elsewhere, perhaps to outlets that ask the difficult questions. Where’s the article about that?
In another expose running alongside the attack on RT, Kennedy reports on accusations that an activist fighting for Grenfell has been accused of anti-Semitism. Well in the interests of transparency, Kennedy was once forced to apologize for a tweet which said the following.
“So many of the VIPS accused of being pedophiles are Jewish or gay. Maybe we could have a system to identify these people: triangles, stars ..”
The Times should stop throwing stones in its glass house and perhaps expend some effort asking why no one has been prosecuted over a disaster in London’s richest borough which cost the lives of 71 people.