HYSTERICAL MEDIA GO ON MISINFORMED RAMPAGE

Rumours persist that protesters also had tent pegs, bicycles AND EVEN SILLY STRING

DOZENS of misinformed media outlets yesterday went on a hysterical rampage – going head-to-head with FACTS and SCIENCE – and causing chaos across the country as they poured an oily slick of lies across the nation’s front pages.

At the same time, hundreds of idiots wreaked havoc across the internet, using websites as diverse as Twitter and newspaper comments sections to vent their reactionary opinions and stupid world view.

The occasion was, of course, the weekend’s Climate Camp, and the hyped-up ‘day of action’ which took place on Monday. Inevitably, there wasn’t nearly enough ‘action’ to satisfy a media which had been building up this invasion of anarchists intent on violence and disruption for months, but hey, let’s not let the small matter of FACTS get in the way of some good RIOT coverage!!1!211

Faced with this lack of COP15 style scenes of thousands of riot cops and activists facing it down, they had to make do with total lies and some made-up nonsense about ‘weapons’ – all of which the police obligingly did their best to go along with.

Most of the press coverage of Monday has focused on a supposed ‘oil slick’ which was created by activists pouring ‘oil and vegetable oil’ onto two busy roads. This is a blatant lie which has been spread by Lothian and Borders Police in a bid to discredit the protests and any political points they were trying to make. Two roads were indeed shut by the police for several hours on Monday morning, but there’s no evidence to prove that protesters had poured oil anywhere, let alone over busy roads. In a couple of actions on the day, molasses was used, specifically because it has the appearance of oil, but is sticky and doesn’t present any present any great safety risk, as oil would. Somewhere, wires have obviously got crossed, and news about molasses being poured over the offices of Cairn Energy in the city centre has lead to the Climate Camp being blamed for presumably an accidental leak of oil on two Edinburgh roads – hardly a rare occurrence.

Lethal weapons recovered by the police

In another bout of sensationalism, police were able to provide the media with pictures of supposed ‘weapons’ that they’d retrieved from around the campsite. The key word here being campsite, particularly when it’s revealed that these dangerous weapons were in fact a chisel and a mallot. Leftfield can also exclusively reveal that the site had saws, spades and even pick axes. In fact, a whole marquee was dedicated to storing tools which we’d presumed were for site maintenance and construction – how terribly naive of us.

As well as the police, the media were able to rely on a bunch of populist politicians from the mainstream political parties to come out and call on the police to start beating up peaceful activists who were engaged in a “disturbing” protest according to Labour and an “absolutely unacceptable” one according to the Lib Dems, while the Tories added that “it is time that the police sort this out”. The chair of Lothian & Borders Police Board also came out yesterday and called for protesters to foot the bill for the policing of the entire camp, in a startling display of utter contempt for the democratic right to protest.

As it happens, Monday’s actions were highly successful, closing down the offices of two energy companies in the city centre, as well as various RBS buildings and branches. As we’ve already reported, the camp also managed to close down the entire RBS headquarters for the day, with staff being told to stay at home or work elsewhere. Most of the condemnation of the protests – from the media and equally misinformed idiots on the internet – is coming from people with little understanding of the camp, its aims, or what really went down on the day. From what I saw, the only lives that were endangered during the whole camp were those that risked travelling in a shaky siege tower as it took its lengthy journey down to the front lines…

23 Comments

  1. TheWorstWitch says:

    BRILLIANT. Someone get this tweeted with #ClimateCamp STAT!!

  2. Squeak says:

    OMFG what are you talking about you violent commie anarcho hippie witch, I bet you had your big offensive rubber mallet with you and were going to KILL SOME POLIS!!!111!!

  3. Zoomable says:

    The reason this happened is because of a failure of PR on the camp’s part, though, where there wasn’t any kind of clear rebuttal of the claims while everything was going on. Having your own hashtag get repatriated by people opposed to you and wall-to-wall opposition both above and below the line is the kind of thing that happens if you do something controversial without spreading information about your aims and the reality of what’s going on as widely as you can. Don’t complain as though all this was inevitable and the fault of other people; neither is really true.

  4. Liam T says:

    I think the media team on site did a pretty good job – let’s remember that it’s all run by volunteers. Given that the “oil slick” became the central focus of much of the media attention (probably because nothing else that “dramatic” happened in the eyes of the press on monday) though, they perhaps could’ve been quicker in issuing a statement about it.
    It’s difficult though as the whole nature of the mass action was that it’s “decentralised” ie. most people at the camp didn’t know what everyone else was doing. This has its advantages – namely that the police dont find out either, but also several disadvantages, one of them being that if something stupid happens ie. an oil slick on a road, then it’s hard to know who/what caused it.

  5. Zoomable says:

    It’s a wider issue than on site, though- it wouldn’t be difficult to have a better social media presence on twitter and facebook that would be able to stem the overwhelmingly negative tide, and that’s something that doesn’t even have to be done by someone on site to have even some effect. More generally, though, the lack of an effective “hook” is probably responsible for overwhelming negativity not being countered by positives; I don’t think there was anything in the camp this year that really resonated enough to get people defending it. Camp on the proposed site of a runway and nobody needs to ask why you’re there, camp in the shadow of a bank and you’re going to have to do more work even before you’ve confused the issue by lumping anti-capitalist, anti-bankers, anti-RBS and anti-tar sands sentiments together in a way that the public at large isn’t even going to understand, let alone sympathise with. I’d say you need to really have a clear goal of what you’re trying to say to the public and how when things get this abstract, as I didn’t get the impression that had really been done this time round. Decentralisation makes that even more important, I’d have thought.

  6. Jack says:

    I can’t comment on the effectiveness or otherwise of the media team, except to say every time I saw them at work or in the media tent they seemed to be really on the ball. I think though to blame them for newspapers printing BLATANT LIES about them is a bit rich. The fact of the matter is that the media is largely owned by large companies that, particularly in Scotland will be very closesly linked with RBS, and in any case have a lot to lose if we were successful in some of our aims as a movement. I’m sure Climate Camp tried to do a a power of work to get word out to mass media about our aims, but they aren’t interested particularly in giving a voice to radical opposition. What they are interested in are exciting stories about crazy riots, cos they tend to sell papers. On Monday morning you could see quite a few of the journalists who had turned up to camp were disappointed at the lack of mad action which they’d been hoping to get.

    There are always ways you can make better use of the mass media, but at the end of the day you have to remember if you’re doing something to try and fuck with an institution like RBS, which so many other aspects of capitalism in Scotland and Britain depend on, then the mass media will absolutely become hostile terrain for you, and there’s not much you can do about it.

  7. Zoomable says:

    Dude, every organisation with noble ends faces the same thing, but it doesn’t mean that they get to assume they can’t do better when this sort of thing happens. If you’d managed to build a wide group of people who knew what you were doing and agreed with your cause, you could have turned the misreportage against itself to at least an extent. As it is I don’t think #climatecamp has even trended for the last few days, because you haven’t succeeded in getting anyone aware of or sympathetic to your cause. You’ve missed an absence because of a presence; the reason coverage seems so vitriolic is because you haven’t managed to sow the seeds of very much that’s better. This is not the fault of the media machine.

  8. Jack says:

    Yes it is when they print propaganda and lies.

  9. Zoomable says:

    But the media prints propaganda and lies about everyone; this is the reality we have to live in. You’re actually lucky in that if a protest resonates with the public there’s a very good chance of those lies being challenged and their falsity being reported, as for pretty much any other means of affecting change that isn’t really the case. The reason that they haven’t been challenged is because your cause hasn’t resonated, and that’s not because it’s not a good cause -because bloody hell, from where I’m standing it’s the best one of all- but because it has not been communicated prior to the camp at all well.

    Even then, though, this sort of article is very definately the sort of thing a tweeter could express skepticism about while everything’s still occuring. I suppose it’s two problems really, failure to establish a clear positive image prior to the camp and failure to defend it through as many channels as possible while it’s going on. I know you’re resource-stretched, but at the same time the benefits of eliminating those failures are absolutely enormous.

  10. Sarah says:

    Negative perceptions of the camp generally is another issue, but it’s just daft to suggest the oil slick story is somehow the camps fault for not denying quick enough – when you’re in the thick of action you don’t know what’s being said about you in the papers, and it’s hard to deny something you have no knowledge of.

    People should be careful about giving twitter too much recognition. It means nothing to the average person and is only marginally less misinformed than a have your say website. It does have the potential to be massively socially useful and is run really ethically unlike facebook but it also has a lot of IDIOTS on it

  11. “going head-to-head with FACTS and SCIENCE”

    Didn’t see any science from Climate Camp. Did see a lot of THIS though.

    The only question that remains, however, is how far back Climate Camp succeeded in regressing the climate agenda.

  12. Squeak says:

    lol ur wrong

  13. Zoomable says:

    It’s true that you couldn’t have denyed the oil story, but you could certainly have expressed disbelief at it and distanced the majority of the camp from it very quickly and publicly. It’s not daft to suggest that there are ways to mitigate the damage events like this can cause, and that it would be a good idea to learn what they are and develop strategies for dealing with them in the future.

    And the problem with Twitter is that it’s been managed badly enough to have become a story in itself. The people who’ve stolen your hashtag certainly have reprehensible views, but at the same time they have a lot more social media savvy than you to the point that they’ve been able to make their opinions reach a much wider audience than they otherwise would have. This wouldn’t have happened if you’d had a strategy in place beforehand, and it’s happened to such an extent that you really have to accept some culpability for it.

    In short, I suppose, you should not make excuses. I don’t mean to point fingers or blame, I just think it is the case that if you don’t accept that things could have gone differently and the impact of these events could have been lessened then they will happen again.

  14. Zoomable says:

    I did give that a read; it says that the action is fundementally anticapitalism and then at the end says that RBS is bound up with big government, which is baffling. The fact that I’m aware of quite a bit surrounding the camp’s background and still don’t quite know what its fundamental message was should tell you two things: i) I am not an intelligent man, and ii), that the general public is probably going to struggle to understand all this no matter how intelligent you are.

  15. I saw the Sun’s coverage with the above picture of the tent stuff/weapons. It was marvellously entertaining, especially considering I was eating my dinner at the time and had more offensive weaponry in my hands than was pictured in the sun. I also noticed the coining of the term ‘eco yob’, which seems like a bit of an oxymoron.

  16. Not “eco yobs”, surely, Meghan. Aren’t they “anarchists”?

    If anyone’s interested in the opinion of a “racist homophobe” on the weekend’s events in Edinburgh, they can find it here.

  17. Liam T says:

    fuck off you attention seeking idiot. yr blog’s shite

  18. Jack says:

    I think it’s very easy for people to overstate the importance of Twitter, the mass media has far more influence than randoms on there. I don’t have a twitter and seeing people get excited about what’s on it kind of passes me by.

    That said, there has clearly been an organised online campaign by some extremely dodgy characters against climate camp. That wearethebritish guy is an EDL supporter, and states on the top of his feed “all in all I’d say our little experiment with #climatecamp was quite successful – a dry run for a much bigger target sometime later”.

    Old Holborn above meanwhile decries the banning of “englishman marching in Bradford” whilst also offering this particular belter on the topic of the working class: http://www.oldholborn.net/2010/08/working-class-can-kiss-my-arse.html

    As I say, I think it’s important not too get excited about nutters on the internet, but this whole affair has confirmed my feeling that there is a growing coalescing of the right into more and more extreme positions, which are able to amplify their strength through clever use of the internet. I think we desperately need to move forward on fully establishing the Scottish Anti Fascist Alliance as a solid organisation and have a founding conference.

  19. Lydia says:

    I think a vital point missed is that even if vegetable oil WAS poured on the road… nothing would have happened lol.

    We come to expect this kind of rubbish after every big anti-capitalist event though. The media/police WILL hence forth and lie to make themselves look better and they WILL get away with it. Fuck the media.

  20. Liam T says:

    climate camp have done a CiF piece on the ‘oil slick’ smear here: http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/cif-green/2010/aug/27/oil-slick-climate-camp-smear

  21. TheWorstWitch says:

    The Comment is Free piece is fantastic – thanks for the link.

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