Staying on the topic of Macron, Putin, and Russia Today, Times columnist Oliver Kamm had this to say:
— Oliver Kamm (@OliverKamm) May 29, 2017
I believe that Oliver Kamm is an excellent writer and fully deserves his slot at the Times, but let’s not pretend he got there wholly on merit: he is the son of a famous publisher and equally famous publisher/translator, his maternal grandfather founded the Times crossword, and he is the nephew of BBC correspondent Martin Bell. Kamm giving young journalists career advice is a bit like Chelsea Clinton telling aspiring writers how to get a piece in Variety magazine.
Oliver Kamm personifies the metropolitan, pro-European elite which flourished under New Labour and, if their comments around Brexit are anything to go by, are wholly out of touch with the rest of the population. His remark about Russia Today is more reflective of the snobbery that is rife in such circles than a condemnation of Russia’s media outlets.
Let me be frank: RT peddles pro-Kremlin propaganda and they have all sorts of cranks and idiots invited on to speak. They routinely engage in misinformation campaigns, and the one they embarked on following the shooting down of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 was particularly despicable. I am not here to defend RT’s content or editorial policies.
But are the likes of the BBC any better? Or CNN? Actually, yes they are. But the problem is the likes of Kamm believe the BBC, CNN, and the others are paragons of virtue, whereas I would say that there are serious shortcomings with all of them, particularly their obvious bias when it comes to any given issue. Is the BBC’s relentless anti-Trump coverage any better than RT’s pro-Kremlin output? Probably yes, but there’s not a whole lot in it. And RT never pretends to be impartial, unlike the BBC. And that’s what gets me: the metropolitan media elite lack the self awareness to realise that they are guilty of the same charges they level at their competitors.
What is also telling is that Kamm appears to think the editorial credibility of a particular outlet is all that matters when building a career in media. Of course, one would hardly expect somebody who was parachuted straight into a national broadsheet to understand this, but some clue would have been nice. Working for an outfit like RT would be valuable experience for anyone wanting a career in media: regardless of their editorial policies, their production qualities are top-notch and I suspect they cover the non-controversial stories with as much professionalism as any other station. You might as well tell young engineers not to work for BAe because they supply cluster bombs to Saudi Arabia.
Of course, what Kamm means is that by working for RT a young journalist would find themselves shunned from those who occupy the London media bubble, not shut out of the entire global industry. What if the young journalist was Russian, for example? A Russian friend of a friend works for RT in London, and was sent to Paris to cover the anti-capitalist protests last year. Was her career suffering? Didn’t look like it. Should a young Portuguese journalist avoid RT because they might find themselves shut out of the London-based media as a result? For a bunch who are forever wailing about Brexit and sucking up to the Europeans, these metropolitan elites are really quite parochial and can’t see past the M25, let alone beyond Europe’s major cities.
And while we’re on the subject of credibility, Oliver Kamm was and still is an ardent supporter of Tony Blair and New Labour, hopes that Macron will govern in the same vein, and believes that the “liberal interventionism” characterised by Blair, i.e. bombing third-world nations in order to bring peace, is something to be advocated.