Part of Bird’s Eye View
What is it?
Britain voting to leave the European Union (Britain + Exit = Brexit).
How is it being reported?
Leading up to the vote, the reporting of the dire consequences of leaving the EU was intense. Everyone from…
- The British Government
- The EU
- The IMF (International Monetary Fund)
- Goldman Sachs
- Mainstream Economists
- The Banks
- Major Corporations
- Asian Corporations
- President Obama
- Senator John Kerry
- The Mainstream Media
even the not-so-mainstream media:
… were all reporting how bad a Brexit will be for Britain and the world.
Then AFTER the vote “went the wrong way”, with 17 million people voting for Britain to leave the EU vs. 16 million wanting to stay, the reporting changed to:
- Foreign Policy – It’s Time for the Elites to Rise Up Against the Ignorant Masses
- The Guardian – Brexit has given voice to racism – and too many are complicit
- The Atlantic – Are Referendums Like Brexit a Disgrace to Democracy?
And then came the reports that everyone in the UK was “frantically” Googling – “What is the EU” after they voted and this report spread like wildfire:
- NPR – After Brexit Vote, Britain Asks Google: ‘What Is The EU?’
- The Washington Post – The British are frantically Googling what the E.U. is, hours after voting …
- Fortune – The British are frantically Googling what the E.U. is, hours after voting …
All of this reporting, taken together, would make any sane person feel that:
- Brexit is bad
- Everyone that voted for Britain to leave is either stupid (Googling “What is the EU” after voting to leave it)
- or racist, or anti-immmigrant,
- or they just hate facts.
How can you possibly think otherwise?
But, wait a minute…
When are governments, big banks, big corporations, foreign corporations, mainstream economists, and mainstream media outlets all on the same side of an issue? How often does that happen?
Think global warming, GMOs, TPP, free trade, taxes, etc…
They are never all on the same side!
Then a day or so later, reports like this started coming out:
- Were Brits really Googling ‘What is the EU?’ after voting to leave?
- Why You Shouldn’t Trust Sensational Stories Based On Google Trends
It turns out, only about 1,000 people Googled that phrase ‘What is the EU?’ vs. 33 million who voted. That hardly seems like the British were “Frantically” Googling that phrase now does it?
At the same time a couple journalists started questioning how the media was reporting on the Brexit with reports like the following starting to surface:
- Glenn Greenwald from The Intercept: Brexit Is Only the Latest Proof of the Insularity and Failure of Western Establishment Institutions
- Matt O’Brian from the Washington Post: The world’s losers are revolting, and Brexit is only the beginning
Media reaction to the Brexit vote falls into two general categories: (1) earnest, candid attempts to understand what motivated voters to make this choice, even if that means indicting their own establishment circles, and (2) petulant, self-serving, simple-minded attacks on disobedient pro-Leave voters for being primitive, xenophobic bigots (and stupid to boot), all to evade any reckoning with their own responsibility. Virtually every reaction that falls into the former category emphasizes the profound failures of Western establishment factions; these institutions have spawned pervasive misery and inequality, only to spew condescending scorn at their victims when they object.
The Los Angeles Times’s Vincent Bevins, in an outstanding and concise analysis, wrote that “both Brexit and Trumpism are the very, very wrong answers to legitimate questions that urban elites have refused to ask for 30 years”; in particular, “since the 1980s the elites in rich countries have overplayed their hand, taking all the gains for themselves and just covering their ears when anyone else talks, and now they are watching in horror as voters revolt.” The British journalist Tom Ewing, in a comprehensive Brexit explanation, said the same dynamic driving the U.K. vote prevails in Europe and North America as well: “the arrogance of neoliberal elites in constructing a politics designed to sideline and work around democracy while leaving democracy formally intact.”
Brexit — despite all the harm it is likely to cause and all the malicious politicians it will empower — could have been a positive development. But that would require that elites (and their media outlets) react to the shock of this repudiation by spending some time reflecting on their own flaws, analyzing what they have done to contribute to such mass outrage and deprivation, in order to engage in course correction. Exactly the same potential opportunity was created by the Iraq debacle, the 2008 financial crisis, the rise of Trumpism and other anti-establishment movements: This is all compelling evidence that things have gone very wrong with those who wield the greatest power, that self-critique in elite circles is more vital than anything.
In other words, the established media itself is not able report on what is really going on with the Brexit, because to do so implicates the media outlets themselves as actually being part of the established elite, the powers that be. And the mainstream media is owned by a few very powerful corporations, so it’s better to shift the focus away from Brexit being about democracy, or the economy, or austerity and to direct the focus to it being about racism, etc.
So, as you can see, there is a lot more going on here than what’s being reported.
But, Brexit is still going to cause the end of the world though, right?
Well, now we’re starting to see more reports like this:
- Reason – Brexit a Victory for Xenophobia? Not So Fast.
- Vox – Brexit isn’t the most serious threat to the EU — the euro is
- Barrons – The Brexit Bust: Really, It’s Not That Bad
- New Statesman – I’m a Remain voter who feels optimistic about Brexit – here’s why
So, the point of all this is – when pretty much the entire mainstream media is all on one side of an issue, and that side also coincides with the side of government, big corporations, and big banks, and so on.. that fact alone should make one question if we are all perhaps being corralled down a particular line of thought.
Underground Network questions these occurrences when they happen.
They’ve happened before – time and time again.. and they will happen in the future, and it may be happening with this particular issue as we speak, so, it’s up to responsible journalists to look for these occurances and to question them when they happen (not long after the fact, which is usually too late.)
Britain leaving the EU means that Britain may find itself being governed by a far right, conservative government that might make horrible choices for the British people, even worse choices than what the EU is currently doing, but – and this is a big but – the Brits will be able to vote their own leaders out of office and put new ones in if they are unhappy. This is not an option if they stay in the EU, as the British don’t have the ability to replace EU leaders.
And, since people universally agree that the EU is not as democratic as it should be, having a big country leave might just be the catalyst needed to force the EU to start listening to the needs of its individual member states, to stop treating every country as the same, to stop being so bull-headed (look at what it and the member states did to Greece) and to start becoming more, well, democratic itself.
So, in conclusion, we are being told by our mainstream media that Brexit is about racism, anti-immigration and just plain stupidity, with no mention of democracy, or the economic consequences of being in the EU, or the fact that EU countries are not recovering as quickly as non-EU countries from the economic crisis due to the massive austerity programs, or the fact that the IMF believes that the neoliberal stance of the EU was overplayed resulting in even greater wealth inequality. All of these things played a role leading up to the Brexit vote, so let’s not lose sight of those facts.