It’s Good To Be Mean To War Propagandists

Caitlin Johnstone
5 min readMar 16, 2023

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Sydney Morning Herald editor Bevan Shields has published an article titled “We are not above criticism but these attacks go too far”, tearfully rending his garments over criticisms his paper’s three-part war-with-China propaganda series “Red Alert” has received from former Prime Minister Paul Keating and from ABC’s Media Watch.

The whole article is Shields moaning about the way Keating raked Australian war propagandists at the National Press Club of Australia on Wednesday. He cries about how Keating told “Red Alert” co-author Matthew Knott “you should hang your head in shame” and “do the right thing and drum yourself out of Australian journalism,” mocked the intelligence of Sky News reporter Olivia Caisley for seriously suggesting that China is a military threat to Australia, and called Sydney Morning Herald editor Peter Hartcher a “psychopath” and “maniac”.

“For years, we have laughed along with Keating as he hurls his trademark barbs. But it’s not funny any more,” weeps Shields.

And you know what? Good. It’s good that these disgusting war propagandists are crying. They deserve a lot worse than a public tongue-lashing from a former prime minister.

To be clear, when I say the people Keating ripped into at the National Press Club are propagandists, that’s not just how I see them — that’s how they see themselves. They might not use that label, but they plainly see themselves as responsible for promoting Pentagon-friendly narratives, as evidenced by their behavior at that very press conference. If you watch them line up to question Keating and listen to what they are saying, over and over again you hear them trying to insert narratives like a propagandist rather than asking probing questions like a journalist.

You hear ABC’s Andrew Probyn work to insert the narrative that China is a threat to Australia by citing things like sanctions on select Australian products in retaliation for Canberra’s playing along with Washington’s attacks on Beijing over Covid, regurgitating the discredited claim of Chinese “debt diplomacy”, and babbling about China’s militarization as though the US wasn’t encircling China militarily and engaging in increasingly aggressive acts of brinkmanship.

You hear the aforementioned Olivia Casely work to insert the narrative that China is a military threat to Australia.

You hear Bloomberg’s Ben Westcott work to insert the narrative that Australia should work with the US to protect its trade from China, hilariously accidently re-enacting the famous Utopia sketch by ignoring the fact that China is Australia’s primary trading partner.

You hear The Australian’s Jess Malcolm work to insert the narrative that China building up its own military in its own country is somehow a “provocation” against Australia, which Keating immediately smacks down with appropriate disdain.

You hear the aforementioned Matthew Knott work to insert the narrative that Keating is a treasonous Xi Jinping puppet by sleazily insinuating that the former prime minister must say critical things about the “Chinese Communist Party” in order to prove his fealty.

Over and over again they line up to act like loyal defenders of the US empire, and over and over again Keating treats them like what they are: propagandists. Power-worshipping bootlickers for the most powerful empire that has ever existed.

Watching Keating tear strips off all those war pornographers was so satisfying because it showed Australians the appropriate emotional posture to have toward these depraved freaks. That’s the bare minimum level of contempt they should always be treated with. Australians who don’t want a war with China are still unclear about how to respond to this deluge of mass media war propaganda our country is being smashed with, and Keating showed exactly how to respond; he provided a solid model for us all.

If anything, Keating was too kind to those ghouls. One really can’t have enough disdain for those who peddle war propaganda professionally and pass it off as journalism to the unsuspecting public. They’re right up there with all the absolute worst human beings who have ever lived, and they should be treated as such.

Bevan Shields melodramatically refers to the public excoriation of his colleagues as “Donald Trump-like abuse of journalists doing their jobs,” but they are not journalists doing their jobs. They are propagandists. If you want to call yourself a journalist, you need to act like it. Be skeptical, question your sources and their funding, and get the story right. That’s the job. In this case the lives of nearly 26 million people are relying on you to get it right. It’s a huge responsibility and you are failing us. You deserve so much worse than to have mean things said to you by a retired politician.

These Pentagon puppets deserve more than just shame. I can’t believe they can so blithely push our country into the frontline of someone’s else’s war. How very generous of them to offer up our sons and daughters in the name of the almighty US of A.

It should enrage all Australians that a war of unimaginable horror is being shoved down our throats by the US empire, and it should enrage us that people who call themselves “journalists” are using the trust of the public to help manufacture consent for it. We need to start saying “NO” to this, and we need to whip up enough fire in our bellies to make sure that “NO” comes out with enough force to generate fear in these bastards.

Australians are not good at rage, but rage is what these actions should elicit, and our own actions need to start flowing from there. We can’t just let them inflict this horror upon our world with a signature Australian “Ah, whatever you reckon’s a fair thing mate.” The war propagandists cry about “abuse” when being put in their place by a 79 year-old ex-PM while inflicting the most abusive thing imaginable upon our civilization.

This cannot stand. We’ve got to get moving, people. These pricks will get us all killed if we don’t.


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