By Asa Winstanley
It is often said that journalists should not become part of the stories that they cover.
But in some of the best stories ever written, the journalist themselves do indeed end up entering the tale.
As a prime example, I can think of Gary Webb.
Webb was a campaigning journalist in California, who exposed corruption in local government and police forces. He had achieved a successful career and won awards, until one day the biggest story of his career fell into his lap and ended it all.
The scandal it exposed was just too big and it upset forces far more powerful than local law enforcement. It went to the very heart of the US’ permanent military-intelligence shadow state, and it undermined the narrative of a “few bad apples”.
In his “Dark Alliance” series of investigative articles for the San Jose Mercury News in 1996, Webb revealed the CIA’s links to shadowy figures from a right-wing Nicaraguan militia, which was selling cocaine in the US and using the profits to fund their war against the left-wing Sandinista government.
These violent gangs of the Contrarrevolución, commonly known as the Contras, were involved in some of worst and most grizzly crimes in the CIA-backed war against Nicaragua, and its revolutionary government in the 1980s.
That part was widely known. But what Webb revealed for the first time, was that the CIA’s imperialist war in Latin America was indirectly fuelling the crack epidemic of the 1980s – which had been blighting many inner city African American communities at the time.
In his seminal book about the scandal, also titled “Dark Alliance”, Webb himself entered as a character in this almost unbelievable – but true – story.
In the book’s prologue he tells of how he was first tipped off through a new source. Later in the book he entered the story again, firstly as the national media, and later, even his own paper mobilised to undermine and kill the story.
While I wouldn’t compare myself to Webb, I, too, have recently entered my own story.
For the last five years, I have been covering the story of the manufactured “anti-Semitism crisis” in the UK’s Labour Party. As I have shown quite comprehensively, the false narrative has been used as a way to overthrow the party’s leader Jeremy Corbyn, and to smash the popular left-wing movement which brought him to prominence.
I definitively entered the story myself back in March last year, when Labour suspended my membership of the party.
Their list of “allegations” against me amounted to a political attack on my journalism.
Ostensibly, the allegations were about supposed anti-Semitism.
But in reality, none of the allegations on the charge sheet even once challenged any of the factual statements I ever made in my reporting, or in my Twitter postings, summarising my reporting.
The tweets I made were most often accompanied by links to articles I have written, proving the points I made. Many of these articles are quite long and detailed, patiently explaining how I came to my conclusions and usually giving primary evidence, including documents, video and audio recordings, and other first-hand sources.
But all of this painstaking work was ignored by Labour’s faceless bureaucracy. The way the “charges” against me have been presented, they are presented as truisms, almost as if what they say goes, without the need to back it up by any hard facts.
The tweets of mine that they cited as “allegations” (seemingly of supposed anti-Semitism) show that Labour now formally considers use of the blandly factual phrase “Israel lobby” to be “anti-Semitic”.
Whatever people’s opinions on that phrase and its use, this twisted contortion is an outrage against facts, basic standards of truth, common sense and free speech.
Labour is now effectively outlawing some of the most banal and conservative criticisms of Israel it is possible to have.
This should be worrying to everyone, not just to Labour members and supporters.
For all these reasons, and because of their illegal mishandling of my data, last week I decided to write to Labour quitting the party in protest.
A recent threat by the party to potentially expel me if I did not reply (again) to their demand that I answer questions relating to their allegations, was the final straw.
I resigned after a period of almost a year’s reflection. It wasn’t an easy decision to make and I express my gratitude and solidarity to those remaining in the party, despite this witch hunt. Those who are determined to resist it.
The renewed witch hunt is only just getting started. It’s the latest sign that the party’s right-wing bureaucracy is rigged against the Palestinians and their liberation struggle.
Source: Middle East Monitor