As I say, the media’s track record has been remarkably consistent over the years. Let’s, for now, take one example: the Iraq war. In the run-up to the invasion, any historical context was virtually invisible in the mainstream media. There was virtually no discussion of the “genocidal” sanctions that had killed up to a million Iraqis or of the U.S.’ and UK’s long history of imperialism and bloody colonialism. Information that cast doubt (to put it mildly) on the warmongerers’ claims about Iraqi WMD was suppressed. There was no questioning of Bush and Blair’s motives - the debate was limited to discussion of tactics, or of whether or not humanitarian intervention justified the war, or of whether or not Saddam’s WMD arsenal did pose a threat. There was no doubting that the war was indeed about WMD or humanitarian intervention. The ‘free’ press, obliging as ever, simply accepted the war on Bush and Blair’s terms. An Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) study into the media performance during the Iraq war concluded that many report about the military campaign 'favoured the coalition' and 'all media outlets became more deferential towards government'. Coverage 'served mainly to reinforce official justifications for war' - the 'tendency was for news media to accept the official position and this enabled the coalition's moral case for the war to go by default.'
It is clear that democracy in Britain is in severe crisis. There is no need to dispair. A free press is entirely achievable, and it is entirely possible to have a true democracy (or atleast something very much approximating it) - in fact, if we look at countries like Bolivia, we can get a good idea of what true democracy looks like. As Noam Chomsky explains:
‘[Bolivia] had a real democratic election last year, of a kind that you can’t imagine in the United States, or in Europe, for that matter. There was mass popular participation, and people knew what the issues were. The issues were crystal clear and very important. And people didn’t just participate on election day. These are the things they had been struggling about for years.’
It would, however, take a monumental effort to push through the democratic reforms necessary to truly allow the British (and American) people to govern themselves. Powerful establishment forces - to whom, of course, the very idea of true democracy is anathema - would have to be fought every step of the way. It would require mass, sustained public action. That, of course, is what true democracy is all about.