Labour MP and OPM blogger / propagandist Glenn Bedingfield is promoting his attendance at an international conference discussing “upholding democracies in the age of fake news” organised by The Parliamentary Assembly of the OSCE (OSCE PA) in Vienna.
He is joined by Labour MP Rosianne Cutajar who, on the day marking four months since the assassination of journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia, took to Twitter to tell her son that continued demands for justice were “embarissing” (sic).
Fake news is a type of yellow journalism or propaganda that consists of deliberate misinformation spread via media channels. It is created and published with the aim of causing damage to an individual or group and/or to gain financially or politically.
Bedingfield’s function in his role as ‘a blogger’ is to regularly target critics of the government – citizens and journalists included – and to promote government spin on established facts. As in, when faced with documentary evidence of corruption he calls for “proof”.
The Panama Papers scandal was not a scandal at all, and there was no problem with Prime Minister Joseph Muscat’s right-hand men dabbling in secret companies, trusts and accounts, according to Bedingfield . Rather, it was an orchestrated attack by the Opposition served by journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia, who was assassinated on October 16.
These kind of attacks on Caruana Galizia by Bedingfield and other members of government over the years to discredit her findings served to dehumanise her and make her a target of hate. Even when she is dead, Bedingfield and Cutajar continue to attack the journalist. They did not stop there; they even turned on the family [Yes, it’s very surreal, Bedingfield, 6 February].
Bedingfield continues to write against the setting up of a memorial in her name: “It is a monument by the select few for the select few – i.e. – those who were never at the receiving end of her bile and poisonous pen but who loved to sit back and watch others receive that same treatment. Most probably these are the ones with fake Disqus accounts who butchered all mentioned by Daphne on an hourly basis” [Spare us her monumental mistake, Bedingfield, 9 February].
He hit out at medical staff on a one-day strike by the Medical Association of Malta over a scandalous deal involving three public hospitals. The staff in the photo were criticised for smiling, but they were actually the ones working in the Emergency Unit to ensure patients got the care they needed.
The Labour government’s efforts to control dissent is in line with international reports that governments are themselves generators of fake news. Numerous examples have been recorded, notably in the US and French elections.
Donald Trump claimed to have coined the term ‘fake news’ in the lead-up to the US Presidential election after he uttered the phrase every time the news media uncovered fresh dirt on the Trump Administration.
Fake news is supported by internet trolls – people paid to sow discord on the internet by starting arguments or upsetting people with the aim of diverting the discussion or provoking readers into an emotional response.
Caruana Galizia had written on Aleander Balzan as a troll, “one of the long-time ‘stars’ of the Labour Party’s television station, who is now head of the Labour Party’s newsroom, (Super) One News, has unwittingly outed himself as the notorious internet troll ‘m.buhagiar’, who spends a great deal of time posting unsavoury remarks on the comments boards at his former Super One colleague Glenn Bedingfield’s blog”.
In addition to all this, the Maltese government has spent €2.5 million in social media advertising, one of the highest amounts per capita.
It also dominates the sector in its control of news outlets in Malta. Apart from the State broadcaster, which is always the victim of any Party in government, the Labour Party also has its own TV station, radio and online news outlets generating selective content to perform the essential function of controlling the narrative.
Zeynep Tufekci has argued that, “The most effective forms of censorship today involve meddling with trust and attention, not muzzling speech itself.”
Yet, the murder of Slovak journalist Jan Kuciak on Sunday was the second in the EU within five months, after Caruana Galizia in Malta. Kuciak was also investigating money laundering links with Malta.
*note to our readers: titles for articles written by Bedingfield replace links because sending our readers to fake news stories would defeat the scope of this article .