Daily Telegraph owner Lord Black has attacked the European media for “endlessly disparaging the US and mindlessly pandering to the emotion of envy”.
Black told the conference that journalists working in Britain and elsewhere in Europe should present a more balanced picture.
European journalists did not write about “real Americans” but caricatures, he claimed. Black accused them of presenting Americans as “lumpen proletariat, firearm fanatics with addictions to violent films and unhealthy food”.
He urged the international media “to stop denigrating the only country of fact and purpose in the world” and he said that “clever countries” sought to build alliances with the US, knowing it was essentially a benign state.
Turning to coverage of the war in Iraq, Black accused broadcasters such as the BBC, papers such as The Guardian, and in particular the Daily Mirror, of having often “behaved disgracefully”. He described a front-page illustration by the Mirror of Prime Minister Tony Blair with bloodied hands as an “appalling piece of journalism”.
Asked by a participant at the conference how the coverage of the war had been unfair, Black replied: “To run all that stuff by Pilger and Fisk was awful, not to mention the endless carping.”
Black also cited a story on the BBC which suggested that mass killings of civilians by Saddam Hussein’s troops could have been prevented had US troops reached a certain area in Iraq on time. “This was perverse, propagandist treatment of the news and we have a right to expect better from the BBC,” he said.
Black described the British media as currently obsessed with the issue of weapons of mass destruction, which, he said, was an “irrelevant chicken game”.
The US media, he added, had by and large handled the Iraqi war well in what was a difficult situation.
Finally, said Black, improving the product and getting better writing out of journalists was the best way for a newspaper to grow.