Alexander Cockburn offered an honest alternative to the mainstream media

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      One of the world's most brilliant alternative journalists, Alexander Cockburn, has died of cancer at the age of 71.

      The Scottish-born co-editor of the CounterPunch website never shied away from skewering hypocrisy. His long history in journalism included stints at the Wall Street Journal, the Village Voice, and the Nation.

      Often a critic of Israeli policies, he also didn't hesitate to rip into the mainstream media's habit of patting itself on the back.

      "The truth is that the Pulitzer business—and, given the promotional uses to which the prizes are put, it definitely is a business—is a self-validating ritual whereby journalists give each other prizes and then boast to the public about them," he wrote. "Each year's ritual proclaims that journalism once again has maintained sufficiently high standards to merit such acclaim."

      Cockburn ridiculed New York Times foreign-affairs columnist Thomas Friedman, a multiple Pulitzer Prize winner, as "one of the most pompous people on the planet" and a "nitwit" for supporting the 2003 attack on Iraq.

      He also trashed former alternative journalist turned Bush administration supporter Christopher Hitchens in an obituary.

      "I guess the lowest of a number of low points was when he went to the White House to give a cheerleading speech on the eve of the 2003 invasion of Iraq," Cockburn scoffed. "I think he knew long, long before that this is where he would end up, as a right-wing codger."

      Later, Cockburn sneered that Hitchens was "always tight with beggars, just like the snotty Fabians who used to deprecate charity".

      R.I.P. Alexander Cockburn.

      Cockburn's final column was a withering denunciation of the British government's response to the latest banking scandal: former Barclays CEO Bob Diamond's connection to the manipulation of global benchmark interest rates.

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      Jul 23, 2012 at 12:02pm

      A Stalinist gasbag climate change denier who did almost as much to discredit the Left as George F'ing Galloway??

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      A great writer.

      Jul 24, 2012 at 12:21pm

      Thanks for the obituary. Anyone who read Cockburn seriously was taken on a wild ride where few political writers every dared to go -- a place that mixed anarchism with traditional Marxism, a healthy does of libertarianism, a serious interest in sexuality, dreams, an incredible breadth of reading, from classic Roman histories, to literature, to current philosophy -- all with a sense of humour and a nasty edge that as far I know was without rival. I've heard him compared to Jonathan Swift, and certainly his satire recalls Swift's. His was the 'ruthless criticism' that Marx advocated.

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