[Private Eye - 21 February 1997]
With the Albanian government looking more flaky every day, Channel 4 News last week naturally sought an independent expert to explain what it all meant. The pundit chosen for this delicate assignment was Joan Hoey of the Economist Intelligence Unit.
What viewers may not have realised was that this supposedly objective "Balkan specialist" used to be known as Joan Phillips, deputy editor of the Revolutionary Communist Party's glossy journal Living Marxism - in which capacity she was one of the most fanatical Serb empire loyalists in the whole of the British media, not excluding Sir Alfred Sherman and the late Nora Ballsoff.
In her Joan Phillips guise, she denied the existence of Serb concentration camps, refused to believe in stories of Serbian ethnic cleansing, and at one point in 1993 laid on a photographic exhibition in London on behalf of a member of the Serbian Academy of Sciences - the same academy that wrote out the notorious Serbian Memorandum of 1986, calling for the destruction of the delicate balance of power established by Tito.
This isn't the first time that Joan Phillips/Hoey has turned up on channel 4. In August 1993 she presented her own programme slagging off the war correspondents for alleged Serbophobia - presumably C4's idea of "balancing" the Bloody Bosnia series which it put on that summer.
Meanwhile her old paper Living Marxism continues to fight the bad fight. In the latest issue, editor Mick Hume prints a long article by a German Serbomaniac claiming that the famous pictures of starving Bosnians in Serbian camps were fabricated. This is the same Mick Hume who in September 1995 complained that the Serbs had been declared guilty of genocide and ethnic cleansing on evidence insufficient to convict a bicycle thief. Not to be outdone, Hume's chum Joan Phillips asked sarcastically if Madeline Albright had X-ray eyes when she revealed the existence of a mass grave of 2,700 victims of the Srebrenica massacre.
Living Marxism - and Joan Philips/Hoey - would remain in well-deserved obscurity were it not for the fact that their opinions coincide exactly with those of a large section of the establishment. Why, even the ultra-respectable Douglas Hurd has discovered that the murderous Slobodan Milosevic is a man he can do business with!