The BBC has joined the wider media in amplifying the voice of anyone who claims to be a former Labour voter but refuses to vote for Jeremy Corbyn. But in a desperate hunt to find such voices, the BBC fell into a trap.
The ‘Silly Hat’ trap
It started with a voter from Manchester named Elliot (@langho), who sent a tweet parodying those ‘former’ Labour voters. He wrote that he would only vote Labour if Corbyn “wears a multicoloured cap with a propellor on top”.
But someone didn’t get the joke. Because very soon, he was approached by BBC Business and Economics Producer Katie Hile.
Despite Elliot ratcheting up the parody in the messages, it was seemingly lost on Hile.
Finally, after he could take it no more, Elliot filled Hile in on the joke.
According to her Linkedin profile, Hile has been Business Producer at the BBC‘s Business and Economics unit since November 2014. And she has served with the BBC since 2007. This was not a mistake by an eager newbie, but instead an example of how far the corporation is willing to push to support its narrative of Labour voters abandoning the party over Corbyn.
This is despite Labour’s membership rising to its highest levels, adding up to more than the membership of the other Westminster parties combined. And despite Labour winning by-elections and mayoral contests since Corbyn’s election as leader. But that may come as a surprise to the majority of voters, dependent on the BBC and other powerful outlets for their view.
The problems with the BBC start at the top. The Director of News and Current Affairs at the BBC is James Harding, a former employee of the Murdoch press. He was editor of The Times newspaper when it exposed the identity of police blogger ‘NightJack’ by hacking the blogger’s email accounts. His legal team then covered up the hacking during a court case against the action. Harding has also gone on the record as ‘pro Israel‘.
While we respect the Trust and the people who work there, we disagree with this finding.
And he went on to praise Kuenssberg as:
an outstanding journalist and political editor with the utmost integrity and professionalism.
Beyond Harding and Kuenssberg, multiple studies have supported the assertion that this bias exists. A 2013 content analysis of the BBC by Cardiff University found that:
- The BBC consistently grants more airtime to the Conservatives, whichever party is in power.
- On BBC News at Six, business representatives outnumbered trade union spokespeople by more than 5:1 in 2007 and by 19:1 in 2012.
- BBC coverage of the 2008 financial crisis was dominated by stockbrokers, investment bankers, hedge fund managers and other City voices. Civil society voices or commentators critical of the finance sector were almost completely absent from coverage.
Turn it off
Such coverage has real-world impacts. It encourages vast swathes of the UK electorate to vote against their own interests; and against the interests of their loved ones and communities. Skewed coverage distorts our view of ourselves, each other, and what’s possible for us as a country. And that’s why it’s time to turn it off.
– Register to vote in the 8 June general election.
– Discuss the key policy issues with family members, colleagues and neighbours. And organise! Join (and participate in the activities of) a union, an activist group, and/or a political party.
– Read more from The Canary on the 2017 general election.
– Read and support news outlets who hold the powerful to account. Here are some we recommend. Please add more that you like in the comments:
The Canary, Media Diversified, Novara Media, Corporate Watch, Common Space, Media Lens, Bella Caledonia,Vox Political, Evolve Politics, Real Media, Reel News, STRIKE! magazine, The Bristol Cable, The Meteor, Salford Star, The Ferret.
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