Viewers are complaining of bias at the BBC after the state broadcaster appeared to abandon procedure to smear Jeremy Corbyn.
‘When did the BBC ever flag up an anti-Tory protest?’
People noticed that the BBC has extensively reported on a right-wing protest against Corbyn’s leadership while routinely ignoring larger protests. Viewers say the coverage on BBC News, BBC Newsnight, BBC Radio 4, and in online articles displays a double standard:
First thing on BBC news: Jewish leaders to protest against Corbyn outside Parliament. Question: When did the BBC ever flag up an anti-Tory protest, of which there are many, outside Parliament?
— Marcus Chown (@marcuschown) March 26, 2018
On top of the disproportionate coverage on BBC News, people accused the outlet of a one-sided report on Radio 4:
Four minute report on #r4today on Westminster protest yesterday. Only anti Corbyn people interviewed. No mention of counter protest let alone an interview with any of them. No mention of the DUP MPs there or Tories like Tebbit.
The report was paid for by our licence fee #BBCBias
— Devutopia (@D_Raval) March 27, 2018
Hope someone is closely monitoring the mischief BBC is making to make a bad situation worse. This morning's Today report deliberately excluded all mention of pro Corbyn Jews who challenged their colleagues. BBC looks out of control. https://t.co/dLMH2UtDku
— Enobarbus (@Polyphiloprogen) March 27, 2018
The Board of Deputies of British Jews organised the protest against Corbyn, accusing him of “siding with antisemites”. Among the attendees were Conservative MPs and Blairite Labour MPs. MPs from the extremist Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), which currently props up Theresa May’s government, were also there.
At the same time, some Jewish Labour members staged a counter-protest. They said that the Board of Deputies “do not represent us or the many Jews in the Party who share Jeremy Corbyn’s vision for social justice and fairness”.
Other viewers claimed that the BBC downplayed the counter protest, which was led by campaign group Jewish Voice for Labour:
A photo of the JVL counter-protest (L) and the photo the BBC chose to represent the JVL counter-protest (R). pic.twitter.com/gXzuxazwjU
— Ollie ??? (@Ollie4themany) March 26, 2018
I find it interesting that an anti-Jeremy Corbyn protest outside Westminster is headline news today, yet anti-Brexit protests across every major city at the weekend was not. I no longer trust @BBC with news.
— Joanna Chick (@ChickJoanna) March 27, 2018
Others alluded to hypocrisy from the BBC and right-wing Labour MPs. They pointed to their lack of action on other anti-racism protests:
Where were all these 'labour' MPs so concerned about racism at last week's Stand up to Racism mass rally on U.N. Anti-racism Day?
And where was the BBC report about those protests?#r4today https://t.co/JS2lEQkngn
— Michael Abberton ?? (@MichaelAbberton) March 27, 2018
A BBC spokesperson said:
Yesterday’s protest formed part of a wider story which included Jeremy Corbyn publicly apologising for the handling of the anti-semitic views of some within the Labour party.
Is Corbyn innocent?
The anti-Corbyn protest rode a wave of antisemitism allegations against the Labour leader in the media. The recent allegations arise from a Facebook comment by the Labour leader in 2012:
Responding to allegations that the Labour leader was defending an antisemitic mural, Corbyn said:
I sincerely regret that I did not look more closely at the image I was commenting on, the contents of which are deeply disturbing and anti-Semitic.
In other words, Corbyn claims he was unaware that the image conveyed the antisemitic trope of an elite Jewish conspiracy theory. To judge whether Corbyn is telling the truth, one must surely look at his record on antisemitism:
- On 22 June 2015, Corbyn signed a parliamentary motion praising the London Jewish Forum for standing up to racist marches.
- On 9 January 2014, he signed a parliamentary motion paying tribute to survivors and victims of the genocide waged against Jewish people during World War II.
- On 2 July 2009, the Labour leader signed a parliamentary motion celebrating Bradford Reform Synagogue obtaining Grade II building status for its “architectural merit”.
- On 26 February 2009, he signed a parliamentary motion condemning “vile and anti-Semitic” content on the internet.
- On 7 November 1990, Corbyn signed a motion questioning why 21 publications posting antisemitic content had resulted in no prosecutions.
Another line of attack is that the Labour Party has a ‘problem’ with antisemitism. But an anti-Corbyn parliamentary committee couldn’t find evidence [pdf, p48] that antisemitism is more prevalent in Labour than other parties. On the contrary, the report also noted [pdf, p8] that “the majority of antisemitic abuse and crime” comes from the far right. Yet only the Labour Party has ordered investigations into antisemitism. There has been no cross-party initiative to stamp out the issue.
Media group Jewish Voice joined Jewish Labour supporters in denouncing the “smears” against Corbyn. The campaigners against antisemitism posted a video of Corbyn recalling when his mother stood alongside Jewish people against fascism:
Remember the media are not interested in facts but only interested in manufacturing consent.
If they were interested in facts they'd report that the "Hard Left" like Corbyn are the only one who ever defended Jews when things got roughpic.twitter.com/mdtk2NPqjg
— Jewish Voice (@J_VoiceUK) March 26, 2018
What’s the motive for the smears?
Some Jewish Labour members are saying the smears are intended to hit Labour at the local elections. Indeed, The Jewish Chronicle reported that Corbyn commented on the mural back in 2015. Yet opponents of the Labour leader have only kicked up a storm about it now. Meanwhile, polls suggest Labour is on course to take over many Conservative councils. Fearing the precedent that a great local result would set for a general election, those opposing Corbyn will be desperate for ammunition.
Unfortunately for them, the Labour leader has been on the right side of history on many issues since he was elected over 30 years ago, including on anti-racism and LGBTQ rights. So the Labour right, the Conservatives, the media, and supporters of Israeli apartheid must take a single Facebook comment out of context in order to kick up a damaging storm.
And the BBC appears all too eager to help. Viewers are saying the state broadcaster has given the relatively small anti-Corbyn protest hugely disproportionate coverage. With the BBC‘s longstanding record on anti-Corbyn bias, we must say: enough is enough.
– You can make a complaint to the BBC here.
– Join The Canary, so we can keep holding the powerful to account.
– Read and support other independent media outlets:
Media Diversified, Novara Media, Corporate Watch, Red Pepper, New Internationalist, Common Space, Media Lens, Bella Caledonia, Vox Political, Evolve Politics, Real Media, Reel News, STRIKE! magazine, The Bristol Cable, The Meteor, The Skwawkbox, Salford Star, The Ferret.
We need your help ...
The coronavirus pandemic is changing our world, fast. And we will do all we can to keep bringing you news and analysis throughout. But we are worried about maintaining enough income to pay our staff and minimal overheads.
Now, more than ever, we need a vibrant, independent media that holds the government to account and calls it out when it puts vested economic interests above human lives. We need a media that shows solidarity with the people most affected by the crisis – and one that can help to build a world based on collaboration and compassion.
We have been fighting against an establishment that is trying to shut us down. And like most independent media, we don’t have the deep pockets of investors to call on to bail us out.
Can you help by chipping in a few pounds each month?