After England’s rugby win on 26 October, the Daily Mail published a truly hysterical piece about Jeremy Corbyn. The tabloid told its readers that – shock, horror – the Labour leader had napped on a long train journey. The Mail said he did so – more shock, horror – while the “rest of the country cheered on England against the All Blacks”.
WE HAVE PEAKED
Older man has nap, hates country pic.twitter.com/3q3ecffWlL
— •𝗟𝗜𝗡𝗔• (@agirlcalledlina) October 27, 2019
Children’s author Michael Rosen explained exactly what he thinks the Mail was getting at with its outraged ‘journalism’.
Traitors in our midst
Some opportunistically-minded fellow traveller apparently snapped Corbyn sleeping on a train to Scotland during the rugby game. The Mail suggested that the Labour leader’s behaviour was miles apart from Boris Johnson’s, as the latter “watched the match at his country home”.
Many people were bemused by the Mail‘s story:
Woodward and Bernstein eat your hearts out, this is investigative reporting at its zenith!
— martin lonsdale (@martinlonsdale5) October 27, 2019
On the train to campaign in Edinburgh while Johnson watches the rugger from his country pad..
— Anne Frances Hayes (@hay1_af) October 27, 2019
Saw this on Sky News earlier. Every day I find myself saying to my husband “You’ll never believe what they’re saying about him now”.
Talk about barrel scraping!
— Matildamog GTTO🌹 (@Jc62Matildamog) October 27, 2019
Rosen also gave his two pennies’ worth. He tweeted:
If you're wondering why the Mail did a photo of Corbyn sleeping during the All Blacks game, it's because it's the Right's theme that Labour are 'traitors'. That's why they scuppered @Ed_Miliband by saying that his father was a foreign Jewish traitor.
— Michael Rosen (@MichaelRosenYes) October 27, 2019
In short, he hit the nail on the head. Because the Mail paints Corbyn as someone who lacks patriotism for his country, despite saying he wants to lead it as PM. To be clear, that’s patriotism as the Mail sees it, which simply involves exhibiting the utmost enthusiasm over a sporting event; rather than, say, working tirelessly to make your country a better place to live for the people in it.
As someone else pointed out, though, the story also ticked another box for the pro-Tory media outlet:
Also, it's part of their disgusting idea that people vote for people who are like them, rather than those who represent their interests. Same thing as the 'Farage with a pint' photos. Corbyn is actually more like most voters than any Tory, so they have to grab their chance.
— Sarah May (@Sarah_May1) October 28, 2019
However, Johnson didn’t give the Mail enough to work with to really drive this narrative home. It’s hard to persuade readers that the PM is ‘like you’ when he’s watching the rugger in the luxury of his private country retreat. I mean, who really seems closer to regular people in this scenario: the man snoozing on a train or the one holed up in a rural mansion?
Clearly, Britain’s tabloid press is already greasing its propaganda wheels for the looming general election. No doubt it’ll continue bombarding readers with this sort of stuff once any election is officially on. Thankfully though, people like Rosen will also continue calling out this ‘reporting’ for what it is: baseless smearing that reveals much more about its agenda than it does about Corbyn.
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