Author highlights BBC journalists’ highly revealing response to Labour Leaks scandal

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In the wake of the Labour Leaks scandal, one author had a look to see what BBC journalists were saying. And what he found was highly revealing.

On 12 April, Sky News reported on a leaked Labour Party report showing high-level efforts to derail Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership and election chances. Tom Mills – author of The BBC: Myth of a Public Service – was quick to comment on the scandal. But there was one particular area of interest for him. He wanted to see what high-profile BBC journalists had to say. And just before 3pm on 14 April, Mills noted that the response from BBC journalists had been eerily quiet:

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The public broadcaster itself did release an article about the Labour Leaks scandal, in which it seemed to downplay the significance of the revelations. It also reported on new leader Keir Starmer’s reaction. But The Canary checked and, at the time of writing, Mills appeared to be right; because none of the journalists on the BBC‘s own ‘BBC News Official‘ list on Twitter had tweeted about the affair.

This is particularly revealing for several reasons. For one, a Twitter search shows that the same reporters on the list above have frequently commented on antisemitism allegations against Labour in recent years. Indeed, political editor Laura Kuenssberg was quick to jump on a leak precisely on this subject just a week before the 2019 general election. She also tweeted about one of the key people whose name appears in the leaks, just days before their release:

Another reason why the current near-silence stands out, meanwhile, is that the BBC has been right at the forefront of reporting allegations against Corbyn’s Labour in recent years.

The BBC role

A years-long smear campaign sought to convince British voters that Corbyn – a peace-prize winner and veteran anti-racist campaigner – and his supporters were somehow raving antisemites. The mainstream media were cheerleaders for this propaganda, which helped to keep Corbyn out of power. And the BBC was right at the centre.

Critical of the media’s vile treatment of Corbyn, Jewish academic Justin Schlosberg recently sought to launch “a formal legal challenge to Ofcom’s decision not to investigate complaints about the BBC’s Panorama programme Is Labour antisemitic?. As The Canary reported previously, this Panorama episode faced intense criticism. The BBC admitted receiving over 1,500 complaints about the programme over a two-week period, which many saw as a ‘hatchet job‘ against Corbyn’s Labour.

Schlosberg highlighted that:

This was the third Panorama edition since 2015 that was focused on, and wholly critical of Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership of the party. It contained gross breaches of the BBC’s legal commitment to due impartiality and due accuracy rules

Ofcom’s failure to investigate complaints, he said, represented “a wholesale failure of accountability”. He concluded:

The future of our democracy hinges on our public service media offering fair and accurate coverage of political controversies, and a regulator that properly holds them to account.

In the wake of the Labour Leaks scandal, meanwhile, he tweeted:

Support independent media

Regarding the Labour Leaks, Mills asked:

has there ever been a more significant leak exposing malpractice in a British political party before?

Journalist and historian Mark Curtis, meanwhile, argued that it was hardly surprising that mainstream outlets like the BBC were timid in their response:

With this in mind, Mills stressed:

Indeed, we’ve had years of shameful, unprofessional media coverage about Corbyn and his movement. And this has had a clear impact on voters. So today, it’s more important than ever before that we build an accountable, people-led media landscape. Our democracy depends on it.

Featured image via Flickr – Tim Loudon

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  • Show Comments
    1. The BBC’s so called impartiality and bias has been particularly noticeable since the last election when the Tories immediately started threatening the BBC with cuts to – or even scrapping – the licence fee. This fee should be somehow index linked or otherwise independent of the whims of government. If it is not, it is hardly likely to hold the government to account and will be tantamount to a state run channel. Commercial channels will inevitably support the conservatives (rather like the BBC’s Political Editor who doesn’t hide her bias).

    2. Michael Walker has a piece on Double Down News on all this. TBH a fly on the ether would be really fun:

      McNichol: You bl****** fools, can’t you do anything right?
      Ali Moussavi: Ditto
      Stolliday: Ditto
      Oldknow: Ditto
      Starmer: Ditto
      Luciana Berger: Ditto
      Anna Eagle: Ditto
      Watson: Ditto
      John Ware, Peston, Kuennsberg, Freedlander, et all: Ditto
      Board of Jewish Deputies: Ditto
      The Israeli embassy: Ditto

      If it wasn’t for hubris and the bravery of one or more than one … what we had all suspected might never have been proven.

    3. The manufacture of consent is alive and well. The media have played a despicable role in pumping up the allegations of antisemitism, yet never challenging the claims of the Zionists. When did you hear a journalist question Margaret Hodge or Louise Ellman about their apologetics for the State of Israel? Why did no one ever point out the long history of Zionist antisemitism, a plainly uncontroversial matter? Why was every Zionist accuser of Corbyn treated as if they were as innocent as a new-born? Why did no one ever probe the tendentiousness of the Zionist claims? Why was the B o D passed off a representative of “the Jewish community” when it represents a right-wing minority? Why was no serious informed critic of Israel or Zionism, Ilan Pappe for example, ever given exposure? The answer, of course, is that the media combined to smear Corbyn, to accept the allegations without question, to whitewash the Zionist lobby and to assist the Tories to power. If you still believe you live in a democracy, you need to do some serious thinking. The media, not the voters, decide who will be in power. There will be no fair reporting of the leaked report. The media will close ranks to support wealth and power. We have to inform the public in our own way. Nothing stops you producing 1,000 leaflets about the report and shoving them through doors. Nothing stops you using social media. There are plenty of us. The Sun is struggling for readers. Don’t think your little effort is worthless. A million little efforts make a big difference.

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