The BBC’s recent propaganda stunt for the government is the most grotesque yet

A BBC cartoon with Rishi Sunak as Superman
Support us and go ad-free

A BBC News item using a cartoon of Rishi Sunak as Superman has caused controversy. So much so that the BBC has now deleted it. But the move by the public service broadcaster hints at a wider problem. And it’s that the BBC is operating on a pro-government ‘wartime‘ agenda, not one that’s in the public’s best interests.


The SKWAWKBOX and the National both reported on a BBC News cartoon portraying Sunak as Superman. As the National noted:

The video… looks to answer the question of whether Sunak’s “superpowers [will] be enough to nurse us back to rude health after the crippling blow delivered by the coronavirus?”

The Chancellor is first portrayed as the Kryptonian comic book hero flying over a city with a red pound sign emblazoned on his chest, in the place of Superman’s S.

Sunak can then be seen in his red cape handing out furlough wages to a line of grey people as the voiceover explains how the UK Government has paid the wages of 11 million workers through the crisis.

A BBC tweet with Rishi Sunak as Superman

The BBC‘s attempt at ‘graphic art’ left people on Twitter unimpressed:

Read on...

As JJ Wyatt pointed out, BBC coverage of Jeremy Corbyn stands in stark contrast:

After the backlash on social media, the BBC deleted the cartoon. But thanks to the SKWAWKBOX‘s quick thinking, you can watch snippets of the video below:

Meanwhile, the BBC issued a half-baked statement (through metaphorical gritted teeth) via Twitter. It tried to explain why it removed the video:

But as The Canary previously reported, none of this should be a surprise. Because an article in the Economist from April goes some way to explaining the BBC‘s behaviour.

The BBC: on a war footing?

It quoted a “senior” BBC “journalist” as saying:

The BBC does have a responsibility to provide what the nation needs… It needs to know what’s being done about testing [for coronavirus]. It doesn’t need a great bust-up about what’s gone wrong in the recent past… the bosses are keen that we come out of this with the sense that we looked after the interest of the nation, not just our journalistic values.

The Economist itself noted that:

Amid the struggle against the virus, the corporation has slipped into something like wartime rules. Its website carries articles that gently reinforce public-health messages, such as an interview with a chastened 25-year-old entitled: ‘I thought because I was young it wouldn’t affect me.’ (It very much did, he reveals.) Unofficial rules of engagement with interviewees have subtly loosened, to give subjects more breathing space. And there is a faint unwillingness to dwell on official missteps, of which there have been plenty.

In an insipid and jingoistic attempt to turn the pandemic into some sort of WWII re-run, the BBC is essentially on a wartime footing. It’s pumping out pro-government narratives without question; at times even questioning the facts from a Tory perspective. The Sunak cartoon is eerily reminiscent of the propaganda put out by the government and media during WWII; in the instance below, using a classic ‘divide and conquer’ technique:

A cartoon from WWII

‘Superman Sunak’ from the BBC has that same, unquestioning narrative that WWII propaganda had. And herein lies the problem with this latest cartoon. It encapsulates the rot at the outlet that’s become even more putrid during the pandemic.

Perpetual propaganda

As The Canary has documented, the BBC has been somewhat removed from the notion of impartial broadcasting during the pandemic. From providing cover for the Tory government over its coronavirus testing lies, to Andrew Marr clusterf*cking more than usual – via not-so-subtle propaganda on behalf of Dominic Cummings and some decidedly dodgy tweets over European coronavirus death rates – the BBC has cemented the notion that it’s little more than an arm of the state, pushing propaganda without a second thought.

Now, with the Superman debacle, BBC subservience to government has reached a new low. As the National reported about the cartoon:

Sunak (as Superman) can be seen standing over a crowd as the commentator explains: ‘These schemes are really about encouraging us to get out there and join the Chancellor on the front line, and help to push our economy back up to prosperity’.

The idea that privately educated, senior government minister Sunak is somehow on the “front line” with, say, NHS workers or those people who have been forced to shield is utterly insulting. But moreover, it reeks of the propaganda that we’re (as the well-worn Tory saying goes) somehow ‘all in this together’. All the evidence shows the disproportional effect coronavirus has had on poor and ethnic minority communities. The BBC should be ashamed. Sadly, it probably isn’t.

Featured image via the SKWAWKBOX – screengrab and additional image via UK government – Wikimedia 

We know everyone is suffering under the Tories - but the Canary is a vital weapon in our fight back, and we need your support

The Canary Workers’ Co-op knows life is hard. The Tories are waging a class war against us we’re all having to fight. But like trade unions and community organising, truly independent working-class media is a vital weapon in our armoury.

The Canary doesn’t have the budget of the corporate media. In fact, our income is over 1,000 times less than the Guardian’s. What we do have is a radical agenda that disrupts power and amplifies marginalised communities. But we can only do this with our readers’ support.

So please, help us continue to spread messages of resistance and hope. Even the smallest donation would mean the world to us.

Support us
  • Show Comments
    1. That the beeb is rotten to its core is undeniable & clear for all to see & hear. This is the reason Goebbels fashioned his Ministry of Propaganda on it, & since the end of the war it has been honing it’s self-protection skills to the nth degree. That there is almost no opposition to being forced to pay for it is even more stunning !!
      The Canary should intiated a campaign to sell the beeb & stop ‘license taxation’ PDQ.

    2. The contrast between the portrayal of Corbyn and Sunak is startling! Anyone with even a smidgeon of common sense can see what the BBC has become. Here’s a little quiz for you ….. Q1 Name 6 political commentators on the BBC that you think are on the side of the right as far as politics goes? Q2 name 1 who is on the side of the left?

      Q3 why is it law that in order to watch TV you must buy a licence even if like me you never ever watch the garbage that the BBC put out as news and entertainment?

      Just like the other MSM organisations in the U.K. they are now fully paid up members of the hard right wingers. Look how the treat Julian Assange? I would bet my house that not one of the MSM would employ someone like John Pilger if there was such a talent again. Investigative journalism HA ! I think that art is long gone., which is a tragedy

    3. Anyone else notice that the BBC has admitted that Pravdarama broke it’s standards policy by not pointing out that several of the medical staff in its NHS documentary were Labour supporters, yet when people presented evidence pointing out that several of Corbyn’s accusers from their Labour anti-semitism episode had been filmed in the Al Jazeerah documentary “The Lobby”, they failed to point it out, and ruled that that was not a problem.

      And they wonder why people watch RT, Al Jazeera and Youtube indy news.

    Leave a Reply

    Join the conversation

    Please read our comment moderation policy here.