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 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.
The BBC‘s attempt at ‘graphic art’ left people on Twitter unimpressed:
It made me very angry that the BBC depicted @RishiSunak as some kind of economic 'Superman '. For me,he is just soundbites,and empty words. "Whatever It Takes ",has not meant that for so many forgotten about."The show must go on",is a Tory shit show that spells endless disaster.
— Matthew Payne (@Matthew82069336) August 1, 2020
— Marxist Bernard 🇯🇲 🇮🇳 (@marcus_bernard) July 31, 2020
As JJ Wyatt pointed out, BBC coverage of Jeremy Corbyn stands in stark contrast:
— JJ Wyatt (@jjdubit) July 31, 2020
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:
Today, the BBC deleted this video it had published portraying Rishi Sunak as Superman, towering above the people and handing out cash to a dole queue, after it was compared to North Korean state propaganda.
— The SKWAWKBOX (@skwawkbox) July 31, 2020
Meanwhile, the BBC issued a half-baked statement (through metaphorical gritted teeth) via Twitter. It tried to explain why it removed the video:
We have removed a video of the chancellor’s plans for the UK economy. While we don’t think that readers would take the images at face value, on reflection we think the illustrations struck the wrong note and we’ve removed the article.
— BBC News (UK) (@BBCNews) July 31, 2020
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:
‘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.
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.
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