Just over a minute of truth appeared on the Andrew Marr Show on Sunday 11 April. It involved the BBC‘s contentious coverage of the death of Philip Windsor (the duke of Edinburgh). And it came from an unlikely source. Because a corporate, centrist journalist called out the state broadcaster’s “syrupy” and “clichéd” coverage.
As The Canary previously reported, the BBC went onto an almost wartime footing when Windsor died. Tom Coburg wrote:
On the evening of Friday 9 April, the BBC went wall-to-wall in its coverage of the death of Philip… BBC 1 and BBC 2 provided the same content for the entire evening, and all BBC4 programmes were cancelled. Subsequently, the state broadcaster was forced to publish a complaints page on its coverage (but it has since been removed).
BBC scheduling returned to normal during the afternoon on Saturday 11 April. But many people were still angry about it. So, enter the Atlantic‘s Helen Lewis on Marr to drop a truth bomb.
it was probably the wrong decision editorially to completely shut down BBC2 and run the same programmes as BBC One; to shut down BBC Four for the night
it was probably the right decision politically. And by that I mean the fact that annoying a lot of people who wanted to watch the Masterchef final is probably better for the BBC than annoying backbench Tory MPs who would then spend the whole weekend complaining about a lack of respect for the Royal Family and for Britain.
“Syrupy” and “clichéd”
Marr tried to rein Lewis in. He put it to her that the BBC made the right decision for:
those generations who would turn to the BBC for… old fashioned, serious royal coverage at a moment like this.
Lewis kind-of agreed. But she did it with the caveat that:
some of the coverage has actually strayed into the syrupy… some of those things did feel rather clichéd
“Yes. Umm. Err…” was all Marr could say in response:
Not a good look for Marr when even the most centrist of corporate journalists can spot what the BBC is up to. And an independent journalist took Lewis’s thoughts a few steps further.
The ‘old normal’ for the BBC?
Jonathan Cook wrote about the BBC and the corporate media’s coverage of Windsor’s death. He said that it “may look exceptional”. But actually, Cook said it was “entirely routine”:
My latest: The wall-to-wall propaganda we are subjected to on the death of a royal may look exceptional but it is entirely routine. It is simply that in normal times the propaganda is better masked, wrapped in the illusion of choice and variety https://t.co/1oNs2nWcYo
— Jonathan Cook (@Jonathan_K_Cook) April 10, 2021
He broke it down into four “lessons”. He wrote that “There is absolutely no commercial reason for the media to be dedicating so much time and space” to Windsor’s death.
Cook went on to say that the BBC did what it did for two reasons:
- “fear… they would face a barrage of criticism from right-wing newspapers for showing a lack of patriotism and revealing a supposed “left-wing bias””.
- Also, fear of the Tory Party, “which regards the institution of the monarchy as sacrosanct,” ‘punishing’ the BBC: “The BBC’s licence fee and wider funding might be in jeopardy as a result”.
Cook summed up the overall corporate media approach to Windsor’s death:
The truth is that all of these factors have played a part. Corporate media is not just there to make quick profits. Sometimes, it is seen by its billionaire owners as a loss-leader. It is there to generate a favourable political and social climate to help corporations accrete ever greater power and profits.
We need your help to keep speaking the truth
Every story that you have come to us with; each injustice you have asked us to investigate; every campaign we have fought; each of your unheard voices we amplified; we do this for you. We are making a difference on your behalf.
Our fight is your fight. You’ve supported our collective struggle every time you gave us a like; and every time you shared our work across social media. Now we need you to support us with a monthly donation.
We have published nearly 2,000 articles and over 50 films in 2021. And we want to do this and more in 2022 but we don’t have enough money to go on at this pace. So, if you value our work and want us to continue then please join us and be part of The Canary family.
In return, you get:
* Advert free reading experience
* Quarterly group video call with the Editor-in-Chief
* Behind the scenes monthly e-newsletter
* 20% discount in our shop
Almost all of our spending goes to the people who make The Canary’s content. So your contribution directly supports our writers and enables us to continue to do what we do: speaking truth, powered by you. We have weathered many attempts to shut us down and silence our vital opposition to an increasingly fascist government and right-wing mainstream media.
With your help we can continue:
* Holding political and state power to account
* Advocating for the people the system marginalises
* Being a media outlet that upholds the highest standards
* Campaigning on the issues others won’t
* Putting your lives central to everything we do
We are a drop of truth in an ocean of deceit. But we can’t do this without your support. So please, can you help us continue the fight?