Broadcaster James O’Brien dropped a truth bomb when he appeared on a new podcast, Strong and Stable. Speaking about media bias, he argued that the whole media is giving a “distorted” picture that encourages people to “vote against their own interests”.
Playing the manifesto game
O’Brien’s comments came after a comedy section of the show from Jonathan Pie about the manifestos. Pie began:
It’s the Labour manifesto that is, according to the media, nonsense, dangerous and legally impossible.
And he gave some examples:
Food banks for example. I mean it’s nonsense, isn’t it, to think people deserve a decent meal. Especially children. Tories want to abolish school lunches. Sensible policies for a malnourished Britain.
Labour want free school meals for primary school kids paid for by removing the VAT exemption for private schools. Mental!
He then played a game of “let’s play whose policy is whose”:
Sawing bits off elephants or leaving elephants alone?
Taxing aristocrats or giving them the right to tear up local fauna while sipping port?
Rail nationalisation or higher rail fares?
Frozen wages or higher wages in the public sector?
An NHS or no NHS?
Making dementia sufferers pay or not making dementia sufferers pay?
Tax rises for the rich or tax rises for the poor?
But while the section was obviously comedy, O’Brien picked up on several points afterwards. He started by saying:
I don’t think it is naff to blame the media for everything… having been a newspaper journalist… I honestly do think that the lens through which politics is viewed in this country is utterly, utterly distorted.
He then made the point that people are persuaded to vote against their own interests:
And when you hear that, satire though it may be, you realise just how distorted it is. People persuaded to vote against their own interests because they’ve been successfully convinced that they’re in the category of winners. And in fact they’re not.
You can listen to the whole podcast here:
This distortion is not surprising when you look at the wealth behind the people who own much of the UK media:
- Billionaire Rupert Murdoch owns The Sun and The Times.
- The Barclay brothers, worth £7.2bn [paywall], own The Telegraph.
- With a fortune of £2.5bn [paywall], Richard Desmond owns The Star and The Express.
- Viscount Rothermere, whose family is worth almost a billion [paywall], runs The Daily Mail.
- Russian billionaire Alexander Lebedev owns The Independent with his son.
But it is even happening in supposedly left-wing papers such as The Guardian, which has consistently run anti-Corbyn stories. As The Canary reported previously, the paper’s editorial on 9 May was more suited to The Mail. And it was this editorial that led 68 media academics from universities around the country to write to the paper. They stated:
Our concern as media educators, however, is that whole sections of the media are already committed to a narrative that paints Labour as unelectable and Corbyn as a barely credible candidate.
Academic surveys have shown how newspapers belittled him from the moment he won his first leadership election, while broadcast bulletins systematically gave more coverage to his opponents than to his supporters.
Meanwhile, veteran broadcaster David Dimbleby has also called out the media:
And I don’t think anyone could say that Corbyn has had a fair deal at the hands of the press, in a way that the Labour Party did when it was more to the centre, but then we generally have a right-wing press.
Vote for ourselves, not the billionaires
Under the Conservative government, the few billionaires who own most of the media have seen their wealth increase. And they are using this wealth and influence to try and persuade voters around the country to vote in the interests of the rich rather than in their own interests.
But we don’t have to be fooled, and we don’t have to listen to the arguments of billionaires.
Read the manifestos. And then decide whether you want to see business as usual for the super rich, or whether you’d like to try a fairer, more equitable society that will be of great benefit to all the rest of us.
– Get out there and vote on 8 June. And encourage others to do the same.
– Discuss the key policy issues with family members, colleagues and neighbours. And organise! Join (and participate in the activities of) a union, an activist group, and/or a political party.
– Also, read more Canary articles on the 2017 general election.
– Support The Canary if you value the work we do.
Featued image via Flickr