The political editor of The Sunday Times has made defamatory comments about Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn on social media. Tim Shipman has since deleted the tweet. But Twitter users captured it before Shipman took it down. And it’s now going viral, along with calls for the author to resign.
The tweet heard around the country
Tim Shipman is political editor of The Sunday Times. He has made his views on Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn well known. And mostly, they fall within the parameters of simple political disagreement. But his latest intervention moves beyond that.
In the tweet, Shipman calls Corbyn a “terrorist loving commie”, and claims he’s “never seen anyone less suited to high office.”
— Alex Nunns (@alexnunns) June 5, 2017
Author and commentator Alex Nunns screen-captured the tweet and has subsequently issued a complaint to The Times.
The tweet is a timely reminder of the established bias against the Labour leader across UK media. The London School of Economics produced a detailed analysis of the media coverage since Corbyn became Labour leader. Their research found significant bias against Corbyn, concluding that:
Our analysis shows that Corbyn was thoroughly delegitimised as a political actor from the moment he became a prominent candidate and even more so after he was elected as party leader, with a strong mandate. This process of delegitimisation occurred in several ways: 1) through lack of or distortion of voice; 2) through ridicule, scorn and personal attacks; and 3) through association, mainly with terrorism.
All this raises, in our view, a number of pressing ethical questions regarding the role of the media in a democracy. Certainly, democracies need their media to challenge power and offer robust debate, but when this transgresses into an antagonism that undermines legitimate political voices that dare to contest the current status quo, then it is not democracy that is served.
When journalists are sharing personal opinions so inaccurate and potentially harmful, it’s little wonder that it seeps into their coverage too.
End the smears
It’s the job of journalists to hold power to account, and that includes politicians of every stripe. But the intention of these misleading smears is to distort the public view of a man who won a Gandhi award for his contribution to peace-making efforts from Northern Ireland to the Middle East. The Gandhi Foundation wrote of the award in 2013:
The Trustees of The Gandhi Foundation agreed to offer him our International Peace Award in recognition of his consistent efforts over a 30 year Parliamentary career to uphold the Gandhian values of social justice and non‐violence.
But the media continues to construct an alternative story about the Labour leader. And at the same time, it celebrates Theresa May’s government for arms deals to dictatorships around the world.
— The Times of London (@thetimes) April 3, 2017
This is an unacceptable breach of journalistic ethics. And journalists and the public alike must condemn it in the strongest terms. In the run-up to a general election, informed consent is essential to a fair vote. And misleading remarks like those made by Tim Shipman have no place in that process.
– You can send a complaint to the Times at: [email protected]
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Featured image via Wikimedia Commons
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