The BBC tried to defend a media “blackout” on Jeremy Corbyn winning an international peace prize. It didn’t go well.
On 8 December, the Labour leader received the Séan MacBride Peace Prize from the International Peace Bureau (IPB). Founded in 1891, the IPB is one of the world’s oldest peace organisations. But not a single mainstream media outlet seemed to report on Corbyn winning the award, sparking allegations of institutional bias.
Enter the BBC
On BBC Daily Politics, host Jo Coburn was grilling [0.05] Corbyn ally Chris Williamson MP:
Why do you think there is a conspiracy amongst UK mainstream media to suppress positive stories about Jeremy Corbyn?
The Shadow Minister for Fire and Emergency Services responded [0.11]:
Well, you tell me. But it’s pretty clear that there was a media blackout… Let’s remember, when… there was a photograph of Jeremy wearing a tracksuit, it made front-page news. When Theresa May put a star on the top of a Christmas tree, there was wall-to-wall coverage, as there was of William and Kate being awarded a Blue Peter badge. And here we have the leader of the opposition being… awarded a prestigious peace award being completely ignored.
There was indeed wall-to-wall media coverage when royals William and Kate recently won a Blue Peter badge. And as Williamson says, there was apparently nothing on the leader of the UK opposition winning an international peace award.
While Corbyn received the award on 8 December, the IPB announced it in September. With this in mind, Coburn later suggested [2.12] that the media didn’t cover the award because Labour didn’t speak up enough:
None of the official Labour media accounts or even Jeremy Corbyn himself actually publicised it. Do you think that is the problem?
The MP for Derby North pointed out [2.20] that the story went viral on social media:
No. I think the problem is very clearly with the mainstream media who simply ignored it, even when it went viral on social media.
Williamson also noted that even foreign news outlets reported on Corbyn receiving the award.
Enter Channel 4
Meanwhile, Channel 4 FactCheck argues that there was no coverage of Corbyn winning because the media doesn’t generally report on the award. But Dave Webb, vice-chair of the IPB board, points out that the people who win it are rarely mainstream figures. They do tend to be distinguished anti-war and anti-nuclear activists, who the media has a history of marginalising. They do not tend to be among the most high-profile people in Britain.
Still, no mainstream media outlet covered it. So Williamson called out the “blackout” on the BBC. Apparently, we have a media that values a royal couple winning a Blue Peter badge far more than the elected leader of the opposition winning an international peace prize. The topsy turvy coverage would be funny if it didn’t have such far-reaching implications.
Watch the exchange here:
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