After the media-generated furore over allegations that Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn was a Soviet collaborator in the 1980s, and its subsequent debunking by the BBC‘s Andrew Neil, you’d think other journalists at the broadcaster would steer clear of smearing the Labour leader. But sadly not.
As The Canary‘s Tracy Keeling reported on Wednesday 21 February:
The right-wing media have tried to convince the nation that Corbyn was a Soviet collaborator. They’re basing this ‘scoop’ on the word of a former Czech spy. One who says he created Live Aid and whose claims about Corbyn become more elaborate every time he makes them (that’s what you call a ‘tell’).
Neil took a Conservative minister to task over the unfounded allegation on the BBC Daily Politics show on Wednesday. But prior to this, Corbyn released a video, throwing criticism at the mainstream media in the UK:
In the last few days The Sun, The Mail, The Telegraph and The Express have gone a little bit James Bond.
We've got news for the billionaire, tax exile press barons: Change is coming. pic.twitter.com/3ehSKfaAgZ
Read on...Support us and go ad-free
— Jeremy Corbyn (@jeremycorbyn) February 20, 2018
The Sun reports that all three major TV networks (BBC, ITV and Sky News) refused to broadcast it because:
Mr Corbyn is repeatedly refusing to give any interviews to explain his past links with Soviet bloc spies so they can freely question him.
This led BBC defence correspondent Jonathan Beale to tweet (from his personal account):
— Media Lens (@medialens) February 22, 2018
Beale jumped to defend himself against Media Lens, tweeting:
Not outrageous . Asking a question about attitudes to free press. I am partial when it comes to free press and reporting
— Jonathan Beale (@bealejonathan) February 22, 2018
So apart from the obvious problem with Corbyn being compared to Donald Trump, there are a few other issues with the defence correspondent’s defence of himself.
“Free press”? LOL!
The UK’s “free press” isn’t actually very free. According to Reporters Without Borders, we currently have the 40th freest press in the world, behind (ironically) former Soviet bloc countries like Estonia and Lithuania. And the UK is also, awkwardly, lower in the Press Freedom Index than both the Czech Republic and Slovakia. Ahem.
What’s more, why should Corbyn take yet more questions from our “free press” on a story that is blatantly false? So much so that Neil let rip about it and even the normally stoic Andrew Marr called the story “rather thin”.
And as for how Corbyn views the free press, it’s little wonder he’s suspicious.
Corbyn vs Trump. No comparison.
A study by the Media Reform Coalition on the so-called ‘Chicken Coup’ against Jeremy Corbyn in June 2016 showed clear bias. Because the BBC gave double the airtime to Corbyn’s critics than to his allies at the start of the coup.
And in January 2017, the BBC Trust found that BBC political editor Laura Kuenssberg had breached the corporation’s impartiality and accuracy guidelines. The breach related to reporting on Jeremy Corbyn and his comments over the ‘shoot-to-kill’ policy of the police.
So no, Mr Beale. Corbyn is nothing like Trump. Not in any way, shape or form. He, like many people, is highly suspicious of a “free press” that has consistently failed to serve the public interest.
– Support the Stop Funding Hate campaign. Demand that advertisers withdraw funding from newspapers and websites which promote hate speech.
– Support the work of Hope Not Hate.
– Join The Canary, so we can keep holding the powerful to account.
– Read and support other independent media outlets:
Media Diversified, Novara Media, Corporate Watch, Red Pepper, New Internationalist, Common Space, Media Lens, Bella Caledonia, Vox Political, Evolve Politics, Real Media, Reel News, STRIKE! magazine, The Bristol Cable, The Meteor, The Skwawkbox, Salford Star, The Ferret.
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?