Last night was an epic fail for mainstream British media, and it highlighted more than ever why movements like #ChangeTheMedia are needed. The BBC decided to put hate-spewing Rod Liddle on Question Time, and Sky News interviewed far-right leader Stephen Yaxley-Lennon (Tommy Robinson).
Liddle, currently associate editor at the Spectator, has previously been accused of misogyny and racism. Yaxley-Lennon, meanwhile, was sent to prison for allegedly endangering a trial involving paedophilia. Their TV appearances coinciding on British TV has not gone unnoticed:
Tommy Robinson live interview tonight on Sky News. Rod Liddle on Question Time tonight. The UK's mainstream media has absolutely no problem with platforming and promoting racists and Islamophobes https://t.co/GsUksY118p
— Waqas Tufail (@_WaqasTufail) September 27, 2018
The two men were given airtime on mainstream TV on the same day a square was named after MP Jo Cox in Brussels:
Today, a street in Brussels was named after Jo Cox.
Meanwhile, in Britain, Tommy Robinson is interviewed by Sky News and Rod Liddle appears on #bbcqt.
— John Traynor (@Mr_JDTraynor) September 27, 2018
QT seem obsessed with giving legitimacy to far right racists like Liddle. They only exist to poison the debate and cause division . There's just been a memorial to Jo Cox and the BBC seem to have forgotten what's at stake. This needs to stop.
— Pedro Montoya (@senormontoya) September 27, 2018
What’s the point?
On the one hand, defenders of free speech suggest we need to ‘hear out’ the likes of Yaxley-Lennon. But others argue that airing hateful views is little more than a marketing ploy:
It seems neither Sky nor the BBC understand the implications:
People who think or argue that Nick Griffin going on Question Time killed the BNP ?
Nick Griffin went on Question Time in Autumn 2009
Here are the votes the BNP got in the two general elections either side of that
2005 GE: 192,745 votes
2010 GE: 564,331 votes
Hope this helps
— Matt Zarb-Cousin (@mattzarb) August 2, 2018
Either this is a massive self-own and you’re saying that Sky News’ audience couldn’t possibly amplify Tommy Robinson’s audience of 1 million Facebook followers or you fundamentally don’t understand how any of this works. https://t.co/Wn7ICeSBQd
— Ryan Broderick (@broderick) September 28, 2018
Switch it off
People have expressed the need to question the mainstream media, and disengage from increasingly ridiculous programmes like Question Time altogether:
Turn it off. Our establishment media is willing to platform literal fascists on prime time, but throw their toys out of the pram if a leftie gets 5mins to make a point anywhere in our media landscape. https://t.co/TOm8niCTk1
— Kerry-Anne Mendoza (@TheMendozaWoman) September 27, 2018
Did you see the fascist with a swastika tattoo on BBC London news? Unchallenged when he said 'it's not racism' https://t.co/ImojAkXg8E
— m a r c u s (@marcusjdl) June 27, 2016
Although seeing Labour MP Ian Lavery say “I’m not your mate” to Liddle was definitely fun:
“I’m not your mate.”
God, it’s so refreshing to see @IanLaveryMP cut through the faux chumminess of media norms and properly take on a liar and a racist like Rod Liddle.
Mashallah Ian ?????? pic.twitter.com/UCelPXtB29
— Ash Sarkar (@AyoCaesar) September 28, 2018
When will the mainstream media learn? And for how long will it relegate the left to the margins, while putting far-right views like Yaxley-Lennon’s centre-stage?
If Jo Cox’s death has taught us one thing, surely it would be that hateful views do not deserve a platform in British media.
– Support The Canary if you appreciate the work we do.
We need your help ...
The coronavirus pandemic is changing our world, fast. And we will do all we can to keep bringing you news and analysis throughout. But we are worried about maintaining enough income to pay our staff and minimal overheads.
Now, more than ever, we need a vibrant, independent media that holds the government to account and calls it out when it puts vested economic interests above human lives. We need a media that shows solidarity with the people most affected by the crisis – and one that can help to build a world based on collaboration and compassion.
We have been fighting against an establishment that is trying to shut us down. And like most independent media, we don’t have the deep pockets of investors to call on to bail us out.
Can you help by chipping in a few pounds each month?