By Liam Carr
In this post I will accuse the sections of the media of being biased. But before I do that I would like to state that my view is biased, the difference between the television media and this blog is that blogs usually share something that tells the reader about the writer, and most blogs and bloggers do not give the impression that they are impartial. Anyone who reads Think Left can see that it is a Left leaning blog which is broadly supportive of the Labour Party. We lay our cards on the table. If you read the tag line at the top of the page it reads “The purpose of Think Left is to present a view of politics from a left-wing perspective” If you are on this page then you are in no doubt that about the broad political position of those who contribute to the site. It is assumed by many that TV is totally unbiased, people are more aware that the papers support one party or another.
The Labour Party has accused the BBC of bias. This criticism can be justified both in terms of how and what is reported. A recent example of a lack of reporting of theSpartacus report (#spartacusreport) which has taken Twitter by storm. The report has been vastly under reported with only the Guardian and the Scottish Herald making reference to it. The effect of the expose of the report by disabled people themselves via social media has been to influence the votes in the House of Lords on 11th January. But where has been the coverage of this campaign on the BBC? Why has the media ignored it?
This comes just days after Ed Miliband spelled the name of a 90s game show incorrectly and Dianne Abbot made a sweeping generalisation about white people. The report which was written by disabled people is highly critical of governments welfare reform bill, and exposes that the governments ’consultation’ of disability living allowance claimants was deeply flawed.
We do not see a balanced critique of Tory (or Labour) policy on the news. The Coalition government are failing to deliver the growth they were promised, failing to deliver the jobs that they promised the private sector would provide and failing to keep their promise to eliminate the deficit in the life of one parliament, which was a damaging promise which they should never have made. Public services are in decline, the fate of the NHS hangs in the balance, and there are over 1 million young people out of work. University applications are in decline the aspirations of young people from normal backgrounds have been dented. If stories such as these are reported they are not the prominent headlines.
Despite this the Prime minster enjoys quite favourable media coverage. Cameron was interviewed this week on BBC Radio Fours Today Programme, the interview finished, not with a grilling but with a friendly chat about what actor would play Cameron in his equivalent of the Iron Lady.
The media like Cameron: Where we see ‘slimy’ they report ‘slick’. Where we see ‘arrogant’ they report ‘confident’ and worst of all where we see ‘the pure evil in ideologically targeting the most vulnerable for cuts’ the media reports, ‘doing what is necessary for the good of the country in these times of austerity’ .
What are the reasons for this preferential treatment? Is it because Labour did what was right in backing the phone hacking enquiry. Is it because there are some in the Labour party are vocal in their criticism of Ed Miliband. Were many current editors in the Bullingdon Club? Are there other more mysterious forces at work?
Most people get into politics for ideological reasons, to make a difference. Although we may not be totally comfortable with it, opinion-makers are just as important in politics today as change-makers. Governments clearly have more influence in the Media than opposition parties. Photos of a young Ed Miliband have been described as ‘Harry Potterish’, Maybe Labour need someone skilled in the Dark Arts of media manipulation to even up the game. Is Professor Snape available?
Related Posts from Think Left
Spartacus Report shows overwhelming opposition to Coalitions’ Welfare Reforms
The Truth about Disability Allowance
The Truth, Censored, Understanding Our World
Keep Social Media on the Street
Inadequacies of the BBC’s coverage of the EU’s financial crisis
You do have to marvel at the easy ride Cameron has had from the media.
What are his achievements? Winning the leadership election after coming second to David Davis in the first round, then scraping into power on the votes of 24% of the electorate (gaining fewer votes than Michael Foot’s ‘longest political suicide note’ Labour Party) by virtue of the pusillanimous support of Clegg (who had to ditch every major plank of the LibDems’ election platform).
On the downside, everything he touches turns to dust, from is walk-on part in the ERM debacle, through bringing a wrecking ball to the NHS, picking on the most vulnerable as scapegoats for financial sector mismanagement, leaving the education system in disarray, and allowing is chancellor to drive the economy off a cliff.
And yet, he is still lauded in the press, and admired for his manners and good breeding by faux-liberals.
It’s not conceivable that he could command the support of 42% of the electorate while laying waste to their futures, and yet the mainstream media take the ‘polls’ at face value, with a complete absence of any critical detachment.
But then, the main political commentators and news editors (not to mention ‘Opposition’) are all from the same club. Perhaps that’s what they mean by ‘all in it together’?
Excellent points Charles. If the club you refer to is a public school boys club, then you are right; most editors and MPs on both sides of the house are men who attended public school. The difference is we expect that the Tories will traditionally look after the interests of big business. Labour will traditionally favour policies that are in the interests of the many rather than the few. We expect our media to report impartially, when they fail to live up to this standard they are guilty of deceiving the public.
It’s also notable that Ed Miliband and Diane Abbot’s twitterstorms made BBC news, but David Cameron referring to Ed Balls’ behaviour in the House of Commons as like “someone with Tourette’s” didn’t make the BBC news.
I don’t want the Prime Minister of my country to be someone that instinctively uses disability as a put down! And I’d really like the BBC, as a supposedly impartial media source to report on such language with the same level of scrutiny regardless of whether it comes from the left or the right.
I agree Inky. IMO, both Ed’s spelling mistake and Dianne’s supposed racism were piddling but Cameron’s remarks revealed a most unpleasant hinterland of attitudes. Implicit in his Tourette’s remark, was that it was a bad thing to be so affected, and I found it profoundly offensive.
The BBC is, imho, too close to the Establishment, and therefore tends to have a slight bias towards the government of the day (whether Conservative or New Labour).
But another form of bias is the somewhat hidden but pernicious govt propaganda which is pushed out unthinkingly by the BBC. There doesn’t seem to be a built-in resistance to press releases issued by the govt; “news” items are sometimes no more than a parroting of an official press release with no scrutiny or investigation.
For example, a Conservative MP acting for the DWP is a Conservative MP … and NOT a DWP spokesman. He or she should be named as the source of the story. Yet time and again I’ve seen the Beeb quote someone semi-anonymously as if they’re an impartial civil servant. Does the general public think the unnamed spokesman is just a civil servant doing their job impartially?
Another example is where the Beeb’s business team refer to speculators as “investors”. One blogger recently noted that this Tory-led govt are said to make “offers” on public sector pensions but the Trade Unions are said to make “demands”. And there are many more of these inappropriate descriptions used.
Is the BBC seriously under-staffed? or are the journalists guilty of laziness? Either way, the performance is visibly lacking in competence and thoroughness.
Very true Phil… My analysis of 60+ BBC presenters showed that 80% were privately educated, a majority studied languages at University and about a third studied at Oxford.. not exactly representative of the average Briton, nor with any specific background in politics, economics or social policy.
For me, the worst instance of BBC misreporting was the loop showing Osborne announcing that he was addressing tax avoidance unlike the Labour government. It may have been my imagination but he appeared Iago-ishly gleeful at misrepresenting the appalling agreement, that he had just signed, that the Swiss banks would extract 30% tax from anonymous British accounts on behalf of HMRC. Fortunately, the EU are contesting this agreement as being unlawful but Osborne had pulled the fast one of legalising a 10% reduction in the tax of the super-rich, and his assertion was allowed through without any BBC challenge. (BTW A minimum deposit of 500k is required to open a Swiss bank account)
Thanks, Sue, for the information on BBC presenters. Your research is very interesting and very helpful. Sadly, I don’t feel surprised.
Miliband is getting the kind of grilling Neil Kinnock use to suffer – not because he’s on the left – far from it – he’s not threatening to nationalize anything or hand back powers to the Unions – but his brand of social democracy is still too left of centre for the Dickensian scrooges that make up London’s media, business and financial elites. An elite that will only accept a Labour Party that’s a tenth of a degree to the left of the left of the Tory Party or identical to Orange Book Liberals.
Which begs the question – what is the left going to do about this patently unfair system?
I suggest a campaign to democratize the BBC should be orchestrated immediately – viz-a-viz – the currant system – that sees the government handpicking the Governor GTTeneral should be replaced by a democratic election. This could be undertaken quite easily by running an election every five years and utilizing the license fee to double has a ballot paper.
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