Attack journalism is an affront to democracy

28 Sep 2015

 

 

Jeremy Corbyn - the man recently elected with a 59% mandate by his own party - has been having a difficult time doing, well, anything away from the media glare. It has got me thinking about the state of the press today. Despite many claims to the contrary, our partisan mass-media machine is now a hindrance to democracy.

 

A fine example of this threat came when Corbyn did not sing the national anthem at a Battle of Britain memorial. Indeed, the bastion of balanced debate, The Sun, ran with the headline ‘Corbyn Snubs the Queen’. He was described in the article as ‘scruffy’ and his TUC conference speech reported as ‘rambling’.

 

This was nothing other than intellectually hollow bait. It attempted to argue that by not singing his praise of our monarch, Jeremy Corbyn had disrespected Battle of Britain pilots (despite the anthem failing to reference the war dead in any of the six verses).

 

The Sun was not the only tabloid to lambast Corbyn. The Daily Star attacked the Labour leader with equal vigour, calling his silence ‘outrageous’. 

 

Underlying the irrational Corbyn takedowns are attacks on the leader’s appearance, and their use of McCarthyist terms to paint a picture of a national traitor.

 

He has been in the job for three weeks, but Corbyn finds himself in the iron sights of Rupert Murdoch and the right wing press.

 

The national anthem saga, as well as the even less-founded accusation that Corbyn stole veterans’ lunch bags, still makes waves. Yet the topical Pig-gate scandal has, from my perspective, reached a premature death. David Cameron’s university antics do not impact on his ability to govern, a view which has been shared by the media, but there is a lack of consistency between the inches given to the leaders’ hiccups.

 

This goes to show the huge bias in the mass media. ‘Establishment politicians’, like Cameron, are protected from character assassinations. Whereas outsiders like Corbyn can only hope to soldier on and survive inevitable press onslaughts.

 

This makes me pessimistic about Labour chances come 2020. The media are proved to have considerable sway over public opinion - indeed they stopped at nothing to ensure Miliband was locked out of Downing Street in May.

 

Unlike his predecessor, Corbyn has been tacking these media malpractices head-on.  In fact, he has enjoyed public support for doing so. Perhaps this can spell and end to News International’s grip on or democracy, and end the insipid columns that dominate the political landscape today.

 

Both Cameron and Corbyn have promised ‘a new kind of politics’. We can only hope that Murdoch and the Mail deliver a new kind of journalism.

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