they’re planting stories in the press
Whoever it is I wish they’d cut it out quick
but when they will I can only guess.”
I doubt whether Jeremy Corbyn sings this, but one can easily imagine that he might. The first two statements are statements of the bleeding obvious: no leader of any party, no politician even, has been the subject of such abuse, such deliberate misdirection, misinformation and misquotation as Corbyn. And those planting stories in the press and on the BBC are actually the journalists themselves, and there is no sign that they will cut it out any time soon. They are still at it as I write.
No wonder, as we now discover, Nick Robinson himself, an ex-President of the OU Conservative Association, was moved to write to his colleagues warning them of the obvious bias against Corbyn on the BBC. It is both blatant and biased, overt and oblique.
For all my adult life, I have earned my living as a writer of sorts: a jobbing wordsmith engaged in (primarily) ads and commercials, brochures and the like, but also speeches, journalism, reviews, even an unacclaimed biography.
I mention this up-front to provide a context for my reading of the press, particularly the political press, in recent months. You see, as someone who was trained to hone his advertising copy with care and precision, I understand how one can use tonality to provoke a particular response in the reader, how one can create a fiction from facts and how the fiction itself becomes fact.
For example, a recent BBC News post referred to the decisions of Corbyn (on Syria) and Cameron (on Europe) granting free votes to ministers and shadow ministers. It’s true, they did. But note the subtlety of the wording: Cameron ‘agreed’ to do this; Corbyn ‘was forced’. Same process. Same decision. Different terminology. Different insidious inference. (One newspaper went further, its front page headline claiming that ‘Corbyn decision means war!’)
For example, the press and the BBC flagged the shadow cabinet reshuffle before Christmas with pieces quoting un-named sources as ‘fearing’ so-called revenge sackings. The story then becomes to what extent this is or is not happening. In fact, it hardly happens at all so the story is now that Corbyn ‘delays’ or ‘chickens out’. But just in case we miss the point, The Times – once a newspaper of record – tells us that anonymous ‘moderates’ have accused Corbyn of conducting ‘a vindictive and stupid reshuffle’.
For example, the BBC Today programme has twice been reprimanded by the BBC itself for misleading listeners over the disputes between Israel and Palestine. Of the 50 or more fatalities under discussion on one programme, not once was it mentioned that these were not all Israeli but also included a significant proportion of Palestinian victims. And the man responsible for the (lack of) questioning? John Humphreys.
Just a one-off misunderstanding? No. Because the BBC Complaints Unit had also found against Sarah Montague a few weeks earlier for a similar item of misinformation on a similar subject.
Did you hear the apologies broadcast live on the programme? No, nor me. Even though I listen most days from 6am onwards. I read about them on the Off-Guardian website.
The BBC is massively influential. It is the source of most people’s news and most people’s take on the news. But it is now in the hands of those who wish to promote a right wing agenda, without any impartiality or balance. On Newsnight, there is Evan Davis, part of the team which dreamed up the poll tax; on Today, Nick Robinson, former president of the Conservative Association; and on the BBC News, following Andrew Marr and Robinson, is Laura Kuenssberg, whose comments recently, and especially during the reshuffle, have been disgraceful and partial by any standards.
The epitome of idiot wind.
Today from the everysmith vaults: Prompted by the new Robert Galbraith (JK Rowling) novel, I have quickly listened to some old Blue Oyster Cult and equally quickly removed it from the turntable. Some Bowie for the sake of it. But primarily Desire, a favourite Bob album of some of my children when they were young, and the home of a couple of my favourite songs. (Isis and One More Cup of Coffee, since you ask. But Sara is about as perfectly achieved as anything he's ever done.)