Friday, 7 August 2015

Guardian Response on Jeremy Corbyn

Sent in by Trevor Hoyle from Media Lens
IN our previous media alert, we described 'the panic-driven hysterical hate-fest campaign' being waged against Labour leadership candidate Jeremy Corbyn right across the corporate media 'spectrum'.
This week, Guardian readers' editor Chris Elliott responded to readers' complaints:
'I read or viewed 43 pieces of journalism published between 21 and 30 July... Seventeen of the 43 pieces struck me as neutral... there were 10 pieces that could broadly be described as either being comment pieces in favour of Corbyn or news stories reporting positively about him.'
Elliot would only concede that 'in the early days of Corbyn's charge, the readers rightly got a sniff that on occasions we weren't taking him seriously enough. That has changed...'.
We wrote to Elliott:
'Hi Chris
'Hope you're well. Thanks for your piece: "Analysing the balance of our Jeremy Corbyn coverage."...
'Could you let us know, please, which 17 pieces struck you as neutral, and which 10 pieces were in favour of Corbyn, or reporting positively about him?' (Email, August 4, 2015)
Elliott replied:
'Dear Mr Edwards,
'I am sorry but I have set out all that I had time and resource to do. I cannot help you further.
'Best wishes
'Chris Elliott' (Email, August 4, 2015)
We were, of course, grateful for the response.
In his article, Elliott rightly warned that, 'This is not a scientific piece of research – we don't have the resources.'
In reality, evaluating Guardian bias on Corbyn does not require scientific method, just simple common sense.
Consider, for example, an article written by arch-Blairite Peter Hain, who is up to his neck in responsibility for Iraq sanctions, invasion and occupation. Hain's piece was titled:
'Jeremy Corbyn's policies may be popular – but they don't add up to a platform'
The article jumped out at us because it contained rare criticism of two other candidates for the Labour leadership:
'The two most credible candidates - Andy Burnham and Yvette Cooper - have been underwhelming: cautious and austerity-lite.'
This does indeed qualify as mild criticism. But compare it with Hain's comments on Corbyn:
'Those inside the Westminster bubble have been transfixed, indeed bewildered, by Jeremy Corbyn's soaring campaign for Labour leader. The more he is denounced, the better he seems to do.
'Have Labour members gone mad, party luminaries wonder? Has the Militant Tendency's 1980s entryism been somehow reincarnated from its current impotence, headlines ask?'
Hain continued:
'Nobody – least of all him [Corbyn], ironically – imagines he could be prime minister, or even that as opposition leader he could survive the high noon bearpit of Prime Minister's Questions, or deliver an effective instant response to a George Osborne budget speech.'
'But the reason I won't vote for Corbyn is that, underneath his appealing slogans and rousing values, there is no programmatic substance... His economic policy amounts to an unelectable platform of "tax and spend" – an anguished cry of protest, not a serious alternative for a Labour government... He demonstrates little understanding of the immensely arduous challenge of electing, let alone running, a social democratic or democratic socialist government...'.
If this isn't clear enough, a simple observation should make it clearer: there is more damning personal and political criticism in this single piece on Corbyn than we found in several hundred Guardian articles on Burnham, Cooper and Kendall over the last month combined.
By contrast, the following comment from a Guardian news report indicates the level of criticism that has only rarely been directed at these three candidates:
'A senior Labour politician... attributed Corbyn's success so far to the failure of Burnham, Cooper and Kendall to grip the imagination.'
We also managed to find this from Rafael Behr in the Guardian:
'Kendall has misjudged the balance between delivering hard truths to the party and charmlessly rubbing it up the wrong way, which in turn raises doubts about the tuning of her political antennae.'
A Guardian leader commented:
'Mr Burnham's campaign, with its heavy emphasis on emotional reconnection with the party's core electorate, is steeped in nostalgia.'
Again, minor, low-level criticism; nothing that could be considered a personal and political demolition in the style of Hain.
Comedian Frankie Boyle wrote a piece criticising 'passive' Labour. He referred obliquely to 'leadership candidacy androids' who lack 'personality and charm' in a party that is to the right of John Major. Burnham, Cooper and Kendall were not mentioned by name; their role as New Labour Blairites supporting the Iraq crime and other horrors was not discussed. Seumas Milne, the Guardian's resident leftist fig-leaf, also referred to the 'New Labour machine politician' alternative to Corbyn, supplying rare, substantial criticism of the other candidates for moving 'sharply to the right'.
The fiercest personal criticism came from John Harris:
'As Corbyn rises, Andy Burnham is suddenly styling himself as the faux-radical saviour of a party "scared of its own shadow".'
And yet his campaign began 'with a speech at the City offices of a corporation associated with huge tax avoidance...'.
Yvette Cooper exhibits 'that awful modern Labour tendency to boil even the great causes of the age down to borderline inanity and talk to people as if they are stupid'.
Not that Harris is a Corbyn fan: 'I am less interested in him than what his candidacy, in tandem with Labour's new voting system, has let loose.'
Vanishingly rare exceptions aside, the other three leaders have been criticised for being charmless, overly nostalgic, dull, hypocritical, inane, and so on. Clearly, none of this compares to the many articles passionately warning readers against the 'madness', the 'catastrophe', of voting for Corbyn when 'Nobody – least of all him, ironically – imagines he could be prime minister.'

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