Monday, 12 October 2009

Media bias?

In this day and age, a media pundit cold be sat in rural Papa New Guinea and be as up to date on breaking news as a London correspondent. The finer and more subtle events however, can be missed by an exile such as myself. Yet sometimes this can be beneficial in the long run; in the same way that you will notice how a friend has aged if you see him once every ten years, yet would never be able to see such a thing if you take lunch with him each day, the biggest changes in Britain seem to jump out at me when I watch the news or after several months.

Enough waffle: I’m talking about the shocking and unrepentant bias in our mainstream media. I had been warned about it from various sources. I thought I knew what to expect, but when I watched this interview with Gordon Brown I was stunned. Can anyone fail to have noticed that the BBC reporter – supposedly working for our flagship TV station and bound to a strict code of conduct and fairness – was firing a salvo of loaded and prejudiced questions at GB? Watch it again. Notice how each reporter’s statement opens with a Brown/Labour statement followed by a Tory response. It’s never the other way around. This is no accident, it’s a psychological tactic. Notice how the journalist – whose job it is to get information – shoots a shameless set of loaded and sneering personal questions at GB.

“Wouldn’t you say it’s a mea culpa?” , “Wouldn’t you say some of this is your own responsibility?” and so on.

The approach of the reporter and the overall report may be subtle but it is clear: every Labour argument or tactic must be responded to and overruled by the Tories (having the last word) , every defence of Gordon Brown must be followed up by another charge. Open questions and in depth questions must be minimal, as it may allow him to at least try and make himself look good.

This is neither paranoid, important or trivial. This is a fundamental change in the way BBC reporters are dealing with politics and Labour in general. It appears the naysayers are correct. Our media have been influenced so heavily by the Tories that an unspoken consensus has been reached: it’s time for a Tory government. No hat’s not because Brown has been a disaster (though of course he has) it’s not because Cameron et al. are doing so well or appear so ready to take the reins (they don’t) it’s simply that various influences have manipulated the media to take this stance.

This is not uncommon in newspaper circles. One only has to look at the year of Blair’s first election victory for an example of how quickly tabloids will jump ship and completely change tack. But the BBC always seemed to take an admirable, if problematic, stance of neutrality. Now it seems they have become as weak and corruptible as the rest.

Don’t get me wrong. I have no time for GB and Labour, but I believe in a fair and free media and I take pride in what little integrity the BBC has left. I repeat: Brown may have been a disaster, Labour may be a shambles, but to confuse the incompetence of the ruling party with the loaded and manipulative reporting of our flagship news station is unacceptable. If we allow this to happen, it can only lead to an Orwellian media, where not only our vote, but our whole image and understanding of our government will be twisted and manipulated by a few elitist executives and those who choose to wine and dine their workers.

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