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Independent: Our report found that 75% of press coverage misrepresents Jeremy Corbyn – we can't ignore media bias anymore

(120 Posts)
GagaJo Sat 07-Sep-19 11:30:23

We all want and need a strong and a critical media, but maybe we do not need an attack dog that kills off anyone who challenges the status quo.

Over half of the news articles were critical or antagonistic in tone, compared to two thirds of all editorials and opinion pieces ( Reuters )

In many democracies across the world new political leaders get a so-called honeymoon period. As our analysis of the journalistic representation of Jeremy Corbyn’s first two months as party leader in eight national newspapers demonstrates, this did not apply to Corbyn. Our rigorous and statistically representative analysis concluded that when it comes to the coverage of Corbyn in his role as leader of the opposition, the majority of the press did not act as a critical watchdog of the powers that be, but rather more often as an antagonistic attackdog.

Over half of the news articles were critical or antagonistic in tone, compared to two thirds of all editorials and opinion pieces. Besides the almost total lack of support in the latter, especially in the rightwing media, the high level of negativity in the news reporting struck us as noteworthy here. According to the Independent Press Standards Organization (IPSO), newspapers are obliged to ‘make a clear distinction between comment, conjecture and fact’ and this also did not apply to Corbyn. Furthermore, Corbyn’s voice is often absent in the reporting on him, and when it is present it is often presented in a highly distorted way. In terms of the news sources used in the articles, the civil war within Labour is very enthusiastically amplified. In most newspapers, including The Daily Mirror and The Independent, Labour voices that are anti-Corbyn outweigh those that are pro-Corbyn.

In addition to this, a prevalent way to deride Corbyn is through scorn and ridicule. Three in ten news stories, opinion pieces, or letters to the editor mock Corbyn or scoff at his ideas, his personal life, his looks and/or his lifestyle. Besides these character assassinations, some of the popular mantras repeated over and over again in connection with Corbyn are: that he is unelectable, that his ideas are unrealistic and loony, and that he is unpatriotic. Most problematic in this regard, according to us, is the persistent association of Corbyn with terrorism. In some newspapers, for example in The Daily Telegraph, The Daily Express or The Sun, between 15 and 20 per cent of their Corbyn-related coverage associates him with IRA, Iran, Hamas, Hezbollah and/or terrorism. Linked to this, we see that over one fifth of all articles denote him as a danger or as dangerous, a frame that David Cameron was also keen to feed.

The rough treatment by the British newspapers of (Labour) politicians is, of course, not an entirely new phenomenon in the UK (think Neil Kinnock and Ed Miliband), but I would argue that this was nowhere near as destructive, as vicious and as antagonistic as is the case now with Corbyn. Many in our team of researchers are not British and compared to the media in our own countries we were also all quite astonished by the systematic and way in which Corbyn is being actively delegitimised by the media; this is unworthy of a democracy. We all want and need a strong and a critical media, a watchdog of the powers that be, but maybe we do not need an attack dog who kills off anyone who challenges the status quo and dares to suggest we need a different kind of politics.

In my view, this exposes some serious shortcomings and problematic tendencies in the reporting on Corbyn and of politics in general. Inevitably, all this brings into the fray the issue of concentrated media ownership in the UK, and intrinsically linked to this the undeniable fact that the British newspaper landscape is heavily skewed to the right (although it must be acknowledged that Corbyn has also received quite some flak from the left-leaning newspapers).
In this regard, it would be healthy and urgent, I think, to reflect more on how increased media power should be counter-balanced by a higher degree of democratic responsibility from the part of the media and journalists. Surveys consistently show that a very large majority of UK citizens (and by extension newspaper and TV audiences) do not trust politicians and journalists at all – a mere 20-25 per cent of people believe that journalists and politicians tell the truth. Journalists – and the media organisations they represent – have an ethical and dare I say democratic obligation to address this high degree of distrust.

What the majority of reactions to our report on social media and on the site of The Independent in the mean time show is many citizens – even those that do not support Corbyn – feel that the media in general is failing them in terms of correctly and fairly representing the elected leader of the opposition.

Bart Cammaerts is an Associate Professor and PhD Director at the London School of Economics and Political Science.

Urmstongran Sat 07-Sep-19 11:56:26

Sorry, I started reading but lost the will to live around line 5.

Ilovecheese Sat 07-Sep-19 12:11:39

I agree with the piece Gagajo, it has been obvious from the very beginning of his bid for the leadership.
It would, I believe have been the same for any left wing leader of the opposition. The current Labour policies are not even that left wing and yet the press tries to whip up hysteria against a little bit more equality in our society.

EllanVannin Sat 07-Sep-19 12:24:47

There'll never be equality, no matter what !

pinkquartz Sat 07-Sep-19 12:34:35

My issue with Corbyn is that he has not been enough of an opposition to any of the Govt. actions.
Now there is a chance for an election he doesn't want one.
I never know what he does want.
He says equality but that is too vague.
I blame him for letting the Tories crush the people who are poor, homeless, jobless, or stuck in zero hour work.
What did Corbyn do about Universal Credit?
He seems to soft to oppose anything and in fact it looks like it is true that he doesn't want to be P.M. because that would be too much like hard work.

GagaJo Sat 07-Sep-19 12:35:15

I agree, Ilovecheese. I'm a supporter and won't read the mainstream media anymore. If I DO catch an article by chance, I go online and look up the real information. Which is so vastly different it's insulting to the readers of the crap's intelligence, especially given how many of them (a lot on here) believe it.

Even my partner makes comments about bits he's read. Which I then refute with the real facts.

Why aren't readers more critical (NOT as in criticizing - as in THINKING) about what they're reading. In general, not just in relation to this issue. I just don't get it.

MaizieD Sat 07-Sep-19 12:46:35

Sorry, I started reading but lost the will to live around line 5.

That's the spirit, Ug. Never miss a chance to demonstrate your desire to be uninformed.

Now there is a chance for an election he doesn't want one.

So you don't understand political tactics, then, pinkquartz?

GagaJo Sat 07-Sep-19 13:35:38

pinkquartz, do you ever research anything to check you're getting the whole picture? Because you're definitely NOT. If you just read a mainstream newspaper and watch the regular TV news, you're missing Corbyn challenging the PM (whichever crap Tory it is), you're missing his speeches, you're missing his social media messages.

I'm 100% aware you're a died in the wool JC hater and that nothing I say will be believed. But do take on board my point about the media. They lie. All the time. When they're not lying, they're omitting, clipping, editing. NOTHING we get is the truth.

Ilovecheese Sat 07-Sep-19 13:58:45

pinkquartz What do you think Jeremy Corbyn could possibly have done about Universal Credit?

Ellanvannin Just a little bit more fairness would be a good start.

Dinahmo Sat 07-Sep-19 14:04:41

The Sun and Mail on Line both showed a photograph of Jeremy Corby "dancing" on his way to the Cenotaph in 2016. He was in fact walking along with a 92 year old WW2 veteran and had his arm out to support him. The veteran was photo-shopped out and an apology has been published (hidden away on the back pages somewhere, as per usual with such apologies) I assume that pinkquartz would have believed the original photo, had she seen it.

If PQ had watched PMQs regularly she would have seen JC deal with austerity on several occasions. To blame him for the Tories actions is outrageous. Also to say that he doesn't want to be PM because it would be too much like hard work is equally outrageous.

varian Sat 07-Sep-19 15:15:57

BlueBelle Sat 07-Sep-19 15:27:10

Pink quartz Corbyn doesn’t not want an election it is a game of strategy and the timing has to be right now is not the time
I m not a huge fan but the lies and articles to malign him have been atrocious and how he is still in politics and going about his business shows a huge strength of character
He has been lied about and attacked mercilessly
It’s a very unattractive country right now somevare showing their true colours

Hm999 Sat 07-Sep-19 17:04:36

I'm really sad that there are a number people in the public eye who the media seem to think it's ok to constantly criticise. People read/watch this, and then agree. What a negative place the UK is currently.

EnglishRose Sat 07-Sep-19 17:11:19

I agree with you URM... I managed it all and my thoughts were what a piece of Left Wing Propaganda! I believe he would make a frighteningly awful PM and like Labour always does, he would borrow money we do not have, raise taxes, expel any dissidents, all very Marxist of course which is what he truly represents. He's unable to answer questions in the House or make a Statement without reading from a piece of paper. hardly the sign of a highly intelligent man.

His links to the IRA and other terrorist groups have been well documented and therefore he is a traitor in my eyes to this country. He's a known anti Semite and for no solid reason other than his allegiance to Hamas etc., which again has been openly and truthfully documented.

In fact he is all mouth and no trousers! And no, I'm not specifically aligned or supportive of any Political Party. I use my vote where I think it is for the good of the country. I would vote in a heartbeat for Kate Hoey, who sadly has now left Labour, (because of Corbyn).

MaizieD Sat 07-Sep-19 17:19:01

and my thoughts were what a piece of Left Wing Propaganda!

Dear God! It was research; undertaken by mostly non British researchers, so no axe to grind. Do you not understand the difference between research findings and opinion?

How can you possibly 'agree' with Ug? She didn't even read more than 5 lines and made no comment at all about the actual article.

EnglishRose Sat 07-Sep-19 17:28:18

MaizeD URM doesn't have to go any further to get the gist of the post. She uses her common sense. I did it in 5 too, just had some time to spare and needed a bit of a giggle!

varian Sat 07-Sep-19 17:31:08

Should I be surprised that a leave supporter thinks that it will be funny to see other people suffering because of something she voted for?

Disappointed, yes. Surprised, sadly no.

MaizieD Sat 07-Sep-19 17:34:48

Wrong thread., I think, varian grin More suited to the EU nationals thread...

Or do you think that Corbyn is suffering?

varian Sat 07-Sep-19 22:33:25

Listen to this factory worker talking about the influence of The Sun and the Daily Mail on his colleagues.

Anniebach Sat 07-Sep-19 22:48:55

Did the press lie about Corbyn’s support for the IRA or his
connections with his friends Hezbollah or anti semetism is accepted by Corbyn

trisher Sat 07-Sep-19 22:56:05

EnglishRose I have to ask do you actually work for the right wing media? If not you should. Your post is full of the usual biased untrue accusations they constantly print. If it wasn't such a threat to our democracy it would be funny.
Corbyn's work negotiating and bringing to the table diverse organisations has led to him winning 2 Peace prizes. He believes the only way to prevent terrorism is to talk to people and he has been proved right.
All ministers including PMs and past leaders of the opposition have used notes. And a for calling him an anti-semite he has a long history of supporting human rights in every area.

GagaJo Sat 07-Sep-19 23:17:38


he would borrow money we do not have, raise taxes, expel any dissidents
The way to stimulate an economy is to put money INTO it. We are about to tip into a recession, thanks to Tory austerity. Caused by the bankers and paid for by the UK poor. Yup, raise taxes for the wealthy. Who are busy moving their wealth OUT of the UK to avoid paying their share.

Links to IRA and other terrorist groups
IRA. Corbyn has condemned all bombing carried out by the IRA and brokered a part in the peace process.

Corbyn is a long-standing member of the Palestine Solidarity Campaign, and has frequently spoken out against what he considers to be apartheid conditions imposed by Israel in the Palestinian territories.

a known anti Semite
What a load of absolute rubbish! He is anti Zionist occupation and violence towards Israel. He, and the vast majority of people (cross party) are against the Palestinian holocaust. He is most definitely NOT antisemitic. He is vehemently anti racist, as anyone with more than 2 brain cells should work out. The antisemitic slur is propagated as part of the whole attempt to reduce his power.

Fair enough, you don't like or support him. But DO BETTER than repeat Murdoch's gutter press lies. LAZY LAZY political opinions. Develop your own instead of parroting those of the massively biased mainstream media.

Listen to MaisieD. Do you understand academic research? Looking at ALL the evidence and not just a biased, one sided view????? They didn't do the research to get Corbyn elected. They were researching BIAS in the British media and those just happened to be their findings.

absthame Sun 08-Sep-19 00:04:58

Corbyn has been a disloyal treacherous party member of the LP for about 54 years and for most of that time he has been a pain in the backside. He has always appeared to be more interested in engrossing himself with the press than contributing to the party's objectives or those of most of the organisation's that he has been associated with.

Notwithstanding the above, the majority of the press does a Corbyn on the LP, by not paying any real attention to what the Labour Party's policies and what their plans are and instead using their imaginings instead. But in the 60 years since I joined the LP it was always the case.

GagaJo Sun 08-Sep-19 00:20:32

Funny that, absthame. I see it completely differently. He's taking labour back to its roots.

absthame Sun 08-Sep-19 00:37:58

GagaJo, if you really knew the LP history you would know that Corbyn has no relationship to the early party which was far more narrow minded than you seem to imagine. The truth is the sort of neo-marxists like Corbyn never did have a place in the party and were generally purged from it. The only reason Corbyn is in the party now is because Blair stopped him being kicked out.