The Mainstream Media’s Relationship With The Far-Right

The Right often accuses the BBC of having a “left-wing bias”. Yet when pressed to provide salient examples of this bias, they produce some truly absurd examples. One person on Telegraph blogs claimed that CBBC and CBeebies were biased to the Left because one programme mentioned climate change. Others will splutter “the comedy is left-wing”. Really? All of it? How about My Family? The real discourse being expressed here is this: for all their talk about ‘freedom’, the Right wants to control all discourse and set the terms of debate. Their economic experts pop up all the time on BBC News spouting the same line about the necessity for cuts and are never challenged by an opposing economic point of view. Instead, the economist in question is presented as ‘neutral’ expert.  It’s no wonder that when some BBC reporter conducts vox-pop interviews about the economy, the people on the street tend to repeat the official discourse with lines like “the country is broke”, “we have to make cuts somewhere” and “people on benefits are lazy”.

As many of you are already aware, UKIP and Nigel Farage are frequent guests to the BBC’s studios. Their message is carried on the broadcaster’s airwaves without much opposition. Timid and lazy journalists refuse to put Farage to the question and are sucked in by his oily charm. If you think this is a new phenomenon, think again. In the 1970s and early 1980s, the BBC interviewed John Tyndall and other prominent members of the National Front.

This clip shows the timidity of the BBC’s handling of the far-right.

Tyndall dismisses the allegation that the NF was extremist and the interviewer fails to drill into his façade. Tyndall also claims that he was involved in an extremist group but it was nothing more than youthful hi-jinks. Again, the interviewer fails to ask follow up questions and instead treats Tyndall with the greatest degree of respect.

Here’s an interesting clip of the late Prof Stuart Hall talking about racism in the media in the 1970s and 1980s. It’s almost surprising to learn how little has changed.

In the recent French municipal elections, the BBC told viewers and listeners that Marine Le Pen’s Front National had performed well. They gave the impression that the FN was now in a position to win the next Presidential election. Unfortunately, the BBC didn’t bother to conduct proper checks and failed to report on the successes of the Front de Gauche and as this graphic illustrates, the FdG out-performed the FN and is poised to win around 600 seats on local councils in the second round of votes.

FdG v FN graphic


Instead of reporting the facts, the BBC gives the impression that the FN is poised for some kind of landslide victory. Last night’s edition of Newsnight, carried a weird little item about the FN and their mayoral  candidate for Avignon, which was  sandwiched between a story about Malaysian Airways flight MH370 and an item about gaming. Significantly, Kirsty Wark didn’t mention the story in her introduction. The reporter, Hugh Schofield, claimed that the FN had changed its image and was now more “acceptable”, adding she’s (Le Pen) “cleaned up the brand”. Schofield dismissed student demonstrations against the FN and didn’t mention the Front de Gauche at all. According to him, the FN is the only game in town.  He also went further and claimed that many “immigrants” were going to vote for the FN and interviewed Phillipe Lottiaux, the FN candidate, and accepted every word he said without a challenge. Here’s a link to Newsnight, the story starts at 10.42. You have another 6 days to watch it.

The BBC also fails to question Farage and his cronies about their party’s links to far-right parties in the European Parliament. As I mentioned in this blog, UKIP is a member of the far-right European Party for Freedom (EAP). It has cordial relations with parties like Jobbik and Geert Wilders’ PVV. Indeed, this is not guilt by association, UKIP actually shares many of these parties’  ideologies. When members of Jobbik arrived here a couple of months ago to spread their poison, the BBC failed to report the story.

Next Monday, Channel 4 will move their main news programme from 1900 to 1800 to accommodate Martin Durkin’s affectionate portrait of Farage. Yes, you read that correctly. Channel 4 are moving Channel 4 News from its usual slot to 6pm. Durkin is already known to this blog as are his colleagues in the LM Network. Durkin’s film will contribute nothing to any debate and will serve to reinforce UKIP’s feeble claim that Farage is a ‘man of the people’.

Here’s Farage being ‘interviewed’ by Andrew Marr. Compare this interview to the one with John Tyndall.

Not so much an interview as a chat between two old friends. Wouldn’t you agree? At no point does Marr challenge Farage or talk down to him. Instead, Marr allows Farage to produce loads of evidence-free assertions and even joins in with a laugh or two.

The media’s response to the far-right is, quite frankly, too deferential. The Left, on the other hand, are rarely invited into the studio. If they are, they are shouted down or patronized by the interviewer and other guests. By contrast, right-wing politicians are accommodated and their views are given credence. The media’s attitude towards men like Farage effectively legitimizes the far-right and their repugnant views on ethnicity and national identity. Objectivity is like a fabulous creature: it exists only in the imagination.

If the far-right make any gains in this country, it will be with the connivance of the mainstream media channels, which seem to prefer fascism to democracy. Of course, they would claim otherwise and tell you that they want to examine all political views and place party leaders like Farage under greater scrutiny. Nothing seems further from the truth.


I said that C4 News had been moved back an hour. It remains in its usual time slot but has been shortened by 30 minutes.






Filed under allegations of bias, BBC, censorship, Ideologies, Media

9 responses to “The Mainstream Media’s Relationship With The Far-Right

  1. Reblogged this on Buddy Hell's Media and Culture Blog and commented:

    Not research but related to it.

  2. beastrabban

    Reblogged this on Beastrabban’s Weblog and commented:
    This raises very awkward questions about why the mainstream media is much softer about tackling the extreme Right than the Left. The National Socialist Movement, mentioned in the interview with John Tyndall, was an overtly Nazi organisation. Its very name was modelled on Hitler’s party – the National Socialist German Workers’ Party. And Tyndall and his national comrades certainly did their best to live up to the image. They used to goose step around in Nazi uniforms at one point in the 1960s and ’70s. There’s a photograph of them in one history of British Fascism in their Nazi regalia with the caption ‘The Photo they’d like to forget’. As for the paramilitary training Tyndall was involved in, this resulted in a prosecution by the authorities. Weedkiller was being stockpiled for what the prosecution considered to be possible bomb-making. One of the tins had ‘weedkiller’ crossed out, and replaced with ‘Jewkiller’. we are dealing with a very evil organisation. See Richard Thurlough’s ‘Fascism in Britain, 1918-1986. As for Farage, he did indeed make a number of assertions unchallenged by Marr. He stated that immigration had resulted in driving down wages. Recent research suggests there’s little evidence of this. He asserted that as taxes are raised, actual revenue from tax goes down. This is the Laffer curve, and has been tackled and discredited by Another Angry Voice. The Angry One has pointed out that no economist gives any credence to this, and even in America it’s believed that taxes would have to go up to 75 per cent before tax revenue would go down. As for their policy on the NHS, Farage seems to have the same pro-privatisation agenda as the Tories. He will not admit it on a Sunday morning as this would immediately wipe out his chances of ever winning an election again. And the party’s connections to Jobbik certainly deserve further probing. Jobbik are splenetically anti-Semitic, though one of its leaders was forced to resign a little while ago when he discovered that he was actually part Jewish. As for the Front National – Le Pen pere used to sell Nazi memorabilia, though the BBC does seem merely to be following the line repeated elsewhere that the Front National has now somehow become more respectable. At a rally a few years, the Financial Times reported that the stormtroopers were entertained by a black female popstar, who was accepted as she was ‘patriotique’. This is despite the fact that in some of the towns where they took power, the Front National mayors tried to enact a policy of subsidising White families, who wished to have children rather than non-Whites. I honestly don’t know much about the Front National, but it seems that there is a lot here that isn’t reported this side of le Manche. As to why the media does not attack the far Right with greater rigour, I wonder if it’s because their leadership comes from the same upper social strata and have the same mixture of condescension and fear towards the lower orders as the editors, proprietors and managers of the newspapers and TV channels. And that’s a terrifying thought.

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  4. Florence

    The Guardian also posted a story about the elections in Avignon on Friday, but with a lot more depth and analysis than the BBC. As an employee of the BBC in the 1980’s, we were then proud to work for it. Now I shudder at the role it has assumed as the state propagandist media for the unelected coalition.

  5. This is just in. It’s in French. It looks like the FN (liste Bleu Marine) haven’t done so well.
    “Ce soir donc, la liste PS-EELV-FdG obtiendrait 40 sièges au conseil municipal, la liste Bleu Marine 9 sièges et la liste UMP 4 sièges”.

  6. Le Pen was not selling “nazi memorabilia”but records, mainly about far right speeches by or about people like Petain, or events like the trial of the generals who made a coup to keep Algeria inside the french realm. Also on sale: songs, and records about the Catholic Mass. But one of his most controversial series was about the political songs of the nazis , of the Wehmacht and the SS. And ironicaly he also had a record about Karl Marx, read by an iconic famous french actor ( Gerard Philippe)…

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