If you aren’t careful, the newspapers will have you hating the people who are being oppressed and loving the people who are doing the oppressing.
The British press is in a sorry state. Claimed by its defenders to be part of a mythical ‘free’ media, the press in Britain takes a cavalier attitude with regard to its role as news providers and opinion formers. Its proprietors and managing editors believe themselves to be immune from criticism and, at times, above the law of the land. Worse still, when it traduces members of the public it receives little more than a slap on the wrist. It is, as Chomsky and Herman (1994) would say, an unofficial ministry of information,which works principally for the Conservative Party in and out of government.
Here at Nowhere Towers, we have always been aware of the many shortcomings of the British press and its tendency to sensationalize and engage in smear campaigns against political figures not belonging to the Tory party. Yesterday, two titles that are sympathetic to the Tories have plumbed new depths of depravity and mendacity. Unsurprisingly, those titles are The S*n and The Daily Ma*l.
After Monday night’s terrorist bombing of the Manchester Arena, The S*n’s front page looked like this.
Here is a blatant attempt to use an unrelated story to make the suggestion that Jeremy Corbyn is responsible for Monday night’s atrocity. But there was something nastier lurking within the rag itself. The S*n’s leader column, The S*n Says, made a gargantuan leap of logic by claiming that Jeremy Corbyn and John McDonnell were responsible for the bombing.
This isn’t journalism or anything like it. It’s a blatant smear; a character assassination that is based entirely upon a historical revisionism. But The Cat has a question: who signed this off? This is evidently libellous and we know Murdoch has pockets that are as deep and as wide as the Pacific Ocean, but did The S*n’s editorial team think it could swerve around the law? Clearly it did and the paper has learned nothing from the Leveson Report.
I hasten to add that I did not buy The S*n, nor would I contemplate breaking my 30+ years boycott of the paper. The people of Manchester should do the same as the people of Liverpool have done and boycott The S*n.
Although, strictly speaking, a political cartoon isn’t journalism, it is carried by a newspaper that claims to employ journalists. Yesterday’s Mac cartoon in the Daily Mail followed The S*n by making the claim that Corbyn and McDonnell are active terrorists. Mac, or Stanley McMurty to give him his real name, is known for his racism and homophobia. This cartoon has two figures in paramilitary garb walking up a garden path carrying weapons.
The caption below it says “Oh dear. Will you answer the door? I think they’re canvassing for Jeremy Corbyn”. Mac can claim he’s being humorous, but it doesn’t wash: this is a blatant piece of propaganda dressed up as humour. In this, it is reminiscent of the cartoons found in Der Sturmer, the official newspaper of the Nazi Party (below).
What is quite absent from the claims about Corbyn’s non-existent sympathy with terrorists, is any acknowledgement on the part of the media’s interviewers and commentators of the role of the British state in Loyalist violence. Worse, perhaps is the morbid nostalgia that seems to accompany these claims. It’s as though the Good Friday Agreement never happened and the power-sharing government never existed. Instead, what we’re treated to are selected fragments of Tory memory larded with a narrative that’s been constructed from misrepresentations and outright lies. For the Tories and others, the Provisional IRA is still active and still bombing the country. Meanwhile, the Loyalist paramilitaries are treated, in not so many words, as heroes or simply not mentioned.
Conveniently for Theresa May, electioneering has been suspended. Her own campaign was floundering and now, after Monday night’s atrocity, she can look stateswoman-like in spite of her evident weakness and terminal indecision. For seven years, the Tories have cut the numbers of the police, military and firefighters. May was Home Secretary for six of those years. You do the maths.
Who’s the bigger threat to the country? I’d say it’s Theresa May and the British press.
Bourdieu, P., & Wacquant, L. (2003). Symbolic violence. na. Available at: http://cges.umn.edu/docs/Bourdieu_and_Wacquant.Symbolic_Violence.pdf Accessed 29/2/16.
Gramsci, A. (ed.) (1971) Selections From The Prison Notebooks, London: Lawrence & Wishart.
Herman, E. S. & Chomsky, N. (1994) Manufacturing Consent: The Political Economy of the Mass Media, London: Vintage Books.