Monday, 25 November 2019

General Election - Are we falling victim to a massive con trick by the media?

I'm not one normally given to wild statements or accusations, but it appears that I am not alone in thinking that there is something extremely dodgy going on with the way the media is covering the current general election. The BBC charter requires it to be impartial in its coverage, and on the face of it there are strict rules.  There has however been some very strange editing of news stories, which have given a completely false impression of what actually happened.

This tweet gives one example.
The response from the BBC was highly unsatisfactory. I am not at all impressed. Checkout their response to this post by respected Journalist Peter Obone. What do you think?

In the past we've seen all manner of claims of bias, audiences being stacked with activists, questions planted on QT, but this is a little bit different, in as much as the job of the BBC is to tell us what really happened and they've done nothing of the sort.

A cursory glance at todays BBC Twitter feed is actually rather alarming, they posted this

I find it hard to believe that the BBC are engaging experts who are stating that the population don't notice and don't care about manifestos and policies. The job of the BBC is to inform us and to make us care. Having people on telling us that everyone is apathetic is highly dangerous. I think there are major trust issues with manifestos and politicians, but that is a totally different thing.  The concept that people don't care whether there are qualified doctors and nurses available to treat them when they have cancer or whether their childrens schools have decent teachers and are safe and warm is truly ridiculous.

What has happened is that the Conservative Party has released a manifesto that is light on detail and has no answers to the problems Britain faces, they are lead by a man who people laugh at when he gives ridiculous answers. The BBC is faced with a terrible dilemma. To retain balances, when people are not laughing at Jeremy Corbyn or Jo Swinson is something that presents a challenge. When a highy dodgy manifesto that is designed solely to avoid the pitfalls that scuppered Theresa May at the last election is released also presents a challenge. In an effort to show no bias, they feel they can be no more forensic and no more aggressive than they are with the opposition, so a very bad and uninformative manifesto will receive the same level of scrutiny as one that is detailed and proposes solutions.

Laura Kuenssberg tweeted at the lack of detail, so the BBC clearly know what the Tories are up to

So are we falling victim to a massive con trick being lead by the BBC to fool us that  the Tories are safe, reliable and trustworthy? Is the dodgy editing and the pundits selling apathy part of  a grand scheme to persuade the unwashed masses that it doesn't matter and Boris and his mates are a safe pair of hands, when the opposite is clearly true and they know it?

I have spent the weekend trying to work this out. There are several conclusions I've drawn. The first is that the Tories have clearly put a lot of resources into 'playing' news organisations and especially the BBC. When #BBCQT audience members ask difficult questions, huge effort is made to try and discredit the questioner and cow the BBC by claiming it is a sign of bias. Labour try and do this as well but aren't as good at it and they don't have The Sun and The Daily Mail onside, reinforcing such stories with news coverage. There is no doubt that the BBC's analysis of the Tories manifesto was stunningly unambitious and there was little effort to get sensible answers from spokespeople at the lack of detail and vision. It seems to me that Tories are restricting the way their spokesmen and candidates are allowed to interact with the media. When they do have car crash interviews, of which the likes of James Cleverly have had a few, they seemingly disappear. The Chancellor Sajid Javid, usually the most high profile of all politicians apart from the PM, is the invisible man. Can you imagine Gordon Brown, as Chancellor being invisible during an election campaign? If you look at the Chancellors Twitter feed, he's tweeted more footage of John McDonnell speaking than he has of himself -

Labour under Jeremy Corbyn have no such 'discipline' with the relevant spokespeople being put on TV no matter how good or bad they are. I'm really not sure if it is the fault of the BBC if Labour put up politicians who are well known for giving car crash interviews, whilst the Tories lock them in the cupboard and don't let them near a camera. I suspect that by the end of the campaign, the only Tory we'll see on telly is Boris Johnson, as for reasons I cant fathom, with every porkie and every mis-speak, his ratings go up.

The Conservatives learned a big lesson in the 2017 election. The less you tell the public, the less about you there is to hate and mistrust. I think there was a general feeling in the Labour party that Boris would implode under the bright lights of a general election campaign. It hasn't happened yet and our timid media are unlikely to do anything to make it. There is a lot of talk of Social media being a liberating force, but all that happens is we end up in an echo chamber, with groups of our friends liking everything we say as they agree with us. The bloke next door with a different view has a completely different network.

So to sum up. What have we learned? Lets just say this. If you are going for a job as a news editor for the BBC, here are a few rules it seems wise to follow.

1. Always use footage of Boris where he's smiling as the British public likes to think of him as a jovial chap.
2. Always use footage of Jeremy Corbyn when he's looking like a rather unworldly geography teacher on a birdwatching holiday, because that is what the British public expect to see.
3. When choosing footage of Jo Swinson, always use the five seconds when she's looking most vacuous as that is what blokes like to see when women are on TV.
4. When filming Boris speaking at election rallys, don't pan to far back as we don't want the empty room to be seen.
5. The public want to hear about Anti Semitism in the Labour Party, not Islamaphobia in the Tory Party

6. Under no account mention the Lib Dems or the Greens except as an afterthought.
7.  Always remember, the job of the BBC is to show no  bias, rather than tell the full story.


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