Reading (rather late) a long and scholarly article from the splendid Paul Myerscough editor at the LRB, I find much to agree with. He is reviewing in a much more systematic way than I could the media reaction to Corbyn, focusing on the two weeks before and after his election.
In this post I want to summarise Mr M’s take on what’s gone wrong at the BBC. But on the way I will highlight some of the most helpful, well-expressed points.
How the establishment media (the Guardian) misread Corbyn’s election:
The party members who voted for Corbyn hadn’t suddenly thrown their toys out of the pram just because Miliband lost. … For them, Miliband was not ‘too left-wing’; on the contrary, he was a final attempt at compromise. And when it failed, they realised they had had enough. It was too difficult to go on knocking on doors, summoning the necessary conviction, working towards the slim possibility of victory in the hope of implementing a platform of ever-weakening amelioration of the worst effects of neoliberalism. They looked at the candidates on offer, and saw that they had nothing left to lose.
He then turns to the BBC, which he rightly (I think) ascribes with the role of making the national climate of opinion. For example, not just saying who is electable, but determining what electability looks like.
Myerscough demonstrates how bias is created, and offers a couple of devastating examples of how that expressed itself in the BBC’s portrayal of Corbyn (to his detriment). Of the BBC, says Mr M, “Its norm remains a ‘balance’ between the Tories and the Labour right.” That place, as you know, is somewhere near the centre of market fundamentalism. Our grassroots uprising -embodied in Corbyn- is beyond the pale. Hence the BBC’s treatment of it as “other”.
Is he letting the BBC off lightly? Only by talking of it softly, which is perhaps, just as powerful.
Coda on Labour-supporting media. Myerscough focuses on the Guardian, which I don’t read much. I can comment more on the New Statesman – of which this could even more forcefully be said:
[it] now finds itself in the uncomfortable position of being outflanked on its left by the Labour Party. Unless it can find common ground with Corbyn’s supporters … the paper [magazine] will remain cut off from Labour, and from a new generation of potential readers. For the moment, it is adrift.
I hope Jason Cowley is listening… oh and the rest of ’em!