Tonight’s BBC documentary on the General Election was an object lesson in the media’s obsessions with the wrong thing, a phenomenon which made them completely ignorant of the ‘Corbyn surge’ groundswell that the SKWAWKBOX and others knew was coming. It was perfectly summarised in a tweet by Red Pepper magazine:
The documentary was clearly hastily rehashed to try to reflect what actually happened – but failed, because it had spent so much time focusing on the wrong thing.
You’d think, after all the egg on faces in June, that the ‘MSM’ would have learned at least something from that experience – especially ITV political editor Robert Peston, who has just published a book titled, WTF: What the F— happened and what happens next?
Sadly, it seems almost no one has learned the lesson.
Peston tweeted tonight on the topic of an EU amendment that was voted on in this Commons this evening – and got it badly wrong, both on the facts and in paying attention to the same kind of non-entities:
The first problem is that Labour MPs were allowed a free vote:
The second and even bigger problem was his description of the amendment. Labour’s ‘softly-spoken assassin’ was quick to put him right in a tweeted response:
Gardiner also clarified why it was illiterate:
Voting against an ‘illiterate amendment’ that would have meant the removal of a safety-net against a ‘no deal Brexit’ is an entirely reasonable course of action – whipped or not.
Voting against an amendment ‘that would have kept open [an] option’ sounds the opposite. Context and phrasing matter.
Gardiner’s explanation of why the amendment was ‘illiterate’ makes it clear which was accurate.
But Peston opted to quote the disgraced non-entities who have every reason to stir trouble via a negative portrayal in order to try to scrape together a sliver of relevance and did not present the alternative and far more plausible explanation. The responses to his tweet included outrage from pro-EU readers – who were outraged about completely the wrong thing.
As the shockwaves of General Election night have abated, the media have reverted to type and are presenting exactly the same ‘Westminster bubble‘-filtered versions of events that led them to be so dramatically ignorant and wrong in June.
Robert Peston and tonight’s BBC ‘documentary of the wrong thing’ have handily provided two perfect examples of it tonight, but you’ll find exactly the same phenomenon emerging on virtually every news broadcast, review of the papers, political pundit panel and Q&A programme.
Whether intentionally or habitually, the Establishment is going back to the narrative that was shown to be nonsense, as if the summer didn’t happen or didn’t mean what it meant.
It’s up to all of us to keep hammering home a truer narrative so they don’t succeed.
Robert Peston was invited to comment but did not respond by the time of publication.
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