Video: BBC Newsnight denies altering Corbyn photo. Oh really?

Thursday night’s BBC Newsnight programme featured a scandalous backdrop showing Jeremy Corbyn against the Kremlin skyline – a depiction of the Labour leader that clearly echoed right-wing trash media ‘Kremlin stooge’ smears, in obvious breach of the BBC’s impartiality obligations:

jc newsnight krem.jpg

On Friday’s night’s programme, author Owen Jones took Newsnight’s Evan Davis to task about the ‘disgraceful framing’ of the narrative around the nerve-agent poisoning of Sergei Skripal.

Jones also referred to the observation of sharp-eyed Twitter user @duckspeech that Newsnight had not merely added Corbyn’s image to the backdrop – but had also photoshopped his hat to make it more closely resemble a Russian hat.

Davis denied the accusation – even pausing the discussion to repeat his claim that the image added to the skyline was authentic. Watch the video below and decide for yourself:


The hat in the Newsnight composite has clearly been enlarged upwards for effect – and Corbyn’s coat darkened so he looks more like a Russian politburo member. Here’s that close-up as an animated gif:

newsnight jc hat.gif

An amendment to a hat might seem to be trivial and the BBC being caught doing it merely amusing. But the BBC tampered with reality to create a perception – one clearly intended to be negative.

And then denied it.

Jones went on to list numerous examples of cases in which Corbyn and Labour had taken a genuine firm stand against Russia when the Tories fought to avoid doing so and were taking huge donations from Russian oligarchs/

But Newsnight on Thursday ignored these, while altering an image to strengthen the false impression that Corbyn is the one close to the Russian state, rather than the Conservatives.

That fundamental breach of impartiality is no laughing matter – it’s a breach of the trust of members of the public whose licence fees fund the Corporation misleading them.

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    Who exactly was it meant to ‘provoke’ when Mateless was sat in front of that screen alone?
    Since when has GRATUITOUS PROVOCATION of the leader of the opposition OR HIS SUPPORTERS been Newsnight’s OR the BBC’s remit?
    And if provocation was their aim, why?

    I believe their plan now may be to incite us to the kind of violence we see from the right – so May can dismiss us as thugs and send in the army disguised as police.
    They still have Thatcher’s playbook after all.

    1. This is exactly what the moderate/centrist element on the labour party forum have been doing, going in to incite the members with Blairite provocateurs in a very nice way of course then taking the higher ground .

  2. ”it’s a breach of the trust of members of the public”.this is a key sentence when complaining to the BBC. Obviously it would be personalised to read I have lost trust in the BBC due to…. etc etc,I am a member of the public and licence payer etc

    1. It’s impossible for any state broadcaster to be unbiased. Therefore, the compulsory tv licence – based on the impossible claim the BBC is unbiased – is criminal fraud. Demanding our money under false pretences. The BBC is the propaganda-wing of the Establishment, war industry, etc. The Tory Party is the political-wing.

      1. I wouldn’t say ‘impossible’ – difficult perhaps.
        Constant and open public oversight by representatives of government, opposition and other interested parties – all selected by lot and serving for short, fixed terms to limit graft and protect the BBC from undue political influence.
        Funding the BBC from general taxation with the level of funding determined by viewer demand should be achievable.
        The licence fee is only a hypothecated tax after all.

  3. Off course it’s a ‘real picture’ of him, we know that. It what they did with that ‘real picture’ of him. Davis has admitted placing him in the Kremlin, why? Again the hat looks to have been manipulated, to loo more Russian like why?

    I’ve complained bitterly over this and demanded they explain.

  4. Now ask where the stock pile of UK chemical weapons stored at Rhydymwyn North Wales were removed to in 1989 by John Major they are well hidden where?

    1. Portand Down possibly? And that is about 5 miles from Salisbury. Fancy that. And there is NO evidence that the nerve agent used was made in Russia or used by a Russian The Tories are just blowing hot air as usual. And Barmy Boris wants to sit down and give his mouth a chance.

    2. Even if some of the Rhydymwyn chemicals were moved, that would be OK under the Chemical Weapons Convention which allows one tonne of chemical weapons material to be kept for “research, medical, pharmaceutical or protective purposes”.

      It’s annoying how the CWC has been mis-represented by some politicians and MSM over the last week. The CWC is intended to end large-scale weapons stockpiling – the US and USSR had around 40,000 tonnes each, not small scale terrorist use. For example, under the CWC an essentially unlimited number of labs producing under 100 grams of Schedule 1 nerve agents per year are allowed (for research etc) and do not have to be declared. Above 100g they have to be declared (subject to 10kg/year overall limit). 99g of nerve agent could kill many hundreds of people, but that is de-minimis as far as the CWC negotiators were considered as they were aiming at getting rid of the thousands of tons that could kill millions.

      1. … I should note that UK law is much tighter, and any lab producing CWC scheduled chemicals needs a license. The 2016 annual report of the CWC UK National Authority (UKNA) says “The UKNA liaises with approximately 400 organisations in the UK each year to coordinate information on chemical activities required under the Act.” so there are a lot of labs/production plants involved. Schedule 2/3 chemicals have legitimate non-military uses.

    1. Brezhnev hats are also made of real fur (lamb) so Corbyn would never wear one

  5. Meanwhile the BBC are running courses for our kids to enable the kids to discern “fake news”. The BBC is well placed to do this because it is very very impartial and always tells the truth.
    What an extraordinary opinion that organisation has of itself.

    1. I know. The irony is unbelievable.

      And now we hear that ‘Rape Clause’ Ruth Davidson has demanded that RT be closed down because it is just ‘propaganda’.

  6. This and the fact the Conservatives have closer ties via their financial arrangements. Did they not cry ‘shame’ when Corbyn raised this fact on the floor? One thing though, they are having to roll out every single trick from the playbook to prevent any chance of a Corbyn premiership. Will we see more folk like Mr Osborne plan and try to kill Corbyn, feeling their views are legitimized by these lies and propaganda pieces? And if Corbyn sees another general election and is leading the party what horrors shall we expect to see this time? Will Corbyn still be able to eat the Pringle?

  7. I should add the following skwawk. The argument that it is the same silhouette for the hat is valid. However, its still a photo-shopped image and hence a photo-shopped hat via the change of colour tint, brightness and contrast and use in a montage. Those changes mean you cannot see the creases and cap rim and yes they do make it more like a ‘fur hat’ in the Russian style sans a cap rim <- what I am saying needs to be put out there in terms of countering this faux:distraction that the hat silhouette is the issue i.e. that another has been chopped and pasted back in <- that's not the case but the argument is still valid for the reasons I cite above and you can still say Corbyn's image has been photo-shopped, the hat too.

  8. They have got form. I complained to the beeb before about photoshopping an trump style “make britain great again” baseball cap on Jeremy Corbyn’s head. The reply didn’t mention manipulating images at all. If the BBC were balanced we would see manipulated images of May.

  9. I know it doesn’t achieve much but if everyone offended by this complained (it only takes a few minutes online) they may one day get the hint.

    1. It will have an effect. It gives them less confidence to do it in future.
      Of course, they will not admit this though.

  10. Also I hear that the Porton Down scientists cannot say it came from Russia and are very angry with the gov for putting pressure on them to do so.

    There’s still no coverage or at least very little that the facility for this stuff was actually in Uzbekistan and near the border with Afghanistan right where the poppy harvest crosses borders with criminals, it was also not secured for years after the collapse of the USSR. Not to mention the fact there was no proof the Novichok “Foliant” programme got any further than theory so this stuff may not have even physically existed in the USSR anyway.

    Couple this with no proof that all British samples of the agent are secure considering the location and you’ve got a perfect storm especially for Russia being in a position to deny it.

    Oh and the former Soviet scientist claims you can make this stuff in your garage – hardly a state only programme then!

    I don’t doubt Russia has killed people in Britain and I don’t doubt they plot all the time BUT kiloing someone this way doesn’t gel with a covert operation to murder someone, someone they could’ve killed years ago.

  11. Joseph Goebbels propaganda tactics. Underhanded and subtle. Who at the BBC would have sanctioned this alteration and for it to be transmitted. Surely, an editorial team, lead by who? Very worrying; the BBC has completely lost my/the publics trust. I can now only rely on the beeb to supply my entertainment needs and NOT reliable news, documentaries or newscasts.

  12. Complaint sent to the BBC, A clear intent of bias and deception in altering the hat.

  13. It’s not the first time that Newsnight has pulled this stunt. Agent Cob has variously appeared in baseball caps adorned with “Britain First”, “IRA”…….

  14. I have also complained online and asked for a reply . However previous experience is that reply is a whitewash that manages to not quite address the issue.See Mr Corbyns son has confirmed there is no photo of his dad in a hat like that.

  15. “The BBC has long been the most refined propaganda service in the world”

    John Pilger.


    I highly recommend watching the full interview linked on the tweet.

    I still maintain foreign policy is the key to changing the systems we live under and this is why Corbyn is so hated, misrepresented, mocked and feared… many people might agree or think he has a point and they might start asking questions and joining dots..

  16. Mick Kennedy, agree with your assessment/ comparison. BBC is violating all ethics of proper journalism/reporting. The rest of the brief entertainment and education are also not fulfilled, as BBC are totally biased and actively involved in dumbing down the population further assisting the tories in their enterprise.
    An investigation is needed, one that has teeth and findings need to be actioned.

  17. This graphic is a deliberate dead cat. While we are all outraged by it, we are not demanding answers of government about the Russian money paid to the CONservatives.

  18. Gave up watching tedious Newsnight years ago but putting a complaint in to the BBC. Good point Ellie and as the Question Time questioner asked: What do the oligarchs get for their donations to the Tories? Jeremy and John proposed tough action against them.

  19. If the BBC denies manipulating images/photos of Jeremy Corbyn it should provide the original unedited images/photos to prove it.

  20. If the BBC have their way the manipulation argument will focus on the height of the hat. Equally if not more important is the way that substantially increasing the contrast has taken out the easy-to-distinguish peak and band of Corbyn’s bog standard peaked cap and reduced it to a single mass which in profile looks far closer in appearance to a Russian ‘shapka’. It takes quite a bit of contrast manipulation to make the peak and band disappear completely and it is not obvious why any manipulation at all of the contrast was required other than to achieve this effect.

  21. Evan Davis is either blatantly lying or playing silly word games. If it wasn’t photoshopped which program did the use?
    Affinity Photo.
    Pixelmator Pro.
    Corel PHOTO-PAINT.

  22. During the general election, BBC’s The Daily Politics had a picture of Jeremy Corbyn standing next to Osama bin Laden. It also asked questions about his response to terrorist attacks even though the interview in question had already been discredited.

    More shocking was the fact that John Ashworth made no effort to challenge them.



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