Landmark report: 95 serious ‘failures’ in MSM reporting of ‘Labour antisemitism’

A landmark new report by an academic from London’s Birkbeck University and the Media Reform Coalition has analysed mainstream media coverage of the Labour Party’s alleged issues around antisemitism. Its conclusions may shock even the most cynical observer of the behaviour of the ‘MSM’.

The report, which takes a scholarly and carefully constrained approach that grants the reality of antisemitism among some Labour members and errs on the side of caution in excluding many areas of mainstream bias, finds at least ninety-five examples of serious failures in the MSM’s handling of the issue – misleading or completely inaccurate claims.

A persistent subversion of conventional news values.

The chart below, which shows only the instances relating to one specific issue out of the several covered by the report, indicates the extent of the mainstream fake news:

mrc as.png

The report also lays out massive and proven inaccuracies in the way in which expelled activist Marc Wadsworth was treated by the MSM, the misrepresentation of Labour’s Code of Conduct, the handling of the so-called ‘muralgate‘ fiasco and more.

A roll of shame

The report is damning of the failure of mainstream journalists, hosts and anchors to fulfil even the most basic requirements of their position:

  • completely false claims presented as fact, often without even the most basic challenge
  • repeated misrepresentation of the status of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) ‘definition’ of antisemitism and the Labour Party’s consultation about its adoption into Labour’s Code of Conduct
  • persistently-damaging ‘framing’ of issues to portray Labour in a negative light
  • distorted presentation of Jewish and public opinion
  • a persistent imbalance – by a ratio of almost three to one – in the split between critics of the Labour Party and positive voices
  • failure to offer right of reply
  • a perverse treatment of guests in broadcast coverage, with the most extreme and aggressive critics often completely avoiding any challenge by broadcasters while reasonable guests were hammered by interviewers; Margaret Hodge, for example, was given multiple opportunities to make her claims without the slightest challenge from those interviewing her
  • near-complete neglect of Jewish and non-Jewish groups supportive of Labour and its leadership, while groups attacking the party were amplified
  • the omission of unquestionably-relevant context when reporting issues

What’s more, the report identifies the most profligate offenders, finding that while the Mail and S*n occupy predictably high positions in the league table of poor practice, the BBC News channel and the Guardian were astonishingly prominent. The BBC, for example, had three times as many inaccurate stories as both ITV and Sky combined – and out of an equal number of stories.

a systematic failure to both identify contentious claims, as well as check their veracity.

The report also points out the risks to Jewish citizens created by the ‘routine’ misrepresentation of antisemitism issues – and concludes starkly that:

these findings warrant urgent attention from journalists, editors, policymakers and activists alike.

SKWAWKBOX comment:

Although their language is more scholarly, academics have researched the media presentation of issues around the Labour Party and have reached the conclusion Labour activists have long held was true – the mainstream media have routinely demonised Labour and give a free pass even to people spouting the most outrageous accusations.

Note: this article originally described the report as issued by Birkbeck university. The university has stated that the report is by one of its academics but is not an official university work. The article has been amended to reflect this.

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  1. When I click on ‘report’ (highlighted at the start of the above article), I’m just getting ‘error 404’.

  2. VERY VERY IMPORTANT REPORT., Expect complete ignoring of report and or trashing of Birkbeck and its academics by same media. other than ITV and Sky News Get it widely spread all Skwawkbox followers.

  3. This is no surprise at all to any of us in the Labour Party. The BBC, our national broadcaster, funded by most of us, is a disgrace and should be overhauled from top to bottom. We see the same ‘tame’ guests being interviewed by the same compliant interviewers time after time, when decent journalists such as John Pilger don’t get a look-in.

    1. I don’t have a television so I don’t give the BBC a penny. I don’t listen to their radio services or watch their online programming either.

      It’s not just their political bias and propaganda but the increased level of violence that I object to. I despise the BBC.

    2. I’ve said it before, but for those still not In The Know, the deputy editor of the 6 &10pm BBC1 news is none other than Margaret Hodge’s daughter, Lizzie Watson.

      So next time the backstabbers get a free BBC news platform to mount another assault on Corbyn, particularly if it’s MH herself, remember this and everything makes a lot more sense!

      I find I’m ever more reluctant to pay my TV licence installments these days…

  4. No surprises here at all. The gutter rag formally known as the Guardian has shifted so far to the right it should now be the The ToryGuard. Great shame. However given their treatment of Assange – they took the glory then dumped him and attacked him (jealous of his scoops maybe).

    Their treatment of the Corbyn project and those of us who support it has been absolutely terrible. Using Freedman as their point man along with the other presstitutes it’s been non stop “Get Corbyn”.

    As for the BBC it is the Propaganda machine for the Establishment and their Political Arm the Tory Party. They have no interest in objectivity.

    Onwards and upwards and get ready for the next attack – they’ll be painting JC and us as Russian supporters because of Salisbury etc forgetting, of course, the Tories taking mucho dinero from friends of Putin.

    1. https://ukmediawatch.org/2015/03/22/the-guardian-appoints-anti-israel-propagandist-katharine-viner-as-new-editor-in-chief/

      I too find the Guardian despicable as I have mentioned elsewhere on Swawk. But looking at the vile hate abuse Katherien Viner experienced at the time of her appointment by foaming at the mouth zionists of Camera UK Media Watch who purport to monitor bias against Israel in UK media and correct it, no doubt funded by Netanyahu’s lot, she seems to have found herself between a rock and a hard place. Just glance at the comments too. Everyone single one a ‘hate crime’ on its very own. So poisonous. . Jewish Voice for Labour’s website also has excellent articles , Rosselson’s razor sharp deconstruction of Freedland’s articles is brilliant.
      Note that in the Birkbeck report it says in the intro that JVL is affiliated to Labour. It is not yet. It wants to be but can’t even apply before having three years of accounts.

      1. Don’t like Off Guardian that much. Far too Pro Putin who is as evil as anyone It ‘s funding is not a million miles from Moscow. I wrote for it myself until I saw what it was up to.
        We really need to get Skwawkbox very well funded so they can get good socialist journalist staff . It is far better than the Canary which rarely ahs anything new is somewhat childish and bland . We need to do better to counter all the crap in a better way. Morning Star tries but has too many connotations and a non user friendly website.. The twittersphere also needs to improve for the left. At one point facebookpages were doing a reasonable job with social media coordinators on Momentum websites spreading the word and correcting errors of MSM. But people got worried once they realise it was open to abuse, and also social media coordinators stopped doing the work, partly because of the lack of democracy and power plays going on in Momentum, and , and also the work was so onerous to do well. It needs commitment and skill to select timely interesting material ‘news’ for comment and to correct MSM reports. When I did it, for over a year, and I am not that technically minded, I was writing and researching topical stories, sharing with other momentum social media coordinators across the country and worked about 8-9 intensive hours a day. It was exhausting. I can tell you Skwawkbox people will be doing even more. than that.

      2. Do elaborate on their funding, “what they’re up to”. and why Putin is “evil”.

        If memory serves, you fully bought into the Novichok rubbish, so you’ll forgive me if I’m not immediately converted.

      3. I value the off-Guardian, particularly for the quality of the articles by contributing writers, e.g. on Syria.

        However, there certainly have been moments in the comments section where one might be forgiven for thinking that Putin’s leadership record is perceived by more than one poster as spotless; whereas, for me, it is a record that is just averagely corrupt – his approach to dealing with the former rape and pillage of his own country’s assets, for example. I suppose there is always the risk off appearing to uncritically support a position, when trying to counterbalance the misperceptions of Russia and Russian foreign policy that are routinely purveyed in the MSM.

        Nevertheless, I share timfrom’s interest in Poetry’s comments about funding.

  5. Couple of weird glitches happening, don’t know if it’s my system at fault, yours or wordpress but I see no issues anywhere else.
    Gmail notification of this new post was just sent to ‘promotions’ which I rarely check.

    Using the ‘back’ button in Chrome after reading a post no longer takes me back to the place on your home page where I last clicked, as was previously the case.
    Occasional rapid vertical flicker on your home page, occasional 404.
    These last started a few days ago – I only mention them in case they point to something more serious happening.

    1. I have no doubt that when the state begins censoring political content it doesn’t like, it will make it look like a technical glitch.

  6. I am a bit sad I know but I complain to the BBC on an almost daily basis about biased coverage. Many of the examples cited in this excellent report have been the substance of the complaint. Without exception I have received patronising,self satisfied replies from the corporation saying,for example, “the interviewer is vastly experienced and understands fully the BBC guidelines on impartiality” or “time constraints don’t always allow for alternative opinions to be expressed ” Consequently I think it highly unlikely the BBC will pay any regard to this detailed piece of research and continue to pedal the line “we can’t be biased we are the BBC”

    1. The only thing that will hurt the BBC is for you to ditch your television, cease from watching and listening to their output and deny them their license fee.

  7. Coulda paid me a tenth of what it took them to find that out and I’d have given a similar answer.

    And yet the bbc, sky and newspapers want me to pay them for perpetually palming me off with the same old, tired, rehashed, flogged-to-death bullshite…

    And then the bbc expect me to believe their dross and that ‘independent’ reporting – Essentially all left wing internet websites – is fake news. This is despite their reliance on persistent offender sites like fawkes for their ‘stories’. And to cap it all, they want to go around schools nationwide; indoctrinating children to believe them – and only them ffs.

    Nevermind that the bbc’s infamous for their (continued) employment of paedophiles and sexual deviants – they want to brainwash your kids (as well as rape them in some cases).

    Deny them the opportunity. Withdraw your children from these ‘enlightenment classes’ Write to the head teachers raising your concerns.

    Allowing your children to attend these classes will lead to the UK being no better than N.Korea, (Khmer Rouge) Cambodia, Nazi Germany or taliban/isil controlled regions.

    Your choice.

  8. The BBC is a laughing stock. I mean even here in Switzerland we know they are one of the worse professional if not the worst in terms of public information. It seems though that this reputation isn’t a problem for them at all. What a waist of public money and what a shame for all the people that wotk in it

    1. It’s the people what work in it making it a laughing stock, Antoine. But when you are a parasite, living high on the hog of what’s essentially taxpayers money, I suppose journalistic integrity – or any other sort of integrity – and talent that’s woefully lacking, doesn’t remotely matter.

      The bbc is no more than a nepotistic gravy train for talent-bereft, public school failures and their descendants.

      If the bbc was made a subscription only service as it really ought to be, they wouldn’t last 5 minutes.

  9. Pretty much what I expected. The Guardian is right up there with the Daily Mail. I believe this is a conscious decision taken in line with their remain stance. As far as they’re (Guardian) concerned, Corbyn represents people other than Guardian readers. He doesn’t support remain wholeheartedly, he could have stopped Brexit (irrational nonsense) but chose not to. Therefore, he is fair game and the antisemitism slur was the political equivalent of calling him a paedo.
    The referendum single handedly turned the Guardian into a very illiberal paper with a fanatical remain following.

    1. The referendum did not do it. If you look back, they were anti Corbyn from July 2015 when he was elected. I am Remain by the way as it is an economic disaster for workers that will ensue post any hard Brexit. I am solid Corbyn. The Guardian is even worse in some respects than the Daily Smell because it is to be expected from the latter.

    2. The Guardian is a trojan horse for neoliberalism. It has supported nearly every British foreign war and intervention including the Iraq War.

      Thanks to social media and independent news, its mask is gradually being pulled off.

    3. I am in my sixties and have intermittently Read the Guardian since my early 20’s.

      At risk of positioning myself as one of the 4 Yorkshire Men, It pissed me off then as much as it pisses me off now: I found it to have a lazy, incoherent news desk, smug and complacent follow fashion editorials, and a tendency to blatantly and breathtakingly u turn, once they sense their adopted position might be losing ground (watch Polly Toynbee – she does this every time, albeit in a backhanded sort of way). I could go on …

      All that’s changed is that now I’m a lot more aware of their systematic and deliberate use of misleading headlines and how what I took to be laziness and incoherence is actually symptomatic of what things look like when the truth isn’t being told.

      1. I still keep an eye on it though (after all Ella, it’s still free online!) – how else to muster the counter arguments to present to peers, family, friends who may not read much else? More than that, one comes across odd moments of dispassionate summary and decency. I have twice read articles by Larry Elliot (who does the economic opinion stuff) that were thoughtful, fair and entirely lacking in the usual Guardian patronage and snidery. In particular he doesn’t scoff at the case for Lexit by any means.

      2. Elliott, of the G. refers to: “The Left Case Against Europe” Costas (Polity) Lapavitsas and to “The Left Case for Brexit” by Phillip Whyman (Civitas).

        And then there’s Aditya Chakraborrty, who I don’t think especially take a side on this, but covers good stuff that can be done at municipal and community level, in spite of European constraints.

  10. I wish they’d also mapped Ch4 News. It travels the same road as the Guardian…..the road to obscurity. Hilsum reports fake news from Syria, Crick reports Tory propaganda from the home counties, they all do the job on Russia…Liam Dutton is the only one not telling bare faced lies.

    1. You are quite right -I have winced at their ill rsearched pisspoor interviewing and weighted coverage. Jon Snow on Luciana Berger’s police escort outside conference was a case in point. No policy coverage, zilch. Elitist snobs.

      1. I think it was on Ch4 News that the question was raised about whether Corbyn had condemned the Salisbury attack.

        I could not believe it.

  11. Justin Schlosberg was one of the leads on this research … he is also a great speaker. He and Tom Mills came to my CLP in the summer to talk about media reform. It was a fantastic evening… informative and illuminating. Both he and Tom are well worth inviting to speak. The only problem was that a couple of hours was no way long enough.

  12. BBC Newsnight journalist John Sweeney recently (24/9/18) did a piece on the Democracy Roadshow in Chesterfield he managed to “doorstep” Councillor Andy Slack, who had accidentally shared an anti-Semitic post on facebook (for literally a matter of hours) he deleted the post as soon as he realised its content. Three weeks later after an anonymous tip off by “a local activist” he was suspended from the party and investigated. Despite a through search of his social media they found nothing, in fact they said they found numerous indications he was anti all forms of racism. Despite this Cllr Slack signed an undertaking that he would never post anything of this nature again and lost some sway on the council. All this happened in 2016.

    But 2 years later John Sweeney BBC Journalist knows who he is, that he will be attending a random meeting in a library, has a copy of the deleted post and is waiting to pounce on him. He refuses to take no comment as an answer then edits down the answer he is given. If he is a good journalist he must have known the matter had been investigated by the council and the labour party and laid to rest, but he still chose to “out” him as an anti-Semite and stir up old accusations long since refuted

    1. If only we lived in a parallel universe where justice gods sought to redress the balance. Imagine if John Sweeney had accidentally shared something he shouldn’t and an investigative journalist tracked him down and in the end forced him to resign from the BBC in shame – for an error.

  13. The only place you’ll find any reference to this report in the Guardian is in the comments sections. Well at least until the infamous moderators catch up.

    1. The Guardian moderators are remarkably efficient at censoring any mention of this report in their website.

      In the interests of journalistic integrity the Guardian (if they have any) should be addressing the issues in this report instead of censoring it.

      If they dispute the reports findings then they should do their job as journalists and challenge its findings in print.

  14. We can’t accept the bias in the media any longer, we are being fed on propaganda which may have always been the case, but this has to be stopped, in the first instance stop buying newspapers, I stopped years ago. The next is that we demand that a new body with the powers to fine and sue in the courts for libel is set up payed for out of government expenditure – to represent the public against hostile corporate power.

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