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:
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.
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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