Hugo Rifkind

The problem with Jeremy Corbyn’s populist media-loathing

19 September 2015

8:00 AM

19 September 2015

8:00 AM

The new leader walks across a bridge, in the dark, while the journalist asks him questions. He’s not shouting, this journalist; not like Michael Crick would be, all smug of face while shrieking ‘Isn’t it true you’re a terrible dickhead?’ None of that. Even so, the leader says not a word. He stares ahead, face stony, furious and fixed. Clip-clop go his feet. For two minutes. There’s a video. For two actual minutes.

This was Jeremy Corbyn, being trailed across Westminster Bridge by Sky News in the small hours of Monday morning. Cowardice, you might think. Running away, as a man might if he found critique, even of the mildest sort, to be torture. As he might, indeed, if he’d be prepared to leave his wife, rather than live with having lost an argument about their children’s schooling. And you may be right, only maybe it’s worse than that. Maybe it was strategy.

In his first few hours as leader of the opposition, Corbyn pulled out of the BBC1’s Andrew Marr Show. He pulled out of Radio 4’s Today programme. In his first 24 hours, he spoke only to two BBC youth-orientated music stations, the Observer and the Scottish Daily Record. He shunned everybody else, including every other newspaper. David Cameron did more press when he left his kid in that pub.

Things have picked up a tad since then. Still, it seems safe to assume that Corbyn loathes the media, and not just because of that deathly zombie-march across Westminster Bridge. In his victory speech he took the time to complain about media attacks on his family, which was notable and jarring, not least because there don’t seem to have been any.

For his supporters, too, and particularly the new ones, the media is as much of an enemy as his other enemies, which include Tories and Zionists and his own parliamentary party and also, as the next few months pass, probably quite a few other people. It’s not new, this populist media-loathing, but once it would only have gone as far as newspapers and the commercial side, on account of the way we hacks are all craven jobsworths in regular contact (perhaps by WhatsApp?) with our neoliberal billionaire paymasters. Recently, though, it seems to have extended even to the BBC, who are presumably crushing the noble proletariat just for kicks.

You don’t need to like the media, obviously. Even most people in the media don’t like the media. That being said, the point at which you begin to regard the fourth estate as a coherent political entity with objectives running maliciously counter to the populace at large is, I think, the point at which you vanish up your own conspiratorial bumhole. Moreover, you also rather betray your contempt for that same populace by suggesting that they’ll swallow any old disadvantageous nonsense provided page three has a pair of tits. Still, like I said, it’s hardly a new viewpoint, and nor is it unique to the Corbynistas. For supporters of the SNP and Ukip among others, the idea of media as a sworn, biased, irredeemable enemy is an article of faith.

The difference is, that’s just the fans, not the band. Nigel Farage will bask happily in the loathing his troops have for the print and broadcast press alike, yet he’ll simultaneously hurl himself at any outlet that will have him in the manner of Julian Assange with a book out. The SNP, meanwhile, remain on fabulously chummy terms with both the Holyrood and Westminster commentariat, even while their foot soldiers denounce the very same people in tweets and petitions and, in the case of poor Nick Robinson last year, with an actual picket outside BBC Glasgow. Team Corbyn, by contrast, takes it all to heart. With the leader himself, normally kindly as Santa, you can see the contempt in his eyes.

The question is, what’s the alternative? The former Greek finance minister Yanis Varoufakis popped up on both Newsnight and Channel 4 News on Monday, advising Corbyn on how to ‘bypass’ the ‘terrorising’ media in the manner of Syriza. This was obviously a bit rich coming from a man so media-whorish that he once did a preening photo spread in Paris Match (it’s hard to imagine Jeremy doing Grazia), and also left you wondering if the bankrupt Greeks today might not rather regret relying so heavily on exciting Facebook posts. Still, I guess he’s the model. Varoufakis and Tsipras were sexy, young and fresh. though. Corbyn and John McDonnell, with a combined age of 130, look like a pair of plain-clothes coppers who have slept in their car.

Certainly, then, it’s ambitious. Labour’s plan is not only to tap into a whole new electorate which currently doesn’t bother to vote, but also to forge a whole new mode of communication with the bit that does. They want people who can’t be bothered to read the Sun to bother to read blogs about ‘people’s quantitative easing’ — and that, to me, feels like a bit of a punt. Yet it is also philosophically bang on brand. It was the Marxists, remember, who came up with ‘false consciousness’; the dazzling of the populace by the shiny organs of a system which never truly had their interests at heart. It has been odd to see such theory adopted by secessionists, and frankly hilarious to see it adopted by the Ukippy far right. For Corbyn and McDonnell, though, it’s destiny. Had they always been able to bypass media, they surely, surely believe, they’d have been swept to power decades ago.

Maybe they’re even right. Who knows? Mainstream media is not what it was, and social media has a reach that ever grows. All the same, it doesn’t half leaving you looking silly and defensive, and not a little bit mad, as you run away across a bridge.


Show comments
  • Jonathan Bradshaw

    Maybe he just doesn’t talk the media because you don’t deserve it. I wouldn’t talk to you either. Also, you may have heard of something called social media and, um, the internet. Maybe not. It’s only been around for a few decades and is used by billions of people, allowing public figures to communicate with us directly, rendering you obsolete.

    • TheDaiLlew

      (Clearly hasn’t read a word of the article.)

    • UnhygienixTheFishmonger

      And look how well that social media thingy worked out for Ed Miliband and Russell Brand at the last election!

      • William_Brown

        That would seem to prove its worth!

  • Rik

    The vast majority of the MSM have long since given up reporting the news,instead all we hear are your opinions and spin and bias.i hold no brief for Corbyn but he like so many of us rightly loathes and distrusts you.

    • Kronsteen

      Spot on. We know BS when we hear it.

  • david17606

    The BBC World Service has now given up completely on trying to report the news without bias.

    • Mary Ann

      You mean the Murdoch press, the Wail, and worst of all now, the porn king’s Express, I was reading down a list of headlines in the Express, they all had a xenophobic slant.

      • david17606

        They are paid for by their readers.

        • GraveDave

          More fool the readers.

        • William_Brown

          We have no discretional choice with regard to paying the BBC licence fee, irrespective of what programmes we choose to view.

      • wudyermucuss

        Resisting the invasion (have you sen the allah akbar chanting rock throwing thugs?) is not xenophobic.

      • NorthernFirst

        Are you kidding? Even the Fail came over all pro-economic migration after the parents of that syrian kid drowned him in the Med.

    • Shorne

      Examples?

      • david17606

        Reporting on the migration issue almost entirely only from the perspective of migrants, constantly promoting the globalist, anti-nation state perspective, global warming always presented as a given fact and catastrophic, etc.

        • Shorne

          Ah I see everything you disagree with so it must be wrong.

          • david17606

            Not because of disagreeing but because it is manifestly biased to one perspective.

      • jmshigham

        Examples? Where do we start, you mean? Take your pick of dozens. For example, the soul searching and wailing over Arafat for days but one half day devoted to Sharon.

        • Shorne

          You may well be right I can’t remember it being mentioned 11 years ago. If you look at my comments from 3 days ago for example you will see I’m a strong supporter of Israel. I see you support UKIP. If you are also a supporter of Israel would you care to comment on Farage allying his party with neo-Nazis in all but name in the EFDD so he could keep his snout in the EU financial trough.

          • jmshigham

            Shorne, that’s an old one which has been addressed many times. 🙂 He did not “ally” anything with anyone. To secure funding, the way the PTB there did it specifically to embarrass UKIP, he had no choice but to allow that person there. As for UKIP, I’m independent, voting UKIP in the last GE and Conservative locally.

          • Shorne

            Well this is from that noted lefty newspaper The Daily Mail;

            “Nigel Farage faced fury from Jewish community leaders today after he formed a pact with a Polish MEP whose party leader has been accused of denying the Holocaust to get EU funding.
            The Board of Deputies of British Jews said it was ‘gravely concerned’ by Ukip’s deal to accept a member of the Polish Congress of the new Right (KNP) into its grouping in the European Parliament.
            Robert Iwaszkiewicz’s decision to join the Eurosceptic EFDD (Europe of Freedom and Direct Democracy) group headed by Mr Farage means it has enough members to increase its funding and standing in the parliament.”

            A man is know by the company he keeps.

          • jmshigham

            You persist on quoting the beat-up, when it was debunked long ago. You quote the Mail on Farage? LOL. The Mail is pure Tory, hates Farage. Quote Breitbart and people might heed it.

          • Shorne

            No only people who share its rampant right wing outlook would heed it.

          • George

            “Nigel Farage faced fury from Jewish community leaders today after he formed a pact with a Polish MEP whose party leader has been accused of denying the Holocaust to get EU funding.”

            ‘Pact’? Not quite as ominous as it sounds. It was an administrative arrangement in order to secure funding, and a not a act of solidarity based on ideology.

            ‘A man is know by the company he keeps.’

            An unfair assessment; Guilt by Association is a logical fallacy. Farage has never, to my knowledge, said that he agreed with any Anti-Semitic statements made by members of the KNP. One must always judge by the substantive arguments provided by a particular party, and since UKIP does not condone Anti-Semitism, I see nothing untoward here.

      • William_Brown

        Seriously????

  • Rifkind comes over like an obsessed stalker, furious that the object of his interest doesn’t want to speak to him. I’m no fan of Corbyn, but I’m not surprised he doesn’t want to speak to malign sniping wretches from the media. They think they are the opposition – people somehow endowed with special privilege who must be taken notice of. Most of Corbyn’s snippets, the brave brothers of Hamas and so on, make him sound insane to me. His party will be unelectable, but I quite like the cut of his jib in some other ways. His disdain for the media, his refusal to be backed by Laura Kunesberg into a corner over kneeling before the Queen. It isn’t his position on that which I like, but his refusal to cooperate with the entitled self interest of the media – those infallible, arrogant wretches who think they have a divine right to harry and dig for dirt. On 12th September I watched a vile interview by a creature called O’Brien on Newsnight in which the wretched, ill-mannered hack harried and abused two people that I probably wouldn’t approve of if he had treated them properly. O’Brien sneered, derided, and constantly interrupted a Saudi military spokesman and a Conservative MP Daniel Kawczynski. O’Brien was utterly foul, sneering and obnoxious. he ended up by saying to Kawczynski, ‘I’m sorry to have brought you from your home,’ in a derisive tone. Kawczynski had attempted to address O’Brien’s points but like the other interviewee was never allowed to complete a single sentence for O’Brien’s barrage of interruptions. Corbyn has every right not to engage with Sky News or anyone else Riffkind. Your problem is that like O’Brien, you have a huge sense of entitlement and self importance,

    • Dr. Heath

      “[Our media] think they are the opposition – people somehow endowed with special privilege who must be taken notice of.”

      Genius. Why does this phenomenon arouse so little curiosity? Is it time to ask conceited megalomaniacs like Jon Snow and his comrades at the BBC and The Guardian to explain the link between their cosmologies and their choice of career? Is it not a disaster that so many of this nation’s brightest A-level recipients go on to earn degrees from Oxford and Cambridge solely as means for them to become useless and parasitic members of Britain’s corps of Confessional Journalists?

      • TheDaiLlew

        That’ll be Channel 4’s Jon Snow you’re talking about, I take it.

        • Andrew Cole

          John Snow follows the same lead as BBC Journos. Both Liberal Lefties telling every interview that the public thinks……………when they don’t

      • Mary Ann

        How come you have ignored the right wing press, Why is the man from Australia allowed to run the country?

        • He doesn’t run the country. He owns some media outlets which publish stuff that a sizeable section of the population buy every day. this suggests that his businesses are doing what their customers want, otherwise, why do they keep coming back for more of the same.

          By the way – I don’t like the man from Australia. He just doesn’t run anything but some newspapers and TV.

          • Tim Chiswell

            50 years on, and so many people still havent read Chomsky, let alone McLuhan…
            It’s been so conclusively demonstrated for so long that the media manufactures demand rather than caters to it that I won’t waste my time restating the evidence, but would encourage you strongly to seek it out yourself.
            Very briefly, there is absolutely no compelling evidence that the media publishes what its readers want to hear, and veru considerable evidence that the readership demands more of what the media tells them their opinions should be.
            Murdoch, unpleasant bastard that he is, but to give credit where it’s due, understads this very well even if you and others don’t

          • This is twaddle in the main. If media doesn’t give its readers what they want, the readers don’t pay for the stuff they publish. You’d have to be mad to believe that people would walk out and buy a paper they didn’t like to read. Why don’t Sun readers buy the Socialist Worker? Answer, because they don’t want to read that; they like the Sun. Of course it is true that the Sun then drip feeds ideas to the readers – it gives them ideas, but hark! When the Sun published uncomplimentary articles about the Hillsborough football disaster, the whole of Merseyside boycotted the paper and they still do – so I put this forward as evidence that if a paper doesn’t give its audience what it wants, they won’t buy it. I shouldn’t have to explain this to you, but there we are.

          • mikewaller

            All Hillsborough proves is that if you swallow a load of lies from a criminally culpable police-force which, when printed, bring a whole grieving community into disrepute, you are going to pay a very high price.

            If, however, you have a very clear political agenda and are prepared very skillfully to draw on a range of disgraceful behaviours to obtain twistable supportive material and then drip feed that to your readership – particularly by appealing to their baser instincts – you can be remarkably successful. Indeed so much so that sovereign governments become so afraid of you that they continue to tolerate an obscene state of affairs whereby foreigners and tax exiles control major chunks of our media and push it in whatever direction best suits them. So please open your eyes and face the facts.

          • You mean by all that, that people buy newspapers because they like them.

          • mikewaller

            There’s none so blind……….

        • logdon

          Silly girl.

        • Jaria1

          Ask Tony Blair he went to visit Murdoch.
          We hear both Blair and Mrs Murdoch diappeared one day
          When Murdoch asked he was told that Nlair was doing to Mrs Murdoch what hed done to the UK

      • Lawrence James.

        Journalists do an invaluable job in so far as they puncture the pomposity and self-importance of politicians who assume a monopoly of rectitude. Some wilt under close questioning simply because they lack the knowledge or wit to respond in kind. Journalists expose dim party hacks who dance to the spin doctors’ tunes. In fact the victims are treated in a too kindly fashion: look at the waspish cartoons of Gilray and his fellows: Fox and Pitt had a rougher time than Corbyn.

        • mikewaller

          It is as improbable that all journalists are a force for the good as it is that all politicians are solely interested in their own advantage. Life is rather more complicated than you suggest. It is however true that millions of people who believe the wider world to have unjustly ignored their (they think) not inconsiderable talents, take pleasure in seeing those who have made it, cut down. We call it the tall poppy syndrome.

    • Mary Ann

      We all know that Sky is part of the right wing press, so they are going to twist everything he says, he could hire someone to talk to the media for him but then he will sound like every other politician.

      • Andrew Cole

        They are at the mo but give Jeremy a chance. If they get an inkling he is catching the Tories up they’ll jump ship again

      • logdon

        Do we? You could have fooled me.

        Your boilerplate observations define the term cliche.

        Try thinking for yourself rather than the beeboid

        • Tim Chiswell

          Are you seriously suggesting that to acknowledge that a Murdoch media outlet is necessarily right-wing is a sign of inability to think for oneself?

          • logdon

            No, it’s the blind Guardianist assumptions that being so called right wing denotes that they make things up.

    • Frank Molina

      there’s only one f in rifkind

      • Oh – thanks. As if I’m bothered about spelling the name of a has-been grafter on the take.

  • greggf

    Joseph Goebbels taught the media all they know about propaganda.

    • Kronsteen

      True. “If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it. The lie can be maintained only for such time as the State can shield the people from the political, economic and/or military consequences of the lie. It thus becomes vitally important for the State to use all of its powers to repress dissent, for the truth is the mortal enemy of the lie, and thus by extension, the truth is the greatest enemy of the State.”

      Joseph Goebbels

      • greggf

        Luckily we have the internet now which often democratises popular opinion against the media and state propaganda.

        • Kronsteen

          Yes. The greatest invention of all. But only it is defended against fascism and censorship

        • Ooh!MePurse!

          There is no such thing as ‘state propaganda’ in Britain.

          • greggf

            Climate change Ooh!………

    • Spenglersdog

      Edward Bernays (Sigmund Freud’s nephew) taught Goebbels everything he knew about propaganda.

  • Mary Ann

    Not surprising he doesn’t like the media, we all know how they spread untrue stories all across the front page and then print a 2 column inch retraction on page 4.

    • wudyermucuss

      That’s the Guardian.
      The BBC simply doesn’t bother.

  • aspeckofboggart

    Mr Rifkind, 2 mins you said. Not 30 secs. Did you cut off the latter part when Mr Corbyn actually did speak to the media? So it wouldn’t get in the way of your narrative?

  • davidofkent

    The Left hate the Murdoch, though I’m not sure why that is. After all the Murdoch Press supported Tony Blair’s Labour government for a lot of the time. I don’t see how Corbyn can keep up his disdain for the Press and refuse TV interviews if he actually wants to be seen as a man of the people and win a General Election. Of course, he is not a man of the people – he is a champagne socialist who has done nothing notable in his 32 years as a MP except oppose, oppose, oppose. I suspect it won’t take five years for the Labour Party to realise that they have bought a pup. He won’t please the union barons for much longer either, once they realise he can do nothing for them.

    • Kronsteen

      Blair was no more Labour than his heir Cameron. As for the mainsteam press, far from reflecting the views of the people, they are mere propaganda outlets whose sole raison d’être is to condition voters into thinking in a certain way. Thinking people understand this well. And the only reason New Labour came to exist was because the rightwing propaganda of 1980s and 1990s conditioned the public into believing that old Labour was bad. So they had to move to the right to get elected. So we can conclude that the propagandists achieved their aim.

    • GraveDave

      The Murdoch brothers supported Tony Blair -well , fancy that!

      • Hamburger

        Brothers? Do tell me more.

    • Frank Molina

      i give corbyn 12 months if he is lucky. he is too thick to lead the labour party, can’t think on his feet, and whilst having aspergers can be useful in many jobs, being a prime minister is not one of them

  • rtj1211

    Look mate, the number of owners of National UK media titles is to be counted on the fingers of one hand, or possibly two with a few digits over.

    It’s incredibly simple to have Murdoch and the Barclays, Richard Desmond and Viscount Rothermere colluding informally to trash socialists. Because they are all tax-avoiding neoliberals. The CIA and MI6 will have a play book for how to do this, as they’ve been practicing the dark arts of overthrowing governments for the best part of 75 years or more. If you’re not aware of that, you are very wet behind the ears.

    The BBC, the Guardian and the Mirror have fairly similar views on the Left and the Independent is morally ‘flexible’.

    Let us be clear there are clear lines of communication between all of them and the Security Services, who are more than capable of self-preservatory conspiracies….in this day and age, it would be wise to require DNA testing of all ‘journalists’ to prove that they are not just fictitious bylines to cover for MI6, the CIA etc etc. Both Roger Boyes and Con Coughlin are obvious parrots for the Security Services and the levels of their lying over Ukraine should have seen them banned for life from journalism. Unfortunately, if you applied traditional standards nowadays, you’d lose 50% of scribblers as the vast majority of stuff printed nowadays is propaganda not facts.

    Because there is no way to get lying journalists ‘struck off’, the propaganda continues in its pernicious way. The levels of rubbish written about Jeremy Corbyn has been astonishing. The rubbish written about John McDonnell and the IRA was pathetic, given his very reasonable explanation to John Snow, which has not been repeated in the Right Wing Press (and should have been if you care one hoot about truth, which you don’t). You’re as bad about this as the Guardian etc have been about climate nonsense. Liars and smearers the lot of you.

    Calling it ‘conspiracy’ is stupid: it’s a co-ordinated editorial line designed to prejudice the electorate and in the main it works, because editors would be fired if it didn’t.

    If I were an Editor of a newspaper and was confronted with the drivel I read online, I’d be sacking a lot of journalists very publicly, giving a brutal public reference as to why they had been fired, comparing their lies, manipulations and distortions to the journalistic code which has been abandoned since 1980. If i had the power as a Press Regulator, I’d be firing editors too and asking the Government for powers to disenfranchise publishers if they continued to break journalistic standards with their lying rubbish.

    It is very easy to discriminate between political lines and lying. Political lines report the facts correctly but interpret them according to one Weltanschauung. Lying and smearing is all about ‘Jez and Dianne were lovers 40 years ago’, ‘Jez thinks Palestinians are human beings so is a National Security threat’, ‘The Americans have told us to trash the Russians so anyone who says they are OK is a traitor’, that’s the sort of nonsense we’re talking about.

    Journalists have for too long assumed that they are self-regulating worldly-wise people.

    Well, you’re not. You’re a dying breed of self-righteous, ignorant, prejudiced, biddable scribblers for hire.

    And now, I’m not Far Left. I’m Centre Right.

    I just can’t tolerate liars on the Right, on the Left, anywhere else for that matter.

    • Dizzy2142

      lol

    • CocklecarrotJ

      TLDR

      • Follow path of number of people who are earning profit monthly+ by doing an online jobs… Get informed more on my Disqus

    • Jethro Asquith

      LOL!

    • King Zog

      “I just can’t tolerate liars on the Right, on the Left, anywhere else for that matter.”

      “Everybody lies” – Gregory House, M.D.

  • GUBU

    ‘Corbyn and John McDonnell, with a combined age of 130, look like a pair of plain-clothes coppers who have slept in their car’.

    I suspect that neither man would thank you for that particular comparison. Nor would many police officers I know.

    The car, by the way, would be an Austin Allegro.

  • William_Brown

    If ‘the media’ ceased to ‘grub around’ for non stories and sensationalise almost everything, rather than to report factually, then they might get some respect. The media often accuse (correctly) politicians of being out of touch with the public – surprising then that they fail to recognise the same malaise within their own industry.

    Sure, there’s some room for publications using overstatement and embellishment within reporting, for comic effect perhaps, but when every ‘news’ medium, online, transmitted, or printed, seems to be little more than a propagandised, mongrel version of Hello! and Viz, then you can expect similar disengagement and antipathy.

  • andagain

    Whenever people complain about a biased press, they mean most of it supports someone other than them. Hence all the complaints from UKIP, the SNP, the extreme left and so on.

    • Mystified Man

      No, it’s because people can use the internet to quickly fact check what they read in the press and see in broadcast media.

      For example, headline upon headline of “Nigel Farage says breastfeeding women should be made to sit in the corner”, a quick YouTube search and five minutes watching a video reveals this to be nonsense.

      Biased opinion pieces are fine. It is when that bias creeps over into news reporting that it becomes a big problem. When 90% of your video content broadcast from the Hungarian border is close ups of women and children, when the best evidence shows that over 80% of refugees in Europe are male, it is blatant, agenda driven propaganda.

      • andagain

        And here we have an example of my point: a UKIPer complaining the press is biased against UKIP. On the comment boards of the Guardian, on the other hand, there would be someone complaining the press was biased against Corbyn.

      • Andrew Cole

        And strangely tonight CH4 reporting the facts that overloaded boatloads from Lebanon are full of educated Males that fled from ‘safe’ areas of Syria. Showing economic migrants without portraying them as refugees and even broadcasting the migrants admitting it. Whatever next?

        Of course if they had sent John Snow it would have been a different story altogether

        BBC on the other hand have sent 100 of their best shysters to patrol 100 mile lengths of the whole Croatian and Hungary borders.

  • Mystified Man

    The son of a Conservative Party grandee, writing for a magazine who’s editor is a Conservative Party loyalist, sneers at people who claim the media are a fashionably liberal blob and openly hostile to anyone on the fringes. How do you like the taste of your own ad hominem medicine?

    “To regard the fourth estate as a coherent and malicious political entity is conspiratorial madness”

    You must have missed the pre-election coverage UKIP received from this magazine and the Telegraph. Malicious would be putting it kindly. Article upon article of misquotes and ad hominem. You are clearly too tribal to realise it but, speaking as someone who voted for the Conservative party in that election, your aggressive coverage of UKIP was beyond ridicule.

    • ill-liberal

      He even slipped in a ‘far right Ukip’ note again. Understandable in the New Statesman, but surely not here.

    • Hamburger

      I didn’t realise that the Telegraph and the Spectator constitute the whole of the 4th estate. Tell me more.

      • Mystified Man

        They are the most likely publications to provide UKIP with either amiable or neutral coverage given their historical association with conservative ideas and the political leanings of the majority of their readership – hence why I picked on them in particular.

  • Peter Stroud

    If Corbyn wishes to remain as Labour leader, and even aspires to become Prime Minister, (God forbid), then he’ll have to deal with the MSM. It comes with the jobs. The MSM is a pain in the butt to all politicians, but none of them, including Corbyn can exist long without tying to use it to their advantage.

  • Unwelcome_Truth

    … we hacks are all craven jobsworths in regular contact (perhaps by WhatsApp?) with our neoliberal billionaire paymasters

    A mixture of egotism and faux naïveté is the stuffing of this risibly spurious straw man argument. It’s a straw man far too soggy and mouldy to provide any support for Mr Rifkind’s failed attempt to deny a fact obvious to all, viz. that the mass media are subordinated to the oligarchic interests and ideology of their neoliberal billionaire owners.

    In reality, of course, the neoliberal billionaire media oligarchs have no need at all to engage in regular personal supervision of individual hacks to ensure e.g. the current near-unanimous right wing attack frenzy against Jeremy Corbyn in their media.

    Actually, media oligarchs don’t even need to ride herd on their senior minions, the editors. Having to tell even an editor what to do all the time would disclose a failure of appointments policy which would be dealt with accordingly.

    When neoliberal billionaire oligarchs set out to stuff the media they own with right wing propaganda, what they do is appoint right wing people – i.e. people who already want to produce right wing propaganda – and then let them get on with it. If they disappoint, replacements are hired; in any case an oligarch has no need to liaise with sub-minions about their screeds through WhatsApp.

    As for “craven jobsworths” like Mr Rifkind, they are by no means as important as their egotism and social complacency perhaps lead them to imagine. If Mr Rifkind were ever to break with his ruling class milieu and ideology, if he were ever to fail to deliver the required ranting right wing ratbaggery (and of course this is very unlikely), he would be far more likely to feel the lash of his direct paymaster, the Spectator’s editor Mr Fraser Nelson, than the personal wrath of his ultimate paymasters, the neoliberal billionaires Sir David Rowat Barclay and Sir Frederick Hugh Barclay.

  • willshome

    When the press is dominated by tax-evading billionaires who want to see this country run as suits them, not as suits its citizens (and that’s not conspiracy theory, but simple self-evident fact), dancing to the media tune is not the best way to show your integrity.

  • JPJ2

    A Westminster Bubbler writes-completely out of touch with the electorate

  • Hegelman

    “Still, it seems safe to assume that Corbyn loathes the media, and not
    just because of that deathly zombie-march across Westminster Bridge”

    How strange that he loathes the media when it is largely owned by lovable people like dear Rupert. And I liked the thrilling bit about the deathly zombie-march across Westminster Bridge. Lacking your Shakespeare – level literary imagination I would have just seen it as a tired man trying to go home and not wanting to be hounded by some media hyaenas.

    “You don’t need to like the media, obviously.”

    Noooooo? What a relief! It hadn’t been obvious from your instruction until now. I was getting quite the opposite impression…Whew !

    “Even most people in the media don’t like the media.”

    This is getting better by the second ! Yipee !

  • Kronsteen

    All good people loathe the media

  • Hegelman

    You media guys make hyaenas seem hygenic.

  • Pionysius

    “They want people who can’t be bothered to read the Sun to bother to read blogs about ‘people’s quantitative easing’ — and that, to me, feels like a bit of a punt.”

    Yet any party that promises Viscounts’ quantitative easing or Barons’ quantitative easing is assured of my vote.

  • new_number_2

    “To regard the fourth estate as a coherent and malicious political entity is conspiratorial madness”

    The media quite often in print and on television describe as a matter of fact certain political opinions and politicians (e.g. Blairites) as “moderate” and “centrist” which is clearly taking a political position and seeking to influence the reading and watching public what are acceptable political views to hold.

    What is seen as “moderate” and “centrist” according to the media is supporting austerity, rolling back the welfare state and backing foreign interventions.

  • Hamburger

    I am always pleased to read the British press for its variety. If the commentators had to put up with the news management we have here the would realise how diffuse your media is.

  • Tim Chiswell

    “the point at which you begin to regard the fourth estate as a coherent political entity with objectives running maliciously counter to the populace at large”
    If only the ‘fourth estate’ would help us out by behaving just a little less like it is…

  • mikewaller

    My general impression is that Rifkin, like his father, is a pretty decent sort. However I hope he takes careful note of how deeply despised his profession is. For a prime minister or a party leader there is no sure-fire way of dealing with the press. A toxic combination of journalistic ego-needs and their masters’ voices mean that nobody gets a fair shakedown. Their true nature was brilliantly caught in a new “Muppets” series about 30 years ago. A journalist Muppet asked Kermit whether the new series would be much like previous ones or include different material. Kermit asked why he wanted to know to which the journo Muppet replied: “Well, if it is the first it will be “Kermit drags out same tired old stuff”; if its the second it will be “Kermit in desperate search for new material.””

  • loneturtle

    And the question Corbyn chose to ignore was….?
    I don’t think Corbyn hates journalism but I can see why he might hate bias press with an agenda.

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