Monday, 13 June 2016

Brexit Fleet Street doing a wonderful job

Time to catch up on some notes and jottings. Main conclusion is that the Brexit press is winning and this is largely because they are doing well at journalism as it now functions. More below on attitudes to facts and the Guardian in detail.

But recent examples are the Sun on Sunday coverage of Jeremy Corbyn and the Daily Express today refuting Cameron on pensions. The BBC Radio 4 8 o'clock press review featured the Sun report and this could easily be explained because it is interesting. There may not be an anti Corbyn bias as such in the way the TV works. I keep an open mind. They just follow a news agenda set by the print media because this is still influential and has skill in launching stories.

More later on facts. I happen to think the Sun basis is a bit shaky when it comes to facts. "The party's leader, a lifelong Eurosceptic, acts as if he would rather do anything else than campaign." That is the editorial on page 16. Report on page 11 includes nothing of what was said, the critique of the scare approach from Cameron or the importance of worker rights and the environment. But the photo is striking and the "cringeworthy" is inserted quickly. The actual show is still available on catchup, maybe skip 20 minutes if you just want to hear Jeremy Corbyn directly.

"Fury at PM's Pension threat" as Daily Express headline is followed up with Farage quotes on "blackmail" , "terrify" etc.  The website seems to have moved on already but try to get a print copy of the Express. Full of confidence.

By contrast the Guardian seems confused on what to make the main point. They are still reluctant to quote Corbyn directly so mostly support Cameron and are surprised that Labour is not backing Remain on the same basis. I am looking at the Observer and Guardian as one thing so here is Andrew Rawnsley from Sunday

Some Labour MPs cast the blame on journalists for failing to give them the means to convey their messages to the electorate. For once, I have a bit of sympathy with politicians complaining about the media. A useful study from Loughborough University calculates that Labour voices have been present in less than 4% of TV coverage of the campaign. It also finds that not a single Labour figure has made the top 10 of most frequently reported politicians. The press is a law unto itself, but the broadcasters are under an obligation to give fair airtime to the principal party of opposition.

OK so the press is a law unto itself, the only redress could be when the readers give up paying out money.  If the Remain problem is the Labour voters and Cameron has cleared the way for Labour to have more priority, what will be the evidence for this?

Guardian today has report that Brown will "lead the charge" but no report of Corbyn on Channel 4. Matthew d'Ancona writes about "making a terrible mistake" but nothing about the Labour case or worker rights. 

The Times reports that Corbyn will speak tomorrow. It will be interesting if the Guardian reports anything. They have their own ideas on who should be leader of the Labour Party and report on those they are in contact with. But if there is concern for the Remain case they might consider a special occasion.

They already have a headline on the letters page " Which party leader should take the blame for a leave vote?" when some might ask "which newspaper has failed as reporting and as opinion?" but this can come later.

The Times also reports Alan Johnson and others writing to the BBC, Sky and ITV about how the Tory psychodrama has obscured other issues. "more focused on the future of the Conservative Party than the future of the country as a whole". Can't find this in the Guardian but they have a point if the 4% figure mentioned by Andrew Rawnsley is correct.

Times also has an editorial on Corbyn as not "credible" . They claim he shows little sign of supporting Remain. This may be based on their own reporting or maybe they read the Guardian.

Meanwhile if you follow Twitter and search on #InCrowd you will find some very clear messages from Jeremy Corbyn that contrast pretty clearly from what is reported.

Strange thing on the Andrew Marr show when he suggested that numbers are just "made up" in an interview with David Cameron. Based on Steve Hilton in the Evening Standard. Apparently he used to make things up so probably this may be so for some of the claims made recently. In the Times today Steve Hilton recalls how he may have been quoted as suggesting that David Cameron is actually in favour of Brexit. there is thjen some backtracking I can't quite follow. So maybe David Cameron is actually not in favour of Remain. The Times editorial suggests the same is true for Jeremy Corbyn just as the Sun continues to claim to know what the Queen thinks even after the IPSO report.

So don't worry too much about facts, just enjoy the journalism.

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