The message from mainstream media in the past eighteen months has been clear: Jeremy Corbyn is an inexperienced, radical leftie unfit to leader a political party, let alone a country. Even supposedly unbiased media outfits like the BBC have not exactly been extolling his virtues. In a world where those at the top will do everything they can to keep their skeletons in the closet, journalists are supposed to be those we turn to to expose the truth. From the Peterloo massacre in 1819 to the recent scandals over phone hacking and MPs’ expenses, we rely on the media not to lie to us, and we trust that it doesn’t. But do we actually have any basis for believing a newspaper would tell us the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth about Corbyn?
As a socialist and firm believer that Rupert Murdoch is actually a giant lizard in disguise, I read anything printed in The Sun and The Times with extreme caution. If the Hillsborough disaster has taught us anything, it is that Murdoch will make up any headline necessary to push his and Thatcher’s neoliberal agenda. By contrast, I hold The Guardian’s editorial standards in high regard, and believe that it genuinely strives to print fair, balanced, well-researched articles. Even their comment section, albeit being overall left-of-centre, has opinions from a range of people who certainly don’t all agree. As such, I am inclined to believe it will be a reliable source of news on all topics, including Corbyn. The BBC is held up in this country as a great example of a trustworthy public institution, and despite people on the extreme left and right insisting it is biased towards the opposite way, it has always been, in my mind, an unbiased source of facts. Consequently, I have put an enormous amount of faith in these two media corporations not to lie to me.
Journalists are supposed to be those we turn to to expose the truth
Until now, I didn’t believe they ever had; but their coverage of Corbyn just seems to ring ever so slightly of falsehood. It seems to never have given him a chance, from the moment of his election. It was instant doom they said, a socialist experiment bound to fail. Maybe so, but we couldn’t possibly know yet, surely? The months went on. The mainstream press continued to either ignore him or sigh heavily about his disastrous leadership. He ran his leadership campaign on a number of policies – so he must have some – but I couldn’t tell you what they were because not a single media outlet has ever mentioned what he actually stands for. To not talk about what the Leader of the Opposition wants to achieve seems absurd.
Then came the Brexit campaign. Corbyn was hounded on whether he really believed in the EU. ‘He doesn’t really want to stay’ said the headline; ‘you can tell he doesn’t mean it’ said another. From a bystander’s perspective, he was dithering and clearly dragging his toes along the party line, and as a result his heart wasn’t really in campaigning. One of Corbyn’s advisors, clearly in an effort to earn the sympathies of the youth population, had set up a ‘jeremycorbynmp’ snapchat account on which his daily activities were documented. Watching this in an effort to procrastinate, I saw Jeremy Corbyn visit a different town, meet hundreds of people, and strongly advocate the benefits of the EU probably six days a week. Afterwards his lack of effort was blamed for the vote to leave.
It was instant doom they said, a socialist experiment bound to fail
In the back of my mind I am haunted by the #milibae campaign and the memory of how harsh the press could be to a politician who was only slightly left-wing. Now, I am torn between wanting to trust those institutions whom I believe have always been honest, and wondering just how left-leaning a Labour leader would have to be to have even The Guardian turn against them. Maybe Corbyn is the limit.