This week a study by Loughborough University’s Centre for Research in Communication and Culture confirmed what we all already knew.
A mainstream media bias towards Boris Johnson and against Jeremy Corbyn was laid bare in the first of a weekly report that will be published from now up until the general election.
The figures reflected strong editorial support towards the Conservatives provided by the newspapers with the largest circulation, namely the Daily Mail and the Sun.
In contrast, Labour had a substantial deficit of positive to negative news reports in the first formal week of the campaign.
First two months as party leader
It is a shocking indictment of a supposed free-thinking democracy that such a marked disparity exists, but this is nothing new.
The analysis concluded that when it comes to the coverage of Corbyn in his role as leader of the opposition the majority of the press “did not act as a critical watchdog of the powers that be, but rather more often as an antagonistic attackdog”.
Over half of the news articles were critical or antagonistic in tone, compared to two thirds of all editorials and opinion pieces. Besides the almost total lack of support in the latter, especially in the rightwing media.
Public perception of Corbyn
This wouldn’t be so much of a problem if the public was mindful of the blatant smear that has become a mainstay of our national newspapers, but it has started to wash with them.
According to the latest polls 47 per cent would prefer Boris Johnson as Prime Minister compared to just 16 per cent who said the same of Jeremy Corbyn. That’s up six points from last month for the PM and clearly tallies with the positive media sentiment he has been enjoying from the media.
And while the Labour party is engulfed by an antisemitism storm in the run-up to the election, little is said of the Conservative’s Islamaphobia issue, or even that it is likely suppressing a report into Russian interference until after the general election.
It all amounts to a level of brainwashing that is more commonly associated with dictatorships rather than a proud democracy.
Earlier this year we reported that citizens living Romania found one headline in The Sun to be more akin to state-run propaganda than their own “Scinteia” – known as the official voice of the Communist Party.
Featuring Johnson in a ball of sun to coincide with the hottest July day ever they trumpeted Johnson’s promise of a ‘golden age’ under his premiership, saying he gave opposition leader Corbyn “a roasting” too.
All from Britain’s best-selling daily newspaper.
Why does Corbyn get bad press?
So why does Corbyn get such bad press?
Well, as Robert Owens pointed out here, it’s “because he represents the biggest threat to the right wing ideology and stability of the super rich – the same people who own our national media.
“One of the best tricks of the press is convincing people that a Corbyn Government would result in Britain becoming some sort of Communist State (like failing Venezuela), which of course is utter rubbish.
“A little less neo-capitalism (i.e. clamp down on those extorting us) and a little more socialism (i.e. sort out the NHS and our public transport), is all that most people ask. Yet, the national press has brainwashed the public that ‘socialism is bad’.
“You may not agree with all or any of Corbyn’s policies, but it should trouble you that newspapers exercise power and influence in a number of ways. It is not just that they have a giant megaphone letting them dominate the public debate/thought. They have privileged access to politicians (just check out Rupert Murdoch’s wedding guest list) and have the ability to effectively set the political agenda.”