Andrew Neil pledged not to make GB News “another echo chamber for the metropolitan mindset” as he outlined the channel’s modus operandi last night.
The former BBC political interviewer told viewers that they would be covering the “stories that matter to you and those that have been neglected” and would deliver “a huge range of voices that reflect the views and values of our United Kingdom”.
He added: “GB News will not slavishly follow the existing news agenda” adding that they are “proud to be British”, despite every single one of their major shareholders being based outside the UK and Neil himself living mostly in southern France.
The anti-Metropolitan stance also seems a little disingenuous, given that their studios are located in Paddington, west London, but that is by the by.
Because the thing that really stuck in my craw was the notion that by following a nationalist, anti ‘woke’, right-wing narrative they are somehow offering an alternative agenda – when in reality it has accounted for much of the media output for the past decade.
Take the last general election as a case in point.
Academic studies have shown that press hostility towards Corbyn and the Labour Party in the mainstream media doubled compared to the 2017 election, while the Conservatives saw negative coverage about them halve.
An earlier study conducted by the Independent also came to the same conclusion.
It found that in the first two months of his leadership 75 per cent of press coverage misrepresented Corbyn, with the media described as acting as an “antagonistic attackdog” rather than a critical watchdog.
And what of Brexit and positive coverage of our European neighbours? That has also been in short supply over the years.
UK newspapers have been filled with Euromyths since 1992 and coverage in the press during the referendum was overwhelmingly pro-leave.
On referendum day the front pages included splashes such as ‘Vote Leave Today’, ‘Be LEAVE in Britain’ and ‘If you believe in Britain, vote Leave’. Finding a pro-European perspective, on the other hand, was a lot more challenging.
So when GB News launched and plucked team members from many of the aforementioned news outlets, I didn’t conjure up pictures of a challenger news channel out to shake things up.
In reality, they couldn’t be more status quo if they tried.