It may seem bizarre to many people that the Conservative Party has been riding high in the polls after seven years of battering public services and fuelling racism. One popular explanation for this is the role of the media. Given the magnitude of its attacks on Jeremy Corbyn that seems to make sense.
The Sun ran the headline “Blood on his hands” for a vile rant against Corbyn and McDonnell, attempting to attack them over their relations with the IRA. It was printed the day after the Manchester bombing.
Research by Loughborough University details the overwhelming bias against Labour, with all major newspapers except for the Daily Mirror and Guardian reporting on it negatively (the latter with only 5 percent positive coverage).
Millions of Corbyn supporters are directly experiencing the nature of the mass media under capitalism. The media claim to act as a watchdog — informing the public and robustly challenging all politicians. Yet when a threat to entrenched privilege emerges, they are revealed as attack dogs who dismiss or denigrate as either sinister or ridiculous (usually both) any notion of an alternative to the existing order.
There is a high concentration of ownership and control. Around 70 percent of UK newspaper circulation is controlled by three wealthy families. And the high wages of management and private education of top journalists steer the media to play a particular role in spreading pro-capitalist ideas in society.
It’s not hard to see why people think the power of the media is absolute. Yet the idea that you shouldn’t believe everything you see on the telly is part of the common sense too. There is always a tension between these two. Waiting weeks for a doctor’s appointment clashes with the lie that NHS funding is ringfenced. Working with an immigrant undermines scare stories. Struggle heightens this tension.
The material reality of life moulds the ideas people hold. That is a reality where people are not in control of their lives and where Labour has spent years accommodating to big business.
The bias doesn’t start in the media. The real political divisions between Corbyn and the Labour right are about how we should respond to the multiple crises of this world. They can be overcome only through a political rising which demonstrates in practice the epic power of social collectivity over wealth exploitation.
The Independent ran an article, “Labour is surging in the polls — and it’s all because the media is finally giving Jeremy Corbyn impartial coverage”. This top-down view doesn’t allow any sense of agency. Labour’s popular manifesto and Corbyn’s mass rallies at which he’s gone on the offensive by saying the tax-avoiding CEOs should be scared have shifted the polls and forced the media to report on Labour’s campaign.
The competing interests at the top translate into divided rule. When former chancellor George Osborne took over the Evening Standard he was widely expected to be a Tory mouthpiece, but he has attacked Theresa May’s stagnant slogan and dementia tax climb-down fiasco. Even veteran Corbyn vilifier Laura Kuenssberg turned her attention on May over the issue.
Whatever the election result, the campaign has defaced the common sense of inequality with the good sense of solidarity.