Media | Tom Mills: “There is no doubt the BBC has been biased towards Corbyn”

Tom Mills, lecturer in Sociology and Policy at Aston University and author of 'The BBC: Myth of a Public Service', on the BBC's impartiality in its coverage of Jeremy Corbyn.

New in Ceasefire - Posted on Wednesday, May 9, 2018 13:07 - 0 Comments

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[Credits: Pablo Navarrete]

I speak here as an academic and a Corbyn supporter, which obviously affects my perception of this. To my mind, I don’t think there’s any doubt that the BBC has been biased, to use a slightly crude term, towards Corbyn. I think that’s consistent with most of the scholarly research though, which is that people who exist outside of the official consensus, will tend to be treated with suspicion and hostility, or will tend to be marginalized within BBC editorial culture.

Now, why is that the case in terms of Corbyn? Well, we have some good research on the BBC’s reporting of austerity. Basically the Keynesians, the people who were in favor of a stimulus to the economy rather than a cutting of the deficit, barely appeared in news reporting in the aftermath of the financial crisis. The idea that overspending led to the crisis itself, which was a lie pushed about by the Tory Party, it started to inform BBC reporting. So the anti-austerity message that Corbyn led was completely against the grain of how the BBC has generally reported.

Now, there’s another element of this which is the fact that Jeremy Corbyn is a longstanding opponent of British militarism, and that really touches on something much more deeply ingrained in the BBC’s DNA, not just the relationship with the security services, which is the subject of the recent report, but a very close relationship to the Ministry of Defence which goes back to the beginnings of the BBC, and also a relationship with the Foreign Office via the World Service; BBC Monitoring, which is a sort of open source outfit for the British intelligence services.

And so there’s a whole range of very deep relationships between the BBC and the British state. And moreover, the British political elite themselves have shared a consensus on foreign policy, which Corbyn steps outside of, and the BBC’s reporting has tended to defer to political elites in terms of setting the political agenda.

So all of that means that Corbyn has been greeted with a mixture of puzzlement and occasionally of hostility from the BBC, which to my mind departs very starkly from its mission to report impartially.

[Video produced by Pablo Navarrete]

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Tom Mills

Tom Mills is a socialist and sociologist. He is also a lecturer in Sociology and Policy at Aston University. His book, 'The BBC: The Myth of a Public Service', is published by Verso. He tweets @ta_mills.

Pablo Navarrete

Pablo Navarrete is a journalist and documentary filmmaker at @alboradafilms. He is a contributor/producer at Telesur and others. He tweets at: @pablonav1

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