British politics couldn’t get more interesting or more exciting right now. With the Syria conflict, Brexit and the fight over the soul of the Labour Party, there is no shortage of things for the media to write about.
Yet the British press still feels the need to make things up. This story about Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn is a classic example. And it illustrates why no one trusts the UK media. The story — from The Telegraph — suggests that Corbyn recently “passed out” while in his office over the stress of running the Labour Party.
There are just three problems with the tale, which you can see this in this diagram:
The story doesn’t have a single source in it, anonymous or otherwise, saying he actually fainted. It contains only denials from Corbyn’s staff. If Corbyn did faint from stress, it would have been great if The Telegraph had tracked that down, got a source or two, and nailed it. That would have been interesting.
Although the story is written as if it is news, it is accompanied by a comical photo caption that refers to him as “El Corbyno” and recounts his spartan dietary habits. His diet is not mentioned in the story.
The obvious parallel here is the David Cameron/pig sex story: Hilarious … if only there was any evidence that the photo actually existed … which there is not.
All this goes some way to explaining Corbyn’s popularity: People aren’t stupid. They know the press is lazy and biased, they can see through it. They like the way Corbyn is trying to just tell it like it is, without the usual game-playing. Corbyn’s dislike of the media is one of his key strengths, because a lot of British people are disgusted by the casual dishonesty of the UK press.
The Telegraph is a Conservative paper, so we expect it to write from a certain perspective. When The Telegraph gets it right, it’s a great paper. I read it most days. But even the Conservatives’ own top political strategist, Lynton Crosby, thinks this kind of thing is ridiculous. Politico saw him speak last night in Oxford:
Crosby attacked the British media over its election coverage, calling it “the most aggressive press in the world.” He described the wide publicity given to photos of Labour leader Ed Miliband’s inelegant eating of a bacon sandwich as “unfair, unwarranted [and] irrelevant … nothing to do with his policies.”
When people see stunts like this, it reaffirms their belief that the person being attacked is the victim of an injustice. And that, in part, is where Corbyn gets his support.
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