A couple of days ago we noted that new Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn has a specific longstanding dislike of the media.
When he was elected the new leader of the opposition, he didn’t immediately give an interview to the BBC or The Guardian (the major news outlet most-read by his supporters). Instead he talked to Huffington Post UK, and praised Facebook and Twitter for letting him reach voters directly.
His strategy seemed to be: I’m going to ignore the mainstream media, whose reporters and paparazzi have been rude and hostile to me, and speak directly to the people instead.
Two videos came out yesterday showing why Corbyn should continue to ignore the media. The first appeared to show that a driver for Corbyn knocked a reporter to the ground while helping Corbyn get into his car in the morning. The reporter claims to be injured, and a picture of him in hospital was later tweeted by Channel 4’s Michael Crick.
Perhaps Corbyn’s media-hate extends to violence?
A second video, published by The Telegraph, shows the exchange from another angle and it appears here that Corbyn is actually the one being assaulted by reporters and photographers. Here’s a gif (give it a few seconds to load):
In the video, Corbyn is initially blocked from getting into his car by a mob of reporters. A man pushes one of them out of the way in order to close the car door. He apparently falls over, off camera. But then, at least two other reporters force open the car door and begin berating Corbyn, who obviously has no idea what just happened because it occurred out of his line of sight. They then prevent the car door from being closed while they insult him, “That was disgusting behaviour of someone who is working for you,” one of them insists.
Poor old Corbyn is forced to sit there, wondering what is going on. All he wanted to do was leave his house and get into a car, yet he has to fight his way through a mob that physically prevents his car from leaving.
No wonder he doesn’t trust these people.
Yesterday, at Corbyn’s first Prime Minister’s Question Time session, everyone was expecting him to be savaged by Conservative leader David Cameron. Unemployment declined in the UK to just 5.5%, the government announced the same day. So Cameron was well poised to state the obvious: why on earth would we need socialism when capitalism is already doing so well? Many in the media already had their headlines ready to go.
Yet most people think Corbyn “won” the debate by doing two things. First, he immediately altered the tone by saying he was not going to engage in the pantomime of braying and cheering that normally comes from MPs on these occasions. And second, he didn’t ask his own questions: He read aloud questions from 40,000 ordinary voters who had emailed him directly.
That tactic set the tone of entire exchange, and prevented Cameron from heaping scorn on the questions he was being asked. Ignore the policy details. The point here is that Corbyn set the agenda and Cameron was forced to go along with it. Even the right-wing Telegraph admitted Corbyn won.
Some have suggested that Corbyn needs to engage properly — meaning normally — with the media, or else he will leave the field open to the Conservatives who obviously will not be declining press interviews. But yesterday Corbyn appointed a “Director of Policy and Rebuttal” instead. And his army of supporters have begun petitioning the BBC to refer to the Cameron as “the right-wing Prime Minister,” because it so often refers to Corbyn as “the left-wing Labour leader.”
Why should Corbyn bother trying to charm a media that assaults him as soon as he leaves the house? He seems to be doing just fine without it.
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