Jeremy Hardy thinks… about the press

'The fact the country is not overrun with lynching parties must mean not all readers take the papers seriously'
June 2012

I have never disliked the Sun as much as I dislike the Mail. I’ve always believed the latter to be more dangerous because its readers think it’s a proper newspaper. I don’t think Sun readers make that mistake.

Nor do I believe they pay much attention to its voting instructions. I remember that, in its Thatcherite heyday, an independent poll of readers revealed that most assumed the Sun was a Labour paper, which must have been both reassuring and disconcerting for the Labour Party at the time.

How a paper allied to what was nominally a party of the left might have delivered a verdict such as it did on Hillsborough is hard to imagine. That was in the days before Kelvin MacKenzie was re-invented as a loveable curmudgeon. His lies about Liverpool fans managed to shock without being surprising. The Sun had long been a vicious bag of hate and fiction. It continued to be so when it did start to support Labour.

Neither did the Mail or Express lighten up on travelling people or refugees when they fell in love with Tony Blair. The fact that they are read by so many people and that the country is not overrun with lynching parties must mean that, despite my second sentence, not all their readers take them seriously.

This is not to say the ‘quality’ right‑wing papers are covered in glory. The Telegraph is okay, so long as you know that a belief that the army should run the country informs even the punctuation, and that many of its readers use the word ‘abolitionist’ pejoratively. But the high-end News International papers are impossible to take seriously. The Kim family must passionately envy the Murdochs, wishing they got such an easy ride from the Pyongyang Times. No, it really is called that.

Jeremy HardyJeremy Hardy is a comedian and writer who regularly appears on BBC Radio 4's The News Quiz and I'm Sorry I Haven't a Clue.


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Thomas III 24 June 2012, 20.24

For someone I have admired for his perceptive insight, morally correct instincts on issues from the ’84 miner’s strike to Palestine to false flag, synthetic terror and someone who has had me convulsed with laughter and re-kindled flagging hope that right can and ultimately will triumph over evil might, Jeremy Hardy’s short piece ominously omits that greatest of propaganda machines, the predominant mis-shaper of the news and fountain of spin: the British Broadcasting Corporation.

The legend of the BBCs integrity and impartiality is of their own creation. On any major news story or issue, they have an establishment Brit-Nat agenda. Wars are whipped up and coddled along by the BBC: in Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya and at present the unrelenting propaganda is focused on unsubstantiated allegations of events in Syria, where their ‘facts’ are a complete inversion of reality. The BBCs peak time Scottish news output is puff pieces for Labour nonentities to trot out their latest smears and groundless scares, hugely disproportionate time is given to minority parties, the Tories and LibDems with barely perceptible public support in Scotland; news coverage takes second place to the divisive subject of football: ‘divide and rule’ ad nauseam.

I think alarm bells began ringing out clearly during the 1984 miner’s strike, when for example, film showing baton swinging police (and military forces) dressed as coppers, charging and attacking peaceful pickets, was run backwards to suggest the backing off terrified miners charged the police lines.

There is nothing that can be salvaged from such a rotten institution, their ‘licence fee’ racket too – the state’s monopoly on violence being used to enforce what should really be a voluntary subscription – should be busted.

I enjoy your work, a smile crosses my face hearing you on almost every subject or programme, but whether you’ll bite the hand that feeds you, whilst ‘indebted to the Cheltenham and Gloucester Building Society’ or similar, remains uncertain and a imponderably suspicious.

I do hope Jeremy you’re working on the BBC ‘from within’.

cvb1999 6 July 2012, 13.46

Thomas III

You are of course wrong. The BBC is the last neutral broadcaster and while British does try to be politically neutral as far as parties go. It is probably more leftist because artsy people are generally but would you really want a Murdoch run TV channel to be the prime source of news?
If you do you are seiously mad.

Jakov 6 July 2012, 19.31

The choice isn’t between the BBC in its current form and television controlled by naked capitalism.
We could take a third option, how about a BBC where journalists and television executives are elected by the public, just as politicians are. With only the people to answer to, public journalists would be free to investigate businesses and the state as aggressively as they do unions and occupations.

Robboh 7 August 2012, 17.53

Anyone who calls the BBC lefty, must be on the extreme right of the political spectrum. But maybe more than being left or right, the BBC mixes old establishment Torysm with the agenda of what ever government is in at the time. It did a great job for Tony B.lair and the Iraq War, and now its doing a great job for David Camoron in providing government propaganda. All of the governments policy lines are presented as the unquestionable norm, and any fact or opinion challenging these policies are either ignored or presented as peculiar or extreme. Thank God for the internet, as now we don’t have to rely on the BBC, other sources show it up for the biased propaganda machine that it is. It is a dinosaur in our new “information” age.

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