After a while, it becomes tiresome to keep talking about ubiquitous liberal media bias in America. So just to switch things up a bit, let’s look at ubiquitous liberal media bias across the pond in Great Britain. That’s the subject of a recent piece by John Fund at National Review. It turns out that their primary news networks unleash a consistent stream of attacks on the Conservative Party (the Tories) and Prime Minister Boris Johnson in much the same fashion that most cable news outlets and major newspapers in America go after Republicans and Donald Trump. The Labour Party (closer to their version of the Democrats) is handled in a far more gentle fashion.
Next Thursday’s election pitting Boris Johnson of the Conservatives against Jeremy Corbyn of the Labour party isn’t the only political war in Britain. Much of the broadcast media — ostensibly required to be impartial — has set itself the goal of derailing both Boris and Brexit.
Britain’s key broadcasters — the BBC, ITV, and Channel 4 — are neither state-owned nor state controlled. But they operate under strict public-service rules that require them to be studiously neutral and unbiased. ITV and Channel 4 are financed by advertisement revenue, while the BBC gets the bulk of its money from a $195 annual license fee that Britons must pay if they own any kind of television.
It’s increasingly clear that these broadcasters have abandoned the spirit of the objectivity rules under which they operate. Several official reports have identified bias at the BBC.
This effect fund is describing isn’t hard to find. As I’ve mentioned here previously, I’m a subscriber to one of the BBC political comedy podcasts (Friday Night Comedy from BBC Radio 4). The various shows they run each season are well produced and funny, but the tone taken by all of the hosts and guests is unmistakable. Every joke about Brexit revolves around either how horribly the planning for it has been (quite true) or how they will all be living on dog food after they leave the EU (there’s room for debate about that). Boris Johnson is lampooned on a weekly basis as a blubbering fool and conservative spending policies are described in Nazi-like terms.
To be fair, they do make fun of Labour’s leadership as well, particularly Jeremy Corbyn. But that abuse is typically about his inept attempts to defeat the Conservatives at the polls. Fortunately for the Tories, the media efforts to bring them down don’t seem to be gaining much traction. BoJo’s party still holds a comfortable lead in the most recent polling as they head into this week’s elections.
As it is here in America, there are a few exceptions to the rule in Great Britain. Fund quotes Daily Telegraph columnist Harry Hodges as saying that media executives over there viewed the Brexit referendum as, “an aberration that came about only because we live in a post-fact world where Boris Johnson and Nigel Farage — with the help of their FSB (Russian secret police) handler Dominic Cummings — were allowed to hoodwink a gullible public.”
Some leaders in both the Conservative and Brexit parties have taken to boycotting Channel 4 the same way that some Republicans refuse to go on CNN or MSNBC. Others do still agree to do interviews, but frequently show up with a decidedly guarded or even hostile demeanor, knowing the type of reception they’ll receive.
All of this leads to one interesting question we might pose. How is it that the media establishments in two countries separated by an entire ocean managed to evolve in such a similar fashion? Is it something in the water? Or is it just that institutions of higher education in both nations are so skewed to the left that they indoctrinate all of the journalism students who graduate and pursue work in that field? It all seems a bit much to write off to mere coincidence. And yet we don’t seem to see the same thing in Australia, or at least not to the same degree. Then again, the Australians tend to be more conservative people to begin with.
In any event, if you’ve grown despondent over the inherent bias in American political news coverage, cheer up. At least you’re not alone. This appears to be a global phenomenon except in repressive nations with state-controlled media.