JEREMY Corbyn said Labour were forced to bypass hostile mainstream media coverage by using social media and other electronic forms of communication.
Speaking to Gary Younge at a People’s Assembly event last week, the former Labour leader spoke about how the negative press against himself and the party drastically increased after his 2017 election performance.
He also took a swipe at GB News, saying he regretted briefly watching it while in the gym.
“It did change dramatically after the 2017 election,” Corbyn said of Labour’s media coverage.
“There was an avalanche of attacks and abuse against us. The people that got that worst were Diane Abbott and John McDonnell.
“The only way round that is communication with the people we want to get a message through to and listen to.
“If we rely on the moderation of the mainstream media to decide what our message should be, then we’re not going to get that message through.
“We’ve got electronic forms of communication and they are huge. We used those to maximum advantage to bypass some of the stuff in mainstream media.
“The ability of those in the mainstream media to turn somebody into something evil is quite considerable.”
But coverage of the veteran MP wasn’t always so hostile.
Corbyn noted that both The Times and Guardian newspapers had initially welcomed his inclusion in the leadership race to widen the debate.
Once his campaign’s momentum started to exponentially increase, however, “the hostility then became worse” as he was accused of invoking the “Magic Money Tree” and massive public spending.
The Guardian endorsed Yvette Cooper for leader, while the Daily Mirror ran a front page shortly after the Brexit referendum calling for Corbyn to go – just 10 months after he was elected as leader.
Even during the 2017 election – when Corbyn’s campaign gained a head of steam to skyrocket in the polls throughout the electoral cycle – most newspapers didn’t pick up on the campaign’s success, he said.
Corbyn also purported to change the structure of the British media if he got into power – but stressed he was not anti-press in any way.
“I’m actually a member of the National Union of Journalists,” he said.
“I’ve got nothing but admiration for great journalists around the world.
“I’m in favour of public service broadcasting, not state broadcasting or the BBC becoming a mouthpiece for the Tory government.
“Why can’t the editors of newspapers be elected by people in the newspaper itself?
“There was a time where there was a fundamental difference between print and broadcast media – that’s not the case now.
“That brings self-censorship with it. I’m always astonished at how little the media report on Africa, South America compared to the US and Western Europe.”
Academic studies support Corbyn’s hypothesis. An LSE paper analysing media coverage of the Islington MP concluded: “Our analysis shows that Corbyn was thoroughly delegitimised as a political actor from the moment he became a prominent candidate and even more so after he was elected as party leader, with a strong mandate.
“This process of delegitimisation occurred in several ways: 1) through lack of or distortion of voice; 2) through ridicule, scorn and personal attacks; and 3) through association, mainly with terrorism.”
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