Corporate Media: The Real Fake News Specialists

A lot has recently been said about “fake” news. Social media and alternative news websites have been especially blamed. But what about our corporate news providers?

Consider, for example, a front page story in last week’s Times, supposedly the most important news item of the day, in Britain’s supposedly most important newspaper. The headline reads, “Labour has few safe seats left, MPs warn”. The piece refers to last week’s by-election result at Richmond Park. The Labour party, the article claims, “suffered humiliation” in the result, which was a “dismal showing”. But linking the Richmond result to Labour safe seats is very misleading (a key requirement of propaganda), because Richmond Park has never been a safe seat for Labour.

It was, however, a safe seat for the Tories. Yet the fact that the Tories didn’t even put up a candidate to contest the election isn’t even mentioned by The Times. A clear Tory majority of 60% of votes cast in 2015 in Richmond Park, to zero votes just one year later, is somehow interpreted by The Times as “humiliation” and a “dismal showing” – not for the Tories, but for the Labour party! Whilst it’s true that Labour didn’t shine, it did come third, which is exactly where it finished in Richmond’s five previous general elections.

This problem with British propaganda is serious. Many people think that propaganda is something only the Russians do, or the Syrians, or the North Koreans, or any other nation we’re supposed to despise. It’s not something we would ever do. And that’s the main reason why British propaganda is so much more successful than less advanced countries: most of us instinctively trust and believe our corporate news providers; most never think for one second our news could be wrong or, horror of horrors, deliberately misleading propaganda. But that’s exactly what most of it is; any national newspaper can supply limitless examples every day of the week. The superb website Media Lens specialises in exposing British propaganda, and historian Mark Curtis has written:

[There is a] systematic link between the basic priorities and goals of British policy on the one hand and the horrors of large-scale human rights violations on the other [which] is unmentionable in the propaganda system, even though the link is clearly recognisable in an analysis of the historical and contemporary record.1

Never mind social media and alternative websites, what we desperately need is massive reform of our corporate news providers – and a big re-think about the trust we place in them.

  1. “Ambiguities of Power” by Mark Curtis – p. 117 []
John Andrews is a writer and political activist based in England. His latest booklet is entitled EnMo Economics. Other Non-Fiction books by John are: The People's Constitution (2018 Edition); and The School of Kindness (2018 Edition); and his historical novel The Road to Emily Bay Read other articles by John.