Ed Miliband had to think long and hard before he agreed to speak at the TUC March for Alternative yesterday for fear that his reputation would be damaged. Why? Doesn’t that sound a bit weird?
What kind of a free world do we live in, when democracy has become so corrupted by the tabloid sensationalism of the TV News, that political leaders are regarded as brave for speaking at an ordinary political rally?
Brave because the leader is at risk of damaging his reputation, due to the utterly unrepresentative manner that these tabloid TV broadcasters, such as the BBC and Sky, choose to represent the event.
Brave because of how they distort the truth, associating the actions of a single criminal gang, with every legitimate political or campaigning organisation, that seeks to promote their cause through peaceful demonstration.
Last night, Tim Montgomerie, editor of ConservativeHome, contacted Mark Ferguson, editor of LabourList, complaining that Sky News had broadcast Ed Miliband’s speech, in a split screen, together with shots of the anarchists rioting. He’d taken a photo of the TV broadcast and sent it over to Mark. Even the Tories have had enough of the media manipulating the truth for the sake of sensationalism.
Do the broadcasters believe that each campaigning organisation has its own anarchist wing, or do they accept that the anarchists are a single gang of criminals who have nothing to do with the Labour Party, the Unions, the Pro-Hunt movement, or for that matter, the Police Federation?
If The Police Federation conducted a protest march tomorrow, and the anarchists ran amok, would the media believe that it was the anarchist wing of the Police Federation that was smashing stuff up? Would they report, by combining the two events into one single story?
Do they not recognise that there is something deeply offensive about this?
Why don’t they go down to the East London Mosque this Friday Evening Prayers and speak to ordinary Muslims about their thoughts on their religion, then juxtapose their answers with shots of the September 11th atrocities? Surely there’s nothing wrong with that?
Why don’t they go and interview the Royal Family about their German heritage, then juxtapose this with shots of the Nuremberg rallies?
If it has got to the point where politicians are considered brave for engaging in the political process, then there is something deeply dysfunctional in the system.
Mark Ferguson tweeted the Sky News picture, which was enough to alert the broadcasters to moderate their coverage, which is good, but not enough. For example, the BBC continued to refer to the anarchists as a “angry protesters”. But they were nothing to do with the protest. They’re not protesters, they’re criminals.
If broadcasters cannot recognise they are wrong, and adjust their editorial accordingly, then they cannot continue to be trusted to govern themselves.
My photos of the rally are here.