Our free and fearless press has gone from baying wolfpack mode to playing the startled rabbit caught in oncoming headlights in very short order, after their days-old assault on Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn was turned on them yesterday. The claims made by Jan Sarkocy had already unravelled, despite the Ron Hopeful coverage from the Murdoch Sun, as Jezza seized the moment to remind them of a Labour manifesto commitment.
He released a video in which he told “A free press is essential for democracy and we don’t want to close it down, we want to open it up. At the moment, much of our press isn’t very free at all. In fact it’s controlled by billionaire tax exiles, who are determined to dodge paying their fair share for our vital public services”. And there was more.
“The general election showed the media barons are losing their influence and social media means their bad old habits are becoming less and less relevant. But instead of learning these lessons they’re continuing to resort to lies and smears. Their readers - you, all of us - deserve so much better. Well, we’ve got news for them: change is coming”.
Change? What could that mean? Best to imagine a worst case scenario: the Rotten Lefties (tm) were coming for our brave journalists, the barricades had to be manned, boiling oil poured from the battlements. Whenever Jezza said change, it had to be reinterpreted in order to frighten the readers. Instead, the press only ended up frightening themselves.
The Mail confirmed the sudden incidence of involuntary bowel movements among those who scrabble around the dunghill that is Grubstreet, telling “Jeremy Corbyn’s response to spy row: No answers and a chilling threat to Britain’s free Press” and whining “Mr Corbyn appeared to sign off with a threat to newspaper owners”. Not to a free press, though.
Over at the Baby Shard bunker, the Sun’s non-bullying political editor Tom Newton Dunn was also needing a change of underwear: “Rattled Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn threatens free Press as he dodges spy scandal questions … At the end of 104 second rant, Mr Corbyn issued his thinly veiled vow for retribution”. Aw DIDDUMS!
Did no-one stop to ask what Jezza really meant? Why bother when you wanted to suck up to the Press Establishment? Christopher “No” Hope of the increasingly desperate and downmarket Telegraph knew which side his bread was buttered: “Dear Mr Corbyn, Rather than attacking the Press for doing its job, why not say that any files on you held by any foreign power will be published?” So spreading Fake News is “Doing its job”. Ri-i-ight.
Mark Wallace at ConHome preferred a little paranoia: “To demonstrate he has nothing to do with communists, Jeremy Corbyn is now openly threatening that if he gets power he'll use it against media outlets that publish criticisms of him”. Perhaps they really are coming to get him. In any case, he knows “the Leveson inquiry was a farce, and its proposals were largely rather poor”. I mean, Lord Justice Leveson? Who does he think he is?
The Red Scare even affected Jim Waterson at BuzzFeed, who claimed erroneously “Corbyn directly threatens four national papers by name”, which does not augur well for the Guardian’s media coverage. Fortunately, Paul Waugh was there to confirm that Jezza meant the enactment of Leveson 2. Which was in the Labour manifesto. A measure which was passed by Parliament by acclamation. Still, details, eh?