Today, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn is delivering the Alternative MacTaggart Lecture at the Edinburgh TV Festival. The event sees him propose democratisation of the BBC, along with moves to ensure the Corporation’s independence from Government and other political interference. He is also proposing a strengthening of Freedom of Information legislation, removing ministerial vetoes on information release.
As Sky News has reported, Jezza “also wants to boost local, investigative and public interest journalism through the granting of charitable status, creating an independent fund paid for by tech giants, and expanding a current BBC-government scheme”. But, as with so many other Corbyn events, much of the media establishment has fixated on ways not to listen to his proposals, but to peddle falsehood and misinformation.
So it was that normally objective Channel 4 News man Michael Crick decided to shoot first, and ask questions afterwards. “I'm hearing that for tomorrow's speech by Jeremy Corbyn about media freedom, news cameras are banned - ‘no room’ we're told. Instead the organisers will distribute a transcript and video clips after the event. Wow! There's a good way to challenge people in power!” Then he refined his position.
“Labour have rung to say it's not their decision that news cameras are banned from tomorrow's Edinburgh TV festival lecture on press freedom by Jeremy Corbyn but the festival organisers, who are distributing their own video output. If so, the organisers should be ashamed”. So Labour were not banning anything.
And he had to refine that position again later: “I'm hearing that the Festival have shifted their policy and are now planning to let one news camera in for Corbyn tomorrow, for material to be shared by all broadcast outlets. I still can't see why they don't let news cameras in from any broadcaster who turns up”. But it’s not Labour’s call.
In fact, the event will be streamed live on YouTube - thus ensuring that there is no selective editing of Jezza’s words. And it wasn’t Labour’s call. But the talking points were already being firmed up, the lines to take being decided - and it was Jezza’s fault.
Thus it was that the low moaning sound emitted by the Mail on Sunday’s not even slightly celebrated blues artiste Whinging Dan Hodges carped “So if news cameras aren't banned, which news cameras will be filming the speech [the question marks still ain’t making it] … So no news cameras then … Nope, it's not tricky. It's very simple. No news cameras will be allowed access to his speech”. It was becoming Jezza’s call in the retelling.
And those who thought Hodges was bad were soon disabused of that notion when the odious flannelled fool Master Harry Cole, the pretend “journalist” who claims to be the Sun’s “Westminster Correspondent”, decided to talk well, but lie badly, on the subject. “Tomorrow Corbyn will give a speech about the future of the media - including the BBC, but his henchmen are currently blocking broadcast quality camera crews from attending and have promised instead to distribute clips afterwards”. Pack of lies. Again.
There was more in the same vein. “After uproar from broadcast colleagues, Labour have relented and found space for TV at Corbyn speech about TV. Thanks for all the explainers about how it was out of their control tho”. Lying again. Not Labour’s call.
This had to be explained to Master Cole and all the other purveyors of creative thought by Boyd Hilton of Heat magazine who told “The TV Festival has its own camera crews filming every session; to my knowledge they've never had external cameras, news or not, film anyone. It's just how the festival works”. Much ado about nothing, it seems.
He also reminded those suffering stampy tantrums over what wasn’t Labour’s call “He’s just this year’s speaker in an annual slot as part of the TV Festival. And this is how it works. It’s filmed and the footage is shared with whoever wants it, and anyone in attendance can try to ask him a question. Seems perfectly fair”.
So it does. And the reaction has told us rather a lot about the media in general, and our free and fearless press in particular. Michael Crick got a little ahead of himself, but realised it wasn’t Labour’s call and framed his observations accordingly. Dan Hodges whinged about Labour under Corbyn. And Master Harry Cole just invented another malicious pack of lies in the hope that those on the 13th floor will throw him a biscuit.
It was left to campaigner Sue Marsh to make the statement of the bleeding obvious: “Corbyn's team are going to a lot of trouble to make sure people can see this speech and know it's happening. That it can be easily shared in full. Unusual”.
But that’s not part of the establishment agenda, so it won’t appear anywhere in the broadcast or print media any time soon. I’ll just leave that one there.
Enjoy your visit to Zelo Street? You can help this truly independent blog carry on talking truth to power, while retaining its sense of humour, by adding to its Just Giving page at