It has been reported by Politics Home today that “Journalists from The Sun have been banned from attending a festival organised by the pro-Jeremy Corbyn campaign group Momentum”. Why so? “Momentum said the paper had ‘smeared’ victims of the 1989 Hillsborough stadium disaster - in which 96 Liverpool fans died - and it was backing a long-running boycott of the title in the city”. Quite so. So what’s the problem?
The Liverpool waterfront. And one of the famous Mersey ferries
After all, the Super Soaraway Currant Bun is banned from an increasing number of retail outlets across Merseyside, and both Liverpool and Everton have banned the paper’s alleged journalists from their grounds. What the Sun, under the then less than benign editorship of the deeply unpleasant Kelvin McFilth, did in the aftermath of Hillsborough was beyond the pale. But the paper did have some defenders.
After Matt Dathan, a Murdoch creep of no known ability, sniped “Sorry to see the @PeoplesMomentum has banned The Sun from attending its World Transformed conference next week. Didn't realise they were supporters of press censorship” (they aren’t, because they are accrediting some real journalists), and the low moaning noise that is Desperate Dan Hodges griped “There we go. Momentum are now banning journalists. Change is coming”, help for the Murdoch goons arrived from an unexpected quarter.
“This is outrageous - banning journalists because you don’t like their paper’s editorial line smacks more of Donald Trump than the lovely open, democratic social movement Momentum aspires to be” protested Heather Stewart. Who she? Only the Guardian’s joint political editor (she shares the role with Anushka Asthana). An editor. At the Guardian.
Abi Wilkinson tried her best to gently appraise Ms Stewart of the reality in Liverpool vis-à-vis the Sun. “It would be pretty awkward flouting the citywide boycott when you’ve probably got loads of local volunteers who observe it, though”.
Did this understanding reach its target? Perhaps not, as Ms Stewart then followed up with “TWT in touch to say not *banning* Sun, who were invited last year; but respecting those in Liverpool who boycott it over Hillsborough. But does a campaign against buying/reading paper [for completely legit reasons!] make it OK to lock out its reporters?”
Ms Wilkinson once again tried to impart some of those Real World Facts. “They don’t get invited to cover Everton or Liverpool matches either, or to most other cultural events. It’s part of the boycott and TWT has to take a stance - either way there’s no neutral option”.
Indeed. One hates to go all Neil Kinnock, given his reputation in the city is not good, but it’s jaw-dropping to see a Guardian editor - a Guardian editor - being so ignorant of the backstory. As Ross McCafferty put it, “Lot of wilful ignorance floating about in journalism Twitter atm. If you don't know about why the Liverpool/Sun issue is about SLIGHTLY more than censorship I don't know what to tell you”. Got it in one.
Dan Hancox then put the lid on it: “I see the hacks-4-hacks lobby is about one take away from ‘snowflake Hillsborough families should take on Kelvin MacKenzie in the marketplace of ideas’”. And this hard on the heels of the paper spiking a piece critical of Murdoch.
Get knowledgeable about Hillsborough. Respect the 96. And don’t buy the Sun.
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