Our free and fearless press is hot on freedom of speech issues, especially when it comes to themselves. And woe betide any political party or organisation which attempts to impede that freedom, especially if it is anywhere to the left of Attila the Hun. But that same press is also prone to displaying double standards, so when another media outlet was revealed to have been subjected to arbitrary censorship yesterday, most papers came over all coy.
That may have been because Channel 4 News was the outlet being shut out, and the Brexit Party the organisation doing the censoring. As Paul Waugh of the HuffPost told, “Blimey. @Channel4News says it has been told by @TheBrexitPartly it has been banned from all future events hosted by the party. They have apparently been blacklisted because of an incident involving access to a Leave Means Leave rally 6 weeks ago”.
(c) Steve Bell 2016
There was more. “I'm told Channel 4 News only became aware of the ban after report last [Thursday] into how Arron Banks bankrolled his lifestyle to the tune of £450k”. So the ban has been in place for some days now. And what is yet more disturbing is the attitude shown by those within the party who are standing for election this week.
Take Lance Forman (or is it Lance Anisfeld?), the businessman and hypocrite standing in London. “Preventing them from one rally is a form of saying they’re wrong? Ch4 are not there to report news fairly. They are there to damage the Party. All other press is invited so it’s not a blanket press ban by any means. Channel 4 need to put their house in order and report fairly”. They must report in accordance with party requirements.
Also, anything that is deemed to damage the party cannot be reported. Media freedom can only exist when and if the party approves it. That sounds fascist, because it is fascist. So, apart from the Guardian, who in the press establishment has even mentioned the ban? Right now, that would appear to be no-one. Not even a mention.
Nor, whisper it quietly, is there the usual new media outrage from the likes of Spiked at this blatant act of censorship. No howls of protest, none of the feverish lobbying that accompanied the press campaign to avoid Section 40 of the Crime and Courts Act, or Part 2 of the Leveson Inquiry. No pushback at Lance Forman.
His disturbing invective continued: “The BP are hosting a ticketed rally. It’s a privilege to attend. Ch4 blatantly breach their own obligations. Snow admitted to bias and recently apologised for his own bias but they continue to act in this way. They should put their own house in order first before attacking others”. They must behave in accordance with the party’s wishes. Insolence will not be tolerated.
Had the ban been of the Murdoch Sun, or Daily Mail, we would not have heard the last of it, especially if it had been Labour, the Lib Dems or Greens doing it. Instead, there is silence. Bad news for the press’ reputation. Worse news for democracy.
As Cyrus Bales put it, “Channel 4 News won seven Royal Television awards this year … The Brexit party has now banned Channel 4 from all of their events”.
Fascism no longer arrives as a military force. But the tactics remain the same.
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