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DECEMBER’S general election laid bare the BBC’s anti-Labour bias. Not a day went by without some kind of thinly veiled attack on the party — from Laura Kuenssberg’s close breach of electoral laws to the smug looks of BBC journalists when the disastrous exit poll came in.
Former university lecturer Richard House watched the public broadcaster’s coverage in horror. Over the election period, he sent complaint after complaint to the BBC, demanding the broadcaster redress its imbalanced reporting. But the academic’s concerns fell on deaf ears.
So House decided to take his campaign one step further — now he is calling for an independent inquiry into the BBC’s coverage of the 2019 general election.
House, who has been campaigning for Labour full-time since retiring from his university role, started a petition on Change.org earlier this month.
In it he argues that the public broadcaster broke its own guidelines by failing to provide fair and balanced reporting.
The BBC has repeatedly dismissed accusations of bias as “conspiracy theories.” But the numerous incidents of misreporting, one-sided debates and outright lies which have largely worked against the Labour Party and its leader Jeremy Corbyn, heavily suggests otherwise.
I asked House which election incidents got under his skin the most. He gave a long list.
“I was appalled by the BBC’s wall-to-wall coverage for 36 hours of the Chief Rabbi’s message not to vote for Labour,” he tells me.
“It was completely uncritical and the BBC failed to mention for a long time that he was already a Tory supporter and friend of Boris Johnson.”
House went on to decry the false Tweets by BBC journalists about a fictitious attack by a Labour activist on a Tory minister and the platforming of right-wing Labour MPs over left-wing ones.
Oh, and who can forget the BBC’s decision to edit out audience laughter at the PM and replace it with applause?
House’s call for an inquiry has gained rapid support, with over 4,000 signatures in just a few weeks and hundreds of comments bursting with outrage.
Many exclaimed they no longer trusted a single word uttered by the Beeb. The petition has also attracted some prominent signatories including British environmentalist John Porritt and one university vice-chancellor.
Other groups have also backed the call for an independent inquiry including press scrutinisers Media Lens.
The site’s co-founders David Cromwell and David Edwards highlight the broadcaster and corporate media’s absurd portrayal of Corbyn as a “moral monster” while ignoring the “gargantuan crimes of the Blairs, Camerons and Johnsons,” such as their role in the Iraqi, Yemeni, Libyan and Syrian conflicts.
“The simple reason is that their crimes have been declared a non-issue by an awesomely corrupt system of media corporations, including BBC News, serving the power of which they are an integral part,” they explain.
Although the pair support calls for an independent inquiry, they argue that the remit should be widened beyond the BBC’s 2019 election coverage.
“BBC News has supported established power for decades, indeed since the broadcaster’s founding in the 1920s, and continually propagates a skewed version of world events to ‘justify,’ minimise or blank the grievous crimes of ‘our’ government and its allies.”
House hopes that an inquiry would be conducted by a top university media studies department. He doesn’t want regulator Ofcom’s hands anywhere near it.
For the retired lecturer seeking answers from the BBC and ensuring that they follow their guidelines of maintaining neutrality is paramount to the future of the Labour Party.
“As Labour supporters we have to create our own narrative, we have to wake people up to what is happening. If we don’t the danger is that we will have to climb a mountain to get back in again.”
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