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Bullying the Beeb: An online petition calling for Laura Kuenssberg to be sacked was overrun with misogynistic abuse (© BBC/Phil Coomes)


Nothing revives memories of Marxism so much as Communism’s former opponents on the Right. Their denunciations of uncomfortable facts as the lies of malicious men, and their determination to control heretical thought, reek of the cultural commissar.

Accept, or at least entertain, the comparison and the Right’s rage against broadcasters is no longer mysterious. At first glance, it is not only mysterious but inexplicable. British broadcast news is required to be impartial, yet it receives levels of abuse far beyond anything directed at conservatives’ avowed enemies in the left-wing press.

The Murdoch papers, Telegraph and Mail go for the BBC on the smallest pretext or no pretext at all. Naturally, the existence of a publicly-funded rival infuriates them—a good materialist reason for their media-class hatred which Marx would have understood. But no one should doubt that ideology trumps commercial interests. The BBC competes with the liberal and centrist press too. Yet the Guardian, Observer, Economist and FT deliver none of the same venom.

The ideological assault on broadcasters is bringing practical consequences, which threaten liberal society. Only the Conservative government’s slender majority stopped it bending the BBC to its political will by packing the corporation’s board with government supporters. When ITV said it was going to hold a debate between Nigel Farage and David Cameron, Vote Leave (which wants to promote its own Boris Johnson or Michael Gove in Farage’s place) delivered a warning full of dictatorial menace: “ITV has effectively joined the IN campaign and there will be consequences for the future—the people in No 10 won’t be there for long.”

John Whittingdale, the Culture Secretary and Vote Leave campaigner, did nothing to disassociate himself from the thuggish threat. He called on ITV to think again or face a referral to Ofcom about its “extraordinary” decision. (Never, incidentally, has that Soviet bloc title “Culture Secretary” sounded more minatory than now.)

The Left is aping the Right.  Supporters of the Labour leader launched a petition to sack the BBC’s political editor, Laura Kuenssberg because of her alleged bias against the party. Peppering their assault with cries of “bitch” and “whore”, they proved yet again that sexism is as persistent a vice on the far Left as anti-Semitism. There is a danger of getting lost in the minutiae of each dispute, and missing the passions that drive so many of them. As British society fragments, its pieces hold on to their “truths,” which are not true in whole or even in most of their parts.

The old Marxists provide a warning. They had their truth: “scientific socialism”.  They held that those who contested it could not be acting in good faith. Their class privilege compelled them to the truth of Marx and Lenin’s findings. What strikes me looking back was they did not only direct their polemics at Marxism’s avowed opponents. Just as the Left of the 1980s would sometimes say that at least Margaret Thatcher stood up for the interests of her class, unlike the Labour sellouts, so Marxists could accept the capitalist critic as honest in his own way. Far more insidious were the supposed purveyors of impartial fact who hid their prejudices behind a mask of objectivity.

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Uberwest
July 3rd, 2016
10:07 AM
The Murdochs own neither the DT or the Mail. What is it with socialists, smears and fact-checking?

observer
May 29th, 2016
12:05 PM
Does Cohen think his readers are completely ignorant, uninformed or just plain stupid? He makes the following observation: "The BBC competes with the liberal and centrist press too. Yet the Guardian, Observer, Economist and FT deliver none of the same venom." Competition or not the attitudes to very many issues expressed in these publications are comfortably in harmony with those held by the BBC. This is not a conspiracy - more a case of a cosy consensus of opinion. Cohen, who is fond of rubbishing right wingers as cranks and conspiracy theorists himself hints at a conspiracy by the right wing press to subvert its publicly funded "rival" (hope you're not scared of the scare quotes). This is much more than mere commercial rivalry. As I'm sure Cohen is aware the BBC has enormous power and influence over public opinion and its liberal left bias has been acknowledged.

John Traynor
May 28th, 2016
2:05 PM
As Cohen is aware, the criticism of broadcasters is not coming from Marxists or communists. But, Cohen is not interested in truthful analysis. He just wants to criticise communism but has no tools with which to do that, nether factually or intellectually, so he clams others' mistakes are the mistakes of communists. Fraud.

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