Thoughts on the Media and the EU Referendum

Al Jazeera’s Listening Post programme on the EU referendum media coverage was just broadcast. They only used about 5% of what they recorded of me, split into four soundbites to fit their format. I think the much more interesting points I made were not used at all. So just for the record, I also made these points:

a) I did not accept the argument that the BBC was biased in the referendum campaign towards Brexit. Indeed especially in the last few days, I thought it was biased towards Remain.
b) However the BBC had been guilty of helping promote Brexit by giving Farage massive and disproportionate publicity for many years, from when UKIP was a negligible electoral force. They were always willing to give right wings views publicity but not left wing views.
c) The right wing print media were indeed a major problem distorting democracy. However the solution to this should be to break up media ownership, not impose government control of content.
d) Project Fear had not succeeded in the Scottish referendum. It had seen a 35 point unionist lead cut to a 10 point lead, making it one of the most disastrous campaigns in history. The question of why Project Fear “succeeded” in Scotland but not the EU referendum was therefore a false one.
e) Media coverage focused on the despised political class rather than the facts.

I do not blame Al Jazeera at all or accuse them of doing anything unethical – they were looking for soundbites for their broadcast. But I do think the above points which they did not broadcast, were a great deal more interesting than their programme!

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