Veteran BBC broadcaster David Dimbleby has hit out at the British media for failing to give Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn “fair” coverage in the run-up to the June 8 general election.
Dimbleby, who will be reporting the election results for a 10th time in his distinguished broadcasting career, echoed the long-standing complaint among Corbyn’s supporters that coverage of the Labour chief tends to suffer from a right-wing bias and from “lazy pessimism.”
“I don’t think anyone could say that Corbyn has had a fair deal at the hands of the press, in a way that the Labour Party did when it was more to the center, but then we generally have a right-wing press,” he said in an interview with the Radio Times.
Speaking ahead of a BBC Question Time special on Thursday, in which he will question both Prime Minister Theresa May and the Labour leader, Dimbleby said nothing in this election should be taken for granted despite the Tory lead in the polls.
“My own prediction is that, contrary to the skepticism and lazy pessimism of the newspapers and the British media, it’s going to be a really fascinating night, and it will drive home some messages about our political system and the political appeal of different parties that no amount of polling or reading the papers will tell us,” Dimbleby said.
“Polls? You can have them until the cows come home. For me, the exit poll is the starting gun for a political roller coaster ride, and a night of thrills and spills.”
Although Corbyn has suffered rebellions among his own MPs in Parliament, Dimbleby pointed out the Labour leader enjoys overwhelming grassroots support.
“It’s a very odd election,” Dimbleby said.
“If the Conservative story is how Theresa May is the ‘brand leader,’ the interesting thing is that a lot of Labour supporters really like and believe in the messages that Jeremy Corbyn is bringing across.
“It’s not his MPs in the House of Commons necessarily, but there is a lot of support in the country.”
Labour Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell recently said the media’s “appalling” coverage of Corbyn’s leadership is the “worst” any politician has ever had to face.
He called it an example of the “establishment using its power in the media to try and destroy an individual and what he stands for.”
Just last month, analysis revealed that the majority of reports on Corbyn are critical of his leadership, and that he is more likely to be attacked by the media than Tory leader May.
Loughborough University found a “considerable majority” of reports attack Corbyn, while coverage of the Conservatives appears to be much more balanced, with negative reports offset by an equal number of positive news stories.
A separate study by the London School of Economics last year found up to 75 percent of press coverage misrepresented the Labour leader.
Such “antagonism” hinders freedom of speech, represses opposition and thus falls short of “serving democracy,” the study claimed.