1st August 2016
Archie Bland has written an article in The Guardian, dated yesterday, 31st July 2016:
For the purposes of this post, I’d ask readers to scroll to the end, where you’ll see a reference to an earlier statement which had been removed:
We’re very pleased to see that the penny is finally beginning to drop with The Guardian, or at least with one of its journalists.
Although the damaging implications of such an error are not explored, mentioned or even hinted at by Archie, we hope that this (limited) acceptance and willingness to clarify is followed up and built upon by his colleagues Anushka Asthana and Hadley Freeman.
They’ve both written articles, one of which repeated this falsehood. The other, a sympathetic interview with Angela Eagle, failed to enquire of Angela why she’d allowed what she and Anushka must have known to be inaccurate assertions to stand uncorrected, to be built upon and to multiply, virus-like, across the UK’s printed, visual and audio media.
We’ve discussed the issues with Anushka on Twitter and both authors still have an opportunity to follow Archie Bland’s lead and make corrections, perhaps with an explanation as to why it was necessary and why it was delayed.
Readers may be pondering, ‘why is this important’?
It’s because there was an almighty failure by at least a dozen newspapers who, on 12th July, ran with a story that was fundamentally inaccurate, with a central assertion that:
- Angela Eagle’s office window had been smashed by a brick
- Angela Eagle’s office / surgery had been attacked by somebody
All the relevant stories are here:
- Daily Telegraph
- London Evening Standard
- Daily Express
- Daily Mail
- The Guardian
- Daily Star
- The S*n (not linking here)
- Huffington Post
- The i Newspaper
- The Liverpool Echo
- The Wirral Globe
Further irresponsible statements from interviews, taken in reaction to the incident, implied or claimed that Corbyn supporters were involved – with no evidence to support such implications or claims.
Many of the reports failed to make it clear that Angela was not present at the time, in fact nobody was present at the time – because it happened overnight, some time on 11th or 12th July.
Some wider context would be advisable. At the very least, 6.89 million printed newspaper readers (that’s excluding online viewers) will have absorbed the main falsehood, got angry – who knows? Then found their anger being inflamed by Angela Eagle’s accompanying statements, calling for Jeremy Corbyn to “call off” the people who were behind this – with absolutely no evidence that the throwing of the brick was connected to the Corbyn leadership campaign.
I am a constituent of Anglea’s and her cynical, reckless conduct here and loose grasp of the facts was to me simply hideous, unforgivable and was the same kind of scraping of the barrel so often indulged in by the woeful gutter press that Angela often queues up to publicly criticise.
This is rank hypocrisy in all its glory. But if history is to be believed, it’s something to be expected of politicians – a point not addressed incidentally by Archie Bland – who in his own article above, largely fell into the trap of ascribing Jo Cox MP’s brand of goodness to the same old hard-bitten villains – whom we won’t mention by name but who don’t deserve it. You’ll know who they are by reading the article.
An initial IPSOS complaint has been lodged with The Daily Telegraph. This action was not possible with The Guardian as they do not subscribe, but it will be followed by further complaints re: other newspapers.
Whilst the limited action taken on behalf of Archie Bland is welcome, it does not amount to full acknowledgment. Time is of the essence and there’s a very important leadership ballot ending on 21st September, followed by a crucial announcement at Labour’s autumn conference.
In order for the results of this election to be fairly arrived at and not to have been unfairly influenced, full, global retractions and apologies are required by all those responsible.
In my opinion, full reparations are due, utilising the same column space as the originals, accompanied by printed and online apologies.
The initial actions were reckless and irresponsible, yet foreseeable and avoidable. The newspapers’ ongoing failure to act accordingly upon written, verbal and online complaints has only succeeded in entrenching their now untenable positions.