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No, Corbyn doesn’t need to win over the MSM – he needs to talk directly to the people

by BlackCatte

Corbyn’s best endorsement, both of his integrity and his potential power, is the media hate being poured on him; and his best – in fact his only – hope of getting his undiluted message across lies with Twitter, Facebook and alt news outlets.

“Let’s be honest,” says Owen Jones in the Guardian today, “if social media were as politically invaluable as the left would like, Labour would now be in office with a majority of 150.”

Owen Jones is one of the few columnists the Guardian employs who is still worth listening to. But here I think he’s completely wrong. The reason Labour didn’t win the last general election has nothing to do with the power of social media and everything to do with the fact that Labour under Milliband was offering no real alternative. Diluted Blairism and pink-stained Toryism say nothing to people who know what’s needed is a wholesale change away from divisive unfairness, war and poverty toward inclusiveness, justice and peace. Why vote for Labour when they are indistinguishable from the Conservatives? Why bother voting at all when it’s a choice with no choice?

That’s why 34% of potential voters stayed home.

(And remember our antiquated voting system means we currently have an incumbent in No.10 put there by less than 25% of the electorate. So let’s not get too silly about the level of popular endorsement for Conservative policies.)

Owen’s message is that the MSM is still the vital arbiter of public opinion, and that Corbyn needs to win the press over if he is to have a chance of forming a serious opposition. But I think one of those claims is questionable and the other is palpably absurd.

The MSM campaign against Corbyn has made it clear – even to those who may still have doubted it – that it has no interest in fair hearings, democracy or the popular will. In fact, if nothing else, Corbyn’s election as Labour leader has succeeded in stripping away the last vestiges of decent concealment from the mainstream press and revealed it for what it is today – a brainless, braying mouthpiece built and maintained to help impose an increasingly grotesque system of mass poverty on an increasingly restive population.

Over the last thirty years,and without most of us noticing, our post-war consensus democracy, with its commitment to fairness, inclusiveness and caring for its disadvantaged, has been undergoing reconstruction into a neo-feudal society of 99% largely disempowered serfs ruled over by the 1% uber-class. This metamorphosis has had to be concealed from people’s awareness, and the mainstream media was also reconstructed – divested of its real journalists and much of its independence – in order to act as the PR team for this “new world order,” selling every creeping change, no matter how anti-democratic as “democracy”.

The only thing that has so far stopped this transformation from being completely effective is the internet and the alternative media that flourishes there. While every major organ from the UK Sun to the NYT shills for Empire, it’s the likes of Democracy Now!, Global Research, and the Intercept – as well as numerous smaller outfits – that increasingly serve the function of true news outlets and increasingly set the parameters of the possible. This is why the mainstream journals are losing readership, losing credibility and being slowly shuffled closer and closer toward irrelevance.

Corbyn’s election as leader is not just a sea change in politics, it’s also the clearest sign yet of the waning power of the MSM. They put their entire power behind ensuring this man was not elected leader of the Labour Party. And they failed. Laughably.

Now they are putting their entire power behind ensuring he never becomes Prime Minister. Why does Owen assume so unquestioningly they will succeed? Why is he so keen to assert the limits of social media when all the evidence shows its power is now considerable? And why does he think any “mainstream media offensive” Corbyn did would make a difference?

When Owen warns Corbyn’s team that they need to “communicate” with the MSM, and that “Twitter and packed halls are not enough: a mainstream media offensive is crucial – or the smears will stick,” I think he needs to ask himself a question – What could Corbyn do or say to the mainstream now that would persuade them to give him a fair hearing?

Owen must know the answer to that is – nothing – short of abandoning every single one of his “controversial” policies designed to bring back some fragment of justice to our unjust society.

This isn’t some sort of misunderstanding going on here. The press aren’t anti-Corbyn because they don’t get what he stands for. They are anti-Corbyn because they do get what he stands for, and their paymasters will continue to make sure they remain anti-Corbyn for as long as he holds to those principles of fairness and decency they want eradicated from world politics.

Owen needs to take off those mainstream media -tinted specs and realise what is in play right now. Corbyn’s best endorsement, both of his integrity and his potential power, is the media hate being poured on him; and his best – in fact his only – hope of getting his undiluted message across lies with Twitter, Facebook and alt news outlets.

If his team are seeing that and boldly grasping that then good for them, and Owen Jones needs to support them. Maybe Corbyn’s brave stand is doomed to failure. But it’s still the only real hope right now for any one looking for real change.

For Corbyn’s first PM’s Question Time today he asked ordinary people to email him issues they wanted raised – and he stood by his word and put these questions to the House. Every time he mentioned the name of one of those ordinary people, some MPs could be heard sniggering.

Right there we can see everything that’s currently right with Corbyn and wrong with, well – all the rest of them

Owen – for heaven’s sake really get behind this man and stop using your platform in a major media outlet to undermine him in the name of offering “advice.”


  1. leigh says

    Would agree with most of this if I hadn’t lived through Scottish referendum. Older generation are more likely to vote and still use MSM as main source of news unless alternative media outlets can find ways of reaching them the newly enthused younger generation will be drowned out.

  2. Pingback: No, Corbyn doesn’t need to win over the MSM – he needs to talk directly to the people | Road To Somewhere Else

  3. Klaus says

    Good article. Corbyn should expect no favours from the tripehounds of the mainstream media. They have their jobs to do. If this clumsy, often laughable and childishly inept hatchet-job on Corbyn teaches us anything it’s that what scares them the most is plain speech from an honest man. Something Eugene Debs pointed out years ago.

    Who knows, if enough people see clearly through the agenda of the mainstream media, they could start asking awkward questions about parliament. Like what it’s for and who owns it.

    It’s true, everything changed after the Scottish referendum.

  4. Mikaelvuo says

    Good article! Prof. Noam Chomsky have already decades spoken, that the key to the real democracy is behind the media.
    Mayby the internet makes in near future possibility to create a big independent daily media in internet.

    Forexemple “OffGuardian” could start to make an own cooperative daily media
    – Cooperative financing. All kinds of human rights and environments organisations, trade unions, theatres, galleries, hospitals, small communities, individuals etc. could each begun to pay a small payment every month ( individuals between 1 -10 pound and organisations between 50 – 200 pound).
    – The new cooperative media collect good articles from thousands activists, experts and professors. They could create an own place to twitter tweets from different topics (environment, economy, society, culture, clima…). From this massive information flow the editors could quickly pick the best ones and ask assistance from that person how did send it.

    Through free and creative ideas the cooperative mass media could influence the public opinion and
    it could be in important keyroll to a healthier democracy, laws, environment and justice. A media for the 99 percents!

  5. Owen Jones (billed as author and columnist on the Guardian and one of the most noted social critical commentators) is now scheduled to appear in Stockholm on Monday evening 21/9 to discuss ‘Whither Labour’ with a journalist from Swedish left of centre tabloid Aftonbladet. (Although pretty much all Swedish media are now nato shills barking the Russians are coming these days. Long gone pretentions of Swedish neutrality).
    Mind boggling.

  6. Owen Jones stresses the importance of the MSM because that’s what pays his wages. He’s hardly likely to sideline his own team, is he?

  7. The MSM’s influence may be waning, but it’s far from gone, and I would argue is probably still strongest among the Middle England Swing Voter minority who, thanks to our ludicrous FPTP system, basically get to decide the result of elections for the rest of us. And Social Media much of the time tends to act as an echo chamber rather than seriously challenging one’s existing opinions – many people will unfriend/block each other rather than read stuff they disagree with.

    I think you are right that the MSM will never get behind Corbyn because of the threat he poses to Establishment power. My only hope is that the MSM’s hate for Corbyn is so transparent and over-the-top that even the most impressionable Sun reader will eventually think “hang on a minute, this is a bit much” and starts to question the daily diet of FUD and outright lies they are being fed. We can but hope.

    And in the meantime, I think more than alt news sites or social media, the most effective way to change people’s minds might be to talk to them face-to-face. I’ve re-joined Labour in order to contribute to campaigning in person, on the streets and door-to-door, delivering a message of hope directly to the people. The more people do this, the better our chance of success.

    By the way, bit of a #mathsfail: “That’s why 44% of potential voters stayed home.” The turnout was 66%. You might like to try that calculation again 😉

    • mog says

      I agree about the face to face, although real world interaction often quickly leads to links in the social media, so I don’t see that it detracts from BlackCatte’s arguments, which I agree with.
      The middle england swing voters would seem much less significant in a political scene where a whole swath of disengaged people are brought into the political sphere by the prospect of genuine representation.
      I think the 44% stayed home comprised of the 34% who were registered and didn’t vote plus another 10% unregistered members of the public. I would stand corrected though.

      • Steve says

        failure to register incurs a possible 2000 pound fine in UK. If 10% of the population are willing to risk this it must mean something.

  8. Jennifer Hor says

    The fact that Jeremy Corbyn won the British Labour Party leadership in a landslide in spite of the vicious and vociferous media campaign mounted against demonstrates how irrelevant and redundant the so-called mainstream news media has become. There is no need for Corbyn to contact the MSM and understand how it operates, much less “win it over” by grovelling to it and selling out the people who voted for him.

    I detect a note of dissembling and desperation in Owen Jones’ article. If Corbyn can succeed without press support, what does that say about the usefulness of the media in contemporary society? The MSM only serves as a PR mouthpiece for its masters and Owen Jones must surely be aware of the part he is supposed to play.

  9. Ajit Hegde says

    Totally agree with this blog post. Mainstream media allows some token leftists so that it can pretend how broadminded it is. Actually it is a stratagem to render the leftists impotent. Look how those token leftists censor themselves, try to make sure they don’t offend mainstream media even when they are not writing for it.

    I came across some news item saying Guardian Comment is free has allowed a separate blog for Corbyn. The last thing Corbyn needs to do is to post there.

    He should not make mainstream media respectable by associating with them. There are countless alt media outlets who would be happy to publish him , and he doesn’t even need to adjust himself, compromise himself to fit for mainstream straightjacket.

    Let mainstream media slowly sink into irrelevance.

  10. Orion says

    Another commenter says “The media is an access point to real people” But this is only true if the media accurately and fairly reports what is said to it. The commenter seems to have missed the point that our media does not listen or report fairly. This is the problem. Owen’s article attempts to put over the old idea that the media is simply reflection of popular opinion. It’s no such thing.

  11. Hilda McGrann says

    Speaking to ANY media is speaking to real people! !!!

    • Orion says

      I don’t believe this article says anything about ‘real people’.

  12. Greg says

    Great article. Steer clear of Democracy Now though, they are funded by George Soros and Rockefeller – ‘controlled opposition’ and anything but independent. Boiling Frogs Post provide the best (truly) independent, ‘alternative’ news IMO.

    • christoph says

      I agree. democracy Now is an oxymoron. I am sorry but Amy Goodman is a ruse for as you say, Soros.

  13. Janet B says

    A very good article. I agree with Owen Jones on a lot of issues but on this one I think he’s wrong.

  14. Michaelk says

    The crucial conceit of the liberal left, people like Jones, is that in society there’s a big ‘misunderstanding’ going on, to put it simply. This is fundamentally wrong and leads to a lot of wasted time and energy, and wrong-headed thinking. Society, and the media ‘church’, aren’t mistaken about Corbyn and what he represents. Lines haven’t been ‘crossed’ and purposes are fully understood. Jones is delusional. The media is a reflection of society at large, which means it’s corrupt, grossly unfair, unequal, and as the campaign against Corbyn shows with obvious clarity, massively biased against ordinary people and democracy. Why does Jones imagine that if Corbyn reaches out to the media and begs to make friends, anyone will take him up on the offer? After all, apart from Jones himself, who else is there willing to even listen to Corbyn? I think Jones has to write this kind of stuff, which, let’s be honest, makes next to no sense, because he is part of the same media that’s out to destroy Corbyn, or anyone else with his views who looks like they are ready to challenge the central tenets of ‘Thatcherism’. Jones is trying shift the debate from the dreadful state of all the media, including the paper he works for, onto Corbyn, which is rather unfair. Corbyn could be young, handsome, with charisma to burn, a woman, with the rhetorical gifts of Cicero; and he’d still be savaged by the media. That’s the media’s role. Yet Jones refuses to acknowledge this fundamental truth. That’s the central conceit. That’s what he chooses to ‘misunderstand’, because he has to, to remain credible to his employers.

    • Hilda McGrann says

      Its not about the media, its about the people watching. The media are just an access point to real people who there is very little time to make a good impression on

  15. Here here! This is exactly what happened in Scotland before #indyref. The people of Scotland, whether indigenous or incomers like me, became immune to the press and without Social Media the 48% for YES would have been much lower. People were talking to each other, you could feel the energy.
    The run up to the leadership election felt a lot like last sept here. Corbyn won despite the MSM tidal wave against him. And what do they do now? Get cross when he won’t speak to them at 1am when he has probably been up for nearly 24 hours! Or pick on his wardrobe. You are right, there will be no pleasing them. He may as well not bother wasting energy trying. I like Owen but agree with you on this.
    I am no longer shocked by the press but I have been taking a keen interest in HoC on the net since the 56 went to Westminster. And I am shocked and appalled by the behaviour the majority of the house. Yesterday was a perfect example. If they are debating law that effects everyday folk, why do they sneer and laugh when other debate. It’s a disgrace. I thought Corbyn was brilliant today. I can’t wait for Osborne head to head with McDonnell. These men strike me as sound and want to make a difference to ordinary folk, not just be in power. Jez4pm

  16. Guest says

    Brilliant article; it has been sickening the way the whole of the MSM have attacked Corbyn and its only 4 days since he was elected. The BBC, guardian, telegraph, independent , not a single MSM outlet has given him a fair hearing. He won by a landslide it wasn’t even close.
    I agree with pwest9 comments about Owen Jones who works for a so called liberal guardian. What a turncoat.
    Corbyn was elected without the MSM he needs to do what he does bed and engage with the public through other means.

  17. Excellent analysis with which I concur. Owen Jones has shown how far he has shifted into the new Guardian mode with his comments and has really let himself down again. Corbyn has to reach past the MSM as you suggest and he has to eschew the PMQs debacle which he cannot win. However we can win if he reaches out to us and is more inclusive as he suggests. My greatest fear is Labour voices from the Party and quite frankly their answers to questions on Corbyn and McDonnell are dreadful. I don’t think it is about policy I think it is about them being up to the job or not. This particular elephant in the room is about their consensus being threatened and their cosy existence in Westminster. Thanks for a good article

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