The Corbyn Interview: 10 steps to BBC bias

Last week the BBC took four minutes out of their busy, entirely non-biased schedule, to interview Jeremy Corbyn, the controversial (democratically elected) new leader of the Labour party. The interview – which was not in any way biased – examined Corbyn’s views on the abolition of Trident. Quite why the Beeb needed to interview Corbyn on this topic is unclear, particularly as he’s been openly protesting against the use of nuclear weapons since around 900 BC.

Below is a copy of the full interview. While watching, try to remember that this isn’t the Daily Mail or the Express, or even some opinionated, Murdoch-owned rag. This is the BBC, designed to provide nothing more than a list of facts, supposedly covering all rational sides of a debate.

As someone who works in the PR industry and always enjoys a bit of media spin, this interview is pure poetry. Its effort to discredit both Corbyn and the abolition of Trident is so clearly transparent, and yet it still somehow manages to succeed with a smug flourish. I’ve provided a quick 10 step summary below:

1. First we are told that Jeremy Corbyn has been publicly criticised by several senior colleagues – a perfectly fair and true statement. (0:01)

2. Next we cut to a shot of Corbyn walking away at the end of an interview, giving the impression that he didn’t want to speak to the press (even though the woman with the microphone looks more than satisfied). A separate voiceover is added to the footage so that we don’t hear the actual discussion. (0:24)

3. Cutting to the main interview, the interviewer asks Corbyn a question that she (and all of us) already know the answer to: “Would you ever push the nuclear button if you were prime minister”. The question is not designed to learn anything new, it’s designed to stir argument and generate faux outrage. (0:39)

4. Unsatisfied with this reasoned response (0:43), the interviewer pushes for an over simplified “yes or no” answer as it will help to generate outrage and make for a better headline. After reiterating his original point, the interviewer accuses Corbyn of putting his principles “ahead of the protection of this country”. This quietly helps to reiterate the tabloid view that Jeremy Corbyn hates Britain. (1:13)

5. Having failed to get the damning answer they required, the interview cuts to archive footage of Jeremy Corbyn from the 1970s standing in front of a “peace” symbol. This helps to reinforce three key things: First, that he’s old. Second, that he’s a deluded hippy. Third, that he is a relic of some archaic 1970s “Old Labour”. Strangely, I can’t remember the last time they cut to footage of David Cameron at Eton while discussing poverty? As such, why show clips from Jeremy Corbyn’s long-distant past when discussing Trident. (1:55)

6. We then get six talking head interviews against the removal of Trident, closely followed by zero interviews arguing for its removal. Given that there are other members of the Labour Party that would like to see Trident scrapped, this does seem odd – particularly for a BBC that is always independent and balanced. It also doesn’t help that one of the talking heads is Andy Burnham, Jeremy Corbyn’s main competitor in the Labour leadership. (2:18)

7. Next we get some footage of marines waving the British flag, tying Trident to national pride and highlighting the supposed lost jobs if the public doesn’t support it. (3:08)

8. Having only supplied six people to argue in favour of Trident, the voiceover reminds us that there’s “so much conflict” and that, as a result, Jeremy Corbyn will never be able to keep the party together. (3:25)

9. Next we cut to an unrelated clip (which doesn’t even mention Trident) of Jeremy Corbyn sounding mildly condescending. (3:35)

10. Finally we get a short clip of Corbyn singing Labour’s anthem “The People’s Flag”, this is used to remind the public that he didn’t sing the national anthem but is already “corrupting his principles” (despite clearly still not singing the national anthem). This also makes a nice juxtaposition against the footage of marines waving the flag, reminding us all that Jeremy Corbyn hates our country and our troops. (4:15)


Since drafting this article, Media Lens has provided a more in-depth analysis of the above interview which can be found here

Alex Warren
Alex Warren
Miserablist, whiskey-drinker, and general tinpot shambles. Alex Warren has a weary pessimism for all things media, politics and tech.