Three-quarters of newspaper stories about Jeremy Corbyn in the first months of his leadership either distorted or failed to represent his actual views on subjects, a study has found.
Academics at the London School of Economics analysed the content of eight national newspapers between 1 September and 1 November 2015, when Mr Corbyn was first elected.
The media researchers found that in 52 per cent of articles about the Labour leader, his own views were not included – while in a further 22 per cent they were “present but taken out of context” or otherwise distorted.
In just 15 per cent of 812 articles analysed, Mr Corbyn’s views were present but challenged, and in only 11 per cent were they present without alteration.
“Our analysis shows that Corbyn was thoroughly delegitimised as a political actor from the moment he became a prominent candidate and even more so after he was elected as party leader,” Dr Bart Cammaerts, the project director concluded.
“These results relating to sources and ‘voice’ are evidently troublesome from a democratic perspective.
“Allowing an important and legitimate political actor, ie the leader of the main opposition party, to develop their own narrative and have a voice in the public space is paramount in a democracy.
The most ridiculous claims made about Jeremy Corbyn
The most ridiculous claims made about Jeremy Corbyn
1/11 He called Hezbollah and Hamas ‘friends’
True. In a speech made to the Stop the War Coalition in 2009, Mr Corbyn called representatives from both groups “friends” after inviting them to Parliament. He later told Channel 4 he wanted both groups, who have factions designated as international terror organisations, to be “part of the debate” for the Middle East peace process. “I use (the word ‘friends’) in a collective way, saying our friends are prepared to talk,” he added. “Does it mean I agree with Hamas and what it does? No. Does it mean I agree with Hezbollah and what they do? No.”
2/11 ‘Jeremy Corbyn thinks the death of Osama bin Laden was a tragedy’
Partly false. David Cameron used this as a line of attack at the Conservative Party conference but appears to have left out all context from Mr Corbyn’s original remarks. In an 2011 interview on Iranian television, the then-backbencher said the fact the al-Qaeda leader was not put on trial was the tragedy, continuing: “The World Trade Center was a tragedy, the attack on Afghanistan was a tragedy, the war in Iraq was a tragedy.”
3/11 He is ‘haunted’ by the legacy of his ‘evil’ great-great-grandfather
False. A Daily Express exposé revealed that the Labour leader’s ancestor, James Sargent, was the “despotic” master of a Victorian workhouse. Addressing the report at the Labour conference, Mr Corbyn said he had never heard of him before, adding: “I want to take this opportunity to apologise for not doing the decent thing and going back in time and having a chat with him about his appalling behaviour.”
4/11 Jeremy Corbyn raised a motion about ‘pigeon bombs’ in Parliament
This one is true. On 21 May 2004, Mr Corbyn raised an early day motion entitled “pigeon bombs”, proposing that the House register being “appalled but barely surprised” that MI5 reportedly proposed to load pigeons with explosives as a weapon. The motion continued: “The House… believes that humans represent the most obscene, perverted, cruel, uncivilised and lethal species ever to inhabit the planet and looks forward to the day when the inevitable asteroid slams into the earth and wipes them out thus giving nature the opportunity to start again.” It was not carried.
5/11 He rides a Communist bicycle
False. A report in The Times referred to Mr Corbyn, known for his cycling, riding a “Chairman Mao-style bicycle” earlier this year. “Less thorough journalists might have referred to it as just a bicycle, but no, so we have to conclude that whenever we see somebody on a bicycle from now on, there goes another supporter of Chairman Mao,” he later joked.
6/11 'Jeremy Corbyn will appoint a special minister for Jews'
False so far. The Sun report in December was allegedly based on a “rumour” passed to the paper by a Daily Express columnist who has written pieces critical of the Labour leader in the past. The minister did not materialise in his shadow cabinet.
7/11 ‘Jeremy Corbyn wishes Britain would abolish its Army’
False. Another gem from The Sun took comments made at a Hiroshima remembrance parade in August 2012 where Mr Corbyn supported Costa Rica’s move to abolish it armed forces. “Wouldn’t it be wonderful if every politician around the world…abolished the army and took pride in the fact that they don’t have an army,” he added. The caveat that “every politician” must take the step suggests Mr Corbyn does not support UK disarmament just yet.
8/11 Jeremy Corbyn stole sandwiches meant for veterans
False. The Guido Fawkes blog claimed that the Labour leader took sandwiches meant for veterans at at Battle of Britain memorial service in September but a photo later emerged showing him being handed one by Costa volunteers, who later confirmed they were given to all guests.
9/11 He missed the induction into the Queen’s privy council
True. After much speculation about Mr Corbyn’s republican views and willingness to bow to the monarch, his office confirmed that he did not attend the official induction to the privy council because of a prior engagement, but did not rule out joining the body.
10/11 Jeremy Corbyn refuses to sing the national anthem.
Partly true. The Labour leader was filmed standing in silence as God Save the Queen was sung at a Battle of Britain remembrance service but will reportedly sing it in future. Mr Corbyn was elusive on the issue in an interview, saying he would show memorials “respect in the proper way”, but sources said he would sing the anthem at future occasions.
11/11 He is a member of the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Cheese
True. The group lists its purpose as the following: “To increase awareness of issues surrounding the dairy industry and focus on economic issues affecting the dairy industry and producers.”
“Denying such an important political actor a voice or distorting his views and ideas through the exercise of mediated power is highly problematic.”
Examples given by the researchers of distortions include one incident in which Mr Corbyn was presented as having criticised commemorations of the First World War in a 2013 speech.
The newspaper included in the study were The Sun, The Daily Express, The Daily Telegraph, The Daily Mail, the Evening Standard, the Independent, the Daily Mirror and the Guardian.
In terms of tone, fewer than 10 per cent of articles were judged by the researchers to be positive, while more than half were antagonistic or critical. Around a third had a neutral tone.
28 per cent of articles analysed were based on anti-Corbyn Labour party sources, while 23 per cent were based on pro-Corbyn sources.
Mr Corbyn’s supporters have been highly critical of media coverage around the Labour leader, judging it to be overwhelmingly hostile.
The Labour leader has himself also hit out at the media, banning journalists from asking him questions at the front door of his home.
“We have a party under attack from much of the media in this country like it has never been under attack before,” he said in May