Newsnight denies photoshopping Jeremy Corbyn image to make Labour leader look Russian

‘The background of your programme you had Jeremy Corbyn dressed up against the Kremlin skyline, dressed up as a Soviet stooge,’ says Owen Jones

Maya Oppenheim
Sunday 18 March 2018 22:24 GMT
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Newsnight raises controversy after seemingly editing Corbyn image to appear more Russian

Newsnight has denied claims it doctored an image of Jeremy Corbyn to make him look more Russian.

The BBC Two programme has been fiercely criticised and accused of “extreme bias” for using an image that critics on social media claimed had been photoshopped.

Guardian columnist Owen Jones appeared on the show to discuss Labour’s response to the Salisbury spy poisoning and claimed the Labour leader had been made to look like a “Soviet stooge”.

“The media framing has been a disgrace and I have to say that includes your own programme,” the prominent left-wing journalist told presenter Evan Davis on Friday.

“Yesterday the background of your programme you had Jeremy Corbyn dressed up against the Kremlin skyline, dressed up as a Soviet stooge. You even photoshopped his hat to look more Russian.

“People should complain to the BBC about that kind of thing.”

Mr Corbyn was apparently depicted wearing a Russian Bolshevik cap against a backdrop of Moscow’s Red Square while Ayesha Hazarika, former special advisor to Ed Milliband, and Corbyn ally Chris Williamson MP, were interviewed about the Government’s response to the nerve agent attack.

Former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia were poisoned with “military grade” Novichok nerve agent on 4 March.

Newsnight acting editor Jess Brammar denied the hat had been altered.

“Newsnight didn’t photoshop a hat,” she wrote on Twitter.

“Our (excellent, hardworking) graphics team explained the image has had the contrast increased and been colour treated, usual treatment for screen graphics as they need more contrast to work through the screens.

“If you look you can see it’s same hat in silhouette.

“Apparently (forgive me for passing on tech details I don’t understand first-hand) some detail might also have been lost with it going through the screen and then being filmed back through a camera, again the standard effect on images on that big back panel.

“And finally, the Russia background was a rehash of one Newsnight used a few weeks ago, for a story about Gavin Williamson, the Defence Secretary.”

Mr Jones responded to the tweets, saying the TV programme had picked an image of Mr Corbyn that was as “Leninesque as possible”.

“The photo of Williamson is in a suit and his photo remains clear,” he said.

“There is no shortage of photos of Corbyn in a suit. A photo was selected, which was as Leninesque as possible in combination with a red Kremlin background.”

Mr Corbyn has been criticised by MPs from both Labour and Conservative benches for urging the government look for hard evidence of Russian involvement in the Salisbury poisoning.

Mr Jones has since urged people not to criticise Mr Davis for the image. He tweeted: “Please don’t pile in on @EvanHD for @BBCNewsnight’s outrageous photoshopping of Jeremy Corbyn as a Russian stooge: he’s always been a really reasonable guy, and it’s letting Newsnight editors who are responsible off the hook.”

A representative for the BBC did not immediately respond to request for comment.

Additional reporting from agencies

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