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September 14, 2015

Jeremy Corbyn starts Labour leadership by attacking ‘abusive’, ‘cut-off’ media and blanking Sky News reporter

Jeremy Corbyn has begun his reign as Labour leader by attacking “abusive” media coverage of his campaign, claiming broadsheet newspapers are “even more cut off” than MPs, pulling out of BBC interviews and ignoring questions from reporters.

Named as the new leader of the opposition on Saturday, Corbyn attacked media coverage of his campaign and told the press to not “attack people who didn’t ask to put in the limelight”.

In the speech, he said: “I… say a huge thank you to all of my widest family, all of them. Because they’ve been through the most appalling levels of abuse from some of our media over the past three months.

"It’s been intrusive, it’s been abusive, it’s been simply wrong.

"I say to journalists: attack public political figures, make criticism of them – that’s okay, that is what politics is about.

“But please don’t attack people who didn’t ask to be put in the limelight, who merely want to get along with their lives.  Leave them alone, leave them alone in all circumstances.”

In the speech, he also praised former leader Ed Miliband for having “stood up to the abuse that he received by much of our media” and spoke of the way his father, Ralph Miliband, was “brutally abused by some of our media”.

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Meanwhile, in an interview with the Huffington Post this weekend, Corbyn spoke highly of “the role of electronic and social media” and said: “The way of doing politics is seen as very out of date.”

He said: “MPs are a bit cut off. But if I may say so, some of the editorial rooms in some of our broadsheet newspapers are even more cut off. They simply do not understand what’s going on out there. They just don’t get it.

“The majority of people don’t buy a newspaper, they read bits on line and self-inform online and so we have to reach out in a different way.

"And our campaign has been very much social media orientated. My personal Twitter account now has 104,000 followers, our Facebook is 124,000 likes.

“So those kind of numbers are enormous and of course the re-tweeting and re-sending makes it massive.”

Corbyn did, through, “thank The Huffington Post for the responsible way in which you’ve reported this campaign”.

Meanwhile, Corbyn was alleged to have pulled out of interviews with Andrew Marr – according to Andrew Neil – and the Today programme.

This morning, Sky News posted a video in which its reporter was given no answers to a variety of questions posed to Corbyn, including asking about the Today programme.

The reporter also asked: “Why are you so keen not to speak to the media, Jeremy?” And: “At what point do you intend to start speaking to the media?”

Last week, The Sun reported that Corbyn had “ran away” from one of its reporters, and said: “I am NOT speaking to The Sun.”

Last month, in the run-up to the Labour leadership vote, Corbyn signalled in an interview with the Financial Times his intention to tackle the “concentration” of media ownership.

Speaking at Hacked Off's Leveson lecture in December last year, The Guardian reported him as saying: "I think there is far too much concentration in the hands of too few and so I would look at that again. Diversity in media is something that is intrinsic to a democratic society. We do not want the whole media owned by one person…

"They [the press] have operated like a mafia, intimidating here, bribing there, terminating careers when it suits them and rewarding their most loyal toadies.

"For years, they could ‘fix’ any legislation that affected them, in a way that no other industry could. But it didn’t stop there. Their influence was so great that it became impossible to know who was really running the country."

Reaction

The Sun on Sunday said yesterday in an editorial on Corbyn's appointment: "He began yesterday as he means to go on, with deranged attacks on the media, whom the Left always blame for their election defeats."

The newspaper's front page, meanwhile, appeared to suggest that Corbyn being made leader marked the end of the Labour Party (right). The Sunday Telegraph's front page headline was "Death of New Labour", The Sunday Times reported "Labour civil war" and The Mail on Sunday's front page said: "Red and buried".

The Independent said in an editorial: "Mr Corbyn’s monstering by the right-wing media has only just begun." 

Elsewhere, the Sunday Mirror and Observer ran interviews with Corbyn.

Meanwhile, political journalists highlighted Corbyn's media attacks over the weekend, with one suggesting his media strategy is: "We don't need you."

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