Centrist media’s promotion of extreme right-wing clowns

Grubby violent crook Stephen Yaxley-Lennon (mortgage fraud, assaulting a police officer, travelling on a false passport, etc.) was released from a jail sentence recently via a technicality.  He had been jailed for contempt of court after physically harassing witnesses and defendants on several occasions at different courts.

Whether he should or should not have received a custodial sentence is of interest only to legal nerds.  His racist supporters used the conviction as an opportunity to grab media airtime.  Intelligent humane people snorted in derision. 

As soon as the racist twerp was free, liberal centrist media wrestled with each other to be the first to prostrate at Yaxley-Lennon’s feet and beg for interviews.  He was happy to oblige, of course.  But, why would the allegedly anti-racist section of the media be so keen to offer free airtime to such an extremist and such an idiot?  Their fraudulent excuse was “free speech.”  That argument would contain the smallest possible smidgen of validity only if characters like Yaxley-Lennon had a single opportunity to speak followed by a deluge of jacksons, but he and his ilk have had many such opportunities.  There is no longer any valid reason to hand airtime to them and, thus, the free speech excuse is a lie.

Free speech is not the reason that centrist media gave Yaxley-Lennon exposure.  Two motivations have driven their interest in him.

1) Ratings
Disgusting, dim-witted, bigoted scum on the extreme-right can give a temporary boost to the viewing figures for TV news shows.  Even the non-commercial BBC is very aware of ratings.  Ratings trump (no pun) integrity and ethics, always.

2) Shift the Overton window rightward
Normalisation of the extreme-right pulls the Overton window rightward with a resultant shifting of the position of the imaginary centre to the right.  The knock-on effect is that any view that is left-of-centre appears to be closer to the left extremity.  This false perception aids the rhetoric that seeks to describe the Labour leadership as far-left.  

TV and radio news, current affairs and political debate shows in Britain are increasingly geared toward entertainment and there is an absence of true objectivity.  The executive staff, producers and presenters do not have the intelligence or knowledge to differentiate between analysis and propaganda; they are easily (often very willingly) guided by professional lobbyists employed by hard-right think tanks; they do not understand how balance works.  The absence of courage, independent thought and confidence is palpable.

A consequence of the above is that a racist street thug is treated as a serious interviewee.

Related blogs
Tips for BBC news staff
BBC bias and balance

Centrist media’s promotion of extreme right-wing clowns

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