UK: Fake News and the “Punch” that never happened What one media lie tells us about the way our “news” works

10 December 2019 — Off Guardian

Kit Knightly

Yesterday the Health Secretary Matt Hancock went to Leeds to visit a struggling NHS hospital. It was a PR stunt designed to make the Tories look pro-active in the face of a late-campaign PR disaster.

The hospital in question was hitting the headlines because of the viral images showing patients sleeping on floors and benches. This particular image of a small boy curled up on a coat with an oxygen mask was absolutely everywhere:

The Tories really needed a distraction. A great big dead cat to slam down on the coffee table. So they invented one, and the obedient press did the rest:

The story was put about that Labour had taxied in a “mob” of protesters, and one of them had “punched” Hancock’s aid.

It was a complete lie.

Here’s the video of the “flash mob”, as you can see it’s maybe two dozen people…

Far from a punch of any kind, this would appear to show Hancock’s advisor walking into the outstretched hand of an activist.

Rather different from the way it was initially spun to journalists.

— Matthew Thompson (@mattuthompson) December 9, 2019

…and, just in case you missed it, here is “the Punch”:

Here’s the “punch” on Matt Hancock’s adviser outside of Leeds General Infirmary@bbclaurak @Peston @PaulBrandITV resign you absolute clowns

�� The Election Leftorium ��️ (@LeftoriumThe) December 9, 2019

As you can see, it’s nothing. It’s such an enormous exaggeration it brushes against “entirely made up”. However, it would be wrong to lose ourselves in gloating and focus on the specifics. In doing that, we miss the greatest lesson in this.

Yes, it was a direct lie, cynically done, but most importantly, we only know that because someone happened to film it.

If not for that snippet of footage, rather than talking about how the Tories and the media invented this story, we’d be losing ourselves in a discussion of “what this means” or cross-party denunciations of “political violence”.

We’d be knee-deep in analysis of an entirely fictional event, simply because we haven’t yet adjusted our mindset enough to encompass how much the media simply make stuff up.

Again, just like the death of Oleg Babchenko, we’re reminded that in this modern media world it is perfectly valid for our first question to be “did this even happen?”


Perhaps the most telling thing about this incident is the reaction of the media when it was revealed they’d been spreading the lie, perfectly exemplified by ITV’s Robert Peston:

It is completely clear from video footage that @MattHancock‘s adviser was not whacked by a protestor, as I was told by senior Tories, but that he inadvertently walked into a protestor’s hand. I apologise for getting this wrong.

— Robert Peston (@Peston) December 9, 2019

See how he apologises for “getting this wrong”? Not the fact he didn’t check. Not the fact he mindlessly repeated the Tory line without even rudimentary research.

This is the product of a totally controlled media class. A sub-set of the elite, conditioned to be obedient without even realising that’s what they’re doing.

Their bias is innate, in-built and unquestioned. They are selected, early on, for their ability to toe a line whilst thinking they’re independent.

They openly admit to simply reporting everything the Tories say as fact, without checking, and simply expect us to accept it…because they don’t think it’s wrong.

Jeremy Corbyn was uncharacteristically forthright in his condemnation:

This never happened.

Invented by the Tories to divert your attention from a child having to lie on a hospital floor; reported by media that didn’t bother to check if it was true.

This is what media bias looks like.

— Jeremy Corbyn (@jeremycorbyn) December 9, 2019

And we applaud him for that. This should have been his attitude from the beginning. When the game is so obviously rigged, the only way to win is to not play.

Posted in: UK

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