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Can we believe anything the corporate media tells us? – Towards Indyref2…

Can we believe anything the corporate media tells us?

Late last night a headline appeared on STV news.  The headline proclaimed support for Scottish independence had increased after the Brexit vote.  Great news thought I.

However, almost immediately another headline appeared on the web site of The Herald.  The newspaper informed readers that Brexit hadn’t resulted in increased backing for independence.

poll headlines

Bizarrely both headlines were based on the same poll results.  It bred confusion on social media as people sought to determine which was telling the truth.  I tracked down the survey dataset and concluded that – arithmetically – the STV headline was probably the more accurate.

The Herald though was also strictly accurate having based its own headline on a comment from Joe Twyman, YouGov’s Head of Political and Social Research who had told the newspaper: “In the short-term at least, the data suggests the vote to leave the EU has not boosted the cause of Scottish independence.”

Regardless of what prompted each headline, what can be stated without fear of contradiction is that many people simply didn’t trust what they were being told by each media outlet.  Nobody believed either STV or The Herald.

The lack of trust in the Scottish media is widespread.  On Thursday the reporting of the UK Supreme Court’s ruling on Named Person was the latest manifestation of a malaise that has plagued the Scottish media for years.  There is an inability to report honestly.

The ruling by the court effectively delayed the introduction of the Named Person legislation.  The Scottish Government was given 42 days to provide clarification on how it intends to protect data in order to ensure the policy complies with European Human Rights law.

However the corporate media sought, not to inform the public, but to influence through misinformation what the ruling actually meant.  One newspaper claimed the SNP scheme had been described as ‘totalitarian’ by the judges.  The BBC informed the public that the court had ‘ruled against’ Named person and that it had been ‘blocked’.

The coverage of the Court Ruling gave the impression that Named Person was dead in the water.  Not for the first time, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon had to intervene on social media in order to correct some of the more extreme journalistic exaggerations.

sturgeon named person

Despite the ‘totalitarian’ claim having been roundly dismissed as nonsense by almost every serious commentator, it still turned up on Radio Scotland on Saturday in a discussion on the Shereen Show.


The ‘impartial’ guest responsible for this pearl of chuckle-headed wisdom is Alison Rowat of The Herald.

The fact that those who had brought the case against the Named Person scheme had actually failed in their bid to have it scrapped was ignored by a media with an agenda.  Reporting Scotland actually told viewers that the campaigners had won!

What caused the misreporting was not a desire on the part of individual journalists to lie, but the result of conditioning and peer-pressure brought on by a pro-Union culture that prevails within Scotland’s media.  It’s a culture that instinctively demands anti-SNP narratives be sought and exaggerated by those who operate within it.  It also demands a subtle change in tone or nuance to diffuse stories harmful to the pro-Union establishment that controls it.

Misreporting was a theme of the last independence referendum when anything that could be turned on its head in order to attack the Yes campaign or the SNP, was turned on its head.  One very apt example, given the xenophobic theme of the recent EU referendum and the Trump campaign, occurred in December 2012.

anti-english headlines

The claims were also reported by BBC Scotland with the issue featuring on the Call Kaye Radio phone-in with host Kaye Adams telling listeners that “anti-English sentiment” was “up fifty per cent apparently over the last seven years” and linking the rise to the SNP.


The reports were false.  Analysis of the figures showed that far from increasing, attacks on English people had actually fallen over the preceding twelve months.

Misreporting of Scottish politics and related issues is rife within Scotland’s corporate media.  This misreporting has its southern equivalent as evidenced by the media campaign being mounted against Jeremy Corbyn.

The Yes movement is wise to what is going on.  It’s why sites like this one, Newsnet and Wings Over Scotland are absolutely vital if we are to ensure the worst excesses of this media corruption are exposed.


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4 thoughts on “Can we believe anything the corporate media tells us?

  1. Fearghas MacFhionnlaigh

    Regarding the Supreme Court judgement regarding the ‘Named Person’ scheme, readers can (with your indulgence) get something of the context of the contentious word “totalitarian” from the following extract (particularly penultimate paragraph):

    Articles 27(3) and 18(2) make it clear that the state’s role is to assist the parents in carrying out their responsibilities, although article 19(1) requires the state also to take appropriate measures to protect the child from all forms of abuse or neglect.

    73. This represents the detailed working out, for children, of the principle established in article 16(3) of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and article 23(1) of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights that “the family is the natural and fundamental group unit of society and is entitled to protection by society and the state”. There is an inextricable link between the protection of the family and the protection of fundamental freedoms in liberal democracies. The noble concept in article 1 of the Universal Declaration, that “all human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights” is premised on difference. If we were all the same, we would not need to guarantee that individual differences should be respected. Justice Barak of the Supreme Court of Israel has put it like this (in El-Al Israeli Airlines Ltd v Danielowitz [1992-4] IsrLR 478, para 14):

    “The factual premise is that people are different from one another, ‘no person is completely identical to another’ … Every person is a world in himself. Society is based on people who are different from one another. Only the worst dictatorships try to eradicate these differences.”

    Individual differences are the product of the interplay between the individual person and his upbringing and environment. Different upbringings produce different people. The first thing that a totalitarian regime tries to do is to get at the children, to distance them from the subversive, varied influences of their families, and indoctrinate them in their rulers’ view of the world. Within limits, families must be left to bring up their children in their own way. As Justice McReynolds, delivering the Opinion of the Supreme Court of the United States famously put it in Pierce v Society of Sisters 268 US 510 (1925), 534-535:

    “The fundamental theory of liberty upon which all governments in this Union repose excludes any general power of the state to standardize its children by forcing them to accept instruction from public teachers only. The child is not the mere creature of the state; those who nurture him and direct his destiny have the right, coupled with the high duty, to recognize and prepare him for additional obligations.”

  2. Graham

    GA, I would call this “misreporting” – ‘totalitarian’, ‘blocked’, ‘anti-English sentiment up’ etc – lying. These journalists know what they are saying is false, and they intend to deceive. That’s lying.

  3. Jas

    I see in response to pressure for Indyref 2, Yoons continue to demand that we should respect the result of the lies they told during Indyref 1!

  4. Iain Barker

    The short answer is No Never and Not at all. I don’t trust the BBC/ITV/STV or any other Brit TV channel. I don’t trust any Brit Press either. If any of them told me Black was Black and White was I wouldn’t believe them.

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