Saturday, March 31, 2018

Don't Punch Down

Lefty Americans have an odd misplaced fondness for the British press for 2 reasons: 1) they like the international coverage of BBC World and 2) they appreciate that it eschews the View From Nowhere in a good way.

The BBC has actually been horrible for many years in its coverage of domestic UK politics. Much like the US suddenly had a new political party, The Tea Party, the UK had UKIP. The BBC handed the microphone over to a racist fascist UKIP party with almost no actual political representation. Suddenly the UK had Labour, the Tories, and UKIP. UKIP got more coverage than an actual political party in the UK - the SNP. And during the Brexit "debate" it was like Labour, pro-Brexit Tory, anti-Brexit Tory, UKIP. After Corbyn got control of the Labour party it was usually Tory, Tory, Labour guy who doesn't like Corbyn.

But aside from the BBC the UK has a tabloid culture. And they are horrible. The lie shamelessly. They don't just lie about important people. They make up random shit about non-public figures. They punch down at "normal people." Here is where you, smart, chime in, "but the UK has tougher libel laws than the US." This is true but the costs/risks of filing suits relative to the potential benefits make libel suits a tool of the rich. The tabloids are scared of publishing true things about rich people but have no problem trashing your neighbor.

Whatever else is wrong with our press culture, there is a tendency to recognize that "punching down" is bad. This is not true always. Black victims of police violence are usually treated badly. He's no angel, you know. But it is more true.