Sun Nation website's dirty trick is a direct attempt by Rupert Murdoch to curb democracy
For a newspaper so confident in the virtues of David Cameron and the ‘weakness’ of Ed Miliband, the Sun goes out of its way to lean on the scales.
Yesterday the Sun’s online election guide, Sun Nation, ran a story telling readers to switch channels during Miliband’s interview in last night’s ‘Battle for Number Ten’ programme, shown on Sky News and Channel 4.
The website, which has portrayed the Labour front bench as zombies, encouraged readers to ‘use their TV time better’, suggesting five other things they could watch instead of the leader of the Labour party.
Two of the suggestions were on channels part or wholly owned by Sun proprietor Rupert Murdoch.
The first was live premier league darts on Sky Sports 1, while number five was reruns of the cartoon Family Guy on Murdoch’s Fox TV. The others were the film Alien on SYFY, a documentary about the Incas on BBC Four, and reality show Geordie Shore on Viva.
While there are some soft references to David Cameron, the piece is quite explicitly telling readers not to watch the section of the programme with Ed Miliband. (Sub-heading: ‘Don’t watch Ed, watch this.’)
In other words, the country’s best selling newspaper suggested readers watch the prime minister’s interview, then turn over when the leader of the opposition comes on – preferably to a channel part-owned by Rupert Murdoch.
This would presumably leave the Sun able to tell readers its own version of what happened after they flipped channels. Which is exactly what it did. The second front page story today, ‘Ed shredded on migrants’, picks out as a key moment ‘squirming’ Miliband’s refusal to provide a maximum number for immigration. (David Cameron gave a number in 2010 – and then missed it by 200,000.)
Rupert Murdoch is apparently willing to lose ratings for the Sky News debate programme, despite owning 39 per cent of Sky TV, for party political reasons. (This might be of interest to the people who own the other 61 per cent.)
Or perhaps the people running Sun Nation are simply acting on their own initiative, but in keeping with the general wishes of the proprietor. Either way, Mr Murdoch still bears responsibility for such low behaviour, with his newspaper trying to prevent the public from seeing both party leaders and making an informed decision on how to vote.
This latest dirty trick ought to be recognised as a direct intervention by a right-wing businessman in British democracy.
Adam Barnett is a staff writer at Left Foot Forward. Follow him on TwitterLike this article? Sign up to Left Foot Forward's weekday email for the latest progressive news and comment - and support campaigning journalism by making a donation today.