The Sun said its coverage is informed by the parties' approach to issues that matter to its readers
Press baron Rupert Murdoch is allegedly as frustrated as many MediaWatch readers when he opens his copy of the Sun every morning, though for very different reasons. As the Independent reports today:
“Rupert Murdoch berated journalists on his tabloid papers for not doing enough to stop Labour winning the general election and warned them that the future of the company depended on stopping Ed Miliband entering No 10.”
The story cites unnamed sources who claim the Australian proprietor of the Sun, the Times and the Sunday Times told journalists to step up their attacks on the Labour party leader ahead of the election.
The motivation, they claim, is Labour’s plans to cap media ownership at 34 per cent, thereby lowering the threshold for monopoly control of the British press, and its support for a Leveson-style independent press regulator backed by statute.
As one source said:
“Rupert made it very clear he was unhappy with The Sun’s coverage of the election. He basically said the future of the company was at stake and they need to get their act together.”
Murdoch is said to have flown into London in February to meet with ‘senior Tories’ including chief whip and former Times executive Michael Gove, and told Sun editor David Dinsmore that he wanted to see ‘much sharper’ attacks on Miliband in the Sun’s coverage.
A Sun spokesman told the Independent its coverage is informed by the parties’ approach to ‘the issues that matter most to our readers’, adding: “If Ed Miliband wants to ignore the concerns of Sun readers we feel it is our responsibility to reflect that decision.”
MediaWatch has been reporting on the Sun’s biased election coverage for weeks, which has been blatant and gross even by the standards of the British press. We were the first to cover the paper’s Buzzfeed-style election website, SunNation, which is full of anti-Labour propaganda, including a shoot-em-up video game that depicts Miliband and his party as flesh-eating zombies.
We revealed how the SunNation website told readers to switch to Sky Sports during Ed Miliband’s interview with Jeremy Paxman, and have charted the Sun’s biased election coverage through the budget and the rest of the campaign. Just last week the Sun said anyone who thought Miliband could run the economy more sensibly than David Cameron needed a psychiatrist.
We can’t verify the claims in the Independent story, but they certainly seem plausible judging by the paper’s rush of blood in February and March, its relentless personal attacks on Ed Miliband and its laughably partisan election coverage.
Adam Barnett is a staff writer at Left Foot Forward. Follow MediaWatch 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.