Hot Mic Moment Exposes British Media Orchestration

Caitlin Johnstone draws attention to the scramble by TV show hosts last week to get a Labour Party opponent of Jeremy Corbyn’s back on script. 

By Caitlin Johnstone

There’s a wildly under-appreciated clip of news footage from Thursday’s general election in the U.K. that, now that everyone’s had some time to emotionally process the emotional fallout from that depressing night, needs more attention.

Labour MP and chronic left-puncher Jess Phillips appeared on Channel 4 to talk about how devastated she was about the news of exit polls showing her party’s crushing defeat, except the cameras switched on before she was prepared and caught her in the middle of a joyful chuckle. It took several seconds and the overt reminders from the show’s hosts to put on a “straight face” and act emotional before she could conceal her cheery mood as Corbyn’s Labour leadership was trampled underfoot by odious empire lackey Boris Johnson.

“Good evening Jess,” said the program’s host Krishnan Guru-Murthy. “How are you feeling as these results unfold?”

Watching the stumbling improvisation that came next feels like walking into a room full of awkward silence when your supposed friends had just been saying mean things about you, or seeing your spouse conspicuously jump away from an attractive coworker when you drop by the office.

Phillips, still unaware that the cameras were now rolling, did not interrupt the delighted guffaw she’d been enjoying.

“Can you hear me Jess Phillips?” the host asked over nervous tittering from the audience. “It’s Krishnan.”

“I can hear you, sorry,” Phillips said after a moment, literally putting her hand over her mouth for a few seconds to hide her giant grin.

“Straight face,” said Guru-Murthy, who then apparently realized that this was a bizarre thing to say and added “Actually you don’t have to have a straight face, umm, on this show. Umm… what are you thinking?”

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“Oh are you talking to me now? Sorry that wasn’t clear,” said Phillips after a pause, her face now finally somewhat straightened out. “Sorry, I’m really tired. What I’m thinking is… it’s, it’s just totally devastating isn’t it? It’s totally devastating that all the people that I see every day, they’re gonna have nowhere to turn. I mean, I should probably do that thing where we all pretend that we’re gonna wait and see if the results are better than we thought, but it feels like a kick in the stomach.”

Jess Phillips had not been acting like a woman who felt devastated, and she had certainly not been acting like a woman who felt like she’d been kicked in the stomach. Jess Phillips had been acting like a woman on her third strawberry daiquiri down at the pub with a couple of hilarious mates.

“I’m just waiting actually, I mean, for your thoughts,” Guru-Murthy said after an awkward pause. “I mean, you look emotional, and upset, and that’s understandable.”

Guru-Murthy was lying. At no time did Phillips look either emotional or upset.

“Jess it’s just that you look very emotional, and we know you, we know you’re a normal, sane person, so it’s very confusing,” host Katherine Ryan fictionalized, when Phillips struggled to hear what Guru-Murthy had said.

“I am very emotional,” Phillips lied. “But not just for me or for the Labour Party. I’m emotional for the people that the Labour Party was invented to help.”

The audience, probably relieved to have a taste of something that isn’t intensely awkward and disturbing, erupted in applause.

For months the imperial media have been loudly anointing Phillips as the establishment choice to replace the unabashedly socialism-minded Corbyn, as Kit Knightly described for Off-Guardian back in March. This coronation-by-media continues today with outlets ranging from The Guardian to Daily Mail to Telegraph placing her on the short list to assume leadership of the Labour Party over the last couple of days.

After an anti-imperialist, pro-Palestinian socialist was magically thrown into role of Opposition leader by an extraordinary accident in 2015, Phillips leapt into her role as outspoken Corbyn critic by publicly telling him “I won’t knife you in the back, I’ll knife you in the front.” Despite this vow, Phillips proceeded to steadfastly knife Corbyn in the back by fanning the flames of incredibly disingenuous smears against his leadership, elevating the imaginary Labour anti-Semitism crisis to such a cartoonish extent that earlier this year she proclaimed that a tweet saying “Palestine Lives” from Young Labour “is antisemitic and it has to stop.” This malice continued into the final days before the general election, with Phillips criticizing Corbyn for not responding adequately to claims about anti-Semitism in the Labour Party by Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis.

Phillips’s hot mic moment, and the mad scramble of the show’s perception-managing pundits to clean it up, provides us with a brief glimpse behind the phony persona that the empire’s political/media class put on for us. Should Senator Bernie Sanders by some Corbyn-like miracle overcome the rigged primaries and receive the Democratic Party’s presidential nomination, we may be absolutely certain we’ll see a campaign to sabotage his run and force a loss to President Donald Trump in the U.S. elections next year. And we may be absolutely certain they’ll cackle about it just as Jess Phillips did when she thought the cameras were off.

These people aren’t like you and me. They don’t care about truth, and they don’t care about human beings. They rose to the positions they occupy within media and politics by consistently demonstrating that they’ll do whatever it takes to advance the interests of the oligarchic empire while giving the people the bare minimum possible to prevent an insurrection. They’re where they’re at precisely because they don’t care about truth or people. They care about their own dominance within our sick dominator culture, and when they achieve it, they smile, and they celebrate, and they laugh.

Sometimes the guardians of empire make little mistakes. Sometimes they accidentally allow an anti-imperialist to lead one of their major parties. Sometimes they accidentally get caught in mid-guffaw when they’re meant to be pretending to be heartbroken. Whenever those holes appear it’s important to pay attention to them, and to shove as many rays of light through them as possible before they are closed.

Caitlin Johnstone is a rogue journalist, poet, and utopia prepper who publishes regularly at Medium. Follow her work on FacebookTwitter, or her website. She has a podcast and is the author of Woke: A Field Guide for Utopia Preppers.” 

This article was re-published with permission.

The views expressed are solely those of the author and may or may not reflect those of Consortium News.

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10 comments for “Hot Mic Moment Exposes British Media Orchestration

  1. Kevan Bodsworth
    December 21, 2019 at 18:27

    The road back to sanity and some democracy is very long ,, It seems today,, The demolition of the Labour Party has been long in the planning and execution , I am sickened by the infestation of this noble cause The Labour Party . Phillips, ” “But not just for me or for the Labour Party. I’m emotional for the people that the Labour Party was invented to help.” That must be one of the most hypocritical, mendacious statements I have ever heard in politics.

  2. CitizenOne
    December 19, 2019 at 00:27

    It reminds me of an opposite open mic incident during Howard Dean’s Caucasus in Iowa. “The Dean Scream ” was used and is still used to this day as if the media were a bunch of angry chimpanzees hell bent on destroying the political career of a national election candidate long after his lifeless corpse was dragged around, then his limbs were torn off and his face still attached to his torso was mutilated beyond recognition before his head was ripped off and tossed about with glee by an angry media mob that used it as a football before permanently placing it on a pike pole for all to see. Why? Because Dean had the audacity to claim he would enact new regulations on the media. Dean had it right but should never have uttered a word about controlling the monstrous monkey power of the media to define candidates by their wiling compliance and to display in plain sight how the media can attack and then destroy candidates that threaten it . By directly challenging the media when he was ahead by twenty percent in the polls, the media used an open mic moment to destroy Dean’s candidacy.

    The Dean Scream would be played out as sound bytes by most major media outlets over 3,000 times always with a foregone conclusion that Howard Dean was mentally unfit to fill the office of the presidency. Dean was described as unelectable another thousand times as the media were in “lock step” to kill his candidacy by portraying the sound byte as evidence that he was crazy.

    With the greatest of ease, the media killed off a candidate for president because Dean maintained that the media was biased. Not biased on the left but biased on the right.

    Such a statement by a candidate will surely end ones career. It is objective evidence of how the media controls elections by favoring candidates that do not threaten their control over the electorate and also by wiping off the face of the Earth any candidate that threatens them.

    Let this be a lesson learned. Any candidate who objects to the control by the media over politics will be annihilated.

    Mark Twain said this best in his quote, ” It is unwise to wage a war of words with men who buy ink by the barrel”. Howard Dean was unwise and he paid the price.

    Just yell Yeehah! and It can end your career.

    Nowhere in the mediascape was any counter for the claims that Dean was insane or that the orgy of media attacks were unwarranted. He was universally painted as an insane person based on nothing but a sound byte. The media’s own manipulations that portrayed him as a crazy man was broadcasted thousands of times throughout the remainder of the primary season until Dean’s candidacy was utterly obliterated.

    That was decades ago. Since then the media have refined their strategy based on their ability to completely control an election in a very biased way. It is not a liberal bias. It has its hands in the pocket of big money.

  3. Rick
    December 18, 2019 at 06:22

    God the right wing freak shows are out in force. It’s breathtaking to see the mendacity of Labour posturist Jess Philips on display and equally her fawning, presumptuous concern for the exploited and downtrodden in the UK. It makes you sick! She is a card board cut out of a labour MP created by the Tory media that sustains her.

    • December 21, 2019 at 02:35

      Never did I hear such truer words, she is a straw dog, looks human but has a nasty surprise inside. In Vietnam during the Americans protracted visit over there (said glibly) the viet-Kong made sentries out of straw put uniforms on them and gave them a fake wooden gun, but in the dark would look convincing, so when an American soldier crept up on the sentry at night to slit the sentries throat, it would instead cut a wire placed in the ‘neck’ attached to a grenade. So harmless in itself, but had a nasty bite, woof goes British democracy.

  4. Tim Slattery
    December 17, 2019 at 18:17

    Very well said, Ms. Johnstone!

  5. michael
    December 17, 2019 at 12:33

    Gallows humor?

  6. dfnslblty
    December 17, 2019 at 12:28

    A good essay about the global imperialistic attitude toward constituents and citizens.
    Protest Loudly.

    And study the movements in HK and in FR

  7. December 17, 2019 at 12:02

    “After an anti-imperialist, pro-Palestinian socialist was magically thrown into role of Opposition leader…”

    Just a quibble on word choice.

    “Pro-Palestinian” carries the sense of favoring that side.

    But that is not Corbyn’s view. He has always favored even-handed treatment of both parties, Palestinians and Israelis.

    Even-handedness or fairness is not what is wanted by Israel and its lobby. You must be overwhelmingly pro-Israeli.

    There was such direct interference in the elections of another country. Netanyahu spoke out as did several Israeli leaders. Just shameful. The main British press, including very much The Guardian, only joined in on the accusations.

    By the way, just watch the years-long accusations of “anti-Semitism” being endemic in the Party just evaporate now that Corbyn is gone.

    They always were ridiculous, as though anti-Semitism had somehow just suddenly exploded into being after Tony Blair’s long leadership.

  8. December 17, 2019 at 11:55

    People like Phillips are a dime a dozen – or ten a penny as we say in the UK – in the Labour party. Abject careerists and opportunists their sole objective is to ‘get on’ in politics and carve out a cosy little niche for themselves. Total ignorance of politics, economics and diplomacy is no hindrance – what is important is that they consort with the ‘right people’ and make the appropriate mouth noises in the correct company. The Labour party has also been heavily infiltrated by zionist front organizations, principal of which is ‘The Labour Friends of Israel’ – anyone who is anyone in the Labour party is leading member of this Trojan horse and of course people like Phillips are only too eager to join. Not that the honourable lady knows anything about zionism, the middle-east or much else for that matter. But hey, what does that matter.

    Unfortunately this is probably the same with most political parties. Politicians and journalists are generally able and willing servants of the ruling elites, although they would never admit as much. There are exceptions but these exceptions are few and far between and getting fewer. The paradigm seems broken; politics, journalism, banking and war are – to use Smedly Butler’s fitting description – a racket.

  9. Cameron Troxell
    December 17, 2019 at 11:50

    I agree – it is important to notice these little things, and not forget. For me this recalls an incident that happened almost exactly seven years ago, with a gentleman named Robbie Parker. Laughter and huge grin before (he thought) the camera was rolling, then trying to quickly switch over to being sad and somber.

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