Eddie Mair 4pm - 7pm
James O'Brien's Scathing Take On "The Freedom Of The Press"
21 February 2018, 11:13
James O'Brien had a simple question regarding recent press coverage: "How could anyone be more interested in what was said when Jeremy Cornyn had a cup of tea at the House of Commons with a discredited spy then when Theresa May had a private dinner with the editor of the Daily Mail?"
Newspaper reports over the last few days have said Mr Corbyn gave secrets to a Czech spy, although Czech authorities have discredited much of what the spy said.
The story led the Labour leader to warn he would press ahead with press reforms if he becomes Prime Minister.
And while James doesn't hold a torch for Mr Corbyn, he admitted that he agrees with his take on the newspapers.
Speaking on his LBC show, James said: "I'm less interested in what was said in public over a cup of tea in the House of Commons between Jeremy Corbyn and an alleged spy discredited by his own side several decades ago than I am in the private dinners with no minutes and no public pronouncements undertaken by the editors of national newspapers like The Daily Mail and David Davis, who returned early from negotiations in Brussels to have a dinner with the editor of The Daily Mail.
"And Theresa May, who's also been having private dinners.
"All of these right-wing journalists talking to you today about democracy and accountability and transparency, I'd love to know what they talked to the Prime Minister about. Because that's not a free press.
"That is an incredibly powerful cabal of incredibly unaccountable people exercising incredible power over a very weak Prime Minister. That's not a free press. These people who were bleating today about how government should not have any influence over the media are actually bleating about the possibility of the media having less influence over the government.
"It's a crucial distinction. I just wish I was making this point on behalf of someone other than Comrade Corbyn.
"So there's the thing. How can you look at the vista of the British print media in particular and conclude anything other than what Jeremy Corbyn has said?"