The Media Coverage on the controversial Liam Neeson comments

The topic of conversation in these two opinion articles is important to note in order to fully comprehend the differences in the two journalist’s ethics. The issue being discussed is Liam Neesons controversial comments where he stated he wanted to kill any black man after finding out a good friend of his had been sexually assaulted. To put the statement into context he was reflecting on how he has learned this is not the correct mindset and ideology to have and he has learned from his mistakes. The statement sparked a wider debate on how we should look at race relations and how we should treat people who were perhaps narrow minded at one point but have learned to grow out of that mindset. One of the articles is written by famous journalist Piers Morgan who writes for the right-wing tabloid ‘The Daily Mail’. The other article is written by John Barnes, a famous black former footballer who writes for the left leaning tabloid ‘The Guardian.’

In the article by Piers Morgan it is clear to see that there is a certain level of self-vindication. Morgan constantly refers to how he is ‘personally disgusted’ by the comments made by Liam Neeson. Rather than addressing the situation from an open and liberal viewpoint, Morgan has instead used the situation to try to prove that he is not racist himself and that he finds the comments to be appalling. This could stem from the fact that Morgan is a middle-aged white journalist who needs to prove to his audience that he is not racist.

Furthermore, Morgan states that he disagrees with John Barnes who states that Liam Neeson should be given a medal for his openness and honesty. Firstly, it should not be Morgan’s place to tell Barnes, a black Englishman, what is racist and what is not racist. Morgan’s warped and privileged stand point means that he has not experienced racism as a minority would have done. In contrast, John Barnes has been a victim of racism his entire life and career as an English footballer during the 80s and 90s. This instantly gives Barnes’ argument and opinion far more weight and credibility.

Through reading the article by John Barnes it is clear to see that his opinion on the subject comes from a place a compassion and understanding. While Morgan barely scraped the surface of the issue, instead making sure he came across as disgusted and appalled as possible, Barnes looks at the bigger picture. John Barnes delves into the sociological and psychological debate surrounding the idea of race relations between people from all walk of life, specifically in the UK. Barnes begins the article by addressing the fact that everyone including himself is susceptible to have an unconscious racial bias. Barnes then goes on to explain how the media will utilise the story to gain views and readership before explaining how simply condemning Neeson is only to end the conversation on the racial bias that most of us are too afraid to admit.

The two articles mention each other due to their completely opposing views. In one of the most defining points in the article John Barnes writes, “So Piers Morgan, for example, moved seamlessly from lambasting MSP Ross Greer for correctly identifying Winston Churchill as a “white supremacist, mass murderer”, to criticising me for my support of Neeson. To top it off he claims to know what black people think, declaring: “If you’re a black person in Britain, in America, anywhere in the world, this is about as offensive as it gets.” Through this extract it is clear to see that the two articles simply do not compare in a journalistic sense. It should be the job of a journalist to highlight and engage in debates and conversations surrounding the complex issue of race rather than to end them in favour of trying to prove to your readership that you are in fact not racist.

Barnes shows throughout his article that he is genuinely more concerned with people being able to talk honestly and discuss issues and biases that surround race. In his ending paragraph he states that ‘The fight against racial bias in society will not be won by hounding Liam Neeson or boycotting his films. It will be won by allowing honest discussions about why people hold biased views and exposing the flawed logic behind them.’ This encapsulates the running theme and ideologies behind the article, in contrast Piers Morgan ends his article by defining and labelling Liam Neeson as an outright racist. To conclude the two articles shows a stark contrast between an egotistical and insecure journalist in comparison to a journalist who uses compassion and understanding to find the underlying and important issue in order to create a conversation that will benefit society.

Categories: Essays

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