BBC News chief James Harding is whining about politicians from all sides, who he claims threatened the BBC’s future funding over its handling of the election.
Harding, who is himself a Conservative, doesn’t really have a leg to stand on. The corporation’s news coverage has suffered serious bias for a considerable period of time – not only in the way it covers news, but in its choice of news coverage.
How many of you have attended large-scale anti-government demonstrations recently? How many of them made it onto the news without violence taking place?
“But, along the way, there were people from all parties who made the connection between their dissatisfaction with the election coverage and the fact that the next government will set the licence fee and the terms of the royal charter.
“Some did so explicitly. Nigel Farage, for example, said he was unhappy at Ukip’s treatment on the BBC and proposed cutting the licence fee by two thirds. Others left it hanging in the air.”
Farage had better coverage of his party than any of the other minor players (including the Liberal Democrats) – and more complimentary coverage than Labour! He had no reason to complain at all.
Harding said criticism of the BBC’s newsrooms was “unfair and unfounded”, including the “fabled leftwing bias” which he said he found “increasingly hard to take seriously in the light of the Conservative victory”.
“What’s the argument? That the BBC’s subtle, sophisticated leftwing message was so very subtle, so very sophisticated that it simply passed the British people by?” Harding told a Voice of the Listener and Viewer conference in London on Tuesday.
At least he’s being accurate here – but disingenuous about the reason for this, which is the fact that the BBC’s news editors and reporting team is too right-wing for words. Oh, but hang on…
“I find equally implausible the Labour critique that the BBC is too rightwing,”
… said Mr Harding, who is well-known as a Conservative – as are Fran Unsworth, deputy director of BBC news and current affairs; Mary Hockaday, head of newsroom; Gavin Allen, news editor, BBC News; Keith Blackmore, managing editor of news and current affairs; Jonathan Munro, head of newsgathering; and the chair of the BBC Trust, Rona Fairhead.
BBC political editor Nick Robinson is not only a Conservative; he’s a Conservative activist.
“Let me be clear: the BBC is scrupulously impartial. Of course, we make mistakes. I’m not saying we’re perfect; but we are impartial.”
Harding, the former editor of
… Rupert Murdoch’s right-wing mouthpiece …
The Times and a key lieutenant of BBC director general Tony Hall, said he “got it in the ear from politicians and their spokespeople from all political parties”.
“Labour was angry about the focus on the SNP, the Tories regularly questioned our running orders and editorial decisions, the Lib Dems felt they weren’t getting sufficient airtime, the Greens complained about being treated like a protest movement not a party,” he said.
If he was any good at his job, Harding would have said that none of these complaints are any of his business; the only thing that should have mattered to him was that the BBC was putting out accurate, impartial election coverage.
Considering his own personal history, that of his staff, the coverage we got and his reaction to criticism, this ex-newspaper editor can happily conclude that the BBC did not put out such coverage, and that some of the criticisms are accurate.
Perhaps the BBC would like to tell us where it hides reporters and editors with a left-wing background?