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When TV licence-fee payers take to the streets in protest against BBC news coverage, you know there’s something rotten in New Broadcasting House.
The Corporation’s political editor, Nick Robinson, is apparently responsible for kicking up the stink – by broadcasting a misleading report about SNP leader Alex Salmond. Robinson claimed Salmond failed to answer a question during a news conference but footage has emerged on the Internet providing no less than seven minutes of proof to the contrary.
Did you notice the word “apparently” in the immediately preceding paragraph? It is there for a very good reason.
There is no doubt that Robinson knowingly misled the viewing public by making a false claim about Alex Salmond. The SNP leader definitely answered his question as this Pride’s Purge article makes clear. It is surprising that, after multiple debunkings of the mainstream media by their social media counterparts, organisations like the BBC still think they can get away with this kind of behaviour.
The operative question is, why did Robinson ignore what Salmond said? Was it not what he wanted to hear? Was the reference to information that should not have been divulged to the BBC too sensitive for the Corporation to allow onto our screens? Or was there a more deep-seated political agenda?
Frequent Vox Political commenter Jeffrey Davies reckons that Robinson’s report is a breach of the Trades Descriptions Act 1968.
In his comment, he says he bought his licence in the belief that the BBC would follow its Charter and Agreement (Section 3: Accuracy, Principles) commits it to fair, unbiased coverage:
“The BBC must not knowingly and materially mislead its audiences. We should not distort known facts, present invented material as fact or otherwise undermine our audiences’ trust in our content.”
Regarding the Salmond incident, he said it breaches Article 44 of the BBC Trust Charter Agreement, which states: “(1) The BBC must do all it can to ensure that controversial subjects are treated with due accuracy and impartiality in all relevant output.”
He is right, and it is right that Robinson should pay for what he has tried to do.
But what about Fran Unsworth, deputy director of BBC news and current affairs; Mary Hockaday, head of newsroom; and Gavin Allen, news editor, BBC News? According to Private Eye (issue 1369, 27 June – 10 July 2014, p12), “all vie for control of the [New Broadcasting House] newsroom and the historic task of ‘driving the news agenda’.” If that is correct, which of them carries the responsibility for this cock-up?
Come to that, what about Keith Blackmore, managing editor of news and current affairs; Jonathan Munro, head of newsgathering; and their boss James Harding, the director of news? Did they have a hand in this balls-up?
Or did the rot emanate from the new chair of the BBC Trust, Rona Fairhead – who only took up her position last Tuesday (September 9)? What’s her involvement in this cock-and-ball story?
Why mention these directorial types when a news report is the responsibility of the person making it? Simple.
Most – if not all – of these distinguished personnel are also distinguished Conservatives, and it is known that the Conservative Party supports the ‘No’ camp in the referendum campaign.
Robinson is also a dyed-in-the-wool Conservative, as the following (again from Pride’s Purge) makes clear:
Therefore we must ask whether any or all of them agreed to ‘slant’ BBC reporting in favour of the ‘No’ camp in an effort to influence voters on behalf of their Tory masters.
We should demand their suspension while an impartial investigation takes place – followed by their resignation if they are found to have any responsibility in this matter.
Do you think that is overstating the matter?
Then perhaps some other matters should also be taken into consideration, including the privatisation of the National Health Service, the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, and the abuse of sick and disabled people by the Department for Work and Pensions – all of which are considered to have enjoyed either biased reporting or have been ignored altogether by lovable, licence-fee-funded Auntie.
38Degrees has launched a petition calling for an independent inquiry into BBC bias regarding the Scottish referendum campaign. To sign, visit this site.
Follow me on Twitter: @MidWalesMike
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