Perhaps he should have been impartial: BBC News’s top Tory James Harding whinges about criticism of election coverage

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?

Source: BBC news chief: politicians of all parties made threats to funding | Media | The Guardian

7 thoughts on “Perhaps he should have been impartial: BBC News’s top Tory James Harding whinges about criticism of election coverage

  1. amnesiaclinic

    That the BBC is doing such an awful, biased job against the tories it should be dismantled is the story and so be privatised…
    It wouldn’t just be the news that suffers because we know that is biased and just a mouthpiece for the government and the corporate cabal but many other things would go.
    It does waste money but that doesn’t mean the whole thing should be abolished but sensibly reformed with much more input from the public.

    1. Mike Sivier Post author

      Yes, it’s another example of the Tory attack on publicly-funded organisations.
      This time, defunding is a much harder option, so the attack has been by infiltration – Tory supporters have been put in place to bring the Corporation into disrepute and make it acceptable to the public for the BBC to be changed.
      The important thing is to show that we see through this.

      1. Florence

        Typically Tory too, is the attack on the so-called left-wing bias of the news reporting, so they can agitate to privatise the greater BBC, which is the real jewel in the crown for the like of Murdoch.

  2. NMac

    Generally the Tories consider any criticism of them, however slight, as something tantamount to treason.

  3. Joan Edington

    If Labour thought that the SNP got preferential treatment from the BBC I don’t know what programmes they watched. BBC bias is not just against the SNP but also against their own so-called BBC Scotland. For anyone interested in previous bias (probably not you Mike), there is a pretty good Kindle book out by GA Ponsonby which details the sort of dirty reporting that was going on, with properly researched sources. It’s called London Calling, How the BBC Stole the Referendum. BBC Scotland has lass say in Scottish broadcasting than the oft-misnamed Scottish Labour Party.

    1. Mike Sivier Post author

      Why “probably not you Mike”?
      I’m interested in facts.
      If somebody has facts, I want to know.
      One inconvenient fact (for you) is that the SNP is known to have diverged from honesty many, many times.

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