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Jeremy Corbyn’s team has sent a complaint to the BBC over its Panorama feature on the Labour leadership front-runner, The Independent has learnt.

A source in Mr Corbyn’s campaign accused the BBC of conducting “a complete hatchet job” on Mr Corbyn.

Panorama producers apparently told them they were filming for a documentary about the Labour leadership campaign as a whole, including all four candidates, but instead the programme turned out to be all about the one candidate, as the title of the show suggests, and only included a few brief clips of his three rivals.

[Corbyn campaigners] have also sent a copy of Mr Corbyn’s diary to prove he did not attend a conference in Cairo that advocated attacks on British and American troops, as was stated by the programme’s presenter, John Ware. The diary proves he attended events in his Islington constituency, his campaign claims.

The programme… attracted hundreds of complaints from viewers who claimed it was biased against Mr Corbyn and who accused the BBC of trying to persuade undecided voters not to vote for him, less than three days before the deadline for voting closed.

The dispute threatens to damage what is promising to be a good relationship between Mr Corbyn and the BBC, which faces the prospect of deep-rooted reforms by the Conservative government and a battle to maintain its ability to charge a £145 a-year licence fee, its main source of revenue.

Mr Corbyn has pledged to “put Labour at the forefront of the campaign to defend the BBC” if he wins the Labour leadership on Saturday.

Source: Jeremy Corbyn’s team send complaint to BBC over its ‘hatchet job’ Panorama programme – UK Politics – UK – The Independent

That last point is very interesting – but then, it seems the BBC is determined to make as many enemies as possible in what could be considered the corporate equivalent of self-harming. Even though the Independent article was not graced with a response, the BBC’s complaints team has replied to viewers’ criticisms. According to one Vox Political commenter, the wording is as follows:

“We have received a wide range of feedback about our coverage of this story… In the midst of a hard-fought contest for the Labour leadership, Panorama set out to profile Jeremy Corbyn whose campaign has been the surprise package of the election so far.”

So Mr Corbyn’s supporters were right that the BBC had no intention of making a documentary about all four candidates, it seems.

“Mr Corbyn was the only one of the four leadership candidates who was interviewed at length for the programme. When criticisms were raised of his policies or his judgement he was given time to respond. The programme also carried extracts from speeches he has made and demonstrated quite clearly the extent of his support, and the enthusiasm of his many supporters. It is hard to think that any viewer could have come away from this programme without understanding the momentum and the passion that Jeremy Corbyn’s campaign for the leadership has generated.

“Naturally, the programme featured prominent Labour politicians who oppose Mr Corbyn’s candidacy: that seems a fair reflection of the way the leadership campaign has divided opinion within the party. And, when we looked for voices to speak in support of Mr Corbyn, we chose quite deliberately to interview people who are not mainstream politicians – people like the comedian Grainne Maguire – because, again, that seems a fair reflection of a campaign in which Jeremy Corbyn has drawn strength and support from outside the Labour ‘establishment’.

“By their nature, election campaigns for the leadership of political parties are moments of heightened sensitivity, so we knew that Panorama’s judgements about balance and fairness in making this film would be sharply scrutinised. We sought to be fair in the way we allocated time within the programme to reflect opinions supportive of Jeremy Corbyn and opposed to him; in allowing him to answer as fully as possible any criticisms that were raised; and in representing the extraordinary campaign that has developed around him.

“There is strong opposition within the Labour Party to the idea of Jeremy Corbyn as its potential leader. We were bound to represent that within our programme, alongside his strong support. In the round, we hope we got the balance right.”

So, no mention of particular criticisms – just generalisations.

The BBC’s attitude is perplexing. Another commenter described it as all but saying, “Back off, pleb; we’re right and there’s nothing you can do about it,” which – given the fact that the BBC seems to be self-regulating with regard to complaints – seems to be true (the part about there being nothing to be done about it, not that part about being right).

But reports like this – and the recent More or Less fiasco over the incapacity death statistics – show the Corporation pandering to the Conservative Party, an organisation which the Independent report acknowledges is attacking the BBC.

If the Corporation was a Leftist haven, as its right-wing critics suggest, then it would be fighting tooth and nail to maintain its autonomy. It seems far more likely that the infiltration is from the Right, with the intention of ensuring as little resistance as possible.

If Mr Corbyn does become Labour leader tomorrow, he’ll need not only to defend the BBC, but also to purge it.

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