Mainstream news boss says journalists have a right to call politicians liars. She’s right – but a little late

Dorothy Byrne: I considered it wiser to use an image of her than to focus on a lying politician. I’m sure you can think of plenty of them.

Some of us over here on the social media have been calling Boris Johnson, Jo Swinson and their ilk liars for a considerable time.

But I welcome Dorothy Byrne’s call for mainstream media journalists to subject the political class to far closer scrutiny than they get at the moment.

She is absolutely right to say that a politician who has deliberately spoken a falsehood should be challenged over it – immediately.

I look forward to seeing this policy implemented across the BBC, ITV and Sky News, as well as Channel 4 – although I am concerned that Andrew Marr and/or Jo Coburn may choke while trying it.

Channel 4’s head of news has defended the right of journalists to call out politicians for telling lies.

Dorothy Byrne delivered a keynote speech at the Edinburgh TV Festival on Wednesday, calling Prime Minister Boris Johnson a “coward” for not granting news interviews.

She also said he was “a known liar”.

Byrne told the BBC: “If someone has deliberately spoken an untruth and we have evidence, we have to consider saying that what is said is a lie.”

Source: Channel 4 News boss says media have right to call politicians ‘liars’ – BBC News


  1. John Lincoln August 22, 2019 at 3:42 pm - Reply

    I note that she also said that Corbyn does not agree to being interviewed either often or at length – hardly at all in fact. Surely this is an opportunity to get the message across at every opportunity and he should agree to be interviewed and in depth?

    • Mike Sivier August 22, 2019 at 7:21 pm - Reply

      I’m not entirely convinced by that. I’ve seen him being interviewed many times.

      • John Lincoln August 22, 2019 at 7:47 pm - Reply

        Mike, nor was I when I first watched the lecture. However when I think back over the recent two/three years, I can remember quite a few brief news item interviews – very brief and very specific to a particular issue – but not many that might be called in-depth interviews. I can’t remember if he has ever been interviewed on R4’s Today but I have seen him on Andrew Marr at least twice. So the Channel 4 lady did overstate her case a little. Yet I still think he could do more. As for being invited by the high profile programmes, I agree I have read the odd one or two mentions of the fact that he is not often invited to participate in any extended interviews or discussions – apart from the 2017 General Election. It is certainly clear and apparent that the MSM will not engage with him to any great degree, unless it is slag him off with regard to issues like anti-semitism in the Labour Party. I wonder if Milne has an agenda in this regard and is monitoring when Corbyn should be interviewed.

    • Martin Douglas August 22, 2019 at 11:36 pm - Reply

      We can start by calling out that for what it is. A blatant lie. I’m sure he’d love the BBC to give him a long, in depth interview, and broadcast it all.

      • John Lincoln August 23, 2019 at 6:58 am - Reply

        If it is a blatant lie then why have we not heard from Labour? If Labour asked for interviews of Corbyn with mainstream media and been turned down, then why hasn’t Labour made these rejections public?

  2. James August 22, 2019 at 4:11 pm - Reply

    From the linked BBC piece: ‘”Boris Johnson and Jeremy Corbyn are cowards,” she said. “If they really believe in the policies they promote, they should come onto television to explain them, to allow them to be scrutinised and to justify them.”‘ The question is, how often is Corbyn INVITED onto television and given the opportunity to explain Labour policies? Or does she think he should just impose himself – bully his way on? That sounds much more what would be expected of ‘Boris’ and his ilk…

  3. John Lincoln August 23, 2019 at 8:06 am - Reply

    This is the sub-heading in today’s Guardian article on the McTaggart lecture –

    “The Channel 4 boss is right to challenge party leaders over the sharp recent reduction in access granted to journalists”

    Why is Labour not challenging this? Is Labour guilty of refusing access to the media?

    • Mike Sivier August 23, 2019 at 12:55 pm - Reply

      Well Labour has denied Asa Winstanley of The Electronic Intifada a press pass for this year’s party conference.

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