If anyone were still uncertain as to the lengths to which BBC management will go in order to pretend that there are really no problems at all with its behaviour, or that of some of its senior staff, the most recent pronouncement from the Director General of the Corporation should set them straight, especially when put alongside more of that less than pleasant behaviour. The Beeb’s own report sets the scene.
“The BBC's director general has spoken out against the ‘disgraceful’ attacks made on journalists on social media … Tony Hall said journalists received ‘constant anonymous threats’ on Twitter for ‘simply reporting on opinions that some people might not want to hear’ … Earlier this year, the BBC's political editor Laura Kuenssberg said she no longer reads what people say online” it explains.
And there is more. “Lord Hall said social media threats were part of ‘an attempt to intimidate people and stop them doing their jobs’ … He told the conference: ‘It is hard to remember a time in which journalists across the world have been deliberately targeted in the way they are today’ … he wanted the BBC's journalists ‘to tackle fake news - or what we should more properly call misinformation - wherever they find it’”.
Carole Cadwalladr - still no right of reply
This is all laudable stuff. But what Lord Hall-Hall manages to miss is that one of his own senior presenters is a fully engaged participant in “attacks made on journalists on social media” because his targets are “simply reporting on opinions that some people might not want to hear”. The social media threats thus generated are indeed “an attempt to intimidate people and stop them doing their jobs”.
As for Fake News, the presenter in question is doing little to combat this when he is promoting the perpetually thirsty Paul Staines and his rabble at the Guido Fawkes blog, the increasingly shrill alt-right Spectator magazine, and engaging in pile-ons against female politicians and journalists who have incurred his displeasure.
Small wonder the Observer’s Carole Cadwalladr responded to Lord Hall-Hall “Incredible. You should see what your star politics presenter has unleashed onto my feed. What he's sanctioned & legitimised”. The “star politics presenter” is of course Andrew Neil.
And Neil’s behaviour can be seen at its unpleasant worst in the aftermath of Green Party MEP Molly Scott Cato telling “Here’s the email to the BBC sent by myself and @CarolineLucas explaining why they should reverse their decision to give a platform to Arron Banks. Please continue with your own complaints about this appalling decision”.
After Ms Lucas had confirmed “Appalling misjudgement to give platform to Arron Banks on BBC tomorrow Please do make your own complaint”, off went Brillo. “Thank god the future of the free press is not in your hands - or there would be no free press. You should be ashamed of yourself”. She wasn’t talking about the press. And she’s entitled to complain.
It was Trevor Kavanagh batting for Kelvin McFilth all over again. The kind of behaviour that Lord Hall-Hall has condemned when others do it. So why is the DG blind to such behaviour when it comes from his own side? Well, Tony?
Criticise others for bad behaviour, BBC - but get your own house in order first.
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