The BBC’s choice of guests has been under scrutiny for some time now, whether it is the closed loop of right-wing rant merchants chosen as paper reviewers for The Andy Marr Show™, that array of Astroturf lobby groups worming its way on to any and every political discussion, or who gets into the Question Time audience, the suspicion remains that the Corporation’s judgment has been less than ideal at times.
This view was not helped by the appearance on Newsnight of someone called Lynn Hayter. As i News has reported, “A ‘vicar’ who has appeared on Newsnight to voice support for Theresa May also works as an actress. Lynn Hayter, who performs on screen using her middle name, Marina, has spoken out in favour of Brexit and the Prime Minister on the BBC’s flagship news and current affairs programme sporting a dog collar”.
Well, look on the bright side, it wasn’t Bounce the dog, was it? On a serious note, though, Ms Hayter is not really a vicar. Her “ministry”, such as it is, exists only in online form. She hasn’t, as far as is known, been ordained, and certainly not by any Church that would be considered mainstream. Or even fringe. Some were unimpressed.
Andrew Adonis was one of them. “Is it true that @BBCNewsnight engaged actors to put the Leave argument in a recent studio discussion because they wanted the Leave case put more strongly?” he mused. At which point the Beeb, instead of owning up that they had put someone who was not a real vicar on Newsnight, dug themselves in deeper.
This is projection on a jaw-dropping scale ...
Host Emily Maitlis was one of those digging as she responded to Adonis. “Andrew - don't become a peddler of fake news. Not in this day and age. Not when we need our parliamentarians to be better and more trusted than ever. To have got to a place where you could chose to believe that enough to write it - is deeply worrying”.
... while this is plain dishonest
Yeah, right. He’s not peddling anything. He’s asking a question. To which Ms Maitlis’ answer is worryingly evasive. So was the official Newsnight response: “Claims that Lynn appeared on #newsnight as a paid actor are false. Lynn is a pastor and was a genuine participant of our Brexit debate. She carries out work as an extra using her middle name but this is not relevant to the capacity in which she appeared”.
She appeared looking like a vicar. She isn’t one. The outfit she chose to wear suggests an authority she does not possess. So the thought inevitably enters that some kind of deceit has been practised upon the viewing public. That is down entirely to the BBC (Tom Pride has suggested someone should resign over this. I can see his point).
As to the idea she is a pastor, Jim Waterson observed “I'm not entirely sure of the size of her church. It largely seems to consist of her preaching to an unknown audience about how to get rich, while being blessed by a self-declared bishop from Hickory, North Carolina. But you know, each to their own”. Who’s “faking”, Ms Maitlis?
The BBC has form for putting less than disinterested guests in the Question Time audience. Some of their subject “experts” don’t know their specialist area from a hole in the ground. And now we have a fake “vicar” defended to the hilt by Newsnight.
Someone at the Beeb needs to get a grip before this gets worse. Full stop, end of story.
Enjoy your visit to Zelo Street? You can help this truly independent blog carry on talking truth to power, while retaining its sense of humour, by adding to its Just Giving page at