Once again, Match of the Day lead presenter Gary Lineker has been upbraided for the heinous sin of expressing an opinion. As the Guardian has reported, “BBC Sport host Gary Lineker has been criticised by his colleague Jonathan Agnew for expressing his political views on Twitter … Agnew … criticised his colleague for voicing his political views, saying that doing so breached BBC editorial guidelines”. And there was more.
“While some on Twitter supported Agnew, with one writing ‘Get in, Aggers’ and another ‘Thank you Aggers’, Agnew said that he had received far more responses opposing his views than supporting them. He tweeted: ‘Ok. View is overwhelmingly going Gary! You can stop the aggro now.’ … After many people, including a Labour MP, said that Agnew’s tweet confirmed he was a Brexiteer, Agnew tweeted he had voted Remain”.
The interest in this exchange was such that the BBC itself reported the story. And by doing so, the Corporation opened itself up to charges of rank hypocrisy. After telling “BBC Match of the Day presenter Gary Lineker is not shy when it comes to airing his political views on social media. But his latest comments … have seen him get a public dressing down by his BBC colleague Jonathan Agnew”, they posted an explainer on the rules.
Under the heading “So what are BBC presenters not allowed to say?” it has told “The guidelines state that BBC staff and freelancers who work for BBC News and Current Affairs must not … State or reveal publicly how they vote or express support for any political party … Express a view for or against any policy which is a matter of current party political debate … Advocate any particular position on a matter of public policy, political or industrial controversy, or any other 'controversial subject’ … Exhort a change in high-profile public policy”. That’s admirably clear. So what about Brillo and Humph?
Andrew Neil, who is caught by the definition “BBC staff and freelancers”, has been caught not only expressing political opinions, and forthright ones at that, he’s been spoken to about his abusive behaviour towards the Observer’s Carole Cadwalladr, and also regularly uses his Twitter feed to promote the increasingly alt-right Spectator magazine.
When at the BBC, he works for News and Current Affairs. He infamously used the platform given him by the Corporation to push climate change denialism (debunked by this blog HERE). And he isn’t the only BBC News and Current Affairs host regularly breaking those guidelines that the Beeb has so helpfully put out there.
John Humphrys, lead host of the Radio 4 Today Programme, is a regular purveyor of his own opinion as if it were accepted fact. He even has a column in the Daily Mail. But all the attention is now being focused, perhaps not by mere coincidence, on Gary Lineker.
That’s most convenient for the Corporation. But the questions will not go away. So perhaps Lord Hall-Hall and his minions can now explain to us why the guidelines apply to Aggers and his Crickers, but not to Humph’s Grumps, and Brillo’s Twittoes?
After all, we pay for this organisation to continue in business. I’ll just leave that one there.
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