What the Brexit documentary aired by the BBC earlier this week shows is that its political editor Laura Kuenssberg is nothing if not dedicated and hard-working. She displays a strong work ethic. But sometimes it’s a case of, to paraphrase Peter Cook, "her work ethic I like very much. I have nothing against her work ethic. The problem is, neither does she".
The problem which Ms Kuenssberg, and indeed the Beeb’s assistant political editor Norman Smith, face is not their work rate, nor their appetite for seeking out the news, but their occasionally inconsistent attitude towards politicians who are not to the right of the political centre. Put directly, they have a problem with the Labour leadership.
That matters in the fevered atmosphere in which politics now finds itself. When the BBC so much as suggests that Jeremy Corbyn is someone at whom the public should turn their noses up, it not only helps the right-leaning part of the Fourth Estate to put the boot in, but also engenders a more general hostility towards Jezza and his supporters, while all the while saying nothing when the press pretend that hostility comes the other way.
Thus it was that Michael Walker of Novara Media observed of the BBC’s latest Brexit coverage “The BBC’s political editor’s update of events never considers May might not be acting in good faith, yet manages to question Corbyn’s trustworthiness. It’s not analysis, it’s pantomime, and @bbclaurak clearly chose her ‘baddie’ a long time ago”.
Meanwhile, the Tweeter known as Devutopia added “The Deputy [Assistant!] Political Editor of the BBC calls Jeremy Corbyn ‘a Marxist’ live on BBC1. BBC journos aren’t reporters, they are the spokespeople for the right wing establishment and we’re forced by law to pay for this”. Smith was quoting Tory MPs, but the point is well made. When is the Beeb going to challenge the likes of Iain Duncan Cough to define “A Marxist”?
Back with Norman Smith, as the Tweeter known as Wirral In It pointed out, the BBC man had clearly disclosed Jezza’s address, adding “Corbyn was later punched & a man jailed. And now the Paras are inciting hatred”. Wait, what? Yes, as ITV News has revealed, “British army launch investigation after ‘totally unacceptable’ footage of soldiers shooting at a poster of Jeremy Corbyn emerges on social media”.
ITV political editor Robert Peston added “I cannot even begin to think how much damage this does to our global reputation. What has happened to us?” But then, so many of his fellow journalists, especially those in the press, and as pointed out, also at the BBC, have started their consumers along that road. The soldiers have reached the logical end point.
Perhaps now some of those journalists will stop and think. After all, as Tom Pride has had to point out, “You've got to admit though, Jeremy Corbyn managing to combine being a Czech spy, Putin collaborator, neo-Nazi, member of ISIS, the IRA and Communist Party with being leader of the Opposition, and still finding time to make jam and outmaneuver Theresa May, is bloody impressive”. Calling investigative journalists. Any still left?
When even the BBC is joining the Corbyn bashing, journalism in this country has a problem. That problem needs to be admitted before the violence gets worse.
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