After Channel 4 News blew the whistle on the malign influence of Robbie Gibb on the Corporation’s Brexit stance, more pieces of this singularly incriminating jigsaw began to fall into place, yet those at the BBC defending their behaviour continue to maintain the conceit that there is nothing to see here, and nothing is wrong.
Robbie Gibb - éminence grise ... or éminence bleue?
As for Gibb, he has declared that He Didn’t Do It, but to PR Week, and if he thinks this will prompt mass registrations to that paywalled site, he has another think coming. We know, as in the style made famous by Mandy Rice Davies, that he would say that. His problem is that others are picking apart his, and the Beeb’s, defences.
Carole Cadwalladr - still seeking answers
After the Observer’s Carole Cadwalladr told “The @bbc has serious & urgent questions to answer around its coverage of this entire story. The world would know nothing of #CambridgeAnalytica or #VoteLeave scandals if left to @bbc. It dropped 2 investigations & failed & failed again to cover @shahmiruk’s revelations” came the pushback.
Arron Banks - disreputable liar
This was left to the Corporation’s editor of live political programmes Rob Burley, who countered “We haven’t. We have had CC on Politics Live and Marr - also inviting her last week to come on PL. We’ve also had Chris Wylie and Shamir Sanni on outlets and covered the issues around all this in interviews with Vote Leave reps. So those are the facts”. Rob is a good bloke. But this time his response is horribly disingenuous.
As Ms Cadwalladr told in response, “This is completely misleading. I wasn’t asked [a] single [question] about @shahmiruk though this was supposed basis of invite into Marr. I was refused right to reply to smears broadcast by both Banks on Marr & Neil on Twitter on Newswatch. BBC failed at every step on Vote Leave story”. Also, Byline Media’s Peter Jukes was similarly refused a right of reply. And it got worse.
The Marr Show appearance was an all too obviously staged confrontation with mercenary hack Isabel Oakeshott. A similarly staged confrontation between Ms Cadwalladr and a Brexit backer on the Radio 4 Today programme was declined by her. Moreover, the inexcusable way in which the Corporation’s political editor Laura Kuenssberg effectively took dictation from Vote Leave’s Matthew Elliott also needs addressing.
Worse, the Gibb influence appears to have continued after the referendum, with James Chapman recalling “I had dinner with @RobbieGibb and others while working @DExEUgov and he had lots of interesting suggestions for how to get more positive Brexit stories on @BBCNews”. Not more suggestions for putting a balanced picture across.
And we should not forget Jolyon Maugham’s observation “I am also aware that the BBC started and then dropped a piece of investigatory journalism into collusion between Vote Leave and Darren Grimes. I have the emails in which they say exactly that”. The evidence keeps building up. There is no point in Burley trying to defend this.
There is only one avenue left to the BBC if it wants to both clear the air, and clear the decks - to allow an independent inquiry to take place and establish exactly who did what, when, and why. And whether Gibb is still exercising influence over the Corporation.
Only then will public confidence in the broadcaster be restored. That is all.
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