The BBC, in its wisdom, has not seen fit to offer an appearance, either on television or radio, or indeed online, to the Observer’s Carole Cadwalladr since the occasion when she was crudely ambushed by mercenary hack Isabel Oakeshott on The Andy Marr Show™. Worse, the Corporation has also not seen fit to explain why this might be, although its management has had ample opportunity to do so.
This reticence, bordering on the monastic, from Lord Hall-Hall and his team, was to have been ended today, though, at the Edinburgh TV Festival. As the blurb tells, “Carole Cadwalladr, the investigative journalist who rose to international fame last year after breaking the Cambridge Analytica scandal, will be making her first appearance at the TV Festival on Wednesday”. The event is called “Who Gets A Voice?”
Lord Hall-Hall. On his Manor
There is more. “In conversation with Canadian broadcast journalist Richard Gizbert from Al Jazeera’s The Listening Post, the Pulitzer-nominated writer will be discussing the responsibility of mainstream broadcasters in holding power to account, the new dark power of tech titans and new media’s involvement in public thought and polling … Cadwalladr will discuss what can be learnt and changed by keeping these dangers in the public eye and how we continue to scrutinise mainstream media”.
It seems the talk was also to have been graced by Question Time editor Hilary O’Neill, which would have given her, on behalf of the Beeb, an opportunity to explain why Ms Cadwalladr has not been asked back, while Ms Oakeshott, notoriously has - and, indeed, on Question Time. But there was bad news this morning.
While en route to Edinburgh, Ms Cadwalladr told “On way to Edinburgh TV festival to debate BBC QuestionTime editor about who gets telly time..but she cancelled & seems no-one else is available”. What a surprise, or maybe not. She was not downhearted, though, and encouraged her fans to attend: “Anyway, [Richard Gisbert] & I will be talking about these issues - minus any senior exec from BBC - regardless. If you’re at Edinburgh TV festival come & join: 12.40 in the Tinto, lunch provided. All welcome!”
Ms Cadwalladr was most keen that those from within the TV industry turn up, even though those from the BBC would not. “Dear TV professionals/controllers, this session starts in 15 mins. Hope some of you make it. It’s an important subject but apparently BBC & Channel 4 has no platformed a panel debate about who gets a platform”. Indeed.
And as to why no-one from the Beeb turned up, one Twitter exchange proved instructive. After Angus Kerr asked “Carole shouldn’t you be speaking to [Rob Burley]?” - Burley is editor of the BBC’s live political programmes, including the Marr Show and Politics Live - she responded “He was asked! And was up for it but didn’t get permission to come unfortunately”. That’s a most revealing answer.
What it suggests is that word has gone out from the highest level at the Corporation not to explain its behaviour to such undeserving souls as the licence fee paying public.
It also suggests that the person being grilled should not be Ms O’Neill, or even Burley, but Lord Hall-Hall himself. Why is your firm so coy, Tone? We’re waiting.
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