Now retired from the BBC Radio 4 Today Programme - to the intense relief of those inside the Corporation and elsewhere who wished he had gone rather earlier - John Humphrys has decided to tell all to the newspaper for which he was writing when still supposedly an impartial presenter and interviewer - the Daily Mail. And because he criticises the Beeb, his thoughts get front page banner headline billing.
“EXCLUSIVE: Days after he retired, we publish bombshell book by Radio 4’s John Humphrys … BBC ICON SAVAGES BIAS … AT THE BEEB”, thunders the headline, going on to tell “JOHN Humphrys today lifts the lid on the ‘institutional liberal bias’ at the BBC”. Which sounds fine and original, except that he did the same thing more than five years ago in an interview for the Radio Times. Here’s what he said then.
“The BBC has tended over the years to be broadly liberal as opposed to broadly conservative … We weren’t sufficiently sceptical - that’s the most accurate phrase - of the pro-European case. We bought into the European ideal”. Now compare and contrast with the supposedly original version in today’s Mail.
“The BBC sometimes fails so badly to spot a change in the nation’s mood … Immigration was one of them. Euroscepticism - once belittled as a small-minded, blinkered view of extremists - was another … That there is a form of institutional liberal bias, however, I have no doubt”. Spot the difference. But then he goes horribly wrong.
F*** off, c***, I've retired
“In his candid book, A Day Like Today, he describes the corporation as being terrified of offending ‘fashionable pressure groups - usually from the liberal Left, the spiritual home of most bosses and staff’”. This is bullshit. Had that been the case, the BBC would not have invited representatives of every right-leaning Astroturf lobby group on to its turf - witness the parade of representatives from the TPA, CPS, IEA, ASI, PX and the rest.
The Mail article also, revealingly, tells “Humphrys, who grew up in post-war Cardiff, bemoans ‘the growth of groups of employees who conflate and, perhaps, confuse their own interests with those of the wider world’”. Like, even sub-consciously, himself.
As former Guardian man Michael White pointed out, “Puzzling paradox? 24 hours after distinguished BBC veteran - and Tory - gets extravagantly generous retirement send off ( from BBC) he savages its ‘liberal bias.’ Where does he do this ? In the Daily Mail”. Because Humph is a Mail columnist. Moreover, he and the paper’s former editor, the legendarily foul mouthed Paul Dacre, go back a long way together.
White confirms this as he tells “John and [Paul] Dacre see themselves as provincial puritans come to London to slay liberal elitist dragons. At least John started [out] poor in Cardiff, not [like] Sir Paul [who] grew up quite comfortably in North London and now owns estates in Sussex and Scotland”. And who, of course, is not Sir Paul.
All of which confirms that Humphrys has run to the Mail to spin and promote his book, whose content is not as new as he’d like us to think, thus confirming that one person’s impartiality is another’s unconscious small-c conservative bias.
As he does so, he complains about the hand that fed him for decades. What a trouper.
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