As pointed out at the time, Priti Patel, who has inexplicably been elevated to one of the three great offices of state despite Theresa May sacking her for effectively conducting her own foreign policy with another country, was caught bang to rights by the host of The Andy Marr Show™ earlier this month smirking at him reading out a list of industry bodies who had claimed that Brexit “is a serious risk to manufacturing competitiveness and will result in huge new costs and disruption to UK firms”. But that was not the end of the matter.
Soon after the broadcast, the perpetually thirsty Paul Staines and his rabble at the Guido Fawkes blog decided that Ms Patel was not smirking, admonished the BBC by talking of “Bad form from Marr”, and thus triggered the Tory pushback against reality. It was not a smirk, they argued, but her “normal expression”. Like heck it was.
But as Peter Oborne pointed out in his recent piece about the amount of lying and smearing attributable to “a senior Downing Street source” (otherwise known as Bozo’s chief polecat Dominic Cummings), The Great Guido has now become “the provisional wing of Boris Johnson’s Conservative Party press office”.
And so began a welter of organised complaints, many of which were probably part of a pile-on signalled by the Fawkes massive effectively firing the starting gun. The BBC, as it has now reported, received 222 complaints, a Double Nelson which caused Lord Hall-Hall’s finest into abject submission. Yes, the Beeb said sorry. For doing its job.
“Andrew Marr commented on Priti Patel laughing after he glanced up while reading a list of business leaders concerned about the impact of Brexit on their industries … He thought he saw the home secretary smile but now accepts this was in fact her natural expression and wasn't indicating amusement at his line of questioning … There was no intention to cause offence and we are sorry if viewers felt this to be the case” they grovelled.
To no surprise at all, The Great Guido has gone in with both feet, sneering “Marr ‘Accepts He Was Wrong’ Over Priti Laugh Lie … The BBC have finally apologised to Priti Patel for falsely accusing her of laughing at warnings over a No Deal Brexit. In a statement responding to 222 written complaints, the corporation said that Marr ‘accepts this was in fact [Priti’s] natural expression’”. They said sorry to the Fawkes rabble.
Andrew Marr’s rebuke of Priti Patel was fair comment. If Shami Chakrabarti has to accept him losing it with her during an interview, and Diane Abbott has to endure the ritual humiliation dished out as part of a Question Time appearance, then Ms Patel should have no problem with something over which she did not bat an eyelid at the time.
Until the deliberate invention of the Fawkes gang - backed up by shouting “liar” at the first sign of weakness - is treated with the seriousness it merits, or in 99% of cases does not merit, then this will only get worse. As I’ve said previously, when you find yourself overrun by vermin, you do not ask if they’d like to play trick or treat. You call pest control.
The BBC capitulates too readily to right-wing thugs. And it’s about time it stopped.
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