Back in the firing line, not that you will read much about it in the right-leaning part of our free and fearless press, is the claim that the BBC has been exhibiting bias against the Labour Party. This time, there is the added spice of a General Election campaign as the backdrop - plus an intervention today from an investigative journalist with decades of experience, who has put the Corporation’s Panorama strand under the spotlight.
As Reuters has reported, Labour “wrote to the head of the BBC on Thursday to complain about its coverage of campaigning ahead of [the] election, accusing the publicly-funded broadcaster of bias … Labour’s co-campaign coordinator Andrew Gwynne said they had recorded numerous examples where his party’s leadership had received 'more negative treatment, harsher scrutiny and slanted editorial comment’ than [the] Conservatives”.
Gwynne’s letter to Lord Hall-Hall noted “That bias has been reflected in the framing, content and balance of BBC reporting during the campaign … If the Conservatives are allowed to ‘play’ or manipulate the BBC, and this behaviour goes unchecked, then the corporation will have effectively been complicit in giving the Conservative Party an unfair electoral advantage”. And the charge sheet is not exactly short of detail.
There was, for instance, last night’s live debate between Jeremy Corbyn and alleged Prime Minister Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson, where Nick Robinson missed something Richard Bartholomew did not. “Nick Robinson: “You have candidates who have Re-Tweeted Tommy Robinson talking about - quotes - ‘Muslim paedophiles’ … Boris Johnson: ‘All those candidates have either apologised or are now subject to investigation.’”
So what happened to “First bounce and you’re out?” And, in any case, Bozo’s statement was not true. Dan Bloom of the Mirror picked up another Bozo whopper. “Boris Johnson on Usman Khan case: ‘There was no parole *or probation* involved in this … Press Association: ‘Khan’s sentence was an extended sentence, [which] meant he would have been supervised by the probation service for the 13 years after his release.’”
Then came the inevitable slip by political editor Laura Kuenssberg, telling yesterday “Latest in Neil-gate - Senior Conservative source claims public might not be interested in Johnson interview - ‘The public are fed up with interviews that are all about the interviewer and endless interruptions. The format is tired and broken and needs to change’”. Taking dictation. Just like she did with Matthew Elliott over Vote Leave’s lawbreaking.
But most damning of all, perhaps, is the report published today by journalist Paddy French, now editing the Press Gang site (see it HERE) which castigates the BBC over its Panorama edition “Is Labour anti-Semitic?” and “cites nine separate occasions when programme-makers were in breach of the Editorial Guidelines”. Nine occasions.
French concludes “It’s important to stress that this is more a report about the journalistic failures of Panorama and less about politics generally or the rights and wrongs of the Israel-Palestine situation. However, the Panorama programme crossed a line from balanced reporting and joined the right wing media chorus using anti-Semitism as a stick to beat Labour in general and Jeremy Corbyn in particular”.
If it looks biased, walks like it’s biased and quacks like it’s biased, perhaps it is biased.
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