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Thursday 28 May 2020

BBC’s Shameful Surrender

Once again, the denizens of New Broadcasting House have leaned over so far in order to appease the right that they have fallen flat on their faces: Tuesday evening’s edition of Newsnight began with a monologue to camera by host Emily Maitlis; she passed adverse but factually correct comment on chief Downing Street polecat Dominic Cummings; the Tories complained; the Beeb caved in and as a result stands diminished.
Emily Maitlis

Moreover, including the wording “we believe the introduction we broadcast did not meet our standards of due impartiality” in the Corporation’s craven surrender note gave the green light for the right-wing press to administer another kicking, with the Murdoch Times carping “BBC admits attack on Cummings broke rules”, while the increasingly desperate and downmarket Telegraph sneered “Maitlis broke BBC rules with Cummings rant”.
Worse for Lord Hall-Hall and his minions, comparisons were soon being made with the lack of admonishment meted out to Ms Maitlis’ fellow hosts and commentators, not least Andrew Neil, who was not disciplined for using the Sunday Politics’ web presence to peddle climate change denialism, nor for his part in the infamous Daily Politics edition where a shadow junior minister resigned live on air.
And talking of that Daily Politics episode, Neil’s co-conspirator, political editor Laura Kuenssberg, also escaped censure, as she did recently for openly defending Polecat Dom on Twitter after his lockdown-busting trip to Durham has been exposed. She also got away with another infamous episode, effectively taking dictation from the grotesquely dishonest Matthew Elliott after Vote Leave was caught breaking electoral law.
It got worse: as Dawn Foster put it, “Strange how the BBC are hardline when Maitlis discusses Dominic Cummings, but don’t care when she attacks trade unions”. James O’Brien added “Maitlis doesn't publish The Spectator. BBC managers aren't scared of her paid attack dogs (She doesn't have any)”. Andrew Neil is allowed his role at the Speccy, despite its publication of Islamophobes, and one Nazi-sympathising anti-Semite.
The Spectator also recently published a piece by Cummings’ wife Mary Wakefield which appears not to tally with the truth about that Durham trip, but hey ho. John O’Connell of Far Right Watch had picked up on this ambiguity. “Emily Maitlis is critiqued. Laura Kuenssberg is not. The BBC itself is not upholding those 'highest standards of due impartiality' that it seems to revere so highly.” Well, quite.
Carole Cadwalladr was surprised at the speed at which the BBC caved in. “BBC complaints don't work like this. The procedure takes months & eventually ends up in 'executive complaints unit'. This is an extraordinary review by unknown persons. Could [BBC News PR] please tell us on what basis this review took place & who made this decision?” Who took the decision? Was it handed down from board level?
Events later span out of the Beeb’s control completely, as Ms Maitlis, who had said - directly, to camera - at the end of Tuesday’s Newsnight that she would be back the next evening, did not appear. The Guardian stated that she had been replaced. Newsnight editor Esme Wren protested “[she] hasn’t been replaced tonight in response to the BBC statement. [Katie Razzall] is part of the team and we work as a team throughout”.
Ms Razzall then chipped in “Just for the record, Emily [Maitlis] has not been asked by the BBC to take tonight off - and if I thought she had been, I certainly wouldn’t have agreed to present the show”. So maybe she made the decision herself, after being effectively issued a public humiliation for doing her job? By this point, forms of words were not making it.
The Corporation had surrendered, caved, folded, buckled, however you slice it, to a rattled and inept Government whose ranks are stuffed with the dregs of the alphabet soup of Astroturf lobby groups that have so polluted political discourse for so long. As Adam Bienkov of Business Insider put it, “It says a lot about the political culture in the UK that the only person who has faced any consequences for Dominic Cummings' actions is a journalist who pointed them out”. The dark days of the late 1980s all over again.
Along with the impression being given that the public are once again being taken for fools, as Tom Pride noted: “BBC editor now claiming Emily Maitlis has voluntarily taken the night off presenting [BBC Newsnight]. The elite running this country - the government politicians and MSM journalists - really think we're all thick, don't they?
And Nick Davies, who prised open the can of worms that was the phone hacking scandal, surveyed the damage and concluded “I spent 40 years as a reporter. Emily Maitlis' comments on the Cummings story were well within the normal boundaries of fact-telling and analysis. In criticising her, the BBC have buckled under pressure from a bully government which deals in falsehood”. He means lying. Which they do.
With Lord Hall-Hall conspicuous by his lack of support, and none of his known potential successors apparently versed in the art of dealing with aggressive and dishonest politicians, this episode heralds a very bleak future for the BBC.

I would like to be proved wrong on that point. But fear that I will not. Not a good look.
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1st rule of right club said...

The shits will relax the rules today and next week they'll soften the rules even further. Then, the scumbags will claim that the original rules were too harsh or unnecessary.

Anonymous said...

BBC "News and Current Affairs" hasn't had credibility for decades.

Now it's just a tragic right wing laughing stock.

This will not change in the foreseeable future.

Rosie said...

I agree with all of this bar Carole the great Cadwalladr's commdent about the BBC complaints system and Governments. You must know that the BBC responds to Political Party complaints whether it be from Alastair Campbell and Mandelson when Labour was in power, or the Tories, immediately. There is a hotline to the Chairman of the Trustees as well as the DG. They do not fill in forms!The likes of you or I making complaints (as I have done over the reprimands to Maitlis) are likely to have to wait for months for a response at all, due to the sheer weight of complaints given the BBC's huge biuas pro Tory, the revolving door system of journalist and editorial appointees from within the ranks of the Government PR machine or Tory press , as well as currently a lack of staff. A complaint I made about Newsnight's biased editing of the hustings with Corbyn and Johnson, in Johnson's favour, took from last November to last week for them to even get it to the first level. I am an experienced complainer, having taken the SUN to IPSO and won the first ever front page apology fromn that organ, on my own, fighting their Ombudswoman and a team of lawyers, over the front page court Jezter anti Corbyn story written by the then newly-arrived-at-the Sun from Guido awkes blog, (back then), one Harry Coles, who is now returning to Murdoch's organ in 2020 as Political Editor (the moron). It is worth complaining to IPSO, usdually pon the grounds of inaccuracy, but when you win ensure you do some careful PR for yourself because IPSO likes to bury things.

Anonymous said...

Sorry, she presented an opinion as fact, any fule can see that even if you agree with it. Maitlis should present the news not be trying to make it. She is an over-promoted lightweight, okay for regional news, but not fit to sit in Paxo's chair.

The BBC hasn't surrendered, it is for once applying it's own impartiality rules. Perhaps Maitlis would care to apologize?

Anonymous said...


Yeah. That'll be the Paxman who after he did a bunk "revealed" he is "a one nation tory" - a contradiction in terms if ever there was one. All to the sound of raucous laughter.

Yeah, that Paxman.

Anonymous said...

Ah, but did you know Paxo's politics from his interviews while he was doing Newsnight, you didn't did you. This is where Maitlis has been found wanting, sack her!

Anonymous said...

If Paxman is a "one nation Tory" then he wouldn't have been a supporter of any government with Cameron or May at it's head. Wishy-washy liberals the lot of them.

Anonymous said...


If you didn't know you were as blind as a one dimensional tory bat. Or red faced gammon.

Rosie said...

The first Anonymous here is wrong about Maitlis. She told the truth, incisively for once. She is certainly not leftwing but centrist. That aside. There are other presenters of Newsnight, usually rightwingers. There is a revolving door into senior positions in BBC editorial from Murdoch papers (Tory)and back again into Tory Government on a scale unprecedented. One recent newsnight editor is now Sunak's Comms Director . She is married to Spectator political editor. All of them, including Maitlis dumped on Jeremy Corbyn all the time. The BBC is very biased and it is usually biased against the left. Boris Johnson has his very own paper (Telegraph) and magazine (Spectator) which still holds the editorial line in his favour. The clue is in knowing how mainstream media functions. Ownership and Patronage. Simple! As to 'news'.It is selective in terms of facts, language, position, and headline to reflect the political position or power relayionship of the medium. Hence Tory Sun, Mail, Telegraph, Times, Sunday Times, Express, and a BBC that is tied to Government by dependency, charter and appointees in charge who are part of those elites, who in turn hire people ;like them' for news and c/a. ITV follows on, but has less news and C/A. The others like C4 and Sky scrabble for a market share of what's left over - seeking to plug the gaps.

Paxman's politics were well known years ago said...

"Ah, Jeremy!"
Paxaman and Johnson go cycling together https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YPWFrl4e7l4

Paxo starts off in his usual condescending way towards anyone without a Home Counties accent - but quickly finds out he's not dealing with another Westminster cocktail set drone. Plaid Cymru's economic adviser, Eurfyl ap Gwilym, sets the arch Celtophobe straight on a few matters https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1Gy7f8vP2QY