Now, thanks to his inability to avoid the promotion of Himself, we know that The Man Who Would Trash The Beeb is, er, the man who when he was at the Beeb did plenty of the groundwork. Through his contacts at Associated Newspapers - for whom he has written several comment pieces recently - Robbie Gibb has let it be known that it is he.
So it was that the increasingly wayward Mail on Sunday put the story, such as it was, on its front page today, thundering “TOP TORY LAUNCHES TV RIVAL TO ‘WOKE, WET’ BBC … Murdoch also plans news channel in wake of Rule Britannia [sic] debacle”. That Gibb is the most likely source for the story - and probably the “TV Source” mentioned within it - is confirmed by his being undeservedly described as a “Top Tory”.
As the saying goes, “Where MacGregor sits, that is the head of the table”. Robbie Gibb is a proper pound shop MacGregor. The MoS tells readers “Sir Robbie Gibb - who was a senior BBC executive before becoming Theresa May’s director of communications at No 10 - is spearheading a drive to raise funds for GB News”. Tell us, Robs, just how brilliantly you performed in spinning for Treeza? Maybe not, eh? So what’s the GB News deal?
“Last night a source close to GB News [R Gibb (no relation)] said: ‘The channel will be a truly impartial source of news, unlike the woke, wet BBC. It will deliver the facts, not opinion dressed up as news. Everyone who works for GB News will have total commitment to quality journalism, to factual reporting and to impartiality.’” Ri-i-i-ight.
There’s just one problem here: when Gibb spent all that time at the BBC, imposing his own particular brand of being “truly impartial” and delivering “facts, not opinion dressed up as news”, it set the Corporation on a long, downward slope. The false balancing of expert analysis with someone, anyone prepared to gainsay what had been put forward can be traced back to his tenure. Here’s an expert, and here’s Darren Grimes.
Robbie Gibb’s BBC legacy is programmes like the Daily and Sunday Politics, where Andrew Neil could use the BBC’s name as cover for pushing climate change denialism, where Neil could tag-team with political editor Laura Kuenssberg to have a junior shadow minister resign live on air in order to give the Tories an advantage at PMQs, and where Ms Kuenssberg effectively took dictation from Matthew Elliott on Vote Leave’s lawbreaking.
A legacy where the discovery of data manipulation by the likes of Cambridge Analytica could be shouted down by mercenary hack Isabel Oakeshott. A legacy that has enabled a succession of bad faith actors to burnish their non-existent credentials by being invited to provide more of that faux balance, say the unsayable, be a little different, a little “edgy”.
And having set BBC News and Current Affairs on the downward slope, there is Robbie Gibb waiting to be given licence to return and finish it off. Which his pals in the right-wing press will conveniently blame on, er, the Beeb itself. Nice work if you can get it.
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