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David Keighley

BBC BIAS DIGEST 22 NOVEMBER 2020

MPs DEMAND PM REINS IN  BBC ‘WOKE’ BIAS: Glen Owen (Mail 21/11) said that Conservative MPs had written to prime minister Boris Johnson demanding that he launch a fightback against the ‘politically correct woke agenda of institutions including the BBC. Mr Owen reported that the letter, from 60 MPs and peers in the Common Sense group, chaired by senior backbencher Sir John Hayes, was asking for a number of ‘drastic’ measures including decriminalising non-payment of the BBC licence fee on the basis that it was time ‘to defend British traditions and values’ as well as standing  against ‘the senseless woke whingers and the soulless militants who despise the best of Britain’.  Mr Owen quoted from the letter, written in the context of the BBC’s decision to remove the word ‘faggot’ from the The Pogues’ Christmas song Fairytale of New York in deference to the LGBTQ+ lobby:

‘In light of the BBC’s repeated refusal to address its organisation’s undoubted liberal bias, illustrated most recently by its bizarre decision to censor a well-known Christmas song (perhaps, similarly, the whole canon of popular music is to be reviewed by a highly paid zealot!), we believe it is now time to decriminalise the licence fee, so enabling ordinary Britons to choose whether or not to pay for the BBC’s content.’

Mr Owen noted that the BBC had said Fairytale Of New York would be played with its full lyrics on some stations, but not Radio 1, whose young listeners ‘are particularly sensitive to derogatory terms for gender and sexuality’.

MANGOLD ‘ASTONISHED’ BY OMISSION IN BBC PRINCESS DI PROBE:  An article in the Mail (22/10) said that veteran BBC investigative journalist Tom Mangold had ‘expressed astonishment’  that the BBC panel set up by the corporation ’s management board to investigate whether the BBC Panorama interview of Princess Diana by Martin Bashir in 1995 had been properly set up and conducted  would not investigate as part of its remit whether there had been a ‘cover-up’ within BBC ranks.   The piece quoted Mr Mangold, who had been a ‘leading light’ on Panorama when the interview occurred:

‘I am somewhat baffled by the complete absence of any reference in Lord Dyson’s (the former judge chairing the inquiry) brief to investigating the events within the BBC after the story of the forgeries broke.’

It was also stated that Mr Mangold has previously spoken about his conviction that executives on the programme had ‘conspired, lied, deceived and cheated’ to hush up the scandal, adding: ‘The true story is much bigger than Bashir.’

It was further reported that Mr Mangold had outlined the points he believed Lord Dyson must address in investigating the (alleged) use of faked bank statements and other ruses which led to Diana agreeing to the world exclusive interview.

He suggested the questions should be: ‘1. What steps did the BBC and, in particular, Martin Bashir take with a view to obtaining the Panorama interview in 1995?

‘2. Were those steps appropriate, particularly in regard to the BBC’s editorial standards at the time?

‘3. To what extent did the actions of the BBC and, in particular, Martin Bashir influence Diana’s decision to give an interview?

‘4. What knowledge did the BBC have in 1995 and 1996 of the relevant evidence, such as the forged bank statements?

‘5. How effectively did the BBC investigate the circumstances leading to the interview?’

BBC ‘MUST DIVERSIFY AWAY FROM WHAT WHITE PEOPLE THINK’: Jemma Carr (Mail 20/11) reported that Jonathan Munro, the BBC’s head of newsgathering, speaking at a Creative Coalition conference and Media Masters podcast, had said that the BBC should ‘diversify’ its senior news staff because editorial meetings tended to be dominated ‘by what white people think’.  Ms Carr said that Mr Munro had noted that when he had joined the BBC in 2014, every member of his team had been a Caucasian male, and a consequence of the lack of diversity had been that in the 2017 Grenfell Tower fire of 2017 – which had killed 72 people – the BBC news teams had not understood the gravity of issues faced by council house tenants.  Ms Carr also reported that Mark Mardell, who had retired as presenter of the BBC World This Weekend programme, had warned the BBC against ‘annoying and dismaying’ its basic audience in its pursuit of the diversity agenda.

 

BBC BIAS DIGEST 18 NOVEMBER 2020

CUMMINGS DEPARTURE ‘STOPS CHANCE OF BBC REFORM’: Robin Aitken (£ Telegraph 16/11) argued that the removal of Dominic Cummings from the inner circle of Boris Johnson advisors was a ‘disaster for any hope of serious BBC reform’. He stated:

‘The taxi that took Dominic Cummings away from Downing Street for the last time was carrying more than just the Prime Minister’s ex-chief adviser; it also carried away any realistic hope that the Johnson government might deliver on reform of the BBC. With Cummings gone the chances that there will be any serious assault on the Corporation’s privileges and prerogatives are severely diminished.

‘Dominic Cummings was the one person in the heart of government who understood why it was essential to take on the BBC. He could see what so many others seem unable to – that the BBC stands in opposition to everything that real conservatism consists of. Cummings departure is therefore a huge victory for the liberal-left Establishment.

‘When the Newsnight presenter Emily Maitlis unburdened herself of her heartfelt contempt for Cummings and Johnson back in May she left no one in any doubt about her own politics. But her forthright editorialising also gave an insight into BBC thinking. It should always be remembered that what the BBC broadcasts is never the work of just one individual; broadcasting is a collaborative venture.

‘Maitlis would not have been able to simply write out her diatribe and then deliver it on-air without anyone else knowing. That script would have been seen and maybe amended by at least a couple of other BBC journalists – probably a senior producer and the programme editor would have read it through. It was, in fact, a considered and calculated attack which had the approval of senior editorial figures.

‘And what Maitlis’ verbal assault showed was just how rattled the BBC was by the knowledge that standing just behind the Prime Minister, and whispering in his ear, was someone who was its sworn enemy. Which is why the BBC news operation mounted such a sustained and vicious campaign to paint Cummings’ road-trip to the north in the blackest of colours; the Corporation was desperate to get rid of a man it rightly saw as a threat.

From the amount of coverage the BBC gave the story, and its tone, one might have thought Cummings stood accused of some serious crime rather than a minor (non-criminal) infringement of the rules made by a concerned father making childcare arrangements. However on that occasion the BBC’s hysterical campaign to unseat Cummings failed and Johnson stood by his man; but now, thanks to the PM’s girlfriend,  they have the scalp they most wanted and the chances of meaningful reform of the BBC have  plummeted.

‘Buried amid all the media comment over the weekend about the defenestration of Lee Cain and subsequent resignation of Dominic Cummings was a line about how the government is now going to drop its much-trailed intention of decriminalising non-payment of the BBC license fee. This is highly significant. The plan to make non-payment a civil, rather than a criminal, matter had been bruited since the beginning of the year. It was strongly hinted that this was one of Cummings’s ideas designed to undermine and weaken the BBC’s position.

‘There were some, perhaps inflated, estimates of how much such a move would cost the BBC in lost revenue – between £200 and £300 million annually, it was said – but more significantly it would have demonstrated a symbolic distancing from the principle of the license fee. And nothing is more important to the Corporation’s high command than ensuring the license fee’s continuation because it is the foundation upon which the entire edifice rests.

‘So the fact that now, in the immediate aftermath of Cummings’ departure, de-criminalisation is off the agenda points to an important new development; the government is suing for peace, and on the BBC’s terms. For who now, in the upper reaches of the government has the stomach for a fight with the BBC?

‘In these pages on Saturday Charles Moore, writing about Mr Cummings’s departure from No 10, detailed his remarkable successes on Brexit which came against all the odds; the referendum campaign itself and then the guerilla warfare in Parliament which coaxed and goaded the opposition into agreeing to a general election which Johnson then won handsomely. As Lord Moore said, all this was achieved “against the most bitter Establishment resistance in living memory”. And it is true that that the BBC was itself the stoutest, most constant supporter of that Establishment fight-back. As close textual analyses of the BBC’s output have demonstrated, the BBC’s coverage of Brexit heavily favoured, by a ratio of roughly 2:1, the pro-EU position.

‘It was that bias which provided the casus belli for the government against the Corporation. The European issue has been the dominant issue in British politics for forty years; it was an issue where unbiased, impartial information and news coverage would have been enormously beneficial to the whole nation. Instead of which, in dereliction of its duty of impartiality, the BBC showed consistent favouritism to the pro-Europeans. For Dominic Cummings that partisanship provided all the justification he needed to take-on the Corporation, to challenge its pretensions of impartiality and to threaten it with the removal of its privileges.

‘So what now? With Cummings gone the danger is that the government will lose all appetite for a war against the BBC because, without doubt, it would have been a protracted and politically bloody affair. It would have required determination and a willingness to spend a lot of political capital. That same Establishment which fought, tooth and nail, to prevent the democratic will of the people from being implemented, would certainly have rallied around the BBC if it was in any serious way threatened.

The BBC can count among its allies the entire arts establishment, academia and the education lobby, reliable media allies like the Guardian and Channel 4, as well as a huge swathe of Parliamentarians in both Houses. The BBC lined-up solidly behind the Establishment on Brexit and the favour would have been returned with interest.

With Dominic Cummings in No 10 – the man who once wrote that the BBC was “the mortal enemy” of the Conservative Party – there was a chance, albeit a slim one, that the Tories would free themselves of the Stockholm Syndrome which has always hampered their dealings with the Corporation. Too many Tories labour under the  illusion that the BBC is neutral towards them and now the one man who was clear-sighted on the issue has been booted out. In his place we have the Prime Minister’s girlfriend Carrie Symonds and her buddy Allegra Stratton.

‘Between them these two seem to have thoroughly brow-beaten the Prime Minister. Johnson is now a much-diminished figure and the BBC will be cheering. It seems more than likely that the Tories under Johnson will now slump back into their comfort zone; that could well turn out to be something depressingly reminiscent of the Cameron administration – a ‘CINO’ government  “conservative in name only”.

‘There is an outside chance that the panel set up by the Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden to examine the future of the BBC license fee will recommend its abolition. But the portents are not encouraging. As that indispensable right-of-centre news website Guido Fawkes has pointed out none of the panel members has any track record of criticising the license fee. On the contrary the 10 members look like a mix of industry insiders and establishment placemen much more likely to favour the status quo.

All of this adds up to a black day for reformers and a wonderful one for the BBC. Cummings, its enemy, has been unceremoniously dispatched and the Prime Minister has now chosen his girlfriend as  his principle adviser. With one bound the Corporation was free. As Private Eye’s long-running BBC satirical cartoon strip ‘Corporation Street’ might have put it: “Trebles all round!”‘.

BBC BIAS DIGEST 6 NOVEMBER 2020

BBC STAFF ‘CAN TAKE PART IN TRANS PRIDE EVENTS’: Jamie Johnson (£ Telegraph 6/11) reported that BBC director general Tim Davie had written to staff clarifying several points about the corporation’s new rules about social media and political activities. In particular, he had asserted that there had never been a ban on taking part in Pride or Trans Pride events, or other marches and protests, but that it was forbidden for them to attend rallies organised by political parties.   Mr Davie had stated:

“What we’re asking senior leaders, journalists, producers and those of you who work in news and current affairs as well as factual journalism to do is to take care when making decisions about participating in events and not to take a personal public position, via your actions or your words, on public policy issues.

“Specifically on attending marches, it is absolutely fine for these staff to be at Pride, or Trans Pride, but it would not be appropriate to be marching with a political party, or with a group advocating specific policy changes. I appreciate that this guidance involves many of us making judgement calls about what is and what isn’t appropriate. For some this will be relatively straightforward, while others will have some questions.  To support you on this, we’ll be rolling out a programme of discussions and training on all of these issues over the coming months, and I hope you’ll contribute – as vigorously as you want.”

BBC BIAS DIGEST 29 OCTOBER 2020

BBC STAFF SOCIAL MEDIA POSTS “MUST MEET OUTPUT STANDARDS’:  Charlotte Tobitt (UK Press Gazette 29/10) reported that the BBC’s new social media rules stated that staff should treat their personal accounts as if they were BBC output, complying with its strict editorial standards and not including anything which they could not say on air on a BBC programme or on its website. She added that staff had also been warned that emojis could ‘undercut an otherwise impartial post’ and that liking or following some accounts could be enough to count as sharing a personal opinion. Ms Tobitt said that journalists had also been warned against:

  • Linking to anything they had not read in full
  • Using emojis to “undercut an otherwise impartial post” whether accidentally or deliberately
  • Breaking news on a personal account – “If you have a story to break, the BBC platforms are your priority, even if it takes slightly longer”
  • Being “seduced” by the informality of social media – “Your posts about news events and issues require careful thought and editorial discipline”
  • Being “drawn into ill-tempered exchanges, or exchanges that would reflect badly on you, or the BBC”.

 

DAVIE ‘TO CONFIRM NEW ANTI-BIAS RULES’: Gordon Rayner (£ Telegraph 29/10) said that BBC director general Tim Davie would confirm new corporation rules which were designed to protect BBC impartiality by preventing staff from posting biased opinions on social media outlets and also by requiring them  – in a new staff register –  to declare earnings from sources other than the BBC. Mr Rayner reported that Mr Davie was expected to say that impartiality was the bedrock of the corporation and must be observed both on and off air and that he believed by forcing stars to list how much they had been paid by private companies to speak or host events, they would be ‘shamed’ into turning down such work. Mr Rayner said that the new guidance was not intended to prevent the use of social media ‘but to ensure that anyone working for the BBC uses it with appropriate regard for the BBC’s values’.   He added that a list of social media rules was being posted to staff online and would be backed by disciplinary action including sacking.

Former BBC news programme executive and Downing Street communications chief Sir Robbie Gibb (£ Telegraph 29/10)  claimed that the new measures being announced by Tim Davie showed his determination to tackle bias and ‘restore trust in the BBC’, and would demand sweeping changes throughout the corporation. Sir Robbie asserted:

‘The move is a big step in the right direction for Mr Davie, who took over the helm just last month. He has declared that restoring the BBC’s reputation for impartiality will be his top priority and in this he faces a mammoth task. We all pay our licence fee but all too often BBC output reflects the views of just one section of society – the urban, metropolitan middle classes that make up the bulk of the BBC workforce. Over the last decade, “group-think” at the BBC has distorted its output, eroding its reputation for impartiality and damaging public trust.

‘And this drive to restore what has been lost should not stop with social media or news and current affairs but should extend to the entire BBC output. For gains made in some areas risk being undermined if entertainment programmes are not subject to at least some level of editorial scrutiny. All too often, the narrow political group-think spills onto our screens in drama plots and comedy programmes.

‘It seems having a non Left-wing comedian has become a new form of tokenism. Since the rise of alternative comedy in the Eighties, the BBC has never moved culturally away from the dominance of Left-wing Tory-bashing comics. Only “anti woke” Geoff Norcott seems to have broken through this barrier. Norcott is a funny man but so too are Andrew Doyle, Leo Kearse and Dominic Frisby. You would be forgiven for never having heard of them unless you are a comedy circuit regular.

‘And how on earth did the jaw-droppingly biased Roadkill drama get commissioned? With its grotesque caricature of a Tory minister and ludicrous plot line about secret plans to privatise the NHS – surely this is the most inane, inaccurate and biased prime time drama to air on British TV.’

 

BBC BIAS DIGEST OCTOBER 26, 2020

NEW ‘PRO-BREXIT’ ONLINE VIDEO SERVICE PLANNED:  Christopher Williams (£ Telegraph 24/10) said that Ben Habib, a former Brexit party MEP and commercial property executive, was attempting to raise £4m of start-up capital for Unlocked, a new online video channel aimed at ‘muzzled majority’ news audiences not served by existing broadcasting services. Mr Williams reported that Unlocked would provide a platform for political views – such as support for Brexit – which were not getting the prominence they currently deserved. He added that former BBC producer Lesley Katon, who was now a partner in the PR firm Pagefield, had been lined up as chief executive of the new service. Mr Williams noted that Unlocked would not need to apply for a broadcast licence from Ofcom, and thus would not be bound by its impartiality rules, because it would operate online.

 

60% ‘WANT BBC LICENCE FEE SCRAPPED’ SAYS POLL: Charles Hymas (£ Telegraph 25/10) reported that a poll commissioned by Defund the BBC and conducted by Savanta ComRes among 2,274 adults had found that 59 per cent of respondents wanted the BBC licence fee to be scrapped, with only 32 per cent backing the status quo.   He said that 43 per cent also did not believe that the corporation output reflected ‘British values’ and 32 per cent were unhappy about the way the licence fee money was spent. Mr Hymas, also noting that ‘leading Conservative MPs wanted a review of BBC funding,  quoted former leader of the Conservative party Iain Duncan Smith:

‘Public opinion on the BBC is clearly moving and that means it’s time for a root-and-branch review on whether or not the public want a fully funded public broadcaster and, if so, what functions that broadcaster should fulfil.’

Mr Hymas added that the BBC’s licence fee arrangements did not come up for renewal until 2027 with the ending of the current charter, but that there was a mid-term review in 2022 ‘with the government understood the be urging director general Tim Davie to come up with proposals for an alternative model’.   He said that other poll findings included that those over 55 were twice as likely as young people to think that the licence fee was spent unreasonably (46 percent-21 percent),  and that 50 per cent of those surveyed felt that people who only watched other channels should not have to pay the licence fee.  He quoted Rebecca Ryan of Defund the BBC:

‘This poll clearly demonstrates that the British public is overwhelmingly opposed to the Licence Fee in its current form. There are rightly serious concerns over the way that the licence fee is spent, particularly given the eye watering sums paid to certain BBC presenters. It is also extremely worrying that the BBC has alienated such huge swathes of British people who do not think it represents their values. Decriminalising the licence fee is just the first step to radical reform. The next move is to ensure the licence fee only covers BBC output.’

Harry Cole (Sun 25/10), also reporting the poll findings, said that it had shown that 2019 Labour voters and 2016 Remain voters were significantly more likely than their Conservative and Leave counterparts  to believe that the BBC fairly reflected British values.  He also reported that the BBC had claimed in response that surveys consistently showed that the licence fee was the public’s preferred way of funding the BBC and that the model was in place until at least 2027.

A Sun editorial at the end of its article  (also 25/10) said:

‘A POLL revealed by The Sun today proves what we’ve suspected for a while — the BBC is in deep, deep trouble. Almost two in three Brits say the TV licence fee must be reformed, a third say the cash is spent “unreasonably’’ — and one in six say they never even watch the Beeb. It’s time Parliament listened to them. Decriminalising non-payment of the fee will be a start. But the Government should go further and revive its plan to fund the service with a subscription model. Media luvvies squeal at the thought: they think that scrapping the licence fee would kill the Beeb off. But they’re wrong. A subscription model — in which ordinary viewers beyond London would have more stake than ever before in what shows they watch — would give tired old Auntie a new lease of life.  The BBC will always be a beloved British institution. But to stay relevant, it must start reflecting the REAL modern Britain.’

The full poll is here.

DAVIE ‘TO CLAMP DOWN ON BBC STARS ‘MOONLIGHTING’:  Luke May (Mail online 25/10) claimed that, ‘according to one presenter’, BBC director general Tim Davie was planning, in a ‘clampdown on moonlighting by BBC stars’,  the introduction of  a public register of their additional earnings.  Mr May said that Mr Davie would also reveal tougher measures on their use of social media as part of his drive to ensure that a perception of a lack of impartiality in their reporting of events was eradicated. The reporter added that one of the targets in terms of presenter pay was the News at Ten newsreader Huw Edwards, who was reputed to have been paid £400,000 over the past five years in additional earnings.  Mr May also claimed that as part of the new social media measures, Mr Davie would be prepared to sack those who broke the new guidelines, as well as suspending offending Twitter accounts.

 

 

BBC BIAS DIGEST 25 OCTOBER 2020

DEFUND THE BBC LAUNCHES LEAFLET DRIVE: Steve Bird (£ Telegraph 25/10) said that Defund the BBC – a pressure group supported by a group of Conservative MPs including Andrea Jenkyns, Ben Bradley, Lee Anderson and Christian Wakefield – had launched a leaflet campaign entitled ‘The BBC is Broken’, telling homeowners how to legally cancel their licence fee payments.  Mr Bird reported that the document accused the corporation of not keeping up with technology and caring less and less about its duty to provide impartial content, especially for those outside the M25.

He said that Rebecca Ryan, the campaign director, had asserted:

‘Defund the BBC is working to inform the British public on how they can cancel their TV licence without fear of prosecution. The BBC’s system for catching and prosecuting non-licence fee payment disproportionately affects women and the poorest and most vulnerable in society. This must stop. Decriminalising non-payment of the licence fee is only the first step. It is totally unreasonable to force people, by fear of imprisonment, to pay the BBC in order to watch non-BBC live TV.’

BBC BIAS DIGEST 24 OCTOBER 2020

 

JAMES PURNELL LEAVES BBC: Mark Duell (Mail 24/10) reported that former Labour government culture secretary James Purnell, who had become  the BBC’s director of radio and education, was leaving the corporation ‘after losing his place on its executive team following the arrival of new director general Tim Davie’.  Mr Duell said that Mr Purnell, who had worked at the BBC for seven years and had been responsible for developing the BBC’s strategy in the run-up to Charter renewal in 2017, had been appointed vice chancellor of the University of the Arts in London. Mr Duell added that Mr Purnell had also been responsible for developing the new BBC platform BBC Sounds.

BBC ‘CAST LEAVE VOTERS AS STUPID’: Naomi Adedokun (Express 24/10) said that the Conservative MP for Ashfield, Lee Anderson, had claimed that Brexit-supporting voters were ‘switching the BBC off in droves’  and ‘ripping their TV licences up’ because corporation coverage of the EU cast them as ‘stupid’ and had alienated them. Ms Adedokun said Mr Anderson had asserted that the BBC had accused them of ‘being thick, racist and not knowing what they voted for’.

BBC BIAS DIGEST 21 OCTOBER 2020

BBC CHAIRMAN: ‘GREAT MAJORITY OF OUR OUTPUT IS VERY GOOD’: Anita Singh (£ Telegraph 21/10), reporting a speech by BBC chairman Sir David Clementi to the Voice of the Listener and Viewer organisation,  said he had asserted that the corporation ‘took seriously’ that over-50s thought the BBC was biased to the left while young people tended to believe it was too right-wing and part of the establishment.  Ms Singh added that he had also observed that for the ‘great majority of our output we are very good’ but impartiality was new director general Tim Davie’s priority number one ‘and we are doubling down on impartiality’.  She said he had also hit back at politicians who criticised the BBC and claimed that many of them  – apart from BBC Radio 4’s Today programme and BBC2’s Newsnight – did not spend much time with corporation output. He had also hit back at those who wanted the BBC to become a subscription service because their argument was ‘largely ideological’ and they did not realise what would be lost in terms of the educational and informational services.

James Bickerton (Express 21/10), also reporting Sir David’s speech, said he had asserted:

‘Around 27 million people in the UK came to the BBC website to find out about the election results (in December 2019). It was a reminder of the trust people place in the BBC. But the fact criticism came from all sides of the political divide shows to me that we were doing our job without fear or favour.’

BBC ‘SACRIFICES QUALITY FOR EQUALITY’: Milly Vincent (Daily Mail 21/10) said that former England cricket team captain and BBC cricket correspondent Sir Geoffrey Boycott had accused the BBC of ‘sacrificing quality for equality and of holding its presenters to a standard of political correctness which meant they were ‘frightened of saying anything’. Ms Vincent, noting that Sir Geoffrey had left the BBC in June and had been replaced by Isa Guha, a former England women’s cricketer, along with the recently retired cricketers Sir Alastair Cook and James Anderson,  said that Sir Geoffrey was also said to have claimed that at the BBC everything was now about ‘gender and race’  and that the corporation was not run particularly well.

BBC ‘TERRIFIES ELDERLY’: Katie Weston (Daily Mail 21/10) reported that the BBC had been accused of ‘terrifying the elderly’ – who in July lost the right to have free BBC licences – by sending out letters ‘emblazoned with capital letters’  threatening fines  of £1,000 if they did not pay their £157.50 annual fee. Ms Weston also noted that the letter wrongly implied that licence fee collectors had the right of entry to homes in their investigations about non-payment.  She reported that the BBC had claimed that the letters had not been sent out to the elderly.

BBC BIAS DIGEST 20 OCTOBER 2020

 

POLL: 98% SAY BBC BREXIT COVERAGE FAVOURED EU: Steven Brown (Express 20/10) said that a poll conducted by his newspaper into attitudes about the BBC’s coverage of Brexit had found that 98% (of 19,285 responses) believed that the Corporation ‘did side with the EU’ in its Brexit reporting. He explained that the conducting of the poll had been prompted by a tweet from former Labour MP  Baroness Hoey which said that when the history of the Brexit period was written, the corporation would be shown to have ‘totally sided with the fear-mongering EU’.

‘ASTONISHING’ BBC ADMISSION ABOUT PRINCESS DI SCOOP:  Victoria Ward (£ Telegraph 20/10), discussing the ‘bombshell’ interview Princess Diana gave to Martin Bashir of the BBC 25 years ago, reported that the BBC press office had said that a ‘physical copy’ of a handwritten note from the princess exonerating Mr Bashir of claims that he had pressured her by using false documents to agree to the interview no longer existed. Ms Ward added that, despite this, the corporation insisted that the existence of the note was documented in BBC internal records and had been seen at the time by BBC management.    She said that Andrew Morton, who had written biographies of Princess Diana, had described – in a Channel 4 documentary about the interview due to be broadcast on October 21 – the BBC’s admission about the note as ‘astonishing’.

Kate Jackson (Sun 12/10) said that in the Channel 4 documentary about the Princess Diana interview, Patrick Jephson, the princess’s former private secretary, would claim that the BBC had exploited Princess Diana, and that ‘making her perform  (in that way) had been ‘a combination of seduction and betrayal’.   Ms Jackson also reported that Andrew Morton would claim that the princess – living in a world of anxiety about being ‘bumped off’ and possible surveillance – had been ‘very cleverly’ played upon by Martin Bashir.

BBC BIAS DIGEST 19 OCTOBER 2020

‘WOKE’ BBC ‘SHOULD BE DEFUNDED’, SAYS BURCHILL’: Julie Burchill (£ Telegraph 18/10) argued that as ‘a circuit-break to the gloom and doom ahead’, the government – in order to win back support – should embark on a ‘brisk defunding of the BBC’.  She opined:

‘I’m sure that most of us could get behind putting a rocket under all those self-righteous metropolitans who work for it and treating them to a trick they’ll never forget. How odd to think that the BBC was once one of the main things that kept the nation’s morale up – during the Second World War, especially. I dread to think how they’d react these days; no doubt we’d be instructed not to mindlessly rally round the flag against Germany in a jingoistic way – especially considering the racism of Churchill, in contrast with Hitler’s vegetarianism.’

Ms Burchill added that when Charles Moore, former editor of the Daily Telegraph, had been mooted as a possible candidate to become chairman of the BBC, ‘you could smell the fear and the fury of the Woke across the capital’,  and that they should not be kept on the run. She asserted:

‘They’ll never reform themselves and to believe they will would be as foolish as expecting the best from the EU, another corrupted monolith with which they have so much in common; the endless entitlement, the fake enlightenment, the ceaseless spending of other people’s money.’

Ms Burchill concluded:

‘And now more than ever, as our country stands on the brink of a social sundering far greater than anything we have experienced since the civil war – north against south, pro-lockdown against anti-lockdown, British country against British country in a crumbling union – we don’t need yet another state-sponsored snowflake telling us how racist we are. Step forward Countryfile presenter Ellie Harrison, who has announced that the countryside itself is racist: ‘In asking whether the countryside is racist, then yes it is; but asking if it’s more racist than anywhere else – maybe, maybe not.’ Institutions outlive their usefulness and at that point they change or they perish. ‘Nation shall speak peace to nation’ (the BBC motto) and ‘United in diversity’ (the EU motto) are amusingly interchangeable – and they are wearing thin, despite the oceans of money employed to paper over the cracks. We don’t know where we’ll be this time next year, so do put the boot in, Boris – give us some savage amusement till this nightmare before Christmas is over.’

 

BBC NEWSREADERS’PAID FAR TOO MUCH’: Sophie Barnes reported that Martin Bell, a former BBC foreign correspondent (£ Telegraph 18/10), had claimed that BBC newsreaders – earning up to £465,000 a year in the case of Huw Edwards, who presented the News at Ten on BBC1 – were paid far too much for ‘mostly reading words off an autocue’.  She added that Mr Bell, who had left the BBC in 1995 to stand as an ‘anti-corruption’ MP, had said he had earned £60,000 and had never asked for a pay rise.