Wednesday, 27 April 2016

"The greatest broadcaster in the world" in action

That exchange on this morning's Today 02:39.15:

Nick Robinson: A last word on an organisation that you used to be in charge of...You were chairman of this organisation, of course, which you generously called "the greatest broadcaster in the world", the BBC. There are people on your side of the argument, who are in favour of remaining in the EU, who - to paraphrase them - say the BBC's bending over backwards to produce balance in this argument and doing so in a way that does not produce the facts. 
Lord Patten: Well, I think the BBC has an extremely difficult job. It's having to cover this referendum with the shadow of a charter review and Mr. Whittingdale hanging over it. I think that may make people excessively deferential when trying to produce balance. You have the governor of the Bank of England on or the IMF chief, so you feel obliged to put up some Conservative backbencher who nobody's ever heard of on the other side of the argument, and it does occasionally raise eyebrows. But I think I would prefer the BBC to be being criticised for being so balanced, excessively balanced, than for them doing anything else. It's a very great broadcaster which is dedicated to telling the truth - and that's an unusual thing in the world of the media. 
Nick Robinson: Lord Patten, Chris Patten, thank you very much indeed.

1 comment:

  1. I think this for me is the low point so far in the BBC's coverage of the referendum - and there have already been some pretty serious low points. Far from being part of balanced treatment of the cases to Remain and Leave this is yet another example of gross bias - as was the uncritical coverage of President Obama's visit and intervention in our democratic debate.

    The big questions about this item for me are:

    1. If the ostensible purpose of this interview was to find out about splits in the Tory party, why didn't they have someone on from the right, Eurosceptical wing of the Party - Daniel Hannan for instance - to debate this with Patten? My suspicion is because they know someone like Daniel Hannan would make mincemeat of him. As in so many other cases, only a cosy fireside chat would do. Who suggested this interview? Was it one of the Today apparatchiks, Robinson or - as I suspect - Fat Peng himself.

    2. Why was Patten allowed to make his pro-Remain points unchallenged?

    3. Is Robinson a personal friend of Lord Patten? If so, isn't this an outrage? They come from the same wing of the Tory Party and must have known each other quite closely in the 80s.

    4. If this doctrine is allowed to get purchase - that the BBC is the arbiter of the truth, and can side if it wishes with the great and the good when they agree with the BBC's preferred policy where does that leave General Election coverage.

    5. Was this an organised attempt to elicit Patten-style complaints, in order that the BBC can eventually point to "complaints from both sides" as its preferred and most classic defence. In other words, has the BBC been getting lots of complaints about such matters as the fawning coverage of Obama's visit in the context of the Referendum? Is it worried? And is this part of its response, to create the idead that equal coverage of Leave views (not that it is actually equal) is inappropriate if Remain has the backing of international authority figures.

    [In this context, I think we can now see why the BBC Referendum Reality Check is not a benign innovation , but part of this opinion lockdown.]