Saturday 7 September 2013

BBC Breakfast paper reviews

Nick Cohen's view that the BBC's liberal, conformist tendencies tend to stifle insightful reporting from people with non-conformist opinions (whether on the Left or the Right) can be generalised and then swung round to tackle the question of why, say, BBC Breakfast's paper reviews are so much more predictable than those on, say, Sky News. 

Whenever I see paper reviews on Sky News they tend to feature a variety of people, many with strong opinions, some from the Right and some from the Left (and some from the passionate Centre). Not so on BBC Breakfast

Whenever I tune in it always seems to be the same people - Simon Fanshawe (on again this very morning), David Davies, Olly Mann or Bishop Stephen Lowe usually -, all on the BBC's merry-go-round. 

Those four people - a Labour-supporting writer and broadcaster, a former FA boss accused of being too close to New Labour, a self-confessed 'liberal' writer and a left-wing bishop - may indeed suggest a comfortable left-liberal bias. 

Are they typical though? Have I just tuned in at the wrong times?

I monitored the programme closely for a few weeks back in 2011, when Mr Fanshawe, Mr Davies and Mr Mann were already regulars. Other regulars, during this snapshot, firmly on the Left, were Mehdi Hasan of the New Statesman and Kevin Maguire of the Daily Mirror. 

I did find, however, that BBC Breakfast does try to introduce the occasional counter-balancing right-leaning guest reviewer, usually the Telegraph's Tim Walker or the Daily Mail's Andrew Pierce - though neither of them anywhere near as partisan politically as, say, Mehdi Hasan or Kevin Maguire - and some of the other guests were what you might call 'unpassionate centrists' (if you could attach any specific label to them at all) or uncontroversy-seeking journalists from the broadsheets...oh, or Camila Batmanghelidjh.

Please see what you make of the list (all relating to 2011):

11 June - David Davies, former FA boss
12 June - Jonathan Oliver, Sunday Times
18 June - Mehdi Hasan, New Statesman
19 June - Chris Adams, FT
25 June - Simon Fanshawe, writer
26 June - Camila Batmanghelidjh, charity leader
2 July - Margaret Doyle, Reuters
3 July - Kevin Maguire, Daily Mirror
9 July - Phil Hall, PR consultant
10 July - Kevin Maguire, Daily Mirror & Vincent Graff, freelance journalist
16 July - Tim Walker, Daily Telegraph 
17 July - Andew Pierce, Daily Mail
23 July - no paper review (because of coverage of the Breivik massacre in Norway)
24 July - Olly Mann, writer
30 July - Simon Fanshawe, writer
31 July - Camila Batmanghelidjh, charity leader
6 August - Margaret Doyle, Reuters
7 August - Kevin Maguire, Daily Mirror 
13 August - Olly Mann, writer
14 August - Vincent Graff, freelance journalist
20 August - Tim Walker, Daily Telegraph 
21 August - Andew Pierce, Daily Mail
27 August - Peter Bradshaw, Guardian 
28 August - David Davies, former FA boss
3 September - Margaret Doyle, Reuters
4 September - Kevin Maguire, Daily Mirror 
10 September - Simon Fanshawe, writer
11 September - Stryker Mcguire, US journalist
17 September - Olly Mann, writer
18 September - Jonathan Oliver, Sunday Times 
25 September - David Davies, former FA boss
1 October - Vincent Graff, freelance journalist
2 October - Mehdi Hasan, New Statesman
8 October - Simon Fanshawe, writer
9 October - Olly Mann, writer
15 October - Tim Walker, Daily Telegraph
16 October - Michael White, Guardian

[Simon Fanshawe began this morning with a dig at the Daily Mail and the Daily Express over their headlines - one dealing with immigration, the other with Princess Diana -, then chose to kick off with the Independent, criticised criticism of benefit claimants, expressed his shock at big companies' tax avoidance, discussed a story about an OAP trapped in a car, expressed his enthusiasm for Scottish country dancing, talked about high earners eating fewer calories in snacks and fast food than poorer people and about how a quarter of the population of the UK is now classed as clinically obese (from the Times), and noted that two scientist (in the Guardian) say that smoothies aren't good for you. Other scientists (in the Mail) say that letting your emotions out reduces the risk of premature death and that being angry can be good for you. So there. Simon advised: "Don't suppress it, express it!"]


  1. I've just watched Simon Fanshawe on Breakfast TV - his whole tone is extremely left wing which distracts an unbiased viewer from the real content of the news. There's always a complaint about the Daily Mail, privately educated children and their parents' lifestyle, "this government" and privatisation of the NHS, etc. Could he perhaps tone it down a little, please?

    1. Yes, he didn't hold back this morning, did he? Especially when getting on his high horse about some comments by the headmistress of a private school.

  2. Last Saturday he reviewed the papers on BBC Breakfast. One of the papers carried an article on the decline of hedgehogs. The headline mentioned badgers and loss of habitat in bold letters. Mr. Fanshawe mentioned the loss of habitat, chemicals and a couple of other things but NO mention of the badgers killing and eating our little gardeners' friends. Is he afraid to mention the B word?


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