Sunday 26 January 2014

Who's doing the setting up here?

Oh, good grief, I've only just begun listening to today's Broadcasting House and I'm already thinking an early night would have been a much better option.  

The programme began with Paddy O'Connell and BBC correspondent Louise Stewart gloating (sneering and laughing) over Michael Gove's 'spat' with the head of Ofsted, Sir Michael Wilshaw.

Well, OK, 'gloating' is how I heard it. 'Bias by tone' is hard to proof. 

Their loaded language, however, also had a strong whiff of bias to it, suggesting it was a right-wing plot. (Mr Gove seems to be the bogeyman of the Left). Here's how.

Two think tanks are in the frame for being hostile to Sir Michael - Civitas and Policy Exchange. 

Civitas is generally considered mildly centre-right, with tendrils reaching into the Guardian. Both Paddy and Louise chose to label it simply as "right-wing". Hmm.

OK, that's debatable bias. Now comes the serious bit....

Louise then said that Policy Exchange, the other think tank presently in the frame, was "another think tank set up by Michael Gove", thus surely implying (to the unsuspecting listener) that Policy Exchange is his think tank and might well, as result, be doing his bidding against Sir Michael. 

But was Policy Exchange really set up by Michael Gove? I was suspicious because I'd never heard that before. 

Well, no, the BBC's Louise Stewart was wrong. Policy Exchange was mainly Archie Norman's brainchild. He set it up with Francis Maude and Nick Boles. They then hired Michael Gove to be their first chairman. 

It is, therefore, simply false to describe it as "another think tank set up by Michael Gove".

If Louise was simply mistaken, it was simply that - a misleading mistake (albeit a painful one for a BBC political correspondent to make). If she wasn't, then it was a smear, pure and simple. 

Maybe I ought to ask the BBC to clarify which it was. But first...bed. Good night.

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