Tuesday 11 March 2014

This sounds familiar

The past is a foreign country: they do things differently there.

Its déjà vu all over again, again.

Another leading figure at the BBC has confirmed what many of us have been saying for years (only to be told [by the BBC and their supporters] that we're wrong) - namely that the BBC has had a liberal bias, and tended to report immigration and the EU from that perspective.

The use of the past tense in that last sentence though tells you in advance that (like Helen Boaden, Nick Robinson et al before him) he's then going to go on to say that such bias is now a thing of the past. 

Its déjà vu all over again, again.

This latest admission comes courtesy of Today/Mastermind's John Humphrys, who's been speaking to The Radio Times.

So what has he been saying?. Here's a summary:

On liberal bias at the BBC:
The BBC has tended over the years to be broadly liberal as opposed to broadly conservative for all sorts of perfectly understandable reasons.
The sort of people we've recruited - the best and the brightest - tended to come from universities and backgrounds where they're more likely to hold broadly liberal views than conservative.

Who has he voted for in the past?:
...most political parties...

On the BBC's pro-EU bias:
We weren't sufficiently sceptical - that's the most accurate phrase - of the pro-European case. We bought into the European ideal.

On the BBC's bias over immigration:
We weren't sufficiently sceptical about the pro-immigration argument. We didn't look at the potential negatives with sufficient rigour.

Is the BBC still biased?:
I think we're out of that now. I think we have changed.

On his own interviewing style:
You don't set out to have a row but when the row develops, you don't necessarily want to recoil from it. It's sometimes good radio.
Sometimes it gets in the way and sometimes it can be illuminating. If the politician gets cross, it tells you something about the politician. So heated exchanges are not always a bad thing. The idea all the public ever wants to hear are reasoned discussions is nonsense.

On BBC senior management:
There are too many of them. I think they think that. I think (director-general) Tony Hall thinks that - I don't know, I haven't asked him, but I think he thinks that.
Over the years we've been grotesquely over-managed, there's no question. They're now getting a grip on it. A lot have gone. I think more need to go.

On why 'Today' (the "most important BBC programme") should get more money:
The problem was that when the previous regime was faced with having to cut its budget under huge pressure, and reasonably so because of the way we saw money was being chucked around - in some cases irresponsibly, big pay-offs to people who shouldn't have had them - you look at your own programme and you think, 'Bloody hell, we could have done with that'. We're as pared down as it's possible to get.

Why he won't be retiring any time soon?:
I love doing the programme. How could you not? My curiosity has not dimmed at all. If anything it's increased.

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