Tuesday 8 September 2015

Bernard v Jim

The Spectator has helpfully transcribed the relevant bit from this morning's Today where Tory MP Bernard Jenkin gave the BBC both barrels over its pro-EU bias and James Naughtie lost his cool and began sulking as a result.

Unfortunately, the transcription doesn't really do justice to the encounter. It really needs to be heard (on either of the above links).

But for those who refuse to listen, here's the Speccie's transcription, with a few additions and corrections [in bold] from me:


Jenkin: There is the other problem. Jim, you know the history of the BBC’s coverage of the European Union question.  [A sigh from someone, probably Jim]. There was the report commissioned in 2005 [a sceptical noise from someone, probably Jim] under [the] chairmanship of Lord Wilson of Dinton, the former cabinet secretary, that found that and I quote “we have found there is widespread perception that the BBC suffers from certain forms of cultural and unintentional bias” [in coverage of the UK....]

Naughtie [interrupting, and speaking slowly without any sense of the Speccie's question mark here]: A widespread perception? [So what Jim actually said here was: "A...widespread....perception...(full stop)".]

Jenkin: The BBC governance [or transcribed more accurately: "But, I mean, the BBC governors..."] accepted that and we know that the Today programme basically got the presentation of the Euro....

[Naughtie (interrupting): Oh!...]

...wrong. We know that...

[Naughtie (interrupting): Look!...]

,..that’s now been accepted [and...]

Naughtie [interrupting]: Can we get back to the issue? [I mean...]

Jenkin: This is an important point Jim because every morning we have someone on the Today programme...

[Naughtie (interrupting, hotly): If you're saying you've...!]

...from business and they’re always asked the question “do you think we should stay in the EU?”...

[Naughtie (interrupting): Erm...]

...but you tend to choose people...

[Naughtie (interrupting): Look!...]

...from a certain sector of business who are...

[Naughtie (interrupting): Well, let's...]

... going to...

[Naughtie (interrupting, hotly): Sorry, you're sounding...that's the point, but just...]

...say what they think the establishment wants to hear.

Naughtie: Sorry, we want to get back to the point but can I just tell you that is simply not true

[More accurately, James Naughtie's 'Sorry...' appears over Mr Jenkin's "say what the establishment wants to hear" as another interruption. It doesn't politely follow on, as the Spectator's transcription suggests. And JN's "that is simply not true" is said very emphatically].

Jenkin: It’s an important issue and I hope you will address it in a future programme.

Naughtie: Finally, do you think that the fact the government was beaten last night on this indicates that particularly on European questions but on a whole host of things, the Prime Minister is skating on very thin ice?

Jenkin: Well, I think this question actually indicates part of the unintentional cultural bias of the BBC....

Naughtie [interrupting]: Oh for goodness sake[!] 

Jenkin: No listen, let me just explain that. This is...

Naughtie [interrupting]: This really is tedious.

Jenkin: This was a cross party dispassionate discussion about how to create a fair referendum. If there is to be a new politics, it’s this kind of politics where a select committee on [a] cross-party basis makes recommendations and the opposition in a rather non-partisan way I have to say supports that case. That’s what happen last night and your question wants to see it through the lens of party politics, the party game at Westminster and who’s in and who’s out and whether the Prime Minister is weaker or stronger. [A quietly protesting noise, presumably from Jim, followed by a rustling of paper.] That’s not what this was about, it was about a fairer referendum…

Naughtie [interrupting, sourly]: …a game you have never participated in…

Jenkin: …we’ve got a step closer to a fairer referendum....

[Naughtie (interrupting): Bernard Jenkin...]

,..which is the kind of thing the British people want.

[Naughtie: Thank you.

Jenkin (rather jauntily): Thank you.]


  1. Once up a time in land called Bubble-Town, there lived Mr Puffed-Up and Mr Pompous-Lee.

    One day Mr Pompous-Lee said he wanted to interview Mr Puffed-Up but as he was far too important to listen to his answers, he made it clear he would continue talking throughout. Mr Puffed-Up said that was fine. He would like to be interviewed. It would make him feel puffed up and important but he made it clear he didn't like to answer other people's questions and so would make up his own questions to answer.

    So with that agreed, the interview took place...

  2. It's too bad Jenkin was nearly as pathetic in his attempts at skewering the BBC. It's not like Naughtie is exactly wrong on how Cameron is pissing off a lot of his own party and base. Pointing out reality is not bias, like it or not. Even if it wasn't an understanding of reality but the BBC's innate anti-Tory bias driving them to this conclusion, Jenkins' retort was dumb.

    Of course having a fairer referendum is a defeat for Cameron. He wants to stay in the EU as badly as the most insipid Beeboid. It's pretty idiotic to worry that he's about to hold some snap referendum any time soon, of course. Even Isabel Hardman is saying it's a defeat for Cameron, and her editor made her write a post predicting it yesterday.

  3. Always wondered how tonality gets handled by trial stenographers.

    "So you did this..."

    "Yeah, right" [sarc off]

    It was quite a display.

    Love that anyone outside the BBC quoting anything the BBC doesn't fancy can be called into question.

    Can you imagine James interviewing colleague Nick 'BBC sources say' Robinson on such a basis?

  4. The BBC are pulling out all the stops - there was an unscheduled "Migration Special" of From Our Own Correspondent this morning. BBC obviously felt they hadn't been featuring the issue enough in their broadcasting (when are they going to do an Antiques Roadshow special from Duisberg?).

    So the bias control knob is turned up to 11. Germany's immigration policy is described as "generous". Of course, it could equally be described as "foolhardy", "divisive", "suicidal" - depending on your viewpoint.

    They then had a report from Diana Darke. I presume it's the person with this twitter account.


    In line with current BBC policy, Darke abandoned all pretence of objectivity and talked in hushed tones of her weeping silently with Syrian refugees who have made it to Europe.

    Haven't listened to it all - might do later. But I would be surprised if the whole thing wasn't as lopsided as a dog with only two right legs.

  5. Heard the catch up, having been referred to it on Biased BBC.
    Naughties Lefty views are well known, which is why the verbose shortbread poltroon has been able to squat pointlessly over the Toady Show now for so long.
    Bernard Jenkin has a mind of his own-surprised the BBC still let him on.
    Guessing the likes of Heseltine, Clarke were not available.
    Bernard is a different league of savvy politico than his useless dad, Patrick.

  6. shut the dump down. I,ll be 140 quid better off, and these wan..ers at the beeb can try to get a real job...not ponce around with the 10 to 1 ratio of workers on the commercial channels...world cup...Beeb sent around 150 to South Africa...ITV did just as good a job with 27. But that,s nationa;isation for you. Scargill ran the miners better than the Beeb, and look what happened to them...but of course, too many of the old school chums wont let that happen to the luvvies !!


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