Saturday 26 September 2015

Piggy in the Middle

Having seen or heard very little of the BBC's output this week, I'm not best placed to judge the corporation's coverage of Piggate. 

On this week's Newswatch Samira Ahmed said that the porcine part of the story had "sent social media into a frenzy" but that "the BBC judged [it] inappropriate to repeat in full".

A clip followed from a report by James Landale, illustrating this:
Lord Ashcroft denies he's settling scores but these early extracts allege that the Tory leader knew about the peer's controversial non-dom tax status earlier than his spokesman had claimed and discussed keeping quiet about it during the 2010 election. Those lurid allegations focus on whether the young David Cameron smoked cannabis at Oxford University and even took part in a bizarre initiation ceremony for a dining club involving a pig.
Samira said there had been complaints from both sides: 
Some viewers felt that the limited coverage given by BBC News underplayed the story...
While I appreciate the difficulties in presenting the story in a way that's factually correct and acceptable to the audience, I think not covering something which has gathered so much other media attention will firstly deny readers of a true, unbiased account of the situation, and secondly draw accusations of bias.  
When the story broke, it was mentioned on the news, but seems to have been censored every since. 
...but opinion on this was divided, with a smaller number of viewers objecting that the BBC had featured the allegations too prominently.
People are asking why BBC aren't running with #piggate? A third-hand unsubstantiated claim in the Daily Mail is not news. It's gossip. 
It is of no consequence, the rantings of a snubbed would-be Cabinet Minister. You virtually gave an advert length of air-time to the co-author on Monday, and on Wednesday you are still pushing it. 'Setting social media alight', etc.! And the BBC claim to be impartial...
No BBC representative was willing to be interviewed by Samira Ahmed about it but a statement was given to the programme:
We have appropriately covered the book serialisation, including some of the allegations, on BBC programmes such as the Today programme, Victoria Derbyshire, the 6.00 pm and 10.00 pm TV bulletins, as well as on the News Channel and online. We provided analysis on the context of the book, looking at the relationship between David Cameron and Lord Ashcroft, and carried interviews about why its allegations are significant, including with the co-author. All media organisations make decisions about how to report on stories. We make sure we report impartially, accurately and fairly.
Inevitably the BBC says it got it about right. Oink, oink.


  1. Oh, my God, the Daily Mail! (At some point I'll probably have to pay a royalty to Harry and Paul for that.) I knew Delingpole's ego had made him say something stupid again, this time about smoking pot with Cameron, but I somehow didn't know the source of the pig story was the hated Mail. Classic. The Beeboids just can't help themselves. Operating to a higher standard than Dacre my ass.

  2. Pure coincidence that when the tabs were going ballistic with gutter glee, the BBC stayed aloof and ran a story about pigs that somehow reached prominence beyond its news value.


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