Sunday 21 February 2016

Snapshot I

Another snapshot.

BBC Breakfast interviewed a couple of businessmen from small-and-medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) about the EU referendum - one a Leave supporter, the other a Remain supporter (both of whom did well). I thought I'd record it and check whether that balance was reflected in the questions put by the BBC presenters.

Here are the questions:
Questions put to the pro-Remain businessman
(by Ben Thompson, BBC) Marcus, you are clearly reassured by what you've heard from the Prime Minister. Reforms, a reformed EU and one you still very much want to be part of it. 
(by Ben Thompson, BBC) What's going to be so interesting as the campaigns now get under way for either side is the fact that this is not black and white. There are so many shades of grey about what people want out of the EU and what they don't. Marcus, what is it that you are most worried about? Clearly you are supporting our continued membership but is there a worry there? Is there something...?
Questions put to the pro-Leave businessman
(by Ben Thompson, BBC) It's interesting, Scott, isn't it? We talk a lot about that uncertainty, the influence it has on business. We don't know. It's unprecedented. No country has ever left the EU. We don't know what would happen. Are you not worried about that as a businessman? 
(by Naga Munchetty, BBC) Scott, tell me. When David Cameron announced that he was going to be embarking on these negotiations - these negotiations that have taken a lot time, a series of meetings - was there anything or were you hopeful that you'd be convinced to stay in or had your mind completely been made up? 
(by Naga Munchetty, BBC) And even with the spectre of that being renegotiated in the future?
As we were discussing on one of yesterday's threads, the language is something that's worth watching. The language of "spectre", "unprecedented", "uncertainty", "We don't know", "Are you not worried?" flowed from both BBC presenters here and related to the Leave side. On the other side we had words like "reassured" and "reformed" and "reforms".

And I suspect that David Cameron might be happy with Ben's description of what he's achieved as "reforms, a reformed EU" and Naga's "these negotiations that have taken a lot time, a series of meetings". 

On the question of whether they were challenged, or gifted with setup questions, I think there's a clear answer here.: The anti-EU guest was asked challenging questions while the pro-EU guest was gifted with setup questions. (Even the one about worries allowed him to amplify his worries about the uncertainty a Brexit would bring).

Incidentally, I had to smile at Ben Thompson saying "We talk a lot about that uncertainty, the influence it has on business".

You can say that again, Ben! 


  1. "We focus a lot on irelevancies and diversions from the main issue, don't we? Why? No idea...I just read the script and the teleprompter."

  2. Listened into a bit of Sundae this morning...Sungay?...whatevaz!
    I did wonder why the Oirish election would be top of the bill on Ed Stourtons fopshop of a show.
    But then-149 seconds in-but of course ABORTION!
    Didn`t stick around but my buzzword bingo card (abuse, poverty,solidarity, xeno/islam4BR, gay,climate changies etc) would surely have been filled today.
    And this in a week when we remembered 21 Coptic Christians beheaded last year, Pope/Trump, Pray 4 Dawkins and Stourtons drive by on Wotjyla earlier in the week.
    Nah-gay cakes as ever from Posh Ed...utter waste of time.

    1. I've started listening but thought I'd finish it off later.

      So far an Irish atheist sociologist on social change and the Catholic Church in Ireland and a bit on rethinking sin (sloth should mean 'overworking'!).

      Still to come...

      Why the CoE should be even more of a social work outfit, something to mark LGBT History Month, Sikh feminists, Syrian refugees in Nottingham and...yes...more on Ed's own 'Panorama' about John Paul II.

      I think I'll stick with Andrew Marr instead for a while.

  3. 'Shades of grey" about what people want and don't want? BS. Just another way of saying nobody on the Out side has presented a vision of what a post-Brexit Britain would look like. It's either an outright lie, or a display of willful ignorance and shoddy journalism.

    Stressing that the negotiations took a lot of time is also revealing. They took a lot of time because Cameron had to go around begging every single one of the EU mandarins one by one, and because the only way to take back single penny of British taxpayer cash - never mind a molecule of national sovereignty - was to pry it from their cold, dead fingers. It took nearly three days to get minutely marginal concessions.

    I accept that Munchetty was obliged to ask the "Your mind was already closed, wasn't it?" question, but it's essentially a pro-EU question because there really isn't any good reason to stay in the EU because it cannot be reformed due to its very nature and reason for existence, and the question presents that opinion as wrong by default.


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