Sunday 21 February 2016

Whistle-blowing the bias (and working with Greenpeace)

Newsnight's former head of investigations Meirion Jones has had quite a good press in the past year from right-wingers interested in the topic of BBC bias, doubtless due to his very strong criticisms of the BBC for 'forcing him out' (along with other BBC whistle-blowers) in the wake of the Jimmy Savile scandal.

Now it's the turn of left-wing critics of the BBC to laud the former BBC Man. They are now busily tweeting about his article on Open Democracy's Our Beeb page: The BBC, Savile and Investigations.

Here's the part of his piece which relates to the question, 'Is the BBC biased?':
There’s another problem. Investigations aim to hold power to account, and one of the most powerful institutions is the government. People ask me is the BBC biased, and my answer is that the fundamental corporate bias is pro-government, regardless of party. It’s the licence fee – stupid. Of course not every story will be pro-government but the overwhelming narrative will be. 
When I was on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme in the late ‘80s I’d regularly get calls from Margaret Thatcher’s party chairman, Norman Tebbit, while the programme was on air. He’d ring up to try to influence the daily agenda. Alistair Campbell and his merry men were equally effective under Tony Blair and their humbling of the BBC after the David Kelly affair only made the corporation more submissive. And now there’s a Tory government so the BBC is pro-Tory. Take the junior doctors’ strike this month. Newsnight, to its credit, ran a MORI poll showing 66% public in favour, 18% against. But on the day of the action Today trawled for anti-strike patients, and the BBC News at Ten ran two negative voices from ordinary people, and no-one in favour.  
The only periods when I saw the BBC’s loyalty to the government wavering was under John Major after Black Wednesday, and during the Gordon Brown administration. In each case a cynic might say the corporation could see the PMs were dead on their feet, and the other side was about to be elected and control the BBC purse strings.
Incidentally, if you wonder what Meirion Jones himself has been up to since leaving the BBC, his article informs us that he's "spent the last six months helping Greenpeace set up an investigations unit". 

I'd expect nothing less from a former BBC man!

1 comment:

  1. At least he's not pretending to be impartial about it any more. As for the BBC's pro-government stance, he gives away his own bias by pointing (wrongly, I think) to the junior doctors' strike instead of two areas where the BBC is in lock-step with the government: the EU and rapid, mass immigration.


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