Saturday 7 May 2016

Less than impartial

As loyal readers will know, our close monitoring of the EU referendum coverage of  BBC Radio 4's statistical flagship More or Less has so far resulted in fairly strong proof of a pronounced pro-Remain/anti-Leave bias

(Please read it for yourselves if you doubt it.)

(And please 'listen again' if you still continue to doubt it).

This week's edition marked the final episode of the present series. It pledged to look at the numbers on trade and at the UK's relationship with the EU.

Would it redress the balance and give us a pro-Brexit debunking? Or would it go 'straight down the middle' and (despite its previous anti-Brexit bias) end on an 'impartially equivocal' note?

Jaw-droppingly, it did neither. It simply invited on an 'expert', Chad P. Bown, Senior Fellow at the Peterson Institute for International Economics, to give an unequivocably pro-Remain/anti-Brexit to every question Tim Harford put to him. The UK would be in a bad position if it left the EU Chad consistently argued.

And Tim (of the FT/BBC) didn't challenge him much either. Chad's word was gospel.

Chad is, of course, fully entitled to his view. BBC Radio 4's More or Less, however, isn't supposed to have a view. 

And yet, with its previous 'debunkings' leaning heavily against the Leave side, this was a BBC programme ending its current run by giving us an unchallenged, anti-Brexit point of view from a 'disinterested academic' on a programme that presents itself as impartial.

If that's genuine impartiality then I'm Jemima Khan. 


  1. Sadly the BBC has shown in recent years that it can't be trusted on anything. That's why I didn't trust the "Reality Check" page on the BBC Website when that appeared.

    1. I'm going off 'Reality Check' myself, after my initial enthusiasm. Except for 'Composer of the Week' on Radio 3, why is nothing on the BBC wholly trustworthy?

    2. It started out well enough, but has lately leaned towards opinion and refused to touch certain stories. In the end, it will be worth going through all of them and doing a Remain/Leave count, with a focus on the height or depth at which each fruit hangs, so to speak.

      Plus we have the evidence of the stealth sanitizing of what was initially a debunking of a Government/Remain claim. Come to think of it, I wouldn't be surprised if News Sniffer or The Wayback Machine turned up more incidents.

  2. No health warning on Bown? He's an EU apparatchik. Rule #1 in effect if they didn't mention it.

    1. Well spotted, David. The CEPR is highly EU-friendly.


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