Sunday 9 October 2016

Mark Mardell on Brexit

Where Mark Mardell may have dined for the second time this year

A definite pattern of post-referendum Brexit reporting is appearing on Mark Mardell's The World This Weekend - and it's quite similar to the pattern of its pre-referendum Brexit reporting...

...where a strong anti-Brexit angle would open the programme then, after the news, a string of anti-Brexit experts would appear making a damning case against Brexit and, finally, a pro-Brexit interviewee would appear to answer all the charges (often with Mark interrupting). 

Regular readers of this blog might recall Mark Mardell jetting off to lovely Lake Como in April where he presented us with an absolute deluge of anti-Brexit voices - a key Obama economic advisor, a Chinese economist, a German minister and a major global investor, all predicting doom and gloom if people voted to leave the EU - and then, "for balance", interviewed veteran Labour Leave campaigner John Mills who had to answer the points previously made. 

What regular readers of this blog probably won't know (because I failed to blog about it at the time) is that Mark Mardell jetted back to lovely Lake Como in early September and again presented Radio 4 listeners with a similar parade of pro-EU voices, all either damning the UK government or predicting dire things for the UK and the EU. 

He interviewed: Valerio De Molli, The European House Ambrosetti; Jean-Claude Trichet, former head of ECB; John Bruton, former Irish PM; Prof. Marcel Fratzscher, German Institute for Economic Research; Valdis Dombrovskis, Latvian EU commissioner; Giorgos Stathakis, Greek minister; Ana Palacio, former Spanish foreign minister; and Mario Monti, former Italian PM. ("Brexit is disgraceful, immensely negative", said Mr Monti  in Mark's paraphrase).

He then, "for balance", interviewed two pro-Leave Tories: Crispin Blunt and Iain Duncan Smith (giving IDS a particular hard time). 

Here's an outline of the programme: 
1.07 News. "As Theresa May attends her first G20 summit as prime minister,  Japan and the United States have warned the UK about the impact of leaving the European Union".
7.04-20.47 Italian report
20.47-29.49 'Balancing' interviews with Crispin Blunt & Iain Duncan Smith
29.49 MM: "One closing headline. Theresa May attends her first G20 summit as prime minister. Japan and the United States have warned the UK about the impact of leaving the European Union".
Today's TWTW also led on Brexit, and here's how Mark Mardell introduced it: 
Welcome to The World This Weekend. This is Mark Mardell, Ministers backtrack over plans to force firms to list foreign workers. Did the Conservative Conference send out the wrong signals? After clear messages on Brexit from the Prime Minister the pound went into free fall. What's at stake on Wall Street and in the city:
Voice One: We'll lose somewhere in the region of 100,000 jobs in the city.
Voice Two: I can't think of a Prime Minister in recent history who has not put the economy first.
Voice Three: It's like a divorce where on side has slept with 10 people and has burned down the house and is then saying to the other side, 'Look, let's be rational about this'.
We hear from those warning of the dangers and get reaction leading economist who's enthusiastic about Brexit.
And the "who's enthusiastic about Brexit" came with a particular tone of voice, as if that economist was something remarkable to behold. 

The anti-Brexit segment began at 5.29. We heard an interview with John Micklethwait, the editor-in-chief of Bloomberg,  a clip of Labour's Brexit shadow Keir Starmer, then an interview with former Labour minister Lord Myners. The 'balancing' section began at 13.31 and was an interview (including a strong interruption) with Boris's former economic advisor, the pro-Brexit Gerard Lyons. He had to answer for all that had gone before. His three-minute 'reply' ended at 16.32. 

That's very TWTW. I've listened to every episode of it in recent months and never heard it go the other way - i.e. an onslaught of pro-Brexit voices followed by tougher interview with an anti-Brexit voice. And that smells of bias to me.


  1. The statements of the first two voices you cite were echoed - the second one verbatim - on Marr this morning. Narrative? What narrative?

  2. Mardell is the very model of a Remainiac anti-Brexiter broadcaster, using every trick in the book from inflection to interjection to do down the Brexit side.

    Good work on calling him out.


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