Saturday 7 January 2017

We have to talk about Laura

The other thing the BBC is in the news for is a row over impartiality

It concerns every Corbynista's least favourite BBC journalist, Laura Kuenssberg. 

There was a significant difference between what Mr Corbyn said and what the report inferred. This led to a failure of due accuracy. Trustees considered that the effect of the failures to observe due accuracy had, on this occasion, also resulted in a failure of impartiality.
...though it said there was "no evidence of any intent to deceive or distort". 

The BBC disagrees with the BBC Trust's draft ruling (especially as Laura K was apparently not spoken to by the BBC Trust), and has asked the BBC Trust to re-think the matter - and the BBC Trust has duly obliged the BBC by so doing - which is nice of them. 

As you can probably guess, Twitter has been absolutely overflowing with Corbyn supporters over the last couple of days saying 'Told you so!', calling the BBC 'Tories' and demanding action against the hated Ms Kuenssberg. 

That leak is proving awkward for the BBC. Wonder who leaked it? Someone pro-Corbyn at the BBC maybe?

(Sue barges in)
A little more on this topic, if you’ll pardon the intrusion.

“The complaint related to a report on News at Six in which Kuenssberg said that she had asked Mr Corbyn if he would support a shoot-to-kill policy in the event of a Paris-style attack. A pre-recorded interview showed the Labour leader responding: “I’m not happy with a shoot-to-kill policy in general. I think that is quite dangerous and I think can often be counterproductive.”
A viewer complained that the clip was misleading because Mr Corbyn had been asked if he would order the police or military to shoot to kill on Britain’s streets without any reference to the Paris attacks.”
Of course, if he had been asked the same question in direct relation to the Paris attacks he might have modified his reply a little, so I think the complaint has a fair(ish) point. It still doesn’t put Corbyn in a very edifying light though.
“The viewer also complained that the same news report wrongly presented Mr Corbyn as opposing the government’s security measures.”
Well, does he oppose them or doesn’t he? Rigid pacifism has its drawbacks.  

However, the BBC (I know it’s not alone) has a habit of setting little traps for politicians it dislikes and taking bits of the reply out of context to present later as evidence against them. It’s such a common practice that if the BBC Trust  does uphold this complaint, surely they’re setting a rather dangerous precedent. 


  1. No intention to deceive or distort - so just sheer sub cub reporter level incompetence! That'll look good on the CV.

    OK - shouldn't the BBC now ask for 3,156,000 other offences of "poor inference" to be taken into account?

  2. If it really was a typical dishonest framing of what Corbyn said, the complaint should certainly be upheld. It really should lead to editorial reform at the BBC. Unfortunately, that will never happen, and this incident will be used only as Exhibit A for the BBC's 'Complaints From Both Sides' defense.

  3. Is the Trust in the habit of supplying drafts to the BBC prior to publication? If so, why? To give the BBC the chance to haggle/dilute the ruling? The Trust should just publish & if the Beeb's not happy, tough!

  4. Laura seems to be able to draw hostile reaction from all sides. Perhaps it's that smug BBC smirk that holds the key.

  5. Craig & Sue, you guys have been following this story more than me. However I just caught the end of The Media Show on R4 and the female presenter was discussing the latest Trust ruling with a BBC executive. As I understood it, the Trust has partially upheld the compliant. The BBC executive replied effectively "well we disagree with the Trust and anyway Laura is the unchallengable Goddess of Political Reporting. We will not be taking any action". And that was "all there was time for".

    What happens next? The BBC can just ignore the Trust finding? If so what's the point?


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