Friday 17 February 2017

Opinion and confusion

Agree with what they say or not, it's surely hard to disagree that BBC reporters are becoming ever readier to give their 'expert' opinion on all sorts of political matters. 

I'm presuming that's because they've been allowed/encouraged to do so from above.

Here's an example that very much runs counter to the grain (which makes it even more interesting, perhaps):

The BBC has made Tony Blair's latest anti-Brexit intervention their lead story for most of the day. 

On tonight's BBC One News at Ten, however, the BBC's Carole Walker gave her view that Mr Blair's intervention would probably have a "pretty limited" impact, given how "hugely divisive" he is.

I'm sure she's entirely right about that, but should she be saying it (i.e. passing judgement)? 

If it's true though, why shouldn't she say it? Mr Blair, and those who welcomed his intervention today, may not like it, but, if it's true, why should that matter?

If she'd dismissed the impact of an intervention from someone like, say, Nigel Farage because he's "hugely divisive", would that matter either?

I have to say I don't know the answer to the question of how far BBC reporters should go with 'fair comment', especially if some people won't consider it 'fair comment' at all.

Anyhow, while I'm making up my confused mind, here's a transcript:

Sophie Raworth: And Carole's in Westminster now. What impact is his intervention likely to have then?  
Carole Walker: What he's hoping to do is to change the terms of the debate, to convince us all that Brexit is not inevitable. Now he's not founding a new party, but he does want to try to build a movement. He's going to found an institute to further his cause, but, of course, leading Brexit campaigners have been lining up to try to stop him in his tracks, accusing him of being out of touch, arrogant, undemocratic, treating the British people as fools. He won't get much support from the Labour leadership. Jeremy Corbyn is hardly a Tony Blair fan at the best of times and has made it clear he believes that the Labour Party should accept the vote in that referendum, except the will of the people and support the Government in beginning their Brexit negotiations. And even some people who share Tony Blair's concerns about Brexit and the whole approach of the Government are wary of Tony Blair's involvement. The former Prime Minister, of course, was a redoubtable campaigner in his day. He won three general elections, but the legacy of the Iraq War means he is a hugely divisive figure. For that reason, it would be very difficult indeed for him to build the sort of coalition he needs, and so, I think the overall impact on the march to Brexit will probably be pretty limited.  
Sophie Raworth: Thank you.


  1. As per my other post it's the prominence of the the headline that I take issue with - I doubt Corbyn or the UKIP leader would get the same kind of 24hr coverage that he got today without any reports or further articles on the public reaction against.

    1. In that light, the BBC News website is still leading with "Blair: Public may rethink Brexit vote".

      Sky has the story in third and fourth place, with very different headlines: "Tony Blair's Brexit call 'condescending'" and "Blair's Brexit revolution evokes Iraq memories".

  2. Chris Ship gave exactly the same opinion as Carole Walker on ITN tonight! :) Wow! Synchronicity!! It's almost like they all drink at the same pub. :) Or I suppose the modern equivalent is - they all text each other all the time. :) The only other explanation is that everyone who has ever worked for BBC or ITN just happens to be completely omniscient and so must have foreseen the crash of 2008 and Labour's defeat in 2015, together with the Brexit and Trump votes of 2016.

  3. The question remains as to why the BBC News website have given the Blair intervention such a big build-up, telling us early yesterday what Blair 'is going to say 'as their leading headline - and then after the speech they left the headline in prime position for the rest of the day. Why? Are they clutching at straws? Are the BBC reverting to what they think is safe ground - New Labour, and Cool Britannia - within the EU of course.

    1. On last night's 'The Papers' the BBC Chris Rogers echoed the surprise of one of his guests that Blair wasn't featuring on all the newspaper front pages. Only two made him front page material, like the BBC. "He is on the front page of the Guardian" though, he added.

  4. I'm loving this cognitive dissonance. Must Hate Blair Because Bush/Iraq.....Must Hope Blair Does Well Against Brexit.....Does not compute....does not compute...error....error....

    "Divisive" in Beebspeak is "Something we don't like". There has never been a BBC report describing Obama as divisive. Any divisions were always entirely the fault of His enemies. I'd say Blair will definitely have some impact. It will be entirely negative, and the Beeboids hope it will be limited.


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