Sunday 3 December 2017

"But Twitter and the real world not quite same"

Twitter speaks

The Andrew Marr Show ended today with a gorgeous performance by Gregory Porter of The Christmas Song ("Chestnuts roasting on an open fire"), with some lovely strings shivering frostily in the background. "Merry Christmas to You!" sang Gregory with feeling at the end, looking through the camera deep into our eyes. Ah!

What would have made it even more heartwarming would have been if Nigel Farage and Ayesha Hazarika had provided backing vocals. And, further, if  a smiling Ayesha had then - at the very end - brought out a sprig of mistletoe and waved it towards Nigel. Then they could have kissed and made up. (Appropriately of course). 

That would surely have been one of the most memorable TV moments of all time.

Alas, it didn't happen and, worse, I've a terrible feeling that they won't be sending each other Christmas cards this year either.

Yes, the paper review (also featuring Kate Andrews of the IEA), was a rather shouty affair - a hubbub of voices (mainly Ayesha's and Nigel's) arguing across each other. Ayesha seemed determined to roast Nigel's chestnuts and Nigel was clearly trying to outdo Jack Frost in nipping at Ayesha's nose. Partisans on Twitter accused the one they disliked of being insufferably rude (though none of them used the phrase 'insufferably rude'. Their language was rather more salty than that).

Merry Christmas to You!

The problem was made worse by the fact that Andrew Marr was trying to conduct an interview with Nigel Farage during the paper review, challenging him about those Trump tweets, Britain First and his EU pension - something that would have been much better done as a proper interview not during a supposedly relaxed paper review with two others leaping in to 'help' in harrying the 'interviewee'.

I note that someone put that to Rob Burley (the programme's editor) on Twitter and that Rob conceded that Nigel Farage was "a bit miscast in that spot", calling it "fair criticism".  

As usual Rob has been out and about on Twitter today but he's got absolutely no chance of replying to everyone. or even a sizeable fraction of everyone. He's been deluged, absolutely deluged.

And mainly by left-wingers furious that both Nigel Farage and Jacob Rees-Mogg were on and that the BBC is "enabling fascism" by giving them a platform and "normalising" extreme-right-wing views. (Yes, even Jacob Rees-Mogg is a "fascist" to these people).

How should a BBC editor respond when hordes upon hordes of random people tweet him to accuse him of acting as an "enabler" for fascism simply by inviting on Nigel Farage and Jacob Rees-Mogg? Should he just ignore them?

Of course, being Rob, he won't just ignore them.

Here's a small sample of his responses today - including, 'for balance', some of his responses to the much small number of criticisms from 'the other side' too.

Don't forget Gregory and his warming Christmas message though before you read them. You might need to hold onto it!!

Merry Christmas to You!
Rob Burley‏: So, here's the thing, people you don't agree with will sometimes be on TV.
Jo Maugham QC: I don't think that's quite the point. Would you give a platform to those advocating paedophilia? People are entitled to worry about the BBC giving a platform to fascists and those who apologise for them.
Rob Burley: Why not compile a list of those you think should be banned and see if you can get everyone to sign up?
ANE: @RobBurl enabling fascism
Rob Burley: I think banning people you disagree with from speaking on TV and being challenged is pretty chilling in itself...
Glyn Jones: Yup. And a public broadcaster listening carefully to the audience questioning editorial judgements is almost as key as editorial freedom.
Rob Burley: Can't really be accused of ignoring views of public. But Twitter and the real world not quite same.
John Mayes: But @AndrewMarr9 agreed with rees-mogg that the trump tweet didn't matter because it was just Twitter...Challenging stuff indeed.
Rob Burley: Nope he agreed Twitter a trivial medium - not contents which he'd just pressed him on.
M lloyd‏: Hi Rob. Key word there is "sometimes". Mr F seems to be within Mr Marr's frequent flyer club, in spite of having no UK political position.
Rob Burley: He hasn't been on for more than a year but otherwise you have us banged to rights.
Tesh: I know, but the fact that it's ANDREW MARR is a travesty. Whose last words to Jacob Rees Mogg revealed his advocacy of liberalism and centrist policy AND ANTI Conservative grass roots when he said  'at last we agree on something'. I've never heard him say that to a leftist.
Rob Burley‏: Well you don't know anything about Andrew's views. Think it was a jocular end to the interview which shouldn't be taken seriously really.
LEAVE.EU: .@Nigel_Farage parries waves of personal attacks on the Andrew Marr-xist show, but lands the biggest broadsides: "you're out of touch, you're out of touch," he fires back at intolerant liberals on #Marr's sofa. Notice the socks. A patriot to the last. We salute you Nigel.
Rob Burley: "Marr-xist", good grief.
Rob Burley (after Cllr Bally Singh tweets him a poll of Labour with an 8% lead and the single word 'Ha!'): This is just bizarre.
Scott Nelson: Why is it bizarre, Rob? Is it because the BBC’s smears and negativity against Labour on the part of the Tories has backfired?
Rob Burley: It's bizarre that this poll should be directed at me. But as you think the BBC is in the business of smearing Labour (spoiler alert: it isn't!) there's not much point in my explaining.
Reid Von Lehmanstrasse‏: Your lack of self awareness calls into question your fitness for the role which you currently undertake. You go defensive from the outset. Not once have you indicated a moment of self reflection. That's EXACTLY why this tweet wss aimed at you.
Rob Burley: The tweet being aimed at me makes no sense. If you look at timeline you will see I quite often accept if we make mistakes and get things wrong, but crude and baseless allegations of bias? Not going to accept them, sorry.
Reid Von Lehmanstrasse‏: And there you prove my point. You never ask yourself why there's the continued accusation of bias. You sit comfortably on your own belief that your show is balanced because your own unconscious bias is invisible to you, but more importantly the trust let's it slide
Rob Burley: Have you ever considered that your prism might be the issue here?

Paulhohoho Bodriguez‏: Just cut out the middle men and air Hitler speeches instead.
Rob Burley: Godwin klaxon!

etc, etc, etc, etc.


  1. Rob Burley is a bit of a hero isn't he? At least he seems to have some vague inkling of what the principle of free speech might involve. The alt-left now appear to be stating quite openly that elected members of parliament, whether UK or EU, should not be allowed to appear on mainstream UK TV programmes unless they agree to support PC multiculturalism, remaining in the EU, violent Antifa protests, the expansion of Sharia law, dismantling of capitalism, and vast increases in public expenditure.

    Where is the outrage? Why aren't the Conservatives banging on about this REAL threat to free speech, instead of highlighting the very marginal threat from Putin to our liberty?

    Timid Tories, jumped up judges, PC Police, PC BBC...we will have to find our own way out of this mess.

  2. It was a crowded field.

    Interesting his better parries seem to be when those of the left WLTM those even more.

    Hence I am again consigned to the 'etc' bin. The third one.


Note: only a member of this blog may post a comment.