Saturday 5 May 2018

Why the BBC "secretly enjoys" Owen Jones's attacks on Andrew Neil

Roger Mosey, in BBC days gone by

Former head of BBC Television News Roger Mosey has written a piece for The New Statesman headlined Why Owen Jones’s attack on Andrew Neil secretly delighted the BBC

It's full of interesting points, and I suspect that you'll enjoy it.

It's his take on why BBC reporters' Twitter comments matter and how they seriously compromise 'BBC impartiality'...

...however much some people might discount such things as trivia not worth bothering about by blogs about BBC bias. After all, for many BBC reporters, it's now a key part of their reporting role and it's fully BBC-branded.

Roger singles out Laura Bicker for emoting in a dumbed-down way ("totes emosh") over the Kim-Moon "bromance", and regular anti-Trump sneerer Anthony Zurcher....
Zurcher often retweets Trump with caustic comments
(Very true!)

...and business correspondent Joe Lynam for being pro-EU ("on Twitter it’s clear he cares a lot about the EU"). 

All are absolutely fair comments from Mr Mosey - though I believe him to be seriously mistaken in thinking that their TV, radio and online reporting is "straight", impartiality-wise. It is no such thing. [Evidence from this blog of all three reporters behaving less than impartially? Well, please click here for Laura, here for Anthony and here for Joe].  

He then goes on, just as fairly, to criticise John Simpson for (despite himself) "revealing this thinking" on Brexit on Twitter.

And then he brings in Andrew Neil, long the BBC presenter those who deny that the BBC has a left-liberal bias like to cite. 

As I've said before, I agree that Andrew Neil - the fairest of all BBC interviewers - behaves as badly as these others on Twitter. He too thinks he can behave "without impunity" on social media. Unlike all of the above, however, his Twitter feed comes from 'the other side'.

And that's where Owen Jones leaps in, accusing Andrew Neil (quite correctly) of behaving in a less-than-impartial way on Twitter and, thus, "promoting right-wing causes" - hence 'proving' the BBC to be biased in 'the other direction'.

Roger Mosey says the BBC "secretly enjoys assaults like that" from Owen Jones, as it "undermines the usual claim that it is controlled by liberal lefties"

He concludes by posing a dilemma for the BBC:
All this points to a choice that broadcasters still have: to engage or not. One presenter who shuns social media told me: “I’m genuinely not persuaded that tweeting serves any useful purpose for broadcasters who must be seen as impartial. Maybe it raises the tweeter’s profile – but with whom? The people who matter are the audience and I suspect they reach their judgement on how we perform when we’re doing our jobs.” Some European public service broadcasters take the hard line of simply not allowing their presenters to vent on social media, and they don’t seem the poorer for it.
Please read it all (if you have time).


  1. P.S.

    Reading Roger Mosey's piece had me grinning throughout.

    His specific examples are the very examples we (you and I) have been citing for ages - John Simpson, Anthony Zurcher, Laura Bicker & Co. - and his comments about Andrew Neil's Twitter activity echo ours too.

    I do hope he's written that having imbibed ITBB over a long while.

    If not, well, I'm in a happy place just thinking about it, so please leave me there!

    If so, however, hello Roger and please keep reading us and writing about the BBC. You've been making people like me feel a little bit better for a good decade or so now. Whether the good folk reading The New Statesman will enjoy your piece as much, well, one can but hope!

  2. Monkey Brains5 May 2018 at 23:06

    Interesting piece. As I read it I did wonder whether he drops in here occasionally! :)

    That said, I don't really accept his contention that reporters like Zurcher are scrupulously impartial in their day job and only show their bias on Twitter. Quite the reverse.

    There is a lot of "structural" bias in their reporting.

    For instance, while any Trump scandal is meat to feast upon, the same does not apply to Clinton and Obama scandals. How many people in the UK know about the Clinton Foundation-Uranium One scandal? The Epstein Island scandal? How many know that Bill Clinton has been accused of very serious assaults on women? How many people in the UK know for instance that Chelsea Clinton's paternity is in serious doubt? Or reputable forensic experts have queried the Obama birth certificate and his paternity has also been called into question? How many people in the UK know that Obama always wears a ring with an Arab script that is believed to be the Islamic declaration of faith (as far as I know not a single journalist has ever asked him about it - the wearing of it precedes his marriage to Michelle). When has the BBC ever mentioned that John Brennan voted Communist in his youth (by his own admission) - a bit odd for head of the CIA you might think? It is also alleged he converted to Islam while in Saudi Arabia (and the fact he affirms his oath on the US Constitution rather than a Bible perhaps lends credence to that) - he has never denied that.

    The truth is there is a Deep State war to the death going on between the Clinton-Obama camp and the Trump's very exciting but the BBC reports in depth on only one side of it - the attempts to find Trump guilty of something, anything in order that he can be impeached.

  3. Very interesting. Do they have readers' comments on articles in the New Statesman? I don't see any but I'm not a subscriber and I was wondering if they have but you need to log in to be able to read them.

    1. I'm not sure, as I'm not a subscriber myself, but I don't think they do.


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