Tuesday 28 August 2018

John Simpson gets "a formal ticking off". But for what?

According to a report in the iJohn Simpson has told the Radio Times that he got a "formal ticking off" from the BBC's head of news (presumably James Harding)...
...for publicly saying the corporation was “too willing to allow both sides to lie their heads off” during the Brexit campaign.
Hmm, was that really what got him told off? Just for publicly criticising the BBC?

It's possible but, if you recall, this is what he said at the One Young World summit, as reported at the time by the Huffington Post:
The BBC is obliged legally to be balanced between different political ideas and different political viewpoints. That enabled all sorts of people, on both sides, to lie their heads off about what would happen, what might happen, if we left or if we didn't leave the EU.  
So I would say if people looked to television and radio for a clear guidance about what to do, well, we certainly didn't give them clear enough guidance about the lies that were being told.  
I suspect that if people had known the facts and had judged in a more balanced way the outcome would have been a bit different, yes.  
We let our viewers and listeners down.
I strongly suspect it was actually the highlighted passage that got him into trouble as it was such a blatant example of a senior BBC reporter betraying his actual (pro-Remain) views.

It's certainly what caught my attention at the time. I felt it brought BBC impartiality in disrepute. He was openly saying there that if voters had been better informed and used their judgement "in a more balanced way" the outcome "would have been a bit different" - i.e. there would have been a Remain win. 

And I think this is where the problem lies because I genuinely don't believe he could see at the time - or ever since - that he had taken sides there. After all, he'd 'done his duty to impartiality' by saying "on both sides" earlier! 

And could it be that he actually believes he got "ticked off" for being too outspoken in his impartiality? 

Is it actually the case that John Simpson doesn't really understand what he was told off for?.....

...unless John Simpson really did get told off by James Harding for being too outspoken in his impartiality. 

Maybe Mr. Simpson remembered correctly after all and got told off for accusing Remain as well as Leave of "lying their heads off". Maybe Mr. Harding wasn't remotely bothered by the passage highlighted above.

Well, it's a possibility I suppose. I'm still sticking with my first thoughts on this though.

What do you make of it?


  1. Does anyone believe anything Simpson says these days? I used to have a deal of respect for his powers of judgement. I think these days he's more interested in preserving his job, such as it is and as we (and they) all know, when it comes to preserving their job, a white male old duffer is well advised to go full on anti-Brexit, pro-PC and anti-Ageism.


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