|"We're out!" (thanks to the BBC, apparently)|
John Simpson's World, What's Really Happening in the US?
I got into big trouble in the BBC for saying publicly, after someone came and interviewed me, saying that during the referendum we seemed to feel that balancing the arguments was all that we need to do and that we were very much responsible, among others, for what happened.
I don't think it was just the BBC. I think it was all the broadcasters.
And the only defence I can make really for the BBC is that it was something really entirely new. It was kind of a binary question. It was only 'yes' or 'no' in the referendum, and we hadn't been in that position before. If it's a general election you put up the different spokespeople and you set them against one another, and it's kind of like bear-baiting or something like that, you know, it's just a conflict in front of your eyes. And this wasn't like that. There were people who were telling outright lies and they were being allowed to broadcast them openly. And because it was about the effects of something rather than an actual experience that people could see for themselves it was all about what would happen in the future. And so there was far less control over what they were saying than there should have been.
Now, the BBC in particular has changed that. And we're not the only outfits that do it, but we subject everything to a fact-checking process. And I'm very proud of that and I think it's very impressive, but if it had happened in 2016 I think we would have had a different approach to the whole debate.
Just the general thing about 'the BBC bias' and so on - and, God, you see it everywhere and it's so bloody boring - but the fact is that there isn't an editorial line that the BBC takes. The heads of every programme, the presenters of every programme, are given complete freedom to do and say what they think ought to be said. So you get different versions of these things from different programmes, both on radio and on television and online as well. And there are things, you know, that I think go too far in one direction or go too far in another.
But what I am really not happy with is a kind of timidity that I feel the BBC in particular has shown at times. And there is, I think, an institutional timidity and I think the BBC has really has got to understand that and fight against it.