Friday 29 November 2019

Ex-cathedra pronouncements to the flock

For those who missed Mr Moore's 'love-bombing' of the BBC's reality-checker-in-chief, here it is:

“Get Brexit done”, is the Conservatives’ principal slogan and unique selling point, so obviously it should be open to scrutiny. One should object, however, to the pretence that this is merely a factual question on which the media, rising above base politicians, can shed the clear light of truth. 
One of the minor agonies of the Brexit process since 2016 has been the existence of the BBC’s Reality Check, usually presented by Chris Morris. Rather than arguing the issue with political leaders, Morris gives ex-cathedra pronouncements on where the truth lies, which are then unquestioningly accepted by his flock of fellow-BBC staff. Funnily enough, his version of reality seems always to coincide with the view from Brussels. 
On the Today programme yesterday, Morris was asked by a deferential Mishal Husain to pronounce on whether “Get Brexit done” was misleading. He said, in essence, that it was. He complained that the slogan gave the “impression” that everything would be settled by 31 January 2020, whereas in fact the Tory “rush” for a trade agreement by December 2020 was itself unrealistic. 
Morris might well be right about the struggles ahead, but he made no allowance at all for the fact that we are dealing with political issues here, not just technical ones. When (and before) Boris Johnson became Prime Minister, BBC experts kept telling us that the EU would never reopen negotiations or offer Britain better terms than those they had given Mrs May. Yet they did, very quickly. 
Nor, in applying “reality” to the Tory manifesto yesterday, did Morris mention that Brexit is an event in law: if the new Parliament votes to approve his deal, that event of leaving the EU will indeed take place by 31 January. In that important sense, we will have got Brexit done. 
If I had the resources of the BBC (over £5 billion a year, the great bulk coming from a compulsory licence fee), I would set up a Reality Check on its own claims. It would keep several hundred reporters busy throughout the “24/7 news cycle” 365 days of the year.

1 comment:

  1. We've been complaining about Reality Check since its inception. The Conservatives have been dilatory in not holding it to account.

    Look at Morris's bias here on his twitter feed (which makes strong reference to the Reality Check brand):

    "That presser reminds us that so far Leave is gaming this election far better than Remain. Gisela Stuart message simple but effective - don’t have to be Tory to vote for Brexit. But saying this is the last chance to get it done suggests she thinks Remain wd win another referendum."

    It suggests nothing of that sort. It suggests either that she thinks Remainers in Parliament if in control would find endless excuses for further delay. Or it suggests she thinks there wouldn't be "another" referendum. It suggests she understands that if there were a referendum it would be a rigged rerun with a completely different franchise and without a no deal option, plus even greater bias in the media now that the Mail and Express are both under the control of the pro-Remain lobby. It would be a choice between Remain and an Abject Surrender Deal ie no choice.

    The fact that Morris represents a rigged rerun as "another referendum" demonstrates his complete bias.


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