Maybe Roger Mosey's claim that there's a battle going on within the BBC is reflected by their Executive Complaints Unit's unusually trenchant criticism of BBC New York correspondent Nick Byrant.
The ruling came after a complainant had claimed that an online article by Mr Bryant - 'Coronavirus: What this crisis reveals about US - and its president' - "reflected bias against President Trump on the part of its author" .
The ruling criticises Nick Bryant's "tone and approach" and says some of his "phrasing" passes beyond "professional judgements" and comes "closer to the language of personal views".
It even calls out the usual fake sops to impartiality that you often find in such reports, saying that this "was not offset by the limited, and relatively restrained, criticism of the Democrats, Joe Biden and Congress". Ouch!
The ECU says that only ''a great deal of alteration" would have brought it into alignment with the BBC’s editorial standards, and seems to suggest ("as would normally have happened as a result of the process of editorial oversight applied to such pieces") that editorial oversight had been noticeably lacking.
They continued, "Whether or not Mr Bryant was in fact expressing a personal view of President Trump, some of his observations were couched in terms which might well have led readers to conclude that he was" This, the ECU concluded, amounted to "a departure from the BBC's standards of impartiality".
What's striking is that it's a clear 'Upheld', not a partial one.
A ruling against Nick Bryant has frankly been a long time coming. He has been getting increasing out of control ever since his time as the BBC's Australia correspondent.
I can imagine the consternation, possibly alarm, being felt today by some of his scarcely less openly opinionated colleagues. I bet some of them will be angry too.
Here is the ruling in full:
Coronavirus: What this crisis reveals about US - and its president, bbc.co.uk
06 August 2020
A reader of this online article complained that it reflected bias against President Trump on the part of its author (Nick Bryant, the BBC’s New York Correspondent). The ECU considered the complaint in the light of the BBC’s Editorial Guidelines on Impartiality in connection with News, Current Affairs and Factual Output, which say:
News in whatever form must be treated with due impartiality, giving due weight to events, opinion and main strands of argument. The approach and tone of news stories must always reflect our editorial values, including our commitment to impartiality.
Presenters, reporters and correspondents are the public face and voice of the BBC – they can have a significant impact on perceptions of whether due impartiality has been achieved. Our audiences should not be able to tell from BBC output the personal opinions of our journalists or news and current affairs presenters on matters of public policy, political or industrial controversy, or on ‘controversial subjects’ in any other area. They may provide professional judgements, rooted in evidence, but may not express personal views on such matters publicly, including in any BBC-branded output or on personal blogs and social media.
The Guidelines provide for BBC journalists to offer “professional judgements” on matters of political controversy, and the ECU regarded the article primarily as an instance of a specialist correspondent using his knowledge and experience to provide informed and considered analysis in his areas of expertise. The ECU also agreed that Mr Bryant had sought to support his assessment of President Trump’s handling of the coronavirus crisis with evidence, much of which had been cited in previous correspondence with the complainant. However, it accepted that that there were issues with the “approach and tone” of the item at certain points, and that phrasing such as “Ridiculous boasts”, “mind-bending truth twisting”, “particularly vicious assault”, “pettiness and peevishness”, “narcissistic hunger for adoration” and “the tricks of an illusionist”, when not attributed to sources other than the author of the piece, was closer to the language of “personal views” than that of “professional judgement” and, in terms of impartiality, was not offset by the limited, and relatively restrained, criticism of the Democrats, Joe Biden and Congress. In the ECU’s judgement, the article could have been brought into alignment with the BBC’s editorial standards without a great deal of alteration, as would normally have happened as a result of the process of editorial oversight applied to such pieces. As it stood, however, and whether or not Mr Bryant was in fact expressing a personal view of President Trump, some of his observations were couched in terms which might well have led readers to conclude that he was, resulting in a departure from the BBC’s standards of impartiality.
The finding was discussed with those responsible for the article and reported to the Board of BBC News, and the article itself was amended in the light of the finding.