Saturday 26 December 2020

One year ago today...

It's a year ago to this very day that Charles Moore, under the headline It’s the BBC that is in need of a Reality Check, took a scalpel to the pronouncements of the BBC's Reality Check correspondent Chris Morris. 

Lord Moore wrote this last Boxing Day:
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.
He then related a specific example from Christmas Day 2019's Today programme:
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.
As so often, Charles Moore (who would have made a great BBC chairman) summed it up beautifully:
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.
Yes, BBC journalists have been at least as bad as any other 'experts' in predicting the future. 

My favourite example was Katya Adler in October 2019 saying that there was "a vanishingly small likelihood of a [withdrawal] deal" just days before that very deal was agreed. And she made her reality-defying prediction with such a swagger of confidence that it made me wonder if she could ever be taken seriously again. 

She said:
Nobody wants to be the one that says it's not going to happen. But it's not going to happen. Maybe, maybe, there is a 0.0000-0.3% chance that it will happen.
The current proposals on the table are not acceptable to the EU, full stop. Let's be honest about that. The chances of getting a deal now, between now and the EU leader's summit is zero, let's be honest.
Of course, she was taken seriously again because no BBC people ever pointed this out to her and she never publicly acknowledged how wrong she'd got it. Her own ex-cathedra pronouncements on where the truth lies continued to be unquestioningly accepted by her flock of fellow-BBC staff. And, just as funnily enough, her version of reality also always seemed to coincide with the view from Brussels.

Both Chris Morris and Katya Adler were in action last week, carrying on regardless.

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