Saturday 20 February 2021

Something rotten in the state of BBC Scotland

I'd seriously urge you to read two outstanding pieces before considering Andrew Neil's questions, as they provide all the necessary background and are much more about the BBC's role in the story than you might guess merely from their headlines:

Effie DeansIt's absurd to imagine there was a conspiracy

The ScotsmanDon't blame MSPs who try to get at the Sturgeon-Salmond truth - Brian Wilson

What happened this week is that BBC Scotland interviewed one of the women who accused Alex Salmond. 

This has caused some consternation, given that Mr Salmond was cleared by a jury.

And critics say that the BBC interviewer, Glenn Campbell, basically let her have a free run at Mr Salmond.

Effie Deans puts The Big Question in a nutshell: "The BBC acts as if Salmond were guilty even though he was acquitted. Why else interview someone the jury did not believe?"

She writes: 

The BBC are supposed to be impartial, but it is quite clear not merely from this interview but also because of the Kirsty Wark documentary that BBC journalists have taken sides. They think that Salmond ought to have been convicted for which reason they disbelieve the alternative explanation that there was a Scottish Government conspiracy against him. This is partly because of the liberal bias in the BBC that treats all accusations of sexual assault as true, because women don’t lie, but more importantly since 2016 the BBC has lost all objectivity about Scottish politics because Sturgeon campaigned for Remain.

But there are lots of other questions for the BBC to answer, which both Effie and Brian outline and which I think will prove a lot trickier for the BBC to answer. They are nitty-gritty questions that go to the heart of BBC Scotland's actions and motivations. 

These are the very ones Andrew Neil's encapsulates so well here:

  1. With a major h/t to Brian Wilson I put the following questions to BBC Scotland News.
  2. First, what was the provenance of your recent interview with one of the complainants in the Salmond affair? Did you approach the individual? Did she volunteer? Or was she offered up by the spinners surrounding the First Minister?
  3. Second, is she independent of the current political ructions within the SNP? If so, fine. If not, why were viewers not told. And if that was not possible on grounds of self-identification, then why was it still OK to broadcast the interview? Some disturbing things are happening in Scotland and BBC Scotland is clearly in the thick of them. 
Various other thoughts:

I wonder if the BBC will reply to Andrew Neil? I suspect they'll have to, as he's a tenacious journalist and will follow it through.  

And these are serious questions that could genuinely damage the BBC's reputation as an independent, impartial broadcaster if the BBC fails to account for themselves. This could spiral out of control for them.

Some are calling for Tim Davie himself to look into what's going on at BBC Scotland as a matter of urgency. 

He should, of course, be doing that already. This has been brewing for a while. And if he's not doing that already then he might be in for a rude awakening shortly.

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