Saturday 11 June 2022

All Biased on the Easton Front

Alastair Stewart tweeted last night that “the only voices on BBC News tonight were opponents of #Rwanda”. 

BBC One's News at Ten certainly bore that out, with [a] a campaigner against the government's policy and [b] an illegal immigrant facing deportation being the two featured voices in Mark Easton's report. And the campaigner against the government's policy was the sole voice featured in the opening headlines too. 

Mark Easton's report itself was, as Charlie notes on the open thread, typical Mark Easton, using every trick in the book to reinforce the case that Priti Patel's Rwanda policy is wrong and illegal, with the arguments of government opponents dominating and government opponents being said to have 'pointed' things 'out' while people reacting favourably to the judge's ruling went severely underreported - as did what the judge actually said. 

The structure of the report says it all. It began with a 'talking head' - the campaigner against the government. Then came what the lawyer representing those trying to stop next week's flights said in criticism of the government. Then came what a barrister for the UN said in criticism of the government. Mark then added his own point to reinforce what the critic from the UN had said. The government's legal team then got a sentence-long summary of their position from Mark before turning to thee plight of the 'asylum seekers' and 'a Syrian' saying he has family here and that his future and his kids' futures will be 'destroyed' if he's sent to Rwanda. A final sentence - a characteristic Mark Easton move - then feigned impartially with a brief, even-handed summary of the present legal situation from both the Home Office and campaigners' perspectives. 

Why didn't he quote what the judge had ruled, given that the judge had some 'helpful' things to say from the government's perspective? Why didn't he quote Priti Patel's response, already reported elsewhere by that time? Why did he pile on the critics of the policy but exclude supporters of it?

The answer is surely that he was making the case against the government under the guise of impartial reporting, as ever.

The report has been re-broadcast throughout the night and was still showing on BBC Breakfast this morning.

It's to be hoped that many viewers can see through this though. Here, for example, is a tweet from someone who obviously watched Mark Easton's report on this morning's BBC Breakfast:
BBC news this morning with a report about boat migrants. Every clip they showed was with young children being carried into the UK. Who are they kidding? Everyone can see the boats being unloaded with men only. Women and children are few and far between.... 

That's a familiar complaint. 

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