The BBC must think we’re all as stupid as their journalists. I recently complained about a puff piece that Newsnight ran on Theresa May a couple of weeks ago, and Laura Kuenssberg’s appallingly biased Tweet. Naturally, the BBC saw nothing wrong with either of them. Here’s their reply to me:
Dear Mr Hell
Thank you for contacting us about BBC News output.
I understand you feel a recent interview with Theresa May in ‘Newsnight’ amounted to a ‘puff piece’ and Laura Kuenssberg’s post on social media regarding Jeremy Corbyn’s campaigning in Scotland and the Prime Minister’s absence in comparison displayed bias against Mr Corbyn.
We were naturally concerned to learn of your unhappiness but we’d explain that all BBC correspondents, reporters, presenters and editors are very well aware of our key commitment to impartial reporting at all times.
All staff are expected to put any political views to one side when carrying out their work for the BBC, and they simply try to provide the information and context on the story or issue using their professional insight to allow our viewers, listeners and web users to make up their own minds.
BBC News aims to show the political reality and provide a forum for discussion on issues, giving full opportunity for all sides of the debate to be heard and explored. Senior editorial staff within BBC News and the BBC Board keep a close watch on programmes to ensure that standards of impartiality are maintained.
The key point is that the BBC as an organisation has no view or position itself on anything we may report upon – our aim is to identify all significant views, and to test them rigorously and fairly on behalf of our audiences.
We always strive to be robust and consistent in our dealings with politicians and figures of public interest. The interviewer’s role is to put the questions that audience members want to know the answers to.
Our journalists seek to hold politicians and public figures to account by asking them pressing questions on a variety of topics, however the nature and tone of these questions may well be different depending on the programme or juncture the interview is broadcast on.
As the BBC’s Political Editor, Laura can’t publish ‘personal’ views on politics. Her role instead brings a professional and informed insight to events, based on her specialist knowledge and experience in the field.
This tweet conveyed the contrast in the two leaders, reflecting the tactics and mindsets in each party’s campaign. Laura was making the point that because of the conflicting positions on Trident within the Labour party, the Conservatives had made a conscious decision not to engage on the issue at that time. Senior staff are engaged in making sure that all BBC News output, including social media, is in line with our editorial guidelines.
Please be assured we do value your feedback about the points raised. All complaints are sent to senior management and in this case the BBC News team every morning, and I included your points in our overnight report of audience feedback.
These reports are among the most widely read sources of feedback in the BBC and ensures that your concerns have been seen by the right people quickly. This helps inform their decisions about current and future programmes.
Thank you again for contacting us.
BBC Complaints Team
First, I put it to the BBC that if they were going to run a puff piece on May, were they going to do that same for the other party leaders. The silence, as this reply illustrates, is deafening.
As for Her Ladyship’s tweet, you will notice how Mr Bannon swats away my complaint by telling me she (Kuenssberg) “can’t publish ‘personal’ views on politics”. Oh? So why did she take to Twitter to air them? She certainly wasn’t doing that in a personal capacity.
The BBC’s claims to “impartiality” don’t stand up to scrutiny. Indeed, Mr Bannon’s reply to me amounts to little more than gaslighting.
I will be escalating my complaint to Ofcom.