One of the perks of the BBC is that it is an impartial broadcaster, always aiming to bring the best news and present information without a political slant or agenda. At least, that’s the idea in principle. But this year, we’ve seen some of the biggest shifts in thinking in a generation, and the BBC’s bias in covering them has been appalling.
Take the case of Donald Trump. No matter what your opinion of him, it was always clear who the BBC wanted to win the US election, and the organisation seems to have gone into a state of mourning at the result. You rarely saw pro-Trump figures on the network and, if you did, they were often shouted over and mocked. A startling example of the level of bias against Trump can be found on the night of his election – you could not find a single pro-Trump voice on any of the BBC’s news programmes at all.
A startling example of the level of bias against Trump can be found on the night of his election – you could not find a single pro-Trump voice on any of the BBC’s news programmes at all.
It is much the same with Brexit – again, the BBC took great pains to emphasise Brexit’s negativity, without any real reflection of the positives. Every day in the campaign, the BBC ran with a negative Brexit story (often whatever prediction someone on the Remain side has come up with, presented as fact), and has continued to be against the vote ever since. Every negative economic story was connected to Brexit, every positive story was presented as happening ‘despite Brexit’ – things like that give you no doubt where the BBC stands.
If you barely scratch the surface, you’ll find it everywhere, TV or radio. Watch any debate show, the pro-Brexit/pro-Trump/pro-right wing guest is normally in a minority, given far less time and constantly interrupted on all their points. Watch any topical comedy show, and the majority of the jokes are levied against the same targets. Newsnight is particularly bad for this, especially on nights when it is hosted by James O’Brian.
Every negative economic story was connected to Brexit; every positive story was presented as happening ‘despite Brexit’
The examples are endless, so I shall only mention a few – a Newsnight in which O’Brian shouted over his pro-Trump guest and tried to force the KKK into every question , a post-Brexit discussion featuring three pro-Remain guests (Newsnight), BBC’s News at Six running its lead story as ‘ISIS Back Brexit’ back in May, based solely on a throwaway guess by the Prime Minister.
Radio 4’s The Brexit Collection is an example of note. It is so heavily biased that it formed a key part of a complaint to the Director General about the BBC’s lack of impartiality by a cross-party group of government ministers. Indeed, their analysis showed you were more than twice as likely to come across a pro-EU voice during the campaign than a pro-Leaver.
“The Brexit Collection…is so heavily biased that it formed a key part of a complaint to the Director General”
Is the corporation aware of this? Well, no. Amusingly, a report into the Brexit vote concluded that they should’ve stopped treating all news stories with equal value to help change the result – they fear they weren’t biased enough. The BBC thinks that providing it has both sides of a story represented they’re being impartial, but that’s not sufficient – how they are presented is important too, and it is rarely equally. Sometimes, this doesn’t even happen, such as Brexit debates where every panellist was pro-Remain.
Newswatch is a BBC show that deals with viewer complaints about news coverage, and it frequently covers bias. Every week, a BBC bigwig comes onto the show and is asked a few questions, and they always end with the same comment: that they’ve received complaints about their coverage from both sides of an argument, which means they’re getting it right. They ignore the concern and coverage carries on the same way.
The BBC is a jewel, but I resent being forced to pay for skewed news – it would be so much better if news reporters could stop offering me their views and try being, I don’t know, journalists.