Thank you for scheduling a Feedback special on how the BBC’s coverage of Brexit is being received.
I have been a staunch supporter of the BBC and always thought of it as a safe haven among the confusing plethora of biased and sometimes fake news outlets.
However that was before the EU referendum campaign and now, 21 months after that vote, I am deeply concerned that the BBC is loosing control and is letting their interviewers push their own views or agenda.
My biggest concern is with your flagship current affairs programme, Today. This was, without question, my favourite port-of-call for comprehensive, reliable news coverage but since the referendum this is no longer the case. It now seems to be the norm for interviewers to use an interview to present their own opinion (or indeed someone else’s opinion) as fact.
An excellent example of this was on Tuesday 27th March when Mr Humphrys interviewed Lord Patten. John may well believe that it is inevitable that the UK will leave the EU but this is his opinion and not fact and his constant restatement of his opinion as fact is not what I understood his role in R4Today i.e. interviewing and testing the opinions of others.
Mr Humphrys will be well aware that Parliament voted to pass the EU (Notification of Withdrawal) Act 2017 which gave the Prime Minister the authority to notify the EU of the UK’s intention to withdraw from the EU, it did not decide that we would Leave.
“The Prime Minister may notify, under Article 50(2) of the Treaty on European Union, the United Kingdom’s intention to withdraw from the EU.”
and the European Union (Withdrawal) Bill is still working it’s way through the system and currently has provision for a “meaningful vote” once the negotiations are complete and before it would be enacted.
So for Mr Humphrys to declare to the listeners that Parliament had already decided that we should leave the EU and that any call for further votes is futile is at best misleading.
However this is exactly what he did, he said to Lord Patten (when his Lordship was suggesting there could be a further vote) that “Parliament has voted on whether to leave the EU and there was a massive majority to do so, so Parliament has already decided on this” 27.3.18 R4Today 8.51am.
Mr H is obviously an intelligent and well read individual. When he states something as fact then a sizable number of listeners will believe what he says. This places a burden upon him to not state things as facts when he knows they are not true. My comments are not restricted to Mr Humphrys; Nick Robinson and guest items by Laura Kuensberg follow a similar pattern; however I believe his interview with Lord Patten last week illustrates my points very well.
I hope you found my observations constructive and I look forward to more interviewing rather than platforming on R4Today.