The BBC’s head of editorial standards has admitted that BBC news failed to reflect the wider nation’s concerns over immigration and the rise of Euroscepticism, with editors instead succumbing to metropolitan liberal “groupthink”.
Speaking to the House of Lords Communications and Digital Committee on Tuesday, David Jordan, who has been the BBC’s Director of Editorial Policy and Standards since 2007, admitted that the BBC has failed to ensure that news teams “leave their prejudices at the door”.
“Have we always been successful in doing that? No, we haven’t,” Mr Jordan said.
“Candidly… we had issues, for example, about tracking the rise of Euroscepticism,” the editorial policy chief admitted.
“Across the BBC, did we do that adequately? No, we didn’t. Did we have issues around tracking the growth of concern about immigration? I think we did, as an organisation.”
Mr Jordan told peers: “I hope that we’ve learnt from those experiences and we’re applying them now to making sure that we do understand what people right across the country, in every part of the UK think, how they’re feeling about politics and social issues, the economic issues that concern them and reflect those fully in our output.”
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The BBC has been accused of failing on that front in recent months, however. Claims of bias erupted after Newsnight anchor Emily Maitlis let lose a politically-charged criticism of the prime minister’s senior advisor, Dominic Cummings, when she opened the programme by stating as fact: “Dominic Cummings broke the [coronavirus lockdown] rules. The country can see that, and it’s shocked the Government cannot.”
Last month saw the rise of the ‘Defund the BBC’ — a homage to the far-left Black Lives Matter call to ‘defund’ the police — Twitter campaign after the BBC described a weekend of violence by BLM activists that left 27 London police injured as “largely peaceful”.
The Editorial Policy and Standards director is perhaps the most senior BBC figure in post to admit to the broadcaster’s bias.
However, claims of political bias are nothing new. In 2010, former BBC Director-General Mark Thompson said that 30 years prior when he joined the organisation, it had a “massive bias to the left”.
“The organisation did struggle then with impartiality. And journalistically, staff were quite mystified by the early years of Thatcher,” Mr Thompson had said.
Recently retired journalist John Humphrys, a veteran of BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, had said the BBC had failed since the 1990s to adequately cover people’s increasing concerns about rising immigration.
Mr Humphrys said that during the 2016 referendum on European Union membership, BBC bosses “could simply not grasp how anyone could have put a cross in the Leave box on the referendum ballot paper”.
“Leave had won — and this was not what the BBC had expected. Nor what it wanted,” he said in 2019.
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Breitbart London has reported on studies that found by analysis the BBC elevated anti-Leave bias in their news coverage.
News Watch said in 2017 that the Today programme, BBC radio’s flagship news broadcast, was “strongly biased against Brexit” in the week when the UK triggered Article 50, the mechanism for formally leaving the EU. In one example of bias, analysis by the news monitoring group found that only eight out of 124 guests on the subject of Article 50 were allowed to articulate the benefits of leaving the bloc.
Think tank Civitas concluded in 2018 that the Today programme had suppressed Eurosceptic voices between 2005 and 2015, with only 3.2 per cent of guests being pro-independence. The broadcaster had also kept listeners “in the dark” on the left-wing and Labour arguments for Leave, angling the question of Brexit as a purely conservative position.
“When opinion in favour of leaving the EU has featured, the editorial approach has – at the expense of exploring withdrawal itself – tended heavily towards discrediting and denigrating opposition to the EU as xenophobic,” the authors had written.
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— Breitbart London (@BreitbartLondon) July 7, 2020