David Keighley’s BBC Election Watch: Reporters flaunt their bias against ‘populists’ like Trump

What was BBC Today presenter Nick Robinson’s reaction as news broke that FBI Director James Comey had been fired by Donald Trump?

He tweeted: 'Life becomes like reality TV show as @realDonaldTrump tells FBI Director "You're fired!"'

How impartial was that? You can be the judge. Meanwhile, on the Today show itself, the editorial machine was working flat out on a parallel mission, to suggest that the President’s actions were so outrageous that they could be compared with one of the darkest acts of Watergate.

US correspondent Jon Sopel led the charge after the Today bulletins at 6.30am yesterday morning, when prompted by by John Humphrys that this was in the same territory as back in 1972, he declared:

'…a lot of people are saying… is very very smells very similar to the Nixon investigation, the Nixon era and John, I know you were doing my job then the night of the ‘Saturday Massacre’ when the special investigator into Richard Nixon and Watergate affair was fired … we know where that ended up’.

He added that there were now also suggestions that this could be a cover-up – over Trump’s dealings with Russia – of the sort that ‘finished off Richard Nixon’.  The message was reinforced in a later interview with a correspondent from the Washington Post.

Then at 8.10am, BBC North America correspondent Aleem Maqbool gave his verdict on the Comey sacking. He opined:

'Americans have come to expect almost anything from their president.'

That was not intended as a compliment. The issue at stake here, yet again, is the BBC’s supposed impartiality. Robinson, Maqbool and Sopel – and Humphrys - were anything but; their goal was to question flagrantly the competence of Donald Trump and to suggest one-sidedly that the sacking of Comey was potentially so seriously dodgy that impeachment was now in the frame.

As the coverage of the general election unfolds, this mindset of partisanship against ‘populism’ is of deep concern. Also on Today yesterday morning (for example), Dominic O’Connell, the business news presenter, was over in Northern Ireland. His mission? To rake up every possible reason why Brexit was a major headache and a threat to the business community.

The BBC may be playing the numbers game between parties carefully in their election coverage. But when it comes to the issues, there is no doubt whose side they are on.

(Image: Gage Skidmore)

David Keighley

  • David Keighley

    A piece today on the American Thinker website (no doubt ‘fake news’ in the BBC’s estimation!) gives the Trump view of Comey’s sacking: http://www.americanthinker.com/blog/2017/05/draining_the_swamp_is_entertaining.html

    • Tethys

      There is no ‘news’ content to the piece of any kind, only more unsubstantiated opinion.

  • Lagopus scotica

    Comey misled the Senate Judiciary Committee (about Huma Abedins emails), and had to be corrected by his colleagues at the FBI. Which bit of that don’t the BBC understand?

  • Harley Quin

    The main 1 pm BBC Radio 4 News programme yesterday was an anti Trump propaganda fest.

    We were told that some Republicans and many of the media were treating the sacking as if it were some kind of scandal or incipient scandal.

    Trump’s letter, in which he stressed that Comey had cleared him of Russian involvement three times, obviously making the point that the sacking had nothing to do with any kind of a cover-up, was sneered at as being ‘all about him”.

    The sacking followed statements from the Attorney General that Comey had gone beyond his powers and behaved in a manner unbefitting to his office. The FBI Deputy chief said that Comey’s sacking was merited.

    It is hard to see how Trump could have treated Comey otherwise, but there was no suggestion of that in this programme.

    The media feeding frenzy on Trump contrasts markedly with the lack of interest it shows on the fact that Hilary Clinton behaved in a manner with her private server which got others sacked from their positions in the Federal administration, but got away with it herself.

    Nor is there much interest in the fact that she was handed the questions in the Candidates televised debate, which made her look more prepared and at ease than Trump, nor that she agreed to the sale to Russia of 20% of the USA’s uranium, which was swiftly followed by a payment to her husband of $500,000 from a Russian investment bank. If there was ever a Russian connection, this was it.

    So what’s new? The media, including the BBC, has been anti Trump from the first. So have some Republicans. Jon Sopel positively glories in anything that can be spun to Trump’s detriment. So why are we supposed to be impressed by this latest example of gross bias?

    • Tethys

      You need to go check your facts on the Uranium issue.
      Remember, if the Trump says something, it is not automatically true. More likely the reverse.

  • Dominic Stockford

    Only a week ago the ‘liberal progressives’ were calling for Comey to sacked, then when Trump does it, it somehow becomes the worst thing in the world to have done. Which makes it quite clear that it is purely an attack on Trump, not a logical reaction.

  • markbrev

    Hmm, last US President to sack his FBI Director? Hilary’s husband Bill, he also fired every single Republican Attorney General in a naked display of political partisanship, but Trump firing Comey despite his less than impressive record over the last nine months or so is the worst thing since Watergate?

  • Tethys

    Lack of comment on ITV, C4, C5, CNN, FOX, RTE etc. etc. hardly advances the writer’s standing as the font of all objectivity.
    I guess that’s disgruntled former employees for you.
    As ‘populist’ movements go, let’s look at how popular some things are.

    **Support as a percentage of the electorate:(approx).

    * Macron: 50%
    * LePen: 25%
    * The Trump: 27%
    * Brexit: 37%

    • RWP

      ‘Brexit’ or British Independence was about returning governance of Britain back to the British where it belongs and should always belong. The event is far more profound than Presidential elections in France and the United States. It’s extremely naive not to recognise that. There are loose connections to events or movements in other countries but they are largely irrelevant.

      YouGov March ’17 stated 69% wanted Britain to get on with leaving.

      How many people voted for foreign rule on 23rd June as a ‘percentage of the electorate’ as you put it?

      • Tethys

        The profundity of the issue (although you misconstrue it) is exactly why the 37% ‘mandate’ is not credible.
        As for polls, well they’re about as good as lies down the side of buses, but since you brought it up:
        45% oppose leaving the EU vs. 43% who think it is right. (Source: YouGov April ’17)

        • RWP

          I’m quite aware of the figures you quote and you’ve taken them out of context to suit a false narrative which is misleading and dishonest. That YouGov question asked specifically about what happened on 23rd June. The question was what Britain should have done on 23rd June as opposed to the other question of what Britain should do now (69% want us to get on with it). The survey includes people who didn’t vote at all on 23rd June which explains the 43% number. For example 75% of youth voters chose not to vote however that demographic is given equal weight in this survey. Many of those who said Britain should have stayed (45%) also state Britain should get on with leaving (69%) because they accept the vote.

          Regarding your claim of no mandate, there was never ever a mandate for the British government to join a Euro political union in the first place. It was supposed to be about trade, yet Labour and the ‘Conservatives’ gradually began giving our country away. But no more!

          • Tethys

            **Proportions of total electoral support not given:
            * The Trump: 73%
            * Brexit: 63%
            More people did not vote at all than voted for the carbuncle in the White House.
            There is no way he is going to give up tenure in the normal democratic manner.
            As for Brexit, common sense will return.

          • RWP

            Why so reluctant to address the point about there being no mandate for the original political union given you’re all about mandate?

          • Tethys

            Why so reluctant to deal with peace, prosperity and campaign lies?
            The bus confidence trick only needed to fool 1 in 12 of the leave voters to affect the result.
            Do you remember how quickly it was ‘clarified’ ?
            June 25th I recall.

          • RWP

            You said there wasn’t a mandate to remove Britain from the EU but twice now you’ve refused to acknowledge there wasnt a mandate for Britian to join a political union to begin with. You can’t have it both ways. Do you acknowledge that?

          • Tethys

            This is 2017 mon ami.

    • Dougie

      Rather a misleading comparison, as you’ve taken the results of the second round of the French presidential election. In the first round, Le Pen and Macron were pretty much equally popular.

      • Tethys

        Can’t say that about the other 2 travesties though.

  • “‘…a lot of people are saying… ” is always a marker of either BS or fake news, and usually both.
    For all that, Trump’s mistake was in not firing Comey at about 12:30 pm on 20 January.

  • Tethys

    Today we read that under the current POTUS a journalist has been arrested for asking a question about those disadvantaged by changes to Obamacare.
    Alongside the other News manipulation , America grows more like Russia daily.

  • Tethys

    Doubts about the competency of D Trump are a perfectly REASONABLE journalistic position to take, given his penchant for fact-free rants, his routine self-contradiction, and the ‘coincidence’ in the timing of Comey’s departure.

  • Calvin Graham

    Had Hilary won, she’s likely have sacked Comey (as the democrats demanded last November) for not publicly exonerating her and promising to leave all her other unturned stones alone. Except that the narrative would be about her courage and fortitude to replace him with

    For some light relief, here’s my Trump vs Clinton/Nixon cartoon:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R7u4MnvRYyI