Monday, May 27, 2024
HomeBBC WatchDavid Keighley’s BBC Election Watch: Reporters flaunt their bias against ‘populists’ like...

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)

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David Keighley
David Keighley
Former BBC news producer, BBC PR executive and head of corporate relations for TV-am. Director of News-watch.

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