Gavin Esler, for 20 years a front-line BBC presenter and now a full-time writer and Chancellor of the University of Kent, has decided we deserve to be treated to his opinions about the world.
What, you might ask, are they? While presenting Dateline London and Newsnight, did he harbour secret dreams of a return to grammar schools, curbs on immigration, and of leaving the EU?
In a word, no. In two, emphatically no. Indeed, Mr Esler’s thoughts – expressed in an epic 2,000-word outpouring on the New European website – are underpinned with with what can only be called excremental venom.
His targets of derision? Anyone who might dare articulate even a glimmering of a viewpoint which does not chime with his extreme liberal-Left outlook.
Esler’s pronounced liberal bias was in fact already abundantly evident in his role as presenter of Dateline London, a current affairs panel discussion show on the BBC News Channel. His approach has been meticulously chronicled over many years by Craig Byers in no fewer than 49 postings on Is the BBC Biased?
In all that time, only one programme had a majority of guests who were not liberal-Left.
A sample of his presenting style (when, of course, he was theoretically bound by BBC rules about impartiality) spotted by Craig was a link he provided in the run-up to the 2016 US presidential election. He said: ‘Donald Trump really is a fat-shaming, ill-informed, tax-avoiding misogynist who routinely insults people of other races. Why is this election even close? And why could Mr Trump still win?’
Now that Esler’s gloves are off, such bias is piffling. In his world, those opposing him and the ideas espoused by them are basically sh*t – he even coins a scatalogical word for Brexit as his outro: ‘Brexcrement’. Those supporting it are drowning in it. Clever him. How long in his University of Kent eyrie did that eureka moment take to dream up?
The article would be comical if were not intended seriously. Everyone whom Esler approves of is ‘impressive’ (such as fanatical Remainer Sarah Woollaston MP); those he does not like are liars and cheats, or are supported by sinister financing. Oh, and they peddle ‘fake news’, or are crassly incompetent.
A few examples will illustrate his delusions and his wildly risible pantomime division of the world into heroes and villains:
Hero 1: Damian Collins, chair of the Commons Media Select Committee, for publishing a report into ‘fake news’ and spotting that it is underpinned by campaigns of ‘disinformation and messages of hate’. What Esler means, of course, is that he admires Collins’s work in attacking the Leave EU campaign.
Hero 2: Himself! Esler outlines how he has had a brilliant career in journalism and throughout was ‘accurate, fair and balanced’. But now – thanks to the noble work of Collins & co – it has been revealed that those pillars are cracking because of assaults by those who support views he does not like, such as Brexit, taxpayer-value-for-money, and climate change scepticism. So he – an intrepid warrior for Truth – is valiantly stopping the rot by name-calling.
Hero 3 (this one is a collective): American journalists on the New York Times, CNN and the Washington Post for calling out the serial lies of Donald Trump. In this section, Esler shows the full depths of his negativity by claiming they should not have reported Trump’s campaign as a serious project. He says: ‘We don’t “balance” arguments on child protection by hearing advocates for paedophilia, nor do we confront anti-slavery campaigners with racists arguing that other people can be personal property.’
Villain 1: Former Chancellor Nigel Lawson, for daring even to suggest that climate alarmism might be unfounded. In Esler’s neatly-defined world, alarmism is proven science, and there can be no, absolutely no, reporting of opposition.
Villain 2 (collective ‘Brexcrement’ supporters dubbed charmingly the ‘shameless Brexit Bunch’): First, Nigel Farage. Well, of course, he’s everyone’s favourite target. To Esler, he has been 20 years in the European Parliament and ‘never implemented a policy’. Is he ignorant of the fact that the European Parliament doesn’t implement anything except hot air – the only Parliament in the world that does not legislate? Next, Boris Johnson for being ‘all sizzle and no steak’ and launching ‘endless fantasy projects’. Finally in this category is ‘Living Fossil’ Jacob Rees-Mogg. How very grown-up Esler is in his analytical observations.
Villain 3: Chloe Westley (and with her, the TaxPayers’ Alliance and the Institute of Economic Affairs). Ms Westley – according to Esler, a ‘ubiquitous antipodean’ who worked for Vote Leave (sin one) and now the TaxPayers’ Alliance (sin two) – is a baddie because she won’t reveal how the TPA is funded. The IEA is tarred with the same brush.
Can this avalanche of ad hominem bile be dismissed as the work of one rotten apple in the BBC’s otherwise pristine Orchard of Impartiality? Seemingly not. Emily Maitlis, a former colleague of Esler still working on Newsnight, has tweeted that he has ‘nailed something truly critical’.
The fact that Maitlis – who is still bound by the BBC’s supposed strictures governing impartiality – can send such a message with impunity about something so blatantly biased speaks volumes. For years, News-watch and Is the BBC Biased? have been chronicling the relentless skew in BBC output. Is Esler’s name-calling the real voice of BBC journalism?