ON her afternoon Sky News politics programme yesterday, Kay Burley interviewed two Conservatives, commentator Andre Walker and Alex Deane, former adviser to David Cameron. She was told by one of them that Boris Johnson was entitled to be suspicious of media appearances because his experiences of bias had been bad, for example at the hands of Channel 4. Burley appeared stung and said she would have to end the interview if they criticised her colleagues in the broadcast media.
Here is the text of the heated exchange as given in the Express:
Walker: ‘The truth of the matter is this is for Conservative Party members to decide who is the leader of the Conservative Party.
‘Now whether people like it or not, our nominee as Conservative Party leader is going to become the Prime Minister. Now I know that’s a disappointment to any media outlet but Kay, I don’t blame you, and I don’t blame Sky.
‘Did you see Krishnan Guru-Murthy’s introduction on Channel 4 where he listed the schools and universities – ’
The Sky News host interrupted: ‘Don’t criticise my colleagues to me. Nope, sorry Andre, not buying into that. Nope, not playing.’
Mr Walker remarked ‘Oh come on, it was pathetic,’ before Ms Burley turned to Mr Deane: ‘Alex, don’t be rude about my colleague otherwise I’m not going to let you carry on.’
My TCW colleague Michael St George today catalogues the social media anti-Johnson ‘pile-on’, mainly by journalists, which followed his win in the final ballot of MPs. Kay Burley’s performance yesterday reveals the extraordinary ‘closed shop’ attitude among our broadcasting punditry, as if they were all in a media trades union and were backing each other up, come what may.
Many viewers and listeners were shocked by Channel 4’s fake news set-up of Johnson as a ‘homophobe’ prior to their circus programme of ‘debate’ that I reported on, and then there was the BBC’s complicity in a charge of ‘Islamophobia’ from a selected questioner in their debate with the Tory leader contenders.
Boris, you would be forgiven for thinking, has every right to be deeply suspicious of the media determined to interrogate him about his love life, garden furniture and date of his haircuts. That indeed was the unremitting focus yesterday of LBC’s Nick Ferrari ‘interview’, more like a McCarthyite interrogation, in which Ferrari asked the same question 26 times when Boris refused to discuss the press decision to publish a particular and inconsequential photograph of him with his partner.
The evening before, the BBC’s Laura Kuenssberg had done the same: a kind of media doom loop is in operation. And, according to the Kay Burley dogma, ‘her colleagues’, i.e. all the mainstream broadcasters, are above criticism. It is an extraordinary contention that reveals their own self-righteous political beliefs and lack of curiosity or journalistic integrity, let alone impartiality. They are in a bubble of their own, fostering their own importance as well as an atmosphere that keeps their line of hostile questioning the focus without ever exploring the issue of democratic as well as national survival or why the return to a self-governing nation state is so important.
Is this abject failure by the media, why, Ms Burley, you and your ‘colleagues’ are never to be criticised?
Soon politicians will be able to ‘reach’ the people without the intercession of the mainstream media, and if I were Boris Johnson I’d not just be steering clear of Sky, Channel Four and the BBC but setting up my own YouTube channel so that for once I could communicate on my terms.
To me his love life is deplorable, as was that of David Lloyd George, who brought in the old age pension, and that of John F Kennedy, who faced down the USSR; heaven knows how many others with high responsibility have proved to be less than perfect, but I really do not think that is the issue. The issue is his competence which seems to be beyond doubt during his two-term tenure as Mayor of London.
All that matter nows is that he gets around him a similarly good team of the finest economic and legal minds to advise, help and support him to make a full and confident run-up to getting a managed no-deal Brexit, undeterred by Barnier and Juncker’s negativity over re-opening negotiations. All that matters is that he holds Jeremy Hunt to account on Brexit – how can this ardent supporter of Mrs May’s Versailles 1919-type treaty be trusted to deliver anything but a Brino?
Kay Burley let the cat out of the bag. Now we know. An unwritten convention exists among the commentariat of the mainstream broadcasters not to criticise each other. An unwritten understanding and shared (leftist/remainer/anti-Tory) perspective, a common line of interpretation. That’s why they’re prepared to throw anything at Boris Johnson – homophobe, Islamaphobe, wife-beater, racist – they have declared war.
Again it falls to the independent bloggers like TCW and Guido Fawkes to call them to account. Forget the fourth estate’s duty to report dispassionately: it has become an actor in the battle by the anywheres against the somewheres.