Guardian’s Nick Watt lined up for Newsnight role

19 January 2016

12:20 PM

19 January 2016

12:20 PM

The Guardian set tongues wagging across Westminster in December when its editor Katharine Viner appointed two women to share the role of political editor. Although the paper’s chief political correspondent Nicholas Watt had been seen as the favourite to succeed Patrick Wintour, Sky News‘s Anushka Asthana and Observer economics editor Heather Stewart were offered the role as a job-share, after applying together.

Happily Watt appeared to be gracious in defeat. While he tweeted that he was ‘disappointed’ to miss out on the role, he said he was looking forward to working with the ‘formidable duo’.


Alas word reaches Steerpike that Watt may not have much time working for Asthana and Stewart after all. Mr S understands that Watt is being lined up to join Newsnight as the show’s new political editor. He is expected to replace Allegra Stratton — who is also a former Guardian employee — after she stepped down as political editor to join ITV News as their National Editor this month.

While a BBC spokesman says that discussions are still ongoing and no decision has been made, Watt would certainly make for an interesting hire. Although hiring another Guardian journalist for the role would fuel accusations of left-wing bias at the BBC, the appointment could also upset the Corbynistas. ‘Let’s just say Nick isn’t really in there with the Corbyn wing of the Grauniad,’ one observer diplomatically notes.

Update: Mr S sends his congratulations to Nicholas Watt. After Steerpike revealed in January that Watt was being lined up for the role, Newsnight editor Ian Katz has announced that he is the show’s new political editor:

‘Nick is one of the most trusted, authoritative and engaging journalists in the country. With a background in Northern Ireland, Europe and Westminster he’s also uniquely equipped to guide viewers through an increasingly fractured and complex political landscape, and to lead the programme’s coverage of one of the most important and potentially tumultuous political periods in modern memory.’

Another day, another Guardian journalist joins the Beeb.

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Show comments
  • orsonhinds

    Nice work.

  • balance_and_reason

    standard operating procedure….another socialist at newsnight…you really could not make it up.

  • John Guest

    How much longer will The Guardian be published ?

    The right sort of people need some job security after all.

  • Sargon the bone crusher

    More left wing crap from the on-message left-dominated dreadful BBC.
    Britain is a lost cause; morally bankrupt, arrogant yet violent and incompetent, its society is busy destroying what is left- and there is now very little indeed – of its illustrious history.
    Why not make that slob Abbott Life President, shoot the royal family and complete the destruction.
    The prostitutes in the press would love it – they would write about it.

  • Chingford Man

    I haven’t watched Newsnight for ages because I have no interest in left wing garbage. Katz took over a failing show and is wrecking it further. It will be gone within 5 years.

  • The Dybbuk

    Weird that many here see Watt as left wing whereas at the Guardian he has been constantly berated for being the opposite. If he goes to Newsnight it will make little difference to him or the programme as by now he must be used to working for an organisation fewer and fewer people bother to read/watch. Still, his redundancy package will help smooth the transition to even greater obscurity.

  • Douglas Carter

    ….’…. so, Nick. The reason we have you in this interview is that in spite of years of intentionally making Newsnight a vacuous embarrassment to airtime, we find there are still people hanging on doggedly in sufficient numbers to justify broadcasting this fraud against factual analysis.

    We feel that bringing you on board will more than tip the balance and ensure that we can bury Newsnight once and for all in just a few short weeks. You’re the perfect antithesis to the remotest inadvertent or unintended sign of credibility, intellect or insight into current affairs. You’ve got the job. We did offer the job to Diane Abbott but she refused to attend, telling us that the colour of the ink on the pages of the notification letter was ‘racist’.

    You’re a complete liability to news Nick. Welcome to the chair.’…..

  • Lady Magdalene

    Newsnight is basically the broadcast wing of The Guardian.

    I no longer bother watching it. Sky News’ Review of the Papers is far more interesting.

    • UKSteve

      Years ago, Jeremy Paxman said that BBC News was ‘…full of crypto-Marxists!’

    • Numpty McTumshie

      Sky News is awful and the ads are even worse. The beeb may be biased but at least it’s not totally tabloid.

  • Geoffrey McAuliffe

    Guardian & BBC in bed together over staffing and shared political goals. Newsnight is TV ‘s Guardian on camera. Gave up watching years ago Their presenters, Hugh Sykes – just an example – useless, left wing trendy Islington luvvies who say they work for a living. Question Time audience packed with socialists and a panel with a solitary right individual. Radio 4 has become so PC that the bias towards left is now obvious.

  • Ivor MacAdam

    I watched the Raheem Kassam/Giles Fraser interview. Raheem was introduced as “from the FAR-RIGHT Breitbart”. Who says reporting what really happens is “far-right”?
    Or did I detect just a little of that famous BBC lefty bias?

    • UKSteve

      The BBC have been at it for donkey’s years – since Blair got in.

  • Greenslime

    It’s what they call a cross-posting in the military. Same organisation, different department!

  • JonBW

    Why not just appoint Seumas Milne and have done with it?

  • e2toe4

    In a way Newsnight was holed when, as still branding itself as the flagship news operation, it outsourced it’s core competence to a couple of freelances with a wizard way of staffing an agency…using journo students from a London College under a smart sounding brass plate.

    The mistakes made in the lamentable Lord McAlpine case were beyond inept… making them in the first place was bad but having the programme staffers not MOT the thing was almost worse.

    It was a symptom of a programme where agenda driven style had become more important than solid journalistic substance.

  • John P Hughes

    ‘Newsnight’ was a very good programme in its day, perhaps the best-ever daily news programme on British TV. But its day has passed.
    The great Newsnight days had John Tusa, Peter Snow, and Donald McCormick as lead presenters. They were authoritative and there was little or no bias or tilt, Through the period of the Thatcher Governments the programme was relied on and widely watched. In those days many still have black-and-white televisions and the programme was almost designed not to need colour.
    Things declined somewhat with Jeremy Paxman as the presenter started to become the story – but Paxman was mostly good, if a caricature of himself as he got older. He stayed too long, but at least he got out. One wishes that Kirsty Wark would be as wise as he was, and bale out. Gavin Esler was good once, but seems happier now on the BBC News 24 film programmes talking to Mark Kermode.
    The present crew are poor. The dreadful James O’Brien has probably been returned to LBC. Evan Davis was better on radio. Allegra Stratton (whio has just left the programme), Emily Maitlis and Laura Kuenssberg are interchangable blondes. Nick Watt is a senior presenter will only make older viewers wish they could have Tusa and McCormick back.
    Time for Lord Hall to dump Newsnight.

    • Simerall

      How can the so called BBC pretend that O’Brien, who spouts left wing sewage at midday, suddenly becomes impartial at 10.30pm?

      • John P Hughes

        On Newsnight some months ago James O’Brien didn’t come across as left-wing so much as angry and aggressive, and was somehow both incoherent and impolite to interviewees. John Tusa and his colleagues of the Newsnight of the 1980s (see above) seem like from another age. Not seen him on the programme recently.

  • Ron Todd

    Soon we ill have no news or current affairs on the telly that is not presented to best fit the prejudices of some lefty or another.

  • Nockian

    It’s not really left wing bias and that’s where the criticism is incorrectly applied.

    This is ‘establishment’ propaganda. It isn’t really left or right, it’s a method of selling pragmatism to the population. To sell the idea that nothing is entirely black and white, that the world is a confusing and dangerous place in which the viewer is helpless. That if the viewer gathers around the rectangular alter of worship, the BBC oracle and its owners will impart great wisdom. They will soothe the furrowed brow-but just sufficiently. Like a popular soap opera there will always be a cliff hanger, an element of doubt to keep the audience coming back for its next fix.

    The Beeb want establishment, bowing, men and women who will appear just sufficiently tough, but not enough to expose any weaknesses unless the target is against the established order. The presenter should not be too smart, not too well dressed, not too loud. Nothing must jar the senses or provoke the audience into asking questions. They should be almost invisible and have the presence to gently push to interviewees to give the best performance in line with the status quo.

    • Simerall

      No it’s liberal left propaganda. Anyone who deviates from their view of the world is to be challenged more rigorously.

      • Nockian

        Liberal left, liberal right it makes no difference. It’s a mythical left/right dichotomy to fool the electorate that they have some power. It’s the mouthpiece of an establishment elite who wish to give an impression that there is a battle going on.

        Anyone who wants to cut back the state, questions the welfare state, or crony capitalist banking system fronted by the BoE would not even get a look in. The same goes for books, magazines and films. Everything is moving towards one global government and bank.

  • MikeF

    Has this position been advertised and subject to competitive interview? If not what criteria have been applied in his selection?

    • Chamber Pot

      Exactly, there should be some open process this just seems to be a leftist conveyor belt.

  • RavenRandom

    What? A Guardian journalist at the BBC. I refuse to believe it. After all if one consistently hired left-wing journalists it would be impossible to maintain impartiality.

    • average joanna

      And they wonder why viewers are deserting in droves.

      • Michael990

        And staff, the latest being the controller of BBC 2 and 4, Kim Shillinglaw.

    • Hippograd

      As Peter Simple used to point out: how could there be any bias on the BBC when the full range of progressive opinion is represented there?

  • Bill Brinsmead

    Newsnight can’t be with us for long surely. Bizarre choice of items (okay Guardian mainstream), full of leftists – and that’s just Emily & Kirsty – and audience figures still heading south. Dreary Guardian lite fare. Bring back Jerry.

    • realfish

      Dreary indeed. No pace, no energy, negative, dull, handwringing, querulous, biased and unwatchable. Another programme that the BBC have hung on to well beyond it’s ‘destroy by’ date.

      It should be put out of its miserabilist misery.

  • realfish

    Another leftie – fancy that!

    What is more of a concern is the hiring of Peston and now Stratton (of all people) by ITV. It had, compared to the BBC, become an oasis of balance. No longer, I fear.

  • The Masked Marvel

    All those Sundays filling up air time on Andrew Neil’s show has done him well, it seems. Watt may be cleverer and less mad than most of the Guardianistas, but he’s still yet another supporter of establishment Labour brought in to be ‘objective’ for a BBC flagship news and current affairs programme. That’s what the BBC mouthpiece meant when they said he’s not in with the Corbyn wing. None of the upper echelon are at the BBC, and it’s only going to cause more friction below stairs.

  • MikeH

    Another lefty-loon on the BBC payroll.

    He seems happiest gesticulating and gushing Labour-related drivel.

    Unhappy having to encounter cognitive dissonance, such as dissenting opinions on Dear Leader Corbyn. Blinking, twitching and squirming are all parts of his pesky shtick.

  • trace9

    So the Guardian admits it takes two women to replace one man..

    • The Masked Marvel

      Not really. It’s more like one to woman to replace one man and a second woman to fill diversity targets and signal virtue.

  • The Dybbuk

    Didn’t think there was a Corbyn wing at the Guardian. Even young Jones is now saying defeatist stuff like how can Labour become more electable.

    • Atlas

      Jones has been distancing himself from Corbyn since the moment he was elected as Labour leader in order not to pollute his own very profitable brand with Corbyn’s ultimate failure.

      • The Dybbuk

        Maybe also a touch of peek that Milne got to be Corbyn’s mouthpiece, or should that be the other way round? Anyway, coded criticism creeping into Jones’ pieces about the failure to get the message across signals fratricide amongst the comrades

        • amac

          Exactly right. Corbyn will be removed in the end , for not getting the message out. The fact that the message itself is unelectable is not something the Left ever face up to.

  • Atlas

    So the current Newsnight editor is Ian Katz, formerly of the Guardian. He appointed Allegra Stratton, formerly of the Guardian and with no demonstrable TV talent as political Editor and it now appears that her replacement will be Guardian journalist Nick Watt.

    In summary, the license fee is being used to pay for the Guardian to have its own TV show.

    • King Kibbutz

      Rats from a sinking ship.

      • Wessex Man

        to another hopefully.

    • Ralph

      I thought that was Channel 4 News.

      • amac

        Now the over spill is heading to ITV ,just in time for the Euro referendum. The metro bubble just gets more invasive like Japanese knotweed.

        • average joanna

          Greasy weirdo Peston is a disaster at
          ITN News.

          • JOhn Mackie

            greedy weirdo. Very succinct. Bravo

            • average joanna

              No idea if Peston is greedy
              But he’s certainly greasy.

      • realfish

        No, that’s the Morning Star.

      • Lady Magdalene

        No, that’s the Labour Party Propaganda Programme.

    • Darnell Jackson

      I assume that Watt is an anagram

      • Chamber Pot

        No, it’s definitely a spelling mistake as ‘R’ is next to ‘T’ on my keyboard.

    • John Smith

      The Beeb also buys much of their deadtree press copy

    • Zanderz

      It’s just jobs for the ‘boys’. ‘Boys’ being any ex-Oxbridge liberal; preferably a socialist, homosexual, and aggressively humanist.

      • Sue Smith

        And one who is a climate catastrophist is certainly needed. We need more talk about the apocalypse!! It is essential for any serious careerist.

        The earth is billions of years old and we’ve been keeping climate records for about the equivalent of a nano-second in the 24hour day. From this we can deduce calamity?? Pull the other one.

    • Jaria1

      Hardly surprising when you find that the Guardian is the BBCs chosen newspaper and where they advertise all their jobs.
      The Guardian being a recognised left leaning Newspaper would be read by left supporting readers who would be the ones that apply for the vacancies.
      That should be enough to tell anyone where the BBCs political sympathies lie. Polly Toynbee to head Panorama maybe?

    • Chris Hobson

      Katz is he a zionist