This week Nick Robinson set the cat among the pigeons when he claimed that the BBC no longer has a duty to ‘broadly balance’ the views of Remain and Leave in its Brexit reports now that the EU referendum is over. However, many have questioned Robinson’s so-called ‘due impartiality’ — with 70 Eurosceptic MPs previously signing a letter accusing the BBC of a biased and ‘pessimistic’ view.
But could the gloomy tone really be down to a sense of Brexit guilt? Mr S only asks after coming across Simon Jenkins’ column in the Guardian on the monoculture at the BBC. Discussing Robinson’s comments on Brexit reporting, Jenkins claims that after the Leave vote, Lord Hall — the BBC director-general — went round complaining that it was the BBC balance that had lost Remain (aka ‘us’) the election:
‘Now, Robinson pleads in the Radio Times, Brexit has won, so let reporters and presenters slip the leash of balance. Instead, let them show merely “due impartiality”.
I am not clear what this means. After the Brexit vote last June, Robinson’s boss, Lord Hall, went round the London dinner circuit wailing that BBC balance had “lost us the election”. It had given too much credibility to leave.’
The BBC disputes Jenkins’ version of events:
‘The words attributed to Tony Hall in the Guardian are not his; he has never made any such statement or assertion; they do not reflect his view in any way; and, the BBC has no regrets about its coverage of the campaign.’
Mr S looks forward to Jenkins’ reply…