Monday, 28 Sep 2020

BBC fury: Boris Johnson’s extraordinary attack against broadcaster revealed

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In the last couple of weeks, the BBC has come under fire for its coverage, as many accused it of breaching its impartiality rules. At the end of May, BBC bosses were forced to reprimand Emily Maitlis over a monologue, after she took a swipe following the Government’s handling of Dominic Cummings’ trip to Durham during the peak of lockdown. Corporation bosses said the Newsnight presenter had breached impartiality rules with her opening remarks and distanced themselves from her words.

In a column for the New Statesman last week, former BBC executive Roger Mosey attempted to address the issue of bias at BBC News.

He argued that despite the BBC trying hard to be a broadcaster for the whole of the UK, it is currently struggling to do that “because it is a rather liberal organisation”.

He explained: “It recruits many of its staff from metropolitan areas; and they are typically graduates with a worldview which is different from a car worker in Sunderland or a hill farmer in Brecon.

“This means the BBC has been ill-equipped to cope with the forces of Brexit or the rise of Boris Johnson.

“It is hard to think of any BBC presenter who could be accused of a pro-Johnson bias. The traffic is all speeding in the opposite direction.”

As many join in the debate, unearthed reports shed light on Mr Johnson’s war with the BBC, which arguably started in 2012.

In a column for The Telegraph, the now Prime Minister accused the corporation of being “statist, corporatist, defeatist, anti-business, europhile and overwhelmingly biased to the Left”.

In an extraordinary attack, the former Mayor of London said the next director-general of the BBC had to be a “pro-business” Tory who “understands the depths of the problems this country faces”.

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He wrote: “I speak as one who has just fought a campaign in which I sometimes felt that my chief opponent was the local BBC news — the prevailing view of Beeb newsrooms is, with honourable exceptions, statist, corporatist, defeatist, anti-business, europhile and, above all, overwhelmingly biased to the Left.”

About the next director-general, Mr Johnson added: “We need someone who knows about the work ethic, and cutting costs.

“We need a Tory, and no mucking around. If we can’t change the Beeb, we can’t change the country.”

In his column, Mr Johnson also attacked BBC arts editor Will Gompertz after he commented on the ArcelorMittal Orbit, designed by artist Anish Kapoor, in the Olympic Park.

Mr Johnson added: “There you have everything that is wrong with the BBC and with this country.

“The BBC is unlike any other media organisation in the free world, in that it levies billions from British households whether they want to watch it or not.

“No wonder its employees have an innocent belief that everything in life should be ‘free’.”

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The broadcaster reacted angrily to his comments, with a spokesman saying the BBC “rejected” any allegations.

BBC radio presenter Paul Lewis took to Twitter following Mr Johnson’s comments.

He wrote: “BBC left wing because ‘funded by taxpayers’ says Boris Johnson whose salary as London Mayor is paid by….”

A BBC spokesman said at the time: “BBC News is committed to impartiality and we reject Boris Johnson’s assertions of bias.

“Our approach means asking difficult questions of politicians, businesses and unions alike.

“People with trenchant views often find this process uncomfortable but our audience expects us to challenge those in power as well as those who seek it.”

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