Last month, while the Prime Minister was still in hospital, the BBC’s Newsnight opened with an unprecedented monologue. The presenter, Emily Maitlis, was visibly angered by Boris Johnson’s colleagues describing him as a ‘fighter’.
In a weirdly literal and deeply ungenerous speech, Maitlis informed viewers that such language was wrong. She proceeded to give her views on ‘inequality’ and other issues.
On Tuesday this week Maitlis did it again, opening with a shockingly partisan attack on Dominic Cummings and the Prime Minister, declaring that the former ‘broke the rules’ and made the public ‘feel like fools’ and accusing the latter of ‘blind loyalty’.
For many viewers, this was a step too far.
On Tuesday this week Maitlis did it again, opening with a shockingly partisan attack on Dominic Cummings and the Prime Minister
BBC bosses apologised for the rant – not the first time that Maitlis has forced them to do so. This week’s monologue is just the latest reason the 49-year-old has been in trouble with her own bosses over the one-directional, partisan nature of her presenting.
The presenter, Emily Maitlis, was visibly angered by Boris Johnson’s colleagues describing him as a ‘fighter’
Last September, a complaint was upheld against her for a ‘sneering and bullying’ interview carried out on the programme in July. The BBC’s internal executive complaints unit found that she was too ‘persistent and personal’ in her criticism of the pro-Brexit journalist Rod Liddle.
In truth, she didn’t even bother to disguise her contempt for him. She asked Liddle, absurdly, if he would describe himself ‘as a racist’, adding ‘because many see you that way’. She then informed the longstanding columnist: ‘All you do is write about suicide bombers blowing themselves up in Tower Hamlets.’
Pointedly, Liddle asked her: ‘Do you have to, at every possible juncture, show the BBC’s grotesque bias?’
He seemed to have been asked on to the show simply for her to insult him.
And seven months before that, the BBC had to issue another on-air apology after remarks Maitlis had made on the programme about the pro-Brexit campaigner Richard Tice.
You will search in vain for similar attacks on, or necessary apologies to, anti-Brexit campaigners.
Maitlis has been a fine journalist but today she appears to be one of the large number of people who have been driven furious by the events of recent years.
On social media, she proclaims her pro-Labour views and continues to retweet the most loud-mouthed Left-wingers and Remain campaigners.
She has consistently attacked the US President and expressed other highly partial viewpoints.
The licence fee is meant to assure quality content (something that has become ever less evident in recent years). And it is meant to mean that the BBC is a news source that everybody can trust
How are the public meant to believe that when she sits in front of the camera to present, this deeply partisan person somehow becomes impartial?
After her performance this week in particular, such an idea is impossible to sustain.
Of course, plenty of media figures are open about their political views. Several have left Newsnight in the past and pursued modestly successful careers in Left-wing activism. But they did so because – as Maitlis seems not to understand – if you are a partisan activist you cannot use the BBC’s current affairs programmes as your megaphone.
While no one is forced to buy any British paper, if we want a television we are all forced – on threat of imprisonment – to pay a subscription to the BBC.
There are supposed justifications for this. The licence fee is meant to assure quality content (something that has become ever less evident in recent years). And it is meant to mean that the BBC is a news source that everybody can trust.
Impartiality may be impossible to achieve 100 per cent of the time but it is nonetheless meant to be the aspiration.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s special advisor Dominic Cummings arrives at Downing Street after news broke that he travelled 260 miles to Durham during lockdown
For Maitlis to have decided to give up on it entirely will not only corrode public trust and further divide, rather than unite, our nation.
It will also fuel the growing political pressure to alter the present hugely advantageous funding arrangements that the BBC enjoys.
After the declining standards of recent years, I know many who no longer bother to appear on Newsnight when asked, and not just when Maitlis is presenting. Many believe it has increasingly come to resemble the unwatchable Channel 4 News and, more importantly, they feel that it is no longer worth it. Fifteen years ago, when Jeremy Paxman was the presenter, being on Newsnight was an event for guests and viewers alike. Commentators would come off air to find their phones buzzing with congratulations or commiserations.
Today, the buzz has long stopped and the programme has now come to feel like it is being broadcast into a great silence.
This is not a coincidence. Events of recent days are a reminder that the last stage before total irrelevance is a desperate last grab for relevance.
Perhaps the BBC’s bosses should conclude, like the viewing public, that the programme is past its best.
Source: Daily Mail – Articles