BBC branded 'irresponsible' for inviting anti-vaxxers to appear on Question Time
BBC Question Time
BBC's political programme Question Time has come under fire after host Fiona Bruce called on anti-vaxxers to apply to be an audience member on February 3rd when the show will be filmed in London.
Each week, the show takes place in different areas of the UK with a wide variety of different panellists and allows members of the audience to put their questions (or grill) guests on their current affairs views.
During Thursday night's programme (January 20), Bruce announced where the upcoming shows will be taking place are and had a specific request.
“I mentioned last week that we are looking for people to come and be part of our audience who are unvaccinated," she said.
“We know that there’s a relatively higher proportion in London and there are many different reasons people choose not to get vaccinated.”
“I think it’s an important debate,” Bruce concluded.
Question Time will be in London on Feb 3rd and we're seeking those who have declined the Covid vaccine to share their views. \n\nYou can apply to be in the audience here: https://www.bbc.co.uk/send/u39697902\u00a0 #bbcqtpic.twitter.com/hE1ETQ3CPv
— BBC Question Time (@BBC Question Time)
In the UK, 90.8 per cent of the population (52,203,675) have received their first dose of the Covid vaccine, while 83.7 per cent (48,115,948) have received their second, and 64 per cent (36,821,284) have received their booster or third dose, as of Saturday, January 22nd according to the latest government figures.
The government have recently been firm in their stance on anti-vaxxer rhetoric, with the prime minister attacking anti-vaxxers by accusing them of spreading "mumbo jumbo."
Unless you have a big bullshit klaxon that goes off every time they say something that\u2019s bullshit, followed by an explanation of why it was bullshit, all you\u2019re really doing here is making it look like the views of antivaxxers and scientists have equal merit, which they don\u2019t
I really thought it was a joke when I first heard about this. What the hell are you doing?
— Dr. Bendor Grosvenor (@Dr. Bendor Grosvenor)
Putting anti-vaxxers on a \u201cdebate\u201d programme implicitly suggests they have a legitimate point of view - even if everyone else disagrees with them.\n\nYou have a massive duty to properly frame the boundaries of acceptable public debate and you\u2019re still massively failing.
I\u2019m a big defender of the BBC and will continue to be - but here\u2019s an example of its failings in recent years. There must be balance between differing views, including those we find offensive- but do we really need balance between facts and stupidity?https://twitter.com/bbcquestiontime/status/1484944075337912321\u00a0\u2026
Will there be fact checkers available to dispel any misinformation spoken in live time? Will any clinically vulnerable people be given a platform (safely in a separate room) to highlight the danger caused to them?https://twitter.com/bbcquestiontime/status/1484944075337912321\u00a0\u2026
The views I\u2019ve had explained to me by two very charming (and seemingly intelligent) anti-vaxers recently: 1) the vaccine is an organised global holocaust; 2) the medical world is prohibiting the simple cure for Covid: vit c. Are these the kind of views BBC wants?https://twitter.com/bbcquestiontime/status/1484944075337912321\u00a0\u2026
The only justification for specifically inviting anti-vaxxers is if a scientist on the panel has the specific task of debunking them. This is not public service broadcasting.https://twitter.com/bbcquestiontime/status/1484944075337912321\u00a0\u2026
A BBC spokesperson told indy100: “There are still substantial numbers of the British public who are not vaccinated, especially in particular areas and communities. We think this is an interesting part of the debate which is worthy of discussion. Question Time always strives to discuss each side of every argument. This is about listening to, and understanding, our audience members. The BBC has always made the scientific consensus on vaccination very clear.”
On the matter of safety, they added:
“The safety of our audience and panellists is paramount and nothing has changed in terms of our audience requirements. We ask all audience members to provide either proof of full vaccination, evidence of a negative LFT, or proof of recent recovery from Covid. The audience seating arrangements are socially distanced, we ensure there is good ventilation in our venues and we ask audience members to wear a mask when not speaking.”
But it's not the first time, BBC's impartiality has been criticised after it was recently condemned for announcing that flat-Earth conspiracy theorists would be platformed on their channels because of its commitment to freedom of speech.
David Jordan, the BBC’s director of editorial policy and standards said on the matter: "Flat-earthers are not going to get as much space as people who believe that the Earth is round, but very occasionally, it might be appropriate to interview a flat-earther and if a lot of people believed in a flat Earth, [then] we would need to address it more than we do at the present time."