Tory party 'agent' shaping BBC coverage, says Emily Maitlis
Indy

Emily Maitlis has been widely praised for her criticism of the BBC's coverage of Brexit.

Speaking at the annual MacTaggart Lecture at the Edinburgh TV Festival on Wednesday, the former BBC journalist who left the broadcaster for rival Global, criticised the "both-sideism" approach to coverage and said it risked "obscuring a deeper truth".

“It might take our producers five minutes to find 60 economists who feared Brexit and five hours to find a sole voice who espoused it," she said.

“But by the time we went on air we simply had one of each; we presented this unequal effort to our audience as balance. It wasn’t.”

She added: “I’d later learn that the ungainly name for this myopic style of journalism: ‘both-sideism’, which talks to the way it reaches a superficial balance while obscuring a deeper truth.”

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She also said: “Many broadcasters fear discussing the obvious economic cause of major change in this country in case they get labelled pessimistic, anti-populist, or worse still, as above: unpatriotic.

“And yet every day that we sidestep these issues with glaring omissions feels like a conspiracy against the British people.”

Elsewhere in her speech, Maitlis raised concerns about Sir Robbie Gibb's role at the organisation.

She said the BBC board member, who previously worked as Theresa May’s director of communications and helped to found the rightwing GB News channel, is an “active agent of the Conservative party” who is shaping the broadcaster’s news output by acting “as the arbiter of BBC impartiality”.

To give a specific example, she said the broadcaster went out of its way to “pacify” Downing Street after she criticised Dominic Cummings for his breach of lockdown rules during the pandemic. She was asked to apologise by the broadcaster.

After clips of her interview circulated on social media, people showered her with praise:

indy100 contacted the BBC to comment on this story. They said: "The BBC places the highest value on due impartiality and accuracy and we apply these principles to our reporting on all issues.

"As we have made clear previously in relation to Newsnight we did not take action as a result of any pressure from Number 10 or Government and to suggest otherwise is wrong. The BBC found the programme breached its editorial standards and that decision still stands."

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