Match of the Day presenter and former footballer Gary Lineker has once again found himself in hot water over his political opinions – this time slamming the UK Government’s “immeasurably cruel policy” to tackle “illegal migration” for using “language that is not dissimilar to that used by Germany in the 30s”.
The policy in question, the Illegal Migration Bill, has sparked immense criticism over its stance on immigration, with prime minister Rishi Sunak being widely condemned online for tweeting an infographic which stated: “If you come to the UK illegally you will be DENIED access to the UK’s modern slavery system.”
Since Lineker posted his comments online, Home Secretary Suella Braverman – who was previously confronted by a Holocaust survivor over the language she uses to describe immigrants, and refused to apologise – said she was “disappointed” by the TV personality’s remarks.
“I think it’s unhelpful to compare our measures – which are lawful, proportionate and indeed, compassionate – to 1930’s Germany,” she said.
According to the Daily Telegraph, Lineker will reportedly be “reminded of his responsibilities on social media” by the BBC.
Meanwhile, Mr Sunak’s press secretary waded in and added: “It’s obviously disappointing to see someone whose salary is funded by hard-working British [licence fee] payers using that kind of rhetoric and seemingly dismissing their legitimate concerns that they have about small boats crossings and illegal migration.”
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Though as some question the impartiality Lineker is supposed to maintain as an employee of the public service broadcaster, social media users have pointed out other BBC presenters who too have also come under fire for revealing an alleged political stance.
The Sunday with Laura Kuenssberg presenter attracted a significant amount of controversy during her stint as the BBC’s political editor and multiple accusations of “bias” in her reporting. One petition calling for her to be sacked from the position reached more than 35,000 signatures before it was removed in 2016.
In that same year, she was hissed by Corbyn backers as she questioned the politician on the EU referendum.
Allegations intensified during Jeremy Corbyn’s tenure as Labour leader, when she had to be given a bodyguard at the 2017 party conference following online abuse. Earlier that year the BBC had found she had inaccurately represented Corbyn’s stance on ‘shoot-to-kill’ policies.
In September 2019, she was under fire for identifying a father who confronted Boris Johnson as a Labour activist.
Come December, Ms Kuenssberg was one of several reporters criticised for erroneously reporting a Tory aide had been “punched” in scenes which occurred outside a hospital in Leeds. She was also booed while asking Corbyn a question at a media event, in scenes reminiscent of what happened in 2016.
Two years later, The Nationalreported Ms Kuenssberg had been accused of “shameful bias” during a report on national insurance.
Since replacing broadcasting legend David Dimbleby as the moderator on Question Time in 2019, journalist Bruce has faced continued criticism over her stewardship of the show and the level of scrutiny she gives non-Tory contributors compared to government representatives.
One of the most high-profile cases came in the form of an appearance by Diane Abbott in 2019, who was the shadow home secretary in Jeremy Corbyn’s shadow cabinet at the time.
“In the polls overall, we’re kind of level pegging,” Ms Abbott said on the programme, to which Bruce interjected by saying “you’re behind, Diane” to laughter from the audience.
Bruce had to issue an on-air clarification a week later, while Ms Abbott penned a piece for The Independent in which she described her appearance as a “horrible experience”.
“[Bruce] does not appear to be well briefed. She got the polling for Labour vs Tory wrong. She (or her researcher) appears to have got their figures from a Conservative central office handout. Above all, it seems she is not afraid to appear unfair as a presenter,” she wrote, claiming she was “interrupted more than twice the number of times” that then Tory MP Rory Stewart was.
Ms Abbott also alleged Bruce made “unpleasant remarks” about her to the audience before the programme was recorded. The BBC later admitted privately that Bruce had made “light-hearted personal comments” and a “humorous remark” to the audience before the cameras started rolling.
And how could we forget Allegra Stratton? Once an analyst on Peston – the ITV political programme hosted by, would you believe, Robert Peston – the journalist decided to take on the role of director of communications at the Treasury, helmed by then chancellor Rishi Sunak, in 2020.
She was appointed press secretary to Prime Minister Boris Johnson later that year to helm regular White House-style TV press briefings, only for Johnson to ditch the plans a few months later.
As a result, Ms Stratton became spokeswoman for the Cop26 climate summit, before video footage released by ITV News in December 2021 showing her laughing about an alleged lockdown Christmas party led to a tearful resignation.
Ms Stratton now writes for Bloomberg.
Once a veteran BBC political interviewer, Andrew Neil left the broadcaster to try and breathe life into a new, fringe channel known as GB News.
His opening monologue talked about the station’s refusal to be “yet another echo chamber for the metropolitan mindset that already dominates so much of our media”, and took aim at the “growing promotion of cancel culture” across society and “identity politics”. Neil quit the station in 2021.
While at the BBC, he faced criticism over his chairmanship of the right-wing outlet The Spectator, with Owen Jones highlighting content published by the title during an episode of the BBC’s This Week. Neil interjected to state he is not responsible for the content in his role.
His political leanings were also revealed further in April 2019, when he argued the pejorative term “gammon” – defined by the Cambridge Dictionary as “someone whose opinions are very right-wing, used mainly about white men who are middle-aged” – is racist.
He now hosts a political show on Channel 4.
And if we’re going to talk about journalists who have faced accusations of leaning in one particular political direction in their reporting, then we should probably also talk about it working the other way: serving politicians who have all too happily taken up TV broadcasting roles when they should really be focussing on their constituents.
Starting with Nadine Dorries, the ex-culture secretary and outgoing Mid Bedfordshire MP who, after guest hosting Piers Morgan: Uncensored late last year, now has her own Friday night talk show on TalkTV.
Ms Dorries, who has been a staunch supporter of Boris Johnson, managed to bag an interview with the law-breaking former PM on her new show, if you’re wondering how small the Westminster bubble can get…
Earlier this week it was revealed Lee Anderson, the Conservative MP for Ashfield who has been branded “30p Lee” for his controversial comments on the cost-of-living crisis and has attracted criticism for his support of the death penalty, would be the latest politician to get their own show on the divisive channel GB News.
“A fantastic way to promote sensible opinions on the UK’s leading unbiased news channel,” he wrote in a tweet sharing the news.
He also said the channel was “the true voice of the Great British silent majority”.
We’ll give you a second to recover from the laughing fit which inevitably ensues when you read that Mr Anderson considers a station which positions itself against so-called “cancel culture” as “unbiased”.
Michael Booker, GB News’ editorial director, added: “Lee has been a breath of fresh air in Westminster since he was elected, doing something that many politicians are scared to do: talking honestly about what they believe.”
Back in January it was revealed the ex-Commons leader would too be getting his own GB News show.
Such is the close relationship between politicians and media bosses that one Twitter user summed it up by writing the station has become “the last outpost for failed right-wing politicians, interviewing other failed right-wing politicians”.
A few months before he decided to make a fool of himself in Australia on I’m A Celebrity… Get Me Out of Here!, former health secretary Matt Hancock had the opportunity to be an embarrassment on the airwaves in the form of having his own show on the talk radio station, LBC.
He ended up accidentally agreeing with a caller that he was a “useless” health secretary, and in another clip which has been branded an “Accidental Partridge”, he was seen gesturing to his producer to cut off one caller who wouldn’t let him interject in the conversation.
Can someone shut down the revolving door on their way out, please?
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