Two weeks ago, the SKWAWKBOX reported the BBC Trust’s finding that BBC News’ Political Editor Laura Kuenssberg – the supposed ‘Journalist of the year’ in 2016 – had been guilty of, essentially, fake news in a segment on Jeremy Corbyn’s views on a ‘shoot to kill’ policy – that, by voicing a substantively different question over the original one in a shorter version of an interview, she had misrepresented Corbyn’s words and views.
The Chair of the same committee that made the finding, oddly, then immediately appealed it. That the BBC News press team’s Twitter account tried to pour cold water on the idea of any guilt was predictable, although it was slightly more surprising that they responded directly to this blog’s article:
But it was a misleading rebuttal, because, as this blog and others pointed out, the finding had been made – the fact it was, up to then, not officially published and had been appealed didn’t change that:
Today, the result of the review has been published – and has upheld the original verdict – but predictably, the media spin is focusing, both in articles and in the social media feeds of various journalists, on Ms Kuenssberg’s inaccuracy while obscuring the real point:
But, as the Guardian at least concedes in the smaller print, the actual report doesn’t just say she was inaccurate. It says she breached impartiality guidelines.
As you can see from the Oxford English Dictionary definition above, ‘impartiality’ means equal and fair to all, in other words unbiased. Ms Kuenssberg breached guidelines that insist journalists (or ‘journalists’, as many would say of Ms K) do not show bias for or against any party or individual.
Ms Kuenssberg’s treatment of Jeremy Corbyn and his words – in the twice-considered judgment of the BBC itself – was biased. You’re unlikely to see that in any mainstream headlines, but that’s what the report says.
Which only formalises what many have known every since Laura Kuenssberg first talked to, or about, Corbyn and the Labour Party under him.
The only problem is, the report then tries to negate the meaning of its own words with this little gem:
A biased journalist – a now-proven biased ‘journalist’ – has no place on the airwaves of the UK’s state broadcaster shaping public opinion, because ‘BBC’ gives the assumption and cover of impartiality, even when it usually fails to live up to it.
And they’ve let her off the hook, by contradicting themselves.
Ms Kuenssberg’s career at the BBC ought to be over now. That it isn’t simply shows how deeply suborned the BBC itself is, even if one small committee has today done the right – and blindingly-obvious – thing, for just a split-second before making itself look ridiculous.
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