#Marr’s slip is not manners. It’s the tip of a value-judgment iceberg (video)

The programme-makers and the Establishment have rushed to defend Andrew Marr’s ‘hot mike’ moment on his show this morning. Marr appeared to believe a moment too early that audio had switched to a Nicky Campbell intro to the following programme and was captured giving Tory minister Penny Mordaunt a thumbs-up and whispering,

That was very good.

The inadvertent TV moment sparked outrage among those who accuse the BBC of bias, but the programmes editor and some journalists defended it as mere politeness or good manners.


There’s a disingenuousness in this defence. ‘You did well’, ‘you came across well/held your own’ or ‘thank you’ would be good manners. But ‘that was very good‘ is a value judgment that strongly suggests an agreement with the ‘that’.

That’s fine. Nobody expects an interviewer to have no opinions – but to let those views show on air is definitely embarrassing for Marr and to some extent to the programme’s makers.

Just manners?

However, it would be a stretch to treat it as a definitive moment of bias – but that doesn’t justify the attempts by those more at ease with it to brush it off as mere manners.

Nor does it make those who are expressing outrage risible – seen in context their reaction is reasonable, because that context is a continual favouring among the media of right-wing guests and viewpoints.

Elsewhere on the BBC…

A week ago Crispin Flintoff appeared on the BBC’s Sunday Politics programme – the result of an error by the BBC in inviting him on to speak about an event he didn’t know anything about, while telling him he would be there to talk about the Stand up for Labour comedy shows he organises.

Flintoff wrote about the dismissive way in which he was treated by the programme’s presenter, alleging that:

At the end of the show, as I went to leave she said: ‘see you soon’ and then turned to me and said ‘I don’t mean you. I won’t be seeing you again’.

It seems politeness to guests is by no means as universal at the BBC as we’re being asked to believe.

If the shoe was on the other foot…

Another illuminating way to consider this morning’s slip and the subsequent reaction is this: Marr whispered encouragement to a Tory guest.

But if he had done so to a left-wing interviewee, would right-wing Establishment commentators and sympathisers be brushing it off as unworthy of comment?

Probably not.

But that’s unlikely to happen. As famous left-wing political activist and social critic Noam Chomsky once told a young Marr, if he didn’t think the way he did, he wouldn’t be in the chair he’s in:

Storm in a teacup or tip of an iceberg?

Is Marr’s slip, in and of itself, proof positive of Establishment bias in the news fed to the UK’s people?


But it’s a possible glimpse of the tip of a very big iceberg discerned by many – an iceberg that routinely treats Tory values, policies and perceptions as credible and implies that genuine Labour values, policies and perceptions are not.

The reaction this morning is to the iceberg, not just to the hot-mike moment.

Marr’s slip, to those who see the BBC’s right-wing bias – to which academics and even the BBC itself have attested – is just an unusually clear glimpse of it breaking the surface.

The SKWAWKBOX needs your support. This blog is provided free of charge but depends on the generosity of its readers to be viable. If you can afford to, please click here to arrange a one-off or modest monthly donation via PayPal. Thanks for your solidarity so this blog can keep bringing you information the Establishment would prefer you not to know about.

If you wish to reblog this post for non-commercial use, you are welcome to do so – see here for more.


  1. His wife’s had a lot to put up with, hasn’t she?
    Those ears and that mouth for a start…

  2. You are being too polite, I believe wholeheartedly that the MSM is totally biased.

    I do hope the public see this for what it is, naked propaganda. Why else would he give the thumbs up, of course they will deny it.

  3. The right wing bias of the BBC is now so blatant it’s obvious their managers and excuses for journalists are just laughing at those of us in the public who recognise it.

    Their response is: tough luck, what are you going to do about it?

    1. The complaint process is where they dismiss the bias.
      If you take to long you lose what you have entered, this would put people off re-submitting. When you do re-submit they give standard no bias crap. When I didn’t except first response, they said they needed more time 20 working days. Chose to not respond.
      Then you have Ofcom, same complaint process no accountability.
      They ask for very specific points and they don’t respond to complaints.
      Looking at Ofcoms bias history, it shows virtually nothing being made why? are people not complaining, or are they not excepting the complaints. I believe it to be the latter.
      Also if you look at the board it looks very similar to the BBC board. So the broadcasters know Ofcom has got their back, hence hardly any bias on record.
      To me it’s no different too IPSO self regulation, but with public money.

  4. The right wing bias of the BBC is now so blatant it’s obvious their managers and excuses for journalists are just laughing at those of us in the public who recognise it.

    Their response is: tough luck, what are you going to do about it?

  5. Particularly sad to think that at Cambridge ‘Red Andy’ as he was known ran on a joint slate with Jon Lansman. Some stick to their principles, some just sell out. Twas ever thus.

  6. When we are in power we should bring DEMOCRACY to the BBS so they HAVE to broadcast what we want!

    1. Do you mean make the BBC a mouthpiece of the Government? That is not democracy mate, it is dictatorship

      1. I think the point is that’s what we’ve already have for as long as neoliberal Governments have been in power; the real crime is they’re deceitful about it and pay lipservice to objectivity and accountability without practising it. The challenge for the next Labour Government is to ensure the BBC no longer covertly breaks its own Charter.

  7. Marr had the audacity to call Miliband a cartoon character, “what a penis”!
    Him and May would make great bookends!
    I’ve had him down as a Tory voter from first seeing him.
    I viewed him today saw the thumbs up and the screwed up grin he must have thought he was in there!
    Whispering sweet nothings, I’m surprised he didn’t wet his pants!
    He reminds me of the dirty white mack brigade!

  8. where’s the outrage over the increasing number of deaths – poor, old, disabled – in britain – not fashionable enough for twitter users hey?? – they’d have to get out and DO SOMETHING wouldn’t they – twitter is a great tool for the stupid

  9. Difficult to tell whether you feel very strongly about the BBC’s evident Tory bias or whether you’re trying to indulge in some heavy-handed right-
    wing irony. Either way, I’m not sure it’s working…

      1. I think it’s for you to explain your position – minus the capitalisation if possible.

    1. If it’s all the same to you ROGER I don’t feel the need to explain myself to you and your UNFRIENDLY questioning.

      I’m going to take a break from this site for a while, good luck with everything.

      1. No OFFENCE intended. It looked like a PISS-TAKE. But now I see you are probably GENUINE.

  10. Interesting articles from Ramesh Patel, an economist who, even though he’s a Conservative, demolishes the myth that labour caused the crash, particularly mentioning the BBC,and Andrew Marr by name, as actively deceiving the public
    “Austerity Exposed! Everything The BBC and the MSM Ever Told You Was A Lie — Part One.” https://medium.com/@Ramesh1Patel/austerity-exposed-everything-the-bbc-and-the-msm-ever-told-you-was-a-lie-part-one-e9dc4da86de2
    “Austerity Exposed! Tory Party Jiggery-Pockery & BBC Manipulation To Justify Austerity” https://medium.com/@Ramesh1Patel/austerity-exposed-tory-party-jiggery-pockery-bbc-manipulation-to-justify-austerity-2b6f67d08be7

  11. Looking at Marr’s “thumbs up” I can’t see politeness – only complicity.

  12. I don’t watch tv much and never watch news or their political shows. Thanks to this site ( and others) for keeping me aware of their output. Thanks to all the journalists and commenters here.

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: