Video: C4 News publicly attacks BBC over #CambridgeAnalyticaUncovered whitewash

Channel 4 News’ brilliant undercover exposé tonight of election-swinging firm Cambridge Analytica poured oil on the flames of a controversy that was already blazing, after the company was accused of committing a ‘data breach’ to access around fifty million Facebook profiles for Donald Trump’s presidential campaign. News of the breach wiped almost $20 billion off the value of Facebook shares in just the first few minutes of trading on Monday.

Cambridge Analytica has met the Tories to discuss potential election campaigning:

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C4’s undercover video showed Cambridge Analytica (CA) executives talking about setting up fake profiles and IDs, posing as students and sending women to opposing candidates’ homes or filming them being offered a ‘deal that’s too good to be true’ offers, to incriminate them:

It’s explosive, brilliant investigative journalism – and the #CambridgeAnalyticaUncovered hashtag has been trending all evening.

However, the BBC took a radically different approach to the revelations – offering CA’s Alexander Nix the opportunity to describe, unchallenged in a pre-recorded interview, the Channel 4 exposé as a ‘mischaracterising’ ‘sting’ designed to hurt the company because it helped Donald Trump get elected:

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But the lack of challenge was unsurprising – and the circumstances sparked a war of words on social media by key Channel 4 News figures on the BBC’s seeming readiness to act as, ironically, a propaganda medium for Nix’s rebuttal – by allowing him to rebut undercover video footage that neither he nor the BBC had even seen.

The programme’s editor was the first to let fly at the BBC:.

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By interviewing Nix when it had not seen the report, the BBC was proceeding ‘blind’ – with no idea what questions to ask the CA executive. But that wasn’t all – Nix hadn’t even seen it himself.

C4 News journalist Krishnan Guru-Murthy pointed out the obvious journalistic weakness in that approach – and accused the BBC of being part of a ‘media strategy’ of damage-control:

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Channel 4’s highly-respected ‘elder statesman’ Jon Snow also weighed in, in obvious outrage at the BBC’s complicity or incompetence and willingness to accommodate Nix’s demands:

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Veteran newsman John Simpson was hugely impressed by the quality of Channel 4’s journalism and the importance of what they had uncovered, tweeting to call it a ‘game-changer’ that would send shockwaves through the electoral world:

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But it appears the BBC – at least this evening – was willing to be part of attempts to minimise or obscure the shockwaves John Simpson described. The robust reaction of Channel 4 News’ key figures to the BBC’s actions has ensured that the BBC’s behaviour has instead fuelled the controversy, with outraged tweets and Facebook comments ricocheting around social media.

Small wonder that the government would prefer to privatise away the UK’s ‘other state broadcaster’.

Channel 4 News has made its whole segment about Cambridge Analytica available on Youtube:

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  1. I don’t often watch Newsnight these days, but it just happened to still be on BBC2 after having watched Universty Challenge earlier, and then sort of half watching the documentary afterwards about the funerals in N.Ireland etc (which I was recording anyway to watch later), and then when Newsnight came on I was just about to switch channels when I picked up on what Kirsty Wark was saying. And I should add that I DIDN’T watch/see Channel 4 News earlier, so I was somewhat in the dark. But it was obvious from the clip of the secret filming that this was ultra big stuff.

    And all I really wanted to say – having now read the criticism being fired at Newsnight – that even under Warks ‘soft’ questioning you could see that Alexander Nix began to wilt as it went on. And to be fair – assuming that it’s not a porky – Wark did say at the end of the piece that they had asked to interview Nix again AFTER the C4 News revelations aired, and that he had declined. Anyway, I was just checking my Inbox, and the following was one of the articles in there – ie an American perspective on the CA/Facebook revelations:


  2. I find it rather odd that the OIC have pre-announced that they are applying for a warrant. How kind of them to warn Cambridge Analytics.

  3. Like I have said before the BBC are regularly in breach of Ofcoms impartiality rules and so of the BBC trust. It is clear the BBC is overrun with Tories and the board of Ofcom is a mirror of the BBCs.
    Complaints of bias are deliberately being suppressed by these Tory guardians, and it needs an independent enquiry to expose it.
    As you know I have tried get a Parliament petition twice asking for the enquiry, both times being declined, saying they don’t understand what I want them to do, how convenient.

  4. It is high time Cambridge Analytica were put seriously under the spotlight. Their fingerprints seem to appear everywhere there’s a significant vote occurring: Scottish Referendum, Brexit Referendum, UK General Election, US Presidential Election …

  5. By any other name this would be Gerrymandering and it carries a jail sentence ,never mind the information breach of over 50 million peoples data .
    The law really needs to be updated to deal with this sort of behaviour in the cyber world of the net .
    The effects ,as can be seen in Brexit and USA elections, are as real and as effective as other more traditional voter manipulation like the Tory Shirley Porter did in Hatfield.
    Tim Berners Lee , inventor of the Internet would be a good place to start for ideas on how to deal with this corruption.
    Well done C4 good work , and another example of how the Tories have corrupted the BBC.It couldn’t be more obvious even to a blind man . It finally feels like the message is beginning to sink into the public concisenesses that the BBC is not to be trusted

  6. That video is damning and If the BBC’s are complicity or incompetence and have a willingness to accommodate Nix’s demands. You can be sure the Tories are up to the necks in this and will try and bury it.

  7. C4 have shown yet again, after the election fraud exposé, they are one of the last refuges of decent journalism in the UK.

    The psychological manipulation and propagandising of the population by the Tories started way back in 2010 with the BAU (or nudge unit). There has been a demonstrable slide into mass manipulation over that time, which in part has been through the hollowing out of the journalistic profession. It has long been felt that the sick and disabled have been the proving ground for these techniques.

    So here it seems to be a timely warming to people in the light of the CA data scandal, that the DWP have said they are using mass surveillance of CCTV footage face recognition, Facebook and other social media to seek out claimants to find “evidence” that they are not as ill or disabled as their ESA and PIP awards would indicate. If they get away with this, if the people of the UK consent by default if not protesting, then we will be in a nightmare of Big Brother fascism for everyone.

  8. Thank heavens for Channel Four news. I watched BBC1 News at 6pm, waiting for the report about this, with increasing incredulity as it became more obvious that it wasn’t going to happen.

  9. Unfortunate that warrants weren’t obtained so that searching Cambridge Analytic’s principals’ homes, company offices & computers could have been carried out while the programme was being broadcast.
    Giving those who would steal democracy time to clean house is a mistake I hope we will learn from.
    We should give the ICO a BIG stick.

  10. As angry as everyone wants to be, C4 or The Guardian do not understand technology as they once did……
    For people who have a more nuanced perspective, it feels a lot more like how everyone feels towards Sun and Daily Mail hype stories!

    1. “C4 or The Guardian do not understand technology as they once did……”

      Perhaps you could enlighten us all and give us the benefit of your wisdom.

    2. Kindly explain how much more nuanced one needs to be to understand the theft of 50 mill peoples data.
      Your asumpton is that people who are angry/concerned don’t understand the technology used.That is not the point,, it is how and what that info is being used to do THAT is the issue and you dont need to be very nuanced to grasp that.

      1. My politics belong to this website, so I’m not some defender of trump, etc. But the media are acting the same way they re-defined the word “troll” from what it was 10 years ago, that’s when the guardian started cementing into what it’s become.

        Basically, it’s on you if you upload any signal or data to Facebook. I hate Facebook, and hope it is broken up.
        The people who did the survey app were paid.
        The original app users gave permission to share there friends associated data.
        Every marketing group in the world uses psychology to model and target individuals.
        20 years ago, the hype was around Experian’s Mosaic database, and new Labour’s use of that.
        Pre-trump election, there were TV news reports covering the granular tracking of potential voters.
        This had nothing to do with Russia.
        Facebook gave the Cambridge professor a contract enabling his use, now it’s become a public story, they’re​ pretending his wrong-doing.
        Gdpr is not yet law.
        There is no technical “data breach” when hackers circumvent the protective measures of the host organisation.
        Those journalists have all been responsible for directing viewers and hyping us to Facebook over the last 13 years, inc. with proprietary content.
        There’s a data science organisation here, a political consultancy, a marketing company, all within one, but it’s not absolutely unique; they use 4000 data-points, but it’s not all from facebook, everyone else can also access the myriad cookies, or utility bills or credit reference or nectar, et al.
        14 months after, and still looking to explain away the loss of the establishment liberal, and still involving Russia (in American coverage) and wikileaks in this story.

        What’s happened is wrong, but no different or counter to the fundamental premise of Facebook or political campaigns.

        Yours kindly,


  11. Krishnan Guru-Murthy is ordinarlly a peevishly dismissive anti-left interviewer in his behaviour, and “veteran newsman” John Simpson has been the veteran official stamp of BBC approval on Nato bombing for thirty years.

    Accessing Facebook data to decide elections has rather closer to home significance than Donald Trump’s America or rigged elections in former Soviet countries. Maybe a few thousand expelled Labour Party members could have a representative word at the microphones. I doubt if Krishnan Guru-Murthy would be interested.

    Questioned on BBC Radio Scotland this morning about Russia’s cyber “interference” a major-general said Theresa May in the Commons had deliberately omitted to mention such as such could be taken as an act of war. Macron’s odd statement of several weeks ago that France would bomb Syria if chemical weapons were used there has a slightly edgier ring now.

    John Pilger two days ago said he thinks what is going on about Skrypal is “a carefully constructed drama.” There is no basis in recent times to think that Channel Four News would stand critically outside of such.

  12. So are the MSM now admitting (by omission) that it never was Russia doing the election-interfering after all?

    I’m confused…

  13. What a ‘surprise’ that senior Conservatives are financially involved in Cambridge Analytical and it’s parent company. Is it any wonder its taking so long for the OIC to get a warrant?

  14. Oh by the way brothers and sisters during the Miliband General Election a few years ago I was posting pro-Labour comments on the BBC comments website when I noticed that every time I did there were about 5 instant pro-Tory rebuffs.
    Perhaps not unusual on a public and in theory democratic website you would think but I noticed a rather odd pattern emerging – the social media users monikers were not of the usual odd types but were by Bill and Fred and John and Tom etc. and I just felt something was just not quite right?
    My concerns were actually confirmed when a Right Wing US Democrat (and I.T. Specialist) was boasting in the Times (or was it The Guardian) on the Saturday after the election. He had been paid hundreds of thousands by the Tories to deliver a programme of automated responses to social media criticisms of the Tories (I.e. fake responses to interfere in a BBC democratic website and to interfere in the UK democratic General Election?).
    But of course this Right Wing US Democrat was perhaps not as smart as he perhaps thought he was with his lazy use of common first names which alerted people to what some would suggest is highly dubious practice?
    I put an official complaint in to the BBC but got no response but at least
    I think the Tories weren’t then able to use this underhand trick again in the recent election?
    But what was a room full of Tories with a suite of computers actually doing during the GE? Could Cambridge Analytica (now known as Emmerton?) perhaps help us in our freedom of information request?

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