Adonis has to be ‘shouty’ for BBC to listen on Brexit bias

by Luke Lythgoe | 09.04.2018

Andrew Adonis has taken some flak for his recent assault on the BBC’s poor Brexit coverage. On Sky News yesterday, interviewer Niall Paterson described the Labour peer as being the “crazier, shoutier end of Twitter”. Better to come over strongly and force the BBC to listen to concerns about Brexit bias than surrender “Aunty” to the Brexiters.

Adonis first got really fired up about the #BrexitBroadcastingCorporation (his choice of hashtag) during the BBC’s blink-and-you’ll-miss-it coverage of pro-European marches at the end of last month. Reports amounted to a regional story on the BBC website, plus a slot in a regional TV bulletin. The article was short, with a lengthy government quote. There was also no mention of any events beyond the 2,000-strong Leeds march, despite several in cities such as Newcastle.

Compare that to the coverage of Nigel Farage throwing dead fish into the Thames a few days before. This was clearly a political stunt, not a people-led grassroots event. It had far fewer attendees. Yet it received a website article and coverage by the Daily Politics show. The article carried quotes exclusively from Brexiters. It also failed to make any attempt to balance the Brexit fisheries issue. There was no mention that the EU has now banned discarding fish back into the ocean, despite Farage using this as the centrepiece of his stunt.

When grilled on the contrast in the BBC’s coverage of the two events by Radio 4’s Feedback programme, UK News Editor Richard Burgess explained that an event needed to be a “live issue” or be “likely to bring about significant change” to get decent coverage.

Why then did another protest by fishermen against May’s transition deal – led by that well-known trawlerman Arron Banks – receive a similar amount of coverage yesterday, weeks after the Brexit fishing issue left the news? What’s more, surely no issue this year is as “live” as the government’s attempt to ram through a hard Brexit, against which thousands of people were marching nationwide.

There are other questions too. Like why should Farage be allowed to appear on Question Time on 32 occasions? Adonis was probably overstating it when he tweeted that the BBC “largely created” Farage – but it has certainly given him a national platform in recent years that he wouldn’t have otherwise had. This, plus coverage of the marches, appears in a letter sent by Adonis to BBC director-general Tony Hall today.

BBC Today programme presenter Nick Robinson warns that undermining the BBC could lead to the likes of Rupert Murdoch “tearing up the law on broadcast impartiality” and ultimately instituting a British equivalent of Fox News.

The greater risk is that pro-Europeans do nothing, the pressure is one-sided and the BBC is increasingly captured by the Brexiters. Their obsession with winning the Brexit “air-war” is an open secret. But in a democracy the people deserve to have a balanced debate laid out in front of them, and it is first and foremost the BBC’s role to provide this.

A BBC spokesperson told InFacts: “The BBC continues to report Brexit impartially and features a wide range of different perspectives across our news coverage. Our journalists report independently and without fear or favour.”

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    Edited by Hugo Dixon

    Tags: , , , Categories: Media

    9 Responses to “Adonis has to be ‘shouty’ for BBC to listen on Brexit bias”

    • I’m sorry but this article is far too lenient on Adonis.

      His tweets over the last week about the BBC belong on the fringes of society, and if I knew him personally I’d be considering an intervention.

      “Probably overstating” is, ironically, a considerable understatement.

      And it also conveniently ignores his own role in enabling a Brexit govt. which he served even after it became obvious what kind of Brexit May and her cronies were looking for.

      The BBC is a soft and convenient target for the rabid on both sides, the failure to win hearts and minds since 23 June 2016 lies squarely at the feet of Remainers, like Adonis, who have repeatedly failed to even understand why they lost, let alone deliver a coherent plan to stop Brexit.

      6 months out from the meaningful vote and Adonis is tweeting wild fantasies and delusions about the BBC creating Farage, when it was his New Labour, Clegg’s LibDems and Cameron’s Tories which created the conditions necessary for the rise of UKIP and Farage.

      The mind boggles, time is running out and fast, and two of the most prominent Remainers, Adonis and Grayling, are embarrassing themselves – putting their own bruised egos ahead of stopping Brexit.

    • @PB

      “blame the messenger, forget the message”

      it’s pathetic to see supposedly adults be reduced to such hypocritical mind-boggling attempts to discredit someone who is genuinely working with all to make his country prosper … and that is unlike most brexiteers (100% when found on social media) who are more interested in scorched-earth tactics to win their “identity wars”, and forget the common interest in the process.

      the BBC has been biased against everything EU and European for as long as I can remember (and I started watching well before Tony Blair rise to power). That might sound odd to Brexiteers, but that’s only because they see it from their own reality-warped echo chamber.
      reporting and programs were aimed solely at the domestic audience, and within a context of national politics tinged with jingoism. things only got worse since the 2016 referendum.
      living in ireland, I’m not too surprised : the BBC is behaving exactly like RTE national broadcaster did during the first Lisbon Treaty referendum. The No side was a various congregations of right-wing and left-wing crackpots, flooded with foreign donations. Yet RTE was giving “equal time” to each participants. Fair, you might say ? except that in practice it meant giving more time and credence to loonies than to mainstream groups, often without the beginning of a rebuttal or explanation, that in normal times wouldn’t be given even a peep of a notice on page 19. coupled with general apathy from national politicians until a month before the vote, and the referendum ended a loss (planned or not).
      the months that follow saw RTE harshly criticized to review its conception of “equality of view” without background, and when the second referendum took place a year later, the airtime was far more enlightened (though still tinted by a very ethno-centric discussion).
      the BBC has been in that situation non-stop since early 2016. and because it is so grossly distorting to what reality is, do native british people start to realize it. but it’s not new.
      just think for how long Andrew Neil has been presenting the Daily Politics and Today in Europe’s shows. Every single one of his programs is tainted by right-wing/Tory, anti-europe prejudice. a classic is for him to invite a UKIP MEP to counterbalance a Tory MP to discuss a European or EU Parliament issue … ha !! talk about “balance” and “explaining” !!
      does anyone follow the paper review segments in Andrew Marr, Breakfast or late-night news ? when it’s not the presenter who indulge in english prejudice and jingoism, it’s one of the guest (invariably from one of the more tabloid spectrum), replete with unfounded memes and cartoonish perceptions.

      like I said, BBC has been very poor at presenting European issues, but it went downhill every since the start of the Cameron years (where government and Tories over-represented opposition figures 2-to-1), and the Brexit bias has been particularly pronounced since early 2016 (during the referendum)

    • There is no doubt that the BBC is biased against Europe. If its role is to educate, it did very litlle of that. There was once some specialty coverage of what happened in the EU Parliament on the Sunday political programmes, but that has long since stopped – and well before the referendum. It isn’t the job of the BBC to champion the EU, but neither is it in their remit to ignore such a vital part of our lives, and that is exactly what they have done. There is a fundamental lesson here for the BBC or any public broadcaster: Even if gardening shows and ceramic and cooking competitions are more popular, you must still do your job of educating the public, or they will have no need for you.

      I was a Labour supporter, but I very much appreciated the grilling Labour Ministers got from Paxman and Humphries over issues much less transformative than Brexit. I satrted to notice bias in the BBC during the Scottish Referendum. There was also no real exploration of whether austerity was the correct path for the government to follow. The BBC just accepted it was happening, reported the odd moan, and let them get on with it. The BBC also participated in calling Portugal, Spain, Italy and Greece by a ridiculously insulting acronym. When a child goes missing in Portugal or Greece, the BBC acts as if those countries have no police force and no one questions batallions of British Police being sent over to show them how to investigate, or stand around for photo-ops. Treating Europeans as inferior is par for the course.

      After this fiasco, and a tome could be written about the BBC’s failure to educate the public on the issues involved in Brexit, and I am ready to see the back of the National Broadcaster. I don’t appreciate paying for failure and I find little I want to watch aired on its channels, or listen to on its radio. Having lived most of my life in the USA, I was always a fan of public broadcating, particularly the BBC.

      This last failure of the BBC may be existential unless something is done. But alas, I think it may be too late. It will be torn to bits but the forces of unbridled capitalism anyway, after Brexit, I think. Before we get there though, I would support aboilition of the licence fee now. It’s a complete waste of my money.

    • I watched the Andrew Marr interview with Andrew Adonis on sunday morning.
      Marr talked over him,preventing him making his points.
      It was an example ,and there have been others on radio4 Today of how interviewers allow their own agenda and bias to shut down or prevent an interviewee from making a point.
      Contrast this with the interviews given to pro Brexiters or Goverment ministers who are allowed to make what is a party political speech which the interviewer does not question or interupt.

    • Reply to PB. Sorry pal but you are ignoring the facts and what Lord Adonis is complaining about, BBC bias, is largely true. You are clearly in the pocket of Arron Banks and should note your own bias (and payment?) when commenting and making false statements. Lord Adonis is trying to protect the UK and the citizens here from the steam roller politics of the Tory party.

    • Marr did the same to Christopher Wiley. Wiley telling Marr that he has delivered evidence of links between AIQ and Cambridge Analytica and Marr saying that AIQ has denied these links as though that disproved this evidence. Something odd when a once independent minded journalist such as Marr becomes a John Humphries clone after a spell at the BBC. Do they put something in the water?

    • @Burton Schrader

      Wow, your paranoia and delusions are even crazier than those of Adonis.

      “.You are clearly in the pocket of Arron Banks and should note your own bias (and payment?) when commenting and making false statements.”

      Lol. That sentence is so unbelievably stupid, it’s hard to know if you’re being genuine.

      If you are genuine, please seek urgent medical help.

      Why would Arron Banks pay a Remainer to urge other Remainers to get their act together with less?

      It’s the height of hypocrisy to accuse someone of making false statements when you outrageously lie about them being in pocket of Arron Banks.

      Shame on you, you dirty liar.

      As for Lord Adonis, you really need to educate yourself about him.

      He voluntarily served in this very Brexit government only standing down over a row about trains.

      After resigning before he got sacked it was only then he turned on the government.

    • @Starbuck

      “blame the messenger, forget the message”

      Real funny that, because that’s exactly what you have done.

      FACT: Adonis served in this Brexit government

      FACT: Adonis did not resign until forced to

      FACT: Adonis resigned, before he was sacked, not because of Brexit but because of the Stagecoach bailout – he then, disingenuously, shoe-horned Brexit in afterwards even though he’d been perfectly happy to serve until then

      FACT: the rise of UKIP and Nigel Farage was not a BBC creation, as Adonis claimed. UKIP’s success and subsequent decline (which he refused to acknowledge) because the Labour party under Blair gave them a grievance to focus on – the reneged manifesto pledge of a referendum on the EU constitution, and the Tories dog-whistled to UKIP voters.

      FACT: Farage is a bogeyman to the centrists, but blown completely out of proportion, he stood for Parliament numerous times and never got elected, not even once.

      FACT: another fact that Adonis and others want you to forget is that while UKIP don’t have any MPs, they finished 2nd in the European elections in 2014, ahead of Miliband’s Labour.

      FACT: Adonis has served all three parties, and been selected to stand for two – and at every opportunity he has backed out, refusing the people the chance to vote for him

      These are undisputable facts, not a wall of confirmation bias without a single referenceable claim.

      The positions of the rabid Remainers and brainless Brexiters on the BBC is, unsurprisingly, identical – with each side desperately keeping score and seeking bias and hidden agendas in even the most innocuous news coverage.

      The real objections people seem to have is that the BBC, one of the most respected, probably THE most, media outlets in the world isn’t willing to regurgitate their press releases on command nor, effectively, campaign on their behalf.

      Your response, and more so that of Burton, demonstrate aptly why, even after all the bad news of the last 22 months, Brexit remains entrenched.

      Too many Remainers see only the failure of others, and refuse to even contemplate their own – and that’s why we’ve failed and continue to fail.

      You can either continue to drink the kool-aid quick fix blame everyone else mantra offered by men like Adonis which has failed abjectly over the last 2 years or you can wake up to the reality that there’s a little over 5 months left in which around a fifth of Brexit voters need to be won over for there to be any chance of another referendum.

      And that is the crux of the issue – if you actually want to stop Brexit that is – will Adonis’s conspiracy theories about the BBC and Farage win over Brexit voters or simply make him look ridiculous and make Brexit voters even more unreachable?

    • I think perception of the BBC’s position was always grossly distorted in the minds of the Brexit lobby, because they were so used to having their version of the ‘facts’ about the EU portrayed by such daily newspapers, such as the Daily Mail/Express/Telegraph/Sun. Having been fed by the national press with such a distorted one-sided picture over decades, they obviously found it hard to rhyme with the more objective and balanced view put out by the BBC.

      What I think has happened is that leading Brexit supporters (whether or not they are politicians I do not know), have “leant on” senior BBC executives to try and tilt the balance more towards a Brexit supporting one. Maybe even with an underlying threat of using renewal of the BBC licence as a means of persuasion. The problem is that the BBC appear to have taken the criticism to heart and are now over compensating by slanting the coverage more in favour of Brexit.

      I still think the BBC is head and shoulders above the vast majority of news outlets, in its objectivity, particularly when compared to the national press.
      However, they must not allow themselves to be browbeaten by politicians, which at present they appear to be, by those supporting Brexit.