According to the Guardian, Emily Maitlis is to be replaced on tonight’s episode of Newsnight after her comments yesterday were deemed to breach BBC impartiality rules. BBC bosses reprimanded her over a monologue in which she attacked the Government’s handling of Dominic Cummings’ lockdown trip to Durham.
Maitlis told viewers: “Dominic Cummings broke the rules – the country can see that and it’s shocked the government cannot.
“The longer ministers and the prime minister insist he worked within them, the more likely the angry response to the scandal is likely to be.
“He made those who struggled to keep to the rules feel like fools, and has allowed many more to assume they can flout them.”
She added: “The prime minister knows all this and has chosen to ignore it.”
She criticised Boris Johnson’s “blind loyalty” to his special adviser and said the public mood is one of “fury, contempt and anguish”.
Clips of the sequence went viral on social media, attracting millions of views.
“We’ve reviewed the entirety of last night’s Newsnight, including the opening section, and while we believe the programme contained fair, reasonable and rigorous journalism, we feel that we should have done more to make clear the introduction was a summary of the questions we would examine, with all the accompanying evidence, in the rest of the programme.
“As it was, we believe the introduction we broadcast did not meet our standards of due impartiality. Our staff have been reminded of the guidelines.”
The BBC Charter requires the corporation “to do all we can to ensure controversial subjects are treated with due impartiality in our news and other output”. The BBC’s guidelines state: “The BBC Agreement forbids our output from expressing the opinion of the BBC on current affairs or matters of public policy.”
According to the Guardian, BBC sources said Newsnight’s editor, Esme Wren, also worked on Tuesday night’s episode.
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Ms Maitlis has been commended by many for her coverage of the coronavirus crisis at other times.
In a similar style monologue, Ms Maitlis was praised for her “great leveller” speech about the coronavirus pandemic in the UK.
She said: “The language around COVID-19 has sometimes felt trite and misleading.
“You do not survive the illness through fortitude and strength of character, whatever the Prime Minister’s colleagues will tell us.”
“The disease is not a great leveller, the consequences of which everyone – rich or poor – suffers the same,” the journalist said.
“This is a myth which needs debunking.
“Those on the front line right now – bus drivers and shelf stackers, nurses, care home workers, hospital staff and shop keepers – are disproportionately the lowest paid members of our workforce.
“They are more likely to catch the disease because they are more exposed.”
She received international acclaim for her interview with Prince Andrew in late 2019.
Some have taken to social media to express disbelief at the BBC’s response and to praise Ms Maitlis for her journalism.
LBC Radio presenterr James O’Brien said: “I would say – and for once I’m actually vaguely qualified to comment – that BBC managers, already bruised by lack of access to ministers, have bowed to pressure from the government & let Emily Maitlis down very badly.”
The speech, which she wrote herself, was praised by the Labour MP David Lammy as an example of “public service broadcasting”, and by Ed Davey, the acting Lib Dem leader, as “brilliant journalism”.
Andrew Bridgen, Conservative MP for North West Leicestershire, who was interviewed on the episode in question, told the Telegraph: “I heard Emily Maitlis’s monologue twice, because I heard her say it in a rehearsal.
“She said it as a statement of fact. There was no pretence of impartiality in any of that report. It was judge, jury and executioner.”
Published at Wed, 27 May 2020 19:55:00 +0000