Dorothy Byrne, Channel 4’s News and Current Affairs supremo, gave the McTaggart Lecture at the Edinburgh International TV Festival last night. Her speech was a belter and had the luvvies laughing and squirming. She hit out at everybody, mainly men in television and men for not going on television.
She mocked previous McTaggart lecturers and their failings mercilessly before going on to have a go at sexists in the television industry:
I spotted one name among my predecessors who has not yet had the comeuppance he deserves for his assaults on women. That’s one of the things about being an old lady, you gather a lot of information over the years. To men who have behaved badly in the past, I say this: you know who you are. And so do I.Tonight, there’ll be no shortage of sexist bastards, possibly among you in the audience.
After the #MeToo tirade she hit out at Boris and Corbyn for talking directly to voters via social media. Comparing them to Putin “who also likes to talk directly to the nation”. Byrne might have forgotten that US Presidents FDR and Reagan did the same, along with May’s repeated dull addresses from behind the Downing Street lectern. Churchill also famously did a lot of radio addresses to the nation…
Guido is all for calling politician’s liars when they are lying. The reality is politicians are responding defensively to ‘gotcha journalism’. They know that social media is for many their main news source, more so than TV for younger demographic groups. Politicians can reach just as many voters without Jon Snow trying to f**k ’em. You can call that a crisis in democracy or you can rethink your approach to interviews.
Byrne also glossed over the elephant in the room, Channel 4 News is now perceived as a left-wing campaigning platform to which Ofcom gives a free pass. That the boss of Channel 4 News says her vision is of “empowered and daring producers and commissioning editors who want to shape society for the better” which doesn’t work “if all those empowered people are just a bunch of posh boys.” It is all very well having diverse faces making the news, do they all have to be uniformly left-of-centre?*
*Dorothy will cite her commissioning of Peter Oborne and Liam Halligan as evidence that there are right-of-centre programme makers on Channel 4. The token two have both, funnily enough, used their Channel 4 platform to attack the Tories…