Maitlis and Sopel Leaving BBC

Jon Sopel and Emily Maitlis are both leaving the BBC to start a new podcast with Global, it was announced today. They join Andrew Marr and, as Guido revealed, long-time BBC producer Rob Burley in signing up with the station. This afternoon Maitlis tweeted:

Sopel had previously been a frontrunner for the BBC’s new Political Editor – presumably he wasn’t offered what he was expecting… 

mdi-timer 22 February 2022 @ 13:03 22 Feb 2022 @ 13:03 mdi-twitter mdi-facebook mdi-whatsapp mdi-telegram mdi-linkedin mdi-email mdi-comment View Comments
Maitlis Apologises for Sharing Anti-Government Tweets

Following Guido’s story earlier today on Emily Maitlis’s apparent breach of BBC impartiality rules, Maitlis has now taken down the initial tweets and apologised for sharing them:

Still managing to share Stewart’s initial tweet in her apology. Probably a coincidence.

A furious government source gets in touch to say Maitlis “is sticking two fingers up at Davie’s promise to deal with impartiality”. Clearly the BBC’s ‘impartiality training‘ is going to good use…

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Maitlis Appears to Break BBC Impartiality Rules Again

Emily Maitlis has once again gone on an anti-government retweet spree this morning. Apparently she hasn’t learned much from the four month investigation that concluded she’d broken BBC impartiality rules last time…

This time, Maitlis shared tweets from Rory Stewart and Independent journalist Anne Isaac, both of whom clearly express personal views on a minister’s character and on government policy: Stewart lays into Nadine Dorries for her “sheer tawdry Trumpian shabbiness“, while Isaac claims it’s “simply a fact” that the UK could open freeports within the EU. Guido highly doubts Maitlis plans to clarify how the UK ports are no longer governed by the Union Customs Code, or offer a counterpoint to Stewart’s attack on Dorries…

Here are the BBC’s impartiality rules as of October 2020 (the same rules Tim Davie promised to diligently enforce):  

“Nothing should appear on your personal social media accounts that undermine the perception of the BBC’s integrity or impartiality.

[…] Be wary of ‘revealed bias’, whether through likes or re-posting other posts, so that a bias becomes evident, and ‘inferred bias’ where a post is impartial but loose wording allows readers to infer a bias where there is none.

[…] Avoid ‘virtue signalling’ – retweets, likes or joining online campaigns to indicate a personal view, no matter how apparently worthy the cause.”

Maitlis has already been found guilty of breaking these rules twice. No doubt it’ll be another slap on the wrist, and in 6 months time we’ll be back here again…

mdi-timer 1 February 2022 @ 12:38 1 Feb 2022 @ 12:38 mdi-twitter mdi-facebook mdi-whatsapp mdi-telegram mdi-linkedin mdi-email mdi-comment View Comments
Maitlis Turns on BBC Over Cummings Monologue Slapdown

Emily Maitlis says the BBC was wrong to find her in breach of impartiality rules (twice) and accuses the BBC’s management of caving into political pressure from Downing Street. The Newsnight presenter added that she would not let the current affairs show become a “public announcement tannoy” for ministers.* No doubt Jess Brammar, whom Emily showers with sugary praise, will agree with Maitlis…

She defends her Newsnight monologue in which she delivered an American TV style personal rant: “Dominic Cummings broke the rules. The country can see that, and it’s shocked the government cannot.” She claims “it hasn’t ever been explained to me what was journalistically inaccurate about that.”

Maitlis also defends her retweeting of Piers Morgan’s anti-government tirade. At the time the BBC said it was “clearly controversial, implying sharp criticism of the Government”. Maitlis once again disagrees with her employers, saying “the tweet said nothing I haven’t actually asked on air”. 

It seems Emily’s showboating for Press Gazette has seen her called into the headmaster’s office, with a BBC spokesman saying:

“Nothing is more important than our impartiality. All BBC journalists must abide by the BBC’s editorial guidelines and social media rules. There are no exceptions. We will be taking this up with Emily.

If Emily is completely unwilling to abide by the BBC’s impartiality rules she should look for a job elsewhere. There are lots of media organisations where delivering opinionated news is fine, just they’re not funded by a universal tax to pay her recently pared back £329,999 salary

*When was the last time you can remember seeing a minister on Newsnight? Nowadays that happens as frequently as there is a blue moon.

mdi-timer 23 July 2021 @ 14:16 23 Jul 2021 @ 14:16 mdi-twitter mdi-facebook mdi-whatsapp mdi-telegram mdi-linkedin mdi-email mdi-comment View Comments
Maitlis Breaks BBC’s Rules (Again) Retweeting Piers Morgan

Retweeting one of Piers Morgan’s anti-government tirades “If failing to quarantine properly is punishable by 10yrs in prison, what is the punishment for failing to properly protect the country from a pandemic?” led to a 4 months long BBC investigation which has concluded that Newsnight’s Emily Maitlis has once again broken BBC impartiality rules. Shocker…

The BBC’s rules on impartiality clearly state:

“Expressions of opinion on social media can take many forms – from straightforward tweets or updates, sharing or liking content, following particular accounts or using campaigning or political hashtags.

If for example a member of staff repeatedly likes or shares, without comment, content reflecting a particular point of view on a matter of public controversy it might create the impression that individual agrees with that view.”

The retweet, which according to the BBC’s report was deleted after 10 minutes, “implied sharp criticism of the government”. Implied? The report added that there was “no surrounding context to make clear that Ms Maitlis was not endorsing it or to draw attention to alternative views”. Guido frets for the future of the BBC if it really took investigators 4 months to read 25 words and come up with that… 

The BBC investigation’s findings have been reported to the Board of BBC News and discussed with Ms Maitlis. So another slap on the wrist for Emily… 

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Maitlis Documentary Was “Misleading” About Cummings

Getting admissions of bias out of the BBC is like pulling teeth. However the BBC’s Complaints Unit has had to admit misleading viewers, quietly slipping out the mea culpa on Christmas Eve when we were otherwise distracted, is the finding accepting that perhaps it was a teensy weensy bit inaccurate in the BBC 2 Taking Control: The Dominic Cummings Story documentary:

The attribution of prejudice against Muslims related to a sequence which included the following quotation from a paper entitled “How Demographic Decline and its financial consequences will sink the European Dream” published by a think tank directed by Mr Cummings: “The consequences of economic stagnation coinciding with rising Muslim immigration cannot fill anyone familiar with European history with anything other than a sense of apprehension, at least, about the future of the Continent”.  The ECU agreed that, in the context of this sequence, the quotation tended to support the impression complained of.  In the think tank paper the quotation stood in a context which pointed to Europe’s relative difficulty in integrating immigrants, rather than anything connected with Islam, as the source of tension, and the paper itself concluded “There is little reason to be optimistic about Europe’s capacity to avoid a growth of extremist political activity, or its desire to avoid the traditional response of polities in crisis – blaming foreigners”.  In the ECU’s judgement, the quotation would have conveyed a different impression in the programme if more had been done to reflect its original context.  As this risked misleading viewers, there was a breach of the BBC’s standards of accuracy, and this aspect of the complaint was upheld.

To be clear they tried to paint him, in the words of the finding, as a ‘tribalist’ ‘with neo fascist’ prejudices against Muslims. So quite a serious allegation. Now that the BBC has admitted this was misleading, in other words untrue, Cummings could sue them for defamation and use their own ruling as evidence. Taking thousands in damages off the BBC would be classic Dom…

The documentary by Emily Maitlis also accused Dominic Cummings of being a thug and a liar. The BBC found that the BBC wasn’t biased on these somewhat contentious points because they balanced that with denials that he was a thug and a liar. No wonder they tried to slip out the findings on Christmas Eve…

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