The BBC was caught in a political row last night after its boss Mark Thompson was apparently attempting to cosy up to the Government following complaints over Left-wing bias.
The corporation’s director general was photographed arriving at No 10 clutching a memo insisting the BBC is ready to put its coverage of public spending cuts into ‘context’.
The move will prompt claims that the broadcaster is trying to curry favour with an increasingly hostile Coalition Government to preserve its generous licence fee funding.
So wait, has it been caught in a row yet, or not? There’s no mention in the article of anyone objecting to the memo, and the only verification is from an anonymous BBC source.
The claims in this article come from a single partially obscured telephoto shot of Thompson carrying a document written by the head of news Helen Boaden describing a meeting with the coalition’s Director of Communications Andy Coulson (who is incidentally involved in a much larger scandal that the Daily Mail have curiously forgotten to report on). Does the document support the Mail’s claims? Let’s see. Here’s a transcription of the relevant parts of the memo:
For background which may help…. I had lunch with Andy Coulson [...]
concerned that we give context to the Spending Review Season (I[...]
Birt…). I said that’s what we always try to do and part of the reason [...]
inform the public about the whys and wherefores… though I did exp[...]
a range of voices on all the issues.
Over the summer, we have mostly been driven by news lines and [...]
leaked letter from the Justice dept. Phillip Green being brought in, [...]
milk being axed and then restored, criticism of the OBR and the [...]
the poorest would be hardest hit by the Spending Review implic[...]
tried to put in a broader context.
Does that sound like the BBC trying to “curry favour” with the coalition, or does that sound like the BBC trying to defend their position? They aren’t offering to put its coverage in context, they’re saying “We already do.”
* Despite how the papers tried to spin it, Thompson was only talking about left-wing bias in the 1970s.