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George Monbiot - 11 Jan 2019



A major reason for the sharp decline in the quality of political debate in Britain is that the media rewards people for disgraceful behaviour. If you're caught lying on Wednesday, you'll be on Question Time on Thursday.

If you're an opaquely-funded corporate lobby group masquerading as a think tank, you'll be flooded with invitations to appear on current affairs programmes. But if you play a straight bat, don't expect the phone to ring.

And if (like William Sitwell) you grossly abuse your position, browbeating a freelancer seeking work, you will be given, with great fanfare, a column in the Daily Telegraph.

Rod Liddle constructed his career as a pundit this way. While working for the BBC, he broke its editorial guidelines in the most public way possible, creating a massive scandal. Hey presto: he was offered platforms across the right wing papers and, soon afterwards, on the BBC.

All the worst elements are brought to the fore - seemingly as a matter of policy - while the best are sidelined. And we wonder why we're in such a state.

It's no mystery why the Telegraph, Sun etc behave this way: billionaires seek to disrupt democracy and create chaos, allowing them to pursue their various shock doctrines. But why does the BBC do it?

I think there are two reasons. 1. In an age of declining ratings and intense competition, it wants to be as noisy as possible, regardless of quality. 2. It falls over itself to prove it is not the liberal conspiracy of the Conservatives' fevered imagination.

As a result of both 1 and 2, it provides a massive platform for people like Nigel Farage, Boris Johnson, Jacob Rees-Mogg and Melanie Phillips, forgetting its duties of balance, impartiality and accuracy. It has changed the face of Britain, swinging us towards the extreme right.

If we have become a less rational, more divided and crueler nation, the BBC, in my view, carries much of the blame.

Those who are not prepared to play this game must keep trying to uphold high standards of research, accuracy and honesty, in the hope that - while they'll be sidelined by decision-makers in the media - they'll be valued by those who read their blogs or watch their videos.

My hope is that eventually the tide will turn. People will become so sick of the charlatans and exhibitionists who crowd the airwaves and lead us towards disaster that the BBC and other media will be forced to change tack. It might take a while, however.

Taken from Twitter




Jeremy Pearce

I was watching James Obrien (LBC) up at the convention seminar ,on Friday .He was saying much the same about the way the press and TV political journalists deal with politicians I am just about to publish my write up of it here


Shirley Rutter

I too have been feeling this increasingly about the BBC over the last couple of years in their news programmes (Today, World at One) especially. And George Monbiot hits the nail on the head again putting into words what so many of us are thinking and feeling frustrated and disillusioned by. Last week however with Extinction Rebellion's week of International Rebellion in London, finally the BBC began to report the XR movement more fairly and in a more balanced way. Nick Robinson on Today was aggressive in his interviewing towards an XR person at first but then went to Waterloo Bridge, saw what was going on for himself, interviewed people and changed his tone considerably on the Today programme the next day.

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