BBC bosses told interviewers to ‘go easy’ on ministers during coronavirus, claims former presenter
- Credit: PA
Former Today programme presenter John Humphrys has claimed that BBC bosses are privately telling interviewers to go easy on ministers during the coronavirus outbreak.
Writing for the Daily Mail in a weekly column, the former broadcaster wrote: 'I'm told BBC bosses are warning interviewers not to put ministers under pressure.
'Why? If the questioning is well informed and polite, surely the tougher the better.
'All this stuff might be justified if we were at war. But we're not. To talk of the virus as an enemy is to misunderstand the crisis with which we are faced.'
But the BBC denied the Humphrys' claims, saying it was 'emphatically not the case, as watching or listening to our interviews demonstrates'.
You may also want to watch:
'It is the job of our journalists to challenge and question ministers on behalf of the public, while bearing in mind that we are in the middle of a public health emergency.'
Sources pointed to Mishal Husain grilling the health secretary Matt Hancock on the Today programme this week, asking if more lives could have been saved if the lockdown had started earlier.
- 1 Why don't Brexiteers like to talk about Brexit any more?
- 2 Major disaster: How Tories' 1992 victory sowed seeds of Brexit
- 3 Is the Sun setting on Murdoch's global media empire?
- 4 Brexit: British 'expats' in Spain facing deportation over residency
- 5 The 40 best European TV shows to stream
- 6 The fight against the homogenisation of the British Isles
- 7 Did Donald Trump really wear his trousers backwards at Republicans' North Carolina rally?
- 8 Five years of Brexit summed up by Cold War Steve
- 9 Michael O'Leary: My hope for the future over Brexit
- 10 When Eton took on a team of miners at football
Humphrys also claimed that the daily government briefings were becoming a 'pretty inadequate way of getting answers'.
He said: 'The chancellor Rishi Sunak - supported by scientific advisers - was able to get away with denying that the chief medical officer Chris Whitty had ever said that rigorous testing had been vital in enabling Germany to achieve many fewer deaths.
'Well, he had, and Sunak should have been held to account.'
His views were echoed by former home secretary David Blunkett who said that the briefings were losing their purpose.
'They are becoming little more than a daily Sermon on the Mount, offering scant new information and, worse, often delivering large doses of hectoring.
'Worryingly, this could have the opposite effect than the one intended.
'The British people have never experienced totalitarianism and top-down diktats, so it's not in our psyche to be bossed about by politicians.'
'That is why ministers must get the tone right.'
Become a Supporter
The New European is proud of its journalism and we hope you are proud of it too. We believe our voice is important - both in representing the pro-EU perspective and also to help rebalance the right wing extremes of much of the UK national press. If you value what we are doing, you can help us by making a contribution to the cost of our journalism.