Well, there I was about to write a blog on how uncomfortable I felt reading a blog by a BBC editor about the Labour Party reshuffle and how the MP was persuaded to resign from the shadow cabinet live on air (Andrew Neil’s Daily Politics Show)…when the blog was mysteriously deleted. One minute I was reading it and the next all I could see was the test card and a pop-up message indicating that the site was no longer available.
Then a twitter storm erupted about ‘BBC manipulation’ of news stories. And then the blog was deleted.
Censorship or sensible back-tracking from Auntie? Answers in 130 characters to Lord Hall of Birkenhead please.
In short, the Daily Politics team wondered whether Stephen Doughty MP would resign live on air on the programme, following a discussion with Laura Kuennsberg the politics editor who had heard that he was unhappy with Jeremy Corbyn’s shadow cabinet shuffle.
You can still see Alexander’s original blog of course – via The Drum website – should you be interested, which hopefully you are, because whatever the rights and wrongs of this particular issue it yet again highlights how things can occasionally spiral out of control even among the bloggerati.
For what it’s worth, when I first read output editor Andrew Alexander’s blog it did make me feel a bit uncomfortable written down in black and white. Isn’t the BBC supposed to be above that kind of thingf? ( answer: NO). That is how many news and politics programmes sometimes work. I felt ‘a bit uncomfortable’ because I recalled similar incidents from my own career as a BBC editor albeit on a smaller stage than national tv.
But that’s as far as my angst and self-loathing goes I’m afraid.
Any journalist with a modicum of experience in will tell you that this kind of thing ‘erm happens. Not all the time, but quite regularly,particularly where politics is concerned.
Politicians know this as well so why do we get all precious when this is exposed once in a while ? MPs and councillors conspire with each other at times to their mutual benefit. At other times, they’re at each others throats and most of the time they simply co-exist and do the rest of their jobs.
Yes, this will no doubt give rival broadcaster and media outlets the chance to adopt the moral high ground but then things will no doubt continue as they’ve ever done and politicians will tip off journalists about stories and offer them exclusives.
Meanwhile programme-makers will try to get a story first. So what’s new? Occasionally a newspaper or a programme will get a coup like the Daily Politics show did with Stephen Doughty.
No-one expects the Spanish Inquisition
There will no doubt be investigations at the BBC about whether this particular blog should have been written in the first place and then deleted, but I really hope we don’t have the usual Spanish Inquisition-style inquiry where the deputy heads roll and questions are asked in the House ; give us a break please.
To my mind the Doughty incident is a fair reflection of how the media works at certain times.
Not all the time but when the opportunity arises ie when there is an exclusive in the offing ( and on a scale of 1 to 10 I rate this one around the 4 mark).
Not a brilliant story that will have the Clapham ommibus swaying from one side to the other but a decent political story about an MP resigning from a relatively important post.
And that’s it really. It’s not a Jonathan Ross/Russell Brand moment.
It’s what happens in the media. Some of the time.