Emily Maitlis, the former Newsnight presenter highlighted the role of Sir Robbie Gibb, who previously worked as Theresa May’s director of communications and helped to found the rightwing GB News channel. She described him as an “active agent of the Conservative party” who is shaping the broadcaster’s news output. Gibb was appointed to the BBC’s board by Boris Johnson’s government.
Maitlis said the BBC often slipped into a “both-sides-ism” approach to impartiality that gave a platform to individuals that did not deserve airtime.
She also said attacks on the media can cause journalists to “censor our own interviews to avoid the backlash.”
Despite queues at the British border and economic issues piling up, such outlets are still reluctant to discuss the impact of Brexit “in case they get labelled pessimistic, anti-populist, or worse still, as above: unpatriotic”.
Maitlis warned that the traditional media is becoming increasingly afraid to stand up for itself in an era where “facts are getting lost, constitutional norms trashed, claims frequently unchallenged”.
She explained, “And yet every day that we sidestep these issues with glaring omissions feels like a conspiracy against the British people; we are pushing the public further away. Why should our viewers, our listeners, come to us to interpret and explain what is going on when they can see our own reluctance to do so?”
While journalists do not have to be campaigners they should avoid being “complaisant, complicit onlookers”.