The other night, Quentin Letts, the Daily Fail’s sketchwriter and all round eejit, was doing This Week‘s “Take of the Week” segment. In it, he covered Alan Johnson’s Nutt Sack, and stated in it that “the other parties were broadly supportive” of Johnson’s position. This, as I’m sure my good Lib Dem readers will be aware, is what is known in the trade as “horseshit”. The Tories supported him, the Lib Dems didn’t. This irritated me, so I took the liberty of complaining to the BBC about it. I wrote:
I have just watched Quentin Letts, presenting a piece on This Week, say that “the other parties were broadly supportive” of Alan Johnson over the sacking of Prof. David Nutt. This is simply not true. The Tories were broadly supportive of this decision, but the Lib Dems were quite clearly not: Chris Huhne, their shadow of Johnson, criticised him in no uncertain terms. I cannot imagine that viewers will take the phrase “the other parties” to refer to anything other than these two parties.
The BBC have got round to responding to this today, with the following, which is the full text of what they have sent me:
Thanks for your e-mail regarding ‘This Week’ broadcast on 5 November.
I understand you feel the programme broadcast a report by Quentin Letts which incorrectly sated that the opposition parties were in favour of Alan Johnson’s decision to sack Prof David Nutt, when in fact the Liberal Democrats didn’t agree with the decision.
I’ve reviewed the programme and I can confirm that Mr Letts did state that the other parties supported the Government’s decision. The article was his own take on the key political moments of the week, and as such he was expressing his own opinions and not those of the BBC.
We’re aware the Liberal Democrats opposed the decision to replace Prof Nutt and their position has been prominently featured on news broadcasts, politic programme such as ‘Daily Politics’ and on our news website. You may find the following link of interest in which Chris Huhne expresses his opinion on the decision:
Nevertheless I’d like to take this opportunity to assure you that I’ve recorded your comments onto our audience log. This is an internal daily report of audience feedback which is circulated to many BBC staff including senior management, producers and channel controllers.
The audience logs are seen as important documents that can help shape decisions about future programming and content.
Thanks again for contacting us.
So far as I can tell, then,the BBC are not bothered about this, on the grounds that:
1. Quentin Twat is free to flatly contradict reality (a reality which the BBC is fully aware of, having “prominently featured” it), because it’s “his own take” on reality, and therefore he is under no obligation to actually get basic facts right.
2. It’s OK if they put out content that is complete bollocks, because, look! over there!, some reporting that wasn’t full of bollocks.
I can’t honestly say this surprises me, coming from Quentin Twat; writers for the Daily Fail aren’t exactly familiar with concepts like “the truth”, after all. But surely the BBC hasn’t gone sufficiently bonkers to have lost sight of the dividing line between fact and opinion? I like to hear opposing viewpoints on programmes like This Week as much as the next person, but surely people can be free to present their opinions, even be selective with the facts, without the freedom to simply make statements that are flat untrue.
If the This Week team think of themselves as journalists, they ought to correct this statement on this week’s programme.