Sunday 15 September 2019

James O’Brien questions BBC impartiality over Andrew Neil’s role

The LBC presenter quit the BBC rather than temper his views.

James O’Brien has said impartiality has been replaced (Ian West/PA)
James O’Brien has said impartiality has been replaced (Ian West/PA)

By Craig Simpson, Press Association

James O’Brien has questioned the BBC’s impartiality as he criticised the position of political journalist Andrew Neil on its staff.

O’Brien quit as a presenter of the BBC’s Newsnight last year rather than temper his views on Brexit and Donald Trump while also working on radio station LBC.

The pro-Remain host lashed out at the BBC’s claims of impartiality, alleging that BBC This Week host Neil has strong pro-Leave sympathies through his editorship of The Spectator, but is still deemed to be impartial.

O’Brien said he has concluded that impartiality has been replaced by media organisations offering false equivalencies of opposing views.

Speaking to Radio Times magazine he said: “I never got any meaningful complaints about the work I did (at the BBC).

“But BBC impartiality, oddly, means that you can be chairman of the company that publishes the Spectator magazine, which is rabidly pro-Brexit and right wing, but you can’t tweet about what a wazzock Boris Johnson is if you’re me and you’re presenting Newsnight.

“We’ve replaced impartiality with false equivalence, and we need to remember what the difference is.

“I’d trace it through the MMR vaccines, climate change. An obscure blogger can be given the same respect as science. I think that’s been disastrous.”

The full interview is available in the Radio Times magazine out today.

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