Thursday, 15 October 2015

The establishment groupthink at the heart of the BBC

Print journalism was famously called 'the Fourth Estate', a remark attributed to MP Edmund Burke at the 1787 introduction of press reporting in parliament. He was emphasising the importance of holding government to account with complete independence - unlike the 3 other estates of the time (the Commons and two Lords).

The following highlights the conflict of interests within the supposedly culturally diverse BBC undermining Edmund' Burke's tenet of democracy in the contemporary media landscape. 

James Harding, Head of BBC News

  • Went to same independent school as George Osborne.
  • Went to Cambridge.
  • Worked as a financial journalist.
  • Worked at The Times owned by Rupert Murdoch.
  • During his time at the paper he had to apologise for withholding information to the High Court during the Leveson inquiry.

Laura Kuenssberg BBC political editor

  • From a well-connected family. Relatives include the last Governor-General of colonial Nigeria, a High Court Judge and the founder/president of the Royal College of GPs.
  • Worked at ITV

James Landale, BBC News Deputy Political Editor

James Landale in David Cameron's kitchen
  • Went to Eton with David Cameron.
  • Worked at The Times.

Andrew Neil, presenter on the BBC Daily Politics

David Cameron and Andrew Neil
 Andrew Neil with David Cameron, Grant Shapps and Spectator editor Fraser Nelson
  • Tutored by Vince Cable during his University of Glasgow days, who he would later interview many times.
  • During university was a member of the Conservative Club.
  • Worked for Rupert Murdoch as Sky's chief mover in the early days.
  • Worked at the right-wing free market Economist and right-wing Sunday Times.

Andrew Marr BBC Marr Show presenter and ex-Political Editor
  • Married to Jackie Ashley from another mostly establishment media org The Guardian and daughter of a Labour life peer. Life peers are a thing that exists in 21st century Britain
  • Made use of a High Court super-injunction to prevent the media reporting the truth, nevertheless he continues to be regarded highly as a journalist in mainstream circles.
  • In April 2003 made the report below celebrating  Blair's illegal Iraq invasion.

Allegra Stratton, BBC Newsnight reporter
  • Cambridge alumnus
  • Married to James Forsyth political editor of the right-wing The Spectator magazine owned by tax exiles the Barclays Brothers, who also own the right-wing Daily Telegraph

Nick Robinson ex-Political Editor 2005-2015, now at BBC Radio 4 Today show
  • Founder member of Macclesfield Young Conservatives
  • ex-Cheshire Young Conservative Chairman
  • Former Young Conservative National Advisory Committee member
  • As a student he was President of the Oxford University Conservative Association

The BBC Board of Trustees

Rona Fairhead, Chairman of Trust

Rona Fairhead being questioned about financial irregularities
  • Cambridge alumnus
  • Also works for HSBC and PepsiCo
  • Declines to answer questions about Swiss banking irregularities.
  • Admitted failings when her bank received a fine for money-laundering 
  • Commander of the British Empire (CBE) for 'services to industry'

Roger Carr, Vice Chair

  • Worked in the City
  • Business background at Thames Water, arms company BAE systems & energy giant Centrica
  • Knighted

What does this mean for any public interest issue that challenges the weaknesses in their inevitable consensus. It doesn't have to be conspiracy for decision-making to be influenced by mostly privileged backgrounds. All homogeneity by definition has blind-spots.

Would James Harding ever take aim at his powerful old boss about his bigotry or non-dom status?
Would Allegra Stratton ever scrutinise on the financial matters of the Barclays Brothers?
Would Rona Fairhead ever green-light an investigative series on the workings of HSBC, a bank that has already proven to be corrupt and a major part of our economy?

The names are inter-changeable, the outcomes similar.

Below is some background to journalists at The Times I published previously here

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