Today's 'World this Weekend' featured a discussion on the new European parliament, due to meet in Strasburg on Tuesday. Hosted by Shaun Ley, its guests were Graham Watson, leader of the Liberal group in the parliament, and Nigel Farage of UKIP.
Bias-hunters never have far to look with Shaun Ley. He's soft on the Left -and that emphatically includes the UK Liberal Democrats, if not all European Liberals - and tough on the Right.
The first question was a general one to Mr Watson, asking about whether the June election results would mean a very different parliament.
The second question went to Nigel Farage, and this time it was a specific question about UKIP:
"Will that make any difference for UKIP, given that the outlook of the Christian Democrats is, generally in Europe, as pro-European as the Socialists?"
The third question went to Mr Farage: "Is there a practical change for you, though, because you gained one MEP at these elections, SLIGHTLY bigger group therefore, but there has been criticism in the past that you've not perhaps fully palyed your part in places like the committees over the previous five years? Will your approach change this time?"
Again this is a question specific to UKIP. It also contained a criticism of UKIP. And the word 'slightly' was strongly emphasized by Ley.
Why is this a sign of bias? Because Graham Watson, in contrast, was NOT asked specific questions about the Liberal Democrats, and no criticisms of the Liberal Democrats were contained in any of Shaun Ley's questions, and - most of all - because Ley did NOT say to Watson that his party did only "SLIGHTLY" better and "gained one MEP at these elections" too, even though that is exactly what happened!!
The bias continued. The fourth question went to Graham Watson, but it was about UKIP!!:
"Do you think that's a useful thing, Graham Watson, if a group like UKIP - which is fundamentally opposed to the European Union - actually engages in the parliament?"
Can you guess what happened next? Watson attacked UKIP, that's what! Such open invitations to attack political opponents, if not also extended to those political opponents, is biased interviewing.
Nor did balance come with the next question to Watson, which was as general a question (and as unchallenging a question) as an interviewer could pose: "Strasburg is where the next European parliament will meet on Tuesday, Bastille Day of course. In a sense that sums up one of the problems you have to wrestle with, Graham Watson, and that's the shuttling from Brussels to Strasburg & back again. Is there any prospect, do you think, of bringing this to and end in the course of the next five years?" This was asked respectfully.
The sixth and final question went to Nigel Farage, & was asked jokingly (if not sarcastically): "Nigel Farage, which do you prefer, Brussels or Strasburg?"
Shaun Ley, you are being watched!
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