Another day's worth of biased paper reviews from Today began (at 6.12) with James Naughtie and the Bulger-killer story, concentrating on the Mirror's account. Then came John Humphrys on the BBC. He dealt with the Mail's anti-BBC perspective in just four seconds before moving on to the pro-BBC Guardian, dwelling on that for a full 30 seconds before moving on to spend time with Hamish McRae of the Independent. At least he then quoted from the Telegraph. Naughtie was up next with the Lord Ashcroft story, spending 3o seconds on a critical take from the Guardian before moving on to another critical take from the Times. No non-critical takes, naturally.
The second paper review (at 6.43) began with Naughtie and news of the televised leaders' debates, quoting at most length from the Independent, before John Humphrys returned to the subject of the BBC, beginning by quoting from Jonathan Freedland of the Guardian (and BBC Radio 4) but moving on to the Times and, at greater length, the Mail. Naughtie was having no such truck with right-wing newspapers and moved on to an appraisal of Dr Paisley from the Guardian before Humphrys turned to American politics and Democrat-hopeful Jerry Brown, courtesy of a story in the Independent. Naughtie did at least spend some time with the Telegraph, with a story about a bull and viagra.
At 7.43 (the final paper review) Naughtie kicked off with the Ashcroft story, again quoting only from hostile newspapers, firstly the Times (which accused the Tories of 'complacency') and then the Mirror, quoting a violent attack on the Tories by none other than Kevin Maguire. No contrary views were given the time of day. John Humphrys then read a fluffy story from the Mail about quadruplets before Naughtie turned to the Times for the story of Hillary Clinton's trip to Buenos Aires. "She gets a rough ride" from that paper, said Naughtie.
The Lord Ashcroft story cropped up again at 8.23. Nick Robinson discussed it with James Naughtie. The headline on the Today website reads 'Questions remain on Ashcroft status'. Nick raised those questions here, but did note that the story was also continuing because the Conservatives' enemies - Labour and the Lib Dems - are keen to keep it going. Of course, he didn't include the BBC is that list of enemies - even though it should be top of the list.
That the BBC are going to keep on and on and on about this right up to polling day was also made clear by the BBC's Carole Walker on tonight's PM , talking to Carolyn Quinn. She said that the Tories have been questioned about this for the past ten years before adding "as I'm sure they'll be again and again now". I don't doubt it. The Conservatives' 'maintain radio silence' strategy is not working. They are leaving open goals all across the BBC. PM suggests this might be about to change as it played a short clip from tonight's The World Tonight, which will broadcast an interview between Robin Lustig and William Hague (a short clip, but one already containing a sharp interruption from Lustig!). If William Hague performs as well as he did at Prime Minister's Question Time today he should give Lustig a roasting. Fingers crossed!
B*tch-Gate in 60 Seconds
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