The running commentary at B-BBC shows the BBC in confusion over 'Bigotgate' http://biased-bbc.blogspot.com/2010/04/open-thread_27.html. The comments on the 'mother ship' blog are fascinating, reflecting closely the shifts and turns in the BBC's coverage of the story.
All I can add is a complementary review of the BBC's own running commentary.
How did the BBC's live election blog cover the unfolding story of 'Bigotgate'? Well, for the first few minutes they veered uneasily between reporting the breaking news and ploughing on with what they had been doing all morning - plugging Labour's agenda (here reporting Gordon Brown's policy statements on The Jeremy Vine Show).
Then something remarkable happened. The BBC behaved for the following few hours like an impartial broadcaster! It didn't last long, but it was good while it lasted.
Reaction began to come in and first blood went to the Conservatives:
1308: Conservative Party chairman Eric Pickles tweets on what is now known as #BigotGate on Twitter: "Every voter should know that Brown's view of the electorate is you either agree with him or you are the enemy." Read Eric Pickles's tweets
This was the first we heard of the word "bigot" - and it came not from a BBC reporter but from Eric Pickles. (Mr Pickles breaks news faster than the Beeb it seems!) Did they know about Brown's use of the word "bigot" before then? If so, why hadn't they mentioned it earlier?
Then it was over to a Labour defender, Joan Ruddock, then another (a "Labour spokesman".) From then on a judicious balance of pro- and anti- Brown voices were heard. (Mandy got two bites of the cherry, of course). I would describe the mix of views offered by the BBC blog as exemplary, and it stayed that way until about 4.30pm.
There was no spin from Nick Robinson either, except that he didn't mention the fact that Brown called Mrs Duffy a "bigot":
1329: It's a disaster for the prime minister because Mrs Duffy is typical of the white working class traditional Labour voter Gordon Brown needs to hold on to. Now she is saying she won't be voting Labour, says BBC political editor Nick Robinson. What we have seen is no huge surprise, as he often flairs up in private. If we hadn't had heard the off-camera words, this would've been a lively election moment, which would've been to the prime minister's credit.
Rory Cellan-Jones later became the first BBC reporter to use the b-word:
1355: A firm which tracks "sentiment" on Twitter says Gordon Brown's ratings plunged deep into negative territory after the "bigot" incident. Lexalytics' chart shows his score falling to the lowest levels we've seen in this campaign. The volume of tweets also hit very high levels, increasing tenfold in 20 minutes, says the BBC's Rory Cellan-Jones.
The comments on the Biased BBC blog show that this was happening on the BBC News Channel too, though not for quite as long. The tone of the comments from my eagle-eyed allies began to change as the afternoon wore on - and so did the BBC's blog.
Pro-Labour Bias returned - with a vengeance.
It sounds as if it was gradual on the BBC News Channel. On the BBC blog it was sudden and dramatic. At 16.38 a pro-Brown deluge began (featuring, among others, actor Simon Pegg, Labour-supporting pollster Peter Kellner and Alistair Campbell) and it continued for over two hours.
Suddenly, the tweeters and have-your-sayers all began to speak up for Brown - all of them!!:
1638: Regarding the coverage of #BigotGate, Enhughesiasm tweets: And to think the media were getting so close to having to actually talk about policies. They must be delighted. Read Enhughesiasm's tweets
1739: Regarding Gordon Brown's "bigot" gaffe, Michael Driscoll from Walton-on-Thames writes: What a storm in a tea cup. I'm a floating voter and this event would have no bearing whatsoever on my vote. Surely policies are the right benchmark to cast your vote on. The press seem thrilled to have got this soundbite.Have Your Say
1758: Bruno writes: I can't say I'm Mr Brown's biggest fan, but I do think that anyone's private conversation should remain so - private. If you go earwigging you should expect to hear things you don't like. Have Your Say
1910: Paul From Oakley Vale writes: As an ex-BBC producer and former sound recordist myself I want to know when the reprimand will be applied to a) the sound recordist who carried on recording when a prime minister was clearly "off-camera" and in the private confines of his own car. And b) the reprimand to the opportunist news producer who exploited the sound recordists mistake for their own aggrandizement. Standards of decency and professional conduct have clearly been breached here. Have Your Say
2022Ruralwoman writes: While I look forward to crash Gordon taking a long holiday in a few days' time, I actually feel quite sorry for him. That grumpy off-the-record comment will haunt him forever. Have Your Say (well, that one is support of a back-handed kind!!)
Is that really typical? Does the whole nation (except us) feel sorry for Gordon Brown, as this suggests? Are all the millions and millions and millions of "bigots" out there really happy at being regarded as such by the Labour leader?
The early afternoon showed what the BBC could be if it tried. The late afternoon and early evening showed what the BBC is, sadly.
Yet Another Cadwalladr Correction
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