The BBC should give us the facts on Brexit, not "even-handedness"by Christopher Grey / August 24, 2017 / Leave a comment
Recent BBC coverage of the Patrick Minford and Economists for Free Trade report claiming huge benefits from hard Brexit has attracted accusations from remainers of pro-Brexit bias. Meanwhile, Brexiters have long insisted that the BBC is relentlessly anti-Brexit.
Of course debates about bias and impartiality are a hardy perennial of journalism, so it would be absurd to think that the BBC does not give serious and ongoing thought to them when it comes to Brexit coverage. And in many ways the broadcaster is in an impossible situation. For example, many Brexiters complain that the recurrent formulation that such and such thing has or has not happened “despite Brexit” implies that Brexit is a bad thing; but it could equally be taken as trashing the failed prognostications of “Project Fear.”
That isn’t, though, to accept the argument that since both Brexit sides accuse the BBC of bias its position is about right. A standard way to think about bias is the amount of air time given to each side and whether each side is allowed to reply to the other. This seems to be how the BBC has dealt with Brexit, effectively using the approach adopted to party politics, especially in general elections, with the two main parties getting equal airing. So, for every “remain” statement there is a “leave” response and vice versa and this supposedly ensures balance.