Theresa May's former comms chief says it cannot; an ex-head of BBC Television News says it canby Robbie Gibb and Roger Mosey / January 28, 2020 / Leave a comment
Yes: Roger Mosey
Why on earth wouldn’t you want to fact-check what our politicians are saying? We live in an age when the president of the United States has a relationship to the truth that is as distant as Saturn; and across the world there are politicians of all political shades who think they can say anything they like as long as they get elected. Stir into that the power of social media, where lies can flourish without any editorial challenge whatsoever, and the threat to democracy is clear.
It is therefore right that the broadcasters who seek to provide a public service, in the UK, US and elsewhere, are fact-checking and campaign-checking. They still retain mass audiences, and can shine a beam of light into the fog of campaign promises. As a voter, I want to know whether there will be 40 new hospitals in Britain or not—and I’m grateful to the likes of the BBC, Sky and Channel 4 for unpicking the prime minister’s arguments. I am pleased they’re doing the same to Jeremy Corbyn and Nicola Sturgeon.
Indeed, I’d say they aren’t making enough of it. The reality checks tend to sit on their own little bit of the broadcaster’s website, or towards the end of the Today programme, whereas they should be right up there at the top of News at Ten. Yes, let’s hear what the politicians have to say; but do not let them get away with churning out “facts” which turn out not to be true.
I am not going to jump into the trap that says the lying is all on one side, and generated by an alliance of Trump, Johnson and Vladimir Putin. Examining the facts would mean that Labour’s tax and spend policies would unravel as quickly as the Conservatives’ over-spun pledges on the NHS. What’s vital is impartial analysis, calmly delivered—at a time when it risks going out of fashion.
No: Robbie Gibb
I could not agree more about the importance of impartial reporting and robust, well-referenced facts being fundamental to good quality debate. The rise of social media and the increasing role of the journalist as political…