You’ve seen the disgusting but all-too-predictable front cover of the Daily Record. BBC Reporting Scotland, RS, also predictably, have joined the pile-on, though in a subtler form. Last night’s broadcast was, contrary to their charter of course, partial and uninformative.
Even if we ignore, for the moment, the fact that RS should really just be saying nothing at all about a live case, for fear of inappropriate influence on any potential judge or jury, the report itself requires comment, having been broadcast.
First, we heard: ‘The Russian broadcaster RT is being criticised for continuing to broadcast and promote the Alex Salmond show’. As it turns out, we discover that only one named member of the Scottish Conservatives, list MSP Annie Wells, can actually be found to evidence this criticism. No other named source is offered. Ofcom, we hear later, are not interested in commenting. So, already this looks like an inadequate evidence base for telling a story and so clearly just an excuse to keep up the pressure on Alex Salmond with any old RS report.
Second, we hear that unnamed Conservative and Labour sources think RT’s actions are ‘inappropriate’ in the light of the charges of ‘sexual offences’. That’s the ‘sexual offences’ reminder in but no explanation of what they mean by ‘inappropriate’.
Third, we’re informed that Salmond’s involvement with RT was always ‘controversial’. That’s left unexplained and the opportunity to be impartial and informative missed. Why did Salmond accept the RT invitation? Was it because no Scottish broadcaster would give him a platform to make his arguments? To accept an invitation from another broadcaster operating legally in the UK was legitimate surely in a democracy, for a prominent political figure? What was he to do? Just accept that his voice is deemed, by unelected media practitioners, ‘inappropriate’ in this debate? RT have given Salmond complete editorial control. Would BBC?
Fourth, still no balance, and we get Annie Wells telling us that Salmond should reflect on whether it was the ‘right thing to do’ to go on RT in the first place. She was neither asked to explain what she meant nor to justify why many Tory politicians do appear on RT.
Fifth, we hear again that unnamed Scottish Labour sources, when asked by RS, also thought RT’s actions didn’t seem to be ‘appropriate.’
Finally, Ofcom, presumably after being badgered by RS, tell us they think it ‘not appropriate to intervene.’ Well, this seems important doesn’t it? Why do you think they think it ‘not appropriate to intervene?’ Is it because there’s a live court case going on and any responsible, impartial journalist would do the obvious thing, to avoid contaminating any witnesses or judges with reporting which perhaps demonises the accused?
So, inappropriate in the first place and then entirely devoid of the balance and impartiality claimed.