Tuesday, September 6

Politicians are lovely people

Interesting to hear the eager reports of John Humphrys' after dinner speech. Many of the reports begin (probably unfairly) with the headline "John Humphrys calls all politicians liars" or something like it.

Surely calling all politicians liars (if he did) is an irresponsible generalisation. A cheap shot. But now, here's a thought, would he have come in for as much stick if he had said all politicians are honest? This too would have been less than impartial but I doubt that he would have been in so much hot water.

Another point to be made here is that an after dinner speech is just as much a medium as radio or TV. In this case it is multiple media because his words get reported beyond the event itself. It becomes complicated when you consider that he only gets paid by one part of the audience. Naturally, he may be under pressure to tell his paying audience what they want to hear. When he is being paid by the BBC he has to be accountable to every single license payer.

If I were the Director of News I would encourage John to do his articles and speeches but subject them to the same editorial safeguards as any other "broadcast". I would also look at the way such events are paid for. To stop him speaking would be counter to the BBC's role of encouraging all forms of communication.

If there is real evidence that many politicians are put into a position where the truth is compromised then surely it must be said.

For the record, most politicians are lovely people.

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