The BBC’s ‘apology’ to Diane Abbott has made things far, far worse

Diane Abbott and BBC logo
John McEvoy

After the BBC Question Time panel got caught lying during an attack on Diane Abbott on 17 January, tens of thousands called for the state broadcaster to issue an apology. The show’s new host Fiona Bruce joined right-wing columnist Isabel Oakeshott in wrongly attacking the shadow home secretary’s polling data. And, as the Canary reported, audience members have claimed Abbott was met with a “hostile atmosphere”.

After huge pressure across social media, the BBC News Press Team posted a response on 19 January:

But for many, this ‘apology’ has only made things worse.

Not good enough

Firstly, the words ‘sorry’ or ‘apologise’ don’t actually appear in the BBC’s statement. Secondly, the show’s discussion centred around ‘polls’ and not one ‘poll’. Abbott was therefore correct, and the panel was wrong. And thirdly, this ‘apology’ isn’t good enough. The BBC should rectify the disinformation it broadcasted to millions of people by announcing a correction to a comparably-sized audience.

People were unsurprisingly furious with the BBC’s response. The Ealing Labour for Corbyn account tweeted:

Former British ambassador Craig Murray wrote:

Novara Media co-founder Aaron Bastani said:

And Labour Party councillor Cassi Perry suggested Abbott’s treatment was nothing new:

Proper apology to Abbott

The BBC’s ‘apology’ attempt has created even greater distrust in the state broadcaster. It must now issue a correction and a proper apology to Abbott on next week’s show. Anything less won’t do.

Featured images via screengrab and BBC/Wikimedia

Get involved

  • You can complain to Ofcom about the BBC‘s treatment of Diane Abbott here.

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