BBC News editing the audience reaction to Boris Johnson is really not okay

BBCQT audience member and Boris Johnson
Emily Apple

Boris Johnson’s appearance on the BBC Question Time (BBCQT) Leaders Debate didn’t exactly go well. From having to sneak into the studio while Jeremy Corbyn was greeted by crowds of supporters to refusing to apologise for his previous racist and homophobic comments, the PM was on the back foot.

But it was on the issue of trust that the audience really showed how much they despise Johnson. And their reaction explicitly showed the contempt they have for him on this issue.

This was, seemingly, too much for BBC News. Because it apparently edited the clip, removing the full audience response and editing it to only show applause for Johnson.

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Sorry, what?

Novara Media‘s Aaron Bastani tweeted the two clips side-by-side, showing the BBC had edited out the audience laughing at Johnson:

And as one Twitter user pointed out, the actual debate was reasonably fair with all the leaders asked tough questions by the audience:

But there was only one comment that really made sense of this – “What the ACTUAL fuck!?”:

Really not good enough

The BBC claims it is:

committed to achieving due impartiality in all its output.

According to its charter, meanwhile, it should:

provide impartial news and information to help people understand and engage with the world around them: the BBC should provide duly accurate and impartial news, current affairs and factual programming to build people’s understanding of all parts of the United Kingdom and of the wider world.

But bias can also be nuanced. As The Canary previously reported, this was recently highlighted in the way it treated two stories on the Today programme about MPs saying they wouldn’t vote for their former political parties. And it was shown in the pitiful excuses it gave for showing the wrong footage of Johnson on Remembrance Day.

Quite simply, this isn’t good enough. The leadership debate might have been one of the more balanced pieces of BBC coverage. But this is lost if what’s reported on the news doesn’t reflect what actually happened during the debate. We deserve better from our public service broadcaster.

The Canary contacted the BBC for comment but had not received a reply at the time of publication.

Featured image via Twitter screengrab

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  • Show Comments
    1. O wax rather impressed at the way the laughter was suppressed, but I nonetheless thought the sequence was merely shortened.

      It even worse than that. They took the answer to a different question, which happens to use the same words. Look back at the Bastani clips and compare Johnson’s position. Once you know what to look for, it’s quite obvious. (I’m not the one who realised that)

    2. Of course, take a look at the backgrounds of BBC journalists. More than 75% of the major figures were privately educated. And then look at their salaries. They are well into the 5% who will pay more tax. They may not recognise their bias, but to be privately educated and earning five time the national average tends to influence your mentality. And why do so few of them come from State school? Is it because State school pupils are inferior? No one would say so, but bias is usual unconscious.

    3. Superimposing Corbyn alongside the Kremlin on Newsnight in March 2018 hosted by Emily Maitlis was disgraceful. This was deemed to be fair??! If the BBC had any shame at all it would look at its practice and go out of its way not to draw attention to itself in this way. That it keeps repeating the same offences suggests it or its editors and presenters at least really don’t care to adjust their practice. The weight of evidence is all one way and it’s a very blue BBC we are witnessing.

      https://twitter.com/JohnClarke1960/status/974766676213420033?s=20

    4. The thing that shocked me was that although the audience was supposed to reflect the make up of parliament there were clearly many more Corbyn supporters in the audience. This is clearly not reflective of parliament or indeed the general public as Corbyn has rightly terrible approval ratings, far worse than Johnson’s, so how could the audience be so pro Corbyn and anti Johnson? I can only imagine the BBC had to edit the sound as they’d made such a bad job of getting the audience makeup correct and had clearly let a large amount of crazy corbynistas sneak in.

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