Watch Emily Maitlis stun viewers by finally speaking truth to power

Emily Maitlis on Newsnight
Emily Apple

BBC Newsnight is not always known for its balanced coverage of political events. In fact, the programme has previously acted more like a Conservative Party mouthpiece at times.

But on 8 April, Emily Maitlis stunned viewers by doing exactly what independent broadcasters should do: speaking truth to power.

“Trite and misleading”

Maitlis opened the programme with the following introduction:

The language around Covid-19 has sometimes felt trite and misleading. You do not survive the illness through fortitude and strength of character whatever the prime minister’s colleagues will tell us.

She then took aim at one of the common misconceptions touted about coronavirus (Covid-19):

And the disease is not a great leveller, the consequences of which everyone – rich or poor – suffers the same.

Maitlis continued saying this is a “myth which needs debunking” and that:

those serving on the frontline right now – bus drivers and shelf stackers, nurses, care home workers, hospital staff, and shopkeepers are disproportionately the lower-paid members of our workforce. They are more likely to catch the disease because they are more exposed.

She also highlighted that the lockdown is much harder for those, such as manual workers, who can’t work from home, and those living in cramped accommodation or tower blocks. Maitlis then asked the question:

what kind of social settlement might need to be put in place to stop the inequality becoming even more stark?

‘Speaking volumes’

As journalist Hicham Yezza highlighted, Maitlis has been widely praised for her words. But the fact that they’ve stunned so many people shows the sorry state of mainstream journalism:

Novara Media’s Aaron Bastani pointed out that he hadn’t seen that type of language used in the UK in “recent times”:

Journalist Ben Smoke, meanwhile, stated “this is what journos are supposed to do every single day”:

#classplaining
But while Maitlis’s words were brilliant and much needed, Media Lens nailed an essential point:

Inequality is nothing new. The fact that it’s the lowest-paid workers who keep our country running is nothing new.

Moreover, nearly a decade of Conservative-led governments have destroyed our public services. Furthermore, according to the UN, austerity measures have “deliberately” removed the country’s public safety net, pushing thousands of people into poverty:

UK standards of well-being have descended precipitately in a remarkably short period of time, as a result of deliberate policy choices made when many other options were available.

In other words, the UN said a political choice was made to implement austerity measures; measures that fell:

disproportionately upon the poor, women, racial and ethnic minorities, children, single parents, and people with disabilities.

So while it’s great that Newsnight is speaking truth to power, it’s also too little too late. It shouldn’t have taken a pandemic for this to happen.

If the mainstream media hadn’t been so keen to ridicule Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour Party, it’s possible there would already be a party in power committed to tackling the massive inequality that was rife long before anyone had ever heard of Covid-19.

Featured image via Twitter screengrab

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  • Show Comments
    1. Dear Ms Apple ,
      As you properly identify this type of ‘honest’ journalism has been non-existent since 2015 , but has remarkably resurfaced days following Sir Keir Starmer’s replacement of Jeremy Corbyn as Labour leader . ‘Root ‘n Branch’ reform of the BBC is required before this OAP ever resumes paying his license fee
      Derek

    2. “If the mainstream media hadn’t been so keen to ridicule Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour Party, it’s possible there would already be a party in power committed to tackling the massive inequality that was rife long before anyone had ever heard of Covid-19.” That would be the mainstream media in step with Keir Starmer and his fellow corporate lackeys in Labour – and the rest of the establishment, including the intelligence services of course. What I think we may well be hearing from the likes of Emily Maitland is the first tentative acknowledgement that this crisis has impacted on so many of us that the usual bullshit won’t wash anymore. Decades of ‘efficiency’ in the name of maximising profits and cutting costs has seen our political leaders, on behalf of their corporate masters, construct a global infrastructure the efficiency of which can be measured by the world’s most powerful country, the US, lacking, as it does, its own drug bank, being unable to access medical supplies and equipment because the efficiency of the market required their production to be outsourced to China, and now everyone wants them. How efficient does that look now? This is the global economic order that, until this moment, has been unquestionably supported by the BBC, to the extent that they were at the forefront of the campaign to discredit the man whose policies were the only policies seen in decades that came anywhere near to dealing with that same inequality which Emily Maitland has suddenly discovered is so unacceptable.

      I think the establishment is bracing itself for Britain’s reaction to this mess, locked down as it is right now. I think they’re very frightened.

    3. One moment of rare balance does not undo four years of lies and smears.
      Maitlis remains as much a Tory stooge as Marr, Kuenssberg and Neil.
      The BBC is and always has been the propaganda voice of the establishment, let’s not forget that in 1926 they blocked access to the radio to Labour M.P.s and trade union leaders who wished to bring to the nation’s attention the working conditions that had brought about the General Strike. The BBC is actively employed in undermining what we laughingly believe to be our democracy.

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