A BBC journalist has been forced to issue a half-hearted correction after literally ‘making up’ a quote from an SNP MP. And the politician in question told The Canary that the journalist’s actions are completely “unethical”.
An awful blether
On 22 February, East Dunbartonshire MP John Nicolson spoke to BBC Scotland Editor Sarah Smith. They were discussing the scrapping of a planned news programme that was specifically for Scotland. And also the BBC’s decision to instead launch a new digital channel and hour-long, Scotland-specific news programme at 9pm.
At the time, BBC Scotland Business and Economy Editor Douglas Fraser tweeted about Nicolson’s interview with Smith:
New BBC Scot TV channel: News at 9: 80 new jobs@MrJohnNicolson SNP:
"missed opportunity not to have ScotSix: new channel shd replace BBC1"
— Douglas Fraser (@BBCDouglasF) February 22, 2017
One and a half hours later, Nicolson said Fraser had misquoted him:
I didn't suggest that it should replace BBC 1 nor do I think it should.
— JOHN NICOLSON (@MrJohnNicolson) February 22, 2017
And a day later, Nicolson again tweeted:
Hi Douglas. This tweet has been up for a day. Can you correct? The quote is inaccurate. Didn't say nor think BBC1 should be replaced. J https://t.co/IytXyqqzg9
— JOHN NICOLSON (@MrJohnNicolson) February 23, 2017
It took Fraser over seven days to respond. He tweeted on 1 March:
— Douglas Fraser (@BBCDouglasF) March 1, 2017
But Fraser did not seem to want to apologise nor retract his misquote. Even though he had essentially admitted inventing Nicolson’s opinion. The SNP MP said that Fraser had “no need” to apologise.
Nicolson told The Canary:
I welcomed the new BBC Scotland channel, the investment and jobs. I did not say – nor do I think – it should replace BBC One. Douglas Fraser misrepresented my views. The quote used by him was invented as the BBC transcript clearly shows.
It’s obviously unethical for any journalist to make up quotes and I cannot understand why Mr Fraser is refusing to publish a retraction.
And the SNP MP should be well aware of how journalists are meant to conduct themselves, as he is a former presenter of BBC Breakfast. So maybe Nicolson should start giving tips to BBC reporters. As he seems to have a lot more scruples than most of them.
This article was updated at 9.30pm on Thursday 2 March, to reflect an error. It had previously stated that Nicolson was interviewed by Fraser. This was incorrect; he was actually interviewed by Sarah Smith.
– Read more from The Canary on the BBC.
– Support The Canary.
We need your help to keep speaking the truth
Every story that you have come to us with; each injustice you have asked us to investigate; every campaign we have fought; each of your unheard voices we amplified; we do this for you. We are making a difference on your behalf.
Our fight is your fight. You’ve supported our collective struggle every time you gave us a like; and every time you shared our work across social media. Now we need you to support us with a monthly donation.
We have published nearly 2,000 articles and over 50 films in 2021. And we want to do this and more in 2022 but we don’t have enough money to go on at this pace. So, if you value our work and want us to continue then please join us and be part of The Canary family.
In return, you get:
* Advert free reading experience
* Quarterly group video call with the Editor-in-Chief
* Behind the scenes monthly e-newsletter
* 20% discount in our shop
Almost all of our spending goes to the people who make The Canary’s content. So your contribution directly supports our writers and enables us to continue to do what we do: speaking truth, powered by you. We have weathered many attempts to shut us down and silence our vital opposition to an increasingly fascist government and right-wing mainstream media.
With your help we can continue:
* Holding political and state power to account
* Advocating for the people the system marginalises
* Being a media outlet that upholds the highest standards
* Campaigning on the issues others won’t
* Putting your lives central to everything we do
We are a drop of truth in an ocean of deceit. But we can’t do this without your support. So please, can you help us continue the fight?