The Corbyn Russia BBC hat scandal just won’t go away. Viewers were shocked when BBC‘s Newsnight featured an image of Jeremy Corbyn standing in front of a red-tinted Russia-themed backdrop.
Wading into the fray
But then the BBC News press team waded into the fray with the following statement:
The photo was not altered. We often recycle backdrops when covering stories of a similar theme, in this case Russia, and will include an image of an individual if they are the focus of the story. Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson has also appeared over this backdrop previously.
— BBC News Press Team (@BBCNewsPR) March 17, 2018
Twitter users were unimpressed and quickly pointed out the significant difference between the Williamson and Corbyn framings:
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Some pointed out that there are plenty of images of Corbyn in a suit that could have been used instead:
Here's a pic of Corbyn in a suit, for next time. Like Gavin. pic.twitter.com/pYMBssPztK
— Mrs Gee #loveEurope #EUmeh (@earthygirl01) March 17, 2018
Another viewer pointed out that the BBC Newsnight acting editor directly contradicted the statement made by the BBC press team:
— Michael (@SuperMickyChow) March 17, 2018
In the interest of objectivity, some wondered if the BBC should apply the same logic to other political figures:
I don't think the BBC should apologise for the Corbyn Photoshop. I think they should have to Photoshop Theresa May with her hands dripping with the blood of 120,000 people during a discussion on austerity.
— heartbeeps (@hrtbps) March 17, 2018
— Alex Anderson (@AlexAnd13185976) March 18, 2018
It’s not about the hat
It was a particularly astute Newsnight viewer who drew attention to the real issue. It’s not about the hat. But it is about the very purpose of an objective news source:
The sad thing is it’s deeply unnecessary. The photoshopping is relatively minor, it’s the impression. It’s the message. It’s the effect. The BBC wants to be impartial, but just too much of its political coverage is tinged with pre-existing Tory bias.
— Congolesa “Fire @Jack” Rice (@judeinlondon2) March 17, 2018
One of the BBC’s public purposes is:
To provide impartial news and information to help people understand and engage with the world around them.
This image of Corbyn against a Russian backdrop is neither appropriate nor informative. The BBC provides a service to its viewers. It needs to stick to reporting the news and let the public make up its own mind.
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