The media watchdog Ofcom has given ITV an effective scolding over an interview with Nicola Sturgeon. The regulator said that ITV‘s flagship daytime news programme, Good Morning Britain (GMB), breached both accuracy guidelines and rules surrounding apologies. But the GMB interview with Sturgeon was actually pretty dire.
ITV: sorry, what…?
As the National reported, on Friday 8 June Sturgeon was interviewed on GMB by hosts Ben Shephard and Kate Garraway. In it, Shephard accused Sturgeon and the SNP-led Scottish government of planning to put in place “austerity policies” and “years of tight public spending” if Scotland won another independence referendum. He also accused Sturgeon of “huge hypocrisy” because she criticised the Tories’ austerity policies.
Sturgeon tried to correct Shephard:
Ben it’s quite – well if I was saying any of that, you would have a point. I concede that. But the report you’ve just – well I was going to say quoted from, you clearly haven’t quoted from it –
Shephard interrupted her, as Ofcom noted ‘holding up and pointing at the piece of paper he had been reading from’:
I have, I’ve quoted from it here.
This exchange between Shephard and Sturgeon continued, with Garraway now getting involved. Sturgeon repeatedly denied their accusations; saying that it was not what the report they claimed to have read said. But Garraway kept pushing, saying:
But answer my question [Ofcom emphasis]. Just so we can clear it up. There would be no austerity post-Scottish independence and those people that say it would be are wrong
Unfortunately for GMB, Shephard and Garraway – they were all wrong.
Because what GMB was using as the source for the hosts’ accusations was not the SNP report. It was an analysis of that report by the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS). And what Shephard was reading was the GMB editorial team’s notes.
Ofcom was particularly scathing in its response. It said:
We recognised that Ms Sturgeon sought to correct the inaccuracy on a number of occasions during the interview. However, in each case, her correction was either dismissed or ignored by the presenters… We also considered his [Shephard’s] physical actions (holding up the paper he had been reading from) served to reinforce the inaccuracy… Later, when Ms Sturgeon said ‘the report does not say what you said’, Ms Garraway interrupted and told her to ‘answer my question’.
ITV said [pdf, p10] of the incident:
On 8 June we interviewed… Sturgeon, during which we suggested to her that the SNP’s Sustainable Growth Commission Report had said austerity measures would be required in the event of Scottish independence. In fact, the quote that we put to the First Minister was a summary of a critique of the Commission Report made by the Institute of Fiscal Studies, and not a quote from the Commission Report itself. We apologise for this error and for any confusion caused.
But the incident will do little to improve the perception that the mainstream media is indeed biased against the SNP and Scottish independence.
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