David Dimbleby highlighted Emily Maitlis’ comments about the BBC and described her Dominic Cummings monologue as an ‘argument’ during a scathing interview on the broadcaster’s Today programme.
The Question Time veteran and TV presenter, 83, said her monologue, which was found to have violated the BBC’s fairness rules, should have been worded as a question rather than a statement.
He pointed out that it’s not just Miss Maitlis who has been reprimanded by the broadcaster – but the entire Newsnight team.
During the controversial monologue, Ms Maitlis said in May 2020: ‘The country could see that Cummings broke the rules, which shocked the government it couldn’t.
‘The public mood was one of anger, contempt and suffering.’
Veteran question-and-answer host and TV presenter David Dimbleby, 83, said Emily Maitlis’ monologue about Dominic Cummings was an ‘argument’
Mr Dimbleby told the Today programme: ‘Well, not everyone can be shocked … maybe but it’s a question to ask.
‘It was a polemic. I think that is a mistake. ‘
Ms Maitlis’ comments followed the revelation that top 10 aide Dominic Cummings had traveled from London to Durham after testing positive for coronavirus, including a visit to the now famous Barnard Castle.
The Prime Minister backed Mr Cummings at the time, who later resigned in November 2020.
The BBC received more than 40,000 complaints in two days about the broadcast – both from those angry with her comments and those upset with the BBC’s decision to say it broke the rules.
Former Newsnight presenter Emily Maitlis told the Edinburgh audience: ‘It doesn’t make any sense for an admirable institution, known for its strict procedure – unless it can send a message of reassurance. directly to the government?’
Ms Maitlis, 51, who left the BBC this year to join media group Global, told the Edinburgh TV Festival this week that the company had ‘tried to appease’ No 10 by issuing an apology. ‘within hours”.
She asked if the BBC was ‘perhaps sending a message of reassurance directly to the Government.’
Focusing on the BBC’s speed of response, she said: ‘Why did the BBC immediately and publicly seek to confirm the Government spokesman’s opinion? Without any kind of procedure?
‘What does that mean for an admirable organization known for its strict procedures – unless it can send a message of reassurance directly to the Government?’
Mr Dimbleby also disagreed with Ms Maitlis’ comments, as well as statements made about BBC board member Sir Robbie Gibb, who she described as ‘former Downing Street shooting doctor, and is a former consultant to rival BBC GB News’.
He said: ‘I don’t think it’s right to have a bunch of Tory supporters at the BBC.’
He continued: ‘There will always be collisions with the government, and indeed with the opposition because they always try to lean on the BBC and sometimes the BBC is wrong. ”
‘It’s kind of political football, BBC. We have to believe that. ‘
Listeners quickly took to social media as the BBC’s war of words unfolded. Although some agree with Mr Dimbleby, many also support Ms Maitlis.
In her own speech in Edinburgh, BBC Content Director Charlotte Moore insisted there was ‘no influence from the Government or the board’ over the BBC over the decision to rebuke Maitlis.
She added: ‘As we have made clear previously in relation to Newsnight, we have not taken action due to any pressure from Number 10 or the Government and the other suggestion is false.’
Ms Moore said fairness was ‘particularly important to the BBC’, adding that she felt viewers expect it from the broadcaster, especially when it comes to politicians being held accountable. duty.
Ms Moore also said she wished all the senior staff who had left the BBC over the past year well and said the departure provided a great opportunity for new talent to take their place.
A BBC spokesperson previously said: ‘The BBC places the highest value on fairness and accuracy and we apply these principles to our reporting on all matters.
‘As we have made clear previously in relation to Newsnight, we have not taken action due to any pressure from Number 10 or the government and the other suggestion is false.
‘The BBC found the show violated its editorial standards and that decision remains in effect.’