There has been an outpouring of support for Emily Maitlis after the BBC accused her of breaching impartiality laws.
Last May, the Newsnight presenter opened the show with a monologue which stated: “Dominic Cummings broke the rules” after the former chief adviser to Boris Johnson’s controversial Barnard Castle trip at the height of lockdown.
“The country can see that, and it’s shocked the government cannot,” she added.
The BBC swiftly issued a statement saying the introduction “did not meet our standards of due impartiality” – an allegation Maitlis has since rejected.
Asked if she regretted the incident, Maitlis told Press Gazette: “No, I don’t. It hasn’t ever been explained to me what was journalistically inaccurate about that.”
“The call from Downing Street came in, and within a four-hour window an apology was given,” she said.
“I think, whilst you always welcome critical friends or constructive criticism, one of the oldest journalistic questions is: Cui bono? Who stands to gain?
“And I think one of the most important things we can do is say, ‘Where are those accusations coming from?’
Emily Maitlis: “I think one of the scariest things for me during the pandemic, if I’m honest, is when we had senior politicians of all stripes saying, ‘Now is not the time to ask this.’ Or, ‘Now is not the time to raise questions about this.’” https://t.co/8HbMwsm5bs— Press Gazette (@pressgazette) July 22, 2021
“Driving their own agenda”
“If people shout ‘fake news’, or if they shout ‘no impartiality’, you look and you see if it’s coming from someone with the programme’s best [interests] at heart. Or, is it somebody who is driving their own agenda.
“And I think it pays to be particularly curious and particularly dispassionate about these things. Because otherwise we lose something really important. Which is editorial independence.
“If it’s coming from a spin doctor at No 10, or if it’s coming from a rival in the media, or if it’s coming from somewhere that perhaps wants to make its own point and shut down others, then I don’t think we’d call that impartiality. We’d call that agenda-driven points scoring.”
Maitlis has received an outpouring of support on social media.
Here’s what people had to say:
Dawn Butler to Emily Maitlis.— Nina de Ayala Parker (@NinaParker) July 24, 2021
Women speaking truth to power will save this country. https://t.co/0jOg0j6Mfd
My political heroes this week ; Dawn Butler , Ian Blackford , Ursula von der Leyen and Emily Maitlis … all for different reasons but they have one thing in common …. Integrity . Lacking in [email protected] and his Cronies #JohnsonLies #ToryLiars #StandwithDawn— Gary James ? ??? #FBPE , 3.5% ,#BLM (@GJSSONGWRITER) July 24, 2021
A journalist calling out the BBC. Much respect to Emily Maitlis? “That’s what we do on Newsnight. We analyse. We interrogate. We investigate. We’re not a public announcement tannoy. That’s not our job.”? https://t.co/LTrFFWamQA— Maureen Flood ???????? (@mofl00d) July 23, 2021
Good on Emily @maitlis for standing up for good honest holding truth to power journalism // Emily Maitlis rejects ‘impartiality breach’ rebukes and warns BBC over caving in to Downing Street https://t.co/kDXWEfjmV7— Primal Scream (@ScreamOfficial) July 23, 2021
Rare courage & integrity from @maitlis. We are lucky to have her. https://t.co/S0bvH13h1r— James O’Brien (@mrjamesob) July 23, 2021
“If it’s coming from a spin doctor at No 10 then I don’t think we’d call that impartiality”.— Sam Bright (@WritesBright) July 23, 2021
Top quality from Emily Maitlis.
BBC journalism shouldn’t be policed by the government. At that point it’s just propaganda https://t.co/hIJD5JxiJx
Always worth resharing.— David Paisley (@DavidPaisley) July 23, 2021
Emily Maitlis was right then, she’s right now, and should never have faced censure for it.
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