Killing trust

Anger after Reporting Scotland misrepresents First Minister’s Brexit comments

bbc_union_at_any_costAm I angry about the latest instance of blatant dishonesty from BBC Scotland? Of course I am! Not to be offended by lies is unnatural. And brazen falsehoods are very much worse when they are presented as news reporting by an organisation which purports to be the nation’s public service broadcaster. But, as much as I am outraged by such lies, I am also content that, in its arrogance, the BBC is surely destroying the very authority which makes it such a crucial component of the British state’s propaganda machinery.

That authority is inherited, rather than deserved. It is the fading echo of a time when the BBC enjoyed a thoroughly-earned reputation as the world’s foremost news-gathering organisation. That the BBC is trusted at all today is solely explained by the fact that it was so completely trusted for so much of the history of broadcasting. That trust was so profound, for so long, that it is ingrained in our culture. Confidence in the BBC’s news reporting is almost part of our DNA. It is actually difficult to destroy that kind of trust. But BBC is managing to do so.

Or, to be more accurate, it is being managed to do so. Because the culture of casual dishonesty that allows Reporting Scotland to so gratuitously misrepresent the First Minister’s words is entirely a consequence of incompetent management.

It is the management of a news organisation which is responsible for creating and maintaining the operational ethos. It is management which sets the standard. It is management which is charged with formulating and applying the framework of rules and guidance which keep the organisation true to its purpose. The management at BBC Scotland has failed. It has failed abysmally. It has failed in truly spectacular fashion.

Counterintuitively, this may be a good thing. Were this failure more subtle, there might be some doubt about it. It might be deniable. But the dishonesty has now become so brazen; the lies and distortions so transparent; the propagandising on behalf of the British state so audacious, that it cannot possibly be either dismissed or defended.

The BBC is destroying itself. Although this too will doubtless be blamed on Nicola Sturgeon and the SNP.

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