I was bureau chief for the BBC in Baghdad between 2004-09, & I want to say something to the people knocking the BBC; but as an "unashamed" #Remainer, I want to say some things to the #BBC too (Thread 1/
I left the BBC in 2014 after a 25 year career. It was the only UK news organisation to maintain a presence in #Iraq for the entire period of Britain's involvement. I'm not citing myself as an outstanding exemplar of #BBC journalism... 2/12
But to give you an idea of the lengths we would go to, in 2006 when the Askari Shrine in Samara was blown up, & the de facto civil war began in earnest, we were lied to by the authorities about the numbers of dead... 3/12
So we risked our lives to travel through militia checkpoints across a locked-down city and went to the morgue, and there I counted the bodies (many, many more than we were being told). We did not do a perfect job in Iraq, but in great danger & at a very high personal cost 4/12
for many of us we told the story as fairly and accurately as it was possible to do. BBC journalists like @sommervilletv do this all the time, all around the world. Reporters like @kirbyej give you angles & insights behind the headlines that you just don't get elsewhere 5/12
But the BBC DOES have a problem... Balance. When you have people of good will and good intent discussing an issue from different sides, this is a GOOD THING (to quote 1066 and all that) - tell both sides, and let the audience decide... 6/12
Where it breaks down, though, is where you have malicious people who have no interest in telling the truth, and who in fact set out to deceive. Lets call one such person Donald Trump, and another Boris Johnson, just to pick two names at random... 7/12
When you apply Balance to people like this, & to subjects like #Brexit, #climatechange #Holocaust Denial, etc, you don't get balanced reporting, you get a confused "He said this, but she said that" narrative that gives false equivalence to a pack of lies and the Truth... 8/12
The Truth is NOT the mid point between Good and Evil. The BBC also has specific problems on specific programmes. @bbcquestiontime has become a joke, giving far too much prominence to extreme views, and subjecting us to @Nigel_Farage suspiciously often. 9/12
@BBCr4today too is a problem - as many current #BBC journalists admit to me privately. John Humphrys is widely perceived by Remainers to be biased, & he doesn't help himself in this regard when he uses works like "unashamed" (why should we be ashamed?) re Remainers... 10/12
@BBCr4today is losing listeners at an alarming rate, and while the BBC blames a quieter news agenda compared with last year, this stretches credulity beyond breaking. Current BBC staffers have told me of a "climate of fear", instructions "handed down from on high"... 11/12
& editorial meetings where "alternative takes are frowned on". #Brexit and #Trump are diffrent sides to the same phenomenon.. an attack by unscrupulous liars on liberal democracy & its values. This is the biggest test for the BBC since WW2, & so far it's not going well. 12/12

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