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who knocked out Roger Federer. At ten o'clock, Sophie will be here
with a round-up of the day's news. First, it is time for Newswatch.
The contest to become our next Prime Minister has been full
of surprise, but has BBC News hyped the drama and forgotten
And with plenty of coverage of the battle to lead
the Labour Party too, is there a need for more
journalistic calm in these turbulent political days?
First though, it was 2.5 million words long, covered eight years
of government policy and was seven years in the writing, so it's no
surprise that Sir John Chilcot's report on the Iraq War occupied
a great deal of airtime on BBC News this week.
Opinions are strongly held about the conduct of Tony Blair
in the lead-up to the war and so were opinions
"The BBC News reporting before and after Chilcot's
statement was biased firmly towards the defenders
of the decisions taken before the Iraq war.
I am including the long defence by Blair himself,
But Richard Wright felt the opposite.
"Tony Blair did not act independently, but all the comments
Some of the comments of relatives of casualties were
To blame Tony Blair and only Tony Blair is wrong and unfair."
It is strange to think it was only two weeks ago that a majority
of British voters elected to leave the European Union.
Since then, the world of politics has barely drawn breath.
That has left reporters sometimes struggling to keep up with events
and it has given them other challenges as well.
I think the country requires fresh leadership to take it
David Cameron's announcement that he was standing down
as Prime Minister in the wake of the referendum triggered
a fortnight of further resignations, real and aborted leadership
challenges and, at times, a sense of political pandemonium.
# I've got the eye of the tiger, fire, dancing through the fire...
# 'Cos I am the champion and you're going to hear me roar...
That last treatment of the two candidates to become the next
Conservative leader irked Kate Cashmore, who wrote.
"I was aghast to see coverage of the May/Leadsom leadership
campaign broadcast to the sound of Katie Perry's hit single Roar.
I found it not only inappropriate, but horrendously
I very much doubt that if Michael Gove and Stephen Crabb
were still in the running, you would package up the story
to the tune of Justin Bieber or Kendrick Lamar."
But there have been wider concerns about how the BBC has
been covering politics during these turbulent times.
Here is Evan Davis chairing a Newsnight discussion at the end
of last week about that Tory leadership campaign.
Has it been edifying, are you impressed by
I mean, we all love the drama, the House of Cards stuff,
Well, I don't think anyone in the country
It's been like some kind of astonishing pantomime, frankly.
Viewer Sarah Senior took exception to a phrase of Evan Davis's there,
To suggest that we love the House of Cards drama and
intrigue of it all is a serious misjudgement of the attitude
He appeared to be hardly able to contain his joy as he described
the farcical infighting British politics has become.
Much of this sorry mess is down to the media,
although I had thought the BBC better than that.
Please, this is Newsnight, not Top Gear.
I expect a little more gravitas and a little less
The charge of hyping up and relishing the current political
dramas was also made by Chris Ward, who objected recently to multiple
repetitions of how Michael Gove is stabbing Boris Johnson
"Emotive language and treating political decision-making as theatre
will not help us come together as a united nation.
And it is not just reporting about the Conservatives,
Christine Beardmore e-mailed about the frankly hysterical
"The way Corbyn has been treated is disgusting.
The Six o'clock News close to watching bear-baiting."
So have BBC journalists been using inflammatory, over the top
language and been making drama out of a crisis?
Here is political correspondent Chris Mason speaking
So let's look at Labour first, because that story
For those on the centre ground of Labour politics,
it is a bit like bat the rat with the Labour left.
They had been batting away in the '80s trying to get rid
of the militant movement and Lord Kinnock felt he had been
And here, the left in the guise of Jeremy Corbyn and his supporters.
I suppose as you know very well, many Conservative MPs
were surprised, as the rest of us, by the way these events have turned
out and perhaps not quite made up their minds.
Some Conservative MPs would just, they found the process
There is a huge amount of anger over the behaviour of Michael Gove.
That Olympian act of school duggery really
Well, Chris Mason joins me now from Westminster.
Chris, thank you for coming on the programme.
With so many developments and twists and turns in British politics
recently, it must be quite hard to report when you really do not
It is very hard because in the last couple of weeks, it has felt
like political reporting only exists to make astrology seem respectable.
People are always asking me to predict what might happen next.
And to be honest, the honest and truthful answer at the moment
seems to revolve around saying, I simply don't know.
That is how astounding political times are at the moment.
Those of us paid to professionally observe it are frequently taken
Some reviewers have taken you to task, some of the language
Dealing with the Labour left is like a game of bat the rat.
Michael Gove's Olympian act of skulduggery.
Those sorts of phrases, apparently revelling
in the kind of chaos, actually not helpful
Look, I am going to plead guilty to a penchant for the occasional
On that, you definitely have me bang the rights.
On that, you definitely have me bang to rights.
That is partially because a lot of the time in reporting politics,
I am keenly aware, and this is what is so exceptional
about the current period, I am keenly aware that reporting
politics a lot of the time, in my view, does need to be told
very well otherwise there is a grave danger that a lot
I think that political journalists should firstly plead guilty
to the fact that we do find times like this exciting.
That phrase that I used last weekend I think it was about the game of bat
the rat that Labour sometimes feel they are playing,
that was reflecting on a conversation I had
had with a Labour MP, that was a phrase put to me
by a Labour MP which I then broadcast.
We have to be aware that when news is big and political news is big,
that is often because people are depending on their view excited
or worried and that should be reflected I think
But I don't think that should mean that we revert
We should continue to report in a way that it is as ear grabbing
I think what people are saying is when they hear this discussion
from correspondents about this excitement and drama,
that maybe you have forgotten since the EU referendum that a lot
of people are genuinely worried about the
I think that theatre is always going to be
And that theatre is part of what we have a responsibility to cover.
Whilst at the same time, asking probing questions about how
the next Prime Minister and her team will manage those negotiations out
We also have to be well aware that whilst there are a lot of people,
especially those who have voted Remain in the referendum
who are both angry and nervous about the future, there
are millions of people very excited about it as well.
Those who back Jeremy Corbyn say that he has a lot of support
out in the country at large and the media focus
on the Westminster bubble, where they say he does
not have much backing, and you're part of that Westminster
Yes, it is a really big challenge at Westminster.
Because the very nature of being a political correspondent
is you report on MPs at Westminster and you have a lot
And you have far less contact with ordinary party members.
The central element of the Labour story is the gulf between a lot
of Labour MPs and a lot of Labour party members, so we have
to be careful about that but, at the same time,
we would be failing in our duty if we were not reporting how
astonishing the current times are in the Labour Party.
I think it's fair to say that confidence in British politics has
Do you think political correspondents like yourself
have a role to play in rebuilding that confidence?
That is a really, really good question because what I am
struck by when I go home to the Yorkshire Dales and I talk
to my friends and family, frequently, a conversation goes
Chris, why on Earth do you want to work at Westminster
when there are those MPs with their snouts in the trough
and they all think the same thing and they have not got any principles
That is the gist of the kind of conversation I have.
And instinctively, I always defend politicians.
I think aspiring to be an elected politician is a noble calling,
A lot of them could earn a lot more doing something else.
All of them could have an easier life.
And so I am firmly of the view that, yes, we are paid to be
professionally sceptical, but we should never be cynical
about a politician's intentions and we should never easily
impugn their motive either, unless we can be certain
It is certainly not our job to encourage people to vote,
for people to decide of their own free will,
but I don't think we should be in the business of
Away from politics, there was another resignation this
week, that of Chris Evans from the newly relaunched Top Gear.
Some people felt there was too much attention given to this
given to this bombshell, but Dave Johns from
"For months, we had BBC News ramming Chris Evans down our throats,
now he leaves and we get a simple statement, how come BBC News are not
investigating the money Evans was paid and the loss to BBC
Worldwide from being able to sell this now unpopular series,
and how will the revenue drop affect other programme making?
So many questions to answer, but BBC News goes mute,
so clearly it was just a corporation stouge
Thank you for all your comments this week.
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