18/11/2016 Newswatch


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found for her in the future. Now at ten o'clock Fiona Bruce will be here


with a round-up of today's news, but before that, Newswatch.


Hello, welcome to Newswatch with me, Samira Ahmed.


Interviewing the leader of the French Front National


on Remembrance Sunday, was that the right decision for


And in an item about road safety, should this BBC reporter have spoken


Last weekend's Andrew Marr Show, on BBC One, fell on Remembrance


Sunday and one of the guests caused quite a stir.


Before showing the interview with the President of


the Front National Party in France, Marine Le Pen, which had already


been recorded, Andrew Marr took on the criticism


Now I know this morning some people are offended and upset that I've


been to interview Marine Le Pen and that we're showing this


I understand that, but I would say this.


Le Pen could, under some circumstances, become the next


This week, in the immediate aftermath of the Trump victory,


she's declared that the whole world has changed and that her brand


In the end, we are a news programme and I don't think the best way


to honour the fallen is to fail to report on the next big challenge


Despite that defence, hundreds of viewers contacted


the BBC to voice their disapproval of the interview being broadcast.


The BBC has no place in offering this woman and her hateful views


a platform on its flagship political programme.


Le Pen and her party want to destroy all aspects of liberal democracy,


including tolerance, freedom of speech and freedom


of movement and these values are now under threat as never before,


The BBC should have used its editorial judgment to realise


that nothing and no-one was being served by offering


Le Pen, let me remind you, tried to sue for being called


a fascist in the French courts and lost.


When our very democracy itself seems under threat,


the BBC should not be fanning the flames of intolerance


TRANSLATION: Marine Le Pen being elected French President.


TRANSLATION: It's a global revolution.


I think it seemed a very respectful interview.


I mean, she was one of the sort of stars of that show almost.


She was built up, absurdly, she was given the oxygen


of publicity and, it seemed to me, a very respectful, very differential


interview and, to me, I didn't understand why


she was given a chance to air her views which are


Can Muslims be good French citizens and be welcome in


TRANSLATION: We're not going to welcome any more people.


That is not the question, I don't judge people


based on their religion, I'm not interested.


This was the one day of the year when we were supposed to remember,


respectfully, all those who gave their lives


fight fascism and here we were, on Sunday morning,


Remembrance Sunday, confronted with the sight of a woman


Lest we forget, I think Mr Marr forgot.


Well, the editor of the Andrew Marr Show, Rob Burley, is with me


Let's start with whether Marine Le Pen should have been


Well, we don't decide on the programme who is important,


in democracies voters decide who's important,


and in France, in the regional elections in 2015, Marine Le Pen's


In the opinion polls, ahead of the French presidency next


year, she's running first in many of them, with 30%.


When she last ran, she got six million votes.


So we don't decide that she's important, we interview people who,


because of their electoral success and relevance and potential in this


case to be the next French president, they are important


Whatever you think of their views, we don't make a judgment


on their views, if they're within the law, we do interview them


The timing, Remembrance Sunday, that's what a lot of people


I recognise that and I'm sorry people were upset by that


In the end, as Andrew said in the clip you showed,


the Andrew Marr Show is a news programme and the election


of Donald Trump on the previous Tuesday, had set a context


where things that had perhaps seemed unlikely,


his election, for example, and the election of Marine Le Pen


potentially as the French president, seem possible.


So, in that context, and I think the French Prime Minister has said


that her election as French president is possible.


We think it would have been wrong to try and to delay the airing


We're a news programme, we honoured Remembrance Sunday


We had a film about veterans and rehabilitation, we had


an interview with the Chief of the Defence Staff and we played


out with some music reflecting on the Somme.


So all of those things were in the programme,


but the programme on Remembrance Sunday has always included other


elements and, given what happened that week,


A lot of the complaints are actually about how


People felt she did not get challenged enough


and it was effectively a platform for her to spread her views?


I mean, Andrew Marr is not a Jeremy Paxman-style interviewer,


he has his own style, and, in that context,


he picked her up on her father's famous comments about the Holocaust,


he talked about Muslims in France, he talked about the funding


of the party by Russian money, and he talked about the dangers


of returning to the 30s, but also we chose to talk


about other things, which are really important,


if you consider she might be the next president of France,


namely Nato, the relationship with Vladimir Putin,


her attitude to the European Union, all of those things were really


important and we wanted to hear those as well and not every


interview with Marine Le Pen has to be the kind of definitive last


word on her attitudes on immigration and race.


It was right to raise them, we did that.


We had other things also on our agenda that we wanted to talk about.


But it was the most important issue arguably to talk to her


about and many people felt, - I mean, we saw that clip there,


where she was asked specifically whether law abiding Muslims


in France would be welcome under her presidency


and she completely ducked the question and said,


"we're not going to welcome any more.


Did not answer the question, was not picked up on it?


Well, I think people will judge whether what they think


of her and her attitude to Muslims in France and immigration and race


when she says - "stop, we're full up."


They may think that's evidence of an attitude towards those people.


We put the question, we put the question -


The point is, people are saying, if you support those views,


they felt that she's getting an easy ride and if you were concerned


about her views she wasn't challenged on them.


I don't accept that she wasn't challenged.


Andrew has a style where he wants people to express their views


and allow people to make a judgment, but he will challenge them.


He picked her up on a number of questions.


In fact, at times, she was unhappy and uncomfortable in the interview


and looked affronted at some of the questions


So I don't accept there wasn't challenge.


But this was not the definitive interview on her attitudes


That was in there, but there were other things


Vital things, if it's possible, as the Prime Minister of France


is saying this woman could become the President of France.


You're saying it's not the definitive interview,


but it's a very significant interview, it was


She seems to have been interviewed before any of the other French


So again viewers are asking, why was she on alone and why


It's not the first time she's been interviewed on the BBC


in recent times at all, she's done Newsnight at least twice


So we weren't doing something that hadn't been done before by BBC


outlets because of the reasons I outlined about her support.


On the question of the other candidates, Emmanuel Macron


was recently on the programme, in his role at that time


We have bids in for all of the other leader contenders for


You know, they don't all say yes, some others may yes,


Now, a few weeks ago, after a BBC News piece on the use


of mobile phones by drivers, we received complaints -


not for the first time - about the reporter speaking


We didn't have space to feature it then, but this week same


And the AA has also questioned the police commitment


Figures show that fixed penalty notices dropped from 30,000


to around 17,000 over the past two years.


But a number of viewers felt it was the BBC that deserved a fixed


penalty notice, and some of them recorded their


Incredibly and unbelievable journalist Duncan Kennedy was filmed


speaking to a camera positioned on his left while he was driving


which necessitated him taking his eyes off the road


People are being needlessly killed and maimed by such actions.


The BBC made a grave error of judgment in allowing this item


This could have caused a really bad accident.


In the clip, it referred to the lorry driver that killed four


people doing exactly the same type of thing.


The BBC should refrain from using these practices,


I've seen them done once or twice before, but on this clip to refer


to the crime and then do the crime, was hypocrisy.


Albeit it may have been a car park situation,


more chance of a person crossing the road in that situation


It's not OK to talk on the phone, but it's OK to talk into a camera!


Well, we put those point to BBC News, and they told us...


"The item was filmed in a quiet car park,


not a main road and no pedestrians were nearby.


I suspect you will, because since he left the BBC


and Top Gear last year, after he assaulted a member


of the production team, he and his colleagues have


been making a new car show for Amazon Prime,


called The Grand Tour, which has received a lot


of attention this week, not least on the BBC.


Last Sunday, Will Gompertz spoke to Mr Clarkson for the News at Ten,


and the interview was shown again on Breakfast on the News


And on Friday, the day The Grand Tour was released,


there were clips of the programme, and an interview, on Breakfast,


on top of features this week on other BBC outlets,


For Sheila McKenzie, it was all too much.


Thanks for all your comments this week.


If you want to share your opinions on BBC news and current affairs


or even appear on the programme, you can call us on 0370 010 6676


or e-mail newswatch @bbc.co.uk You can find us on Twitter


@newswatch bbc, and do have a look at our website,


the address for that is - bbc.co.uk/newswatch.


We'll be back to hear your thoughts about BBC News


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