03/02/2017 Newswatch


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Welcome to Newswatch. Later on the programme: This man was on our


screens again this week. Is the BBC giving Nigel garage too much air


time? Was coverage of the new US administration's travel ban balanced


and impartial, or did it pander to a growing anti-tromp hysteria? --


Nigel Farage. The Prime Minister's visit the US at


the end of last week to meet President Trump was the subject of


considerable media analysis. Not least the moment when the two


appeared briefly holding hands. But some people were more exercised by a


question put at a news by the BBC's correspondent.


You said before that torture works, you've praised Russia, you said you


wanted to ban some Muslims from coming to America, you've suggested


there should be punishment for abortion. For many people in Britain


those sound like alarming beliefs. What do you say to our viewers at


home who are worried about some of your views and worried about you


becoming the leader of the free world? That was your choice of a


question? There goes that relationship. So, did one question


from a reporter had the potential to damage the special relationship?


Some thought it might have done and that our correspondent needed


lessons in diplomacy. Here is Donovan Chapel... I was left


guessing at the motives of asking such a provocative question to


somebody so easily provoked as Donald Trump. -- Jonathan Chapel.


Was it to undermine the relationship of the two leaders? Or was it the


BBC trying to make the news rather than report it? Or was the


correspondent showboating her question skills? Whatever the


motives, asking that question to Donald Trump in that forum lacked


emotional intelligence. Had Donald Trump taken offence to the question


it could have had an impact on the future prosperity of the UK economy


as a whole. The BBC and Laura Chris Burke are in a privileged position


to be able to ask questions at press conferences like this. -- Laura


Kuensberg. Don't abuse the privilege. Coverage of Donald


Trump's presidency continued to exercise Newswatch view was, in


particular the BBC's reporting of the petition against Donald Trump


making a state visit to Britain. Add the ban of seven countries' visitors


to the US. -- and the ban. The list of countries was originally drawn up


by the Obama administration. It wasn't invented by tram. Many Muslim


countries themselves pose a travel ban on the citizens of many


countries, including UK citizens, simply because they have visited


Israel. There has been little evidence of fare on biased reporting


showing both sides of the story. It isn't anti-Muslim, it is


anti-terrorist. But reporters keep trying to push this question into


the face of anyone they can to get an impact from viewers.


On Monday's BBC News, apart from the briefest of interviews with three


people on Staten Island who had not been outraged by this band, no


interviews were made about the many people in the US who are not


outraged by this executive order. -- ban. This petition is open to


fraudulent signatures. Many people are not outraged and haven't signed


this. The problem is that those who are not outraged are not deemed to


be covered by the BBC. Donald Trump's claims about fake


news and the media can only gain credibility if responsible news


organisations like the BBC fail to give our unbiased, accurate and


honest news reporting, or fair and balanced debates and discussions.


That debate will continue. There was one BBC programme that had a clear


defence of President Trump's travel ban, Sunday Politics, and the guest


was Nigel Farage. Andrew Neil began by asking him if he agreed with the


President's decision to ban Syrian refugees indefinitely from entering


the United States. There are several countries on that list. He's


entitled to this. I didn't ask you if he was entitled. But isn't my


point. I ask if you agreed to stop I do. If you look at what is happening


in France and Germany. If you look at Angela Merkel's policy on this,


which was to allow anybody from anywhere in, look at what it has led


to. The former leader of Ukip went on to decide his views on


immigration and on the government process on leaving the EU. The


interview produced a strong reaction from viewers, many of whom have


objected before about the frequency of his appearances on BBC news


bulletins and programmes such as question Time. Two viewers reported


their thoughts on camera. -- Question Time. This isn't a balance.


This is a platform. His constant appearances on radio as well as the


BBC iPlayer to contribution in anti-immigrant sentiment in this


country that has happened in the last few years. I think it's time


the BBC recognised that Nigel Farage isn't just some politician that you


wheel on to give a microphone into when people say nice things about


refugees, he is a rallying point. -- give a microphone to.


He is treated as good box office. Photographs of him in pubs. Hugely


disproportionate access to other political programmes on the BBC. By


doing so and by not challenging him. Partly because he was treated in the


first place as light entertainment and good box office, they have


helped him to put things, without challenge, that actually affected


the whole way the debate moved. This happened from the very beginning.


It's only in the last two years he has started to be challenged. And by


that time the normalisation had happened. Why did you have Nigel


Farage on the programme? The main stories worm Theresa May's visit to


Washington and a subsequent story which has dominated the headlines


this week over Donald Trump's travel ban. The other big story of the week


was on Brexit and the Commons debate about the passage of Article 50.


Those were the big stories. Nigel Farage was a guest and an


appropriate guest on both of those stories. He was the first British


politician to meet Donald Trump after his election. And he was a


massive player in the referendum campaign. A lot of you say he isn't


Ukip leader now and he may not be as close to Trump as he claims to be.


We regularly on the BBC invite former politicians onto our


programmes. Former leaders. Ed Miliband was on the BBC this week,


for example, Nick Clegg is a regular guest on our programmes. It isn't


unusual that we should invite somebody onto the programme who is


not currently leader of their party. But they are both MPs. Nigel Farage


has never been an MP. He is an MEP. He was elected such. He is also


leader of his party's political group in the European Parliament. He


is still a person of some influence. A lot of viewers say he is easy


ratings and always has been. You know when you invite him on he will


say something controversial. He represents a strand of political


thinking in the UK. There is no doubt about that. As party leader he


had a track record of political success. So, for example, his party


came first in the European elections in 2014. The general election in


2015, the party in the popular vote came third. This is someone... We


are not able to exclude him from our programmes. He has a track record of


electoral success. And he does represent a strand of political


thinking in British politics. Many people do find what he says


offensive. Particularly as we heard in those of your comments. His


comments on immigration in the current climate, people feel he has


stirred up anti-immigrant sentiment. Do you think it is responsible to


have him up? Not everybody will like what he says. We will get people on


our programmes some people will disagree with. It isn't just that


they disagree, it is whether it is responsible when some people feel


there is a growing climate of tension around immigration and the


BBC chooses to have someone viewers feel have views that are staring up


anti-immigrant sentiment. We can't be involved in making value


judgments about politicians. Ethical judgments. They can't. Not when they


come from a major party. Ukip is a major party, there is no doubt about


that. We can't be making value judgments about whether what they


have got to say is morally dubious. That isn't our role. We are an


impartial broadcaster. There was no evidence Nigel Farage has said


anything illegal. That's never been a risk. He shouldn't be treated any


differently than any other politician from the other major


parties in the UK. You work on Sunday Politics And Daily Politics.


A lot of viewers were concerned about how often he is invited onto


BBC programmes, including Question Time. Using the BBC has him on too


often? He has on a radio programme, as well. It is only the second time


he has been on Daily Politics. I think he has made half a dozen


appearances either as part of a panel or part of discussions on BBC


television over the past six months. I don't think that is too great a


number. On our programmes, of course, Andrew Neil is a robust


interviewer. We always want politicians of the highest calibre


from whatever political party. Thanks very much.


And thanks to all of you who recorded or send us your views on


this this week. Your opinions could feature on next


week's programme. You can contact us:


You can watch previous discussions on our website, as well. That is all


from us. We will be back to hear your thoughts about BBC News


coverage again next week. Goodbye.


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