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Welcome to Newswatch with me, Samira Ahmed.
Viewers say they want policy information, not personal insults.
But has the BBC's general election coverage already got
mired in mudslinging - mostly against Jeremy Corbyn?
And criticisms too about how both French presidential candidates have
been described on air.
Although the general election campaign still hasn't officially
started, there was no doubt this week about where the focus
of politicians and broadcasters lay.
All the party leaders were out on the stump and facing questions
on a wide variety of subjects.
After some pressure on the issue, Tim Farron of the Liberal Democrats
told the BBC's Eleanor Garnier that he did not believe
gay sex was a sin.
I was asked the question early on and I didn't want to get
into a series of questions, unpicking the theology of the Bible.
Isn't it just that it's your Christian belief
and you didn't want to admit it?
No, that's not the case.
What I want is to make sure that we deal with something
that's become an issue.
So this is blatant electioneering?
It's a sense of understanding that the question was asked to me
a week ago, I don't think people want political party leaders telling
them what is and isn't sin.
Some viewers thought that line of questioning
was excessive or inappropriate.
Maureen Lancaster wrote, "The continual questioning
and probing of Tim Farron about his beliefs over
gay sex was intrusive, unneeded and irrelevant.
He said he doesn't believe it is a sin and that's
the end of the debate.
But no, the questioner went on, and on, and on."
And here's Kevin Steele.
"The BBC's concentration on the private religious
beliefs of the leader of the Liberal Democrats over
a number of programmes, and within their website,
is grossly unacceptable.
I suspect if Tim Farron was a Muslim or a Jehovah's Witness, or a Jew,
the BBC would not dream of asking the question, or even reporting it."
Grace Dalton put it like this, when she rang us this week.
I think it was very, very wrong that the BBC really
was interrogating him and trying to pressurise him into
answering a question that is not at all relevant
to the current election campaign.
His views on homosexuality have clearly not impacted his policies.
He is absolutely not in favour of any person of any
orientation, sexually, being discriminated against.
So he should not be pressurised into saying something that conflicts
with his personal beliefs.
But most of our correspondence this week has been about the treatment
of the Labour leader, Jeremy Corbyn.
Last Friday, deputy political editor John Pienaar was on his tail.
He stood by what is called the triple lock -
pensions up every year by inflation, or average earnings, or 2.5%.
Can Labour afford this, along with other promises?
He hopes he can win this argument.
Sorry, I'm not quite sure where I'm going.
The use of that comment from Jeremy Corbyn was picked up
by some viewers who considered it an example of an insidious tendency
to snipe at the Labour leader.
One anonymous caller left us this telephone message.
You make it a cheap shot on Corbyn, just little drops, like "I don't
know where I'm going."
It's always seemingly undermining the person's direction.
That's how I see it.
Subtle things like that.
You should avoid that, stereotypes that chip away
a little bit at Corbyn.
Well, BBC News was also getting out and about this week to hear views
on Jeremy Corbyn from members of the public, several of them
made their disapproval quite clear.
As voters focus on choosing their next Prime Minister, some questioned
the Labour leader's credibility.
I usually vote Ukip.
But I will vote Conservative.
Rather than have that idiot, Jeremy Corbyn,
I'll go for Theresa May.
Like she says, he can only lead a political demonstration,
but he can't lead his party.
I've always been Labour, and stuff like that.
But I can't, he just can't be trusted.
He just seems like he doesn't know what he's doing.
Well, David Atkinson, among many others, felt that
Jeremy Corbyn is getting a rough deal from the BBC,
leaving us this message.
I've been disgusted to see that once again the BBC are allowing people
to be interviewed who are calling Jeremy Corbyn an idiot.
I can almost guarantee that nobody would be saying the same
thing about Mrs May, or Mr Farron, or Mr Nuttall,
any of the other leaders.
It's absolutely disgraceful that the BBC are so anti-Corbyn.
They should show him the respect they show Theresa May.
It's no surprise that Jeremy Corbyn's political opponents
are not holding back from the personal attacks either.
On Thursday, the Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson unleashed his own -
at the same time introducing many of us to a new term of abuse.
In the Sun newspaper today, Boris Johnson launched a personal
attack on the Labour leader, calling him a mutton-headed
old mugwump who would be calamitous in Downing Street.
Campaigning in Essex, Mr Corbyn said they were focused
on serious debate, not name-calling.
Well, a mugwump, in case you're wondering, is a mid-19th century
word from the Algonquian for "great chief".
But I think we can assume Mr Johnson meant it in its current sense
of a person who remains aloof or independent, especially
from party politics.
Exercising Newswatch viewers though was the issue of whether BBC News
made too much of that personal comment, thus playing
into the Conservatives' agenda and trivialising the campaign.
Joan Campbell thought it was the case of "Boris
doesn't like Jeremy, so was calling him names
in the playground.
You have reached the gutter."
Alistair Leavey asked more generally, "Why so many undermining
comments about Corbyn?
Theresa May is making the election of personality
attacks, when it should be an election of government."
Well, we plan to explore the BBC's election coverage
with a representative of the news department in the coming weeks.
But before we leave the subject for now, let's mention
some complaints made about the corporation's
social media coverage, a more significant aspect
of its output than in any previous election.
Last Thursday, the presenter of Radio 4's Today Programme,
Nick Robinson, posted this on Twitter.
"No-one should be surprised that Jeremy Corbyn is running
versus the establishment and is long on passion and short on details.
Story of his life."
Some wondered whether the former BBC political editor had overstepped
the bounds of impartiality, with Mark Robson responding,
"If this is not fake news, but actually Robinson using his BBC
account to insult Corbyn, it is really unprofessional."
Nick Robinson responded to objections like that by writing
the following on Facebook.
"When I tweeted earlier that people shouldn't be surprised
by Jeremy Corbyn's approach, as it was the story of his life,
some read it as being pejorative and evidence
of establishment sneering.
I meant no such thing.
My point was that the Labour leader is doing what he has done
for decades, and what brought him huge unexpected success
in his party, so no-one should expect him now
to change his approach.
I, on the other hand, will read my tweets twice to check
they don't read as if I mean something I never intended."
Meanwhile, the current BBC political editor, Laura Kuenssberg,
also faced criticism after tweeting as follows on Monday.
"Corbyn in Scotland today, May not on the stump.
Seems Tory strategy this morning to let Labour
stew in its own juice."
Hugh Yeager was one of those objecting to that wording,
commenting, "Balanced reporters say Theresa May hides while
Jeremy Corbyn campaigns.
Laura Kuenssberg's pro-Conservative comments personify bias at BBC."
So, is there a danger of tweets like this from BBC journalists,
with their requirement for brevity, infringing the corporation's
guidelines on fairness and balance?
We put that complaint to BBC News, who told us...
"With her tweet, Laura Kuenssberg was simply making the point that
because of the conflicting positions on Trident within the Labour Party,
the Conservatives have made a conscious decision not to engage
on the issue at that time."
Do let us know your thoughts on the use of social media by BBC
News, any aspect of the BBC's election coverage, or, indeed,
anything that concerns you or delights you which you see
on news bulletins, programmes or online.
Stay tuned for details of how to get in touch with us.
Now, of course, the battle for seats in Westminster is not the only
election around at the moment.
On Monday, Lucy Williamson reported from Paris
following the first round of voting for France's new president.
Two years ago, he was a new face in politics.
In two weeks, he could be the new President of France.
Last night, Emmanuel Macron arrived for his victory
speech with his wife, Brigitte.
24 years older than him, she was once his drama teacher.
But one comment made there, and not infrequently
elsewhere in the coverage, annoyed Margaret, who wondered,
"Why was it felt necessary to mention that the French election
winner Emmanuel Macron had a wife who was 24 years older than him?"
Richard Spooner agreed, calling the reference ageist,
sexist and certainly unacceptable.
Going through to the run-off with Mr Macron is...
Well, this is how Europe editor Katya Adler described
her on Sunday night.
Far-right Marine Le Pen, anti-immigration,
anti-globalisation and anti-EU.
Her presidential plan?
France for the French.
That first epithet caught the attention of James Williams,
who e-mailed, "The media often use the term far-right to
describe certain political figures and movements.
Please could you define this term?
What does it mean?"
That's another question we may well return to Newswatch.
But, in the meantime, one last comment about the BBC's
coverage of the French election from John Trueman.
"Can you please explain why the BBC repeatedly said the French
election's first round was won by the two outsiders?
Going into the final day, the two candidates who eventually
went through to the second stage were actually first and second
favourites with all the bookmakers.
It seems sensationalist headlines are required at all times."
This weekend marks 100 days of Donald Trump's presidency.
And it's certainly been a busy and controversial start
to his term in office.
BBC News marked the anniversary this week with a number
of reports and programmes, including a Panorama special
confronted by Jeremy Paxman.
And this raised again among viewers an argument we've had before,
articulated here by Angela Merrick.
"The BBC has consistently been rude and arrogant towards Trump
since he won the election.
The BBC does not like Trump and takes any and every opportunity
to criticise and show Donald Trump in a very unfavourable light."
Thanks for all your comments this week.
If you to 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 [email protected]
You can find us on Twitter at @NewswatchBBC, and do
have a look at our website, the address for that is
And you can search for and watch previous discussions
we've recorded there.
That's all from us.
We'll be back to hear your thoughts about BBC News
coverage again next week.