28/04/2017 Newswatch


28/04/2017

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the bombing of two Kristian churches. A visit from me. First

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the bombing of two Kristian churches. A visit from me. First of

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churches. A visit from me. First of all,

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churches. A visit from me. First of all, he

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churches. A visit from me. First of all, he is

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churches. A visit from me. First of all, he is his

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churches. A visit from me. First of all, he is his watch.

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Hello.

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Welcome to Newswatch with me, Samira Ahmed.

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Viewers say they want policy information, not personal insults.

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But has the BBC's general election coverage already got

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mired in mudslinging - mostly against Jeremy Corbyn?

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And criticisms too about how both French presidential candidates have

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been described on air.

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Although the general election campaign still hasn't officially

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started, there was no doubt this week about where the focus

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of politicians and broadcasters lay.

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All the party leaders were out on the stump and facing questions

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on a wide variety of subjects.

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After some pressure on the issue, Tim Farron of the Liberal Democrats

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told the BBC's Eleanor Garnier that he did not believe

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gay sex was a sin.

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I was asked the question early on and I didn't want to get

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into a series of questions, unpicking the theology of the Bible.

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Isn't it just that it's your Christian belief

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and you didn't want to admit it?

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No, that's not the case.

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What I want is to make sure that we deal with something

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that's become an issue.

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So this is blatant electioneering?

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It's a sense of understanding that the question was asked to me

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a week ago, I don't think people want political party leaders telling

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them what is and isn't sin.

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Some viewers thought that line of questioning

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was excessive or inappropriate.

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Maureen Lancaster wrote, "The continual questioning

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and probing of Tim Farron about his beliefs over

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gay sex was intrusive, unneeded and irrelevant.

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He said he doesn't believe it is a sin and that's

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the end of the debate.

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But no, the questioner went on, and on, and on."

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And here's Kevin Steele.

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"The BBC's concentration on the private religious

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beliefs of the leader of the Liberal Democrats over

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a number of programmes, and within their website,

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is grossly unacceptable.

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I suspect if Tim Farron was a Muslim or a Jehovah's Witness, or a Jew,

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the BBC would not dream of asking the question, or even reporting it."

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Grace Dalton put it like this, when she rang us this week.

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I think it was very, very wrong that the BBC really

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was interrogating him and trying to pressurise him into

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answering a question that is not at all relevant

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to the current election campaign.

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His views on homosexuality have clearly not impacted his policies.

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He is absolutely not in favour of any person of any

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orientation, sexually, being discriminated against.

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So he should not be pressurised into saying something that conflicts

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with his personal beliefs.

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But most of our correspondence this week has been about the treatment

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of the Labour leader, Jeremy Corbyn.

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Last Friday, deputy political editor John Pienaar was on his tail.

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He stood by what is called the triple lock -

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pensions up every year by inflation, or average earnings, or 2.5%.

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Can Labour afford this, along with other promises?

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He hopes he can win this argument.

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Sorry, I'm not quite sure where I'm going.

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The use of that comment from Jeremy Corbyn was picked up

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by some viewers who considered it an example of an insidious tendency

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to snipe at the Labour leader.

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One anonymous caller left us this telephone message.

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You make it a cheap shot on Corbyn, just little drops, like "I don't

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know where I'm going."

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It's always seemingly undermining the person's direction.

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That's how I see it.

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Subtle things like that.

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You should avoid that, stereotypes that chip away

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a little bit at Corbyn.

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Well, BBC News was also getting out and about this week to hear views

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on Jeremy Corbyn from members of the public, several of them

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made their disapproval quite clear.

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As voters focus on choosing their next Prime Minister, some questioned

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the Labour leader's credibility.

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I usually vote Ukip.

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But I will vote Conservative.

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Rather than have that idiot, Jeremy Corbyn,

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I'll go for Theresa May.

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Like she says, he can only lead a political demonstration,

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but he can't lead his party.

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I've always been Labour, and stuff like that.

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But I can't, he just can't be trusted.

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He just seems like he doesn't know what he's doing.

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Well, David Atkinson, among many others, felt that

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Jeremy Corbyn is getting a rough deal from the BBC,

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leaving us this message.

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I've been disgusted to see that once again the BBC are allowing people

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to be interviewed who are calling Jeremy Corbyn an idiot.

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I can almost guarantee that nobody would be saying the same

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thing about Mrs May, or Mr Farron, or Mr Nuttall,

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any of the other leaders.

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It's absolutely disgraceful that the BBC are so anti-Corbyn.

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They should show him the respect they show Theresa May.

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It's no surprise that Jeremy Corbyn's political opponents

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are not holding back from the personal attacks either.

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On Thursday, the Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson unleashed his own -

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at the same time introducing many of us to a new term of abuse.

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In the Sun newspaper today, Boris Johnson launched a personal

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attack on the Labour leader, calling him a mutton-headed

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old mugwump who would be calamitous in Downing Street.

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Campaigning in Essex, Mr Corbyn said they were focused

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on serious debate, not name-calling.

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Well, a mugwump, in case you're wondering, is a mid-19th century

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word from the Algonquian for "great chief".

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But I think we can assume Mr Johnson meant it in its current sense

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of a person who remains aloof or independent, especially

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from party politics.

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Exercising Newswatch viewers though was the issue of whether BBC News

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made too much of that personal comment, thus playing

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into the Conservatives' agenda and trivialising the campaign.

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Joan Campbell thought it was the case of "Boris

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doesn't like Jeremy, so was calling him names

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in the playground.

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You have reached the gutter."

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Alistair Leavey asked more generally, "Why so many undermining

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comments about Corbyn?

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Theresa May is making the election of personality

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attacks, when it should be an election of government."

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Well, we plan to explore the BBC's election coverage

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with a representative of the news department in the coming weeks.

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But before we leave the subject for now, let's mention

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some complaints made about the corporation's

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social media coverage, a more significant aspect

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of its output than in any previous election.

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Last Thursday, the presenter of Radio 4's Today Programme,

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Nick Robinson, posted this on Twitter.

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"No-one should be surprised that Jeremy Corbyn is running

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versus the establishment and is long on passion and short on details.

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Story of his life."

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Some wondered whether the former BBC political editor had overstepped

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the bounds of impartiality, with Mark Robson responding,

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"If this is not fake news, but actually Robinson using his BBC

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account to insult Corbyn, it is really unprofessional."

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Nick Robinson responded to objections like that by writing

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the following on Facebook.

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"When I tweeted earlier that people shouldn't be surprised

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by Jeremy Corbyn's approach, as it was the story of his life,

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some read it as being pejorative and evidence

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of establishment sneering.

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I meant no such thing.

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My point was that the Labour leader is doing what he has done

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for decades, and what brought him huge unexpected success

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in his party, so no-one should expect him now

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to change his approach.

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I, on the other hand, will read my tweets twice to check

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they don't read as if I mean something I never intended."

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Meanwhile, the current BBC political editor, Laura Kuenssberg,

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also faced criticism after tweeting as follows on Monday.

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"Corbyn in Scotland today, May not on the stump.

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Seems Tory strategy this morning to let Labour

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stew in its own juice."

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Hugh Yeager was one of those objecting to that wording,

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commenting, "Balanced reporters say Theresa May hides while

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Jeremy Corbyn campaigns.

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Laura Kuenssberg's pro-Conservative comments personify bias at BBC."

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So, is there a danger of tweets like this from BBC journalists,

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with their requirement for brevity, infringing the corporation's

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guidelines on fairness and balance?

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We put that complaint to BBC News, who told us...

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"With her tweet, Laura Kuenssberg was simply making the point that

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because of the conflicting positions on Trident within the Labour Party,

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the Conservatives have made a conscious decision not to engage

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on the issue at that time."

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Do let us know your thoughts on the use of social media by BBC

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News, any aspect of the BBC's election coverage, or, indeed,

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anything that concerns you or delights you which you see

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on news bulletins, programmes or online.

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Stay tuned for details of how to get in touch with us.

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Now, of course, the battle for seats in Westminster is not the only

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election around at the moment.

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On Monday, Lucy Williamson reported from Paris

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following the first round of voting for France's new president.

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Two years ago, he was a new face in politics.

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In two weeks, he could be the new President of France.

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Last night, Emmanuel Macron arrived for his victory

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speech with his wife, Brigitte.

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24 years older than him, she was once his drama teacher.

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But one comment made there, and not infrequently

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elsewhere in the coverage, annoyed Margaret, who wondered,

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"Why was it felt necessary to mention that the French election

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winner Emmanuel Macron had a wife who was 24 years older than him?"

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Richard Spooner agreed, calling the reference ageist,

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sexist and certainly unacceptable.

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Going through to the run-off with Mr Macron is...

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Well, this is how Europe editor Katya Adler described

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her on Sunday night.

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Far-right Marine Le Pen, anti-immigration,

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anti-globalisation and anti-EU.

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Her presidential plan?

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France for the French.

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That first epithet caught the attention of James Williams,

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who e-mailed, "The media often use the term far-right to

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describe certain political figures and movements.

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Please could you define this term?

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What does it mean?"

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That's another question we may well return to Newswatch.

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But, in the meantime, one last comment about the BBC's

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coverage of the French election from John Trueman.

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"Can you please explain why the BBC repeatedly said the French

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election's first round was won by the two outsiders?

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Going into the final day, the two candidates who eventually

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went through to the second stage were actually first and second

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favourites with all the bookmakers.

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It seems sensationalist headlines are required at all times."

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This weekend marks 100 days of Donald Trump's presidency.

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And it's certainly been a busy and controversial start

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to his term in office.

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BBC News marked the anniversary this week with a number

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of reports and programmes, including a Panorama special

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confronted by Jeremy Paxman.

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And this raised again among viewers an argument we've had before,

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articulated here by Angela Merrick.

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"The BBC has consistently been rude and arrogant towards Trump

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since he won the election.

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The BBC does not like Trump and takes any and every opportunity

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to criticise and show Donald Trump in a very unfavourable light."

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Thanks for all your comments this week.

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If you to want to share your opinions on BBC News

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and current affairs, or even appear on the programme,

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you can call us on 0370 010 6676, or e-mail [email protected]

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You can find us on Twitter at @NewswatchBBC, and do

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have a look at our website, the address for that is

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bbc.co.uk/newswatch.

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And you can search for and watch previous discussions

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we've recorded there.

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That's all from us.

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

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coverage again next week.

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Goodbye.

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