I received this in response to my complaint about the appalling BBC interview where two young BNP members were allowed to promote racism under spurious terms. The interviewer possessed all the intellectual grit and rigour of the school playground when questioning them. I reiterate – this is not about free speech – there was no debate, there was barely any discussion, there was no representation from other viewpoints. What saddens me most is that the news editor doesn’t really understand what’s going on here, throws words around with out knowing their true meanings; moreover, doesn’t understand that this is the reintroduction of racism in new, “acceptable” terms, all in the name of controversial journalism. There is nothing controversial here – only stupidity.
Thanks very much for your complaint about our BNP interview – I note your comments. I thought it might be useful for you to understand our thinking editorially on this matter.
The BNP was given airtime because we’re an impartial newsgathering organisation. It’s our job to examine all political parties and put their representatives on the spot with fair and firm questioning. Impartial journalism and censorship do not sit happily together. We believe in getting the facts and the arguments out there for people to decide – not in judging what is “right” or “wrong” in a political context – that’s for you to do. The BNP are not an illegal party – they enjoy electoral support and have elected representatives. It is the BBC’s job to properly examine all legitimate political parties that operate within the law and for which people clearly vote.
This may surprise you, but a great many texts we received yesterday – were broadly supportive of the BNP. Over time it’s evident from following our listeners that the party touches a nerve of support or interest. The large pile of texts on my desk raise issues around immigration, political correctness and an apparent frustration with mainstream politics that means the BNP, or at least some of their policies, appeals to some people. It’s also clear that not much is known about the party’s policies beyond immigration and race which is something we were keen to explore – and did.
We put to Nick Griffin some of the texts we received including sentiments as tough as “you’re a disgrace” and “how do you sleep at night?”. Debbie Randle’s handling of the interview was extremely rigorous and the bulk of the tough questions she asked were inspired by or directly quoted listeners themselves.
I hope you will understand that one of purposes of journalism in a democratic society is to explore and question – raising at times subjects some may find distasteful or shocking.
Thanks again for taking the time and trouble to contact us.
BBC Radio 1 Newsbeat – 1Xtra News