BBC’s Response To Promoting Racism

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.

Yours sincerely

Rod McKenzie
BBC Radio 1 Newsbeat – 1Xtra News

I’ve not got time to pull apart his response in detail. I’ll just throw up some interesting links here.

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About Mark Newton

Born in 1981, live in the UK. I write about strange things.


  1. ffs. They were not tough questions, it was pathetic. It was an opportunity for the BNP to spout their brand of shit unchallenged and it’s appalling. A tough interview would have demonstrated how unreasonable some of their views are. Anyway, I could carry on but it would just be ranting. Glad you highlighted this, reminds me why it’s important to vote, if only to keep them out.

  2. How depressing that BBC’s response reminds me a bit of Fox News over here (which is itself an appalling entertainment channel; it is not news).

  3. hagelrat – indeed. There’s a very good rant here: http://leninology.blogspot.com/2009/10/bbc-is-promoting-bnp.html

    Hi Kate – that’s a worryingly good comparison.

  4. I love the “tired of PC so I’ll support the BNP” comment. Political correctness was established with those very people in mind! You vote for a racist party because you are annoyed you cant call a fat kid, fat? I don’t think so.

    It just dawned on me that I’m getting tired of Dan Brown’s continued successs. I see no other form of protest but to join a widespread bookburning club.

    I would really like to see some of those supportive texts as I suspect they could be very entertaining.