Saturday, 24 October 2009

The BBC's boost for the BNP

I had deliberately avoided saying much about the Nick Griffin show before Question Time was broadcast, and only caught up with the whole thing last night on the Virgin + player. Having seen the resulting car crash, I am now firmly with Peter Hain in his view that this charade should never have been broadcast.

Of course, the BBC should give the minimum airtime required by statute to the BNP and their loathsome leader on news programmes. But this need not extend to Question Time, and it was utterly crass and self-defeating to turn the whole thing into a forum where an admittedly poorly prepared, ignorant and sweaty Griffin was made to seem like the victim of a liberal elite ambush.

This was the BBC at its absolute worst. First, it generates oceans of publicity to swell interest in the BNP and attract eight million viewers. Then, instead of either running a normal version of Question Time where the BNP leader's mediocrity might shine through without any semblance of victimhood, or introducing a savvy comedian to prick his pompous self-regard, the programme deliberately sought an unrepresentative audience and handpicked questions guaranteed to elevate the third-rate Griffin to martyrdom among a significant portion of the audience. [The idea that the producers don't decide in advance what questions they want is laughably absurd.]

It was frankly the worst of all worlds. When Jonathan Ross and Russell Brand engaged in their mindless antics with Andrew Sachs, they were penalised for their stupid stunt. The controller of BBC Radio 2 was forced to resign. But this exercise has been far more damaging as a vehicle for publicity for a racist and evil organisation than makes hundreds of thousands of minority community lives a misery. Who will take responsibility for that?

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