Even flat-earthers should get airtime, BBC says
The BBC takes heat for saying that airing flat-earthers reflects the broadcaster’s commitment to impartiality
David Jordan, the BBC’s director of editorial policy, has said that the broadcaster will give a platform to contradictory viewpoints in a bid to let impartiality triumph over identity, even to those who say the Earth is flat.
Speaking to the House of Lords Communications and Digital Committee on Monday, Jordan argued that the BBC is “very committed to ensuring that viewpoints are heard from all different sorts of perspectives.”
“We don’t subscribe to the ‘cancel culture’ that some groups would put forward,” he said, even suggesting that the BBC might occasionally deem it “appropriate to interview a flat-earther.”
While he was clear that “flat-earthers are not going to get as much space as people who believe the Earth is round,” Jordan stated that the BBC would “need to address it more” if “a lot of people believed in flat Earth.”
Challenging those who oppose the broadcaster’s mission of impartiality over personal identity, the BBC official was clear that staff should not be able to block coverage because they disagree with it.
“Whether or not some members of our staff like it is not the point. They leave their prejudices at the door,” Jordan said, criticizing the New York Times for its editorial approach in this area, as it’s the job of reporters to “be prepared to hear viewpoints they might personally disagree with.”
The comments in front of the House of Lords committee sparked a backlash among fellow journalists and political commentators.
LBC host James O’Brien responded to Jordan by citing an article he wrote in 2018 titled ‘Media impartiality is a problem when ignorance is given the same weight as expertise.’
The Guardian’s Toby Moses blasted the proposed approach, stating that it is “nonsense” to claim impartiality means broadcasting views that are incorrect or potentially dangerous.
Plymouth-based reporter Carl Eve said the BBC official’s position exposes the organization’s problem, as it is giving airtime to people who are “completely bonkers” ahead of covering the news.
Jordan’s position is in line with the BBC’s director-general Tim Davie, who has made it his goal to put impartiality front and center, ordering internal reviews into the organization’s approach to coverage to address existing failures.
Former BBC veteran radio presenter Nigel Rees recently revealed to RT that among the reasons why he stopped working for the BBC were woke directives from above, accusing the broadcaster of becoming increasingly prescriptive.