Published On: Tue, Aug 27th, 2019

Boris Johnson news: Channel 4 attacked for bias by ex-communications officer | UK | News

Dorothy Byrne, Channel 4’s boss, called on journalists to pounce on politicians who tell lies during an interview, in her speech at the Edinburgh TV Festival. Her comments were directed Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who she spitefully called a “coward” for not granting news interviews.

He purposefully lived up to her name calling when he snubbed an interview with Channel 4’s Matt Frei at the G7 Summit at the weekend.

Robbie Gibb, former No 10 communications officer, thinks Mr Johnson was perfectly justified in his decision not to talk to Channel 4, given what Mr Gibb says is a clear “political bias” within the news outlet.

Mr Gibb outlined Ofcom’s Broadcasting code, bringing to light Channel 4s disregard for reporting with “due accuracy and presented with due impartiality”.

He said: “It remains one of great mysteries of our age how Channel 4 is not now drowning under a sea of complaints to watchdog Ofcom, so flagrant, in my opinion, is its political bias.”

Robbie Gibb attacked Channel 4 for being 'biased'

Robbie Gibb attacked Channel 4 for being ‘biased’ (Image: PA/GETTY)

Dorothy Byrnes called Boris Johnson a 'liar'

Dorothy Byrnes called Boris Johnson a ‘liar’ (Image: PA)

Ms Byrne made her opinions clear during her speech last week, claiming broadcast journalists are too “polite” – going as far as to say journalists should have the right to call politicians “liars” on the spot.

Though Mr Gibb, a distinguished political advisor, journals, and broadcaster, showed the extent of Ms Byrne’s hypocrisy, he said: “She believes that broadcast journalists are too polite to our senior politicians and should be calling them out for their transgressions.

“Indeed, she got the ball rolling herself by bandying about words like ‘liar’ and ‘coward’.”

Having previously worked for the BBC, Mr Gibb claimed that journalists there showed true professionalism and journalistic flair, a far cry from what he says is Ms Byrne’s true intentions, “the publicity she so obviously craves”.

READ MORE: ‘Biased’ BBC blasted over TV licence fee and massive staff pay rises

Mr Gibb was communications officer for No 10

Mr Gibb was communications officer for No 10 (Image: GETTY)

He explains that Ms Byrnes’s knowledge of journalism and politics, and the way they works is “wrong-headed”.

In her speech, Ms Byrne talked about how she believed we were in a “difficult period” and to get through it we “need the truth and we need proper scrutiny of all our major politicians”.

However, Mr Gibbs peels her statement away, exposing the subtext, explaining: “What she really means by that is the scrutiny which takes place specifically in a Channel 4 News studio.

“When she talks about truth, what she really means is her truth. This is the truth of the liberal and Left-wing elite, so quick to dismiss the views of millions of people who don’t agree with the Channel 4 political agenda.


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Mr Gibbs praised Andrew Neil

Mr Gibbs praised Andrew Neil (Image: GETTY)

Mr Johnson refused a Channel 4 interview at the G7

Mr Johnson refused a Channel 4 interview at the G7 (Image: GETTY)

“It’s precisely this sort of ‘we know best’ attitude that has caused such terrible division in our country.”

The former communications officer draws attention to Andrew Neil, a veteran BBC journalist who has interviewed the political leaders since the early 2000s.

He said of Andrew Neil: “With fierce and forensic questioning, he can take apart lazy arguments, expose the reality of any subject and make politicians squirm.

“Does he do any of this by hurling insults at politicians, by calling them liars like an over-wrought eight-year-old in a playground spat?

Ms Byrne also called the PM a coward

Ms Byrne also called the PM a coward (Image: GETTY)

“No. He does it by knowing his facts and by subjecting political assertion to rigorous and independent scrutiny.”

Mr Gibbs explains that Mr Neil enters his interviews without preconceived ideas about the world which would “infect” the viewers conclusion of the politician; instead, Mr Gibb says he allows the viewer to make up their own mind, clarifying “that is what good-quality broadcast journalism is about.”

He goes on to say: “But although subject to the same Ofcom rules of impartiality as BBC News, ITN, Channel 5 News, Sky News and ITV News, does anyone seriously doubt that Channel 4 News has its own political agenda?”

Ms Byrne’s was appointed Head of News and Current Affairs at Channel 4 in 2003.

Ms Byrne became Channel 4s head in 2008

Ms Byrne became Channel 4s head in 2008 (Image: PA)

She is no stranger to controversy and making her political and personal opinions heard, as seen in Channel 4s decision to broadcast an alternative Christmas message in 2008.

Instead of the Queen’s Christmas speech, Channel 4, under Ms Bryne’s leadership, invited president of Iran, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, to proved its festive message.

Ms Byrne defended the decision by saying it offered an “alternative world view” and reflected the extended coverage Channel 4 has given Iran at the time.

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