Below is a complaint submitted to the BBC following an appearance by Daily Record political editor David Clegg on UK Newsnight following news of Alex Salmond’s resignation from the SNP.
Complaint submitted on August 29th
I write to complain of bias in tonight’s BBC Two Newsnight programme on the resignation of Alex Salmond. There were two interviews in this programme. The first was a factual statement of background events by your correspondent David Grossman, and the second was a highly coloured rhetorical piece by David Clegg claiming that Salmond’s resignation had split the SNP apart.
Where was the third piece, claiming that the resignation was a shrewd political act that takes he pressure of Nicola Sturgeon? You gave only one side of the story – that’s the first point I want to make.
The second point I want to make is that you ignored what surely is an even more startling and newsworthy aspect of this story, which is the speed at which the crowdfunder raised the money. By 10.30pm, when you went on air, the appeal had raised £32,000, or 64 percent of the £50,000 which it was asking for over 28 days. Not to have included a reference to this in your report looks like incompetent journalism.
My third point is that if you give a platform to a commentator with views as highly coloured as those of David Clegg, you really should give equal time to an opponent. Clegg’s contribution lasted 3mins 17secs, which was 37 percent longer than the factual introduction (2mins 17secs).
In that time he claimed that Salmond had “taken a swipe at Sturgeon” (he hadn’t), that there was “open warfare” and “internal division” in the SNP (there isn’t), and that “criminality” that pervades this affair (whose criminality?). He also confused the SNP with the Scottish Government (they’re not the same). A responsible public service broadcaster would have brought in in a third commentator to provide a more judicious perspective.