BBC Scotland’s flagship news programme has been slammed after it handed an under-pressure Ruth Davidson a free platform to attack the SNP.
Davidson, who has refused to give interviews over so-called ‘Dark Money’ donations to her party, faced not one solitary question during her brief appearance on Reporting Scotland.
The Scottish Conservative leader – whose appearance was prompted by resignation chaos engulfing her party at Westminster – was instead allowed to mount an attack on the SNP. The attack by Davidson on her pro-independence opponents was the focus of later analysis by BBC Scotland’s political editor Brian Taylor who told viewers that Davidson “had tried to paint the SNP into a corner”.
The appearance of Davidson on the flagship news programme followed claims the MSP had gone into hiding to avoid answering questions on the ‘Dark Money’ scandal. Davidson had repeatedly refused interviews after revelations by investigative website The Ferret questioned the source of hundreds of thousands of pounds in donations to her party.
Her sudden appearance on Reporting Scotland followed claims by her party that she was on holiday. It prompted an avalanche of criticism on social media with many people angry at the refusal of the BBC to ask questions of the Scottish Conservative leader. Many questioned the impartiality of the broadcaster.
“Funny how after all week complaining about not being able to interview Ruth Davidson about Dark Money, the first opportunity the BBC gets they avoid the subject.”
“Just when you think BBC have hit Rock bottom not interviewing Davidson. Up she pops for them and not a question on Dark Money. The BBC are her body guards no matter what. Disgusting.”
“You can clearly see Brian Taylor standing in front of her giving the impression there’d be questioning going on. Nothing. She just stood there and spouted off words and not one ‘hang on a sec there, Ruth’. Surely BBC Rep Scot is aware of the controversy of Ruth dodging questions?”
“@BBCScotlandNews this continues to be unacceptable. The agenda, quite frankly, is brazen. Corruption on a large scale. Now awaiting weasel words from the usual guilty parties.”
“I refuse to watch the programme and haven’t done so since 2014 … the first job after independence should be to shut down the Scottish arm of the company …”
“No serious person would believe a political report on RS now. Credibility shot to get in 2014 has been further erroded by the utter lack of questioning of Brexit or at a local level Ruth D. A BBC Production. Like Farage.”
BBC Scotland’s coverage of the resignations that have engulfed the Conservative party prompted criticism from respected journalist Lesley Riddoch that there was little analysis from a Scottish perspective: “David Davis has quit, Boris has quit, vote of no confidence in Theresa May looks imminent. Would BBC Scotland please revise schedules, clear down “silly season” standby material & explore implications 4 Scotland? R Scot lunchtime prog roundly missed today’s urgency & importance.”
The tweet prompted BBC Scotland reporter Nick Eardley to hit back, claiming there had been in depth coverage literally “all day”. The young reporter later aimed a jibe at Riddoch.
Tuesday’s appearance on Reporting Scotland was not the first time a platform had been handed to Davidson during a time of difficulty for her party. Last month after the SNP walked out of the House of Commons, drawing attention to the Tory Devolution Power Grab, the MSP was afforded a similar opportunity to hit back at her main rivals.
BBC Scotland chiefs have repeatedly denied operating pro-Union bias. However critics say the evidence suggests otherwise.
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