Under fire BBC chiefs have hit back after Scotland’s First Minister pulled out of an event organised by the corporation after learning a hard-right former adviser to Donald Trump had been invited.
Nicola Sturgeon was scheduled to speak at the Xchange event on November 13th. The annual event is co-hosted by the BBC and will be moderated by the BBC’s Scotland editor Sarah Smith.
However the First Minister pulled out of the event after learning former Trump advisor Steve Bannon had been invited to speak. Bannon has been accused of promoting racism and is currently trying to create a European right-wing movement called ‘The Movement’ linking right-wing groups across the continent.
Speaking on Saturday, Nicola Sturgeon said: “I believe passionately in free speech but as @ScotGovFM I have to make balanced judgments – and I will not be part of any process that risks legitimising or normalising far right, racist views. I regret that the BBC has put me and others in this position.
She later added: “The email the BBC sent to my office justifying Bannon’s inclusion described him as a ‘powerful and influential figure…promoting an anti-elite movement.’ This kind of language to describe views that many would describe as fascist does seem to me to run the risk of normalisation.”
Bannon has reportedly held secret talks with Boris Johnson whom he recently defended after the controversial Tory MP’s Bhurka comments. He has also praised the English far-right activist and former BNP member Tommy Robinson.
Bannon has already met with former UKIP leader Nigel Farage and Marine Le Pen who leads the French equivalent of the BNP.
Speaking at the French National Front conference, Bannon told delegates to wear accusations of racism as a “badge of honour”. The American was defended by Nigel Farage.
Despite Bannon’s controversial background, which includes accusations of racism and fascism, the BBC defended its decision to invite him to the Xchange event. Responding to the First Minister’s criticism, it said: “Good journalism in a world of fake news and disinformation is more vital than ever.
“Journalism is about asking tough questions and understanding what is happening in the world and why.
“A conference designed to analyse the big issues impacting that world isn’t an endorsement of anyone or anything – it is a function of what journalism is.”
However critics have argued that it is by providing a platform for Bannon that he becomes influential. Many point to Nigel Farage as an example of a figure made powerful through regular appearances on the BBC.
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