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Who’s the fairest? – Glenn Campbell versus James Cook – Towards Indyref2…

Who’s the fairest? – Glenn Campbell versus James Cook

Do you trust BBC Scotland?  If you’re an independence supporter the answer is probably no.

If you gave it some thought though you’d qualify your reply by separating BBC Scotland’s news and current affairs department with the rest.

Mistrust of the BBC in Scotland stems from the station’s presentation of news … political news.

But even that mistrust isn’t across the board.  Not everyone in the News and Current Affairs department is viewed with suspicion.

Ask a Yesser for his or her opinion of Isabel Fraser and it’s likely it will be positive.  John Beattie is often cited as an example of someone who had a good referendum.  James Cook didn’t provoke the same outrage as his colleague Glenn Campbell throughout the indyref1 campaign.

In short, there are good apples in amongst the bad at pacific Quay.  That was no more evident last week when two of the aforementioned reporters were each designated with the task of reporting on the First Minister’s trip to the USA.

James Cook and Glenn Campbell took it in turns to report on Nicola Sturgeon’s trip.  Cook, already stateside, was an obvious choice to cover the First Minister’s Californian excursion.  Campbell, based in Scotland, was despatched to New York in time for her arrival in the Big Apple.

James Cook

James Cook covered the first two days of the First Minister’s five day USA trip.  Below, edited into one clip, are Monday and Tuesday’s items as they appeared on Reporting Scotland.

The items are informative and focus on what the First Minister will be doing or has been doing.  There’s no attempt at pushing any agenda from the BBC reporter who pretty much sticks to reporting factual matters.  Cook provides some background on the issue of climate change and how the Governor of California has adopted a different stance to that of Donald Trump.

There are references to Brexit and Scottish independence but both are proportional to the time and priority afforded them by the First Minister.  Neither dominated to the extent that they overshadowed the key aim of the visit which was trade and investment.

The first item contains criticism of the USA trip from the First Minister’s pro-Union opponents.  However Cook allows the First Minister to respond to the criticisms in his second item, although someone at BBC Scotland removed a significant segment of Nicola Sturgeon’s reply – more on that here.

James Cook’s reports are what you’d normally see from a reporter not intent on pushing an agenda but rather trying to cover a foreign visit from a leader who is doing so against a domestic backdrop which is in major constitutional flux.

Glenn Campbell

Glenn Campbell covered the last three days of the First Minister’s USA trip.  As with the James Cook items, all here have been packaged into one video clip.

First Item
In the first item, broadcast on Wednesday April 5th, Glenn Campbell opens by informing viewers that “the UK takes the lead on overseas aid” and that the Scottish Government has a “relatively small budget for international assistance”.

Campbell then tries to link the First Minister’s UN speech to her desire for Scottish independence.  The reporter implies Nicola Sturgeon has chosen to make her speech at the UN because it symbolises statehood.

The viewer is being manipulated.  Campbell first seeks to undermine the significance of Scottish Government overseas aid when compared to the UK Govt, and by extension casts doubt on the official stated reason for the First Minister’s UN speech.  He introduces the issue of independence and cleverly implies the venue of the United Nations is being used as a symbolic prop by the First Minister.

Campbell also uses the UN Security Council emergency meeting, discussing the use of chemical weapons in Syria, to again draw attention to the First Minister’s lack of real influence on the world stage.  Only after having conditioned the viewer does Campbell make any attempt at reporting on the facts of Nicola Sturgeon’s visit.

The change in tack is brief.  Campbell immediately returns to the issue of independence and shows a brief clip of the First Minister’s talking about the issue in a speech given whilst she was in California.  There then follows an apparent interview with the president of the UN General Assembly who is heard to answer a question we don’t hear.  It is clear though that he has been asked his views on Scottish independence.

Campbell then says the aid being offered by the Scottish Government as “adds a little” to the aid being given to Syria by the UK Government.  He ends by describing the UK as “a global power with a big budget” and highlighting Unionist attacks calling on the First Minister to concentrate on the ‘day job’.

Glenn Campbell’s item was, in my opinion, a carefully crafted piece of propagandas by an arch manipulator.  The First Minister’s UN speech was sidelined and her motives implicitly misrepresented by someone who appeared to have an agenda.  That agenda was to belittle the reason for the FM’s UN speech and to present Nicola Sturgeon’s visit to the UN as a clever attempt to promote Scottish independence.

The actual speech, when given, contained not one reference to Scottish independence save for answers during a QA session when the First Minister was hijacked by first a Daily Telegraph reporter and then someone called Mike Croll.

Second Item
Glenn Campbell’s second item on Nicola Sturgeon’s visit was broadcast on Thursday April 6th.  It was bizarre in that it made almost no significant mention whatsoever of the First Minister’s official itinerary and instead tried to manufacture controversy around Donald Trump.

From the get-go it’s clear that Glenn Campbell has no interest in the First Minister’s engagements that day.  His first question is to ask whether Nicola Sturgeon has snubbed Donald Trump or vice-versa.

The whole news report is a tabloidesque attempt to manufacture a controversy rather than report facts.  In order to embellish the shallow report, viewers see clips of Trump playing golf at Turnberry and of a year-old Gary Tank Commander comedy interview with the First Minister.

The dreadful item includes just one reference to the FM’s UN speech given the previous evening.  The six second long video clip contains no audio.  The item ends with the First Minister fielding more questions about Trump.

Third Item
Glenn Campbell’s third item, broadcast on Friday April 7th, is the only one that focused entirely on one of the First Minister’s engagements, an interview as part of the Women In The World summit.

The BBC Scotland reporter was unable to resist a gentle misrepresentation of the First Minister’s response to a question on Donald Trump.  There was also a tendency to highlight some of the more flippant and less than serious remarks made by the First Minister.  The item ended with positive comments from some of the ladies who had been in the audience for the event.

However there was a glaring omission from the item.  Nicola Sturgeon had drawn gasps of disbelief when she revealed the so-called ‘rape clause’ that had been introduced by Theresa May’s UK Government.  The segment, shown below, followed comments from the First Minister who said it wasn’t enough for women to be in a position of power but that they had to do the right thing with that power.

The comments were without a doubt the most newsworthy part of her interview in New York.  However the segment was missing from Glenn Campbell’s news report when it aired on Reporting Scotland.

We can’t know for sure whether the BBC reporter himself cut them from his package.  His reporting of the previous two days though makes it more than likely he himself was responsible.

Although this ended Glenn Campbell’s appearances on Reporting Scotland with respect to the First Minister’s USA visit, it didn’t end his influence on those reports.  On Saturday the following news item appeared on the flagship news programme.

The item is about a second independence referendum, or rather Nicola Sturgeon’s confirmation that she isn’t considering an early Holyrood election to “break the deadlock” over such a referendum.

Quite how an early election would help break ‘deadlock’ that isn’t there given Theresa May has yet to officially respond to the live Section 30 request, isn’t quite explained.  However the first question is who at the BBC the FM has been speaking to – the identity of this mysterious individual is not revealed by Reporting Scotland.

The person who has effectively planted the news item is none other than Glenn Campbell.  Whilst in New York the BBC reporter asked the First Minister whether she was considering an early Holyrood election.  I know this because his ‘interview’ was broadcast early on Saturday morning on Radio Scotland.


If you listened to the clip above you’ll have noticed that Campbell doesn’t ask Nicola Sturgeon one solitary question about her New York engagements.  Not one.  He does though ensure that the issue of independence, which Nicola Sturgeon did not focus on, was included in BBC Scotland’s coverage of her visit to the Big Apple.

The inclusion of Campbell’s interview in that evening’s Reporting Scotland ensured that a very significant announcement was overshadowed by the contrived story.  The collaboration between US based Trip Advisor and Visit Scotland was pushed down the news agenda by the broadcaster.

In analysing Glenn Campbell’s reports I was struck by how many questions and issues were completely unrelated to the First Minister’s trip.  Most could have been covered at any given week in the calendar.  I formed the view early on that he wasn’t there to cover the trip, but to detract or distract from it.

I’ve long held the view that Glenn Campbell should have been moved from political reporting after the first independence referendum.  He is simply unable to resist the temptation to inject his own agenda-driven asides into news reports and jab misrepresentations into interview answers.  He has a tabloid mindset that rears its pro-Union head all too often.

Readers of this site will of course have their own views on the merits of Glenn Campbell’s peculiar style of reporting.  My view is that he is the least trusted of political reporters at Pacific Quay for good reason.

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22 thoughts on “Who’s the fairest? – Glenn Campbell versus James Cook

  1. jake

    To quote Humbert Wolfe:

    You cannot hope
    to bribe or twist,
    thank God! the
    British journalist.

    But, seeing what
    the man will do
    unbribed, there’s
    no occasion to.

  2. Bugger (le Panda)

    I am looking foward after Indie to someone tearing up Glenn Campbell’s employment contract with BBC Scotland live on air.


    1. Vestas

      Oh he can keep his contract with BBC Scotland mate, its just that BBC Scotland won’t exist as a legal entity anymore.

      I do hope that the BBC offers him relocation rather than redundancy but I can’t see what they’d use him for in England/Wales 🙂

      Besides which I have no doubt at all there will be a purge of Scots from “BBC England & Wales” post-indy. Accents won’t fit will they 😉

  3. George S Gordon

    Gotcha – serendipity is when James Cook and Glenn Campbell can be compared directly.

    Ponsonby strikes again – well done!

  4. Alasdair Macdonald

    This is a fine piece of objective analysis and continues the standard which Mr Ponsonby and Professor John Robertson set with their analyses during 2014.

    I think that the BBC in Scotland is more balanced than it was in 2014, but there is still some way to go. On GMS today, Hayley Miller (she was probably reading from the script provided for her) said that “the G7 failed to support Boris Johnson” regarding his motion on Syria and Russia, but that he was “undaunted”.

    So, continued vigilance is needed and clear examples of partiality should be exposed.

  5. commonoldworkinchap

    BBC Scotland are Uncle Tams of the highest order. They remind me of the British branch
    offices of the UK parties. I long ago gave up watching them tell me how poverty stricken
    ( intellectually and financially ) my wee country is. It is an enigma as why so many people
    will pay to watch such rubbish.

    Why do we accept such shite. Take a look at Catalonia and see the variety of news channels
    delivered for less money. Not a country , mind, a region of a European country.

    Until the stranglehold of the BBC is broken ,we can not consider ourselves independent.
    Independence is the only way . News ,entertainment, arts , culture, . Let’s make or own, not make do on the pennies handed back to us. Take a look at Netflix and ask yourself why
    smaller, less prosperous nations, can produce high class quality programmes and series
    relevant to their cultures and we can not.

    The BBC is the big beast that must be faced down . The rest of the MSM will fold.

  6. Bibbit

    I was first alerted to Glen Campbell’s inability to summon any semblance of impartial reporter’s professionalism when the SNP won a majority in Holyrood.

    It was in the wee small hours of the morning (circa 3 am) and the BBC cameras had been interviewing someone out of the studios at some count. The cameras, unannounced, suddenly switched back to the main studio where Campbell was actually caught completely off guard.

    Campbell was sitting at his desk with his head on one side lying flat on the surface and his two hands grasping his prostrate head as if in a paroxysm of grief.

    Obviously after a few seconds of this unedifying BBC presenter making a spectacle of himself live on camera, his studio boss must have been shouting through Campbell’s ear piece, ‘You’re on air, for God’s sake get a grip!’ or words to that effect!

    When Campbell’s head suddenly swiveled up, like a disturbed adder, I swear he had red eyes as if from crying! His shocked, guilty look to be thus filmed to the nation was reminiscent of a toddler calming down after a public tantrum.

    My eyes were opened then to this poisonous labour snake, no mistake.

    I just switch off when Campbell appears now on screen, as he does not report any actual news, only renders his interpretation of reality through his warped prism of Scottish unionist propaganda. I am genuinely amazed he has lasted so long at the BBC, even by their imperial standards. He really should be put out to pasture, along with Jim Murphy, when they can quietly reminisce on how they single handedly saved Scotland from its own stupidity.

  7. A very concerned scot

    My first reaction to Glen Campbell’s reporting during the referendum was that I must be imaging things: that a BBC Scotland reporter would attempt to manipulate the news and thus the Scottish public with such obvious bias seemed ( naively, in retrospect), unthinkable. Never would such unethical and dishonest news coverage happen here! How naived I was. His work is shameful and a disgrace.

  8. Gordon Murray

    I have wondered why out of all the BBC Scotland reporters who covered indyref#1 why is it most of them were rewarded with cushy postings to London or the USA and why these were not?
    Glen Campbell is the worst of a bad bunch and if I ever listen to anything he has to say it is only out of curiosity on how far he he will go to twist the story to fit his agenda.
    We have the internet to fact check assertions within minutes, they know tgey are going to be immediately found out.
    Do these people have no shame or professional pride in their work?

  9. Gordon Murray

    At the end of the day BBC news and current affairs has a political editor, the daughter of the late John Smith.
    Is it any coincidence that there is such an obvious labour bias in their ‘Scottish’ output?

  10. Robert Graham

    Both in my opinion always approach SNP interviews with a well known Agenda , for the life of me i cant understand why the bbc are treated with respect by the SNP they are not our friends so stop the bloody trying to be nice approach .
    They should call out the bias of the interviewer at every opportunity make it personal make sure the viewer knows what’s going on ,they will soon change their tune if they are going to be personally questioned on the bloody stupid way they are asking questions .

    1. Robert Hogg

      I fear such an approach will give such reporters the opportunity to cut / edit such an interview to make it seem our representative,s are going off n one for no apparent reason ” losing the plot ” , would be the accusation . On live interviews ( how would we know ) there is opportunity and I have seen a good fight for fair hearing by a number of our MP,s and MSP,s . Gethens, Angus Robertson , and of course Alex Salmond . Nicola does counter but not over stated which doesn’t always help show up the bias agenda to less aware listeners . Despite all this unionism MAX ! , we still gain ground , opinion ‘ has ‘ shifted even if it is under reported and selective reporting on polls is the way of it . May,s elections have been highjacked into a referendum of a future referendum so the words , again ! Divisive ! DIVISION ! , no appetite ! , still healing ! . All emotive garbage but non the less repeated at any and every opportunity , I find people saying it , but not because they believe referendum is wearying , but hearing about it constantly ! is . The implication is the SNP never stop banging on about it when we know in fact it is the unionists that never let the subject drop so as to continue their agenda of speaking of divisions and angers , perceptions are being manipulated on an industrial scale .

  11. Robert Hogg

    I find this type of ms-reporting Scotland extremely offensive and frustrating , add that to the printed media doing something akin to the BBC in Scotland it is a ridiculous position when at least 50% of the electorate is being un represented and 100% are being ill informed , in fact being misled through an agenda and deliberate propaganda on behalf of the Westminster uk unionist movement . We need an independent news outlet in order to secure our independence , no surprise the BBC put the Scottish 6 on the back burner , STV is going to out manoeuvre them with the Scottish 7 . I live in hope ! , this will prove to be balanced with god honest reporting replacing what we currently put up with from the BBC and SKY news .

  12. baronesssamedi

    I noticed a couple of occasions in 2014 when James Cook did in fact play with an extremely straight bat, once to actually go to the EU to get an actual quote as to whether Scotland would be barred. The answer was, as I remember, the usual ‘would have to apply’ which was progress at the time.
    A second time he asked Nicola a question about a fairly trivial issue that was being used to embarrass the Yes side. Although he got pelters for this it allowed her to answer and set the record straight. All good.

  13. Philip Maughan

    Result! Glen Campbell on RS tonight covering all the things you said he should have; Tory rape clause, Niicola Sturgeon’s ‘disgusted’ reaction at Harvard AND email responses from NS and Kezia, plus Ruth Davidson interview calling NS a ‘hypocrit’ for not mitigating the rape clause. Looks very like GC got a rocket from the top. Well done GAP

  14. seanair

    From time to time someone mentions Campbell some years ago tearing up the SNP Manifesto in the BBC studio. Is this true? Surely not. Surely he would have been sacked on the spot?
    Can someone provide the truth or not of this alleged action? If true why was he allowed to stay with the BBC? Oh don’t answer that.

  15. seanair

    Come on guys and gals. Somebody must be able to recall if Campbell did a nasty action in public!

  16. grizebard

    My most recent encounter with the increasingly obvious GC was that Brexit special studio encounter where he fawned silently over everything Prof Tomkins said and repeatedly challenged and talked over Fiona Hyslop virtually every time she spoke. After some time of enduring this I couldn’t stand it any more and switched over.

    All we ask from the BBC is objectivity and fair dealing, and GC has repeatedly proved himself unable to meet any such standard. He should be transferred to reading the traffic reports or somesuch, where maybe his reporting could just about be trusted.

  17. Lochside

    Campbell did rip up the SNP manifesto..page by page..sitting outside the Scottish Parliament a year after they were first elected to power. So it must be 2008. I saw it and could not believe that this rat still had a job after it. Mr P must have a video of it somewhere.

    But the answer has become crystal clear since then..he is sanctioned….indeed encouraged to continue his snide innuendo-filled attacks on the SNP by his employers…and Donaldo seems to be fully on side!

    Cook is another quisling…who got his desserts for sterling distortion of the blessed Murphy’s cruci-fiction by the baying egg hurling crowds during REF1. He can now pull back a bit as he’s got a nice wee earner out stateside. Obviously, with Campbell, its personal. God knows what reward he’ll get if they pull off another fix in REF2.

    The distortion displayed by Campbell is worthy of the Eastern Bloc days of the cold war. But it has shown many in Scotland the depth of BBC lies that we have been deluged with for decades. I, like many, truly bought into the Reithian crap about the BBC’s integrity as a younger viewer. Now I see the total colonial sham of fake news it spews out…the Royals attending the Vimy Ridge memorial and bigging up Canada ‘s losses( Brexit trade anyone?)…ignoring Scotland’s same day memorial at Arras by dozens of school kids representing every Scottish local authority commemorating the 18,000 Scottish dead lost in 5 x weeks of slaughter….

    Also Douglas Fraser…the doom laden ‘economist’ who did an absurd double act in the last two weeks with Jackie Burd trashing Scotland’s economic move to ‘near recession’ linking it to…guess what….the next Referendum!….nada about Brexit or the job losses in oil due to UK tax breaks allowing millions of pounds to go to investors not the Government. Sham shock horror by a man who has seen his wife..Isobel…sidelined ever since the disgraceful attack on her on ‘Newsnicht’ by ‘bayonet the wounded’ Ian Davidson..the now long gone and unlamented Liebour MP.

    Mind you..it’s Easter and the story of the 30 pieces of silver is still very relevant when we consider the modern versions of Judas lurking in Auntie’s bosom. So why should we be surprised?

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