It’s not just that the BBC’s Emily Maitlis (who presents Newsnight) was offering a bit of political commentary on Dominic Cummings and Boris Johnson. It’s that she was blatantly polemical and rhetorical in her commentary. Indeed what she said outdid anything a Trotskyist student (with a loudhailer) could come up with. Think of the over-the-top words she used and the gross generalisations she made: “the lazy label that is ‘elite’ used on all those who disagreed”, “fury, contempt and anguish”, [Cummings made people] “feel like fools”, “a deep national disquiet”, “blind loyalty” (from Boris Johnson to Cummings), “people will now flout the rules”, etc. This is incredible stuff from a supposedly impartial BBC presenter. It was blatantly political. It was obviously biased.
In addition to all that, the BBC is attempting to create, not reflect, “fury, contempt and anguish”. It is attempting to create, not reflect, “a deep national disquiet”. I mean even if Dominic Cummings did seriously break the rules, is this hyperbolic — The Day Today — language really necessary? Is it even truthful? Is Emily Maitlis really representing the views of all, most or even a sizable majority of the UK public? Sure, she’s certainly representing some members of the public. But many of them, just like her, have a position on Cummings which is entirely driven by their prior anti-Tory politics and Cumming’s position on the European Union. So much so that I’ve heard leftwingers defending Maitlis when they usually criticise the BBC. One leftwing commentator, for example, singled Maitlis out as being a “good BBC journalist” simply because she was reflecting his own political views on Cummings and Johnson. And then he singled out Robert Peston and Laura Kuenssberg as bad BBC journalists simply because they haven’t reflected his political views. And all this was because of how these journalists were supposed to have treated Jeremy Corbyn during the 2019 election campaign. (Now I’m prepared to accept that the BBC as a whole didn’t support Jeremy Corbyn. But did any BBC presenters come out with blatant rhetoric and polemics against Corbyn, as Mailis has just done against Dominic Cummings and Boris Johnson?)
So the BBC is not “Marxist” (as some on the Right have it). But it’s not “Tory” or pro-Brexit either. It is what can only be called liberal-left (which is, perhaps, not a perfect term). And the BBC as a whole is most certainly pro-EU. Hence this embarrassing diatribe against Dominic Cummings.
And, no, I don’t believe that Emily Maitlis should resign. I don’t believe that she should be hounded by the press. And I don’t believe that people should shout at her in the street and build pathetic dehumanising effigies of her. What’s the point — there are many more like Emily Maitlis in the BBC.
And she also has a right to express her strong political opinions — just not on the BBC! Perhaps she should write for The New European instead.