BBC crisis: Top journalists face social media crackdown after complaints of political bias

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BBC crisis: Top journalists face social media crackdown after complaints of political bias 1

Corporation chiefs have called a meeting with high-profile presenters and correspondents such as Huw Edwards, John Simpson and Emily Maitlis to discuss their social media output. Bosses will urge the journalists to rein in their tweets about politics and told to move away from using online platforms to break stories or offer instant analysis. The proposed crackdown follows criticism of some comments posted on social media in the run-up to last month’s election.

Political editor Laura Kuenssberg was widely criticised for repeating a false allegation that Health Minister Matt Hancock’s aide had been punched in the face by a Labour activist during a visit to a hospital in Leeds.

Video footage released soon after showed their was no substance to the allegations but the tweet had already been widely shared and picked up by news sites.

Ms Kuenssberg, who has more than 1.13 million followers on Twitter and is often the target of vitriolic online abuse, later tweeted an apology.

Corporation rules on bias expressly forbid its journalists from expressing opinions on controversial political matters.

But BBC North America editor Jon Sopel has meanwhile been accused of tweets that appear to reveal a critical stance on Donald Trump.

Similar attacks on BBC impartiality led Huw Edwards, who raised eyebrows when he “liked” a third-party tweet supporting Labour’s stance on the NHS, to post a defence of BBC reporting standards.

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He said: “Providing a fair and balanced account of a complex election campaign – with feelings running high on all sides – is difficult enough.

“Trying to do so while dealing with relentlessly vitriolic attacks is doubly challenging.

“We are very far from being perfect at @BBCNews – but the bilge about ‘bias’ needs a response.”


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