Thursday, 12 November 2015

An excellent, politically-unbiased summary of the Kids Company disaster from a Newsnight journalist! How did that even happen?

A recommendatory tweet from the former journalist Robert Harris earlier today led me to a summary of the Kids Company story by Newsnight's policy editor, Chris Cook, on the BBC website. It turned out that the best-selling thriller writer was right - it's an excellent example of straight-forward, clear-headed, politically unbiased reporting of the sort the BBC should routinely produce. You can read it here. No kow-towing to public sector compassion-mongers, no overt or covert support for the Labour Party, no attempt to soft-soap the responsibility for the expensive fiasco shared by Labour and Tory politicians, the civil service, virtue-signalling celebrities, the BBC's "creative director" Alan Botney, or the charity's relentlessly self-publicising, vibrant former head, Camila Batmanghelidjh . There's also no trace of the nauseatingly sentimental tone many BBC journalists employ when describing the sufferings - real or imagined - of one of the corporation's designated pet victim groups.

Mr. Cook's other Kids Company pieces are of a similarly high journalistic standard. To be fair to Newsnight (for once), it did a lot to break this story, along with BuzzFeed. Nevertheless, I would have expected one of its journalists to zero in on Tory failings, rather than to apportion blame so even-handedly. So, never having heard of Chris Cook, I did some digging and, in a Telegraph piece from 2014 reporting the row over the appointment of yet another biased lefty as the programme's economics correspondent (Duncan Weldon, former senior economist for the Trades Union Congress, who had also worked for Harriet Harperson):
"BBC sources also pointed out that Newsnight also employed Chris Cook, a former special adviser to Tory minister David Willetts who is now its policy editor..."
I have no idea what Cook's political leanings might be - he's ex-Financial Times, but that doesn't mean anything these days. Probably a bit of a Tory? The important thing is that there isn't a hint of political bias in his journalism. I'm surprised he's lasted this long - but he'll probably be defenestrated when staunch Stalinist Seamus Milne replaces former deputy-editor of the Guardian Ian Katz as Newsnight's editor, just as soon as the Labour Party decides to scrape Jeremy Corbyn off the sole of its shoes.

Makes one wonder why the BBC doesn't employ more real journalists.

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