Jacob Rees-Mogg says it’s ‘crucial’ the BBC is impartial

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Jacob Rees-Mogg has said it would be “problematic” for the BBC to appoint a journalist from a “left-wing” outlet to a role as a news editor. Ex-Huffington Post UK editor Jess Brammar is reportedly under consideration for a role to oversee the corporation’s news channels. The Cabinet minister has recently suggested the BBC is damaging its reputation for impartiality by consistently making senior appointments from people on the political left and not the right.

Mr Rees-Mogg told the Commons: “It is of crucial importance that the BBC is not only impartial but is seen to be impartial.

“The BBC must ask itself if it is going to make an appointment from the Huffington Post, would it make an appointment from the Guido Fawkes website?

“A similar news outlet, except a rather more accurate one on the right rather than the left.

“I think the BBC would be astonished by my suggestion.”

The Commons Leader added: “I think it is problematic when the BBC looks at left-wing outlets and thinks that is impartiality. But also I think it is more serious than that.

“The BBC has a number of dedicated, good quality journalists who are genuinely important.

“The Laura Kuenssbergs, Martha Kearneys, James Landales of this world, who one has no idea of their political opinions at all and rightly so.”

He was responding to a question from Conservative MP Bob Blackman (Harrow East), who said: “There is clear concern about the potential appointment of the ex-Huffington Post editor Jess Brammar as news editor for the BBC, so could the Leader of the House arrange for a debate in Government time on the requirement for the BBC News to be impartial and to reflect the news rather than the opinions of those who preside over it?”

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Media Minister John Whittingdale said the BBC should broaden its horizons beyond its central London and Salford bases but he denied the Government was waging a “culture war” against the corporation and Channel 4.

Mr Whittingdale said the BBC’s own bosses were working on addressing criticism that it had been “too metrocentric” in the past.

And he defended the potential privatisation of Channel 4, arguing that the long-term viability of the broadcaster was at stake.

Mr Whittingdale told the PA news agency that the BBC “has been very clear it wants a more diverse workforce”.

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“(Director-general) Tim Davie has set targets in terms of the quality of representation in the workforce, across gender, across the racial background.

“And we’ve also been very clear that it needs to be reflecting the UK as a whole – the nations and regions of the UK, and not just people who happen to live close to central London or Salford.”

Cabinet minister Jacob Rees-Mogg has suggested the BBC is damaging its reputation for impartiality by consistently making senior appointments from people on the political left and not the right.

Asked about his colleague’s comments, Mr Whittingdale said recruitment was a matter for the BBC, but added that the Government had “made it clear that we think it’s very important that the BBC reflects all viewpoints, and that it should be diverse in terms of its employment practice and the content it produces”.

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