Liddle defends the right to broadcast extremist views

Liddle: journalists shouldn’t be censors

Former Today editor Rod Liddle attacked the "presumption and arrogance" behind suggestions that right-wing populist leaders should not be allowed to express their views on radio and TV.

Liddle, who left the Radio 4 programme earlier this month, defended his decision to interview Muslim cleric Sheikh Abu Hamza al-Masri.

He also caused controversy earlier this year when he gave a platform to both the Sheikh and British National Party leader Nick Griffin at the Radio Academy Conference in Cambridge.

Speaking via satellite during a debate on media coverage of the populist far right, Liddle said: "We’re journalists and we have to report what happens and if they are extremist views we still have the right and duty to cover it and cover what they are. We have no right to censor those views just because they are different to our own."

Liddle said that although he could not "abide the man" he did not feel he had the right "not to report Sheikh Abu Hamza al-Masri’s views".

"The premise is that if we allow them to be reported, the people who are listening are more stupid than us and can’t decide that these views are repellent," he said. "It’s extremely presumptuous and arrogant to suggest that."

Liddle, whose column in The Guardian criticising the Countryside March brought a storm of protest from The Daily Telegraph, noted "an increased tendency to stop people saying things and object not just to what they say but the fact that they said it".

Liddle’s views were backed by Ulla Terkelson, the chief foreign correspondent of Denmark’s TV2, and Marieke de Vries from the Netherlands, who had been criticised for reporting on the "phenomenon" of Dutch politician Pim Fortuyn.

"Political correctness is part of the problem – the media keeps away from certain stories when it should be doing investigative journalism and looking at the issues that concern people," said de Vries. "We can’t impose our preferences on the public we serve."

Terkelson added: "It’s not the role of journalists to prevent people expressing unease about changes in their country, our work is to describe, there are important questions we have to ask."

Former Today editor Rod Liddle attacked the "presumption and arrogance" behind suggestions that right-wing populist leaders should not be allowed to express their views on radio and TV.

Liddle, who left the Radio 4 programme earlier this month, defended his decision to interview Muslim cleric Sheikh Abu Hamza al-Masri.

He also caused controversy earlier this year when he gave a platform to both the Sheikh and British National Party leader Nick Griffin at the Radio Academy Conference in Cambridge.

Speaking via satellite during a debate on media coverage of the populist far right, Liddle said: "We’re journalists and we have to report what happens and if they are extremist views we still have the right and duty to cover it and cover what they are. We have no right to censor those views just because they are different to our own."

Liddle said that although he could not "abide the man" he did not feel he had the right "not to report Sheikh Abu Hamza al-Masri’s views".

"The premise is that if we allow them to be reported, the people who are listening are more stupid than us and can’t decide that these views are repellent," he said. "It’s extremely presumptuous and arrogant to suggest that."

Liddle, whose column in The Guardian criticising the Countryside March brought a storm of protest from The Daily Telegraph, noted "an increased tendency to stop people saying things and object not just to what they say but the fact that they said it".

Liddle’s views were backed by Ulla Terkelson, the chief foreign correspondent of Denmark’s TV2, and Marieke de Vries from the Netherlands, who had been criticised for reporting on the "phenomenon" of Dutch politician Pim Fortuyn.

"Political correctness is part of the problem – the media keeps away from certain stories when it should be doing investigative journalism and looking at the issues that concern people," said de Vries. "We can’t impose our preferences on the public we serve."

Terkelson added: "It’s not the role of journalists to prevent people expressing unease about changes in their country, our work is to describe, there are important questions we have to ask."

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