The BBC has hit back at a claim in The Sun newspaper today that guests on its flagship political programs were overwhelmingly pro-Europe.
The Brexit-backing newspaper said since the EU Referendum last year The Andrew Marr Show had interviewed 129 remainers compared to 33 leavers (85 per cent vs 15 per cent).
It added that the Sunday Politics show guests had included 78 remainers and 37 leavers (73 per cent vs 27 per cent).
The article was published online today under the headline: “BIASED BEEB’S BREXIT BASHING BBC puts FOUR TIMES as many Remainers as Brexit fans on telly.”
It included a quote from Tory MP Jacob Rees-Mogg who said the figures showed the BBC’s “deep-seated bias”, adding: “Fortunately the public prefer the views of The Sun to the BBC. Long may that remain true.”
The BBC said a statement it had sent to the newspaper had “oddly” been “omitted” from the story.
It read: “These are ludicrously misleading numbers that do not reflect the reality.
“Not considering a Cabinet Minister or even the Prime Minister to be accountable for delivering the Government’s stated policy of Brexit is bizarre, especially when the Sun is willing to count Benedict Cumberbatch who talked about his acting career.
“Nor was every politician interviewed asked about Brexit.”
Marr show editor Rob Burley also waded into the debate on Twitter, asking Sun writer Joe Kasper why he hadn’t included the BBC response.
Marr himself chimed in, adding: “He’ll eventually mumble, ‘the subs cut it’ which is up there with famished dogs and homework.”
The Sun also claimed bias has worsened since 72 pro-Brexit cross-party politicians complained to BBC Director-General Tony Hall in March.
Responding to the BBC’s concerns, a Sun spokesperson said: “The numbers we used for our investigation stand up to scrutiny.
“Some of Britain’s most respected journalists work on The Marr Show & the Sunday Politics, both in front of and behind the camera, but the regulator has noted that the BBC as a whole needs to ensure impartiality. That two MPs have raised concerns about guest-booking balance suggests more work needs to be done on that front.”