James O'Brien parts ways with BBC Newsnight rather than 'wind neck in' on Brexit and Trump

James O’Brien has parted ways with BBC’s Newsnight.

The broadcaster is an open critic of Brexit and US President Donald Trump, views which he airs on his daily LBC radio show.

But his opinionated approach flies in the face of strict BBC guidelines on impartiality, which have recently been applied to presenters who have taken a stance on BBC pay equality – resulting in some being taken off the air.

In a leader comment about O’Brien, pro-Brexit newspaper the Sun asked: “How can the BBC still feign political impartiality with this professional leftie propagandist presenting Newsnight?”

Tweeting earlier this month, O’Brien said: “As regular listeners know, I withdrew from the [Newsnight] roster some months ago to retain my right to criticise Brexit and Trump in my other work, notably @LBC.”

On Saturday he tweeted: “The thing Brextremists really can’t compute is me being prepared to compromise my career for principles.

“I hated stepping down from Newsnight and could have stayed with simple changes to my modus operandi outside the Beeb. The decision makes me look decent so they claim I was axed.”

Asked on social media why he stepped down from Newsnight, O’Brien said: “Because my beliefs expressed on other media that Brexit will be bad for Britain and that Donald Trump is a racist sex offender started receiving so much attention that I had to choose between winding my neck in on those two issues or not presenting BBC political programmes.”

Despite his departure from BBC Newsnight, he later added: “I personally believe that Trump & Brexit have broken the impartiality model but that’s not the BBC’s fault and it’s still the home of loads of the finest journalism – and journalists – in the world.”

The BBC has declined to comment. Press Gazette understands that there are no current plans for O’Brien to present Newsnight.

Picture: LBC



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28 thoughts on “James O'Brien parts ways with BBC Newsnight rather than 'wind neck in' on Brexit and Trump”

  1. I adore the BBC, but it is wrong on this issue, sadly. Every respected expert and academic who has researched Brexit has concluded that it will be catastrophic for the UK. The evidence overwhelmingly proves that it will be a disaster. Ergo, the objective, impartial position – the starting point – is that Brexit is bad.

    But the BBC interprets its ‘impartiality’ rule to mean it must give 50 per cent of its air time on the Brexit issue to liars and nutters, to spread information that the BBC knows, as it broadcasts it, to be false and mad. It does this, I strongly suspect, because many Brexit extremists are influential Tories, and the corporation fears it can’t afford to alienate them or they’ll penalise it by slashing its funding or placing more ludicrous demands on it.

    During the referendum, the BBC constantly undermined factual information, which explained why leaving the EU would be demonstrably and unarguably bad, by ‘balancing’ it with loony conspiracy theories and outright lies from Brexit extremists, to give the appearance of impartiality. It was a total shambles and a disgrace, and a spectacular failure in the basic practice of journalism. The BBC was consciously and deliberately broadcasting lies, which is the opposite of journalism.

    Balance is great – when you don’t know the truth. In a criminal trial, for instance, the reporting should be completely balanced. But when reporting regular news, and when presented with absolutely overwhelming evidence that one position is true and the other is false, it is completely irresponsible to continue giving 50 per cent of your air time to information and arguments which you know are bogus.

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