Monday, 24 August 2009

The BBC compare and contrast coverage of George Osborne and Gordon Brown/Peter Mandelson

When the George Osborne Corfu boat story broke the BBC gave it wall to wall coverage. A special report by Michael Crick on Newsnight, lead items on the news and the top story on the website for days and referred to for months. A more important story about possible secret deals and lies being told by senior government ministers is not even mentioned on the front page of the BBC news website where the Greek fires, the stabbing of Premier League footballer Calum Davenport and the cricket are the top stories.

George Osborne's statement was picked apart and discredited as often as possible whereas Peter Mandelson's statement is taken at face value and Gordon Brown's lack of comment is hardly mentioned.

Indeed the BBC sole concern in this story seems to be to spin it into an issue for the SNP. Cynics might think that this is an attempt to boost Labour's vote in Scotland in an upcoming general election and in the Glasgow North by election that they still have to call.

Meanwhile I had to turn to The Guardian to read that:
"Gordon Brown faced fresh questions tonight after it emerged that he discussed with Colonel Gaddafi detailed conditions for the Lockerbie bomber's return nearly six weeks ago... Downing Street released the text of a cordial letter sent to the Libyan leader on the day that Abdulbaset al-Megrahi was released, asking that the event be kept low key because a "high-profile" ceremony would distress his victims and their families.

But critically the letter also refers to a meeting between the two leaders six weeks earlier at the G8 summit in Italy, adding that "when we met [there] I stressed that, should the Scottish executive decide that Megrahi can return to Libya, this should be a purely private family occasion" rather than a public celebration.

Previously officials have said that the two men's conversation in Italy at the beginning of July was brief and that, while the Lockerbie case was raised, Brown merely stressed the matter was one for the Scottish government to decide.

However, the new letter, addressed to "Dear Muammar" and signed off by wishing him a happy Ramadan, suggests that the decision was well enough advanced and Brown well enough briefed to set terms for a homecoming – albeit unsuccessfully."

This story gets murkier and murkier but the BBC seem keen not to investigate it. It is almost as if they want to protect Gordon Brown and Peter Mandelson's roles from scrutiny; why?

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