Can we really remain impartial?

Adam Boulton on Sky TV and Nick Robinson on the BBC have come in for some criticism in the last week from a variety of sources with the claim that their election coverage has been far from impartial.

A Facebook group has been set up to try and pressure the BBC into removing Nick Robinson from his role as Political Editor on the grounds of his perceived bias in favour of the Conservatives. Prior to the election I have often thought I detected elements of bias in his reporting, but tended to dismiss it on the basis that I was probably magnifying the elements that I perceived to demonstrate this. It was only when friends pointed out that back in 1986 Nick was President of the Young Conservatives and while at university he was President of the Oxford University Conservative’s Association that I began to think that perhaps I wasn’t imaging things.

Adam Boulton has been on the receiving end of simliar claims of bias towards the Tories, with Alastair Campbell taunting him with the accusation during a live interview. “Unfortunaterly” Boulton reacted much to Campbell’s (and our) amusement , and we were treated to the sight of Boulton going ballistic. 🙂

Boulton loses it… 


During his rant Boulton claims he is  just a commentator and his personal views don’t come into it, but can this really be the case? Is it possible to remain completely impartial and not bring your own personal thoughts and views into a situation?

When training to be a coach one phrase which kept on being thrown into the ring was the need to “stay with the not knowing”. The underlying principle with coaching is to not pre-judge a situation and to allow the person being coached the room to develop their own thoughts and potential solutions to a given situation. I think it’s perfectly possible for a coach to be objective and to allow the individual to come up with their own solutions, but I also think that the personal experience of the coach will dictate the framing of certain questions and approaches that they use. Likewise the individual being coached will often prefer to be coached by someone who has a similar field of experience to themselves, as they feel they will be able to relate better.

Nick Robinson in an interview has stated that his involvement with the Conservatives ceased many years ago. This may well be the case but I don’t believe that he is able to remain completely objective because of his beliefs.  We know we have a largely right wing press in this country and we should therefore take this into account when reading and listening to various points of view. However there is the danger of the insidious nature of constantly repeating mantras.

The gentlemen in the sports media are a great example of bias in their reporting. Two seasons ago Rafa Benitez was changing his line up every game. The press and Sky Sports were keeping a count and he became Rafa the Rotator. As he neared 100 games without fielding the same team twice, the howls of indignation became greater and greater. Andy Gray became the leader of the tirade, you can’t expect a team to win anything when he rotates as much as he does, I’d be a very wealthy man if I was able to predict Raf’s next team blah blah blah. Rafa stopped at 99 and fielded the same team twice on the 100th game.

This season another manager actually reached 100 games with a different line up in every game. Not a murmur from the great British Press, a few chuckles from Andy Gray. The difference? It was the master tactician, the man who knows how to keep a squad of players on their toes and fresh for a full campaign, Mr Alex Ferguson.

Evidence of bias in the wonderful world of English journalism? Of course not.

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