Pe­ston: BBC failed to un­der­stand im­pa­tial­ity in run up to EU vote

Gloucestershire Echo - - NEWS - By LEIGH BOOBYER

THE BBC failed to un­der­stand how to be im­par­tial in the run-up to the EU ref­er­en­dum in 2016, ITV’S po­lit­i­cal editor Robert Pe­ston said.

Speak­ing at the Chel­tenham Lit­er­a­ture Fes­ti­val, Mr Pe­ston said the BBC didn’t steer view­ers to de­ter­mine the “loonies from the ge­niuses” in its cov­er­age to run-up of the Brexit vote two years ago.

He also said how he di­rectly told Labour leader Jeremy Cor­byn he was “un­com­fort­able” with the party’s lack of ur­gency to clear is­sues of an­ti­semitism.

Mr Pe­ston said: “I love the BBC but I did feel that dur­ing the Brexit cam­paign they slightly got con­fused about what im­par­tial jour­nal­ism meant. It is the role of the jour­nal­ist to say ‘we’ve got these two con­tra­dic­tory ar­gu­ments, I’m now go­ing to re­vise which of these is likely to be closer to the truth’.

“The prob­lem with the BBC was dur­ing the cam­paign it put peo­ple on with di­a­met­ri­cally-op­posed views. It didn’t give any help in as­sess­ing which one was the loony and which one was the ge­nius.”

Mr Pe­ston de­scribed the speed of the Labour Party’s dis­ci­plinary ac­tion against mem­bers who made an­ti­semitic com­ments as un­set­tling.

He said he told Mr Cor­byn that the slow pace of not deal­ing with the deep is­sues within the party made him “feel un­com­fort­able” and thought the left­wing party leader is “in­cred­i­bly naive”.

He said: “I’m not a re­li­gious Jew, but all my fam­ily are Jews. I iden­tify as a sec­u­lar Jew. I have been pro­foundly un­com­fort­able with how long it took the Labour Party to sign up to the stan­dard IHRA def­i­ni­tion and all its ex­am­ples of anti-semitism.

“I don’t my­self think Jeremy Cor­byn is anti-semitic. I think he is gen­uinely naive. I’ve told him how un­com­fort­able I was with how slow they were to start deal­ing with this prob­lem.

“I am con­cerned as to how slow Labour have been to ad­dress this.”

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