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Newsnight’s Emily Maitlis defends controversial Piers Morgan retweet before BBC rebukes her again for speaking about being reprimanded

Maitlis was reprimanded over a retweet of Morgan in February (Picture: BBC; ITV)

BBC Newsnight’s Emily Maitlis has defended her decision to re-tweet a message from Piers Morgan, comparing the decision to reprimand her to the 2021 investigation into Martin Bashir’s 1995 Princess Diana interview.

This was met with a statement by the BBC, again, in which it said it would be ‘bringing this up’ with the host.

In February, Maitlis shared a tweet from former Good Morning Britain anchor Morgan which hit out at the government and the perceived failings of how it dealt with the coronavirus pandemic.

He had written: ‘If failing to quarantine properly is punishable by 10yrs in prison, what is the punishment for failing to properly protect the country from a pandemic?’

Maitlis retweeted the message and, despite deleting the tweet from her timeline 10 minutes later, was soon the subject of complaints due to the Beeb’s strict guidelines on impartiality.

According to BBC social media guidelines, employees should ‘take particular care about maintaining our impartiality on social media’ in personal and professional activities, and that ‘expressions of opinion on social media’ include ‘sharing or liking content’.

The broadcaster upheld the complaint after the Executive Complaints Unit said ‘it had been out of keeping with the BBC’s editorial standards’.

Asked about whether or not she regretted sharing Morgan’s message, she told Press Gazette this week: ‘The tweet said nothing I haven’t actually asked on air.

‘These are questions that we ask all the time as journalists on the programme. And if we stop doing that, then I think we’re in trouble. Because our audience can say to us: What are you about? What are you for?’

At the time, Morgan slammed the broadcaster as ‘utterly spineless’.

Drawing comparisons from her situation to that of Bashir, who earlier this year was found to have used ‘deceitful behaviour’ to land his interview with the royal for Panorama, Maitlis suggested the BBC’s complaint-handling ‘priorities’ were misplaced and it should have done more to ‘defend Newsnight’s journalism’.

Maitlis referred to the BBC’s apology after separate complaints on her May 2020 Newsnight monologue on Dominic Cummings, in which she said he ‘broke the rules’ when he travelled during lockdown last year.

The host says Cummings texted her after the controversial segment (Picture: BBC)

She said, adding she received a ‘very funny text’ from Cummings after the segment: ‘It’s funny to see something like [the Cummings apology statement] happen so quickly when a corporation can take up to three decades to investigate serious journalistic malfeasance and critical management failings in the Bashir investigation. So I think it’s all a question of priority, really, isn’t it?’

The reporter doubled down later on: ‘As I say, when a corporation takes three decades to investigate whether journalistic misdemeanour is going to then point to serious critical management failings, and then it spends another four months investigating the retweet of a question, then we have to ask ourselves about priorities.’

At the time, the Newsnight monologue on Cummings led to more than 20,000 complaints that Maitlis had shown bias, with the BBC later saying in a statement the programme had not met ‘standards of due impartiality’.

Following complaints to Ofcom, the watchdog confirmed it will also not be pursuing any investigation over the Cummings monologue.

In regards to Maitlis’ interview this week, BBC issued a statement to Mail Online which stated it would be broaching the subject with her.

‘Nothing is more important than our impartiality,’ it said. ‘All BBC journalists must abide by the BBC’s editorial guidelines and social media rules. There are no exceptions. We will be taking this up with Emily.’

Credit: Source

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