Had to reprint this excellent answer to the above question from Quora on the subject of BBC bias in reporting of the post referendum Brexit debate.
First of all I must declare an interest. I worked for 25 years in the BBC’ s news & business departments, reporting & presenting business & economic news. I worked closely with a lot of the current bunch of BBC reporters. I left in 2007 to run a tourism/wine business in Devon.
That said, I have to say the BBC’s coverage of Brexit since the Referendum has been badly one-sided. In the run-up to the vote, both sides were given a fair chance to make their case. But not since.
I have been in touch with my former colleagues on many occasions to point out the often quite silly negative spin given to economic news & forecasts since the vote.
It would tedious to give too many examples, but one clue is the use of arch anti-Brexit commentator Samuel Tombs of Pantheon on just about every economic story of the past 2 years. Usually this follows a generally solid economic news item..with “ but according to Samuel Tombs xxxx is about to go wrong.”
It’s well documented that the BBC’s political shows have a rough breakdown of 75–25 Remain-leave supporting guests. In economics I would estimate the breakdown of commentators has been even more biased to Remain.
Why is this?
I don’t think there has been an edict handed down from on high. It’s just that the BBC is a part of the Establishment, & it’s intellectual starting point are the views of the Establishment ( HM Treasury/Bank of England, the major political parties – all who urged the UK to Remain ).
The sad part is there are so few BBC journalists capable or willing to apply basic critical thinking to this narrative.
So while the initial post-Referendum coverage focused on the Treasury/ Bank of England’s central forecast that the UK would immediately plunge into recession with half a million more unemployed….the BBC looked for proof of this in any stat/figure/comment which came out…When it became clear none of this was actually happening, the BBC continued to believe the “ story” that terrible economic things were about to happen & switched to a number of variants.
The next was to exaggerate the temporary rise in inflation, then a long term issue of weak productivity, then lack of wage growth, etc.
It became a bit of a joke to look at the week’s raft of economic news in advance & bet on which items would receive little or no BBC coverage ( leap in foreign investment post-vote, solid GDP growth 2016/17 ( 1.9%/1.7%, strong manufacturing exports, rapidly falling Government deficit, falling trade deficit…I could go on & on !).
In summary the BBC has let itself & the country down since the vote, by failing in it’s duty to report clearly & impartially on the objective facts…& has been dragged into the political debate by becoming a partisan lobbyist on behalf of the Remain Establishment. It remains a major source of information for the general population & has influenced the terms of the debate by it’s output.
The true picture – one of solid UK economic growth, hit marginally by the uncertainty surrounding future trade relations – but with a booming jobs market & a flexible currency absorbing the changing circumstances …has not cut through the fog of distortion.