Johnson’s government continue to hide from press scrutiny by dodging Newsnight

Johnson will govern like he campaigned, by running away from the press.

He’s barely back from his post-election Carribean holiday but we it is already clear that Boris Johnson will govern as he campaigned – by hiding from the press.

After Boris Johnson chickened out of an interview with Andrew Neil during the election campaign, his ministers are now going to avoid appearing on BBC’s Newsnight.

According to the Mail, the government’s excuse for this is that Newnight has appointed a journalist called Lewis Goodall as its policy editor and he’s apparently too left-wing.

Goodall has joined Newnight from Sky News, where he worked as a political correspondent for right-wing billionaire Rupert Murdoch.

The government’s evidence that Goodall is anti-Tory, the Mail says, is that he is the “author of a string of aggressively anti-Tory comments on social media”.

So what did he say? “F**k Tory scum. All hail Corbyn.”? No, just the kind of reasoned criticism every political journalist makes about any party. The most anti-Tory example the government/Mail could dig out is this one:

And of course, he’s also been critical of Labour too. He called Labour’s election performance “lamentably bad” and accused Corbyn of looking “stiff” and “robotic” at Prime Ministers Questions.

The government/Mail’s other piece of evidence against Goodall is that, when he was a student, a Guardian profile described him as a “Labour activist”.

But plenty of political journalists used to be active in politics in their youth.

Today Show presenter Nick Robinson was the chair of the Young Conservatives and the BBC’s Andrew Neil used to be a Conservative Party researcher and now edits the right-wing Spectator magazine.

Yet Johnson dodged Neil’s election interview and his ministers have been told to avoid Robinson’s Today Show. So it looks like it’s not Lewis Goodall but any media scrutiny they are afraid of.

This impression is reinforced by government moves to change the location of press briefings from parliament to Downing Street – where they can control the guestlist more tightly.

At present, any media outlet with a parliamentary pass can attend government press briefings. If they’re moved to Downing Street, publications which displease the government could be disinvited.

If this is the case, let’s hope that the favoured journalists and outlets stand up for press freedom and boycott the briefings.

Joe Lo is a co-editor of Left Foot Forward

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12 Responses to “Johnson’s government continue to hide from press scrutiny by dodging Newsnight”

  1. steve

    Johnson is Trump’s UK ambassador.

    He’s only doing his job: helping Trump win the 2020 presidential election.

  2. Labour's Filthy Hospitals

    Sorry, why should the government appear on a left wing news programme funded by a poll tax? Should they also be forced to give interviews to the Morning Star?

  3. jonathan beedell

    O hello ‘Filthy Hospitals…’ You’re absolutely right of course ! Why on earth should any elected government have to stand up to public scrutiny from a public service broadcaster ? Let them choose who they speak to. Let them vet all questions and correspondents. Let them control all the channels of journalism and only talk to their own sponsors. Excellent. Welcome to Britain unleashing it’s potential, let’s get off the hamster wheel of doom and on to the roundabout of cronyism and authoritarian control of the press. Yippee ! Can’t wait. So glad to be taking back control at last.

  4. Labour's Filthy Hospitals

    In what sense is the broadcast version of the Guardian a “public service broadcaster”?

    The government isn’t accountable to the BBC.

  5. Ronald Olden

    There’s no obligation upon anyone to volunteer to be ‘scrutinised’ by the BBC. If I were a politician I’d refuse to appear on it at all.

    Boris refused to go on some interview show during the election. We were all told that as a result, the nation would be appalled, and wouldn’t vote for him. But it seems we weren’t and did.

  6. Michael McManus

    The sample of Lewis Goodall’s thought makes you wonder if there is any door closed to what passes for the BBC mind.
    Why BJ or any MP declines to be ‘interviewed’ is a mystery to me. You are faced on all occasions with petulance, bias, ignorance and the toff-lefty cramped view of the world not with what the people who create the wealth and society want or think – so disparaged views of the ‘working class’.
    Don’t MPs know what to do when a two-year old throws itself down on the pavement and screams like Marr did?

  7. Alan Bond

    Like fools, enough people voted for bojo the bozo to carry on wrecking this country (or, more precisely, making life worse for those who are the most disadvantaged). This refusal to subject themselves to scrutiny is redolent of NAZISM as it was in about 1936. Be afraid, very afraid. The right wing press won the election for these FASCISTS using LIES, LIES and more LIES and the whole establishment needs to be held to account. When it all goes belly up after we leave the EU (and it will) people will wonder what has hit them when they are stuck with a government of right wing extremists who will take away your rights without a moment’s concern. The government IS accountable to the BBC as the BBC is a PUBLIC SERVICE. Bojo the bozo and his bunch of cowardly crooks WILL be held to account but at what cost to the people who will suffer in the meantime, as they have done for the last ten years. Kicking people when they are down is the stock in trade of the tory party !

  8. Julia Gibb

    Alan Bond determined to crowd out the competition and be crowned bellend poster of the year within the first week…

  9. Dave Roberts

    Well said Julia.

  10. Patrick Newman

    People have commented on this site I have not heard of before so some coordination or campaign is being orchestrated. These people will not be happy until Murdoch owns and runs the BBC. Are they really unaware that for all its faults the BBC is a welcome antidote to the corrupt and Right-wing gutter press? The BBC is not institutionalised in political bias but that does not mean there is no bias such as found in Newsnight and The Today programme – both providing evidence of chronic bias against Labour confirmed by recent academic studies (see Justin Schlosberg and Tom Mills). There is no evidence of systemic bias against the Tories but they seem hell-bent on destroying the independence by stealth of a British institution much admired and respected throughout the world. Nothing illustrates this better than the attempt to turn the corporation into a branch of the DWP and force it to spend £750m to provide free TV licences for the 75’s and older.

  11. Michael McManus

    The excitable chap above needs to use a dictionary. Fascism is the ideology that calls for complete unity within the country, state control of loyalty, belief, politics and social behaviour – including rigid hierarchies, typically male or clerical.. It does not permit any endeavour in commerce, business, art, literature or thought to depart from the One Big Idea.

    There is not one item of Conservative of politics that fits that list. Not one. It is the election-losing Labour manifesto that wants state control of just about everything. It is leftist and LibDem students who have demanded no-platform for views they don’t agree with. Since Iran is in the news, you don’t need to be a genius to see that it is a typical fascist state, as are the other 50 plus Muslim ruled countries. Yet the Labour Manifesto (election losing, though we hear from MPs that it was popular) does not mention the Islamic fascists here in Britain (some of whom have been mourning the dead Shiite) but worries about the ‘far right’. What far right? The far right that has stabbed no one, blown up no teenage dance hall, driven no truck into shoppers, not gang raped a single schoolgirl of the 19,000 victims identified last year alone? That one?

    I live where Tories have been elected in Labour seats for the first time since 1066. One of the reasons is the ordinary folks here know perfectly well how the economy works and what civil servant control would bring, and they also know who the villains are. They didn’t vote for people who lied to them.

  12. Nicola Key

    The Fourth Estate is very troublesome with all its questioning and criticism. And some of those working in it didn’t even vote tory – shock!

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