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.

Comments are closed.