Skip to comments.BBC in row over doctored TV footage with Gordon Brown ("....made him look like a thug")
Posted on 07/14/2007 6:20:33 PM PDT by Stoat
The BBC was at the centre of a new row over doctored TV footage after it admitted that its flagship Newsnight programme changed the sequence of events in a film highly critical of Gordon Brown.
Mr Brown's officials have complained to the Corporation about an 'unfair, unbalanced, unnecessarily personal, and disingenuous' film which they claim was altered in an attempt to make him look like a thug.
Newsnight editor Peter Barron has admitted that a sequence of events had been reversed in the film, but refused to apologise. BBC chiefs have defended the film as 'a cross between Louis Theroux and gonzo journalism'.
It is a near carbon copy of the row over the BBC's claim that the Queen had 'walked out in a huff' when she was asked to remove her tiara during a photoshoot. The Corporation apologised after it was revealed that the footage purportedly showing the Monarch storming out actually occurred before the photo session.
The new row involving the Prime Minister is likely to fuel claims that the BBC is 'sexing-up' news programmes in a desperate attempt to boost viewing figures.
The latest storm was prompted by a film in which provocative TV journalist Jamie Campbell ambushed Mr Brown as he toured the country last month in an attempt to secure an interview.
In the 12-minute documentary, Mr Campbell is shown clashing with Mr Brown's Press officer. The film which was broadcast on June 26, the day before Mr Brown became Prime Minister goes on to suggest that the 'next' time they met, the civil servant summoned police and insisted they question him under anti-terror laws seemingly in retaliation for the earlier confrontation. But the two events happened weeks apart, and in reverse order.
In the film, Mr Campbell who hosted his own ITV1 celebrity interview show, 24 Hours With... in which he once appeared naked accused Mr Brown of using heavy-handed tactics to avoid answering questions.
But in stark contrast, the documentary maker praised Tory leader David Cameron as being 'affable and courteous'.
Mr Brown's Treasury officials complained to the BBC, claiming that as well as doctoring the film, Newsnight wrongly accused the Press officer of abusing her position and used a hidden camera to trick Mr Brown's head of security into making indiscreet comments.
In the film, Mr Campbell is first seen on friendly terms with Gordon Brown, shaking him warmly by the hand. But later, the journalist vents his frustration after Mr Brown's 'absurd' Press officer, Balshen Izzet, blocks his way when he tries to question Mr Brown as he arrives at an event.
In the next scene, Mr Campbell mocks Mr Brown's speech to a CBI dinner and conspiratorially suggests 'the same Press officer catches sight' of him and summons police.
In fact, the CBI dinner at London's Grosvenor House Hotel took place first, on May 15, and sources say police had no choice but to confront Mr Campbell as he was not known to Mr Brown's entourage. The handshake did not actually occur until the following day while the incident with Ms Izzet occurred on June 4, nearly three weeks later, when Mr Brown met British Muslim leaders in London.
A source close to Mr Brown said: 'Newsnight doctored the film to make it appear as though the Press officer called the police because Mr Campbell had clashed with her earlier that night. 'It is totally untrue. The events happened two weeks apart and in a different order. Newsnight changed it to make it more damaging.
'Ms Izzet did not call the police as Mr Campbell alleged. And to dupe one of Mr Brown's policemen into giving a TV interview is not on. The BBC should not be employing gonzo journalists on serious programmes like Newsnight.'
Gonzo journalism is the name given to the deeply personal style of reportage invented by late American writer Hunter S Thompson, who chronicled his drug-fuelled escapades in books such as Fear And Loathing In Las Vegas.
In Mr Campbell's film, still featured on the Newsnight website as a 'video highlight', the journalist triumphantly claims to have discovered the truth about Mr Brown in an off-the-cuff chat with his senior Special Branch bodyguard, declaring: 'Brown's head of security finally gives me the insight I'm looking for.' The police officer is heard to confide: 'To be honest Jamie, it's hard enough for us to speak with him...He's just a shy and introverted sort of person. It takes all sorts, I guess.'
Government sources say the policeman did not know he was being recorded. The interview was filmed with a camera held at pavement level and his muffled words are subtitled.
In contrast, Mr Campbell praises David Cameron for 'answering every single one of my questions. The two discuss rock music and Mr Brown's supposed elusiveness about asking questions.
Elsewhere, Mr Campbell says: 'It was good to see Dave and to speak to him but when I come to film Gordon Brown again, I am shut out completely.' He concludes: 'I get the feeling that with Gordon Brown's Press officer refusing to speak to me, with his head of security unable to communicate with him himself and with Prime Ministerial office imminent, it is unlikely that I will ever manage properly to get to Gordon.'
A BBC spokeswoman said: 'We have acknowledged that the sequences in the film were not shown in chronological order. There was no intention to deceive anybody. The commentary does not suggest that the two are chronological and that one led to the other. The sequences would have had the same meaning if we had run them in the reverse order.
'It has been suggested that the film maker may have employed dishonest tactics in using a hidden camera. The camera was visible at all times and the film maker was completely open about his intentions.' Another BBC source added: 'The film was a bit unconventional, but we did not intend to be unfair to civil servants or show any disrespect to Mr Brown and we do not believe that we did.'
Dan Rather would be proud.
We cant have any true-to-life pics or videos of PM Brown...
Not sporting, what?
The Beeb; just telling the lies the Islamofascists won’t tell.
OXYMORON - “journalistic ethics”
He went on to say, "We make the news, we don't report it, and I'll personally throttle anyone who has a problem with that!" /sarc
Sounds like the BBC is still taking journalism lessons from OUR press...
Even the BBC’s internal report found left-biased reporting, but that correcting such internally would be difficult. This newspaper report posits the motivation for “sexing up” the queen’s photo story and this PM Brown/”thug” story as possibly done to bolster ratings. The way to correct BBC bias is through competition, not any internal reform. Is Murdoch’s Sky TV making inroads on BBC’s previously captive audience?
“There was no intention to deceive anybody.”
Then why did they do it?
This is standard practice for the BBC. It's a rare occurance that they broadcast anything without altering the facts to fit their agenda.
They belong in prison and to have their broadcasting license revoked.
The BBC report comes over to me as rather supercilious, to say the least, towards Mr. Brown, whereas they appear to be quite sycophantic towards Mr. Cameron. Would this be because Mr. Brown is Scotch?
I’ve got a feeling it just got impossible for the Don Johson(miami vice) wantabe to get any of the PM’s time. Waste of film.
Fake but inaccurate :)
I wonder if any of the Fox people are gonna comment on that?
Sorry, but there's not enough fingers and toes in this country to count that for you.
The Michael Moore school of film.
That isn't exactly a vote of confidence. Gonzo journalism isn't journalism at all. Hunter Thompsom was an entertaining fraud, but a fraud he was.
“Hunter Thompsom was an entertaining fraud, but a fraud he was.”
Who blew his brains out with a shotgun, if I remember correctly.
Remember the UK residents are paying $270 per year for a TV license fee per household to fund the BBC.
The other channels have to compete with the BBC with no license fee money... the people should expect accuracy and no bias... they sure are paying for it!!
I assume that you are meaning to refer to "our honorable Muslim Friends who are engaged in a fully justified and entirely virtuous rise to defense against racist, Western aggressor nations."
(BBC definition of Islamofascist trash)