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BBC in row over doctored TV footage with Gordon Brown ("....made him look like a thug")
The Daily Mail (U.K.) ^ | July 14, 2007 | SIMON WALTERS

Posted on 07/14/2007 6:20:33 PM PDT by Stoat

BBC in row over doctored TV footage with Gordon Brown

By SIMON WALTERS - More by this author » Last updated at 23:28pm on 14th July 2007

  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.'

TOPICS: Crime/Corruption; Front Page News; Government; News/Current Events; United Kingdom
KEYWORDS: bbc; britain; distortion; england; gordonbrown; greatbritain; mediabias; uk; unitedkingdom
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To: Northern Alliance

As the poster of #29 I agree. I like to watch liberals’ apoplexy at the mention of Fox News Channel. Try it sometime when you want to tire out a liberal friend so that they go home early to go to sleep from all the jumping up and down and screaming.

41 posted on 07/15/2007 1:34:18 AM PDT by bajabaja
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To: bajabaja
As the poster of #29 I agree. I like to watch liberals’ apoplexy at the mention of Fox News Channel. Try it sometime when you want to tire out a liberal friend so that they go home early to go to sleep from all the jumping up and down and screaming.


I meant to c.c. my last one to you but slipped up. Yeah, I'm famous for my frequent references to Fox but mostly amongst acquaintances who can't/won't get it at home and never watch it elsewhere so really don't have a clue what is is like. That hasn't stopped them from forming an opinion, though. So is Sky News anything like FNC?

42 posted on 07/15/2007 2:09:45 AM PDT by Northern Alliance
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To: Stoat
There was no intention to deceive anybody.


43 posted on 07/15/2007 2:21:58 AM PDT by GretchenM (What does it profit a man to gain the whole world and lose his soul? Please meet my friend, Jesus)
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To: bajabaja

No, ITV’s revenue comes entirely from advertising. Nonetheless, a TV licence is required to watch it, as it is for all channels. Until the many other digital, cable etc channels appeared in the last decade or so, the BBC and ITV pursued a relentless ratings war, which ITV won more often that not. This was not competition in an uncontrolled market, but competition it undoubtedly was. For the BBC, success in the ratings war was vital if it were to preserve its privileged status in the next Royal Charter/Licence Fee cycle. The fact that viewers in their millions chose so often to switch to ‘the other side’, as it was then called, shows that they were anything but an audience captive to the BBC: although the market available to them was, of course, limited.

44 posted on 07/15/2007 3:32:47 AM PDT by Winniesboy
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To: Winniesboy

Thanks for that additional information, Winniesboy. I now understand the situation much better. So instead of a monopoly marketplace in TV, the British (like the US) went from an oligopolistic marketplace to a more open market with the advent of cable/satellite.

In the US for many years the BBC was the international version of the New York Times — a medium of record and of undoubted veracity. And perhaps it was such when a previous generation of journalists were behind BBC’s microphones. But then I began to contrast BBC’s coverage, especially on the Middle East, and found it skewed.

Now it seems as if the BBC is reduced to Dan Rather style trickster journalism to shore up ratings. Misrepresenting the Queen on national TV takes real chutzpah (the reversed sequence of the photo session drama).

De-charter the BBC.

And on a closing note Winniesboy, I hear “Winnie” no longer warrants mandatory mention in British pedagogy. Perhaps the British anti-smoking campaign has gone too far this time. {:-)

45 posted on 07/15/2007 10:08:35 AM PDT by bajabaja
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To: Northern Alliance

I don’t think you’d get much agreement that there are “a lot of Fox bashers on FR”.

That’s simply not true in my opinion.

46 posted on 07/15/2007 3:20:19 PM PDT by ConservativeMind
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