Britain's greatest living political playwright, Sir David Hare, has expressed his view in response to a Guardian webchat question on the failure of the BBC properly to cover the health bill, welfare reform bill and legal aid bill and the lives of others, that the BBC is subject to "political funk" and its news "incredibly cowed".
"David Hare: BBC news reporting is incredibly cowed
Playwright says at Guardian Open Weekend that real lives are going unreported, but praises Newsnight's Paul Mason
guardian.co.uk, Sunday 25 March 2012 16.56 BST Article history
Sir David Hare took part in a web chat with Guardian readers before an appearance at the Open Weekend. Photograph: Murdo Macleod for the Guardian
The BBC's news reporting has become "incredibly cowed", the playwright David Hare has said at the Guardian's Open Weekend, with proper journalism shunted to the margins and replaced by unquestioning echoes of government policy.
Taking part in a web chat with Guardian readers before an appearance at the event, Hare, whose often politically informed writing career has spanned 40 years, was asked whether the corporation had "given up covering a whole sector of society and the spending cuts".
Hare replied: "Yes, I do think BBC news reporting has become incredibly cowed," arguing that just about the only in-depth journalism at the corporation now came from Paul Mason, the economics editor for BBC2's Newsnight.
Are you concerned about what has happened to the BBC under the coalition and how they have given up covering a whole sector of society and the spending cuts? The absence of proper coverage of the health, legal aid and welfare reform bills and the BBC's quasi campaign to cut the 50p rate. Will you write something on the strange death of the liberal BBC?
David Hare replies:
Yes, I do think BBC news reporting has become incredibly cowed. It's 10.45 every night before Paul Mason finally comes on bringing news of places and issues which ought, rightfully, to be covered from morning till night. In fact in the last few years he's become a sort of BBC within the BBC. It's part political funk, but it's also part a change in reporting itself. Less time on the street, more time on the computer. Whenever the government hangs out a stinking fish like the 40p alcoholic unit story or the Chinese-to-own-our-roads story, the BBC falls for it hook line and sinker. And meanwhile real lives go unreported".