The BBC has not been sufficiently sceptical on the European Union or immigration, according to John Humphrys, who said staff had let liberal bias shape the corporation’s news coverage.
Humphrys, presenter of Radio 4’s Today programme, said the BBC had “bought into the European ideal”.
Critics have long accused the BBC of liberal bias and of failing to acknowledge public concerns about immigration or Britain’s membership of the EU. Humphrys is the first current affairs presenter to admit such bias existed, although he said the situation had much improved.
“We weren’t sufficiently sceptical – that’s the most accurate phrase – of the pro-European case. We bought into the European ideal,” he said.
“We weren’t sufficiently sceptical about the pro-immigration argument. We didn’t look at the potential negatives with sufficient rigour.
“I think we’re out of that now. I think we have changed.”
In an interview with Radio Times, Humphrys claimed that the bias was “understandable”.
“The BBC has tended over the years to be broadly liberal as opposed to broadly conservative for all sorts of perfectly understandable reasons.
“The sort of people we’ve recruited – the best and brightest – tended to come from universities and backgrounds where they’re more likely to hold broadly liberal views than conservative.”
Humphrys appears unconcerned by a BBC diktat banning high-profile stars from publicly criticising the corporation.
Danny Cohen, the BBC’s director of television, warned last year that he would crack down on “those who work for the BBC and are well-rewarded for it [but who] are quick to attack or criticise the organisation in public rather than deal with issues internally”.
However, Humphrys also used the interview to complain about unnecessary layers of management.
“There are too many of them,” he said. “Over the years we’ve been grotesquely over-managed, there’s no question. They’re now getting a grip on it. A lot of gone. I think more need to go.”
Humphrys also predicted that the next Today presenter will be a woman, following on from the most recent signing, Mishal Husain.
Last year, he was criticised by the BBC Trust over a television documentary he made in which he questioned whether benefits claimants were living in an “age of entitlement”. The Trust said he had breached impartiality guidelines by failing to provide statistics to back up claims that there was “a healthy supply of jobs” in Britain.
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Hey! I am so tired of the stereotype of the uneducated, stupid conservative. I graduated from university too. And I bet a lot of our readers have as well.
BBC is not interested in hiring intelligent people who do not have the “correct” views. Neither is CBC or a lot of the MSM.