BBC criticised for promoting Question Time audience member’s ‘vile, unhinged’ anti-immigration rant

Viewers condemn show for sharing ‘misinformed’ comments without challenge

Conrad Duncan
Friday 21 February 2020 13:06 GMT
BBC criticised for sharing Question Time audience member's anti-immigration rant

The BBC has been criticised for sharing a “racist” and “unhinged” anti-immigration rant from a Question Time audience member on its social media pages.

A woman asked the show’s panel on Thursday at what point the UK “should completely close the borders” to immigrants and complained about the number of people “flooding in” to the country and using public services.

Soon after the comments were first aired, the BBC shared them again on Question Time’s social media pages with a caption that did not challenge the audience member’s argument, which has been described as “misinformed” and “factually inaccurate”.

The woman spoke during a debate on the government’s proposal for a new points-based immigration system.

Her argument was later challenged by journalist and political activist Ash Sarkar, a member of the show’s panel, who said figures showed “migrants to this country bring more and contribute more in tax than they take out of the system”.

The BBC has faced criticism for sharing a video clip of the audience member without fact-checking her comments or providing context about the contributions by immigrants to the UK.

Other video posts on the programme’s social media pages also do not contain fact-checking or context for the comments expressed in them.

The clip has been viewed more than two million times since it was posted on Thursday night.

Best for Britain, a group which describes itself as a cross-party campaign to uphold internationalist values, suggested it was irresponsible for the BBC to share the clip without challenging its content.

“It is truly sad to see such a misinformed audience,” the group wrote on Twitter.

“Broadcasting such opinions to millions of people and framing them as valid, merely normalises the expression of such racist views.”

Owen Jones, a prominent left-wing columnist and activist, described the video as a “vile, unhinged rant, packed full of lies and hate” and criticised the BBC for sharing it “uncritically” on social media.

“The BBC normalising this kind of thing has real, ugly consequences for people on buses, trains, and in the street who are perceived to have been ‘flooding in’ so that the country is ‘sinking’,” Media Lens, a British media analysis website, added in response to the clip.

A spokesperson for the BBC said: “Last night’s Question Time included a debate about immigration which featured a broad range of views from the audience members and panellists.

“We posted five clips of people expressing their different views on the issue, including a panellist responding directly to the views of an audience member.”

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