Nick Robinson has been forced to defend reading out newspaper headlines on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, after a shadow cabinet minister attacked him for doing so.
The presenter, a former BBC Political Editor, was challenged by Barry Gardiner for mentioning The Sun’s headline in this morning’s paper review.
The tabloid splashed on “Crash, bang, wallies!” - it’s own take on the Labour manifesto leak yesterday.
Robinson read out the headline, along with those of the other major national newspapers.
“Crash, bang, wallies is The Sun’s headline as it lists a day of disasters for labour.
Crash as Jeremy Corbyn’s car ran over a cameraman’s foot, bang as the Unite leader Len McCluskey fell down some steps and wallies, because, so says The Sun, the manifesto launch is now a shambles.”
Gardiner was lined up for an interview minutes after the press review, but very quickly into it took Robinson to task for repeating The Sun’s words.
“I did think your earlier report was beneath you - this crash, bang, wallies stuff,” Gardiner said.
“No, no that was quoting The Sun in the paper review,” Robinson protested.
“I know it was,” Gardiner said. “But actually this is the Today programme and people expect a standard and a quality of a debate that is higher than crash bang wallop.”
An audibly surprised Robinson responded: “Because they expect us to read out newspaper headlines as we do every morning and have done for many, many years without backing them, endorsing them or criticising them.”
Gardiner hit back with one final blow: “And they expect you to actually exercise a degree of choice.”
Hear the full exchange, below
Journalists, including BBC Radio 2’s Jeremy Vine, quickly admonished Gardiner for his intervention.
While The Sun’s Political Editor accused Gardiner of preferring censorship.
Others praised Gardiner’s radio appearance, suggesting the shadow minister was right to tussle with the BBC.
The BBC has been contacted for comment but did not respond at time of publication.