If you watched last night’s BBC Ten O’Clock News (Wednesday) you may have been as surprised as me to discover that the issue of Barack Obama’s birth certificate was considered a higher priority than Scotland’s parliamentary elections.
Auntie’s obsession with the US is well known thanks to the armies of reporters it sends over whenever the merest opportunity arises. Normally its news bosses are able to muster some veneer of international importance to defend their decisions but yesterday’s Obama story was – as he himself said – “silliness”.
Quite right too. A foreign leader publishing their birth certificate to try and appease the madder elements of their electorate is a domestic, not international, story and of no relevance to anyone other than the citizens of the country in question.
Yet around seven minutes into the UK’s main news bulletin the BBC found time to cover this non-story while the Scottish elections, a matter of real consequence to millions of British citizens, only squeezed into the bulletin barely five minutes before the end.
This is an extraordinary set of priorities which suggests the corporation still has lessons to learn even three years after The King Report “found the BBC wanting in a number of areas” surrounding its reporting of the UK’s devolved bodies.
How can anyone rationalise placing a non-story about a non-UK politician’s nationality above an election which directly impacts on the lives of 5 million British citizens?