So – imagine my disappointment on watching the Liz Bates clip last night on the leak from the Alex Salmond inquiry, presented with a level of anti-independence bias worthy of Sarah Smith or Laura Kuenssberg.
According to Bates, the leak has ‘rocked’ Scottish politics leading to a wave of ‘damning’ headlines. Note the incendiary language, which encourages viewers to believe that issues of the gravest moral import are at stake here. Why no reference to the counteracting messages from the other side – such as Patrick Harvie’s observation that the committee has destroyed the credibility of its own report by the leak, or The National’s carefully reasoned dismissal of the leak as a politically motivated ad hominem attack based on a ‘politics of desperation’? Why, above all, no discussion of the fact that the leak in itself constituted a breach of the ministerial code of conduct, article 14 of which states:
“Members must not provide the media with any other briefings or views on the general contents or ‘line’ of draft committee reports or other confidential material or information. Disclosures of this kind can also seriously undermine and devalue the work of committees.”?
Then Ruth Davidson was allowed to get away with her usual malicious ranting:
‘Everybody has to have faith that the people who are leading Scotland, the ministers and the First Minister are telling the truth. We think that if she had any integrity at all the First Minister would be considering her position today.’
Why wasn’t this called out for the egregious exhibition of hypocritical double standards that it is. Why wasn’t someone from the SNP invited to comment to provide balance?
Instead, Bates moved on to provide air time for the sanctimonious platitudes of Anas Sarwar, the leader of the Scottish Labour party:
‘You take out personality and you take out party, if you have a breach of the ministerial code and a misleading of parliament you would expect that minister to resign.’
Why didn’t Bates take the opportunity to ask Sarwar if his leader in Westminster would be applying the same standards in the case of the Prime Minister?
The vox pops were another missed opportunity to provide some much-needed balance. Of the four people interviewed, two said they thought that the affair would make little difference to the outcome of the upcoming elections, one said she felt that Sturgeon was becoming less trustworthy and the fourth essentially damned with faint praise, saying only: ‘Could you balance it up with how well she’s handled the pandemic? You need to look at all aspects of it.’
Why didn’t Bates speak with anyone who supported the position that Nicola had done very little that could be judged as truly wrong, a position that is wonderfully summed up by the former Greek finance minister Yanis Varoufakis and shared by many:
"I have tried and tried to see what the real charge against Nicola Sturgeon is. But, for the life of me, I am failing to see anything beyond minor issues regarding who said what to whom in highly inconsequential meetings. Where? In a UK led by Boris Johnson."
Why is there no examination in the MSM of the insubstantiality of the allegations highlighted by Varoufakis? Why is there only this kind of irresponsible reporting which is liable to undermine the ability of a leader who is doing an excellent job of running the country during a dangerous pandemic – and thereby undermining the welfare of all of us in Scotland?