* Update – a few days after this article was published the BBC confirmed Chris Mason as the new political editor. Check out our Matrix Database entry for Mason here to see which characteristics he has in common with his predecessors.
The BBC are apparently struggling to fill their flagship role of political editor. Laura Kuenssberg is leaving the position this month, after years of reading out text messages from Dominic Cummings – sorry, years of impartial reporting – and, according to the Guardian, BBC bigwigs have been “unhappy with the choice of candidates” put forward to replace her. They have “began inviting fresh applications for the job.”
What kind of characteristics are BBC executives looking for? Perhaps you’re wondering whether you have what it takes to “immediately become one of the most influential and scrutinised journalists in the country”?
With the help of our Matrix Database, which documents conflicts of interest among high-profile journalists, we take a look at the previous incumbents of the role to see what “attributes” they have in common…
Laura Kuenssberg – 2015-2022
Here is the data we gathered on Laura Kuenssberg for her Matrix Database entry:
In summary, we wrote:
Laura Kuenssberg comes from a wealthy family that is about as establishment as it gets (including links to high-level British colonialism), was privately educated, earns 10 times the salary of the average Briton and there is objective evidence (apology and upheld complaint) of bias against Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour.
Nick Robinson – 2005-2015
Here is the data we gathered on Nick Robinson for his Matrix Database entry:
In summary, we wrote:
Nick Robinson attended a private school and Oxbridge. He was heavily involved in the Conservative Party. He has a personal connection, dating from childhood, to influential journalist Brian Redhead. He earns more than 10 times the salary of the average Briton. By his own admission, he did not push hard enough and ask enough questions in the build up to the Iraq War.
Andrew Marr – 2000-2005
Here is the data we gathered on Andrew Marr for his Matrix Database entry:
In summary, we wrote:
Andrew Marr had an elite education, he married into the Establishment, he earns more than 10 times the salary of the average Briton and, by his own admission, had relationships with politicians that were close enough to compromise his reporting.
If we were to put together an “ideal candidate” for the role of BBC political editor, based on the previous three incumbents, what would they look like?
They would definitely be privately educated and have attended Oxbridge or Cambridge. Kuenssberg, Robinson and Marr all attended at least one private school (in common with only 7% of the UK population) and 2/3 of them attended an Oxbridge university (in common with less than 1% of the UK population)
The journalistic composite would have at least one strong family/friendship tie to the UK establishment, but, ideally, several. Laura Kuenssberg grew up in what may be the ultimate establishment family (both parents have honours bestowed by the Queen and her great-uncle was the last colonial governor-general of Nigeria!). Andrew Marr married the daughter of a peer of the realm (and a fellow high-profile journalist). Only Nick Robinson has just one obvious personal connection to the establishment, but a significant one. How many journalistic doors did long-time Today programme host Brian Redwood open for him?
The BBC political editor-in-waiting would also have a track record of defending the establishment and attacking those who threaten it. Kuenssberg, Marr and Robinson have repeatedly been accused of favouring the Conservatives. In fact, only Robinson has/had an explicit affiliation with the Tories. All three are conservatives with a small “c” – that is, they defend the establishment position where it must be defended (see Marr and Robinson cheerleading/”not asking more questions” on Iraq) and Kuenssberg earning censorship for misrepresentation of establishment-challenger Jeremy Corbyn.
So, do you have what it takes to become BBC political editor?
- Had an elite education enjoyed by less than 1% of the population?
- Born and bred as part of the establishment?
- Having digested the values of those who hold the levers of power, are you ready to defend them under the guise of “impartiality”?
Send in your application for BBC political editor!*
* Marked for the attention of Director-General (and former Tory council candidate) Tim Davie and BBC Chairman (and former Tory donor) Richard Sharp.
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