The Matrix Project is an effort to document personal factors that undermine powerful journalists’ claims of objectivity and impartiality. Are factors such as an elite education, establishment connections, personal wealth and interests in rival fields compatible with journalistic integrity?
This page looks at BBC journalist Emily Maitlis. For more information on the database click here.
Learn about the significance of a private/Oxbridge education here
Emily Maitlis was educated at a state comprehensive school
She studied English at Queens College, Cambridge (source)
Learn about the significance of the Revolving Door here
Emily Maitlis has no significant experience working in rival fields of business and politics
Learn about the significance of Establishment Connections here
Emily Maitlis is married to Mark Gwynne, an investment banker for Merrill Lynch who was, according to The Independent, “brought up as a “polo-playing, hunting, shooting and fishing” sort.”
The article adds that “Gwynne’s parents own a notable (country) property...'”It’s a bit of a closet secret that she’s married to a country squire type,’ says the friend. ‘I don’t think Emily has really totally got to grips with the English countryside. But she’s a good sport. She wasn’t born and bred into it, but she’s a mucker-in. She’s very well liked and popular with both the financial hedge fund banking crowd and arty-farty media types. It’s quite unusual to blend in both worlds.”
According to this Guardian profile “Piers Morgan is a good friend, she has Emma Thompson’s number in her mobile.”
Nonetheless, Maitlis denies “the charge that people like her are the “elite”, existing in a liberal bubble where everyone knows everyone.”
Salary/Indications of Wealth
Learn about the significance of journalists with an unusual level of wealth here
Emily Maitlis placed 13th on the BBC’s list of top earners, 2020/21, with an annual salary of £325,000-£329,999 in 2020/21 (source)
As a point of reference, the Office for National Statistics list the average UK salary for 2021 as £26,193
Complaints / apologies / controversies
Learn about the significance of complaints/apologies here
Spectator Editorial Position – Maitlis was forced to give up a column in The Spectator, a magazine rated “right-centre bias” by mediabiasfactcheck.com, just one week into a weekly column. “In light of our guidelines, Emily should never have been given permission to become a contributing editor to the Spectator, or any other magazine,” the BBC said. “The guidelines, approved by the BBC governors, are there to demonstrate and protect the corporation’s impartiality and must be applied consistently.”
Rod Liddle Complaint Upheld – The BBC’s Executive Complaints Unit upheld a complaint that claimed Emily Maitlis was “sneering and bullying” towards columnist Rod Liddle during a Newsnight discussion. The ECU found that Maitlis was too “persistent and personal” in her criticism of Liddle, who argued a pro-Brexit standpoint during the discussion (source)
Dominic Cummings Coverage – Emily Maitlis was pulled from a Newsnight programme following complaints that on the previous night’s show she had crossed editorial lines when discussing Dominic Cumming’s potential violation of lockdown rules. “We believe the introduction we broadcast did not meet our standards of due impartiality,” the BBC said (source)
Piers Morgan Retweet – Maitlis was also censured by the BBC for retweeting a statement from her friend Piers Morgan. The statement, according to the ECU, “was clearly controversial, implying sharp criticism of the Government, and there was nothing in the surrounding context to make clear that Ms Maitlis was not endorsing it or to draw attention to alternative views” (source)
Corbyn Coverage – Emily Maitlis presented episodes of Newsnight where the editorial team visually represented Jeremy Corbyn as a Russian communist and as Voldemort from Harry Potter(!!?) We complained to the BBC about a programme in which Maitlis used the phrase “hard left” three times to characterise Corbyn and the left-wing of Labour. The complaint is ongoing at the time of writing!
In their own words
It’s such a centre of privilege (Cambridge). It’s ridiculous, the doors it opens. But then we’re the ones who are mad if we’re not making the most of itEmily Maitlis
If two people go for the same TV job and they’re both journalists but one looks better, of course you’re going to give the job to the better-looking one.”Emily Maitlis
Emily Maitlis attended Cambridge University and is married to an investment banker whose parents have been linked to the aristocracy and own a “notable property”. She earns more than 10 times the average UK salary, sought to combine her BBC work with a column for the Spectator and has persistently struggled to keep to BBC impartiality guidelines.
Impartial? Independent? Holding the powerful to account?
Learn more about the Matrix Project here.
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