The media have lost the plot

Kay Burley’s ‘empty chairing’ of James Cleverly was embarrassing – for her.


Topics Politics UK

The big viral clip of this morning is of Sky News’ Kay Burley, ostentatiously ‘empty chairing’ Tory Party chairman James Cleverly for apparently refusing to appear on her show.

In the clip, she reels off a laundry list of controversies she wanted to ask him about – from Boris Johnson comparing Jeremy Corbyn to Stalin in today’s Telegraph to Jacob Rees-Mogg’s comments about the Grenfell Tower tragedy. She says Cleverly is just feet away, outside the studio, but for some reason is dodging the interview.

Only it turns out that the story is a bit more complicated than that. Cleverly was apparently booked in to do another interview, around the same time, on talkRADIO with Julia Hartley-Brewer. He was using one of the many studios in 4 Millbank – where Sky News, the BBC and others have their Westminster bases.

Cleverly gave his side of the story on Hartley-Brewer’s show, saying that as good as he is at multitasking, he isn’t capable of being in two places at once.

Burley seemed to suggest that No10 had promised to put someone up that day. Perhaps it was all a big mix-up. But in the end, Burley’s empty-chairing of Cleverly only embarrassed her. She has faced criticism of late for alleged anti-Brexit bias, and such theatrics won’t do much to disabuse people of the notion that she is bringing her political leanings to work with her.

Whatever the truth of all that, this bizarre episode is just another reminder of how much the media are losing the plot. Too many journalists seem to confuse moral grandstanding against the government with holding it to account. They seem incapable of keeping their own biases to themselves, and they seem so self-important that one declined interview (even for understandable reasons) is an excuse to go ballistic.

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Tim Wheeler

7th November 2019 at 2:21 pm

I remember she compared Simon Weston’s facial burns injuries to the Burka in a interview. I don’t watch Sky news myself but my jaw hit the floor when I saw the clip. Our mainstream TV News celebrities (they don’t seem like journalists any more) and utterly dire. I am forced to go online for serious political comment now.

Marvin Jones

10th November 2019 at 12:21 pm

Just a robot who needs a big script. Brainless sex dolls, the successful liberal media.

Michael Lynch

7th November 2019 at 10:32 am

I haven’t taken Burley seriously since she reported on the Malaysian Flight 370 disaster five years ago. She chased extremely distressed relatives of missing passengers up the escalators, constantly asking them how they felt. It was awful, clumsy and toe curling to watch. She’s a self appointed idiot, riding the feminist quota wave and nothing more. Burley is SKY’s version of C4’s Cathy Newman.

Perverted Lesbian

6th November 2019 at 7:09 pm

What we are witnessing during this GE as with Brexit is the MSM actively trying to undermine influence the electorate towards Lab/LIb Dem, now I don’t know if they ‘have’ to be impartial, but this stunt and the hounding of Rees-Mogg shows that they are going to try to use every trick in the book to manipulate the electorate. I think Brexit is foo k ed.
The same is going to happen in America 2020, democracy is a joke. Also, if the electorate is too stupid to see, then should we even care anymore?

Andy Maunder

6th November 2019 at 6:05 pm

You’ve got me subscribed. I have been moaning for ages about journalists expressing opinion over fact.. Beth Rigby and ex labour activist Lewis Goodhall are two of the worst offenders, neither able to report without adding a barb or opinion-piece. It’s truly misleading and these people should be impartial. The best reporters are those you really can’t guess which way of the political spectrum they swing.

cliff resnick

6th November 2019 at 5:49 pm

Violet Elizabeth Bott Syndrome!

Jerry Owen

6th November 2019 at 5:05 pm

According to Cleverly on the lovely JHB’s show Burley said to him outside the studio ‘I want to speak to you now’.
I also remember some years ago a guest ( can’t remember who ) on the ‘I love myself Burley show’ also known as ‘Sky news’ said of the guest ‘you can’t say that on my show’.
Nasty creature almost reaching the lowly barrel scraping levels of Soubry ..’Brexit voters are fascists’, and Jess ‘isn’t white male suicide funny’ Phillips.

Jim Lawrie

6th November 2019 at 4:50 pm

I think that, like many of her type, she has become carried away with the pseudo grandeur and authority of usurpers like Lady Hale, and now thinks she can grant unto herself the power to summons whomsoever, on a whim, to be her whipping boys.
They are so insulated by the constant confirmation of their own worldview in the social pond in which they swim that their only response to non-compliance is screaming and foot stomping. The good thing is that it shows everyone what feeble people they are. Mr Cleverly should ambush her with a TV crew in tow and insist on being interviewed on the spot.

Maybe Spіked could have a “Fake News of the Week” award, with this fake interview and faux outrage being my nomination.

Dominic Straiton

6th November 2019 at 4:18 pm

Watching the telly hoping to get any idea of whats going on is a complete waste of time. Alistair Williams coverage of Trudeau’s black face was far superior to anything on the msn. Sky ,BBC and worst of all channel4 “news” are an embarrassment to journalism.

K Tojo

6th November 2019 at 2:50 pm

Kay Burley not only lacks gravitas but her morning show gives the impression of being more about the importance of Kay Burley as host than the issues she purports to be “exploring” with her guests.

If she felt resentment at Julia Hartley Brewer beating her to the James Cleverly interview she could have shown a bit of maturity rather than that childish attempt to embarrass Cleverly.

As one of the broadcast media’s favoured girls she is pretty much bulletproof and, it seems, a favourite with other journalists. Remember the effusive praise she received for that “I’ll punch your lights out” remark she made to a patronising male journalist.

Ven Oods

6th November 2019 at 2:23 pm

I never watch Sky, as I refuse to endorse anything to do with Murdoch, the Dirty Digger.
Up to now, I’ve always defended the BBC, on the grounds that it provided a unique service. Lately, though, that defence has a hollow ring. It looks increasingly like ‘W1A’ come to life.
The equal pay dispute is a good example. £440 for reading listeners’ letters for 15 minutes seems crazy enough, then it turns out that a man is paid £3000 a pop for the same thing.
Perhaps it is time that the Beeb was put out to grass. In a digital age, it seems increasingly an expensive irrelevance.

Adrian Stephen

6th November 2019 at 9:46 pm

You can watch Sky now, assuming you’re fine with Comcast who bought Sky last year. I don’t think they’re quite as bad as Murdoch.

A Game

7th November 2019 at 10:50 am

You touched on one of the things that is a new front. Murdoch is now the protector of the traditional media in the face of social media’s predation on traditional news creators.
Traditional media at least employed people and had standards to comply with. Social media… well, its a free for all and no one getting paid and certainly no standards to comply with. Oh… and free speech completely killed off – its a privately owned public square, so they can.
In Australia, the Murdoch press is the only force against Wokeness. If they weren’t writing up the scary games of the progressives, no one would be hearing about anything. (You just sift through the economic self interest or hatchet jobs against opponents.) Their coverage of military issues, the middle east, their reporting on things like MH370 – Pilots galore tearing their hair out at the corruption of the investigation in ruling out a suicidal pilot…) BREXIT – they carry The Times, The Economist, The Spectator, The Financial Times, The Sun… so many different viewpoints get catered to, as well as local columnists having a chat about it… this is good stuff, and rarely has a narrative being served. Trump, likewise… plenty of criticism of him, analysing his mistakes, openly. They are providing on many levels now, the most objective articles on geopolitics.
And of course their recent sin – one Bernard Lane has been delving, weekly, for months, into the Transgender Ideology and how far they have been able to dig with nobody noticing. (Outrageous, of course… a local writer took such great umbrage he begged people to ditch their subscriptions, which he’ll donate to… a transgender youth cause, if I remember rightly. HOW DARE anyone investigate what’s been bubbling beneath the surface. And they are investigative, well sourced articles. And he won’t stop. No one else is going there, unless its pro Trans propaganda. Which we’re now getting. The ABC leading the charge, of course. Heaven forbid parents of gender dysphoric children are given any information other than the feel good activism of affirmation.)

And Sky News Australia – as plenty of Brits on youtube have discovered… are Pro Brexit. Brendan O’Neill gets a run in the Murdoch papers, to great admiration from the readers… funny how things come around.

David Michael

6th November 2019 at 1:54 pm

Burley throwing a public hissy-fit just underlines her poor performance as a news vendor.
Faced with being in two places at the same time, I would also go with the more thoughtful and less confrontational Julia H-B.

Jim Lawrie

6th November 2019 at 8:45 pm

Julia Hartley-Brewer had the presence of mind to deal with Burley’s little tantrum before Burley had finished spewing it out, and then to continue with the adult matters.

Burley is not professional enough to check her own diary – pampered, wants it all on a plate and intellectually indolent and shallow.

Jerry Owen

6th November 2019 at 1:40 pm

James Hillier
I don’t think they care anymore. the legacy media ( a term I have only just come round to using because I now believe it ) knows that its influence is waning, they are desperate to do their masters bidding and are failing. Take the BBC on another thread here, I was astonished to find that their viewings for some programmes only just topped a 100,000 , there was a time when they had millions for virtually everything.
I rarely watch the BBC except for maybe ‘South Today’ occasionally but even that has become quite political rather than focusing on local ‘non political’ issues.
I surf the net for my news, publications like Spiked and the Speccie give in depth stories with verifiable links ( which you can find your own anyway ) , and of course many contributors are a good source of information.
The MSM has become dated has outlived its usefulness it’s all on the net now, hence the establishments efforts to curtail the flow of information on it.

A Game

7th November 2019 at 11:05 am

There was an ex BBC newsperson… I don’t remember the name, I think it was quite recent, giving a talk somewhere, which included taking a pot shot at Boris’s use of his direct PMQs. Nigel Farage copped it, too, having a programme on LBC.
They should be always within the clutches of the mainstream media, so they can be cross examined and put through their paces, and that this style of speaking to the people directly is what – wait for it – DICTATORS do.

Its like… just as well he’s retired because he obviously is living in a bubble if he thinks anyone, anymore, has any faith in our “News and Current Affairs” programmes, to get at the truth of an issue.
Your election, thus far, is perfect proof of it, and Burley’s questions, more proof of it. She was just going to cover the same, tired ground everyone was covering that day. Your coverage is more of that petty, pedantic reporting that focusses on the parsley on the plate, not the meat and potatoes.

That Boris doing his question time directly via social media… and even if the questions are hand picked (big deal – he goes into the BBC for an interview, he knows exactly what he’ll be getting asked… the manner, the angles…), he’s still gone on the record regarding an issue and hey presto, can be cross examined about that, especially if a week later, he says something different to someone else.

I guess its a bygone era when a tv presenter would sit there and apologise for a booking error… that her show hadn’t even bothered to actually “book” someone, firmly, but was just going on the idea that someone would be around to rope in… very unprofessional. And she then compounds it by acting… unprofessional.

Jerry Owen

6th November 2019 at 1:26 pm

I refused to watch Burley on Sky News about a year or so ago due to her anti Brexit bias and her general air of a smug Cheshire cat. I am glad to see she has been demoted from the 6 o’clock news.
Kay Burley or Julia Hartley-Brewer.. me thinks Mr Cleverly behaved as his name suggests and chose the rather lovely and increasingly impressive Julia.

James Hillier

6th November 2019 at 1:25 pm

Journalism has lost its way and the media exists in an almost perpetual and universal state of failure, in which editors and writers seem incapable of telling the difference between opinion and reporting. Or possibly they just don’t care any more.

Much of the press, and this includes titles on the left and right as well as the BBC, I now find to be of no use for its primary function, to correctly report on events. Many titles are good, if at all, only for understanding the biases and latest talking points of whichever side of the cultural and political debate the title in question aligns with.

Worse still, not only can you use the press to track the ideological prejudices of different social and political interest groups, it sometimes feels that you can even spot where coverage is being coordinated among journalists of the same ideological leanings across different titles.

Once you notice this, it’s very difficult to retain any respect for the fourth estate. Oz himself has pulled the curtain aside without realising what a shabby figure he presents to those watching.

Jerry Owen

6th November 2019 at 5:08 pm

james Hillier
I have responded to you but it’s under mod so you may not see it.

James Hillier

6th November 2019 at 5:57 pm

Did you let fly?

Jerry Owen

6th November 2019 at 6:53 pm

No.. they mod posts randomly it seems .. I’ve had a record four in the last day or so !

James Hillier

6th November 2019 at 6:58 pm

Ah well, maybe it will rumble up to the surface one of these days, years from now.

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