Charles Moore batters the BBC and Allison Pearson pushes conspiracy theories: The Telegraph's Planet Normal podcast is anything but...

Allison Pearson has been shown time and time again to be a liar and a kook. Her podcast doesn't change that.

Allison Pearson (newsletters passim), the blonde numbskull, has her own podcast, Planet Normal, which she co-presents with economics bro Liam Halligan. ‘Normal’ is a subjective quality — I know that well as a Norfolk native — but I don’t think any reasonable human would conclude that Planet Normal is any such thing. Instead, what you’ll find is a pair of presenters committed to castigating the ‘mainstream media’ while being staffers at… a national newspaper, bankrolled by billionaires.

While Halligan had a relatively respectable career before he landed on Planet Normal, Allison Pearson is a long-time believer in conspiracy theories and publiciser of dangerous bullshit. She was heavily involved in the anti-MMR movement, used the 2016 Belgian bombings to argue for the Leave case during the Brexit referendum (she tweeted, "Brussels, de facto capital of the EU, is also the jihadist capital of Europe. And the Remainers dare to say we're safer in the EU!") and called for internment following the Manchester Arena Bombing in 2017.

Pearson’s move to becoming a ‘lockdown sceptic’ aka coronavirus conspiracist began in December 2019 when she falsely claimed that a photo of a child lying on the floor of a hospital was staged. Pearson said she had received an explanation of how — she’s very keen on anonymous sources that quickly turn out to be wrong or perhaps fictitious — going on to say the photo was “100% faked.”

The Leeds General Infirmary trust apologised that only chairs were available in the treatment room and not beds and the hospital’s chief medical officer apologised. Allison Pearson has not apologised.

In the latest episode of Planet Normal, Pearson and Halligan welcome Charles Moore as their guest. The former Telegraph editor, current Telegraph columnist, and biographer of Margaret Thatcher was Number 10’s favoured candidate to become the next Chairman of the BBC. He was knocked out of contention because he was taken to court over non-payment of the Licence Fee in the past, but Halligan and Pearson were still keen to have him let rip on the BBC’s ‘failures’.

I suspect you won’t be surprised by what Charles Moore had to say:

“I’m afraid that the news coverage and discussion in the BBC — though very full in some ways — has been much too combative and much too inclined to created division, and stir up trouble and apportion blame. I don’t think you get a cool, clear, factual account of what’s going on. I found that depressing. They’re always looking for someone to attack in the coverage…

What’s been very good is that the new Director-General, Tim Davie, has come in very firmly and produced what I think are very good guidelines about impartiality…

I’ve been accused of hating the BBC. That’s not the case; it’s more like an unrequited love actually… I was brought up greatly admiring the BBC and believing in what it is capable of doing… impartiality is the absolute key to the public service ethos and privilege that the BBC has.

It has been abandoned and Tim Davie has strongly said that’s wrong. Already he’s being attacked by BBC colleagues for doing so.”

Moore’s described in lavishly buttered words by Pearson as ‘civilised’, but he’s anything but civilised. He is a bruiser whose authoritarian tendencies are masked partially by his received pronunciation and pseudo-Edwardian manners.

Moore favours Tim Davie, the former Conservative Party council candidate, because like Moore the new BBC boss is a Tory. He detects a lack of impartiality in BBC News because it is not totally acquiescing to the Conservative government led by Boris Johnson. Moore was once Johnson’s boss at the Telegraph and was elevated to the House of Lords by him, becoming Baron Moore of Etchingham.

I have my issues with BBC News. I think it still gives unquestioning platforms to the far-right (see this week’s issue of Radio 4’s The Untold and its friendliness with fascists) and fails to give left-wing, republican (i.e. anti-monarchy) views, and ecological arguments a fair hearing without imposing false bias or a sneering attitude towards them.

That Tories are angry with BBC News as much as the Left is pissed off with it does not, as the popular fallacy has it, mean it is doing its job properly. It actually means that BBC News’ output is a mess. If Moore and Davie have their way it will only get worse. Trust me, you don’t want to end up living on ‘Planet Normal’.

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