An Open Letter to BBC Scotland on Steve Bannon

Dear Ms MacKinnon,

Like thousands of licence fee payers across the country I am deeply concerned by BBC Scotland’s decision to support the upcoming News Xchange event featuring Steve Bannon.

As an individual synonymous with white nationalism and the rise of racist, hate-fuelled politics I believe Mr Bannon’s inclusion is fundamentally dangerous, and simply by supporting his participation BBC Scotland are tacitly legitimising his rhetoric and ideology.

I understand the justification for his inclusion which you reiterated before the Scottish Parliament’s culture committee; you intend the event can serve to hold him to account by interrogating and scrutinising his views.

However, I would ask you to weigh the benefit of such an interrogation against the longterm cost.

In his current incarnation as a populist espousing the benefits of “economic nationalism” Steve Bannon’s views remain within the bounds of acceptable discourse. It’s only when these more benign views become part of mainstream discussion through the help of credible events like News Xchange that Steve Bannon and the far-right will be sufficiently emboldened to pursue their real agenda – a witch-hunt against Muslims, immigrants and minorities.

I acknowledge and respect BBC Scotland’s journalistic duty, but like each one of us, our Scottish institutions have a a duty which supersedes the obligations of any given profession – and that is the moral duty to stand in defiance of tyranny and oppression.

If Steve Bannon is permitted to speak in Edinburgh with the full cooperation of BBC Scotland then your journalistic remit may be satisfied, but the moral duty to those who will suffer under the rise of the far-right will have been abdicated.

As the fires of fascism begin to burn across Europe once again, I ask you to consider what role BBC Scotland are about to play in further fanning the flames.

On behalf of the more than 2,300 people how have signed my petition  I implore you to withdraw BBC Scotland’s support for this event.

Yours sincerely,
David Mitchell

Comments (8)

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  1. Josef Ó Luain says:

    As though Ms MacKinnon had any say in the matter … I doubt that very much, David. That said, I hugely appreciate your time and effort.

    1. Graeme Purves says:

      Indeed. Donalda MacKinnon has as much say in this matter as she has in the branding of ‘Question Time’ as a BBC Scotland production. She’s the Branch Manager.

      1. That may or not may be true but they should be called to account for this – as they have either put their name to it – r had their name put to it.

        1. Graeme Purves says:

          The BBC can be ‘called to account’ until we are blue in the face, but it can’t be ‘held to account’, and it knows it. Hence its arrogance.

  2. Stewart F says:

    To enable everyone to make an informed choice re we not entitled to hear both sides of an argument?
    Who should decide what we can and cannot listen to?

    1. Graeme Purves says:

      What additional information do you feel the need the hear in order to make an informed choice about fascism?

  3. William Davison says:

    This man’s views are clearly obnoxious : all the more reason to publicly confront, challenge and refute his arguments. I believe articulate and intelligent opponents would easily expose and demolish his rhetoric and ideology. I look forward to his intellectual dissection and humiliation.

  4. John Monro says:

    It’s a difficult moral and political issue. I mean, if Hitler were to be cloned and was disseminating his views, would you interview him or invite him to a meeting? My feeling is that Bannon is not British, he’s a foreigner seeking to stir in Europe, is implicated in the Brexit saga, so there’s no incumbency for the BBC to provide any sort of platform for him, so I approve of this letter. If this does go ahead the BBC should, prior to the interview or meeting, provide a quick background biography as to who he is, how he operates and the things he’s said and stands for, along with a review of the criticisms and concerns of well-know public figures in the US and the UK. This would provide the context the viewer needs to judge the questions and replies. I live in NZ, so I don’t know whether this is an open public meeting that will be broadcast or a studio interview. I imagine an audience will be politically aware, but the problem is that far too far to many viewers won’t be – that’s the danger because Bannon wouldn’t be where his is without knowing how to sell himself, appeal to people’s baser instincts and deflect or return awkward questions – just because he’s a nasty man doesn’t mean he isn’t very clever. He won’t be that easy to humiliate. People like him lie effortlessly and convincingly and it’s incredibly hard to pin people like this down. Also, will any interviewer or chairperson be sharp and tough enough to deal to him? The BBC’s and our danger is underestimating our opponents, and we shouldn’t discount there could be a hidden few of his supporters within the BBC itself.

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