'We don’t always get it right but we do our best'

‘We don’t always get it right but we do our best’

Nick Robinson has defended BBC Radio 4’s Today programme against criticism from Michael Howard, saying its presenters “don’t always get it right but we do our best”.

Mr Howard wrote in yesterday’s Telegraph that he would no longer listen to the programme because it was so politically biased.

The “final straw” for him was Mr Robinson’s interview with Nadhim Zahawi, the vaccine minister, earlier in the week. The presenter pressed Mr Zahawi on details of the Government’s proposals for the reform of social care, which the minister could not disclose before they had been announced to Parliament.

The presenter “spent the whole interview berating the minister for not doing what Mr Robinson knew full well he couldn’t do”, Mr Howard said, claiming that the £275,000-per-year presenter “has assumed the role of the Today programme’s main rottweiler, a role previously filled with far more grace and objectivity by John Humphrys”.

Mr Robinson responds with a letter in Saturday’s Telegraph. “I’m sorry to read that Michael Howard is turning off his radio,” he writes, saying that this week’s programme has featured some “illuminating and civilised conversations”.

“The joy of live radio is that it can move us – bringing joy when we hear of Emma Raducanu’s success; tears when we hear the memories of those still haunted by 9/11 and, yes, sometimes anger when we shout at the radio at a politician who is being evasive or an interviewer who interrupts too much.

“We presenters don’t always get it right but we do our best to balance allowing those we interview to get their message across whilst also holding them to account.

“I hope Michael Howard will be back listening soon and, perhaps, back in the studio too where he has always robustly answered, rather than ignored, challenging questions.”

In his original piece, Mr Howard said he had previously adopted the “very unfashionable and unpopular attitude among Conservatives” of defending the BBC “despite its pronounced and well documented bias”.

However, he said, his patience had worn thin. 

“The Today programme, in particular, has completely crossed the boundary from which it could previously have been regarded as a plausibly authoritative, if biased, guide to the national discourse to a place where it seems to have given up all pretence to an objective point of view,” he said.

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