Emily Maitlis on the spot in awkward exchange ‘Not fair!’

Maitlis recalls BBC complaint from Downing Street

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Ms Maitlis welcomed Mr Scaramucci onto the podcast saying: “We’re gonna talk to the mooch now. Anthony Scaramucci who I first met on the White House lawn when he was director of comms. He lost his job very shortly after that, but that was not my fault.

“The mooch welcome You are our first news agent you are friend of the News Agents which makes you one of us a news agent.

Mr Scaramucci replied: “Am I able to tell people I lost my job because of you Em because you are so famous now that like me telling people that I lost my job because of Emily Maitlis that would be like a really good thing for me. I think.

“Yeah, until I lose my job because of you and then we’d both be in the…,” replied Ms Maitlis. 

Ms Maitlis, who left the BBC this year, used the MacTaggart Lecture at the Edinburgh TV Festival this week to claim the corporation had “sought to pacify” No 10 by issuing a swift apology following her 2020 segment about Dominic Cummings’ lockdown trip to Durham.

The broadcaster received more than 20,000 complaints and ruled that Ms Maitlis and the Newsnight team breached impartiality rules, saying in a statement: “We believe the introduction we broadcast did not meet our standards of due impartiality.”

David Dimbleby has said Emily Maitlis’ mistake was to deliver her Newsnight monologue as a “polemic”.

The former Question Time host, 83, also dismissed the suggestion there is a “cabal” of Conservative supporters in the governorship of the BBC.

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Speaking on BBC Radio 4’s Today, Mr Dimbleby said: “First of all, the words she spoke had she said been approved by the editorial team at Newsnight so it wasn’t just Emily that was rebuked by the BBC. It was the team. The second thing I would say is that the things she said I think should have been questions, not statements.

“‘The country can see that Cummings broke the rule, it is shocked the Government cannot’. Well, not everybody may have been shocked. ‘The public mood is one of fury, contempt, and anguish’. Well, maybe but that is a question to put. It was a polemic. I think that was the mistake.”

Mr Dimbleby said he personally did not feel like a fool, as the monologue claimed many in the country did, but instead felt “very cross” with Mr Cummings, who was then Boris Johnson’s chief adviser.

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Referring to Ms Maitlis’ claim the BBC had rebuked the Newsnight team in response to a complaint from the Government, he added: “I don’t actually think that the call from No 10 the next morning (had any effect). There is a call from No 10 every bloody morning of the week.

“Whoever is in power, there always are. Look at Alastair Campbell – never ever gave up on the BBC when Labour was in office.”

In a reference to Theresa May’s former communications director Sir Robbie Gibb, Ms Maitlis said during her lecture: “Put this in the context of the BBC Board, where another active agent of the Conservative party – former Downing Street spin doctor and former adviser to BBC rival GB News – now sits, acting as the arbiter of BBC impartiality.”

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