UPDATE 10 March
Well, it turns out that Gary Lineker is, in fact, the story. He will not present “Match of The Day” this week. Sky News is reporting he did not agree to step back but was taken off air because he would not apologise for his comments regarding the Illegal Migration Bill. A BBC insider told The Addition that the decision is “astonishing. And stupid.” In further fallout, pundit Ian Wright has said he will not be on the show this week.
Original post follows below:
Over the last few days, Gary Lineker has dominated the news. The “Match of The Day” presenter tweeted his opposition to the government’s newly announced asylum policy.
The attention has been on him ostensibly because he works for the BBC and is therefore supposed to be neutral or non-partisan. Of course, this is nonsense. There are plenty of examples of those involved in BBC shows offering their opinion on different issues or joining campaigns whilst away from the broadcaster. Some that have been cited recently are Prue Leith and Andrew Neil. Like Lineker, Leith’s cooking shows have nothing to do with the news so it doesn’t really matter that she openly supported Brexit. Neil’s time both leading both The Spectator and much of the BBC’s biggest political interviews was surely more problematic, but he was so good at the latter it didn’t seem to matter in practice.
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Like Lineker, I disagree strongly with the Government’s policy. However, I really do not like the crass comparison to 1930s Germany that he and others have been making. An apology on that front would not go amiss.
Focus on The Issue, Not Gary Lineker
This contrived controversy boils to whether or not it is ok for him to make his opposition to this or any other policy known. Would it be alright during “Match of The Day”? Obviously not, although many were quite happy for there to be comment and protest against how Qatar treats LGBT people on the BBC during last year’s World Cup. A tweet on his personal account really does not merit days of coverage. It is a red herring turning people away from the real issue.
Sadly, some outlets have put the Lineker row on the front page, it has led news bulletins and there was even a debate about it on BBC Radio 5Live this morning. This all distracts from the debate that should be taking place. Such coverage is doing a disservice to the public. We deserve proper insight into the arguments for and against what has been proposed by the Government. Focus on Gary Lineker is a failure by certain outlets and it is time to lead on the real story.
[Article image via BBC iPlayer]