On 9 September 2010 Chris Bryant MP was interviewed infamously by Kay Burley on Sky News in connection with allegations relating to phone hacking at the News of the World and elsewhere in the media. An extract of this interview is transcribed below:
Burley: Do you have evidence for that?
Bryant: Sorry, for what?
Burley: Do you have evidence that it is endemic not only at the News of the World but other newspapers? Pretty strong claim if you don't.
Bryant: Well, the Information Commissioner produced a report which if you had listened to the debate earlier yourself then you would know, or if you had read that report then you would see that he referred to more than 1,000 cases in various different newspapers. I think it was something like 800 – I've not got the figures with me now – 800 incidences in the Mail alone.
Burley: So you are in a position to have listened to the debate and read the report and as a result you are content to say that on telly.
Bryant: I have just said that. You seem to be a bit dim, if you don't mind me saying so.
Recent days have seen that this Information Commissioner report has become a key fact in the now evidently wide scale scandal that is corruption and illegality in the media.
At the time, Bryant wrote in The Independent that Burley had failed to research the information either relevant to the hacking of his own mobile telephone or the issue on a wider basis and had reached judgements without having checked that information. Bryant stated “My interpretation of a television journalist is someone who is independent. Kay Burley seemed to have made up her mind about this story before we went on air. She had taken a view that it was not important”. Burley assumed that to prevent phone hacking all that was required was for a PIN number to be changed, when in fact there are a variety of methods that can be used to hack a mobile telephone and this was not the modus operandi suspected with Mr Bryant’s mobile. The report from the Information Commissioner relayed that there was evidence that a wide range of newspapers and media outlets had used subterfuge including hacking of telephones on over a thousand occasions that they were aware of. Clearly this was arguably endemic (and we are beginning now to see just how endemic) and clearly, Burley either was determined to defend the Murdoch empire regardless (and thus complicit), ignorant to the facts or a simple bully (or a combination of these factors).
This is the same Kay Burley who has previously been described as “a caricature of biased reporting and sour grapes ...” following an episode where numerous contributors to Twitter called for her resignation after been seen to bully and intimidate a campaigner repeatedly on air, becoming belligerent and angry and telling the interviewee to “Go Home and watch it on Sky News”. This is the same Kay Burley who made Peter Andre cry when questioning him about his children suggesting Katie Price’s new partner may wish to adopt them – questions she had not had the decency to warn Andre about in advance. This is the same Kay Burley who asked the former wife of the Ipswich prostitute murderer Steve Wright “Do you think if you’d had a better sex life that he wouldn’t have done this?”. This is the same Kay Burley who said “The man known as Raoul Moat” when reporting from Rothbury during the man hunt (Yes, Kay that was his name) or who when speaking to an elderly female in Rothbury who stated they were not frightened as they had experienced a lot of things, replied “But you’ve never experienced a gunman on the run, have you?”. This is the same Kay Burley who stated on live television that the Vice President of the United States had walked into a door and had a bruise on his forehead, when in fact he had ash on his forehead from a religious ceremony linked to Ash Wednesday.
Following recent developments, Chris Bryant MP has been one of the key players in revealing to parliament the myriad of immoral actions that News International publications and others have allegedly engaged in. It was therefore appropriate that Sky News interview Mr Bryant. It seemed appropriate that when being interviewed by Burley, Bryant should raise the issue of the clash they had and seek an apology from Burley for her dismissive, uninformed and arrogant stance in the earlier interview. As ever, Burley was unrepentant stating “I’m not going to apologise to you, Mr Bryant”. She looked uncomfortable, possibly due to the credibly way Bryant has dealt with this issue in recent days contrasts sharply with her arrogance and infantile approach to the matter.
Burley should have apologised – that she didn’t does not surprise me. She thinks she is as good as Paxman – she thinks she has the gravitas of Dimbleby with better looks. Personally, I would rather see Sooty interview anyone than Burley. Sooty understands journalism better and has more integrity in terms of journalism than Burley ever will.