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Kathy Sheridan: Journalists must stop giving legs to fake news stories

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Simon Coveney’s icily authoritative BBC interview on Sunday smashed a BBC norm. He minced the longstanding notion that any media outlet striving for balance must give equal weight to both sides. “You seem to be suggesting that there are two sides that are equal in this disagreement. There aren’t. There is one side that is breaking an agreement that was signed by both,” he said. That surely shook up elevenses in the shires.

Presenter Andrew Marr’s job was to articulate the “other side”, putting the questions that the endlessly vox-popped market-stall holders of Grimsby would want asked if they ever felt the urge to watch a politics show at 10am on a Sunday. His strategy was to frame baseless accusations as serious questions. “Are you seriously suggesting the EU would actually blockade goods going into Northern Ireland because that, on the face of it, is what is proposed by Michel Barnier?” he asked with breathless conviction, bedding in the notion of an EU out to starve the suffering people of Northern Ireland.

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