Jess Brammar is the former UK editor of HuffPost and now a BBC senior executive who has been accused of sharing ‘biased’ Left-wing views on social media that she deleted before her appointment
BBC Director General Tim Davie today defended the appointment of Jess Brammar and insisted the corporation would be in ‘dangerous territory’ if politics made anyone ineligible for a top job – in a nod to her now deleted social media posts branded anti-Brexit, anti-Tory and woke.
The corporation has been accused of creating a new six-figure non-job for Ms Brammar, who has removed all her tweets including ones critics said showed she holds ‘biased’ left-wing views.
Tory MP Craig Mackinlay said today the BBC was ‘ensuring its own destruction’ by refusing to take note of the objections to the appointment. ‘It is doing itself no favours as it is not reflecting the general populous,’ he told MailOnline, adding: ‘For all of us who do have concerns about the way the BBC has been going, bring it on. Just get more like her. That will hasten its demise even quicker.’
Her deleted tweets included comparing Brexit to a bad comedy, demanding a ‘fight for a properly funded NHS‘ and claiming ‘black Brits’ were ‘considering leaving the UK’ because of racism and the threat of Boris Johnson winning the 2019 general election. In thousands of deleted posts going back a decade, she also voiced support for Black Lives Matter and described her own ‘ignorance as a white woman’.
Asked if Brammar’s appointment could appear to the Government to be ‘confirmation of (left-wing) group think’ at the BBC, Mr Davie told the RTS Cambridge Convention that all BBC journalists must leave their ‘politics at the door’.
‘I think we’re in dangerous territory if previous political positions, tweets, goodness knows what else, rule you out from BBC jobs’, he said.
He added that Ms Brammar is ‘a great hire and she’ll do a great job’, adding: ‘I don’t want to be in a position where we are not able to hire the best people. We have been clear, when it comes to the BBC you leave that behind and you absolutely deliver impartial coverage and that is what we are here to do.’
Whitehall sources have voiced suspicions the announcement was made during a major Government reshuffle yesterday to sneak out the news that the BBC had made the hugely controversial appointment. The insider said: ‘What’s the saying about a good day to bury bad news?’ Tory MP Andrew Bridgen called the timing of the announcement ‘completely cynical’.
The former Newsnight journalist starts this month after being made redundant as editor-in-chief of HuffPost UK, and will run a ‘combined team across both BBC TV news channels, providing BBC News around the clock, in the UK and around the world’, according to the job description. She will also ‘manage and develop the team of presenters, in conjunction with the Editor’.
A BBC spokesman denied to MailOnline that the job had been created for her and said she was not asked or encouraged to apply directly by the BBC or a third party. The spokesman said the role was created as part of a wider restructure across BBC News, which will lead to a reduction of around 475 jobs.
A source said that Ms Brammar would not be earning more than £150,000-a-year.
BBC news chief Fran Unsworth (left) will leave next year. Tim Davie (right) made a commitment to diversity of opinion and impartiality when he became director-general last year and said today Ms Brammar will have to leave any of her politics at the door
The description of Jess Brammar’s new job insists that she ‘guards’ the BBC’s editorial standards – which includes neutrality
Jess Brammar’s now-deleted tweets on Boris Johnson and Brexit
Jess Brammar launched a series of left-wing attacks on Twitter in recent years. Everything has now been deleted
Dec 2, 2019: ‘Whether you watched Boris Johnson’s interview yesterday or not, here are five things the Prime Minister said that aren’t true…’
Dec 10, 2019: ‘This piece on black Brits genuinely considering leaving the UK because of the level of racism, particularly if Boris Johnson wins, is really shocking… it won’t be a surprise to people who live this reality every day, and in admitting my shock I show my ignorance as a white woman.’
April 23, 2019: ‘Brexit: like Better Call Saul but less funny or interesting or enjoyable.’
Tim Davie: I can’t wait to meet Nadine Dorries
Tim Davie also said he has not yet spoken to new Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries.
She replaced Oliver Dowden during a cabinet reshuffle on Wednesday, just minutes before he was due to address the convention.
Media minister John Whittingdale appeared in his place to read the speech Mr Dowden had been intending to give.
Speaking to new ITN chief executive Deborah Turness at the convention, Davie said: ‘We are yet to make contact but I’m really looking forward to meeting and getting to know her.’
Asked if her appointment tells him anything about the Government’s intentions about the future of the licence fee, he said: ‘I think it’s too early to make too many conclusions.
‘We need a really serious, grown-up dialogue with Government to talk about what we want to do with this industry and the BBC’s place in it.
‘I care desperately about the creative industries, we have got an opportunity, this group, to create up to a million jobs in the creative industry before 2030, it’s an incredibly important topic.
‘There will always be a bit of theatre around some of the dynamics around appointments but the truth is we will sit down and have a proper dialogue around the BBC, and I look forward to it.’
BBC director-general Tim Davie has said the corporation would be in ‘dangerous territory’ if previous political positions made a journalist ineligible for a job, as he addressed the hiring of Jess Brammar as head of news channels.
He also said the BBC ran a ‘completely open process’ and denied
Speaking at the Royal Television Society’s Cambridge convention, Mr Davie said the corporation is in ‘dangerous territory if previous political positions, tweets, goodness knows what else rule you out from BBC jobs – we’re hiring from all walks of life’.
He said that, as leader of the corporation, he has an expectation ‘for anyone joining our organisation, and that’s to leave your politics at the door’.
He added that Brammar, who will oversee the BBC’s two 24-hour news channels – BBC World News and the BBC News Channel – is a ‘great hire and she’ll do a great job’.
Brammar, who is the former editor-in-chief of HuffPost UK and was also previously acting editor of Newsnight, made headlines after historic tweets emerged in which she was critical of Brexit and Prime Minister Boris Johnson.
Labour previously called for Theresa May’s former communications director Sir Robbie Gibb to be sacked from the board of the BBC after claims he tried to block her hiring on political grounds.
Asked if Brammar’s appointment could appear to the Government to be ‘confirmation of group think’ at the BBC, Davie told the RTS Cambridge Convention: ‘No. I think we’re in dangerous territory if previous political positions, tweets, goodness knows what else, rule you out from BBC jobs.
‘We’re hiring people from all walks of life, a wide spectrum of media.
‘My expectation as a leader of the organisation for anyone joining the BBC is that you leave your politics at the door.
‘But the idea that we not going to be hiring people with political views in their past, or who have been in jobs where they have a position, that is not where I want to get to, and I think that is quite dangerous because you end up in an unmanageable position for the BBC and not great for journalism.’
The hiring was unexpectedly announced by the BBC’s new chairman Richard Sharp as he answered questions at the Royal Television Society’s Cambridge Convention 2021 yesterday.
He said that ‘individual recruiting should be on merit and Jess got there on merit’.
The controversy was prompted by old tweets from Miss Brammar in which she accused Boris Johnson, Donald Trump and Nigel Farage of a ‘sleight of hand’ by persuading people they represented outsiders.
In another post she claimed there was an ‘influential camp’ at No.10 which ‘doesn’t want to reach out to minorities and work with them’.
Sir Robbie Gibb, who was former Tory PM Theresa May’s communications chief and now is a member of the BBC board, reportedly tried to block the appointment. He is said to have been concerned that appointing Miss Brammar would damage trust with the Government.
Leader of the house Jacob Rees-Mogg had also previously pointed to the potential hire, saying the BBC employing journalists from left-wing outlets ‘damages’ the ‘whole perception’ of independence.
The corporation stressed last night that the appointment was made through a ‘fair and open competition’. Miss Brammar will take up her role this month.
But there was scepticism from some within the Government and Tory party about the appointment and the timing of it.
One Government source told the Daily Mail: ‘What’s the saying about a good day to bury bad news?’
Having deleted every tweet she had ever posted before today, Ms Brammar announced the news of her appointment to BBC as ‘executive news editor’ to her 87,000 followers at 4pm
Jess Brammar: Black Lives Matter supporter with a Guardian toyboy
By Glen Owen and Katie Hind for The Mail on Sunday
There are few in the media industry who are not aware of Jess Brammar.
One of the most prolific users of Twitter and Instagram over the last decade, she would regularly share her opinions on anything from politics to restaurants with her thousands of followers.
She would also regularly share pictures of her partner Jim Waterson, the Guardian’s media editor, on their holidays and nights out.
That was until the news of Ms Brammar’s new executive role at the BBC broke two months ago. Then her tweets were swiftly deleted and her Instagram set to private.
The couple, who live in Peckham, South-East London, have been an item since 2017 and were named as one of Westminster’s ‘power couples’ by politics website Politico – much to the amusement of colleagues at the time.
Ms Brammar, 38, burnished her Left-wing credentials last year with her vocal support of Marxist campaign group Black Lives Matter which wants to defund the police.
Her younger partner Mr Waterson, 31, broke the story that Boris Johnson and Carrie Symonds, then his girlfriend, had a blazing row at her South London flat in 2019, after his newspaper was passed a recording of the argument by Carrie’s Left-wing neighbour Tom Penn.
Ms Brammar has enjoyed a 15-year career in television and online media after graduating with a first-class degree in international history with Russian before researching for BBC Question Time.
From there, she went to ITN, where she worked as a producer for ITV News before returning to the BBC as a senior broadcast journalist on Newsnight, going on to become deputy editor.
She later left that role in 2018 to become the editor-in-chief of Left-wing news website, the Huffington Post, before she was made redundant in April this year.
Ms Brammar gave birth to son Jude last year. Earlier this year, she told Grazia magazine that she and Waterson had undergone rounds of gruelling fertility treatment.
Julian Knight, the Tory chair of the digital, culture, media and sport committee, said there would be scrutiny in the weeks ahead over the appointment.
He warned: ‘This was long on the cards. I think though there will be many who will be watching the news output with her at the helm with real interest from here on in to ensure that Tim Davie’s promise of better impartiality is more than just fine words.’
But the BBC’s outgoing news chief, Fran Unsworth, has defended the appointment in an email to staff.
She told them: ‘In view of recent public speculation about BBC News appointments, there are a couple of points I want to make.
‘BBC News has to be impartial and independent. BBC journalists are hired from a variety of different backgrounds, but while working at the BBC, they leave any personal opinions at the door.
‘Any individual should be judged on how they do their job at the BBC, not on what they have done in different organisations with very different objectives.
‘It is extremely disappointing that anyone should receive public or personal criticism – or online abuse – simply for applying for a job at the BBC.’
Brammar writing on Twitter after the appointment was confirmed, said: ‘Some personal news (a divisive phrase, I know!) – couldn’t be more thrilled to be joining such an incredibly talented team, on and off air.
‘Very much looking forward to cracking on with the job.’
The BBC yesterday put a formal announcement about the appointment of Miss Brammar and also that of Paul Danahar, who is becoming the executive news editor there, on its website.
BBC Director of News, Fran Unsworth said of the hirings: ‘Both Jess and Paul are outstanding journalists with proven track records.
‘They’ll bring a wealth of knowledge and experience to their new roles and I look forward to welcoming them.’
The BBC said in its announcement that Miss Brammar, formerly an editor of Newsnight, was an award-winning editor with ‘wide-ranging experience in broadcasting’.
BBC chairman Richard Sharp had surprised people attending the Royal Television Society event when he revealed the appointment had happened. This followed weeks of speculation about whether it was going ahead.
He was asked about Robbie Gibb’s concerns about the appointment. He said ‘Everybody has their own opinions. The question is do they have individual objectivity.’
Mr Sharp has spoken during the session about the importance for the BBC to ‘fight against the risk of groupthink’ and said the media industry had been ‘incredibly metropolitan’.
He spoke about the importance in terms of ‘different views’.