Crowd Laughed at Johnson, but Not in BBC Clip

Network calls it a mistake after editing audience's reaction to question asked of the candidate
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 25, 2019 4:00 PM CST
BBC Concedes Mistake in Cutting Laughter at PM
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson gestures during BBC Question Time during a debate Friday night.   (Jeff Overs/BBC via AP)

Boris Johnson could well have fretted that a bit of mocking during a debate of British party leaders would made him look bad. Not to worry. When the BBC showed the clip on its newscast the next day, the audience's response to a question asked of Johnson had been altered to remove the derision. The BBC now says that was just an honest mistake, the Independent reports. "How important is it for someone in your position of power to always tell the truth?" an audience member asked the prime minister Friday night. The question drew laughter, then applause, while Johnson hesitated. The reaction was broadcast in full that night and in other newscasts, but in a lunchtime bulletin Saturday, the laughter was gone. A Brighton viewer spotted the difference, per the Guardian.

Nick Flaks found that about 1.5 seconds of laughter was cut, which "gave the appearance that Johnson was being clapped at, cheered and supported by the audience instead of being ridiculed." He produced a clip showing the edit and put it on Twitter. "I slightly regret that the post has fed conspiracy theories about the BBC," Flaks said later, "but in a way they’ve only got themselves to blame." The network apologized, called it a mistake made in dropping a repetitious answer and said it had "absolutely no intention to mislead." The BBC took heat earlier in the campaign for replacing video of Johnson laying a wreath at an event upside down with old footage showing him doing it correctly. The Evening Standard posted both versions here. (More BBC stories.)

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