What cuts? The BBC has THIRTEEN reporters covering the US election trail… while back home, it’s axing up to 450 jobs in £80m savings drive
- So far 13 BBC correspondents have been covering the Democratic primaries
- The Democratic Party has so far held votes in Iowa and New Hampshire
- Emily Maitlis broadcast from Iowa for Newsnight on two consecutive nights
- Some of the correspondents are based permanently in the United States
As if eight Democrats vying for attention during the US primaries wasn’t enough, some of the BBC’s top journalists are tripping over themselves to secure airtime on the US election trail.
Analysis by The Mail on Sunday has found at least 13 BBC correspondents have covered the votes in Iowa and New Hampshire.
While some have travelled to those states from elsewhere in America, high-profile presenters including Newsnight’s Emily Maitlis have jetted across the Atlantic at considerable expense.
Emily Maitlis is among 13 BBC correspondents who have broadcast from the United States during the first two Democratic primaries ahead of this November’s US Presidential election
Gary O’Donoghue and Anthony Zurcher have been providing updates for the BBC
Marianna Brady and Nick Bryant have also been in the US
Ms Maitlis, 49, broadcast from Iowa on two consecutive nights. On each occasion, she introduced reports by David Grossman, Newsnight’s US Correspondent, who is based in America.
She then travelled almost 1,000 miles to Washington DC to interview Kurt Volker, a former US special envoy to the Ukraine, about the recent impeachment proceedings against Donald Trump before returning to the UK. The BBC’s special correspondent, James Naughtie, 68, spent at least a week covering the early exchanges in the race for the White House. During one broadcast from the city of Scranton in Pennsylvania, World At One presenter Sarah Montague asked if he had any clarity on the chaotic Iowa vote. ‘No, we don’t, Sarah. It’s a complete fiasco,’ replied Mr Naughtie.
Christian Fraser, 46, who co-hosts Beyond 100 Days, flew out from London to join his Washington-based co-host Katty Kay in Iowa. For one package entitled ‘So how does caucusing in Iowa really work’, they visited a barn and assumed the roles of rival candidates.
US Correspondent David Grossman, left, and Ben Wright providing an update from Washington
Katty Kay and Christian Fraser have also been in teh US
Chris Buckler and Jon Sopel
James Naughtie and Laura Trevelyan
The idea – a light-hearted guide to the primaries – also appealed to Marianna Brady, the BBC’s head of audience engagement in the US, who produced a film that compared the campaign to the Oscars. Brady is one of ten BBC reporters based in US providing coverage of the primaries. Others include Jon Sopel, the North America Editor, and Washington correspondents Gary O’Donoghue and Chris Buckler. The MoS also understands that reporters Anthony Zurcher, Nick Bryant, Ben Wright and Laura Trevelyan were covering the campaign.
Tory MP Andrew Bridgen said: ‘I think this level of largesse will only confirm in the public mind that the BBC’s mechanism for funding needs to be reformed.’
Such mass deployments may soon end. As part of a modernisation plan to save £80 million by 2022, BBC News and Current Affairs is cutting up to 450 jobs.
Last night, a BBC spokesman said: ‘The BBC has a huge amount of output across our news channels, bulletins, radio, online programming and podcasts. This election is being primarily covered by our US-based team… meaning we have sent far fewer London staff than we have ever done previously.’