Apparently unaware of the camera rolling behind him, Oliver tells Norman Smith, the BBC’s chief political correspondent, he was “genuinely shocked” by the bias in his coverage of the Jeremy Hunt scandal, adding the culture secretary would be “rightly deeply upset”.
Standing outside 10 Downing Street, Oliver aggressively defends culture secretary Jeremy Hunt’s involvement in the BSkyB bid, saying Hunt only made an “infinitesimal manoeuvre” in asking the prime minister not to turn down the Murdochs’ bid,
Oliver said: “I have rarely seen such partial reporting of the debate.”
Oliver also lambasts Smith for linking Cameron to the controversy, and goes on to say Hunt would be “rightly, deeply upset” that Smith’s report suggested that Cameron was in any way involved in shady dealings during the bid.
The footage was posted by political blogger Guido Fawkes and offers a rare glimpse into how journalists bicker with spin doctors on a daily basis – though usually in private, such as over the phone.
In the video, Oliver starts by complaining about BBC coverage that demonstrates how Cameron is being increasingly drawn into a spider’s web including Hunt and James Murdoch.
Smith defended the report, saying “most people now associate Murdoch in their minds with hacking and Milly Dowler”. Oliver counters: “How is that not an opinion rather than an impartial reporting of the facts?”
Smith replies: “I think that is a fairly balanced opinion.” Oliver hits back: “Balanced, in whose minds?” Smith says: “You have to make an assessment of how people view the Murdoch hacking controversy and most people view it as a thoroughly bad thing, and if the prime minister is in anyway entangled in that.”
Smith brushes off Oliver’s criticisms and after five minutes of bikering, storms off.
Oliver who previously edited the BBC’s six and 10 o’clock news, replaced Andy Coulson as communications director at Downing Street last year after Coulson was forced to step down over phone hacking allegations during his editorship at the News of the World.