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Nick Robinson likens BBC Scottish referendum protest to Putin's Russia

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By John McCarthy | Media editor

August 21, 2015 | 3 min read

Nick Robinson has condemned the backlash he, and the BBC received, due to its coverage of the Scottish Referendum at the Edinburgh launch event for his book 'Election Diary'.

Robinson, whose impartiality was questioned by many in the Yes camp during the referendum campaign culminating in a 4,000 strong protest outside BBC’s Glasgow headquarters, was later the target of vicious cyber abuse, some of which mocked him for having a lung tumour.

Speaking at an event today, he acknowledged that a clash with then first minister Alex Salmond, which sparked the bias accusations, was "a source of regret", but argued that it did not warrant the outrage that followed.

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"I shouldn't have had the row with him which I did and I chose a particular phrase... that is genuinely a source of regret.

“As a serious thought I don’t think my offence was sufficient to justify 4,000 people marching on the BBC’s headquarters, so that young men and women who are new to journalism have, like they do in Putin’s Russia, to fight their way through crowds of protesters, frightened as to how they do their jobs.

“That, you may agree with me or disagree with me, is not how politics should operate either in the UK or in future independent Scotland if there is to be such a thing. We should not live with journalists who are intimidated, or bullied, or fearful in any way.”

Criticising the echo chamber that is social media and the anger which rallied against his reporting, Robinson concluded: “This is very dangerous. We’ve seen what happens with Fox News in the United States: people only watch media that they agree with.”

Newsnight presenter Laura Kuenssberg last month filled the BBC political editor role recently vacated by Robinson as he undergoes treatment.

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