James O'Brien expertly schools caller who wants to 'ban journalists'

4 February 2020, 20:11 | Updated: 4 February 2020, 20:15

Following a row over journalists’ access to No 10 briefings, an LBC caller called James O'Brien urging for a ban on reporters.

Labour leadership contender Keir Starmer waded into a row over journalists’ access to No 10 briefings.

The former Director of Public Prosecutions branded the actions of the Prime Minister’s Director of Communications, Lee Cain, “deeply disturbing” after several journalists were banned from a Brexit briefing.

Following the news, Mike from Fleet called LBC and told James O’Brien, that members of the press who have allegedly "leaked" the news in the past should be restricted from having access to government briefings.

Mike said: “Just hearing the debates with the press, I always think it is good to look at things with balance."

James quipped: “You can’t do that if you are banning half the journalists from the room, can you?”

The caller disagreed, and after summarising the recent news Mike replied that the government should, with certain briefings, "only allow people who haven’t compromised their negotiation position. If that makes sense?”

“I’m very sorry but it doesn’t,” James added quickly.

James O&squot;Brien expertly schools caller who wants to "ban journalists"
James O'Brien expertly schools caller who wants to "ban journalists". Picture: Global

James then asked Mike for one example, to which Mike mistakenly called Operation Yellowhammer, “Yellow stone” and then he admitted that he wasn’t sure who leaked the documents in question.

James said: “But you need to be sure, what if the people who got that leak weren’t banned yesterday. “

After some more back and forth the presenter pointed out: “You’re ringing in to say ‘I like balance, therefore, I like journalists being banned from briefings’

The caller then mentioned Stamer again, claiming that he once had objections with talking to particular tabloid newspapers.

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The press was restricted from the goverment briefings on February 3 . Picture: Getty

James replied: “I mean Jeremy Corbyn didn’t talk to me for four or five years. That wasn’t evidence of him trying to censor the press, it was just him being a bit cowardly.

“Kier Stamer’s objections to The Sun goes back to their coverage of the Hillsborough disaster which an awful lot of people regardless of their politics think was utterly repellent.”

James then called Mike’s points against Stamer and the call to ban journalists “utterly, utterly bogus”

James concluded: “How you can end up thinking you can call a radio station to provide balance defending the idea that a government that gets to pick a choice which journalists cover the government.”

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