The Daily Mail and The Sun have this week ramped up their attacks on the BBC, perhaps sensing blood following the General Election and the appointment of BBC critic John Whittingdale as culture secretary.
The most desperate of the Mail's recent criticisms of the BBC picks up on what newspapers Auntie reads. We've seen this story before. It was a pretty shaky story back in 2012 and still doesn't stand up to much scrutiny now.
"The BBC has been accused of 'propping up its friends in the Left-wing media'" claims the Mail, adding the Guardian is "the most popular title in its offices by far" with 80,679 copies bought last year. "By far" is possibly a stretch. The total number of copies of the Guardian circulating at the BBC last year outnumbered copies of the second-placed Daily Mail (78,463) by just 2.7%. Third-placed was The Times (77,167) and fourth The Telegraph (75,308) suggesting right-wing newspapers are more than well-represented within the BBC.
In fact, the overall figures reveal right-wing newspapers circulating around the BBC outnumber left-wing papers considerably.
Meanwhile, The Sun this week claimed: "BEEB BLOWS £100k A WEEK ON PR GURUS". It was a story eagerly seized upon by the Mail who went with lower case and decided to write the number out in full: "BBC blows £100,000 a week on PR gurus".
However, neither headline was particularly accurate. The Mail explained: "the BBC hired 11 firms [including] well-known market leaders… Deloitte, KPMG and PWC" - none of which, it should be pointed out, are "well-known" PR companies or even "gurus" for that matter.
Perhaps both papers thought explaining the BBC had spent a lot of money on auditing, accounting, systems integration and management consultancy, as most large firms do, didn't sound profligate enough so went with "PR gurus" instead.
The Mail wasn’t even sure what these companies were doing at the BBC but suggests they may have been advising on things such as "health and safety" and "money".
You could argue the Mail firing off an angry article when they didn’t really know what they were angry about is a bit shoddy, but actually that's also the BBC's fault according to the Taxpayers' Alliance who are never far away from such stories.
“The Taxpayers' Alliance… told MailOnline the BBC should 'come clean' on exactly what the consultants were brought in to do. Andy Silvester, campaign director for the Taxpayers' Alliance, said: 'Licence fee payers deserve more transparency. Consultants can occasionally help save money in the long term but how can you judge that if we have no idea what they are doing on a day to day basis.”
Good question. How can you judge this without all the facts? Quite easily apparently. The Mail is certainly in no doubt that this is an outrageous sum of money. However, the Mail doesn’t tell us what would be a reasonable amount of money for an organisation the size of the BBC to spend with such companies.
A BBC spokesman told the Mail:
"On occasion, just like any other organisation, we use external companies for specialist services. This saves the BBC millions of pounds because it is cheaper than employing permanent, full-time staff to carry out work which could only last a short period."
For more of this sort of thing, see:
BBC bashed for "lavish" lambing largesse
Telegraph bashes BBC for doing its research
"Champagne perks" turn out to be meeting rooms
BBC braced for Glasto "junket" jibes
Daily Mail admits BBC claims were wrong... but repeats them anyway