Sky News Empty Chairs James Cleverly; Who Wasn’t Due to Appear

Sky News Empty Chairs Guest Who Wasn't Due to Appear

Sky News presenter Kay Burley “empty chaired” Conservative party chairman James Cleverly this morning, despite him NOT being booked to appear.

Cleverly was in the building which houses several broadcast studios on Millbank, next to the Palace of Westminster, for a scheduled radio interview with Julia Hartley-Brewer on talkRADIO. In fact, Cleverly was booked to do numerous media appearances during the 8am hour, including ITV’s Good Morning Britain, BBC Breakfast and on radio stations BBC Radio 4 and LBC. Burley, who fronts Sky News’ breakfast programme from its Millbank studios, launched into a two-minute rant about Cleverly, with the broadcaster sat next to and repeatedly making reference to an empty chair on the set.  

As Burley was mid-flow in her berating of Cleverly, the Tory chairman was live on talkRADIO where its presenter, Hartley-Brewer referenced the goings-on on Sky News.  

What is clearly evident is that Burley reacted badly to the fact that her competitors, both on television and radio had booked Cleverly to appear, and her show was left out. Whether Sky News attempted to book Cleverly and were refused, or whether Sky News simply dropped the ball this morning is unknown.  

What is certain, is that Burley’s on air response was nothing short of a televised tantrum. It is not acceptable for a news broadcaster, both person and channel, to behave in such a way simply because it doesn’t get its own way. Not only was Burley wrong in the fact that Cleverly was not booked to appear on her show, but the utter disregard she has shown to a senior politician is rather disconcerting.

The actions on air also raise very serious questions about Sky News’ editorial standards in respect of reporting during election periods – today being the first day of Purdah, the pre-election period where strict rules regarding political reporting are in force.

At a minimum, Sky News should broadcast a clarification that James Cleverly was not booked to appear on its air, and it should also clarify as to whether its breakfast programme is opinion-led, and what, if any actions it will take in respect of its editorial standards.

This article first appeared on News on News.  Kevin Coy is the editor of News on News.