The BBC received a viewer complaint that Jeremy Paxman was biased and offensive, due to comments he made during an interview with atheist Richard Dawkins on BBC2's Newsnight. Introducing the subject of Biblical creation, Paxo referred to it as "religious hogwash
," then went on to ask Dawkins “Do you really care that there are a lot of stupid people around?" as they discussed the subject of religious myths.
According to the Guardian
the BBC originally rejected the complaint, stating Paxman was simply playing devil's advocate to Dawkins. When the complaint was then passed to the BBC Trust editorial standards committee they ruled that Paxman "breached the editorial guidelines on harm and offence."
The Trust published its ruling
on Tuesday, saying "the committee did not agree with the complainant that Mr Paxman's use of the terms 'religious hogwash' and 'stupid people' were intended to cause deliberate offence, particularly to those with religious views and beliefs, it nevertheless agreed that they were offensive to some of the audience and that there was no clear editorial purpose for their use in the context of this Newsnight item, taking account of generally accepted standards.
"The committee therefore concluded that the item breached the editorial guidelines on harm and offence. It added that it regretted the offence caused to some viewers by the use of the terms 'religious hogwash' and 'stupid people' on this occasion."