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Last Updated: Sunday, 25 September 2005, 10:53 GMT 11:53 UK
Blair admits BBC Katrina disquiet
Tony Blair and Andrew Marr
Tony Blair was chatting to presenter Andrew Marr

Tony Blair says he "didn't much care for" some BBC reports about Hurricane Katrina, after claims he was angry at the corporation's "anti-Americanism".

But the prime minister told the BBC's Sunday AM programme: "I'm not making any great criticism of the BBC - you carry on doing whatever you want."

Media tycoon Rupert Murdoch said Mr Blair told him the BBC World Service coverage was "full of hate of America".

The BBC said it was committed to "full, accurate and impartial coverage".

'Jealous of US'

The reported private conversation between Mr Murdoch and the prime minister took place in New York earlier this month.

Mr Murdoch, who owns the Sun, the Times and News of the World newspapers and Sky Television, labelled the BBC a "government-owned thing" that was "gloating about our troubles".

He said people around the world were jealous of the US, and anti-Americanism was common throughout Europe.

The News Corporation boss was speaking at a seminar hosted by former US President Bill Clinton, as part of his Clinton Global Initiative forum.

Mr Clinton said he had seen the report Mr Blair was referring to, and there was "nothing factually inaccurate" in it.

'Down-the-line'

But he said it was designed "almost exclusively" to criticise the Bush administration's response to the crisis.

Rupert Murdoch
Rupert Murdoch said BBC coverage was "gloating"

But Mr Blair told BBC presenter Andrew Marr: "This is a conversation that was a private conversation and that's what happens with some things.

"There were certain bits of the reporting I didn't much care for, but that's my view.

"I'm not making any great criticism of the BBC - you carry on doing whatever you want to do."

The BBC said it was committed to full, accurate and impartial coverage and had not received a complaint from Mr Blair.

And the BBC's world editor Jonathan Baker has defended its coverage to Newswatch after similar criticisms from some BBC News viewers and users.

He said most of its output had been "absolutely down-the-line straightforward reportage", but added the president had made himself the "figurehead" of the disaster response.

"If things are not going well, he is there to be criticised, and if they were going much better he would expect to take the credit," he said.


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