Newsbeat and the BNP
"The BNP doesn't deserve a second of airtime on a respected BBC station."
"Nick Griffin says what most of us are thinking - he stands up for Britain."
Just two of the contrasting texts among thousands we received after Newsbeat's interview with the leader of the BNP - and two young activists from the party. I'm happy to respond to those who argued, or complained, that we shouldn't have conducted the interview.
So first, why was the BNP given airtime?
Well, we're impartial - that means we should examine all political parties and put their representatives on the spot with fair and firm questioning. Impartial journalism and censorship do not sit happily together. We believe in getting the facts and the arguments out there for people to decide - not in judging what is "right" or "wrong" in a political context - that's for you to do.
The BNP are not an illegal party. They enjoy electoral support and have elected representatives. It is the BBC's job to properly examine all legitimate political parties that operate within the law and for which people clearly vote.
Why are you forcing this stuff down your unwilling listeners' throats?
We're not. People have a choice whether to listen or not.
This may surprise you, but a great many texts we received yesterday were broadly supportive of the BNP. Over time, it's evident from following our listeners that the party touches a nerve of support or interest. The large pile of texts on my desk raise issues around immigration, political correctness and an apparent frustration with mainstream politics that means the BNP, or at least some of their policies, appeals to some people.
It's also clear that not much is known about the party's policies beyond immigration and race which is something we were keen to explore - and did. By the way, we also received messages of support from those who believed we had exposed the weakness of the BNP on a range of issues.
Why is the listener's view not heard?
It was. We put to Nick Griffin some of the texts we received including sentiments as tough as "you're a disgrace" and "how do you sleep at night?".
Debbie Randle's handling of the interview was extremely rigorous and the bulk of the tough questions she asked were inspired by, or directly quoted, listeners themselves.
But it's offensive to many others and ethnic minorities?
I accept for many others this is true. But others will understand that one of purposes of journalism in a democratic society is to explore and question - raising at times subjects some may find distasteful or shocking.