Emma Barnett says BBC on a mission to ‘re-establish meaning of impartiality’ to new generations

Emma Barnett has said she wants to ‘re-establish’ the meaning of impartiality to younger generations amid ongoing debate over the corporations ability to remain unbiased when covering sensitive issues.

The presenter, who recently joined the BBC Radio 4 Today programme, said her top priority is delivering information for audiences at a time of heightened sensitivity over its coverage.

Specifically, she has her eyes on younger listeners: “I want to look at the true opportunity, or lack thereof, in modern Britain,” she said in an interview with Harper’s Bazaar.

Ms Barnett, 39, suggested that younger audiences are not fully versed in what impartial news coverage means, something she said the BBC is trying to "re-establish" to them while also "working hard to expand its reach".

The former Woman’s Hour host enjoyed a divisive start to her Today tenure when, after just one week, she clashed with Jeremy Hunt over inflation – engaging in a fiery interview in which she pressed him on whether he personally felt wealthier amid the cost-of-living crisis.

Hunt, who defended the UK's economy after inflation dropped to 2.3 per cent, replied: "It's lovely talking to you Emma but it's almost like you're not actually listening to the answers I give."

The BBC radio host replied: "I am listening incredibly carefully."

The heated exchange garnered mixed reactions on social media including criticism of Ms Barnett's questioning for allegedly being too sharp.

“We don’t agree that Emma was rude or aggressive in her line of questioning,” the BBC said in a statement following the broadcast. We consider that she challenged Mr Hunt fairly and in line with other political interviews our audience regularly hears on the Today programme.”

Ms Barnett also faced criticism in November when she was still hosting BBC's Woman's Hour, when she questioned Steph Richards, the transgender CEO of endometriosis charity Endometriosis South Coast, as to whether Ms Richards can "preserve the importance of things like the word: woman".

The BBC has stoked controversy over its presenters political opinions in recent years, including a backlash from audiences over whether or not on-screen journlists wear remembrance poppies, and the colour of their clothing following the death of Queen Elizabeth II.

BBC Director General Tim Davie told MPs in March that the BBC stands strong against the “storms of social media” and profound “polarisation”.

He defended the broadcaster's decision to remove the term "far-right" from a report on Reform UK, and said BBC Arab staff who retweeted "essentially pro-Hamas" X posts had been dealt with.

With a General Election on the horizon, thousands of people will have the chance to cast their vote for the first time on 4 July, making the BBC's and Ms Barnett's coverage on one of the UK's most popular radio stations fundamental for voters.