One of the BBC’s most respected political commentators, Nick Robinson, says he’s sorry if he upset anyone after making an observation on live TV about Theresa May being “heavily made up, as if she might have been in tears earlier”.
Robinson’s offhand remark during rolling coverage of the snap general election on BBC News last night drew accusations of sexism from some.
“Sorry if I offended some by talking about May’s thick make up but politics is about the personal and emotional not just stats and charts,” the reporter said on Twitter.
Not everyone was mollified by his explanation, however.
“As a BBC employee and license payer/stakeholder, I'm seriously upset by this. Spoiled an otherwise excellent #BBCelection show,” wrote one person.
“Let's make it less personal and much more professional shall we? ‘Made up as though she'd been crying’ that's not news
#speculation,” another added.
“‘Heavily made up’ ‘tears’ come on you're better than that! No way you would say such things about a man,” a third person added.
The embattled Prime Minister is currently working to shore up her position with help from Northern Ireland’s Democratic Union Party (DUP), after failing to secure a majority in an election she called exactly for that purpose.
Some pundits speculated that she would resign after last night’s unexpected Labour gains but she looks likely to carry the country forward as part of a coalition with the DUP.
Robinson has years of experience on the Westminster beat and has been at the heart of many election dramas.
Whether or not he would have made the same comment about a man remains to be seen but this kind of casual observation – conjuring up notions of both subjectivity based on appearance and an implicit assumption of “emotional females” - is all too often applied to women in public spheres of life
Wherever your politics lie, it leaves a slightly uncomfortable aftertaste.
Images: Rex Features and BBC News