Tony Blair was shocked by the BBC's coverage of Hurricane Katrina's devastation of New Orleans, describing it as “full of hatred of America”, Rupert Murdoch, chairman and chief executive of News Corporation, revealed on Friday night.
Mr Murdoch, a long-time critic of the BBC who controls rival Sky News, said the prime minister had recounted his feelings in a private conversation earlier this week in New York.
Bill Clinton, the former US president, and Sir Howard Stringer, chief executive of Sony Corporation, also criticised the tone of the BBC's coverage during a seminar on the media at the Clinton Global Initiative conference in New York.
Mr Murdoch said Mr Blair had been in New Delhi when he had turned on the BBC coverage of New Orleans: “He said it was just full of hatred of America and gloating at our troubles.”
Mr Clinton said the corporation's coverage, while factually accurate, had been “stacked up” to criticise the federal government's slow response to the catastrophe without focusing on any of the other relief efforts.
Sir Howard, a former head of CBS News, said he had been “nervous about the slight level of gloating” in the BBC coverage. But he noted that the tone changed after two days, and that other news outlets and the government had underestimated the effects of Katrina.
Mr Clinton invited Sir Howard, Mr Murdoch and Dick Parsons, chairman and chief executive of Time Warner, to debate the role of the media in a global economy as part of his three-day gathering to discuss poverty, religious conflict and climate change.
Mr Murdoch made reference to Mr Blair's remarks during a discussion of the US foreign aid and the role of private philanthropy in which he claimed that the rest of the world was “jealous” of the US.
“I probably shouldn't be telling you this,” the media tycoon chuckled, before recounting his conversation with Mr Blair.