“It is called the Today programme. We have five presenters, they all have different strengths.”Laughing, she continued: “I have said that I think, on the whole, Mishal and Martha might be slightly better on fashion. I will certainly give you that.”The team as a whole, she said, was “first rate”.Commenting on the interview on Twitter, one listener called it a “stupid, reductive comment about the women presenters”. Saying she would incorporate more world news into the morning broadcast, she added she was “trying to expand the horizons of news because there’s an awful lot of it about”.Sands and her team are also exploring a podcast with an eye to “future-proofing” the show, with alternative approaches to news “perhaps in a more reporter-y, conversation style” to go alongside the “mothership” Radio 4 programme.BBC spokesperson said: “She was saying that Martha and Mishal are better at covering fashion than John is, nothing more.” Sarah Sands, Today programme editorCredit:PA “What he has particularly is a quality of holding power to account, and in the turbulent times we are in that couldn’t be more important,” she said. “I think he is, as I say, the person you want when you want to hold power to account. “And the particular challenge of the Today programme is that it has to be for everyone.” Martha KearneyCredit:Clara Molden Justin Webb has said he was paid £100,000 less than Robinson at the time of the 2017 report, while Husain, who also works in television news for the BBC, earned between £200,000 to £249,000.Sarah Montague did not make the list of presenters who earned more than £150,000, and has since left the show saying the revelations left her “incandescent with rage” and feeling “a sap”.Speaking on Radio 4’s Feedback to defend the Today programme against recent criticism of its tone and content, Sands was played clips from listeners lamenting Humphrys’ contribution. The editor of the Today programme has risked exacerbating the BBC’s gender row after claiming her female presenters are “better on fashion” while John Humphrys “holds power to account”.Sarah Sands, the editor of the Radio 4 show, said veteran broadcaster Humphrys was “the person you want to hold power to account” in her “first-rate” team of five hosts.Mishal Husain and Martha Kearney, the show’s female presenters, were “on the whole slightly better on fashion”, she said.The comments risk further inflaming a dispute over the treatment of women at the BBC, after a gender pay gap led to protests by female employees.Last year, the report revealed that Humphrys earned up to £649,000 for his work at the BBC, while Nick Robinson was paid up to £299,000. Cant believe I just heard Sarah Sands defending criticism about John Humphrys, then saying that Michelle Hussein is ‘certainly better on fashion’?! @BBCRadio4 #Feedback— Susie Howells (@Greenmetrics) July 6, 2018 John HumphrysCredit: Rii Schroer Discussing presenters and their strengths on @BBCR4Feedback. Sarah Sands: “Mishal and Martha might be better on fashion *giggle*”.Maybe it’s Sarah Sands they need to get rid of as well as John Humphrys.— Suzanne Bosworth 🏴🇪🇺 #FBPE (@MediaWeasel) July 6, 2018 “Did I hear correctly?” asked another. “Sarah Sands laughingly admits that her female presenters are better at fashion, but she likes to leave the heavy-weight subjects to John Humphreys. “Really??”Asked about criticism of the show’s bias, Sands, who has previously edited the Evening Standard and Sunday Telegraph, said strong views about the Today programme were down to “people building up evidence based on their Facebook feeds”.“I think what you’re seeing is a more polarised news landscape than I have ever know, and an increasing intolerance of views that are not shared,” she said. Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily Front Page newsletter and new audio briefings.