Tuesday, 3 May 2016

The Experts. Antisemitism and the Government’s plans to tackle Islamist extremism

Alas! Lack of technical nous prevents me from embedding the video into this blog. But I implore you to click on the link and please, bear with me and scroll past the montage of all Tuesday’s front pages, right down, on and on,  to the video headed “What the commentators say”

It’s Chris Rogers (who has form) hosting the paper review with guests ‘Journalist Rachel Shabi and Ben Riley-Smith of the Telegraph’.

Understandably, as this is a football-obsessed country (opiate of the masses etc) a major chunk of the chat is about Leicester City.  
Cheering News indeed. But we’ve already spotted that the biggest story on the front page of the Telegraph is the piece by Kate McCann with its screaming headline  Labour Suspends 50 for racism.

You couldn’t miss it, even if you were just a run of the mill viewer and not an actual ‘Telegraph political correspondent based in Westminster.’ For a while I thought the whole thing was going to be devoted to the footie, but eventually, Chris Rogers said There is some other news in the papers.”

Cack-handedly looking for some kind of code in a failed attempt to embed the video I found a bizarre transcript, apparently the output of a bot.

“Labour suspends 54 racism” it declares, mistaking “54” for “50 for”. Fun, but not much use for those of us who appreciate a good transcript. 

Anyway, you’ll have to play the video to get the full force, because even if I were to spend half a day transcribing it meticulously, you need the original sound and the visuals to get the full effect.
Watching Rachel Shabi, (well-known to those who have followed CifWatch now UK MediaWatch ) and a frequent guest on Dateline, is never a pleasant experience, either for the politics or the simpering manner.

Combine a foghorn with a mid-Atlantic drawl plus that metropolitan str e t c h ing of certain words, as in ‘soooo’. 

That’s the audio. Then there’s the visuals. A semi-amused smirk, a twinkly eye and much animated head-turning from speaker to speaker with a mixture of exaggerated expectation and faux admiration, but all the while waiting to air her misguided and self-opinionated views.

According to Ms Shabi, all this antisemitism needs to be put in context. It’s a widespread issue, always there, but "not specifically in the Labour Party." It’s only in the Telegraph because of the election, otherwise it wouldn’t be there at all. 
“Right-wing elements seem to be trawling through ..... we don’t have a control of this experiment, do we, we don’t have people doing the same for the Conservative partiee or any other partiee - there’s no way to tell that this is specifically about the Labour Party.”

Ben Riley-Smith doesn’t seem to have been following this particular news story at all. He couldn’t recall the name of the MP who had publicly accosted Ken upon the stair (he wasn’t there again today / I wish, I wish he’d go away)

“Antisemitism is a problem in society”, ventured Chris Rogers “Not just in the Labour Party”.

“Percisely” says the foghorn “I don’t think it’s particularly fair to say that the Labour Pardee has a problem with antisemitism”

“But politicians are meant to lead by example” says Chris Rogers, tasked with playing Devil’s advocate.

Next up: “PM plans new laws to stop Muslim extremists”

Shabi is an expert on this topic. The government is making things worse. “The problem is that they’re focusing on Islamist extremism.” 

I’m not absolutely certain, but I imagine she’s asserting that violent extremism is nothing to do with Islam. It’s just the criminals, the insane and the disenfranchised.

“It’s just about money, it’s just about oil” chips in the Telegraph man.

Next - The Guardian: “UK’s covert fight against the lure of ISIS”. 
“There is a propaganda war, isn’t there?" announces Rogers.

“It’s gonna end up alienating just the people you wanna get engaged” says the expert, leaning closer to her reviewing companion, who, though nodding vigorously, is backing away.

“You are more of an expert than me” he says.

“Briddish-backed enterprise” enunciates Shabi “is this gonna spread more mistrust at a time when what you wannado is build that,  because if people know that they’ve been, you know, fed lines by a government-backed unit, that’s not gonna be a way to counter or deal with the problem."

"We’ve only got a couple of minutes but I really want to do this: 'man sues former employer for boring him out of his mind' ”  says the anchor.

Does this paper review encapsulate one particular attitude, dare I say that of the BBC? 
If so, to put it in Rachel Shabi’s own phrase “that’s not gonna be a way to counter or deal with the problem.”


  1. Good review of the reviewers Sue! I've noticed that thing with Rachel Shabi before where she does the lean in, as though she's been on some "womanly wiles/female empowerment" course. It rarely works since most of them are gay anyway or not the sort of people to be swayed by body language.

    And she's an expert, I'm a Nobel Prize Winner.

  2. I witnessed Rachel Shabi for the first time the other day on the Sunday Politics. She is as you describe. The condescending smile as she looked directly at someone saying something she didn't like was quite something.