Sunday, 29 January 2017

Dreams destroyed

Are you getting the impression:

  • that the BBC has now morphed into an anti-Trump faction? 
  • that there's next to no attempt to deliver ‘balance’ (bringing in counter-views)? 
  • that the BBC is proceeding from the underlying assumption that the Trump measures are morally and legally wrong? 
  • that the BBC is (with rare exceptions) bringing on people on who substantiate that perspective? 
  • that BBC presenters are acting only as midwives to the overall goal of illustrating what a dangerous man President Trump is?

If so, please join the club.


Tonight's early evening news bulletin on BBC One exemplifies all of the complaints listed above (and thanks to David Keighley at News-watch for helping to clarify them in my mind). 

At the risk of wearying you all with transcripts, this post will end with a full transcript of the relevant portions of this BBC One bulletin. It's worth studying just to see how the BBC does it. 

Note the absence (except for a short quote from Donald Trump) of voices supportive of the presidential order and the contrasting plethora of voices hostile to it. 

Note also the language of Eleanor Garnier's report, pre-describing the Trump plan as "the most extreme of his campaign policies" and the way she quite openly ticks of the UK's prime minister ("It now seems that's far easier in theory than in practice") and says that Mrs May "failed to live up to her own words". In what way is that neutral, uncontroversial reporting?  

Eleanor Garnier's report is eclipsed however by Nick Bryant's emotion-heavy piece, where critics predominate (speaking passionately) and heart-tugging stories are intended to hit home with viewers, arousing their sympathies for the 'victims' of Mr Trump's actions. His final words ("They'd spent all their money on the plane tickets and seen their American dreams eradicated with the stroke of a pen") echo his colleague, Alex Forsyth's "with a flourish of his pen" yesterday, surely implying the cruelty of 'The hand that signed the paper'.  

And then came Orla Guerin. And where Nick Bryant pulled on our heart strings by ending with "They'd spent all their money on the plane tickets and seen their American dreams eradicated with the stroke of a pen", Orla ended her comments by talking about a "victim" of the Trump policy who said that "Donald Trump had destroyed his dreams". 

They must feel that they are doing the right thing in being so openly and intensely one-sided, that Trump's actions justify the scale of the bias, but they are surely finishing off their claims to impartiality once and for all.


Transcription, BBC One Evening News, 29/1/2017

Newsreader: The government seeks assurances from Washington about how British citizens might be affected by the US travel ban. The order from President Trump came hours after he met Theresa May at the White House - now there are calls for his state visit here to be cancelled. Despite a court order - and protests against the ban - the administration has signalled today that it is pressing ahead. We'll be looking at the reaction here - and around the world. 

Newsreader: Good evening. Theresa May has ordered the Foreign Secretary and the Home Secretary to try and obtain assurances from the Trump administration about how its travel ban on people from seven mainly Muslim countries will affect British citizens with dual nationality. Sir Mo Farah is among those who fear they'll be affected, and politicians from different parties have been calling for President Trump's invitation to pay a state visit to Britain to be rescinded. We'll have the latest from the United States in a moment - but first, our political correspondent, Eleanor Garnier, on the growing row here. 
Eleanor Garnier: New leaders and new friends. It was all going so well. Then just hours after Theresa May left Washington, Donald Trump enacted one of what many think is the most extreme of his campaign policies. By then, the Prime Minister was in Turkey for trade talks, where she avoided condemning the President's travel ban. 
Theresa May: Well, the United States is responsible for the United States policy on refugees. The United Kingdom is responsible for the United Kingdom's policy on refugees. 
Eleanor Garnier: But then, overnight, a new statement clarifying that the Prime Minister did not agree with this kind of approach. But some, like the British Olympian Sir Mo Farah, are still worried. He was born in Somalia but lives in America and says he's deeply troubled he'll have to tell his children that he might not be able to come home. And one of Theresa May's own MPs, who is born in Iraq, says he'll also be affected. 
Nadhim Zahawi: For the first time in my life, last night, I felt discriminated against. It is demeaning. It's sad. I'm a successful man and a politician. It's the people who don't have the platform that I have who could get stuck in an airport for hours and hours, of no fault of their own. They are British citizens and they should be looked after. 
Eleanor Garnier: By this morning, government ministers were publicly criticising Mr Trump's plans. 
David Gauke: The Prime Minister is not a shoot from the hip type of politician. She wants to see the evidence. She wants to understand precisely what the implications are. There's always pressure to respond within a news cycle, and so on. The important thing is, we are saying we disagree with it and we do think it's wrong. 
Eleanor Garnier: Friends can be candid with each other. That's what the Prime Minister said before her trip to the States. It now seems that's far easier in theory than in practice. And having failed to live up to her own words once, there is now criticism she's undermined her own strategy. Plus, there are growing calls for Donald Trump 's state visit later this year to be called off.
Jeremy Corbyn: I'm not happy for him coming here until than ban is lifted, quite honestly. Because look at what's happening with those countries. How many more is it going to be. And what will be the long-term effect of this on the rest of the world? 
Eleanor Garnier: This relationship, like many, is complicated, but as the government presses for British exemption from the travel ban, Mrs May will hope she's done enough to keep Mr Trump onside. Eleanor Garnier, BBC News, Westminister.

Newsreader: President Trump - and members of his administration - have today been defending the scope of the ban, with some suggestions that it could go further. But there are legal challenges, and one judge ruled to suspend the deportation of refugees and those with US visas who've been stranded in airports. Nick Bryant reports from New York, where several protests have taken place. 
Nick Bryant: Protest is becoming a permanent feature of the Trump presidency. And at JFK Airport last night the demonstrations lasted deep into the early hours. "Let Them In", they chanted. New York has always been the great gateway into America. The protesters believe the executive order flies in the face of US values. 
Senator Elizabeth Warren: It's an attack on the very foundation of democracy. 
Nick Bryant: Demonstrations took place across the country. These are scenes in Boston as a US senator defied the US president. 
Senator Elizabeth Warren: I cannot believe this is happening. I always knew Donald Trump would be bad, but not this bad and not this fast. 
Nick Bryant: At this courthouse in Brooklyn came a late night legal challenge and civil liberties lawyers emerged claiming a victory as the federal judge temporarily blocked part of the executive order. 
Anthony Romero, ACLU: President Trump enacts laws and executive orders which are unconstitutional, and illegal, and the courts are there to defend everyone's rights. 
Nick Bryant: What started as a protest outside this courthouse in Brooklyn has now become a celebration. At the arrivals hall at Dallas Airport outside Washington, the joy of reunion. A Muslim woman from Iraq finally making it back into the country. 
Muslim man: All of a sudden I get a call telling me they are detaining my wife who is a green card holder, legal resident in this country. 
Nick Bryant: But, despite the court ruling and others making it through immigration, the Department of Homeland Security said it would continue to enforce the executive order. Prior to the court ruling, President Trump expressed satisfaction about how his ban was being implemented. 
Donald Trump: It is working out very nicely and we are going to have a very, very strict ban. We're going to have extreme vetting. which we should have had in this country for many years. 
Nick Bryant: And this morning he doubled down on Twitter. "Our country needs strong borders and extreme vetting now. Look at what is happening all over Europe and indeed the world - a horrible mess". These Syrians thought their US visas offered them the chance of a new life. But this Christian family of eight was refused entry at Philadelphia Airport and forced to fly back to Beirut. 
Syrian woman: My son has been in America three years, and they did not even let me call him. There's no humanity. 
Nick Bryant: They'd spent all their money on the plane tickets and seen their American dreams eradicated with the stroke of a pen. Nick Bryant, BBC News, New York. 

Newsreader: So as you saw there, one of the countries affected is Iraq - one of America's closest allies in the fight against IS. Let's turn then to Orla Guerin, our Middle East correspondent. How does that relationship between the two countries square with the scope of this ban, Orla? 
Orla Guerin: Well certainly we've seen that President Trump isn't afraid to trample on sensitive alliances. The ally in this case is a key partner in the battle against the so-called Islamic State. President Trump says that's one of his top priorities. Predictably, we have already had calls from Baghdad for the government there to respond. The foreign affairs committee of the Iraqi parliament has called for the government to take reciprocal action and the influential Shia cleric Muqtada al-Sadr has said that Americans should now have to leave Iraq. There are about 5000 US troops on the ground. They're playing a very important role, largely assisting and advising the Iraqis in this battle against IS. At this stage, we don't know what action, if any, the Iraqi government may be willing to take, but certainly it's going to face domestic pressure on this. For both countries, there's a lot at stake. For individual Iraqis, they are already falling victim to this policy. We spoke to one man today who should been beginning a new life this weekend with his wife and two children in the US. Instead he was turned around here at Cairo. He had worked for a company connected with the Americans. He said he had put his life on the line, and after all of that, Donald Trump had destroyed his dreams. 
Newsreader: Orla, thank you.


  1. Craig: You ask, under the 1st photo, if we think the BBC has morphed into an anti-Trump faction - no, I think it's been that from the start! Agree with other four points.

    1. It's certainly morphed from (falsely) claiming in summer 2016 that Trump had no policies to now saying that he has 101 policies all of which they hate even if they have proposed them themselves (government funded infrastructure programmes).

  2. I have a feeling this isn't going to end well for the BBC. They're losing their minds.

    1. It's possible Ian Katz will now hire India Knight

  3. I do wonder how long it will take the BBC to finally accept, whether they like it or not, that Trump is now President of the United States. It took them at least six months to accept that Labour lost the last General Election. The endless autopsies, so long after the event, were quite unique. I can remember elections going back several decades.
    The BBC are now so far removed from simply reporting the news and so firmly embedded their belief that their role is to influence events, what we are witnessing now is their deep frustration at their own impotence. I suspect that this has always been the case to some degree, but now it has reached a level where the BBC can no longer be regarded as a news service. What they have morphed into is a kind of tax-payer funded activist organisation.

    1. What they have morphed into is a kind of tax-payer funded activist organisation.....

      Yes, Terry You've hit the nail on the head. 'Thousands Protest' in BBC language usually means a couple of banner-carrying lefties join the throng of Londoners going home after work, together with some clever camera work.