When this blog was a mere twinkle in the eye, Craig and I got stuck over what to call it. We wanted to have the words “BBC” and “bias” in there, but as someone once said somewhere online, the “Biased-BBC” blog had already bagged the best name ever. Also, we wanted the title to sound less strident than “Biased-BBC” to imply that there was at least some room for doubt. We decided on a question rather than a statement, hoping it would encourage debate rather than produce a straightforward litany of anti-BBC ‘gotchas’.
However, that was then and this is now. It’s now more or less a given that the BBC is biased, so we are lagging behind with our redundant ‘question’. I suppose we could reposition the ‘IS’ past “the BBC”, but that would be a boring statement of the bleeding obvious - and it would make us even more “Biased-BBC-lite” than we already are. So, for now, we’ll just leave the “is” and the “?” where they are. The status quo rules ok.
There is only one topic dominating the discourse - imagine what life will be like in the post-Brexit era (will there still be life?) and we’ll be able to settle back in and address the ishoos that occupied us in the olden days. Meanwhile, here’s Charles Moore (£)
Behind the incident of Anna Soubry being called a Nazi by a small group of Leave yobs beside College Green lies a classic Brexit sequence of events. For many months now, Remain protestors have infested that area. Their numbers are small, but they are well trained to insert themselves and their banners into relevant live television interviews, and have been praised by the Guardian for doing so. Never have I seen the BBC trying to exclude them from its shots, even when the protestors’ interventions have made it quite difficult for those being interviewed.
Sometimes BBC interviewers have gestured on air towards the protestors as evidence of strong pro-Remain public feeling. Often BBC cameras have used cutaways of them to punctuate news items, to make the same point. Not surprisingly, the BBC’s behaviour has in turn provoked Leave protests, because the indulgence of the Remain stunts has helped skew the news. As soon as this one looked nasty, the BBC turned it into a major story about hate crime, involving the police, fanned by Mr Speaker Bercow. It is certainly unpleasant and stupid to call almost anyone a Nazi, but the rudeness to Ms Soubry does not reach the threshold of a threat to public order or incitement to violence — not as bad, for example, as John McDonnell’s famous encouragement of those who said they wanted to lynch Esther McVey, or what happens in demonstrations by the Socialist Workers Party.
The wider truth is that College Green interviews are a circus invented by television 30 years ago to make its broadcasts from Westminster seem less boring. Circuses need performing seals, clowns etc. The cause of Remain — via the BBC — is the ring-master.
Excellent points, but one of the btl commenters took issue with the word ‘yobs’, and I do think it was quite naughty of the writer to use that term here as it smacks of the lazy stereotyping that’s routinely bandied about willy-nilly to save the bother of engaging with the actuality.
I must say the BBC’s obsession with Anna Soubry-gate was typical mountain-out-of-a-molehill reporting. That particular incident might have represented a kind of last straw where raucous heckling is concerned, but let’s face it, Anna did not look at all perturbed throughout. She was smiling. As many people have pointed out, this kind of stunt is commonplace these days, and it comes from (the extreme fringes of) all directions. And as Mr Moore says, the media eggs it on something rotten.
Since when has it become the norm to use the term ‘right-wing” as an insult, let alone "far-right"? Well, not so long ago the term might have conjured up an image of your actual Nazi, mistakenly, since actual Nazism emanated from the opposite direction. But I do see what they mean. They’re picturing your old fashioned misogynist, homophobic, hang-‘em and flog-‘em, sexually repressed, self-righteous, heard-hearted chauvinist pig. Illiberal, intolerant and racist.
Of course, hardly any of the figures to whom that epithet is addressed are anything like that. The opposite. It’s usually the harshest opponents of a belief system that espouses those particular qualities at which the terms ‘right-wing, far-right and fascist” are hurled. Ironic, eh?
In fact, even dismissing something as ‘right-wing’ is understood to be almost (but not quite) as insulting and damning as being a ‘Zionist’. You can shut down debate with these terms. Simple as.
The BBC is bigging up the threat from the far-right for all it’s worth. Did anyone see Wyre Davies do a hilarious report about the couple who named their baby Adolf? Please tell me it was a spoof. Surely. I know it was aired a while back, but I’ve been busy.
A friend came round for lunch a couple of weeks ago. We don’t usually talk about politics, but it had just been announced that the responsibility for investigating the persecution of Christians had been handed to the Bishop of Truro, (our patch) and so the topic came up.
“So, who do you think is doing all this persecuting?” asked someone. (me)
“Well,” said Mr friend, thoughtfully. “In the Middle East? Hmm, probably Israel.”
“Oh,” said I, “and you know this, how?”
“Well,” said he, “In the papers and on the BBC?”
“I think you’ll find,” said I, “that this is not quite the case. Israel is about the safest place that the Christian community can be anywhere in the Middle East”
His expression revealed the finality and obduracy of his belief - “I heard it on the BBC” - so I knew I had to let it go.
At the time I was thinking that although I wouldn’t put it past the Guardian, I rather doubted that the BBC has said, explicitly and in so many words, that Israel, in particular, is one of the countries where Christians are being persecuted. After all, facts and figures are available. (Who needs them?)
No. In my opinion, the Beeb’s relentless demonisation of Israel in general corrals people into the opinion that Israel is inherently racist and malevolent and therefore conclude that Israel must be guilty of persecuting Christians. Say no more. “We’ll lay the foundations; your imagination will do the rest.” In other words, I assumed that accusations of that kind are implicit, not explicit.
But that was before I saw this on BBC Watch, and as one of the btl commenters asserts: “…Christians in Israel are about the safest that the Christian community can be anywhere in the Middle East…” I hadn’t known about Jonny Diamond on TWATO then, but I know now.
I’ll just mention another item, again very belatedly. Before Christmas - (around 17th December) I thought I heard Frankie Boyle reporting from Lebanon. Of course, it was actually Martin Patience describing some mysterious digger activity that he could see taking place in the distance, over in Israel.
It was Hezbollah’s tunnels of course, being de-activated by the IDF. You know, the tunnels? Hezbollah’s attack tunnels that the whole wide world, apart from Martin Patience in Lebanon, are aware of?
“Israel says,” began Martin Patience - as if not quite sure of the veracity of anything Israel says, or, for that matter, the existence of the tunnels. Ok, so maybe being physically in Lebanon, one wouldn’t get the full picture. But he’s a reporter. He’s supposed to know what’s going on. Oh well, it must be easy to go to Lebanon and see only the good things like our smiley friend Ade Adeptan of The Travel Show who went there and didn’t notice Hezbollah at all. He must have missed The Hezbollah Museum, a well-known Lebanese tourist attraction. You know, the place where Simon Reeve went the other day. Instead, Ade spent some considerable time admiring a tourist attraction called Moussa Castle.
“How long did it take your favah to build this hideous castle?“ Ade Adepitan enquired of Ziad al Maamari, son of Moussa al Maamari who built it all himself. A lifetime’s achievement.
(I did paraphrase, obvs.)
Talking of venerable Scottish comedians, I liked Billy Connolly’s programme Made in Scotland.
He has mellowed and, I don’t know, matured and gone all philosophical. Sorry that he’s ill. I have to admit, I used to find his gratuitous swearing a massive turn-off. Also, I’m not that keen on ‘stand-up” where ‘standing up’ is literally off the agenda, and furious pacing up and down the stage is the order of the day. It gets on my nerves and it’s often not pretty. Please be still!
Anyway, at a certain stage, Billy Connolly discovered that he didn’t need to say anything amusing other than “fuck” to get a laugh out of the audience, and he got lazy. Strutting around swearing is not worthy. Not creative. However - there was a section in his Made in Scotland programme where he said something perceptive about swearing, which I really do get. Swearing can be witty, creative and uniquely expressive. ‘Jesus suffering fuck’ was an example. It’s the word ‘suffering’ that brings the expression to life and lights it up somehow. I appreciate the subtlety of that; the difference between an almost poetic verbal ejaculation and merely startling the audience with an expletive for a cheap laugh. Poetic swearing is the kind of swearing I applaud.
Sorry I’ve lumped all these topics under the same roof., but I’m in a hurry.