Monday, 29 April 2019

"Brexit's to blame"



At just after 6 O'Clock this evening I had another of those 'Did the BBC really just say that?' moments.

One of the headlines on tonight's BBC One News at Six began:
A rise in the number of Brits going on holiday outside the EU.
I'd barely had time to think 'Oh, that's interesting. That'll be good news for non-EU countries' when Sophie continued:
Travel companies say Brexit's to blame.
Why did the BBC put it like that?

Why did they say Brexit's "to blame", as if it's 'a bad thing', for causing "a rise in the number of Brits going on holiday outside the EU"?

Why wasn't their headline, say, "A rise in the number of Brits going on holiday outside the EU. Travel companies say it's thanks to Brexit"?

After all, it very well might actually be a 'good news story' for plenty of non-EU countries (like Turkey and Tunisia) and for British holiday makers (who could be getting more value for money).

The BBC could even have gone straight down the middle here and said, "A rise in the number of Brits going on holiday outside the EU. Travel companies say Brexit's the cause".

But they didn't. They instead said that Brexit's "to blame".

Please read Reuters' take on the story. (It was the first one I came across on Googling for a non-BBC take on the story.)

I'm not getting any sense from Reuters that UK travel companies are 'blaming Brexit' for causing 'a bad thing' to happen in respect of the shift towards non-EU countries (from 38% to 48% over the past year).

Now, obviously travel companies will be worrying about that famous 'Brexit uncertainty' and have apparently experienced a fall in the number of bookings for their usual destinations, but, as Reuters continues...
...a majority of the 3,422 UK holidaymakers surveyed by the company nevertheless said they were more likely to holiday abroad than last year, with a quarter saying that a foreign holiday was higher in their spending priorities than in 2018, compared to just 8 percent who said it was lower.
Am I missing something, or is this just seriously biased BBC anti-Brexit spinning again?

Did you expect this?


Our most loyal readers will possibly know that I've a small fascination for Spanish politics. (I have my reasons). And looking at the results of the Spanish election coming overnight on Twitter I decided to form my own opinion of the results before looking at anyone else's (especially the BBC's). 

Comparing the results with the last general election, I was struck by the collapse in the vote of the main conservative party, the People's Party, and how the fragmentation confirmed by the 2016 election (when the move from two parties to four parties was emphatically demonstrated) continues with Spain now becoming a five-party country due to the rapid rise of the right-wing VOX. Yet this ongoing fragmentation continues to not result in a collapse in the system.

This election was mainly about churn within the Left/Right blocs rather than between the Left and Right blocs - and Spain, perhaps anachronistically, remains starkly black-and-white in its Left/Right split. The blocs themselves didn't poll much differently from last time.

The Left pretty much balanced itself out. The centre-left Socialists of PM Pedro Sánchez had a very good night, rising by some 6% and becoming the largest party. Their victory looks even bigger - leading their nearest rival by 12% - because of the collapse in the People's Party share of the vote. The far-left Podemos, however, dropped back significantly, falling by around 7% to become Spain's fourth party, so I'm guessing this was mainly movement from faction-riven Podemos to the revived, governing Socialists.

Something similar happened on the Right where there was large-scale movement away from the conservative People's Party, whose vote collapsed by roughly 16%. A large amount of that movement appears to have gone to the right-wing VOX party, which leaped from almost nowhere last time round to around 10% this time, establishing itself as Spain's fifth party. There may also have been some movement from the PP towards the clean-cut centre-right, Spanish unionist party Ciudadanos, which consolidated its place as Spain's third party by leapfrogging over the sagging pony tails of Podemos. 

The polls, in advance of the election, were always within margins of error over the now-established Cuidadanos/Podemos 'newcomer' tussle, but most pointed to the final rankings of the five big parties.

All predicted a clear Socialist victory, variously firing off predictions above and below the 28% the Socialists won.  Most if not all of the massive fall-off in the People's Party's vote was predicated. but VOX, despite its huge leap forward, under-performed by some 2-3% on most pre-election polls and, thus, their breakthrough appears rather less impressive than it might have otherwise done. 

*******

Well, so I reported to myself on getting up this morning.

And, rather than checking out the BBC, I checked Twitter and immediately landed on a fascinating thread by one of the left-leaning people I follow, Sunder Katwala of British Future. He posted tweet after tweet criticising the BBC's reporting on last night's main BBC One bulletin:
BBC main TV news
- opens on Vox winning seats
- then correspondent says we can't say far right is the story, as they came 5th.
- then a report mainly about Vox, Franco & bull-fighting
- brief passing mention of the result being left winning "leaving many alienated & resentful"
I don't think if you asked a viewer, who won the Spanish election/what was the result, many would have picked that up or recalled it (though there were a couple of passing mentions at the start and the end).
It would have been fine as a second follow-up report. But it was a bizarre way to report the outcome of a General Election in a major European country.
Two references in that curious BBC report that many voters would be angry that the left had won 'as that is what many of them voted against'. (And others for!)
* The Prime minister barely mentioned.
* Passing reference to dramatic collapse of centre-right.
This, from the BBC website, seems a sensible structure for a complex election result, in which Vox right-wing breakthrough is a significant (secondary) element. But the main TV bulletin seemed to expect viewers to find this out somewhere else. 
It would be rather similar to a Spanish news bulletin on the 2015 General Election being all about Nigel Farage getting 13% of the vote, and saying voters will be v.surprised that they have somehow got David Cameron again.
I thought confusing (esp to say "this isn't main story")
- I don't esp attribute it to a political view at BBC
- more use of stock imagery (Franco, bull-fighting, is fascism back)
+ vicious cycle: don't report who PMs/main leaders are, so don't expect viewers to recognise them. 
"what just happened" next day take, the BBC's Katya Adler:
- focus on far right one factor in high turnout of opponents too
- again, voters would resent broad left coalition depending on Basque/Catalan  (more re Catalonia than left itself: conflated in TV report)
Problem for the TV news seems to be spending weekend making a report (for 10pm Sunday) that was off-the-mark by 9pm. Perhaps should have canned it/used much less of pre-recorded package & instead used time to report live news from Madrid on actual results & initial reactions
I'm not convinced by many tweeters attributing this poor reporting to a BBC pro-populism bias. There is a liberal media instinct as well as right media instinct to focus narrowly on 'return of fascism/resurgent far right' as often only political story in Europe to get attention. 
The UK's remaining and still-thriving Left/Right blocs on Twitter have, intriguingly, both been agreeing with Sunder's Twitter thread today.

*******

So, in the eternal, undying spirit of Is the BBC biased? I checked out Katya's report last night. Here's a transcript:

Newsreader Huw: Spain's been voting in a general election that's been one of the most divisive in decades. The election's been marked by the rise of a far-right party called VOX which opposes multiculturalism and unrestricted immigration. Exit polls tonight suggest the ruling Socialist Party has won the vote, but without an overall majority, so they'd have to form a coalition government. Our Europe editor, Katya Adler, is in Madrid. And let's start by talking about the performance of this far right party. 
Katya Adler: Well, yes, with almost all the votes counted now, Huw, it looks like the populist, nationalist Vox party has performed strongly, winning a bunch of seats in the Spanish parliament for the very first time, but what we cannot talk about tonight, Huw, is a massive swing to the far right in Spain. VOX looks to become Spain's fifth largest party with the centre-left the largest, and the centre-left or left-wing coalition they are now likely to form will likely leave many Spaniards feeling angry, because they specifically voted against that today.  
(Report begins). Spaniards today were on a mission, crowding into polling stations. For them, this is no run-of-the-mill general election. With politics here polarised, today's vote, some here told us, was a fight for Spain's soul.
Vox pop 1:  I'm nervous, because I want the people I support to win, but at the same time I'm kind of excited. 
Vox pop 2TRANSLATION: There is so much at stake in Spain today, the unity of Spain, the integrity of Spain, the identity of Spain. 
Spain has suffered something of an identity crisis, triggered by the push for Catalan independence. Sales in Spanish flags have shot up here over the last couple of years. Now, for the first time since the death of Spain's 20th Century military dictator, Francisco Franco, a far-right party has won seats - a sizeable chunk of them, it seems - in the Spanish Parliament. VOX promises to make Spain great again - that phrase sound familiar? It beats the nationalist drum, promising to preserve Spanish culture, including more controversial traditions like bull-fighting. 
VOX spokesman: We need to be proud about our country, in a way that we haven't been for a long, long time, defending the unity of Spain, the history of Spain, your values, your systems, your flag.
Katya: And the link with Franco that's being made? 
VOX spokesman: What link with Franco? Franco's been dead for 45 years, we weren't even born when Franco died, there's no link.
Like populist nationalists in France and Italy, VOX is tough on immigration, on Islam and on crime, but VOX is extremely Spain-centric - it is pro-bull-fighting, pro-EU, anti-Catalan independence. But in this country, split left and right since the Spanish Civil War, VOX, unlike other populist movements across Europe, has failed to attract disaffected workers who traditionally vote for the left. In fact, exit polls suggest VOX succeeded in splintering the Spanish right and rejuvenating the centre-left - something Spain's socialist Prime Minister was hoping for when he cast his ballot this morning. I caught up with Madrid's mayor just after she voted. She fought against Spain's fascist dictator in her youth. 
Mayor of Madrid: TRANSLATION: Nowadays, politics in Spain is angry, people are disillusioned. But I voted here in Madrid in Spain's first democratic elections after dictatorship. We managed to end Basque terrorism - we'll find a solution to divided politics. 
Maybe, but deep political divisions seem to have become the new normal in Europe - look at France, Italy, UK. If, as predicted, left-wing parties now form Spain's new government, that will leave many in this country feeling alienated and resentful. Katya Adler, BBC News, Madrid. 
*******

Now, I see some interesting insights there - such as that, as far as the peculiar politics of post-Franco Spain go, 2019's Spain is in a different position to most other European countries in its politics - but I still think Sunder Katwala's criticism of Katya Adler is correct on pretty much all of his points.

She clearly had her BBC narrative all prepared - that right-wing VOX's "far-right resurgence" was the story - and nothing, absolutely nothing, would get in the way of that scary story of revived fascism in Spain.

Even the actual election results.

The BBC narrative was the BBC narrative. So damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead!

And Katya then went for the Franco/bull fighting references to sum up VOX with all the vengeance of a heavily fashion-conscious BBC cliché-monger.

And Sunder's surely right that her BBC News report would have left most viewers bamboozled as to what had actually happened.

As Sunder, fair-mindedly, suggested, this surely provides evidence of "liberal media" bias on the BBC's part to focus narrowly on "'the return of fascism/resurgent far right...as often the only political story in Europe to get attention".

A helpful Old Holborn gets a helpful hand from Andrew Neil


Is Andrew Neil the only ever BBC regular to retweet Old Holborn? As Clint Eastwood in one of my favourite films The Outlaw Josey Wales would probably say, I reckon so.

Saturday, 27 April 2019

Our weekly date


Today's introductions on Dateline London ran as follows:

  • This week... The caliphate is over but the carnage continues. After losing its last strongholds in Syria and Iraq, will Islamic State go global? And last time President Trump visited London, he criticised the Prime Minister, he kept the Queen waiting and he was stalked by protestors and a giant inflatable. This time it's a state visit. Will the pomp and ceremony keep things on track or will the UK's drawn-out political crisis leave even more things to go wrong? Also I only promised you one Brexit-free programme, and that was last week, so be warned.
  • Last week we marked Easter by discussing the impact of religion on our world, including how faith can be manipulated for a message of hate. And then we got a demonstration. One synchronised moment of horror in Sri Lanka which left hundreds of lives destroyed, thousands shattered, a Muslim community in fear of backlash and a tourism-dependent economy reeling.
  • Right now we have to talk about President Trump's visit to the UK. It's now official. He's coming in early June. Cue protocol rows, a carriage ride with the Queen and a 20 foot inflatable with tangerine-coloured skin, a shock of gold hair, and a nappy. Protestors say the Trump baby blimp will fly again along with other "creative interventions".

Very BBC!

Time to tune away from the BBC News Channel. Useless, Americanised waste of time show Dateline London. The entire panel are lefties, europhile, anti-Trump... in short reflects BBC groupthink. Instead of depriving elderly people from free BBC Licence it is time to abolish it altogether.
Thomas Keilinger of Die Welt doesn't really count as a lefty, but otherwise that sums up the 'range' of opinions on offer today.

That said, how could anyone not really enjoy it when it had everyone's favourite Dateline regular on? My heart leaped and I emitted a joyous 'Yabba dabba doo!' as Yasmin Alibhai Brown's ever-cheerful face and wildly gesticulating hands returned to brighten up our screens. Seriously, who doesn't enjoy listening to her unpleasant and unreasonable rants? (Now, where are my happy pills again?)

Can't take a joke

Twitter is a private company and is allowed to ban whomever it likes. Except for accounts I like, in which case it’s an outrageous affront to freedom of speech. 

                         (Titania McGrath, social commentator)

Liam Neeson's famous speech from the film Taken is best known for its final phrase:
I don't know who you are. I don't know what you want. If you're looking for ransom, I can tell you I don't have money, but what I do have are a very particular set of skills. Skills I have acquired over a very long career. Skills that make me a nightmare for people like you. If you let my daughter go now, that will be the end of it - I will not look for you, I will not pursue you... but if you don't, I will look for you, I will find you... and I will kill you.
Journalist Laura Marcus, who is a vocal critic of Jeremy Corbyn's Labour Party on the question of antisemitism, sent out a jokey tweet about Sounds Of The 70s on BBC Radio 2:


('Kossoff' is Paul Kossoff, the long-deceased lead guitarist with Free, if you don't know - as I didn't). 


Now, does any reasonable person believe that Miss Marcus was threatening to kill Radio 2's Johnnie Walker? And how ludicrous is it to even have to ask such a question? Such madness, alas, is becoming ever more common and Twitter must have some very silly moderators. 

Meanwhile, Twitter is even suspending the accounts of would-be-politicians standing for election in the UK. 

I don't think we're all right now.



P.S. As Stew notes in the comments below, some pigs are more equal than others as far as Twitter bans go. Here's 1980's throwback Derek Hatton, with his Twitter feed still un-suspended:


If you're wondering, the "major socialist leader" Degsy is quoting there is 'The Butcher of Kronstadt', Leon Trotsky. 

So, here's the thing, Carole, people you disagree with will sometimes be on TV


Someone with extreme views, and John Rhys-Davies 



The actor said that "the real elephant in the room is population. If we had fewer people, we would have less pollution." 

Now, of course, Carole is correct about this argument being "a whisper off eugenics" and must cough up a furball every time the BBC platforms Sir David Attenborough, patron of Population Matters, who campaigns on the very point JR-D raised - i.e. for a reduction in the human population. I can almost hear her now, "Who is Sir David Attenborough? Why must we listen to him? Why is the BBC platforming an argument that is a whisper off eugenics? Can someone - anyone - explain?". Ah but, Sir Boaty is strongly anti-Brexit, so no, I'm guessing she'll let him off.

Causes




The BBC, as was to be expected, swiftly moved its focus onto the 'fears of a backlash against Muslims' angle this week in the wake of Easter Sunday's terror attacks targeting Christians and foreigners. Given the volatility of Sri Lankan society, of course, that's a far from unreasonable fear. Still, the corporation's account of 'What led to [the] carnage?' presents a markedly different one to that given by the Associated Press.

According to the BBC's Anbarasan Ethirajan, the attacks need to be seen in the context of Muslim suffering in Sri Lanka, first at the hands of the Tamil Tigers, then at the hands of Buddhist mobs and neglectful Sri Lankan governments. Such grievances, especially a mob attack last year, may have turned some Sri Lanka Muslims towards National Towheed Jamaat (the Muslim terrorist group accused of the killings).

According to AP's Foster Klug, however, there are deeper, longer-term problems within the Muslim community there. National Towheed Jamaat had been causing concern in the country since at least 2014 by "making mosque attendance compulsory, forcing a strict implementation of Islamic law and making women cover their faces and wear long robes" and its leader had also "been known for several years because of his incendiary online speeches lashing out against all non-Muslims and calling for their elimination":
The Easter explosions may have seemed sudden, but experts point to a long period of gradual radicalization among some Sri Lankan Muslims. 
Muslims in the country were once a “model community” that supported the government in the fight against the Tamil Tiger rebels in the civil war that ended in 2009, terrorism expert Rohan Gunaratna said. It was only after the 2001 attacks in the United States and the subsequent U.S. invasion of Iraq, he said, that radical preachers began coming to Sri Lanka, often from Saudi Arabia and Pakistan, and extremists began more regularly posting online hate. 
“This type of Islam started to replace the local and traditional type, which is a very beautiful form of Islam because it accommodated other religions. There had been space for other religious groups to operate, but the type that came from the Middle East was very hard line, more political, more anti-Western,” he said. 
Now, he said, “The floodgates have been opened.”

Someone's been on the happy pills again


So it turns out that Tommy Robinson is intending to stand as an independent against Gerard Batten's UKIP up 'ere in't North West. (Didn't see that coming!). The BBC reported his announcement along with Hope No Hats' call for voters to come out and oppose him. To my astonishment though, the BBC let slip in that piece that Tommy Robinson's "real name is Stephen Yaxley-Lennon". Who knew? Everyone's been keeping very quiet about that!

Friday, 26 April 2019

A Jon Sopel question/opinion I can agree with


Jez attending tyrannical Xi's bash

A main story on the BBC News website tonight is:


My first thought on reading this was to reflect that a man who says we must talk to the likes of (his "friends") Hamas and Hezbollah and Sinn Fein/IRA for the sake of peace but who then refuses to attend a state dinner for the President of the United States is clearly a far-Left extremist with an extremely skewed moral compass. And I also see that my Twitter feed is alive today with praise for a tweet from a star BBC reporter making a related point:


Now, yes, Jon Sopel missed a question mark off the end of his tweet, but his question remains a very good one. 

One BBC critics I follow, Adrian Hilton, tweeted "This is the question which every journalist should put to prospective prime minister Jeremy Corbyn in every interview he gives between now and 5th June."

So, yes, I agree with Big BBC Jon here.

Holy Week/Passover Open Thread



Thank you for your comments. Here's a new thread for when the old one gets too full. Bless you!

Geography


And not just the voice!

I don't think Mark Littlewood of the IEA is impressed with the BBC here:



What Chris Buckler said was:
What is worrying the White House and why Donald Trump is aware that Joe Biden could be a really significant competitor for him, is that he does appeal to some of those places in the midwest, in the likes of Pennsylvania for instance when Joe Biden was launching his campaign today. 
The midwest

Pennsylvania

Thursday, 25 April 2019

Thursday Night Quiz


For those who want a quiz and some jokes tonight, BBC favourite Ash Sarkar has tweeted a couple of rib-tickling Islamophobic quips this evening (ambulances required lest sides literally split), and I've been inspired by R Ash to match her - beautifully-sculpted communist finger nail to shabby reactionary running-dog capitalist lickspittle finger nail (so to speak) - with two hot-off-the-presses jokes of my very own. 

So ITBB's quiz tonight is to see if you can guess which two are Ash's jokes and which two are mine. (Warning: I may not come off better):
  1. What do you call a halal menu? Allah carte.
  2. “Waiter, why is my dessert just the Quran served with a dollop of ice cream? Because you ordered Allah mode.”
  3. What is the favourite French novel for Muslims nostalgic for the Caliphate? Proust's 'Allah recherche du temps perdu'.
  4. What did Turkey's Recep Tayyip Erdoğan name as his favourite piece by Mozart? The finale of the Piano Sonata No. 11 in A major, K311, the 'Rondo Allah Turca'. 
A final quip beginning "What almost-rhyming Muslim cry provokes panic in most snack bars?" has been banned by Facebook, Twitter and the BBC. 

Words




Though still significantly higher than the number of victims of the Christchurch attacks (not that the BBC points that out), the Sri Lanka attack death toll has - thankfully - been "revised down" (as the BBC puts it).

In light of recent criticisms of the BBC I searched the article to see if the piece used the words 'Christian' or 'Christians' or 'Catholic' or 'Catholics' to describe the principal targets/victims of the attack. 

No such words appeared.

TDS?


According to Sohrab Ahman of the New York Post, there's been some serious misreporting of the Trump administration by certain media outlets, including the BBC.

In Sohrab's account, last month the Germans introduced a draft UN Security Council resolution on providing greater protection to women in armed conflicts. The US, which has led on such matters for decades, objected to some of its provisions. They objected to its call for “comprehensive health services, including sexual and reproductive health” on the grounds that it could promote abortion. And they objected to its call to create an expensive new UN 'mechanism' to deal with the issue. But the US weren't the main opponents of the German draft resolution. It was most vigorously opposed by the Russian and the Chinese, who were prepared the veto it in its entirety. Thanks to US pressure, the Germans dumped the contentious language and the resolution passed, with only the Russians and Chinese abstaining. 

How did the BBC report this story? 



Sohrab Ahman has singled out that headline for criticism, saying it makes the Trump administration "look pro-rape". 

He has a point, doesn't he?

Besides that use of "dilutes" in the headline there's also "watering-down" in its first paragraph:
The Trump administration's opposition to abortion has led to the watering-down of a UN resolution on ending sexual violence in war.
However accurate Sohrab's article is (and, from what I've read elsewhere, it seems to hold up), this is not neutral language from the BBC. 

In fact, in context, it's the language of condemnation. 

It continues....

"The US removed all references to sexual and reproductive health", says the BBC report's second paragraph, slyly. "This language had been used before in previous resolutions related to sexual violence, US media report", the BBC's tenth paragraph says, even more slyly..

And then read on and see just how one-sided this BBC report is. 

It's extraordinary. Denunciations of the Trump administration reign supreme in direct quote and indirect quote after direct quote and indirect quote. 

Now obviously a socially liberal media outlet like the BBC wouldn't easily understand the objections of more socially conservative people to abortion, so the tone of this BBC report is understandable if not remotely excusable (it's an example of what academics call 'bias'), but isn't this really just another, particularly extreme case of, to put it crudely, BBC Trump-bashing? 

Scrappage scheme


Now, I think it's fair to say that the comments in reply to this tweet from the BBC...


...could be going a lot better. 

Many are variations on a single theme: "The licence should be scrapped full stop!"

I suspected that the BBC News website would give the opposing side of the argument short shrift, and so it proved. Just four paragraphs quote critics of the peers' proposals. In contrast the Daily Telegraph quotes amply from both sides

Not a sausage


Two days after Easter Sunday, our ally Saudi Arabia crucified a man. 36 other men were executed.

A Lebanese journalist, Sarah Abdullah, tweeted: "Saudi Arabia dismembers a single Washington Post journalist -> the media completely loses it. Saudi Arabia mass-beheads 37 people, mostly from the repressed Shia minority, and put one of the bodies on public display -> the same media barely makes a peep.

Andrew Neil, in turn, then tweeted: "Sarah Abdullah has a point. Just looked at home pages of a few major Western news websites (US & UK). Not a sausage".

I looked at the home page of the BBC News website at the time of Andrew's tweet and guess what? Not a sausage.

That's not to say that the BBC didn't report it, because I heard them do so. But the difference in the scale of coverage remains striking. 

Coffee morning



I do like it when Twitter turns into a conversation among people from different political standpoints - though they all seem to agree about the BBC:

Martin Durkin: BBC on the path to extinction. Last year nearly a million people cancelled their TV licence. Happy Easter y'all.
Wendy Wheeler: All observably true. BBC needs to return to being a reliable and reasonable adult.
Ben Cobley: I agree, but not sure this is possible.
Wendy Wheeler: Why do you think not, Ben? Too many tribe members? Or something else?
Ben Cobley: It's that institutionalisation thing - the current BBC employment strategy is devoted to recruiting people according to their identity and representative status. Combined with its outsourcing practices, which work against risk-taking, I think we're only at the start of its decline.
Wendy Wheeler: Okay. It is a sort of tribal infection, then. Firm and broad minded leadership could stop it, but I think you are more than likely to be right. Too bubbled. Insufficient really innovative thinking. Won’t be able to see, let alone respond to, the entropy challenge.
Ben Cobley: I think anyone trying to refocus the BBC back on to quality would face a hell of a backlash from the identity industry. From the Tories, it would be made to appear as a far right takeover. Labour wouldn't even think of it (though might reverse outsourcing).
John Duffield: Indeed. The BBC has no creative independence or integrity anymore. Slowly morphing into a sociological propaganda unit.
Wendy Wheeler: This is what happened to swathes of humanities teaching in the universities. Eng Lit a particular casualty. Literary responses turned into sociological ones. Very narrow. V shallow.
John Duffield: With ever greater politicisation of the creative process the BBC has about as much creative integrity as the state owned media of a Warsaw Pact country. Worse of it is so bland and rubbish.
Wendy Wheeler: Despite the fact that LOADS has been written about it over the years, current tossers don’t know what the creative process is. Too drowning in witless conventional pc thinking (not thinking).
Ben Cobley: One sign of BBC decline is how much hype and promotion it now engages in - the breathless trailers advertising the latest TV dramas. The quality of its programming can no longer speak for itself as it used to.
Patrick Dillard: “Go forth, children, and each of you promote your own brand...until your last dying breath.”
Ben Cobley: The reduction of everyone to salesmen, including to the people we already work for - a core neo-liberal aim.
Patrick Dillard: “Please tune in to this regular programme, a series entertaining plugs for my other regular program, which is a series of entertaining plugs for this programme...”
David Eyles: There is also the point that the promises implied by the trailers are a source of disappointment when it comes to the actual drama.
Ben Cobley: Once you stop trusting them, they're in trouble.
David Eyles: Exactly. They are blaming their reduction in audiences upon new technology. And this may be a part of it. But another part is that people are getting fed up with them.

Speak, or I will put a dint in your hat that even a wizard will find hard to deal with!


John Rhys-Davies, preparing himself for tonight's programme

Three of the five members of the panel on tonight's Question Time were Remain campaigners who now want a People's Vote (Sir Vince Cable, Caroline Lucas and Labour's Jonathan Ashworth). The fourth (Conservative MP Victoria Atkins) was a Remain campaigner but now supports Mrs May's Brexit deal. Only the fifth panellist (actor John Rhys-Davies) was a Brexit supporter and remains a Brexit supporter, regarding Mrs May's deal as not proper Brexit. So if the programme discusses Brexit, that will be a very unbalanced panel and it's to be hoped that Mr Rhys-Davies will do a Charles Moore on Fiona Bruce.  

Headline news


Sunday's attacks on Christians and tourists in Sri Lanka (359 dead) are no longer being reported on the BBC News website's home page. The story is no longer among the main headlines, nor anywhere else on the page. Meanwhile, the attack on Muslims in Christchurch over a month ago (50 dead) has returned to the top six BBC headline stories (via Prince William's visit to New Zealand). 

Click to enlarge

Monday, 22 April 2019

Thread: Questions about the BBC's coverage of the Sri Lanka attacks


Kathy at The Conservative Woman has penned a fine piece describing her experience of listening to the BBC's coverage of the terrorist attacks in Sri Lanka: Terror attack on Christians – BBC looks the other way. "Why such flaky and incomplete reporting of this devastating attack aimed at Christian places of worship and designed to kill Christians? What exactly does the BBC have to be so coy about?"

A thoughful reply to her on Twitter made the case for the BBC's defence, "The BBC has extensively reported the events. It has not ignored Christians. But they have not attributed responsibility to Muslims, not least because there is as yet no proof. Perhaps in such a charged atmosphere that might be responsible?

But is there "as yet no proof"? And does 'acting responsibly' by censoring parts of a story actually risk doing more harm than good?

Thread in the comments below....

PM


I thought I'd test tonight's PM on Radio 4 in the light of recent events.

It was typically BBC. 

Here's its introduction:
Presenter: In Sri Lanka the government says it's likely foreign terrorist organisations were behind yesterday's wave of bombings that killed 290 people. Nick Beake in Colombo brings us the latest:
Nick Beake, BBC: These attacks have stunned Sri Lanka. The scale of the murder, the planning involved and the sense of fear people now feel. They've also exposed a dysfunctional government and a factional intelligence community where key warnings were seemingly suppressed. 
"Foreign terrorist organisations" that killed "people", eh? The language is typically unspecific. 

And then it was on to 'climate change', giving primacy to the views of hardline protestors (as the BBC wouldn't put it):
Presenter: As climate change protestors discuss their next move we ask how much of this is driven by the younger generation. 
Young, female climate change protestor: I just think it's got to a point where young people see so many big issues that really have a threat to our future that actually they're now starting to be really quite public with their demands to be listened to.
And everyone's favourite BBC foreign correspondent and ray of sunshine Orla Guerin (the thinking man's Fergal Keane) was on hand to give us the (BBC) views of those opposed to Libya's dashing knight in military dictator's uniform Field Marshal Haftar: 
Presenter: Orla Guerin provides us with a special report from the frontline of the fighting in Libya:
Libyan female, opposed to Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar: He's just going to be another Muammar Gaddafi. He's going to kill. He's going to take people's properties. And people are not going to live safely. 
Oh, and as Sir Boaty and that young, female climate change protestor would doubtless approve, that Radio 4 introduction ended with a touch of climate change-emphasising frippery:
Presenter: And as this is declared the hottest Easter Monday on record across the UK we bring you the sounds of the bank holiday from around the country.
Agenda? What agenda? (as someone once said).

Interval


I feel the need for something beautiful...

He Has a Little List


Not from the BBC, but again from the Imam of Peace, Imam Mohamad Tawhidi - and this is even before we get to Sri Lanka:


A FEW Islamist Terrorist Organizations that want Christians and Jews dead.

1. Al-Shabab (Africa)
2. Al Murabitun (Africa)
3. Al-Qeada (Afghanistan)
4. Al-Qaeda (Islamic Maghreb)
5. Al-Qaeda (Indian Subcontinent)
6. Al-Qaeda (Arab Peninsula)
7. Hamas (Gaza)
8.Palestinian Islamic Jihad (Palestine),
9.Popular Front for the Liberation of (Palestine),
10.Hezbola (Lebanon),
11.Ansar al-Sharia-Benghazi (Lebanon),
12.Asbat Al-Ansar (Lebanon),
13.ISIS (Iraq),
14.ISIS (Syria),
15.ISIS (Cauacus)
16.ISIS (Libya)
17.ISIS (Yemen)
18.ISIS (Algeria),
19.ISIS (Philippines)
20.Jund al-Sham (Syria/Afganistan),
21. Al-Mourabitoun (Lebanon),
22.Abdullah Azzam Brigades (Lebanon),
23. Al-Itihaad al-Islamiya (Somalia),
24. Al-Haramain Foundation (Saudi Arabia),
25.Ansar-Al-Sharia (Moroccon),
26.Moroccon Mudjadine (Morocco),
27.Salafia Jihadia (Morocco),
28.Boko Haram (Afrika),
29.Islamic movement of (Uzbekistan),
30.Islamic Jihad Union (Uzbekistan),
31.Islamic Jihad Union (Germany),
32.DRW True-Religion (Germany)
33.Fajar Nusantara Movement (Germany)
34.DIK Hildesheim (Germany)
35.Jaish-e-Mohammed (Kashmir),
36.Jaish al-Muhajireen wal-Ansar (Syria),
37.Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (Syria),
38.Jamaat al Dawa al Quran (Afghanistan),
39.Jundallah (Iran)
40.Quds Force (Iran)
41.Kata'ib Hezbollah (Iraq),
42. Al-Itihaad al-Islamiya (Somalia),
43.Egyptian Islamic Jihad (Egypt),
44.Jund al-Sham (Jordan)
45.Fajar Nusantara Movement (Australia)
46.Society of the Revival of Islamic 47.Heritage (Terror funding, WorldWide offices)
48.Taliban (Afghanistan),
49.Taliban (Pakistan),
50.Tehrik-i-Taliban (Pakistan),
51. Army of Islam (Syria),
52.Islamic Movement (Israel)
53.Ansar Al Sharia (Tunisia),
54.Mujahideen Shura Council in the Environs of (Jerusalem),
55.Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (Libya)
55 (2): Oneness and Jihad in (West Africa),
56.Palestinian Islamic Jihad (Palestine)
57.Tevhid-Selam (Al-Quds Army)
58.Moroccan Islamic Combatant Group (Morroco),
59.Caucasus Emirate (Russia),
60.Dukhtaran-e-Millat Feminist Islamists (India),
61.Indian Mujahideen (India),
62.Jamaat-ul-Mujahideen (India)
63.Ansar al-Islam (India)
64.Students Islamic Movement of (India),
65.Harakat Mujahideen (India),
66.Hizbul Mujhaideen(India)
67.Lashkar e Islam(India)
68.Jund al-Khilafah (Algeria),
69.Turkistan Islamic Party,
70.Egyptian Islamic Jihad (Egypt),
71.Great Eastern Islamic Raiders' Front (Turkey),
72.Harkat-ul-Jihad al-Islami (Pakistan),
73.Tehreek-e-Nafaz-e-Shariat-e-Mohammadi (Pakistan),
74.Lashkar e Toyiba(Pakistan)
75.Lashkar e Jhangvi(Pakistan)
Ahle Sunnat Wal Jamaat (Pakistan),
76.Jamaat ul-Ahrar (Pakistan),
77.Harkat-ul-Mujahideen (Pakistan),
78.Jamaat Ul-Furquan (Pakistan),
79.Harkat-ul-Mujahideen (Syria),
80.Ansar al-Din Front (Syria),
81.Jabhat Fateh al-Sham (Syria),
82.Jamaah Anshorut Daulah (Syria),
83.Nour al-Din al-Zenki Movement (Syria)
84.Liwa al-Haqq (Syria),
85. Al-Tawhid Brigade (Syria),
86.Jund al-Aqsa (Syria),
87. Al-Tawhid Brigade (Syria),
88.Yarmouk Martyrs Brigade (Syria),
89.Khalid ibn al-Walid Army (Syria),
90.Hezb-e Islami Gulbuddin (Afganistan),
91.Jamaat-ul-Ahrar (Afghanistan)
92.Hizb ut-Tahrir (Worldwide Caliphate),
93.Hizbul Mujahideen (Kasmir),
94.Ansar Allah (Yemen),
95.Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development (USA),
96.Jamaat Mujahideen (India),
97.Jamaah Ansharut Tauhid (Indonesia),
98.Hizbut Tahrir (Indonesia),
99.Fajar Nusantara Movement (Indonesia),
100.Jemaah Islamiyah (Indonesia),
101.Jemaah Islamiyah (Philippines),
102.Jemaah Islamiyah (Singapore),
103.Jemaah Islamiyah (Thailand),
104.Jemaah Islamiyah (Malaysia),
105.Ansar Dine (Africa),
106.Osbat al-Ansar (Palestine),
107.Hizb ut-Tahrir (Group connecting 108.Islamic Caliphates across the world into one world Islamic Caliphate)
109. Army of the Men of the Naqshbandi Order (Iraq)
110. Al Nusra Front (Syria),
111. Al-Badr (Pakistan),
112.Islam4UK (UK),
113. Al Ghurabaa (UK),
114. Call to Submission (UK),
115.Islamic Path (UK),
116. London School of Sharia (UK),
117.Muslims Against Crusades (UK),
118.Need4Khilafah (UK),
119.The Shariah Project (UK),
120.The Islamic Dawah Association (UK),
121.The Saviour Sect (UK) x2
123.Jamaat Ul-Furquan (UK)
124.Minbar Ansar Deen (UK),
125. Al-Muhajiroun (UK) (Lee Rigby, London 2017 members),
126.Islamic Council of Britain (UK) (Not to be confused with Offical Muslim Council of Britain),
127.Ahlus Sunnah wal Jamaah (UK),
128. Al-Gama'a (Egypt),
129. Al-Islamiyya (Egypt)
130.Armed Islamic men of (Algeria),
131Salafist Group for Call and Combat (Algeria),
132.Ansaru (Algeria),
133.Ansar-Al-Sharia (Libya),
134. Al Ittihad Al Islamia (Somalia),
135.Ansar al-Sharia (Tunisia),
136. Al-Shabab (Africa),
137. al-Aqsa Foundation (Germany)
138. al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades (Palestine),
139. Abu Sayyaf (Philippines),
140.Aden-Abyan Islamic Army (Yemen),
141.Ajnad Misr (Egypt),
142. Abu Nidal Organization (Palestine),
143.Jamaah Ansharut Tauhid (Indonesia)

Have I Got Something For BBC Comedians To Joke About For You


Oh dear, the Labour Party sent this tweet our earlier today:


Unfortunately, today isn't St George's Day, so - after lots of people pointed that out to them - they deleted the tweet.

That's becoming something of a habit. The other day, the Labour Party sent out a tweet to mark Passover:


Unfortunately, loaves of bread (as shown on their tweet) are not eaten by Jews during Passover, as lots of people pointed out to them. Labour deleted that tweet too.

Oh the fun Ian Hislop and Paul Merton and Frankie Boyle and Miles Jupp and Mark Steel are going to have with this on the BBC this week!...

Or not.

And BBC Trending is surely going to make hay with this.

Or not.

Social media v mainstream media



Mohamad Tawhidi, the Australia-based 'Imam of Peace', has been tweeting updates on the Sri Lanka terrorist attacks ever since news of them broke, and I've been following him ever since. 

Why? Because he's been telling the story of the attacks in a very different way to mainstream media outlets like the BBC. 

It feels like he's been reporting what actually happened, straight and without covering-up information. 

Has he though? 

Well, maybe we can use him as an example: 

If it turns out that he's been wrong throughout then it will prove the danger of following 'irresponsible' social media accounts and I must learn to be much more careful. However, if it turns out that he's been right throughout then it shows the utter unreliability of the 'responsible' mainstream media who won't provide anything like the full, unfiltered story when attacks like this happen.

Here then, in chronological order, are a selection of Imam Mohamed Tawhidi's tweets:  

  • At least 138 people killed and hundreds hospitalized from injuries in near simultaneous blasts that rocked three churches and three luxury hotels in Sri Lanka on Easter Sunday, in the biggest violence in Sri Lanka since its civil war ended a decade ago.
  • Imam Mohamad Tawhidi Retweeted, CNN News 18: NewsAlert – "At least 2 blasts carried out by suicide bombers. Suicide bombers behind attack at Shangri La Hotel and Batticaloa Church. The suicide bombers has been identified as Zahran Hashim and Abu Mohammed". 
  • New terrorist attacks are shaking Sri Lanka. This might require international interference. These terrorists seem to be well organised and we don’t know what else is going to happen. Perhaps they’re trying to divert security attention away from a main target. We don’t know.
  • The lack of media interest in what’s happening in Sri Lanka is both disgusting and disgraceful.
  • Imam Mohamad Tawhidi Retweeted, Tarek Fatah: "Two Muslim Suicide Bombers identified in  Sri Lanka attacks. Meet Zahran Hashim and Abu Mohammed aa death toll rises over 150."
  • You know that you are not simply ‘Far-Left’, but an actual apologist for terrorists, when even CNN India names them as Islamic Extremists and you are insisting on acting as a lawyer for suicide bomber.
  • Compare the level of outrage with what happened in Sri Lanka with Christchurch, NZ. Triple the amount of casualties and triple the amount of injured people. It offends me and other likeminded Muslims that we get special treatment and other equal humans don’t.
  • Pakistani state-sponsored media is covering the tragedy in Sri Lanka by attacking President Trump over a typo in a deleted and corrected tweet. Let’s visit some Pakistani online forums to find them rejoicing over the attack just like they did when Notre Dame Cathedral was burning.
  • Thank you Theresa May for showing concern over the buildings. I’m sure the hotel managers will appreciate this.
  • Islamist terrorists targeted the Christians of Sri Lanka on Easter Sunday. Zahran Hashim and Abu Mohammad killed at least 140 people and injured more than 560 others; these numbers are rapidly rising. This act of terror must be condemned internationally, by all of us.
  • Truly sad to see Sri Lanka’s defence minister calling this an “unfortunate terrorist incident”. It is not only an “unfortunate incident” but an attack on your country and nation, causing the biggest attack since the civil war (which ended 10 years ago).
  • The attacks in Sri Lanka are continuing and the deaths are rising. Sri Lanka should ask India to send in the black cats.
  • JUST IN: Intelligence officials in Sri Lanka warned that terrorist elements, including the radical Islamic organization NTJ, would carry out a suicide attack in certain churches during Easter.
  • Sri Lanka has seen a spike in Jihadi activity since 2017. The Parliament was told that 32 Muslims from elite families had joined ISIS.
  • 7 terrorists arrested, 2 of the terrorists have been identified as Zahran Hashim and Abu Mohammed; BBC doesn’t mention their names. We don’t know yet if the 2 identified were suicide bombers, which makes them 9, or if they are 7 terrorists using planted bombs.
  • Breaking: Local news channels are reporting that this is the image of Zahran Hashim, one of the terrorists responsible for the Sri Lanka attacks. Trust, but verify. It’s still too early to confirm, but do expect other moustache-less handsome faces to surface soon.
  • Thread on statements of one of the terrorists responsible for Sri Lanka attacks identified as Zahran Hashim: ["Islam doesn't permit standing up for National flag. Hindus, Xtians, Budhdhas are Kafirs. Allah created this land for Muslims; Kafirs have the right to live, only Muslims have the right to rule. Loyalty of Muslims should only be for the Nation ruled by Muslims."]
  • If you are silent about Sri Lanka attacks, know that this is an Islamist war against Jesus. Pick a side. I am standing with Jesus.
  • “Sri Lanka Jihadi bomber waited in line at hotel buffet then unleashed devastation”.
  • If you were wondering how 72 virgins were going to be enough for all these Jihadists, Einstein here has the solution: “Allah will transform the Non-Muslims into heavenly female virgins and the inhabitants of Paradise (all Muslims of course) will be ordered to penetrate them”.
  • If you’re wondering why I’m not appearing on any media channels/radio to talk about recent events, that’s because I no longer give interviews to the media. I don’t have time for them. I’ll reach out to the journalists I trust (2-3) to get my message/perspective across. Thank You.
  • We spend hours exposing extremists every day. This video & its background went unnoticed due to language barriers. If he was exposed & brought to the attention of the authorities, he could’ve been stopped. Sri Lanka terrorist: “Anyone who disagrees with Muslims should be killed”.
  • The terrorist behind one of the bombings in Sri Lanka was an Islamist Extremist Imam and preacher by the name of Moulvi Zahran Hashim (with many lectures online and YouTube - makes you wonder why YT never banned him for his terrorist ideology). Anyway, here’s part of the report.
  • Thank you to everyone retweeting what I share: articles, findings, research, news, videos and pictures exposing extremists. You are not doing me a favour. We are in this together, and we are fighting many battles to get the truth out (censorship/mass reporting/etc). Thank you.

Sunday, 21 April 2019

No more Mr Nice Guy


Gavin 'BBC impartiality' Esler

As regular readers will know, I've spent years on various blogs chronicling in often tedious detail  and, if I may so, proving beyond doubt the chronic left-liberal, pro-EU bias of one particular BBC News Channel programme that barely anyone in the UK actually watches - namely Dateline London

For most of those years the programme was hosted by Gavin Esler, whose 'nice' TV persona never entirely disguised the fact that he was a left-liberal, pro-EU presenter heading a left-liberal, pro-EU-biased programme and skewing it towards his own point of view. 

Let's recall again some of Gavin's highlights as a licensed 'impartial' BBC presenter.

And, yes, he also used to brazenly scoff at critics of his 'impartiality' on Twitter during the latter stages of his Dateline days. 

Donald Trump really is a fat-shaming, ill-informed, tax-avoiding misogynist who routinely insults people of other races. Why is this election even close? And why could Mr Trump still win?
...a man with a reputation for being born with a silver foot in his mouth...
But what you might see is, broadly, the centre-left and the centre-right coalescing on a 'yes' vote and others towards the left and towards the far-right will say 'no'...
...fringe figures in French society...two orphans (in) dead end jobs...
You could almost have written the script beforehand in a way: that they were people on the fringes of society with very little stake in that society, which they obviously hate.
There's been a lot of talk here and elsewhere about 'pull factors' - why people come - but actually the 'push factors' are the ones that seem to be in the case of the horrible case in Austria and those coming from Syria. That's what's moving people. They're being pushed.
That's a very interesting point, Nesrine, because, in fact, there are a lot of parallels between anti-Semitism historically and Islamophobia now. There's absolutely no question of that. And that's the, quote, "perceived threat" of a particular minority.
Hillary, who's one of the brightest women around... 
I've conducted some public meetings and ordinary members of the public have said precisely that, our health service could not exist without people who are migrants.
This inquiry, they ask a question, they get an answer, they move onto something else, and that seems a bit feeble. There are all kinds of problems I've suggested here. There are people who watch this, who just want...who already loathe Tony Blair, and who just want to see that he's got fangs, horns and a tail, and all he said was 'this was a decision, it wasn't a conspiracy, I said pretty much public what I said privately'.
One way of looking at it is that Sarkozy and Merkel, and maybe Brown and Berlusconi and the others, want it to be - what did the French used to call it? - a 'union des patries', a union of sovereign states, which is what it is. So it's shot the idea that there's some federal superstate in the offing. I rarely hear the federalist superstate argument except for people who say they're opposed to it. You never hear anyone saying they want it.
All of those quotes came from him whilst he was serving as an 'impartial' BBC Dateline London's presenter.

And here he is today, post-BBC, openly being left-liberal and pro-EU and speaking for 'the entire country':


You could say that he's now 'showing his true colours' but, in truth, he showed them over his many years of hosting Dateline London.

And, despite all my endless chronicling, he got away with it. 

And the BBC got away with it too.

Urban liberal


Lots of Guardian types (from Bonnie Greer to Suzanne Moore), plus David Lammy MP, have been commenting this weekend on something Andrew Marr said almost three years ago, and lots of #FBPE types have also been using it to slam the BBC for pro-Brexit bias. 


I believe Andrew 100% though when he says of this little speech:


That he's an "urban liberal" with "not a shred of anti-immigrant feeling" should be beyond doubt to any reasonable person. 

Who to believe?


Who to believe, the BBC or Agence France-Presse (AFP)?

According to the BBC:


The nature of the blasts was not immediately clear and there were no immediate claims of responsibility.
But documents seen by AFP show that Sri Lanka's police chief Pujuth Jayasundara issued an intelligence alert to top officers 10 days ago, warning that suicide bombers planned to hit "prominent churches". 
"A foreign intelligence agency has reported that the NTJ (National Thowheeth Jama'ath) is planning to carry out suicide attacks targeting prominent churches as well as the Indian high commission in Colombo," the alert said. 
The NTJ is a radical Muslim group in Sri Lanka that was linked last year to the vandalisation of Buddhist statues.

Easter


I've never been to the British Museum, oddly. But I learn today, Easter Sunday, that it contains a series of ivory plaques from a casket which comprise the earliest surviving narrative depiction of the Easter story. Here's the one showing the scene of the empty tomb, with two snoozing soldiers and two rapt women:


It's believed to come from a Roman workshop and was made in around 420-30 AD and is rather lovely.

Alas, as I was reading this first thing today, I saw the horrific news from Sri Lanka. 

Easter does seem to have been become a particular target for Islamic terrorists in recent years, from Egypt to Nigeria, from Pakistan to Kenya, etc. And here we are again on the most joyous day of the year for Christians, with Christian worshippers being specifically targeted for massacre. 

When will this end?