Apologies if things are a little quiet hereabouts for a while, but please pour yourself another large glass at the BBC licence fee payer's expense and settle down with your favourite slippers for the latest open thread.
The phrase, “mainstream media”, is now a term of abuse - used by people of all political persuasions. Traditional journalism is painted as part of the problem rather than the solution. This really worries me.
Ultimately, it’s an assault on freedom of expression. And our duty to seek out the facts - without fear or favour - no matter how inconvenient they might prove to be.
Yet again our healthcare authorities have to correct really irresponsible scaremongering over Brexit. Last one I saw was Gary Lineker. This time it’s... the BBC.
James Cleverly MP: She forgot to mention, when telling the story about how money was so tight that she was forced to clean toilets in her school, that her cleaning budget has risen 90% in a year - and she's had a £10k pay rise.Alex Deane: I remember this interview. It really stuck with me because after she asserted that the sky was falling in it was put to her that funding is actually up. Her only reply, which the presenters naturally found unrebuttable, was “I am not making this up.” Well...Melindi Scott: Radio 4 Today treated her like a messiah.Alex Deane: They did at least ask her the question. She effectively asserted “it is true, as I am saying so.” Without further particulars it would have been very difficult for the interviewer to out and out call her a liar.Melindi Scott: The point at which she was discussing the funding of her school theatre should possibly have rung alarms.
A head teacher says she has had to scrub the toilets, clean the school and work in the canteen because of school funding shortages on schools.
Siobhan Lowe, head of Tolworth Girls' School in Surbiton, south London, spoke of the embarrassment of not being able to fund support for her pupils.
She says she has already sold off land, cut subjects and a deputy head post to stay afloat, as budgets tightened.
First Witch: When shall we three meet again?In thunder, lightning, or in rain?Second Witch: When the hurlyburly's done,When the battle's lost and won.
Last Friday, the Today Programme on BBC Radio 4 did a “Fact Check” on the US Ambassador’s recent claim that US had some of the lowest food poisoning rates in the world.
Presenter Justin Webb interviewed BBC Reality Check correspondent, Chris Morris, who reported that they had investigated the issue and that the statistics were clear: rates of Campylobacter illnesses in the US were 4 times higher than those in the UK, whilst Salmonella rates were 20 times higher. The Ambassador was, we were told “flat wrong” and no room for doubt was left. Apart from the embarrassment to Woody Johnson, the piece was clearly designed to cast doubt on the desirability of the post-Brexit US-UK trade deal.
The trouble is that virtually every element of Chris Morris’s ‘Reality Check’ was either flat out false or based on a seriously incompetent use of statistics.
I have raised these issues with Chris Morris and the Today programme and also with one of the authors of the BBC Reality Check article on which Chris Morris seems to have based most of his reporting. The author has acknowledged in an email to me that the article contained errors and has agreed to do some re-writes. That is welcome but does not address the fact that viewers of the Today programme were given a completely misleading impression of the facts as well as that the US Ambassador’s reputation was unjustifiably damaged.
To date, I have not had a response from Chris Morris or Today and so I have now submitted an official complaint. Let’s see how the BBC respond.
Phil Atherton: screenshot of the ‘top stories’ on my BBC News App at 8am. Did the march happen?Rob Burley, BBC: Yes, it happened yesterday and was lead story all day. What is the new aspect of the march that should be in the news today? Of course it will be discussed but that’s not the same as a new development.Paul Mason, ex-BBC: Why is Barbara Streisand more important than the political aftermath of the biggest demo in living memory? It's the BBC's flawed and opaque editorial judgement that deems mass peaceful protest of only fleeting significance. If a Royal died would you take that off p1 the next day?Rob Burley: The aftermath of the march features prominently in the TOP STORY on the site today about the position of the Prime Minister. It just doesn’t have a story of its own because, unlike the Streisand story which has changed, the march finished yesterday and has still finished.
Rob Burley: Here’s the BBC apparently trying to suppress discussion of the march yesterday (which led all day) by including it in the top story this morning. Honestly, the desire to take offence and find fault without even checking what we are doing is exhausting.
‘What MPs had seen in this Prime Minister is pretty much at every stage she had given way to a group of people regarded by some as extremists in the ERG group. She has listened to them, she has done what they wanted her to do, now she is paying the price for that turning on all the other MPs...’Oh dear.
Rod Liddle: "It is always a pleasure trying to work out what Kirsty Wark is telling us."
Rod Liddle: "BBC Radio 4, a network that now consists almost entirely of middle-class women moaning about stuff."
|It's BBC impartiality Jim, and just as we know it|
There was a wee cooper lived in FifeAnd why am I telling you this? Because, besides happy memories of vomiting my insides out on the way to Skye whilst loathing the music I was being forced to listen to, 'Nickety nackety noo, noo, noo' now always inevitably make me think of James Naughtie.
Nickety nackety noo, noo, noo
And he has tae'n a gentle wife
Risselty-rosselty, hey, pomposity
Nickety nackety noo, noo, noo.
Look, in any other European country, the Conservative Party would not exist in its current form. The ERG, Jacob Rees-Mogg's group, in France would be in the National Front, because that's what they believe, and in Germany they would be in the AfD.
I was wrong to say in a live discussion this morning that members of the ERG would be happy in a far-right party. That was not my intention, because I don’t believe it. I was trying to make the point that if our parties fracture in some way after Brexit – on Right and Left – we could see a political landscape emerge that looks more like the rest of Europe than it does at the moment. But my words were ill-chosen and I’m sorry for any offence caused.
|The Rise and Fall of the BBC Empire|
A BBC spokesman said: "We welcome the committee's recognition of the importance of the E20 project. However, we strongly reject the notion that there has been any complacency.".
To put this fantastical figure in some sort of real-life context, with £87 million you could build 250 affordable homes for actual East Enders. And to put it in another sort of context, this jaw-dropping overspend comes as the BBC is trying to make £800 million of savings. True, that’s partly because it will soon have to pick up the bill for free TV licences for the over-75s, but it also lavishes millions each week on astronomical fees for “talent” and inflated salaries for its executives, 100 of whom earn more than £150,000 a year.
Then there’s the £10 million spent on promoting the new BBC Sounds app. That’s the BBC’s belated and (so far) blundering attempt to woo more young listeners by breaking into the streaming market dominated by Spotify. BBC Sounds is the pet scheme of James Purnell, a failed politician whose 15 minutes of fame as culture secretary was chiefly notable for the mind-boggling revelation that he had claimed £247 in expenses for 3,000 fridge magnets. Now he’s on a tolerable £315,000 a year as the BBC’s director of radio and education.
|R.S. Thomas, popping out to welcome English tourists in for a cup of tea and a chat (not)|
under a shower
Fifty years passed,
in a world in servitude to time.
She was young;
I kissed with my eyes
closed and opened
them on her wrinkles.
“Come,” said death,
choosing her as his
the last dance, And she,
who in life
had done everything
with a bird’s grace,
opened her bill now
for the shedding
of one sigh no
heavier than a feather.
BBC Politics: Peoples Vote March organisers say more than a million people joined protests in central London.Tim Montgomerie: The BBC has become Remain’s propaganda vehicle.Chris Mason, BBC: I should arrange a lunch for you and Andrew Adonis. A table for two, a couple of cameras at a discreet distance...Tim Montgomerie: BBC uncritically repeating organisers’ claims that a million marched today. Last time the organisers exaggerated by 450,000.Denis MacShane (former Labour Europe minister): Tim, BBC TV News gave equal billing to Farage and 50 anti Europeans in car park to one million of our fellow Brits expressing concern. BBC bias against EU this century is shameful.
Rob Burley, BBC: Maybe you're both wrong...
Sky: Demanding their voices be heard - As many as one million people take to the streets of London calling for a second EU referendum.
ITV: An estimated one million people marched through London today demanding a second referendum to break the political deadlock over Brexit.
BBC: A huge march in central London by protestors demanding another EU referendum. Organisers claim more than a million people took part and say it's one of the biggest protests in British history.
Denis MacShane: Both?Very civilised.
Rob Burley: Yeah, you and Tim.
Denis MacShane: Ah. You are probably right.
Rob Burley liked
|Who mourns for Lord Adonis? (Not Chris Mason)|
Lord Adonis: BBC News this morning is totally ignoring seismic 2.3 million who in 48 hours have signed petition to revoke Article 50.
Chris Mason: 11,000 likes, but wrong. It was in my BBC Breakfast report. It was in my BBC 5 Live report. And I talked about it on Brexitcast.
Anand Menon: And they mentioned at it near the top on BBC R4 Today as I recall. But hey. Don’t let the facts get in the way Andrew.
Simon Templar [though possibly not The Simon Templar]: Sorry to point this out Chris, even though I love your broadcasts and tweets, but you are being somewhat pedantic. And I do acknowledge that I am being pedantic in doing so. There's a little bit of Sheldon Cooper in all of us. Just saying.
Chris Mason: Sure Simon, I’m pedantic about facts. It’s my job to be. Lord Adonis was wrong, simple as that.
Lord Adonis: No, you are wrong Chris. I was listening to the BBC News on the Radio 4 Today programme and its reports, from 6am to 7.30am and no mention of the Revoke Article 50 petition across all bulletins. Fact.
Chris Mason: Let me quote you: ‘BBC News this morning is totally ignoring...’ Sent shortly after 6am. You are now justifying your falsehood by referring to one outlet. I know how much you love your retweets on here, but the simple reality is you were factually wrong.
Labour's Baroness Chakrabarti says the internet can not continue to be an "ungoverned space" after the Christchurch attacks #Marr https://t.co/xw1VqvY3E7 pic.twitter.com/6iXpC9oxwj— BBC Politics (@BBCPolitics) March 17, 2019
Labour's Baroness Chakrabarti says Jeremy Corbyn has shown more leadership on #Brexit than Theresa May #Marr https://t.co/lJpkUkMdDC pic.twitter.com/8qoPdOF6ln— BBC Politics (@BBCPolitics) March 17, 2019
"Aspects of it have left many British Muslims feeling othered and spied upon"— BBC Politics (@BBCPolitics) March 17, 2019
Speaking about Islamophobia in Britain, Shadow Attorney General Shami Chakrabarti says aspects of the government's terrorism-prevention programme Prevent needs to be "reviewed and reformed" #Marr pic.twitter.com/6CdaU72Y5k
“Everybody knows what it means, and just because someone has a different coloured skin and prays to a different God it doesn’t make them your enemy”
“look at some of the writings that take place. it’s not just on social media. It’s on our Main Stream Media! Where people are writing with bile directed at people of the Islamic faith… […] but it seems to have got into the box of “It’s ok to say this”. We have got to eradicate (the rhetoric) from our national and international life otherwise these things will happen again.
“Andy McDonald, those individuals whom you describe who write in a very ugly and prejudicial way, clearly are not the individuals who would commit the kind of atrocities that occurred in Christchurch. Are you saying that you think there is some kind of linkage between their writings and the uh uh um disordered, demented behaviour of the people like this person who is going to be charged very probably with this crime?
“I think undoubtedly so, if people who are writing for what are otherwise respected publications and which have wide circulation, and there are many people who have been on panels such as these, who’ve had those views and have written articles in those terms, I think they’ve got to look at themselves in the mirror today and say what contribution does that make in fomenting that level of antagonism and prejudice and discrimination against people, and they are playing a very very active role in that and I think they’ve got to question how they behave and the sorts of languages (sic) that they indulge in and I really do urge them to think very carefully about this because they are part of the issue.
“I’m not saying for one minute that they would sanction or approve such horrific events, but it’s the sort of environment that they establish, of acceptable discrimination or denial of the problem of Islamophobia, and those are the sort of things that have got to be addressed.
“While the incidences of antisemitism are restricted to what is thankfully a very tiny proportion of what is a huge membership of over half a million, when accepted for what it is, we’re not in denial about it, and we will deal with it and we’re doing everything in our power to eradicate from our movement we have an absolute zero tolerance, what I would - I think that’s how we should approach it but I would - in terms of Islamophobia there’s a different attitude to it - it’s almost ‘casualised’, as if it’s acceptable, and Baroness Warsi has spoken out very loudly and long about that being rife in the Conservative Party and I just would urge colleagues across the house to take that seriously and root it out because at the moment, not enough is being done.
Responsibility rests with politicians, responsibility rests with the media as well - to express themselves in appropriate terms, because it’s ‘othering’ and scapegoating of others is disastrous for a cohesive society.
Please Melanie not today— Sayeeda Warsi (@SayeedaWarsi) March 15, 2019
Spare us the faux sympathy
Today I have no patience 4your bull💩
You are part of the problem
You hav fed this hatred & consistently demonised Muslims
Go sit in a dark room
Ask yourself why u r so consumed with hate
Get help 💕 https://t.co/b9Qk9HwEEs
The NZ massacre: an appeal for calm and moderationIn light of the unconscionable and apparently anti-Muslim attacks in New Zealand that may have been inspired by anti-Islamic sentiment and which all decent folk everywhere will condemn without demur or qualification (as do I ), now might be an appropriate time to point out that not all anti-Islamism activists and commentators are inspired to or approve of illegal violence.
As our thoughts and prayers go out to the victims and the bereaved, it is important that just condemnation of these criminals should not be used as an excuse for counter-attacks and blaming the innocent.
Indeed, the overwhelming majority of Islam sceptics are simply decent, law abiding people who wish to go about their lives at peace with their neighbours while reserving to their consciences the basic human right of expressing condemnation of the 34,725 documented deadly Islamic terror attacks since 9/11, 7/7, the horrors of Rotherham, Rochdale, Oxford, Telford and the rest of such events and who harbour – for whatever reasons - deeply held convictions critical of the motivations behind the Ariana Grande concert massacre and the ISIS-led attempted genocide against (amongst others) the Yazidi people.
Please try not to make this sad situation worse by blaming, quite without evidence, any or all of Islam’s present day critics and detractors for fear your intemperate words might inspire violence or legal persecution against this much-maligned and diverse group of individuals: no matter how much you might personally disagree with their opinions and obsessions.
A French citizen told a jury "life goes on" as he was jailed for killing four people in a Jewish museum in Brussels.
Mehdi Nemmouche was sentenced to life over the murders of tourist couple Myriam and Emmanuel Riva, and two museum employees, Dominique Sabrier and Alexandre Strens in May 2014.
Nemmouche staged the attack shortly after coming back from Syria, where he had been fighting with Islamist factions in the civil war.
It was the first attack by a Western European who had fought with the factions, and raised concerns about jihadists returning to their home countries.
A Frenchman who murdered four people at the Jewish Museum in Brussels in May 2014 has been jailed for life.
Mehdi Nemmouche, 33, opened fire with an assault rifle and a handgun, killing three people at the scene. A fourth person died later in hospital.
He had previously spent a year fighting for the Islamic State (IS) group in Syria.
A man who helped plan the attack and supply weapons, Nacer Bendrer, was sentenced to 15 years in prison.