Sunday, 29 May 2022

May Open Thread



Hello, and happy May! Apologies for the lack of posts but thank you for your comments. Please keep them coming.

The BBC Descending


The one exception to my recent exorcism of the BBC has been listening to several episodes of Composer of the Week on Radio 3, which has been a month-long celebration of one of my favourite composers, Ralph Vaughan Williams. 

Though the programme and its long-time presenter Donald Macleod are understandably regarded as jewels of the BBC, even they aren't wholly immune to the failings of the modern BBC. 

The season began by trying to speak to its Islingtonian listeners by persuading them that RVW had a 'progressive' outlook. I've just rechecked now and the first episode was called 'The Young Radical'. 

They just have to filter it this way, it seems. 

For love of RVW, and beautiful recordings, I've stuck with it though. However, in a later episode Donald Macleod told listeners that RVW always voted 'Labour or Radical' in elections.
Vaughan Williams voted Labour or Radical all his life but his music, and Sancta Civitas is a fine example, seems to strive mightily above the shrill clamour of political dispute.
Now I've read huge amounts about RVW over the years and I was pretty sure that that's factually inaccurate and that RVW once voted Conservative [for Churchill against Attlee]. Indeed, I've just dug out my Cambridge Companion to Vaughan Williams which mentions this three times. 

Vaughan Williams voted Conservative in 1945 because he was 'so disgusted by what [he] considered the mean tricks of the Labour party in forcing an election'. That said, he voted Labour again in the 1951 election, though he said 'in my heart of hearts I wanted the Tories to get in'. 

So my only significant encounter with the BBC for a couple of months has betrayed BBC political groupthink and factual inaccuracy even on Composer of the Week

Is any part of the BBC's output safe?

Friday, 27 May 2022

Fun

 

Views as news


Though I've avoided the BBC like a plague, putting my attention to its output into a lockdown so strict would astound even Jacinda Ardern, I have been keeping an eye on comments about it, here and elsewhere. 

One comment elsewhere took me somewhere I've not been for a while: the BBC News website and to an article about veganism and farming that read like a piece written by a vegan activist:
The byline on the piece reads “By Suzanne Bearne, Business reporter”. 

She's on Twitter of course, where her bio reads as follows:
Curiously, when you Google her Twitter feed it shows you an earlier version of her Twitter bio, which is slightly different:
Wonder when she removed “Interests: veganism” from her bio? Just before writing this piece for the BBC?

Sunday, 15 May 2022

The haters are back

 


You may have noticed - I certainly have - that the lull in vociferous Israel-bashing is finally over.

What turns out to be a temporary diversion from the anti-Israel status quo may have been because the media’s current focus on Putin’s war against Ukraine has effectively paled other conflicts into insignificance; it may simply be the fallout from the near-miss of a Corbyn government. Whatever caused the haters to beat a temporary retreat, the Israel-bashing hiatus has now reached its natural sell-by limit. Back to abnormal; the haters are back in full force.


The BBC hasn’t had much to say about the resurgent and ongoing violence in the Middle East recently. The dearth of BBC reporting on the matter is becoming conspicuous by its relative absence. In the unlikely event that one were to rely on the BBC one would not know of the intifada-like flare-ups that resulted in the killing of Shireen Abu Aqla (also spelled Akleh) - few western reporters seemed interested in the prologue to the shooting itself. 


Several subtle and not-so-subtle differences between “pro" and "anti" media have obscured the facts. Predictably, the pro-Palestinian press has stoked the Israel-bashing flames. The BBC and The Times, to give just two examples, regurgitate the ‘Palestinian’ version, which not only ignores the ‘context’ but is pitched from the premise - the assumption - that the fatal bullet was fired by the IDF. The Israelis want the chance to analyse the bullet before formally accepting or denying responsibility for firing the fatal shot, but the Palestinians won’t let the evidence out of their sight; they’re grimly hanging onto the bullet. 


Worse still was the actual funeral. Although the ‘slain’ journalist was a Christian, she was fiercely politically pro-Palestinian, so the decision to follow the Muslim practice of burying the dead immediately would be acceptable - were it not for the fact that so much store is being (unnecessarily I think) set upon the identity of the shooter; obstructing potential forensics is not a good look.


Much of the reporting focuses on the brutality of the Israeli police, who were filmed attacking the pall-bearers and using batons with such violence that the coffin almost fell to the ground.  Describing a frenzied mob plainly revelling in the drama as ‘mourners’ is stretching it a bit.  The emotion on display hardly strikes one as ‘grief’. 


We have to look at the ‘Jewish’ press to find a fuller description of the event. It’s alleged that the family had agreed not to have the coffin ‘paraded’ through the streets; instead, it was to be driven by hearse in order to avoid the very scenes that transpired.


 


However, Abu Akleh’s brother disputes the Israeli account, and he has “slammed the Israeli police for “extreme, vicious and brutal force”. 


The British media (notably The BBC "Shireen Abu Aqla: UN condemns killing of Al Jazeera reporterand The Times) took the al-Jazeera approach, in the case of the Times they actually shared a reporter, Anchal Vohra .


The comments section of the Times clearly shows that the antisemites are back. The truce is over and the unleashing of all that pent-up Israel-bashing is further demonstrated by the enthusiastic reception of a film everyone’s raving about. It’s called Eleven Days in May and has been widely praised for the very thing it shouldn’t have been doing, namely “not contextualising”. The very thing it makes a virtue out of is the very thing it should have been ashamed of. Why would anyone be genuinely proud of stoking hate?

"Trying for a two-sided overview of this particular spate of bombardments would probably have doomed any documentary: no striving for editorial balance could ever be universally embraced.

The huge virtue of Eleven Days in May is avoiding any such attempt. It concentrates, with devastating simplicity, on the deaths of Gaza’s children, and only Gaza’s children, in that fray: the 60 of those innocent lives lost from May 10, 2021 until the ceasefire on May 21, amid an overall death toll of at least 243 people, according to Gaza’s health ministry."


Not contextualising is dangerous. It stokes hate. The film critic uses the “innocent face”. tactic.  Michael Winterbottom’s justification for wallowing in decontextualised misery reminds me of a lyric from the 60s.

"I’m just a soul whose intentions are good Oh Lord, please don't let me be misunderstood."

Well, I don’t think the intentions are good. Misguided at best, and probably not misunderstood at all. 

“Assembling a memorial to the dead is all this film is doing, and everything it needs to do. We’re not embroiled in disputing anything: in terms of what’s strictly on screen, there’s nothing to dispute.”

Memorials to the dead are well and good. One-sided, egregious, mawkish wallowing in tragedy amounts to incitement to hate, and hate has certainly been incited.  Lone comment btl:

Of course it's appalling and tragic that children are killed in conflicts - still are in Ukraine and other places. But how about having a word with those children's fathers, grandfathers, brothers, uncles etc. Perhaps they could refrain from starting (most of) these fights.

The Jewish press has a different take on this but I can already hear the famous words of Mandy Rice Davies echoing in my head. 


Kate Winslet Gaza film ‘is Hamas propaganda’  

Co-director Mohammed Sawwaf was presented with an award by Hamas leaders for his work "countering the Zionist narrative". On social media, he has celebrated the launching of rockets against civilian targets and effectively called for the destruction of the State of Israel, saying that the map of Palestine should extend “from the sea to the river”.

Distinguished British filmmaker Michael Winterbottom is co-director, but did not visit Gaza for the making of the documentary.

On the other hand, Government severs ties with NUS over ‘antisemitic rot at its heart’ At least the majority of the responses here are encouraging. At last, the government has ‘done something’ but I fear the ever-increasing normalisation of “Muslimness” in GB does not augur well for some of us.

Sunday, 8 May 2022

Insulting listeners intelligence



And now for something completely different.  It’s not about Israel. (well, only a tiny bit)

Insulting voters’ intelligence? I thought: am I the only one who was taken aback by the bullying here? (scroll to about 2:21.41)  It’s Nick Robinson taking advantage of his position in the concluding moments of this tetchy interview with George Eustice.


G.E. “In the interest of balance you need to recognise that the leader of the opposition…


N.R. (interrupting) “I don’t think we need any lectures from you about balance Mr Eustice, we interviewed Mr Starmer all about it yesterday”..


I did spot another reference to this exchange within a GB News feature titled: 'Does Britain still love the BBC?’  (scroll to about 6:20)   Dame Esther Rantzen (Supporting the Beeb) and Rupert Lowe (not so much,) discuss with Mark Dolan. 

 

Rupert Lowe:

“I mean I listened to an interview the other day between Nick Robinson and George Eustice. I’m a farmer - George Eustice is not my favourite person but I couldn’t believe Nick R’s arrogance when he was interviewing GE and it’s an example of how they know they’re going to be there well beyond when that person they’re interviewing is going to be voted out of power so there is a degree of arrogance which I think is unacceptable now….”


Full disclosure; George is my M.P.   The  Eustice family farm produce is pretty pricey though. George has come in for such a lot of stick for his ‘let them eat cake’ remark, but it’s sound advice. (Shop at Lidl’s and Aldi) I don’t know if the Eustice family farm would agree.


**********************


So then I caught a programme on the radio late last night about  BLM.  on the theme of combatting racism. It was hosted by our old friend Samira Ahmed.  It came across as pretty vacuous, to be honest, but a couple of throw-away remarks suggested that the discussion was based on a somewhat creative interpretation of ‘anti-racism’. 


One participant navigated his self-inflicted minefield of tricky glottal stops with such agility that something that would normally send my hackles through the roof was so distracting that it slipped by almost unnoticed. “…the way Israel has colonised Palestine” On reflection, I found that so profoundly dumb that it threw the whole of his tenuous anti-racist thesis down the toilet.


I concluded that their version of ”anti-racism” is itself pretty racist, especially when Samira Ahmed brought in Azeem Rafiq as an example, evidently having forgiven and forgotten his casual antisemitism or disregarded it altogether. That's what I call insulting listeners’ intelligence. 

Tuesday, 3 May 2022

I try shutting up for a change.

I began a new post about al-Aqsa the other day, beginning with “I really didn’t want to flood the blog with Israel-related posts.”  Then I wondered why I was apologising. Did I need a disclaimer? I imagined people saying “What?  Another piece about the al-Aqsa riots?” Anyway, it didn’t get written (but not because of 'not' flooding the blog.)

Later, and splish splash I was in the bath and idly reading the label on my flannel. (I often read labels) “100% cotton. Keep away from Fire”  I mean as if!  How likely is it that a small face-flannel would get too close to a fire, and how dangerous would it be if it did get so close that it caught alight (!) and burst into huge flames? It seemed absurd and reminded me of the legendary notice on a post in the in the middle of nowhere marked: “Do not throw stones at this notice” Not only absurd - but instigating a compelling desire you hadn’t thought of till you were forbidden to do so. (Quick! Get stones!)


That brought to mind those Palestinian juvenile delinquents desecrating their ‘third holiest place’, al-Aqsa, by breaking up significant archeological relics into stones and rocks to hurl at Jews who dared to place their filthy feet on the Muslims’ ‘holy’ ground. 


Yolande Knell must have missed that bit of the story. Perhaps she came in half way through the first act and spent the rest of the performance baffled about what was going on. All she could see was Israeli police having another go at Palestinian worshippers. The BBC’s context-lite reporting of that and similar incidents differed from the Jewish press’s accounts of the same thing. 


That’s so weird. I understood that the BBC was the most reliable news organisation in the world. I’ve written about violence at al-Aqsa at least once before. Years ago I think. It’s almost a ritual. No doubt the Beeb sees the annual desecration by Palestinian delinquents of their holiest spaces as old hat and low priority news-wise. Not really worthwhile going into it again and again.


Fresh trouble was reported briefly by Rebecca Jones during a BBC news bulletin earlier this week, but little or nothing else was to be found on the BBC website. The institutionally-hostile-to-Israel  Guardian mentioned it once but I think they got away with it. 


++++++++++++++


I stumbled upon a Zoom conversation on Jewish News Syndicate (new to me.) The panel included Melanie Phillips, who made an interesting observation. She said that while her occasional appearances on the BBC (and her column in The Times of London) afford her a tremendous platform she feels that her ‘mainstream acceptability’ comes at a price - the tacit understanding that her Israel-related contributions keep to a minimum. 


That’s how I’m feeling right now about flooding this blog. In other words, Israel-related articles can only be smuggled in up to and until you reach an indeterminate saturation point, and if you want to put ‘the case for the "other side"’ you may; a) bury your observations on sympathetic fora like Jewish News Syndicate, or; b) risk alienating the - let’s call them the righteous misinformed - by fighting un-winnable battles on the MSM. 


Of course, you could always just write on your own relatively niche blog and hope for the best.


Should I wade in on matters I know I’m relatively ill-informed about? With my vacillating opinions and known unknowns? I don’t know a huge amount about Ukraine and I suspect I’m guided by my own flimsy, fleeting emotions rather than objectivity. If anything, flag-waving curbs my enthusiasm.

 

Who, apart from Rod Liddle, admires Angela Rayner’s feisty political acuity? Do I? Not sure, but don’t think so.


 Do I know much about cake and wine in the work environment? No. The collapsing economy and/or imminent nuclear annihilation?  Not much. Can I opine with any credibility whatsoever? I think not. My advice to myself is: stick to what you know, and STFU about the stirred-up personal feelings that hang precariously on the shoogly peg of biased, one-sided reporting. I, for one,  should really shut up. 

Maybe I could embroider that onto a label.

Monday, 18 April 2022

April Open Thread



Oh, to be in England/Now that the April Open Thread's there...

Thank you, as ever, for your comments.

Riots will erupt

We haven’t done any ‘housekeeping’ posts for a good while. Or any posts whatsoever for that matter. We’re in blogging doldrums.  That cries out for a calypso; missing Lance Percival now.

Now that the BBC’s leftwing bias is generally accepted, why don’t you and I - the listening public - just stop moaning and carry on regardless, autocorrecting as we go? We’ve got our own antennae, haven’t we? We can edit as we see fit, in realtime.


That is what we do when we hear Mishal Husain introduce an item about riots at Al Aksa, you know, the third holiest site for the Muslims. We know she’ll parrot the Palestinian version of events. It’s expected and we make allowances. Do listen. It’s a bit of a shocker, bias-wise.

     Today Prog; scroll to 2:23:01


As Adam Levick points out, the Guardian sets the tone with its 'erupting clashes':

“…..clashes that erupted when Israeli riot police entered Jerusalem’s al-Aqsa mosque compound ….”


Clashes erupt! Riots occur!  Vehicles run people down! 


Life’s far too short to peel this kind of onion. It’s a multi-layered vegetable. 

(Mishal, I do wonder who you think “started the riots”? The Jews in 1948, maybe? Or should we go back a few millennia to the origin of the oldest hatred)


Mishal Husain may not be interested, but BBC guidelines state: 

The BBC is committed to achieving due impartiality in all its output. This commitment is fundamental to our reputation, our values, and the trust of audiences. The term ‘due’ means that the impartiality must be adequate and appropriate to the output, taking account of the subject and nature of the content, the likely audience expectation, and any signposting that may influence that expectation.


Mishal, this morning's report on the Today Programme cried out for a balanced picture of the incident, but you talked over and obstructed the Israeli spokeswoman you were supposed to be interviewing and you did so with such cloth-eared belligerence that you virtually drowned her out. You mustn’t do that, Mishal. It’s very biased.  Here's the gist of the part you drowned out. To quote JPost:


The Muslims who stockpiled stones, rocks, logs, and firecrackers in al-Aqsa did not do so for religious purposes. They prepared for a riot – to attack police and Jewish worshipers – not for prayers. Police did not storm al-Aqsa Mosque to “conquer” it. They broke in to arrest the rock throwers who had barricaded themselves inside after Friday prayers. Some of the masked Palestinians waved Hamas flags and praised arch-terrorist Muhammed Deif as they tried to bombard the Jewish worshipers who had come to pray at the Western Wall at the start of the Passover holiday.


Did anyone say "They would say that, wouldn’t they?"  I bloody well hope so, too. Someone’s got to say it, and it certainly won’t be the BBC.  


Maybe Mishal Husain let her utter contempt for the Israeli spokesperson shine through because she knows that listener numbers are shrinking and assumes that those remaining wouldn’t care. 


Continually speaking over her guest in one of her rudest, most schoolmarmish, and sneeriest tones, she outdid even her usual self this morning. The self-righteous, prissy, and sneery timbre to her voice on such occasions is as irritating as the saccharine tones that accompany her heartwarming stories. Perhaps she ‘smiles’ while speaking. I hear that's a technique to make the audience like you.  I'm thinking of trying that.  


I implore everybody to listen (link here again and at the top of the page, scroll to 2:23:00) to Husain indulging that malevolent fanatic Husam Zomlot, no stranger to this site, allowing him acres of air time in which to express his opinions.  But wow! Was he allowed to rant and ramble on, barely interrupted - even though he strayed off-topic, wildly, fancifully, and at great length - and fawned over to the point of servility. Did nobody else notice?


This is almost unbelievable when you consider that Tim Davie was supposed to be addressing the bias. I understood that the BBC’s entire raison d’être for co-opting Tim Davie to the maelstrom  — bringing him aboard - was to iron out the bias once and for all!  But when? This year, next year, sometime never?


Not only with regard to the Martin Bashir and Jimmy Savile scandals, but something more fundamental, namely the BBC’s unspoken mission to normalise and acclimatise the British to creeping Islamification.  Does the public want this? Do people want to pay for it?  


I can’t quite follow my own advice here. I can’t just autocorrect everything as I go along and leave it at that. Someone has to say something. I’m afraid this particular issue is bigger than both of us. 


Oh yes, and has anyone noted the recent absence of the BBC’s most ubiquitous guest on Dateline London recently?   One of his rants has apparently been removed from YouTube but does anyone know if his recent (semi) withdrawal from our BBC screens is a coincidence or part of Tim Davie’s nascent decontamination project? Yes, I’m talking about “Barry Atwan or ‘arry Batwan.





Haven’t seen Mr Atwan lately. Did he creep away quietly, or was there a showdown? (Asking for a few million friends.)

Saturday, 2 April 2022

The BBC News Channel falls for an April Fools' Day joke

 

Eight times between 12:12pm and 12:24pm yesterday, April 1st, the BBC News Channel repeatedly ran a bit of breaking news across its screen. 

They were reporting that one of Boris Johnson's arch-critics Rory Stewart was to become Number Ten Director of Communications. The news then disappeared without comment. 

The BBC, who have long had a soft spot for Rory, must have been reading his Twitter feed. He'd tweeted as an April Fools' Day joke:

It is an honour to have been asked by the PM to serve as Director of Communications for No 10 Downing Street. I am looking forward to working with the PM, Ministers and Members of Parliament on the issues that matter most to our country.

And the geniuses at Jess Brammar's new channel fell for it. 

The i reports:

A spokesperson for BBC News said it would not comment on the incident.

Monday, 28 March 2022

March Open Thread


Pinch, punch, first of the month!
Mad March Open Thread
                                                    
Your comments are much appreciated; please keep them coming. 

Sunday, 27 March 2022

Women

 
before and after


On the same theme as the last post, following complaints the BBC changed a website article overnight. The piece by BBC West reporter Sammy Jenkins (she/her) originally began:
Heavy periods, debilitating pain and infertility - those are some of the symptoms of endometriosis, a condition that affects one in 10 people of any age in the UK, who are assigned female at birth.
This has now changed to:
Heavy periods, debilitating pain and infertility - those are some of the symptoms of endometriosis, a condition that affects one in 10 women of any age in the UK.

Saturday, 26 March 2022

Very Radio 4


It sounds as if Radio 4's Tom Sutcliffe was taking the easy option last night:
Women's Rights NetworkLast night BBC Front Row did a show about art & morality which drew moral equivalence between Eric Gill (serial rapist of daughters), R Kelly (child abuser), Hitler & J.K. Rowling.
Please register your complaint here:
Front Row, 24.3.22, Radio 4, Offence

Emily Kate 🏴󠁧󠁢: Not just a passing mention, either. She is a big part of the discussion, sandwiched in-between Gill and R Kelly. The bubble these people live in is beyond belief. 
Emily Kate 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁥󠁮󠁧󠁿: "Sutcliffe and his interviewee wringing hands earnestly over the moral darkness of JK Rowling. 😂" 
Emily Kate 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁥󠁮󠁧󠁿: One of the most extraordinary things I've ever heard on the BBC - among some stiff competition. A children's writer and philanthropist who simply believes in the facts of biology finds a place in a discussion about morally depraved artists, alongside paedophiles and genocidists.

Questions


If William and Kate's Caribbean tour was “a PR disaster”, as the BBC's royal correspondent Jonny Dymond claims, there's a question to be asked about how much the BBC and its royal correspondent contributed to making one, especially with largely negative reports like this:

Another question might be whether the following tweet, in reaction, is true:
Only in this country would the ‘national’ broadcaster lead with such a negative headline on a overall successful royal tour!

A third question might be whether the bad blood between Prince William and the BBC is getting out of hand and / or bringing out the BBC's anti-monarchism. 

John Simpson, Lord Grade and Ofcom


As discussed on the open thread, the news that Michael Grade - previously controller of BBC1, chief executive of Channel 4, chairman of the BBC and executive chairman of ITV, now a Conservative peer - is to become the new Ofcom chairman prompted a snarky response from senior BBC journalist John Simpson. 

To expand on this, here are all his tweets on the matter, some in response to various left-wing, pro-EU followers [his Twitter fan base by the looks of it]:
John Simpson: Congratulations to Michael Grade on becoming the head of the media regulator, Ofcom. I’m sure his recent criticisms of the BBC licence fee & BBC political coverage had nothing to do with the decision.
Ant: Naughty, Mr. Simpson.
John Simpson: I’m a stirrer by nature…
Parmenion62: No freedom of speech at the BBC now then. All will have to follow the Tory party line. Real shame that we are about to lose something so precious as the BBC.
John Simpson: I can promise you that nothing you’ve said here is true.
John Simpson: Actually I think a lot of people will be greatly relieved that Michael Grade has got the job. He was a good and supportive BBC chairman. And remember the government originally seemed to want Paul Dacre as the head of Ofcom.
Nick Morrell: Not the old trick of making an extreme candidate look less so by first suggesting an ultra-extreme candidate?
John Simpson: No, he’s not in any sense an extreme candidate. And real life isn’t about conspiracies like that.
Nick Morrell: Fairly unserious comment - seems to me the push for Dacre was serious - but still makes it easier to accept a highly-partisan anti-BBC candidate if you've had to face the prospect of a frothing at the mouth alternative.
John Simpson: I understand completely, but Grade isn’t a frother. He just couldn’t resist making the kind of criticisms of the BBC which he knew would help him get the job.

Is John Simpson correct that Lord Grade has been making BBC-critical noises just to get the government's backing for his appointment and that the BBC doesn't really have anything to fear from him?

Friday, 25 March 2022

Edits, fake news and BBC misreporting


That people on Twitter - especially anti-Brexit people - would put out and spread a 25-second clip 'showing' Boris Johnson looking isolated, a 'Billy-no-mates' at yesterday's EU/G7 summit despite longer videos of the event showing no such thing is, well, just typical of Twitter. Twitter partisans are not always noted for their fairness, or honesty. Where it becomes serious is when the BBC's main news bulletins spread this 'fake take' too.

Sarah Smith, the BBC's new North America editor, was one of the guilty parties yesterday.

On yesterday's BBC One News at Six, while a 6-second edit showed Boris 'standing alone' as others greeted each other, she said:
This show of solidarity is why President Biden's here. With the Nato chief and over 30 other world leaders to display the unity they believe is their strength. Although Boris Johnson looks remarkably isolated, even as the Kremlin crowned him the most active anti-Russian leader.
But she cannot take all the blame for this as that bulletin has editors, especially as they allowed her to broadcast the same brief misleading clip on the News at Ten too and say:
Boris Johnson looked a little isolated but remains in step with allies over Ukraine. Everybody wants peace, including the United Kingdom.

A lot of complaints seem to be going in to the BBC about this. And rightly so. 

Here's are two longer videos disproving Sarah Smith and the BBC's misinforming take:

Wednesday, 23 March 2022

Friends Reunited



I continue to have lots of conflicting opinions about Julian Assange. 

I, therefore, still don't quite know what to make of him, or how much to admire him or dislike him. 

I veer all over the place over him, like John Sweeney on a Ukrainian ice rink after too many Kir Royales.

But I think I do know what to make of the BBC's world affairs editor, John Simpson: 

John Simpson is a BBC man who lets his biases show, with his BBC bosses' indulgence, whilst vigorously claiming to be impartial and aggressively claiming that those who criticise him are rude and unreasonable.

Back in January 2021 Charlie - here at ITBB - mentioned a John Simpson report on BBC One's News at Ten, saying that JS is "obviously a fan of Julian Assange", adding:
His long ‘love letter’ report on tonight’s main news was a one sided affair carefully crafted in its use of words and images to leave the viewer in no doubt that he is more a hero than a villain.
I then raked up a 2019 tweet from John Simpson that was typically partial:
Alan Rusbridger, writing in defence of Julian Assange: 'Whenever you read about journalists harming national security, massive alarm bells should start ringing.' Absolutely right. Assange revealed uncomfortable truths about US policy & tactics, & the US wants to punish him for it.
Today, however, comes the absolute clincher.

Many congratulations to my friends Stella Moris and Julian Assange on their marriage today. Great pity it had to be in Belmarsh.

So what does this mean? 

Surely it means that one of the most senior/high profile BBC journalists has been using BBC One's News at Ten and Twitter to campaign on behalf of his friend?

Admirers and non-admirers and undecideds as far as Julian Assange goes alike...what does it say about the BBC if this is allowed under BBC guidelines?

Sunday, 20 March 2022

Business as usual


Meanwhile, the usual goes on as usual...

I saw a tweet from Douglas Murray responding to this tweet from Justin Trudeau:
The attack on congregants at the Dar Al-Tawheed Islamic Centre is incredibly disturbing. I strongly condemn this violence – which has no place in Canada – and I’m keeping the community in my thoughts today. I also want to applaud the courage of those who were there this morning.
Douglas replied:
In related news, the name of the alleged attacker is Mohammad Moiz Omar.
This led me to other tweets, some from Canadian MPs leaping in too soon to denounce 'Islamophobia', others responding to those Canadian MPs telling them the name of the alleged attacker and criticising them for leaping in too soon, and leaping to conclusions. It also led me to tweets criticising the Canadian answer to the CBC for doing what we so often accuse the BBC of doing.

But what of the BBC themselves? 

They've reported it under the headline Canada mosque: Worshippers stop axe wielding attacker

In typical BBC fashion they do mention Mohammad Moiz Omar but wait until the 10th paragraph to do so:
Worshippers at a Canada mosque have confronted and restrained a man who was allegedly wielding an axe and attacked them with bear spray during Saturday morning prayers, police say.

One worshipper knocked the axe from the man's hands, and held him down until police arrived, local media reports.

A 24-year-old man was arrested at the scene in the suburb of Mississauga, and he has since been charged.

Some congregants had minor injures from the bear spray, the mosque's imam said.

One of the worshippers said the experience was "terrifying" and described hearing a scream before turning around to see a man holding an axe and using bear spray - similar to pepper spray - against three people.

"By the time he was spraying, the people in the first row realized something was going on and one of the young men turned around and knocked away the axe before he had a chance to use it," Noorani Sairally told Canadian newspaper The Globe and Mail.

The young man then held the alleged assailant down until police arrived, the witness said.

"Before he could inflict harm on any worshippers, several congregants bravely were able to stop him in his tracks," imam Ibrahim Hindy said in a statement, describing the moment the attacker entered the site.

"Our community will never be broken and we refuse to be intimated," he added.

Police have named the man they arrested as Mohammad Moiz Omar, and charged him with six offences including assault with a weapon and administering a noxious substance with intent to endanger life or cause bodily harm.
Here, courtesy of CNN, is how the BBC could have reported it. These are CNN's opening two paragraphs:
Worshipers at a mosque in the Canadian city of Mississauga on Saturday subdued a man who discharged bear spray while brandishing a hatchet in what police said was a possible hate crime.

Mohammad Moiz Omar, a 24-year-old Mississauga resident, was arrested at the Dar Al-Tawheed Islamic Centre about 7 a.m. local time during the dawn prayer of Fajr, Peel Regional Police said in a statement.

Isn't that so much more instantly informative?

The other typical thing about the BBC report is that having finally mentioned Mohammad Moiz Omar they then proceed as if the attack was an Islamophobic attack after all and end by rounding up reminders of past Islamophobic attacks in Canada, as if they were relevant to this attack.

Nothing changes.

Where is Ukraine?


“BBC chiefs are lining up journalist and newsreader Clive Myrie to replace Emily Maitlis on Newsnight, The Mail on Sunday can reveal”, says the The Mail on Sunday.

My favourite Clive Myrie moment came five years ago when he appeared on Richard Osman's House of Games and had to locate Ukraine on a map of Europe. My flabber was well and truly gasted when, after TV presenter Angela Scanlon correctly marked her guess for where Ukraine is with a green dot, Clive, having given it time and thought, then revealed his orange dot for where he thought Ukraine is:


Clive had located it in Azerbaijan. He didn't win the point. 

“He reads the news. It would be embarrassing”, teased Richard Osman, quipping, “Clive, you know what, Ukraine hasn't really been in the news recently, has it?”

Everyone laughed.

Saturday, 19 March 2022

Two out, one back in


Another of our old BBC favourites, retired BBC veteran Hugh Sykes, took to Twitter the other day in light of the BBC's Ukraine coverage to take a potshot at Jon Sopel and Emily Maitlis:
Hugh Sykes: I bet the recent Big Name defections from the BBC are regretting their decision to go dosh-and-podcast - they are nowhere near the front line now: out of sight, out of mind.
David M. Beneš: Oh they’ll soon be back, like KK.
Hugh Sykes: No one is indispensable.

I was also thinking about Maits and Soapless today in light of all the chat hereabouts about how The New York Times has just conceded that The New York Post got it right in 2020 when reporting the Hunter 'Son of Joe' Biden laptop story - a possible major scandal with strong implications for the ethical standing of the present US president, especially in light of the Ukraine crisis. 

This was, notoriously, something that landed The New York Post - a famous US newspaper - with a two-week Twitter ban for its now-shown-to-be-accurate journalism in the run-up to the 2020 US election. 

It's the sort of thing the BBC's disinformation unit and Ros's Radio 4 Media Show should look into and John Simpson should object to. 

Where Jon and Emily come into this is that they did an Americast podcast for the BBC at the time [which Arthur T got me to listen to] where they 'covered' the story. 

'Covered', in inverted commas, is the word. They 'covered' it, but Emily Maitlis in particular - then in her pomp at the BBC - was openly derisive about the story, sarcastically mocking the fact that they were covering it at all. Her and Sopes and The Zurch used every trick of language in the book to show how little they thought of the story. It was all a distraction by The Donald apparently.

On listening back today the word 'covered' took on other connotations: Unconsciously or consciously, they were 'covering' for Joe Biden as he fought for office with President Trump, blowing the same bubbles that their US counterparts were blowing from their echo chamber to help make this story blow away.

Anyhow, they're now LBC's business. Rob Burley, bless him, will probably end up having to defend them on Twitter. For his sake only, I hope they're not a walking disaster for LBC's ratings.

Meanwhile, as David M. Beneš tweeted above, KK - Katty Kay - is back at the BBC. 

She was formerly the face of the BBC in America but left last year to join a left-wing US media outlet that closed shortly afterwards following fraud allegations

The BBC has kindly taken her back on as a 'US special correspondent'. 

Kindly for her, though not necessarily for BBC licence fee payers.  

She's now back on the Beeb defending the Biden administration as if she'd never left and back doing the BBC's claim of impartiality harm again.

Despite Hugh, Emily Maitlis and Jon Sopel's departure was a blessing for the BBC in impartiality terms. Rescuing Katty Kay - the kind of partisan BBC journalist who also moans about the influence of 'the Jewish lobby' - isn't a good idea for the publicly-paid corporation in that respect.

John Simpson takes issue with Ofcom over Russia Today


Russia Today's UK licence has been revoked by Ofcom. Ofcom says RT isn't "fit and proper to hold a UK broadcast licence".

Intriguingly, the BBC's opinionated world affairs editor John Simpson disagrees with the decision:
John Simpson: I’ve got contempt for Russia Today — the ultimate fake news station. But is it right for a democracy to try to silence it? This makes me feel really uneasy.

The responses are intriguing too:

Joe and the Scot: Yes it is. The disinformation is killing people.
John Simpson: If you start blocking disinformation, you wouldn’t have many newspapers left. And precious few politicians.

Roast Dinners In London: Should have been done 10 years ago. Democracy and freedom is too important. RT is actively against both.
John Simpson: So democracy and freedom are too important to allow freedom of speech?

Such replies provoked a further tweet on the subject:

John Simpson: Orwell wrote ‘If liberty means anything at all, it means the right to tell people what they do not want to hear.’ The irreflective answers here to my question are troubling. Essentially people are saying ‘If I don’t like something, it should be blocked.’

The discussion continues: 

The Bullingdon Club (twits): That rather depends upon whether what you have to say is the truth or lies.
John Simpson: And who makes the judgement?
Kamran: This is exactly what every government that practises censorship says.
John Simpson: Exactly my feelings, Kamran.

And mine too, Kamran.