Monday, 31 May 2021

June Continuing Open Thread

It's very much time for June and a new open thread. 

Hello all, and thank you all for continuing to comment.

Tuesday, 25 May 2021

What did you make of it?

Or: Mahmoud Zahar opens up!

For the moment the Martin Bashir affair has eclipsed other aspects BBC-watching. Perhaps this too will pass. What did you make of Tim Davie on the Today programme? Justin Webb made him squirm a little, using the Mishal Husain-like air of disapproval rather than robust questioning. I suppose none of us would wish to see another John Humphrys / George Entwistle debacle in which an unintended premature toppling was followed by a bashful “Oopsy! What have I done?”

I don’t want to be mean, so I won’t be, but let’s just say Panorama is no stranger to underhand tactics.  John Sweeney, where are you now?

Anyway, That’s not new, and neither is the BBC’s consistent ‘tone of voice’ disapproval of Israel’s desire to prosper and flourish.  We’ve been writing about it for years and years. Decades.

What did you make of Sky? Sky (UK) and Sky (Australia) are completely different kettles of fish. Our Sky features Mark Austin and Mark Stone. (Journalism has many Marks.) 

Now, Mark Stone has been particularly biased in the pro-Palestinian department, hence the post-conflict wallowing in context-free misery. I do know that the world has an insatiable appetite for misery and pathos and some of the tragic tales from Gaza are truly heartbreaking. Hamas and Islamic Jihad have a hell of a lot to answer for, yet the constant drone of that Israel-bashing ‘tone of voice’  hovers above all his reporting. Israel. Israel. Israel.

Then, guess what? Well, you know what. He gets the coveted interview with that wart-nosed rogue  Mahmoud Zahar. “No, Israel has no right to exist” Zahar declares; no ifs no buts. No way of sweetening that one, Mr Stone! You’d have to have a heart-of-Stone not to…. you know.

The thing is, there are an increasing number of people both here and even more disturbingly, in the United States who couldn’t care less that Hamas's unequivocal intransigence is 'out in the open' because they agree with Zahar. I blame the media; apologists for Hamas and Islamic Jihad, the lot of them.

The BBC is forced to be less overt about it than Sky, but there’s still that ever-present disapproving tone-of-voice, and there’s still Jeremy Bowen, a man with a well-documented grudge against Israel, given free rein to wallow in the context-free emoting they believe the audience demands. The mainstream media keeps quiet about the Islamic elephant in the room. However massive and bloated it gets, it’s there in front of us as plain as the king’s new clothes and just as invisible.


A brilliant article by AYAAN HIRSI ALI How influencers have legitimised anti-Semitism. She doesn’t cite the BBC by name but alludes to the BBC’s now-notorious Tala Hawala embarrassment. As for ‘influencers’, well, according to Justin Webb’s very own introduction this morning,  the BBC is the top influencer in the stratosphere.

Sunday, 23 May 2021

May Continuing Open Thread


Papa Mike and Marianna from the BBC's much self-admired Disinformation Unit will doubtless confirm that July was named after Kenneth Williams. And that the loudest month of the year, August, was named after Brian Blessed from 1 Clavdivs. And that May was named after an Abba reject who went on to become the UK's second [non-trans] female PM, immediately prior to Laura Kuenssberg's scandalous wallpaper guy.  

Time for a new open thread. 

Best wishes to you all, and thank you so much for continuing to comment. And may your May be wonderful.

Is the BBC 'more Nazi than Hitler'?

The indefatigable GnasherJew account on Twitter continues to highlight and fight antisemitism. 

This morning they came across a BBC journalist called Tala Halawa, whose LinkedIn page reads:
Digital Journalist
Company Name: BBC Monitoring
Dates Employed: Jul 2017 – Present
Employment Duration: 3 yrs 11 mos
Location: Ramallah
Palestine Specialist in BBC Monitoring: specialized in Palestinian affairs and the media, as well as covering the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. In addition to reporting on the politics and media of Jordan. Produced and reported for several services in the BBC such as the Arabic website and TV, and the BBC World Service (radio and TV).
GnasherJew was objecting to the BBC and the Independent promoting someone they consider an antisemite [Eman Asker] and Tara Halawa of the BBC was one of those criticised for considering this particular person ''an acceptable voice to promote on Israel/Palestine''.

Here's how the thread continues:

  • While we’re on that subject. Tara Halawa has made one of the most disgustingly one-sided BBC videos, whitewashing antisemitism, we have ever seen. People like her are the reason antisemitism has been normalized.
  • I’ve just checked Tala Halawa's feed. She’s supposed to be an unbiased BBC reporter. She’s an obsessive anti-Israel campaigner.
  • We’ve found out why Tala Halawa is promoting an antisemite:

She's deleted her #HitlerWasRight tweet now, but it's been captured for posterity:

More difficult questions today for the BBC it appears, and GnasherJew has already begun asking them:
BBC, can you explain why your journalist Tala Halawa is stating that “Hitler was right”? This is absolutely disgusting antisemitism. 

Update -  She's now protected her Twitter account.

Sunday, 16 May 2021

Conversations about Gaza [2]


SUE - Col Richard Kemp’s authoritative views on military matters - notably other than I/P - are occasionally sought by the BBC. He is a staunch supporter of Israel and a huge admirer of the moral integrity of the Israeli Defence Force. His military expertise and intimate knowledge of the IDF is unique.

As well as through Twitter - it wouldn’t surprise me if he is Twitter-cancelled anytime soon - his insights appear regularly on Gatestone Institute
During an operation in Gaza last week, the Israel Defence Forces attacked a Hamas tunnel complex with 12 squadrons of 160 combat planes striking over 150 targets with hundreds of bunker-busting JDAMs [Joint Direct Attack Munitions] in less than an hour. Although the battle damage assessment is still underway, the raid destroyed perhaps the most critical element of Hamas infrastructure, wiping out vast stocks of munitions and likely killing dozens if not hundreds of fighters. This was a hammer blow to Hamas and may prove to be a turning point in the conflict. It also sent a powerful message to Iran and Hizballah, foretelling the consequences of an assault on Israel with their arsenal of tens of thousands of missiles in southern Lebanon.

The IDF operation was a carefully coordinated combination of intelligence, surveillance, knowledge of enemy tactics, deception, surprise, and precisely targeted, overwhelming force. Of all these, deception and surprise were key. Surprise is a principle of war in the American, British and many other forces, defined in the US Army Field Manual as "striking the enemy at a time or place or in a manner for which he is unprepared." The manual goes on to say: "Deception can aid the probability of achieving surprise". Throughout the history of warfare, surprise achieved through deception has led to many stunning military victories — often against the odds.
The usual crowd is up in arms about this, proclaiming “Assault on press freedom! “ and “No evidence of Hamas’s presence in the media centre’s tower block!”

If one can access viral videos from heaven above, Fred Dibnah must be looking down at the surgical precision of the demolition with awe.

To be honest, I couldn’t care less whether Hamas personnel were there or not.

Propaganda is known to be as dangerous a weapon of war as Mishal Husain’s infamous arsenal of ‘homemade contraptions’. The left-leaning mainstream media also known as The Ministry of Public Enlightenment and Propaganda is terrified of angering the ‘already angry’ Muslim community and collectively furious that the IDF exploited their very own left-wing journalistic anti-Israel zeal, knowing that they would be eager to disseminate one particular piece of fake news - namely that the IDF were on stand-by to invade Gaza. This they duly did so effectively that the brave warriors of Hamas scuttled underground to take shelter and hopefully eliminated in one fell swoop. (Echoes of a certain Iranian strategy for ridding the world of Jews).

As Nasrallah famously boasted “if they (Jews) all gather in Israel, it will save us the trouble of going after them worldwide.”


More notable areas of one-sided reporting include the media’s tedious parroting of Hamas’s special death-toll figures, which conflate casualties from their own ‘shortfall’ accidents with the unfortunate ‘collateral damage’ that occurs as a result of Hamas’s ‘human shield ‘practices, which they know they can get away with due to the Western media’s ideological hostility to Israel.


Why the UK’s media is so mealy-mouthed in their condemnation of Hamas, Iran, Hezbollah, Islamism is understandable, but will be viewed - retrospectively - as a betrayal. Short-term gain, maybe, considering ‘demographics’ (the rise in antisemitism, civil unrest, BLM, the Labour Party etc etc) but long-term pain. Looking back, will future generations regret the West’s capitulation to Islam?

When I see an Israel-related article in the “non-left-wing press’ such as the Times or the Spectator, I am usually appalled by the politically correct editorial reins and restraints that abound. Nowadays I feel I have to skip straight to below the line for remedial reassurance that not everyone is taken in by it. Some of the ‘tell it like it is’ contributions are spot on. It still chills one to see the overtly antisemitic contributions from certain regulars amongst it all.

One exception is the Australian version of Sky. They have some Fox News-like pundits on their staff. Although subtlety doesn’t seem to be their strong point, it’s comforting to know that not everyone on this planet is out to crush you. Mind you, in view of America’s terrifying political about-turn, the UN’s and the ICC’s staggeringly unhinged anti-Israel animus, it looks like a gathering storm, all too reminiscent of the 1930s.

CRAIG - Col Kemp is a rare voice of informed reason these days. 

Mishal Husain's infamous conflated, comparative body count is back. 


Jeremy Bowen used it on From Our Own Correspondent yesterday while lecturing about 'proportionality'. 

His whole piece was geared towards making one main pointthat Israel is acting disproportionately (as if he'd ever come to any other conclusion).

Well, that's his view. 

In the past you might have expected that prominent BBC journalists would have either (akept their opinions to themselves or (b) expressed an opinion that sided with democracy against terrorists and their supporters, but not now. It's op-eds all the way from the BBC's Middle East Editor.

Here, as so often, he does the 'moral equivalence' thing first, then blames Israel. 

SUE - For the integrity of this blog we’ve been focussing on the media’s bias rather than opining on the actual issues.

After all, what do I know? All I can do is digest as much available information and analysis as I can stomach and inject a little empirical evidence into it.

An HoL speech from 2009 by Baroness Ramsay of Cartvale (Labour) sticks in my mind. Perhaps because this baroness was a Labour Peer (not a ghastly Tory) it seemed extra significant and worth bearing in mind.

I first visited Gaza in August 1967, when Israel had taken control only a few weeks before. As I have said before in this House, I found Gaza an absolute hellhole. It is not easy to understand, and it is even more difficult to forgive, how prosperous Arab countries allowed their Palestinian brethren to live in such wretched conditions from 1948 to 1967.

[Baroness Ramsay of Cartvale Labour 10:51 am, 6th February 2009].

The implications here are profound. I probably don’t need to spell it out. Suffice it to say that when Israel did occupy Gaza after the six-day war (1967) the inhabitants’ conditions improved dramatically, most notably average life expectancy. However, Israel decided to make a disastrous but well-intentioned concession “for peace’! They evicted the Jewish residents and pulled out of Gaza in 2005 and You Know The Rest. As the well-worn Israel-bashing innuendo goes, “lessons should have been learned.” But they never seem to be.

The ease with which lazy and inaccurate memes are parroted is another pincer-prong with which the anti-Israel movement encircles its enemy. Naz Shah has taken full advantage of it, as Craig set out in part 1.

For Naz and her fan base, Tweeting about Palestinians ‘being kicked out of their homes’ was enough. And adding: Jews ‘celebrating the burning of a place of worship’ as if that needed no further examination. We await a sincere apology for the error and the humble pledge not to do it again. With bated breath.

One of the most egregious and ongoing omissions from Western media as a whole is the non-reporting of the vicious incitement that pours from the Islamic world. No story, no analysis, no curiosity. It has to be more than simple respect for other religions that’s preventing our renowned investigative journalists from ‘investigating’ this phenomenon. For example, the PA’s so-called Pay-For-Slay. This policy must be a drain on the PA’s GDP, and the monies would obviously be far better spent on bomb shelters or health care; surely that issue is worth exploring in one of the BBC’s hard-hitting documentaries (!). Mahmoud Abbas must be so confident of the media’s silence on the matter that he doesn’t even make an effort to keep it secret.

What about the unadulterated par-for-the-course anti-Jew racism entrenched in Palestinian culture? Racism is the most taboo of all ‘isms’ these days, yet there’s a collective silence over the racism that is part and parcel of the Arab psyche. I’m not much of a conspiracy theorist, but this looks like a conspiracy of silence.

Some of the excuses dredged up to justify Palestinian aggression crumble under cursory scrutiny. The ‘evictions’ of those Palestinian families in Sheikh Jarrah is one such. The inflammatory story has been debunked - in purely legal terms by law-orientated websites and in more nuanced non-professional terms by Uri Pilichowski who uses the handle ‘rational settler’. Yet it’s still used as a blunt weapon by the haters.

The UN Security Council is having an emergency meeting at the time of writing, I watched some of it on Sky. The Palestinian rep has appropriated all the arguments for the defence from Israel. He has regurgitated a litany of upside-down facts that are almost laughable. How anyone could be taken in by this nonsense I do not know. But no doubt they’ll swallow it.

This is going on in the UK.

There’s one glimmer at the end of the tunnel - at least Aussie Sky stands with Israel. 

Saturday, 15 May 2021

Conversations about Gaza [I]

SUE - We’re making this comeback, possibly a one-off - due to the exceptionally problematic media coverage of (how to put it) the current ‘Israel / Gaza’ war.

The BBC’s ‘domestic’ bias is capable of looking after itself on ITBB but we both think this topic merits special attention.

Unfortunately for the argument that we are about to make, most of the complaints are from people who like to believe that the BBC isn’t pro-Palestinian enough.

Global Chinese Whispers plays out like this. The media sets the stage. Feelings trump facts, and an inflammatory message travels around the world before the truth has time to put its boots on. We’ve covered much of this issue over the years, both on ITBB and (before 2012) over at Biased-BBC. It’s Remember the Hamas Bunny? MEMRI?

Alan M. Dershowitz goes down memory lane: This article was originally published in a slightly different form in 2009. Nothing has changed. And it’s déjà vu all over again again with the estimable Matti Friedman.

Not so long ago the many forms of media bias cited and defined by bias-watching fanatics like us would fall on deaf ears. Not so much now; we are no longer alone. The BBC is coming under much wider and closer scrutiny, partly due to the public’s belated recognition of the BBC’s left-wing, some say Marxist, agenda.

The comments in the non-left-wing press show how frequently that particular problem is alluded to in comments by interested members of the public. The bias is almost universally accepted as a given, which arguably downgrades ITBB to the status of self-indulgent irrelevance.

Obviously, the BBC is conscious of the criticism and perhaps it suspects its future depends on more rigorous compliance with its charter obligations, but even if it’s forced to adopt a genuine policy of impartiality over its output, other broadcasters (i.e., Sky, Channel 4) ain’t necessarily bovvered and can stir up trouble with impunity. The new BBC DG may have been ‘trying’, but his influence looks distinctly lip-servicey. When we get the obligatory ‘other side' of the story it’s delivered at arm’s length - impersonal - and framed with the disclaimer “Israel says”, which smacks of cynicism and a sarcastic voice comes on in my head as I read it.

The most pungent flower plucked from the bouquet of biased reporting is ‘omission’ where vital information is tacitly omitted or concealed, especially that concerning the religious indoctrination that underpins Palestinian rhetoric and incites violence against Jews.

And a close second, florid emoting. Gratuitously dwelling on the misery of one side. Loaded language; lazy, repetitive, and economical with the actualité.

[CRAIG - What follows are various parts of Sue and my email exchanges over recent days. Exclusive free, PREMIUM, director's cut material.]

CRAIG - You may already know this, but did you spot that Naz Shah returned to type? I've just not seen anyone commenting on it yet - though someone probably has and I've just missed - but I myself spotted three falsehoods from her in a single just-over-a-minute video, and I think it's newsworthy.

1. Israeli forces didn't attack innocent worshippers on the holiest of nights, in the holiest of places. [Those 'worshippers', stirred up by rhetoric from Palestinian leaders, had stocked the holy al-Asqa mosque with stones, firecrackers, and the like ready for violent protest]. 

2. Thousands of Israel weren't celebrating and chanting the burning of a place of worship. [It was a tree that was on fire, not the mosque, and it was accidentally set alight by the Palestinians, and the Israelis were celebrating an annual national day]. 

3. Settlers didn't illegally occupy or forcibly evict Palestinians from their homes. [The Palestinians are still there pending a Supreme Court ruling].

So, she made three statements, all wrong, and all attacking Israel.

Why has a Muslim Labour MP, who had to apologise for antisemitic anti-Israel tweets and was then widely portrayed in the media as being genuinely repentant, now reverted to blithely spreading lies about Israel?


I'm thinking that Naz Shah may have got her take on things from watching Aleem Maqbool's  misleading piece on Wednesday's Newsnight which chose its words so carefully as to make one side appear almost entirely in the wrong:
Though the focus is now on Gaza and southern Israel, It was events in Jerusalem that led to what we are seeing now. 
[CRAIG -  And what of the possibility, approaching certainty, that another key cause [perhaps THE main cause] is an intense power struggle between Hamas and Fatah, fuelled by elections cancelled by Fatah, with Hamas ferociously attempting to outbid Fatah in terms of inciting violence against Israel in Jerusalem, and elsewhere, in the hope of reaping the rewards, and that this ultra-heightened level of incitement has been strongly encouraged by Iran and Turkey, emboldened by a weak US president? Shush!!]  
An Israeli court decided it was right to evict several Palestinian families from their homes 
[CRAIG - So, an Israeli court put in the dock by Newsnight. Whether those homes really are their homes and whether they were reneging on the terms of their occupancy by refusing to pay their rent, suddenly, for some reason, right now, being just a few questions ignored by Newsnight. 
in occupied east Jerusalem.  
[CRAIG - The Israelis didn't evict anyone. It's now gone to the Supreme Court - something else unmentioned here].  
Last Friday those families and others had gathered to break their Ramadan fast
[CRAIG - nice and peaceful family stuff, with lots of invited onlookers]. 
but Jewish settlers came to make their presence felt and stake their claim to the homes. 
[CRAIG - Israeli settlers - boo! - joining that Israeli court in the Newsnight dock]
It quickly led to scuffles. The UN and US condemned any forced evictions of Palestinians in east Jerusalem  
[CRAIG - which didn't happen anyhow].
but the issue had already sparked more confrontation in Jerusalem,  
[CRAIG - so that's just the Israeli side in the dock then, so far]
Israeli police using rubber bullets and stun grenades and water cannons.  
[CRAIG -  Ah, now the Israeli police are in the Newsnight dock].  
But it was Monday when things escalated so dramatically. Israeli nationalists   
[CRAIG - Israeli nationalists, step into the Newsnight dock please!]  
prepared to march through the Muslim quarter to celebrate their country's capture  
[CRAIG - ''capture'', eh?]  
of east Jerusalem 54 years ago. Palestinians had been in the al-Aqsa Mosque, some ready to oppose the march  
[CRAIG - BBC understatement! They stocked this holy site with rocks, Molotov cocktails, firecrackers and the like],  
when Israeli police stormed  
[CRAIG - ''stormed'', eh?]  
the mosque compound, once again using force  
[CRAIG - ''using force'', eh? Unlike the violent, well-stocked protestors inside the sacred mosque, spoiling for a fight, ]  
in the form of sound bombs and rubber bullets but now at the doors of one of Islam's holiest sites.  
[CRAIG - Must remember to stock my parish church with rocks, Mototov cocktails, firecrackers and the like. Not sure if my vicar would agree though. Should I ask Jeremy Bowen if he can recommend an imam from a mosque in and around Jerusalem?].   
Around the compound Palestinians threw rocks and bottles   
[CRAIG - yeah, and the rest Aleem]
and more that 300 were injured and as well as 21 Israeli police.  
[CRAIG - Imagine how that would sound the other way round ''More than 21 Israel police were were injured, as well as over 300 rioters'].  
Later, when a fire broke out 
[CRAIG - Just 'broke out', did it? Wasn't started by Palestinian rioters accidentally setting a tree ablaze with one of their firecrackers, Aleem?] 
at the mosque compound, Israelis were seen celebrating. 
[CRAIG - ''Seen celebrating'', eh BBC? Leaping to conclusions without fact-checking, BBC? As it was the annual Jerusalem Day celebration, where thousands of Israelis gather each year, were the several foregrounded Israel people filmed dancing actually celebrating the fire around al-Aqsa, or just celebrating and getting filmed against a background of a burning tree on the Temple Mount? Not that bigoted, vicious Israeli Jews have been absent from the recent violence - unfortunately, far from it -  and I'd been full for admiration for how the pro-Israel people I follow on Twitter have both brought up their actions and damned them unequivocally. But I can't find any evidence that these people were rejoicing at fires on the Haram esh-Sharif / Temple Mount complex rather than just rejoicing as they do, every year, even amid the horrors of recent days. Wrong place, wrong time, perhaps, for the people featured in that 'viral' footage, dancing as a tree burned on the night sky as the backdrop of their celebrations? Or maybe, entirely guilty as charged by the like of Labour's Naz? But shouldn't the BBC do a huge amount of due diligence by trying to find out and not spouting off in a potentially inflammatory way without evidence?]

SUE - I did hear a leek Maqbool (autocorrect struck) speaking the other day but I’m thinking it was an abridged version, or maybe I was half asleep. The language he and his colleagues use is typically loaded and you are right that this kind of thing is where Naz and her ilk get their inspiration. Even in the first section of that transcription [below] there are clues that anyone with an interest in language could pick out:
This is not a story about buildings coming down, or a rocket count. It is about civilians suddenly being thrown into despair. A boy in Gaza running to a coffin, after his father and elder brother were killed. Dozens have now died. Panic and fear etched on the faces of those in Ashkelon in Israel as the warning sirens go off again and where the number of dead rises there too. Today started with more air strikes in Gaza, this tiny densely packed territory, just 25 miles long, five miles across, given a deadly wake up call. And the day was punctuated with more massive bombardment, Israel saying it is targeting places associated with senior figures in Hamas. And while militants have been killed, many civilians, including children, are known to be among the dead. And if they haven't lost relatives, more and more of those living in this impoverished strip are losing their homes and belongings, and are in fear. Overnight, militant groups in Gaza sent a huge barrage of rockets into Israel. And while most were stopped, many did manage to get through, some hitting buildings. In Rashon LeTsizon a 50-year-old woman became one of six Israelis who have now been killed. So how did we get here?
I mean Palis are always defined as ‘families’, usually with empathetic adjectives, whereas Israelis are held at arm’s length without “personalisation’. The lip service that is half-heartedly paid to balance is shamelessly gratuitous. Then there are the half-truths that have embedded themselves into the language such as ‘densely packed’. Then every single utterance about Israel’s action is reported as ‘Israel says” which implies reluctance at the compulsory obligation to ‘put the other side’. In fact, I’m sure that’s actually passive-aggressive.

And that’s even before the ‘how did we get here’ section.

The terms used are always emotive. Jewish Settlers. Right-wing. Etc. Not to mention the lazy, sloppy, malicious, deliberately misleading emoting throughout.

CRAIG - As we've quoted two-thirds of that report from Leeky Maqbool, as I'll think of him from now on, we might as well finish it off. This is how he ends it:
Several rockets were fired from Gaza, and although they were shot down Israel decided to hit back hard, with air strikes across the Gaza Strip. It said it was targeting militants but of nearly 30 people were ten children including a four-year-old and 6-year-old. By Tuesday, it felt like a point of no return had been crossed and Gaza had, as has happened so many times in the past, become the cauldron of conflict. For the most part, Gazans do not appear to blame the Palestinian militants or the rocket fire for bringing this catastrophe on them, saying it their occupier that is the aggressor. But Israel says this is entirely the fault of Hamas and that it will continue its military action. With neither side backing down, the funerals look set to keep coming for days.
First sentence, for starters: Just ''several'' rockets. Then Israel deciding to hit back hard ''although they were shot down'', making the Israeli response sound unreasonable, even disproportionate. And then comes another of those 'Israel says' phrases followed by a ''but'', i.e. language of contradiction. And another ''Israel says'' comes later, this time after a ''but''.

And there was a good example of Jeremy Bowen doing an ''Israel says'' on Thursday's BBC Breakfast. The ''they call'' bit was HIS emphasis:
You mentioned appeals for calm coming from abroad, but this is not going to end, I think, until both sides can find a way of declaring a victory that they like. Hamas will want to be able to say that they defended Palestinians and Jerusalem, and Israelis want to do something that they call "restoring deterrence", which essentially means giving a good hammering to anybody who raises a hand against them. So I think that this has got some way to go at the moment. The ''disproportionality'' charge was there too, of course, in his sneer about Israel ''giving a good hammering to anybody who raises a hand against them''.
What's happening in and around Israel at the moment is horrible, and worse than ever this time, with sectarian violence inside Israel adding to the usual story of genocidal terrorists trying to kill as many Jews as possible (and not caring how many of 'their own people' die in the process) and Israel robustly defending itself and being demonised for doing so. 

And then, as if things couldn't get any worse, Jeremy Bowen - the man with a deep personal grudge against the State of Israel, one he's been nursing for a couple of decades - pops up at Heathrow Airport announcing to the world that he's on his way.


"Heart of stone not to laugh!"

CRAIG  - David Collier just replied to AP about that; ''If AP, Al Jazeera and co didn't know that the very building they are reporting from in Gaza is used by Hamas to hide military assets - then maybe they should change jobs?''

FROM OUR OWN CORRESPONDENT, Radio 4, Saturday 15-05-2021, 11.31 - TRANSCRIPT

Thursday, 1 April 2021

April Still Continuing Open Thread


Courtesy of Arthur T, a view of the ramps up to a famous rooftop racetrack - the Fiat Lingotto factory in Turin, Italy (1923) - to lead us to a new open thread.

Best wishes all, and please continue commenting.

Friday, 19 March 2021

March Still Continuing Open Thread


Thank you for your comments. Bring on spring!

And the Open Thread really is continuing (above the closure post). 

We close the blog, then everything starts happening!

Sunday, 14 March 2021

Closure Post

To every thing there is a season. A time to blog, and a time to stop blogging.

Due to too many circumstances to bang on about, both Sue and myself need to stop blogging - at least for the time being.

Thank you all so much for all your support over the years. 

Whither (or wither?) the BBC, only time will tell, and we may be back. 

But for now, good bye and best wishes.



Thank you so much for your very touching comments. Both myself and Sue deeply appreciate them.

There will continue to be an open thread for our little community of commenters. We'll both make sure it keeps going. 

And now to bed...

A nest of singing birds


The Atticus column in The Sunday Times brings news of a revealing (if unsurprising) email:

PM and Beeb coo in harmony

Much has been said about Boris Johnson’s war on the BBC, with threats to decriminalise non-payment of the licence fee and appoint critics to prominent positions. But its current leadership appears to think relations are just fine.

Atticus has obtained an email from Tim Davie, the Beeb’s director-general, to David Clementi, then chairman, shortly after the former met the PM in the Commons last September.

His verdict: “It was friendly,” he cooed. “We landed a few points on the importance of the BBC in Covid etc. They outlined some of their thoughts on key messages.”

Davie, 53, added: “At the end, the PM volunteered that we should meet again soon to catch up more generally on the BBC.” A nest of singing birds, then.

Saturday, 13 March 2021

Sir David Clementi's Last Stand

Nebuchadnezzar (Blake)

The outgoing BBC chairman Sir David Clementi has risked ridicule by using a very small-scale internal BBC study of 70 households carried out 6 years ago - before Netflix, Amazon and other streaming services had become fixtures in so many British homes - to allege that most people "cannot cope" without the BBC, whatever people he calls "professional detractors" and "right-wing thinkers" may say. 

After just 9 days of BBC deprivation two-thirds of the BBC licence fee sceptics in the study underwent a 180° change of heart, saying they couldn't live without the wonderful BBC and expressing the belief that the licence fee is worth every last penny. 


I wonder how that ever-growing number of people who have rejected the wonders of the BBC and cancelled their licence fees are faring. 

Are they all at their wit's end and eating grass? I very much doubt it. 

Not taking it very well


Meanwhile, from an alternate universe near you...

Guess what's agitating these four people?

Yes, they're talking about the BBC's decision to end Nish Kumar's The Mash Report! 

As Francis Howerd would have said, Oooh noo, please, it's wicked to mock the afflicted! 

Roger Harrabin wins the battle


When we last met the BBC's (environmental activist) environment analyst Roger Harrabin he'd published 8 separate BBC News website articles about the proposed new coal mine in Cumbria within the space of a month. 

He didn't stop there. He got up to 9 with:

Cumbria coal mine plan 'damaging PM's reputation'

Boris Johnson has been warned by some of his foreign ambassadors that a planned coal mine in Cumbria is damaging his reputation.

And made it in a piece headlined UK environmental protections 'being flouted'

Here's a question: Did his (campaigning) reporting contribute to the Government's U-turn this week by piling on the pressure against the mine? I'm assuming yes.

Whatever, he contented himself with merely providing an inset 'analysis' to the BBC's main report on the story this week:
The government could still decide to approve the mine, but given the amount of anger it's caused that seems unlikely - at least until after the UN climate conference.

Local Conservatives strongly supported the scheme and the employment it would bring.

But the government's climate advisers, along with a crowd of green groups, warned it would increase carbon emissions when the UK's committed to cutting them.

What's more, it would harm Britain's international reputation before the UN conference, they said.

One of the world's leading climate scientists, the American James Hansen, warned Boris Johnson risked humiliation over the mine.

The US climate envoy John Kerry warned against it on Monday. And yesterday Alok Sharma was again rebuked by MPs over the plan.

It was too much pressure.

See more here.  

'Newsnight' and accuracy


In his regular Spectator column Charles Moore recounts how - and why - he spurned the BBC's advances earlier this week:

On Tuesday, I was asked to appear on BBC Newsnight to talk about the Sussexes’ interview. When told it would be presented by Emily Maitlis, I declined, on the grounds that ever since her political speech against Dominic Cummings on the programme last year, I have had no confidence in her fairness. Sure enough, she spoke on the programme that night of ‘the sense of the attempted suicide’ of the Duchess of Sussex — though Meghan had mentioned only ‘suicidal thoughts’.

At the time, my little gesture seemed rather pointless, so I was pleased to read in the next day’s papers that Ofcom has at last decided that the Maitlis diatribe against Cummings ‘had the potential to be perceived by some viewers as an expression of her personal view on a matter of major political controversy’. Hardly a bold rebuke, but a start.

Emily Maitlis's error was actually on Monday night's Newsnight when she asked John Kerry: 

Just before we end, we are talking on a day that has been dominated by the Harry and Meghan interview. We know how important the monarchy is to soft power. Does anything in it that you've read, any of the accusations of racism or the sense of the attempted suicide change how America views the institution of our monarchy?

The Tuesday edition itself was notable for another error - one which necessitated an on-air 'clarification' from Emily Maitlis. She began one interview by saying:

But first we're joined by Guy Hewitt, former High Commissioner of Barbados, which will leave the Commonwealth in November - a decision that we should say has been years in the making. It wasn't as a result of the last 24 hours. 

I can imagine, as the interview continued and Rev. Hewitt said what he had to say, that alarm bells began ringing in the studio as it dawned on them that they'd made a mistake, and that voices appeared in Emily's earpiece telling her to 'clarify' the matter. Towards the close of the segment, the following happened:

Emily Maitlis: And just let me clear up an inconsistency that I think I made. You will remain part of the Commonwealth, is that right, but you won't have the Queen...? 
Guy Hewitt: Barbados will remain...Yes, we will have a native head of state but we will remain part of the Commonwealth as the majority of members are republics.

 I don't think the "attempted suicide" error has been corrected yet. 

Moving to Channel 5


Kate Humble on Channel 5

So Eggheads Chris, Kevin & Co. are moving en masse to Channel 5, along with Jeremy Vine, where they will doubtless continue to reign supreme over quiz land. 

The Daily Telegraph observes that the show "had disappeared from the BBC schedules as bosses did not believe it appealed to a younger audience" and quotes its host as saying, 

I did more than 1,000 episodes and it’s one of the most successful TV shows in the history of British television, but I think what’s happened is it’s fallen victim to the BBC’s understandable desire to pull in 16-24-year-olds.

The Telegraph's Anita Singh makes a particularly telling point:

[Channel 5] has been encroaching on BBC territory for some time with shows that appeal to older viewers.  
It emerged last year that the BBC had turned down the remake of All Creatures Great and Small because they did not believe it would attract a sufficiently young audience. The show went on to become one of Channel 5’s biggest hits.

(Poor BBC! You'd have to have a heart of stone not to laugh at that.) 

Channel 5 has indeed been attracting me recently with some fine, informative programmes, many presented by old BBC presenters. All power to their elbow!

Friday, 12 March 2021

The BBC's bread magnet comes unstuck


Two critics of Nish Kumar

The Independent quotes Nish Kumar's reaction to the BBC's cancellation of his The Mash Report:

Responding to the news on Twitter, Kumar wrote: “A lot of people are asking me for a comment and here it is” – accompanied with an image of himself on the show pointing to a screen that reads: “Boris Johnson is a liar and a racist.”

Of course, Boris Johnson isn't a racist.

The Independent also quotes James O'Brien, the ex-Newsnight presenter, complaining:

The Mash Report, a comedy program critical of the government has been axed by the state broadcaster, reportedly for political reasons, and at the behest of a director general appointed by the government.

Of course, Tim Davie wasn't appointed by the government. JO'B is confusing the BBC director general with the BBC chairman. The BBC chairman is appointed by the government. The BBC director general is a BBC appointment made by the BBC board, and they appointed a BBC insider. 

In the present world of spreading emojis: James O'Brien = 🤡.

Tuesday, 9 March 2021

"Why not BBC News?"

On the 8.30am Today Prog news the BBC reported that Meghan had said a member of the royal family asked *her* what colour the baby would be. By the 9am bulletin the word *her* had been dropped but there was no apology for the earlier instance of misreporting. Why not BBC News? 
Listen at 2hr33min35secs in as BBC News misreports Harry and Meghan's claims of racism against the royal family. Bulletin says "Meghan claimed a member of the royal family asked her how dark her and Harry's first child would be." Simply not true. 
By giving this false account BBC News has reported Meghan's claim as first-hand testimony, skewing any attempt at objective assessment about what may have happened. I cannot believe it has not already acknowledged a serious mistake and apologised for it. 
Looks like BBC News is just going to sail on without apologising for its untruth about the Royal Family on the Today Prog, hence further fuelling the idea of "Is it true or did you hear it on the BBC?" One day they'll come to regret such arrogance.

He described what happened correctly and sounded genuinely shocked, even though it's becoming pretty standard BBC behaviour these days. 

(A case of 'Hope springs eternal' perhaps'?).

I'm sure we'll see something on the BBC's Corrections and Clarifications page - which hardly anyone but us knows about, or reads - sometime before the end of 2022, if Patrick's lucky. 

Monday, 8 March 2021

Ofcom 'does a BBC' over Emily Maitlis


In news that's unlikely to surprise anyone hereabouts, we learn today that Ofcom won't be pursuing the BBC over Emily Maitlis's infamous Dominic Cummings monologue on Newsnight. 

An Ofcom spoke says:

We consider the programme's opening monologue could be perceived as Ms Maitlis's personal view on a matter of major political controversy. 

But, having assessed the programme as a whole, we also found that a range of different viewpoints were given appropriate weight, including those of the UK government. 

Given this, and taking into account the BBC's acceptance under its own complaints processes that it fell short of its editorial guidelines, we won't be taking further action. 

We have, however, reminded the BBC that when preparing programme introductions in news programmes, to capture viewers' attention - particularly in matters of major political controversy - presenters should ensure that they do not inadvertently give the impression of setting out personal opinions or views.

It's the gentlest of raps on the knuckles. 

Ofcom is famously staffed with ex-BBC people. The language of that is pure BBC.

It "could be perceived" as Ms Maitlis's personal view? Presenters should ensure that they do not "inadvertently give the impression" of setting out personal opinions or views?

Whether or not it was solely Emily Maitlis's personal view, or the Newsnight team's point of view, it's absurd to claim that it wasn't a contentious point of view. 

And there was nothing "inadvertent" about it. It was meant.

Nick Robinson tweets

I've no desire whatsoever to write about Meghan & Harry, but I think Nick Robinson's editorial on Twitter needs recording for posterity:
Nick Robinson: Some dismiss it as a trivial Royal soap opera unworthy of the attention on serious news programmes. Yet Meghan & Harry have given young & diverse Britain all they need to see the Royal Family (tho’ not the Queen) as at best old fashioned & at worst bigoted. That really matters. 
It is, of course, only one side of a story which is, first and foremost, about family tensions. The Royal Family must now decide whether the traditional response - getting on with their duties which defy the caricature whilst saying nothing in public - is enough.

One of the upsides of Twitter is that people get to reply and this is, by some way, the highest rated response so far:

David Robertson: Such impartiality....such empathy...such understanding! You forgot to mention that they also let us see just how intolerant, self-obsessed, narcissistic, wealthy and entitled they are....I guess it just slipped your mind...?!

Sunday, 7 March 2021

Naga Munchetty wants us to talk about race


The BBC Press Team is retweeting the following tonight:

Naga Munchetty: My BBC Panorama team and I have been working on this for a year.
This may give some insight to why we think it's important to talk about race.
@BBCOne 7pm Monday

Many, if not most, might very well be thinking, 'Oh, dear God, please no! Please, please BBC, let's not talk about race any more! Just stop nagging us about what you think we should think about race!'

Alas: That's (evidently) not going to happen. X

Naga has been let off BBC editorial guideline breach after BBC editorial guideline breach regarding impartiality over the past couple of years. 

And if you think that's just the BBC being cowardly and scared of offending the 'woke mob', well, the BBC now appears to have gone well and truly above and beyond. They've actually given Naga her own Panorama

And, from her very own tweet, we know for a fact that she's going to be pushing a contentious line that advances a particular, divisive point of view, and panders to a small subset of public opinion that the BBC appears determined to attract. 

So much for Tim Davie getting a grip at the BBC. The BBC appears to be getting ever more out of hand.

Why is this even going out?

The BBC goes Fox hunting

As a blogger, I sometimes feel as if I'm dancing in the dark (hopefully with Monica from Friends) when it comes to the BBC.

What on earth is going on here?...

Actor turned politician turned London mayoral contender Laurence Fox tweeted this today:
Dear Rebecca Cafe from the BBC. Regulations aren’t imposed under the coronavirus act, but the public health act, and thank god we don’t live in a country where the prime minister makes the law. I’m not going anywhere. Kind regards. 
He was responding to this from BBC online reporter Rebecca Cafe, sent by her to someone:

So many questions: 
  • Is Laurence right or wrong about the regulations? 
  • If he's wrong, will his opponents - including the BBC - succeed in getting him barred from contesting the London mayoral election, or even arrested? 
  • Who was Rebecca of the BBC sending this to? 
  • How did Laurence come across it? 
  • And would the 'impartial' BBC ever pursue such an investigation against someone who didn't offend them politically?

Poetry please

This morning's Sunday programme on Radio 4 was "a special programme to celebrate International Woman's Day. 

It was classic Sunday in its unremitting bias. 

Instead of me expanding on this yet again, here are some other people's takes (and Sluff is spot-on):


Jaw-dropping unceasing bias on Toady on Sunday today featuring not only more join-the-dots failings but also a BBC favourite tactic – something highly biased masquerading as something apparently innocuous.

The list was so long I cannot remember everything. It was a showcase for every Left wing cause.

Try these.

A story about Mexican immigration across the border into the USA. Clearly perceived as a good thing. [Presenter Emily Buchanan's questions were all put from a pro-migration angle to a pro-migration nun].

The Archbishop of York bemoaning the increase of only 1% for NHS workers (irrespective of their actual role during the pandemic). [Emily Buchanan pushed him 'from the Left', angle-wise].

A story about the forthcoming Swiss vote on ‘banning the Burqua’. An interviewee expresses the view that the ban would be a bad thing and then for balance a second interviewee…..errr……also expresses the view that the ban would be a bad thing. [It was one-sided in the extreme].

Then it's over to the new female priest who works in the Capitol in Washington. The story is entirely a front for reminding us about the entry into the Capitol on January 6th by the Trump supporters. [It was.]

Then its a reminder about International Women’s Day, apparently tomorrow. A young female poet is featured. She reads one of her poems. The words ‘Black Lives Matter’ appear in the very first line. Later she reveals her love for her work …… Cambridge Central Mosque.

Just a litany of the BBC’s favourite causes with not one single attempt at impartiality.


Dinah Lee Küng:

“Sunday” spot re burqua vote not balanced, not even interviewing a moderate Swiss Muslim why they support the ban but minutes of blah blah from an American Yalie academic in Dublin ffs. Swiss voters listening to Swiss Muslim leaders, maybe, not boomer foreign feminists?


Alexei Romanov: 

Poem at the end was coup de grace to this morning's programme...


On which point... 

There were two poems in total featured in the programme. The first began:
I must tell you Black Lives Matter
And I tell you racism must shatter.
And the second one - the coup de grace - began:
Time for us women to increase our visibility,
Celebrate us and call out inequality. 

The young woman's poems had something of the McGonagall style (relentless couplets, no scansion or rhythm, with a contrived rhyme at the end)...

...which gives me the excuse to quote a favourite verse from the great person with the "double X chromosomes" himself. This is from his most wonderful to be seen The Ancient Town at Leith:

Then as for Leith Fort, it was erected in 1779, which is really grand,
And which is now the artillery headquarters in Bonnie Scotland;
And as for the Docks, they are magnificent to see,
They comprise five docks, two piers, 1,141 yards long respectively.

Undiplomatic reporting from the BBC's Mark Lowen


The BBC News website's report on the historic meeting in Iraq yesterday between Pope Francis and Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani has so far undergone 15 revisions.

The most dramatic changes came from BBC's Rome correspondent Mark Lowen, whose 'Analysis' got him into trouble

Here are three chronological snapshots (courtesy of Newssniffer):

Profoundly symbolic
by Mark Lowen, Rome correspondent

Today's meeting has been years, even decades, in the making: an encounter between the leader of the Catholic Church and one of the most powerful figures in Shia Islam.

Previous popes have tried to meet him, given his influence across the Middle East.

Today Pope Francis, in this first papal visit to Iraq, is achieving it: a hugely significant encounter for two religious leaders. Their talks were likely to focus on inter-faith dialogue and Iraq's Christian minority, long terrorised by Shia armed groups.

It's a day of profound symbolism - and perhaps the one that will leave this trip's lasting impact.


Profoundly symbolic
by Mark Lowen, Rome correspondent

This has been a meeting years in the making: an encounter between the leader of the Catholic Church and one of the most powerful figures in Shia Islam: Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani. For a pope passionate about reaching out to other faiths, the meeting is arguably the most symbolic moment of his visit to Iraq.

The dwindling Christian community here has suffered violence at the hands of armed Shia groups - and the cleric is seen as a voice of moderation.

The Pope now comes to Ur - the ancient birthplace of the prophet Abraham, hoping that the biblical figure revered by Christians, Muslims and Jews, can spur reconciliation today.
Profoundly symbolic
by Mark Lowen, Rome correspondent

This has been a meeting years in the making: an encounter between the leader of the Catholic Church and one of the most powerful figures in Shia Islam: Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani.

For a pope passionate about reaching out to other faiths, the meeting is arguably the most symbolic moment of his visit to Iraq.

The dwindling Christian community here has suffered violence at the hands of Sunni extremists but some also fear the presence of Shia armed groups - and the cleric is seen as a voice of moderation.

The Pope visited Ur, the ancient birthplace of the Prophet Abraham, hoping that the biblical figure revered by Christians, Muslims and Jews, can spur reconciliation today.
As you can probably imagine, Shia people (inside and outside Iraq) didn't take too kindly to Mark Lowen's characterisation of who it is who has terrorised and inflicted violence on Iraq's Christian community. His tweet along the same lines of his earliest 'analysis'...

...had to be deleted. And people still aren't happy, demanding an apology from him:

Mark Lowen hasn't apologised to anyone yet, so far as I can see. He just amended his contribution to the BBC online article, deleted that tweet, posted another tweet along the lines of his latest 'analysis' and then took issue with someone who questioned that far more defendable post

From Orwell to the Irwell


Rod Liddle's turn of phrase remains a thing of beauty. In his Sunday Times column today he writes about the Treasury's decision to move 750 jobs to Darlington in County Durham and wonder whether it will change the culture of the Treasury...

Or [he asks] will it be more like the BBC’s move to Salford, in which the corporation’s bien-pensant producers simply transported their asinine belief systems 200 miles up the M6 and the only locals who got jobs were electricians?