Saturday, 2 July 2022

July Open Thread


July by Edward Thomas

Naught moves but clouds, and in the glassy lake
Their doubles and the shadow of my boat.
The boat itself stirs only when I break
This drowse of heat and solitude afloat
To prove if what I see be bird or mote,
Or learn if yet the shore woods be awake.
Long hours since dawn grew, - spread, - and passed on high
And deep below, - I have watched the cool reeds hung
Over images more cool in imaged sky:
Nothing there was worth thinking of so long;
All that the ring-doves say, far leaves among,
Brims my mind with content thus still to lie.

Thank you for your support and comments.

“This debate feels as old as the hills”

I don't thnk this week's discussion of BBC impartiality on Newswatch did the programme great credit. Former BBC boss Mark Damazar almost entirely defended the BBC, while Samira Ahmed largely fed him questions which helped him defend the BBC. Both put the blame on 'wrong-thinking' by the BBC's critics. That's not what Newswatch should be doing. Very disappointing.

Here, for what it's worth, is a transcript:
Samira Ahmed: Hello, and welcome to Newswatch with me, Samira Ahmed. Coming up: Ofcom says the BBC has a problem with impartiality. Does it? 

Samira Ahmed: Those in charge of the BBC often speak about impartiality being one of the corporation's chief qualities. But the perception has grown recently that it's not fulfilling its remit in this regard. When he took up his post in 2020, Director-General Tim Davie spoke of the need to restore trust in the BBC's impartiality. Last month, Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries launched a review into the subject, and last week, the regulator Ofcom published its own review, which found that audiences rate the BBC less favourably for impartiality than they do for truth and accuracy. On Friday, the Director-General told staff it was making progress on its impartiality plan, but Newswatch viewers have expressed their own concerns with John Huw Jones writing: 
John Huw Jones: Since the 2016 referendum I have been totally dismayed by the BBC bias against supporters of Brexit. The BBC was once renowned for its impartiality, but alas no more.
Samira Ahmed: And last weekend, Janet Fillingham objected to coverage of the decision on abortion in the United States: 
Janet Fillingham: I didn't keep a stopwatch record of balance but wish I had done. Perhaps you felt the shock value of the Supreme Court ruling was self-evident and that balance wasn't needed?
Samira Ahmed: Ofcom also said too many people lacked confidence in the BBC's complaints process and that it needed improvement, and again, that's something we've also heard from members of the audience such as James Mayes: 
James Mayes: The BBC complaints system is dysfunctional, and over-bureaucratic, to discourage complaints. The BBC marks its own homework.
Samira Ahmed: We were told no-one from the BBC was available to discuss those issues this week, but I am joined by the former BBC executive, Mark Damazer, whose roles included deputy director of BBC News and controller of Radio 4. Mark, thank you so much for coming on Newswatch. This debate feels as old as the hills. Does the BBC really have a problem with impartiality? 
Mark Damazer: Well, there is if you want perfection, because I don't think the BBC, given the volume of its output on any given day, can claim to be 100% successful on impartiality even on a given date, never mind across a year. But if you take a more practical view of it, which is measure the BBC's impartiality record or the accuracy and trustworthiness of its journalism against the sheer volume of its output and then look at the size of the mistakes it makes, and the number of mistakes it makes, I would contend that, overall, the BBC does an extremely good and effective job at being a trustworthy and impartial broadcaster, and in doing that, serves British democracy extraordinarily well. 
Samira Ahmed: It's fair to say we are living in a much more polarised - politically polarised time, and the news media landscape has changed with much more commentator-led coverage on talk radio and TV, and I wonder, aren't people just wanting the BBC to represent their points of view on issues? 
Mark Damazer: So, I think that is acute and is the key point, which is the extent to which people recognise that the BBC is not there to make their own personal world view feel reinforced or better, and the BBC is not there to attack, deride or belittle your opponent, and the BBC does something completely different, which is to present a big range of views and to have them effectively both reflected and challenged by qualified journalists and presenters who know their business. And you don't end up - you're not supposed to end up with a warm, cuddly feeling inside that the BBC has endorsed your view. 
Samira Ahmed: Many people think impartiality means equal time, and we heard a viewer there complaining about needing a stopwatch to measure abortion coverage. Is that the right way to measure it? 
Mark Damazer: No, and it's an important point. The technical term for this, both through the BBC and Ofcom and other public service broadcasters in the UK, is 'due impartiality', and what due impartiality means is precisely is not equal time, and the BBC should not be giving equal time to people who believe that there is no such thing as global warming as opposed to people who believe that there is such a thing called global warming, and the reason for that is because there is a body of factual evidence which makes it clear that giving somebody equal time on that is giving equal time to a nonsense. 
Samira Ahmed: And do you think that social media has changed both the way people think about impartiality and also the way BBC polices it? 
Mark Damazer: That's absolutely right in each of the respects that you mention. And, first of all, the pressure on all broadcasters - I mean, the BBC is the biggest, and so feels the most pressure, but I don't exempt others others from feeling this pressure too. If you make a mistake or even if you don't make a mistake and you broadcast something that a social media group doesn't like, the multiplier effect of spreading that around can be corrosive. I mean, sometimes I dare say can be helpful because it corrects an error made on screen, but very often, what's generating the social media outcry is simple disagreement with something that you've heard or seen because it just doesn't correspond with your view and take on the issue. 
Samira Ahmed: Ofcom also criticised the BBC's system of handling complaints. What can be done to improve that? 
Mark Damazer: Yeah, so, I mean, I think Ofcom has a point, and some of this is going to be administrative and institutional, and it's just about the resources that you put in and the number of people you have and the training that you give them to make sure that they can handle better, more quickly and more deftly the volume of complaints - and there are a lot that come in - there are a lot because the BBC is a big beast. But some of it is psychological and anthropological. The extent to which the BBC feels inhibited, I think, too often from thinking out aloud about how it's made particular judgements, and very often - and I say this both as somebody who made these decisions and then somebody who had to judge them when I was on the governing body - there are a whole number of factors and you try to weigh up what the right answer is, and I don't think it's an embarrassment to say it's a finely balanced decision, and this is what we've decided in the way that gives the complainant and the wider public some assurance that the BBC has considered all the factors, even if you don't In agree with the conclusion. 
Samira Ahmed: Mark Damazer, thank you. 
Mark Damazer: It's a pleasure.

Pride comes before a fall

3 of the 22

Did you know there are currently 22 stories about Pride featured on the CBBC Newsround homepage?

I just learned that from reading a piece at The Spectator by their regular anonymous BBC whistleblower headlined How the BBC was captured by trans ideology. The Corporation has forgotten about its duty to be impartial.

It's a long piece, and this is how it begins:
During Pride month this year a banner has been emblazoned across the BBC’s internal staff website used by every single employee. It features the following text: ‘BBC Pride 2022: Bringing together LGBTQ+ people of all genders, sexualities and identities at the BBC. 
Most people who work at the BBC aren’t concerned about this. But the slogan really should ring alarm bells, because behind its seemingly benign message of inclusivity is a latent political message about trans rights that is undermining the corporation’s impartiality.
As a BBC employee I am proud and delighted that the corporation is striving to be a welcoming employer for people from all walks of life, whatever their colour, creed or whoever they choose to sleep with. But the problem is that ‘Pride’ is no longer a movement that is simply fighting for the rights and liberties of people who have faced prejudice and discrimination because they don’t happen to be straight. It has morphed into something altogether more controversial and political – it is promoting a trans agenda that undermines longstanding concepts of sex and gender. Rather than treading carefully, however, the BBC is once again becoming an unthinking conduit for the dominant ‘progressive’ theology bouncing around the social media echo chambers of its Guardian reading bosses.

One man truly can make a difference

I wasn't listening, but yesterday's Today programme marked the final appearance by the BBC's environment (activist) analyst Roger Harrabin. Here's his tweet about it:
Cripes - only a month to go now before I leave BBC after 35 years. I did my last turn on Today Prog earlier. Felt very upset walking home. Not for me, but for the fate of the planet. Most people still have no idea how bad it's likely to be.
How come the Supreme Court makes a ruling that will compromise still further the efforts made to rescue this fragile planet? You can trace it back to the fossil fuel firms who funded so-called think tanks to turn climate change into a partisan issue. Good job, guys.
The story he's referring to received equally impartial handling by the BBC's News at Ten on Thursday. The opening headline made the BBC's position crystal clear:
Tonight at Ten. A serious blow to tackling global climate change from the US Supreme Court. It's curbed the US Government's power to limit greenhouse emissions from coal fired power stations.
There was a time when the BBC would have at least made an effort to fake impartiality on the issue by saying something like, “Tonight at Ten. The US Supreme Court has curbed the US Government's power to limit greenhouse emissions from coal fired power stations. Environmental campaigners are calling this 'a serious blow to tackling global climate change'”, but now the BBC just comes out and asserts that it's “a serious blow to tackling global climate change” off its own bat. 

I'd credit Roger Harrabin with playing quite a large part in making that kind of open opinion-pushing happen.

“Jesus, these letters! A loan shark would be more polite”

Charlotte Gill, a producer at GB News, isn't happy with the BBC:

  • I’m not anti-Beeb. But why do I need to call them before their investigation escalates? (For a flat I moved out of). I don’t have a TV. Why do I have to waste 20 minutes telling them that? And getting written warnings. The default should be leave people alone.
  • Jesus, these letters! A loan shark would be more polite.
  • The tone is just utterly inappropriate. Someone who doesn’t even watch tv will be threatened every time they open post! I will collect them to sell to future historians.

Friday, 1 July 2022

“BBC delivers progress on Impartiality Plan” - a review

BBC delivers progress on Impartiality Plan, the BBC Media Centre boldly asserted today.

The BBC says it has updated its whistleblowing policy and how it handles fast-tracked complaints. Given past horrors over the treatment of whistleblowers [e.g. Mark Killick and Liz MacKean] the former needed close attention, and Ofcom has expressed dissatisfaction with the BBC about the latter. 

The BBC has appointed two External Editorial Experts. That's a step forward, given that the BBC has long been reluctant to having outsiders looking at bias, with a Tubbs and Edward-like resistance to 'non-locals' at the corporation. The two appointees in question - Caroline Daniel and Michael Prescott -  held senior rolls at the FT and Sunday Times respectively. 

The first thematic review, into BBC taxation and public spending output, led by Sir Andrew Dilnot and Michael Blastland, is still going on and due to be published this year. Will it show that the BBC thinks public spending is the solution to most of life's problems?

The content reviews remain internal and will look at editorial standards and culture including impartiality, freedom of expression, diversity of voices, accuracy, fairness and trust. The first ones will look at BBC Breakfast, Countryfile and the English language morning radio news programmes in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. “These selections have not been made because of particular impartiality concerns,” the BBC insists. The Daily Telegraph, however, cites sources “acknowledging that Countryfile was a show which regularly prompted complaints,” so I'm not convinced that either that programme or BBC Breakfast [with its co-presenters who mock our country's flag] was innocently chosen.

Over 24,000 BBC people have received impartiality training, and all newcomers will complete impartiality training. I must admit I'd have thought impartiality training would have been standard at the BBC for years rather than just up-and-running since last year.

BBC staff surveys looked at impartiality for the first time. 94% of staff from across the BBC who took part said they understood why impartiality is important. You do wonder about the remaining 6% though who don't think impartiality is important. What BBC jobs are they in?

Looking back

WARNING: This is one of those posts that got more confusing the more I wrote. And you may feel the same by the end of it. Apologies in advance...

The Defund The BBC campaign group tweeted the following this afternoon:
Surprise, surprise, the BBC’s ‘impartiality guru’ has locked his Twitter account after being found to be completely biased against both Boris and Brexit calling Brexit result ‘utterly stupid’. It’s no wonder the BBC is so shamelessly partisan!
They are a bit out-of-date over two years. 

They linked to a 15 June 2020 Guido Fawkes article BBC IMPARTIALITY ADVISER’S ULTRA PARTISAN ANTI-BORIS, ANTI-BREXIT TWEETS where Guido did a spot of 'Twitter archaeology' on Richard Sambrook, the former BBC executive turned Cardiff University media professor turned BBC official reviewer tasked with assessing whether the BBC's social media accounts are going against the BBC's impartiality policy

Guido found a string of partisan tweets, all in the usual direction, from the man appointed to assess BBC impartiality on Twitter and other social media.

An update that day on Guido Fawkes said:
Following our story this morning about his clearly partisan public tweeting, [Richard Sambrook] has now locked his Twitter account making his tweets private.
...which was an absolute joke and should have led to the BBC dropping him instantly.

Prof. Sambrook was appointed to review the BBC's social media on 29 May 2020. Guido was on it just over two weeks later on 15 June 2020.

I remember all this because - not to blow our own trumpets, while actually blowing them like Dizzy Gillespie  - looking back, we were actually well ahead of Guido there. On the 29 May 2020 itself I posted a piece where I wrote:
Salford, we have a problem.  The Times reports today that the BBC is so concerned about their journalists discrediting them by expressing their views on Twitter that they've now hired their former head of news, Richard Sambrook, to look into the problem. Mr Sambrook was, you may recall, the co-author of a much-cited, BBC-backed Cardiff University report which 'found' that the BBC didn't just not have a pro-EU bias but 'actually' has a pronounced anti-EU bias. His own Twitter feed reveals him to be anti-Brexit. Wonder what he'll find and recommend?

And Sue, that very same day, wrote

Hiring Richard Sambrook to review how the BBC “maintains impartiality on social media, amid concerns that journalists are discrediting the corporation by revealing their opinions” is a bit like getting the Supreme Court of Injustice to adjudicate on the lawfulness of something Lady Hale isn’t keen on.

We'd even done a piece in November 2019 on one of Richard Sambrook's impartiality-free 'chats' on Twitter, when he was a mere Cardiff University professor overseeing monitoring of BBC impartiality, which ended with the line:  

The people traditionally presented by the BBC as those worthy of holding them to account aren't exactly reassuring me here about their own impartiality.

It's still worth returning to all of this though because the 15 June 2020 Guido Fawkes piece ended with this:

There will now be no confidence in his review, as a former journalist he should know that cover-ups always backfire and transparency would have been better. He will surely have to step aside from the impartiality review…

What happened next? Well, as per various BBC reports from later that year that mentioned his review in passing, he didn't step aside, and he and the BBC seem to have carried on regardless. New guidance on social media use by BBC staff was issued on 29 October 2020, though that apparently came before the Sambrook review itself was finished. 

And that's where things get cloudy. Was the Sambrook review ever published? If I ever knew, I've forgotten. 

[That's what comes of closing the book and losing your page].

If anyone knows please let me know below. 

BBC Sport News

So, according to the Mail, Michael Vaughan was forced out of his BBC cricket commentating role by six disgruntled members of staff who work on the BBC's football and digital outputs. They sent their email anonymously and didn't seek a meeting with him. Charming!

The three top-rated comments below the article are:

  • BBC are 'WOKE' and employ 'Woke' staff. General public do not agree with their views! They are not neutral.
  • Hopefully the BBC lose the cricket commentary contact as this sets a dangerous precedent.
  • Oh look the minority dictating to the majority again......the new normal.

Meanwhile, it was inevitable that culture secretary Nadine Dorries getting rugby league and rugby union confused would be headline news on the BBC News home page. Some people's every 'gaffe' gets the full BBC treatment. Others can 'gaffe' away to their hearts content and the BBC will cover for them by not reporting it. It seems very selective who gets each kind of treatment.

And, as discussed on the outgoing open thread, the BBC is giving an uncritical ear to Lewis Hamilton's call to stop giving 'older voices' a platform. The BBC News website piece by Andrew Benson, the BBC's chief F1 writer, is full of language that backs up Lewis. That said, would Mr Benson dare do anything other at at the BBC these days?

Taking away democracy

Rather like the CCP in Hong Kong, the BBC has taken away democracy. The BBC News website article Xi Jinping defends China's rule of Hong Kong , written by By Tessa Wong, BBC Asia Digital Reporter, previously said:
But Hong Kong has seen huge pro-democracy protests over the years and many, including Western countries, have criticised Beijing's growing interference in the city.
But over the years Hong Kong has seen huge protests and many, including Western countries, have criticised Beijing's growing interference in the city.

Why have they toned it down? 

June Open Thread

As celebrations for The Queen's Platinum Jubilee began, I think Her Majesty would be the first to welcome the cutting of a ribbon for the launch of a new June open thread. 

May God bless it and all who comment in it.

Best wishes and thank you so much for your continuing comments. We value them greatly.

Thursday, 30 June 2022

Sack and smear

The BBC sacked Mark Killick, a senior journalist and reporter on Panorama, for raising concerns about Martin Bashir's interview with Princess Diana, and then smeared him. Now, 25 or so years later, they are paying compensation to him, doubtless out of the licence fee.

What Mr Killick says bears quoting in full:

The BBC's attempt to try and destroy my reputation rather than investigate my concerns shows just how desperate the BBC was to hide what had happened.

It was an extraordinary attempt to cover up wrongdoing and the climate of fear it created may well have stopped other BBC whistleblowers from speaking out for a generation.

I still find it staggering that the BBC was so determined to conceal the truth that it launched a smear campaign against me to protect its tainted scoop.

I am grateful to Tim Davie and his team for finally setting the record straight. But the damage to the BBC's reputation is immense and you can understand if BBC employees no longer have the courage to speak truth to power.


Ferdinand 'Bongbong' Marcos Jr has been sworn in as the president of the Philippines, taking over from Rodrigo Duterte.

The three links in the BBC's main report about this suggest that the BBC isn't overly impressed:

Wednesday, 29 June 2022

Not another one?

They say the internet never forgets, making 'offense archaeology' possible.

Digging deeply, Guido Fawkes is really going to town on the newly appointed editor of BBC Radio Wales and Sport, Carolyn Hitt.

She's clearly one of life's perpetual Twitterers. 

In recent years, she's keenly declared her dislike of Brexit and Tories, and declared that, though a life-long Labour voter, she'd voted Plaid Cymru as that was the party that 'reflects unambiguously about how I feel about Brexit'.

She's also - within the last five or so years - written articles slamming the Welsh for voting for Brexit, backed Welsh independence, expressed admiration for Jeremy Corbyn and slammed The Sun, The Daily Mail and the Daily Express as “far-right rags”.

So her views are clear.

I've just done five minutes of digging myself on Twitter using the terms 'UKIP' and 'Farage' - which are so fruitful because they tap into how certain people reacted to the rise of UKIP, Nigel Farage and Brexit and, ultimately, the 2019 collapse of the Red Wall. So here are some further tweets from Ms Hitt:

She's landed quite a bold claim there in saying that she'll 'never understand' the appeal of wide swathes of Welsh opinion. Hopefully, that's not true, given that she's now in charge of the BBC's Welsh radio output and is Charter-bound to understand all shades of public opinion, whatever she thinks of them, and then to treat them fairly. 

And the last two there are particularly interesting in the context of BBC impartiality. The partisan Ms Hitt was slapping the BBC for inviting on Nigel Farage. 

The question, of course, is whether she'll be able to hang her leftist, anti-Brexit, pro-Welsh independence coat up at the door now she's been appointed to a senior editorship at the BBC. 

Tuesday, 28 June 2022

Good sense from the heart of Lancashire

Dr Amy Binns and Sophie Arnold of the University of Central Lancashire (UCLan) have produced guidance for journalists to help them report court cases that involve a transgender defendant. Their work strikes me as being very sensible and useful, and clearly written too. It's well worth reading:

1. Avoid using definitive words without caveat especially in headlines and introductions.
Headlines which use the word “woman” to describe a transwoman implies that the writer, and publication, agrees with the proposition “Transwomen are women”. This is an opinion, not a fact, and so should not be used in the headline of a news report. Similarly, describing a person who has recently changed their name as a “transwoman” implies to the general reader that the person has made a sincere, permanent commitment to a gender change, probably with medical treatment. This may not be the case. In headlines, the words woman or transwoman are better avoided. In body copy, phrases can be used such as “The prosecuting lawyer said Smith now identifies as a woman” or “Smith claimed to be transgender and asked court officials to use female pronouns”.

2. Report all quotes accurately even if this results in different pronouns being used by different speakers.
In court reporting, as elsewhere, quotes should never be changed. If necessary, a brief explanation is best: “Although Smith was referred to as a woman by court officials, the witness referred to Smith as a man”.

3. Seek to provide your reader with the most accurate information, where possible, regarding the person’s status such as an official name change, medical treatment, time of transition or GRC.
Public understanding of trans terms is low, and even official definitions are so vague and all-encompassing as to be almost meaningless. In the majority of news reports, details of a person’s transition will be irrelevant, but is relevant where biological sex is a factor if the reader is to understand the facts, particularly where a defendant has transitioned, or claimed to transition, after arrest.

4. Refrain from using pronouns, except in quotes, even if this results in awkward sentence construction or repetition of a name.
To refer to a biological male with female pronouns is to tacitly agree with their claim that they are a woman or transwoman. Owing to the incentives of the justice system, this may not be the case. Using their chosen pronouns is to collude in their possible deception.

5. Make clear the biological sex of the defendant high up in the story.
Types of crime strongly correlate with biological sex. These differences remain even after transition. Public understanding of crime, particularly violent and sexual offences, will be corroded if a defendant’s sex is cloaked in euphemisms, or buried in a final paragraph, or if gender is conflated with sex.

6. Use both birth and trans names where available, particularly for sex offences.
Journalists have a duty to the public, as well as obligations to the subjects of stories. This can create a conflict when a person has changed their name. Many trans people greatly dislike being referred to by their original name, sometimes known as “deadnaming”, and in most news stories there is no need to use it. However, there is clearly a public interest case for reporting a defendant’s original name as well as their new name. Reports of sex offences are one of the most valuable methods of encouraging victims of earlier crimes to come forward. Complying with a sex offender’s demands to only use their new name in public reports may allow them to escape justice for other crimes. The existence of a GRC does not prohibit the publication of a previous name when used to investigate or prevent crime, as described in the societal benefits of court reporting above. An analogy would be with press treatment of far-right activist Stephen Yaxley-Lennon, AKA Tommy Robinson. The media, across the political spectrum, routinely refer to him by both names, regardless of his preference.

Their report includes a spreadsheet that links to many relevant cases, including to several BBC reports. What's striking is that the BBC has been far from consistent in how it reports such stories. They range from the one about child rapist Patrick McCann, which simply calls him 'Patrick McCann' and uses 'he' and 'his' throughout, to the one about John Marshall, which uses the headline Blackpool woman accessed child abuse images in hospital bed, immediately follows that with the opening line 'A woman who accessed her "vast" library of child sexual abuse images from her hospital bed has been jailed', and only uses the name 'Julie Marshall' and the pronoun 'she'. 

All About Trans

Here's a story I missed...until now. 

The Times reported last Friday that back in 2011 the BBC and Channel 4 funded a transgender campaign group called All About Trans to the tune of £20,000. 

“Some BBC insiders believe its influence is still felt in the corporation’s reporting on gender identity”, the paper says, adding “The BBC and Channel 4’s investment went unnoticed and they have not provided funding since. It is unlikely the broadcasters would back a similar project today.” 

The organisation held “several discussions” with BBC executives, including one in 2013 with editorial policy executives, “the gatekeepers of the broadcaster’s impartiality.” 

The report quotes “a BBC insider” saying:
It might look like ancient history but All About Trans has informed our approach in news and all content. It was embedded nearly a decade ago and it’s not gone away.
The organisation promotes preferred terminology “like assigned male/female at birth” as against “born a man/woman” and advocates “inclusive language”, eg. the use of pronouns, “which are echoed in BBC News’s rules on the use of language in reporting.”

The top-rated comments below the article suggest people are unimpressed:
  • And they think it acceptable to waste my license fee on this???? I would NEVER intentionally fund such a cause!! The BBC has totally forgotten its purpose....and is increasingly (and sadly) showing itself to be not fit for purpose.
  • I am dismayed to learn that this is within the terms of the BBC charter. I am dismayed that they would fund any organisation pushing a particular point of view with public money - it conflicts at least with their ability to claim objectivity and lack of bias.
  • Another reason not to pay my licence fee. Many of these public bodies seem to forget that ordinary people are slogging their guts out doing actual ‘work’ to finance these completely self-indulgent and erroneous “initiatives”.

Monday, 27 June 2022

Back to the 1640s at the Beeb

Who are the Roundheads and who are the Cavaliers in the latest BBC civil war over former England cricket captain Michael Vaughan, after he was invited back to commentate for the BBC on the third Test against New Zealand at Headingley?

Last year, if you recall, Michael Vaughan was accused of racism over an alleged comment in 2009 and immediately dropped by the BBC. The Muslim man accusing him had made antisemitic comments but was quickly forgiven by all.

But Michael's now back at the Beeb and what The Guardian calls “an in-house diversity group at the BBC” aren't happy.

To put it mildly.

This diversity group of impartial BBC types have a name, namely The BBC Sport BAME Advisory Group & 5 Live Diversity Group [I kid ye not], and they've impartially written to their BBC colleagues talking of “Azeem Rafiq’s gut wrenching and triggering testimony”...

[...and I kid ye not again, these BBC people really did use the ultimate woke word 'triggering' seriously there!...]

...and they've demanded that Michael Vaughan be removed because, although they “appreciate that there are elements of detail that can’t be shared about his reinstatement and that he is innocent until proven guilty”, it's “damaging, embarrassing and many colleagues across BBC Sport, BBC Radio 5 Live, and the wider BBC as a whole”.

Time, perhaps, to call to the witness stand the famous former Sun editor Kelvin MacKenzie with a tweet in response to this:
The BBC's diversity group sent an email to ALL staff complaining at the "excruciating and unbearable" decision to continue using Michael Vaughan on TMS. Vaughan denies a racism charge by Azeem Rafiq. Who gave permission to the BAME group to send out the email? Just bullying.

Nevertheless, The Times says that MV's position at the BBC is “under review” as a result.

The top comments below the Times piece aren't in the BBC diversity agitators' favour though:

  • Seems they believe in the guilty until proven innocent cancel culture?
  • The BBC "in-house diversity group" - All diversity is welcome, apart from diversity of thinking.
  • He has been found guilty on two counts, of being a) white and b) a man.

The BBC spinning away like a hyperactive spider

The Times writes:
The BBC has rewritten an article about abortion that suggested the US Supreme Court referred to “pregnant people” rather than “women” in its Roe v Wade ruling in 1973. The term was also used by Sophie Long on The World Tonight on Radio 4. 

To quote Vrager 1 in full:

Somebody changed the word "women" in the first place for it to be changed back from "people" to "women" again. Fire that woke ignoramus for changing a cut and paste 1973 quote from Wade v Roe.

As for Sophie Long on The World Tonight on Radio 4, as mentioned earlier by Charlie, here things get even more interesting...

I initially read a few defences of her saying “pregnant people” that she was only indirectly quoting someone else - i.e. these weren't her own words. She was just reporting.

The Daily Mail's report on this only reinforced that and confused me even more. It directly quoted her bit on The World Tonight where she said:

The clinical director and chair of the National Abortion Federation, Lori Williams, said knowing how many women and pregnant people would now not be able to get care was “devastating”.

And the Daily Mail then quoted the BBC's response, defending Ms Long: 

Sophie Long was quoting the language used by the chair of the National Abortion Federation. 

Now, Sophie's The World Tonight bit, as quoted there, can be heard both ways. 

It's possible to hear her as using her own choice of language or - as the BBC insists - simply paraphrasing what the National Abortion Federation said and, thus, just reporting.

And I must admit I was inclined to believe the BBC's explanation that Sophie was only paraphrasing the chair of the National Abortion Federation...

...until I checked out 'pregnant' AND 'people' on TVEyes this afternoon, and up popped Sophie Long unquestionably using the phrase off her own bat elsewhere on the BBC. 

This comes from a BBC TV report from Sophie from the Mississippi Delta, broadcast repeatedly on 15 June on the BBC News Channel: 

She had no choice but to have the baby, in the poorest region of the poorest state with the lowest number of doctors per capita anywhere in America, and where a basic lack of transportation and nutrition put many pregnant people in the highest risk categories. At the Delta Health Centre in Mount Bayou, its only obstetrician tells me banning abortion will exacerbate an already desperate situation.

Oh dear, BBC, you rascals! Your defence is hanging by a far less secure thread after that, isn't it? 

Sophie Long wasn't quoting anyone else's language there. It was entirely her own woke-pleasing language. 

When caught in a tangled web of deceit you spin your 'unspun world' to us and hope we'll fall for it like careless flies. 

And why wouldn't we? You can sound so plausible, tempting us into your parlour.

I'm so glad I've access to tools like TVEyes and Newsniffer to help me glimpse you in action, spinning away like hyperactive, licence-fee-gobbling spiders.

More fake history from the BBC

History Debunked's Simon Webb has a new video out about how history is being faked for woke reasons and how the BBC sometimes simply swallows and regurgitates such fake history.

It's very obvious from Googling around that some 'journalist' at the BBC, back in 2017, simply Googled around too, read some revisionist 'black history' sites, wrote the following and got it published on the BBC website, where it still sits five years later under the headline BBC 100 Women: Nine things you didn't know were invented by women:
2. Caller ID and call waiting - Dr Shirley Ann Jackson 
Dr Shirley Ann Jackson is an American theoretical physicist, whose research from the 1970s is responsible for caller ID and call waiting. 
Her breakthroughs in telecommunications have also enabled others to invent the portable fax, fibre optic cables and solar cells. 
She is the first African-American woman to gain a PhD from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the first African-American woman to lead a top-ranked research university.
If you Google yourself, once you pass over those revisionist sites - which are clearly not interested in factual history - you discover that Caller ID was invented by a Greek-American man called Theodore Paraskevakos back in 1968-1971 and Call Waiting wasn't her invention either. And it's all goes downhill from there.

Hilariously, even Wikipedia debunks those fake historians - and, as a result, exposes the extreme copying-and-pasting of certain 'journalists' at the BBC - saying on its entry on the estimable Dr Jackson:
Although some sources claim that Jackson conducted scientific research while working at Bell Laboratories that enabled others to invent the portable fax, touch-tone telephone, solar cells, fiber optic cables, and the technology behind caller ID and call waiting, Jackson herself makes no such claim. Moreover, these telecommunications advancements significantly predated her arrival at Bell Labs in 1976, with these six specifically enumerated inventions actually occurring by others in the time frame between 1954 and 1970.

Dr Shirley Ann Jackson is clearly a brilliant scientist, even if she didn't do what the BBC says she did. Goodness knows what she'd make of this BBC 'journalism'.

It's not great that it's still there on the BBC website either. 

BBC fact-checkers really do need to start turning their focus onto the BBC itself. 

One to make Tim Harford gasp


We all mistakes, but the BBC's online report about the Nasa launch of its first rocket from an Australian commercial spaceport went through five versions and four edits - and eight hours! - before someone corrected a rather big numerical blunder.

But the data gathered in that time will help illuminate the secrets of star constellations 430 million light years away, says the chief executive of Equatorial Launch Australia, which runs the space centre. 
"Without getting too deep into the science, it was effectively a large X-ray camera looking at various... phenomenon and trying to capture parts of boulders in the Milky Way and particularly the star cluster of Alpha Centauri," Michael Jones told the local network Nine.
But the data gathered by the mission's X-ray camera in that time will help illuminate the secrets of Alpha Centauri A and B, the closest double-star system to Earth that is located just 4.3 light-years away.

The earlier figure is a mere 100,000,000 times more than the correct figure. 

The title of Radio 4's statistics show More or Less springs to mind. This was definitely 'More'. A LOT 'More'.

That it took eight hours and many editorial revisions to finally realise this and rectify it beggars belief in an organisation so big and so well-funded.

So what happened next?

It only seems like yesterday, but was actually two days ago, that I wondered aloud whether the BBC's capitulation to a complainant's call for the Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA) to be labelled when introduced (e.g. as 'free-market') would lead to think tanks from other parts of the political spectrum receiving similar treatment. 

I specifically mentioned BBC favourite the Resolution Foundation. 

Well, the BBC is making headline news of another Resolution Foundation report today under the headline Levelling up to cost billions more than government thinks, says think tank and, no, there's not a label in sight in that article. It's simply 'the Resolution Foundation' and 'the think tank'. 

Much as could have been guessed. 

Other media outlets go with 'left-leaning'.

Not to be used

Language over abortion is clearly tricky, especially if you're broadcaster like the BBC with commitments to impartiality on such issues. The BBC News website report Roe v Wade: The world reacts to US abortion ruling, first published on Saturday, really went out of its way to cover all bases. It used 'pro-abortion' and 'pro-choice' and 'reproductive rights' campaigners' and 'gender justice activists' for one side and 'anti-abortion' and 'pro-life' for the other side. Suddenly today one of those phrases was removed and replaced...and I bet you can guess which one [click to enlarge].
And, at much the same time, a newer report Abortion care summit brings clinic buffer zones closer has now seen an identical edit [another enlarging click needed]:
Perhaps the most surprising thing here is that some BBC journalists were using the phrase in the first place.

Update, 12:30 - The latter article has been amended again now and 'pro-choice' added twice. Someone's working hard to 'make amends' on that article!

“And right on cue, here comes Greta Thunberg!”

Julie Burchill is such a good writer. She's written a brilliantly funny piece about Glastonbury for The Spectator. There's even a passage about the BBC:
Though I don’t like festivals in general because of their subterranean standards of hygiene, Glasto is more irritating than all others because of its political pretensions. Its symbiotic relationship with the similarly Palestine-pandering, Brexit-hating BBC is a notable one, to the extent that it appears to be the foremost annual works outing; before Covid they sent a whopping 300 staff there, more than they did to the World Cup. I daresay it’ll have been roughly the same this year, after which these parasites will go back to piously detailing the poverty of those who have to choose between ‘eating and heating’ while blithely ignoring the burden the TV licence puts on the poorest - between ‘looking and cooking’ perhaps.



One of the things you can do with TVEyes is check for the use of a particular word on a particular channel over a specific period of time. 

For instance, since June began till the time of writing this post [6am, Monday 27 June], there were 170 results for the word 'insisted' on the BBC News Channel. 

If you go through them and remove all the results that aren't comments made by BBC reporters/presenters - e.g. ones where non-BBC interviewees or children talking of their parents, etc - that shrinks to 161 uses. Then if you count the individual times the word is used about a specific person/organisation/government you might see patterns emerge. 

Here then are all the uses of 'insisted' by BBC journalists/presenters over the course of some 26 days this June:

Boris Johnson/The Prime Minister - 52
President Zelenskyy - 7
The Royal Household/Clarence House - 6
Royal officials - 17
The Government - 2
Priti Patel/The Home Secretary - 24
The Home Office - 1
Kwasi Kwarteng/The Business Secretary - 6
The RMT union - 3
Grant Shapps/The Transport Minister - 6
Naomi Long/ Alliance Party leader - 3
Gatwick Airport - 4
Donald Trump - 3
Therese Coffey, Work and Pensions Secretary - 3
Liz Truss, Foreign Secretary - 2
Brandon Lewis, NI Secretary - 8
The Kremlin - 1
Iran - 1
Breakaway golf tournament organisers - 2
Gotabaya Rajapaksa, Sri Lanka president - 4
Jim Fitton, British geologist accused of breaking Iraqi law - 1
The Queen, in a joke by Rod Stewart  quoted by the BBC - 1
Gustavo Petro, new Colombian president - 2
Liverpool FC - 1
The French authorities overseeing Champions League match - 1

As you can see, it's overwhelmingly the UK Government and the UK Royal Family that's been 'insisting' things so far this month, with Boris 'insisting' most of all. 

'Insisted' is, of course, potentially a neutral word describing someone stating something assertively, but - as in the example used by Merriam-Webster above - it can carry connotations of someone asserting something defensively. As I've written before, my ears always prick up at the BBC's use of the word "insisted" as (to me) it usually implies 'over-defensive pleading by someone the BBC thinks is wrong'. 

And the above list is largely - though not exclusively - a list of BBC 'wrong-uns', isn't it? You'll spot lots of government ministers but no-one from the Labour Party, plus Donald Trump but no Joe Biden.

Revealing, or not?

Update, 8.07am: By coincidence, I just put on Radio 4 and literally within 10 seconds heard another 'insisted', this time from the BBC's Ben Wright. "While ministers insist the plan is legal Labour says unilateral actions would break international law," insisted Ben.

For some

BBC Sport seems keen to keep on taking the knee to trangender activists. They have a piece on the impact of periods on female tennis players because for some women it can cause “mental stress”. Of course, that's not quite how the BBC put it when promoting the story on Twitter:

Sunday, 26 June 2022

On BBC self-congratulation

Also on this week's Radio 4 Media Show, Roger Mosey talked of the need for “a broader accountability” and how the BBC needs to prove it, rather than just asserting it and simply patting itself on the back:
Of course, Tim Davie has said there is problem, so the BBC does believe there is a problem. And I think when you refer back to Brexit and the BBC making statements saying it's all jolly good, I'd just like the accountability about that. I'd like some examination of it. And all we see in the BBC annual report is 'the Brexit coverage was rather marvellous, and so's the 2019 general election coverage'. And my question is: Was it? If you believe public service really matters, as I do, you have to make it better. And the BBC's supposed to be, not just where the market is, it's supposed to be better than the market.
And Ofcom's Kevin Bakhurst - the BBC's regulator - agreed, saying:
I don't think it's always really helpful that the knee jerk is 'we're already doing a brilliant job'. I think it's better sometimes to look at the evidence, which is what we do as an independent regulator, and see where you could make improvements.

Into the Labyrinth again

Just checking through our archive for our use of the word 'labyrinthine' - plus 'labyrinth' - to describe the BBC's tortuous complaints process, I find I've used it in five posts over the years - in 2013, 2014, 2017 and 2019.

So it's gratifying to find that a former BBC head of news, Roger Mosey, and Ofcom's Kevin Bakhurst, both used exactly the same term to describe the BBC complaints process on this week's The Media Show on BBC Radio 4.

It feels like vindication.

Roger Mosey described the BBC as being “rather bad at accountability”:
Roger Mosey: And now I'm outside the BBC you see that accountability is really important, and it's very crucial for the BBC that it is accountable. I think it's rather bad at accountability really. The complaints process is very complicated. I've only ever...Since I've been outside I've made one complaint in eight and a half years. And I know the system. And you just got stuck in this labyrinth of not being able to work out how it was that you got anyone to acknowledge that there was a genuine issue there. 

And former BBC high-up now their regulator Kevin Bakhurst said that people get lost in the process and don't like the tone of the BBC's responses and “give up the ghost” - and also rather deliciously skewers a BBC 'defence' here:

Ros Atkins, BBC: But help me dig into the detail here. And, Kevin, you're the one making the request. So let me ask you, if I Google now 'BBC Complaints' I'm quite easily gonna end up on a page which says 'What would you like to say to us?', so the problem is presumably not that. The problem for you is what happens after that? 

Kevin Bakhurst: I mean, our research shows audiences can Google it and find their way in really, really easily and quickly, and they approve of that. And, by the way, in general they approve of BBC First as the right way to deal with complaints. However, once they get into that system, they get lost. And, as Roger says, it is really labyrinthine for audiences. That's what our research shows. They are not quite sure where they are in the process, they don't like the tone of language they get in responses from the BBC, many of them...when we were discussing this with the BBC, the BBC said, well, you know, it's a measure of our success that people don't come through to Ofcom that much at the end. Our research shows people don't come through to Ofcom because they've given up the ghost going through the BBC complaints process, and don't really understand where they are or how to advance them.

 As we've long said.

The Media Show

I've belatedly caught up with this week's The Media Show where Ros Atkins talked to Ofcom's Kevin Bakhurst; Owen Meredith of the News Media Association; former BBC head of news Roger Mosey; and Alice Enders of Enders Analysis.

Various thoughts flitted across my mind while listening to it, e.g. I tutted when Ros said:
But on the broader issue of complaints. Here's a statement today from the BBC - and, by the way, we did invite the BBC onto the programme, but they've sent us a statement.
It's always a little daft when the BBC declines to speak to itself.

This led into my next thought, concerning Ros's role in the programme. One admirable quirk of the BBC, especially during John Humphrys or Eddie Mair's interviews with BBC people during times of crisis for the BBC, was that BBC interviewers can go in surprisingly hard on the BBC. One DG, George Entwistle, had to go after a particularly high-temperature John Humphrys roasting. Maybe it was because the BBC weren't there to stick up for themselves that Ros played the part of BBC defender so strongly - i.e. for professional reasons, and reasons of fairness and balance - but he did seem to take certain things personally and put considerable energy - and what sounded like conviction - into sticking up for the BBC.

Anyhow, there were some interesting exchanges during the programme...which will follow in the next few posts...

Radio 3 v GB News

Any regular listeners to BBC Radio 3 will be familiar with Dr. Matthew Sweet, presenter of its film music programme Sound of Cinema and its late night discussion programme Free Thinking. Here he is on Twitter today calling for Ofcom to investigate GB News:
  1. I think it's time for Ofcom to investigate GB News for spreading anti-vax misinformation. It's Naomi Wolf again, building another conspiracy theory from data she doesn't understand - this time about recent neonatal deaths rather than Victorian legal records.
  2. In this interview Mark Steyn accepts her false claims about a rise in neonatal deaths in Ontario as truth and amplifies them. Then he agrees with her proposition that Bill Gates has bribed the BBC into suppressing the facts about it. Here are the facts.
  3. She then makes some defamatory allegations about an Office of National Statistics employee, who, she says, conceded that he had lied to the public. I recall the exchange from her now-defunct twitter feed, and how patiently he tried to explain why she was wrong.
  4. Then she makes a false claim about vaccines and sperm count. That one is fact-checked here. She speaks, in obscenely sensationalist language, about neonatal deaths in Scotland, and accuses the BBC of misreporting the story.
  5. Dr Wolf cranks her tombola of messianic ignorance for a good few minutes. Steyn nods it all through and then thanks her for her splendid work. To my mind all of this fails to meet some very basic journalistic standards. It went out on 23 June.
  6. So what should we do about this? A complaint to Ofcom I suppose - form below. But I can't help feeling it needs a more co-ordinated approach. A conspiracy theory/misinformation debunking service that could deal with this stuff as it arises in the media.
And here's the interview in question:


Lock him up!

You've got to hand it to whoever at the BBC selected the photo of Prince Charles here. They couldn't have chosen a better one to make him look shifty. From that photo, he's clearly got a guilty conscience. 

A “tight-knit cabal at the top of BBC News who give tacit approval to gender ideology”

Further to a post here from over a week ago, the Sunday Telegraph is reporting the comments of a “whistleblower” regarding the corporation's recent use of Global Butterflies, a trans organisation, for training BBC staff. The Telegraph's headline sums up the story like this:
BBC staff told there are more than 150 genders and urged to develop ‘trans brand’
Material provided to radio staff by Global Butterflies, a transgender group drafted in by corporation for training sessions last year
The “whistleblower” - “a senior staff member who recently quit the corporation” (ed - so ex-BBC, which is slightly disappointing. Why didn't they blow their whistle while still at the BBC?) -  claims that the BBC was “suppressing stories” that ran counter to trans activism and claims there is a “tight-knit cabal at the top of BBC News who give tacit approval to gender ideology”. 

Here are further quotes from the article:
  • “The BBC simply doesn’t understand what’s going on with gender identity ideology. They’ve been pandering to a social contagion amongst young people rather than being the adult in the room.”
  • “‘Inform and educate’ from the BBC Charter has left the BBC when it covers trans issues.”
  • “Stories from the ‘gender critical’ – pro-woman, pro-safeguarding – point of view are being pitched by individuals, but they are rejected because the top of news won’t commission them.”
  • “Any story that doesn’t affirm gender ideology originates from outside the news cabal and when it appears it’s always sent upstairs, heavily scrutinised, triple checked – whilst gender affirmative stories go straight to output.”
  • “And there’s a complete lack of understanding at the most senior BBC editorial levels that pronoun declarations align with a belief in gender identity ideology.”
The BBC spokesman quoted - “The BBC declined to say how much the Global Butterflies training cost, but it has now cut its ties with the group” - strikes a typical tetchy note:
Third party voluntary training material does not instruct BBC staff, but is available to increase awareness and understanding. There is no link to, or influence on, any editorial decision making and to suggest otherwise is wrong. As we have said many times before, the BBC’s Editorial Guidelines are sacrosanct, our staff know this and they understand their responsibilities.

Well, this former BBC “whistleblower” says otherwise.