Saturday 3 November 2012

That missing edition

My survey of BBC Radio 4's Sunday covers the period from when the remaining 'Listen again' archive begins, on the 9th January 2011. Rather curiously, the first episode of 2011 (that from 2nd January) is unavailable to 'Listen again'. It's the only episode from that year which is AWOL and I've wondered why for some weeks, especially as it gives my survey a rather quirky-looking starting date. There's an outside possibility (he says, speculating!) that the controversy generated by that episode might have played some part in its unavailability. What exactly happened?

Well, Stephen Pollard of the Jewish Chronicle had this to say on the day:
I took part in Radio 4's Sunday programme this morning. To say I was flabbergasted by the report on the 10th anniversary of 9/11 is an understatement. Nick Cohen heard the show and here's his take - with which, needless to say, I agree completely.
Damian Thompson of the Telegraph joined in:
Nowhere in the BBC's output is Left-liberal bias more thickly applied than on Radio 4's Sunday programme. If you didn't think you could actually hear a lip curl, try listening to any of its "reports" that involve Christian conservatives. (The programme's heavily loaded discussion of Catholic issues during the Pope's visit was easily the low point of the BBC's otherwise good coverage.) Radical Islam, on the other hand? Let me refer you to a Spectator Coffee House post by Nick Cohen, who describes this morning's twisted little number far better than I could.
Likewise. So here's Nick Cohen himself, also writing on the 2nd Jan 2011:
Alas, whenever you believe that you have nailed British hypocrisy, the BBC comes along and proves that it is worse than you thought. If there were an award for intellectual cowardice, a gold medal for journalistic double standards, this morning’s effort by Radio 4 deserves it.
The BBC began its report (here 28 minutes in) on the 10th anniversary of 9/11 by saying that after the attack “some in the west felt personally threatened by Muslims. They believed that Muslims had nothing hatred for America and its allies.” Note how at once the BBC avoids discussion of radical Islam, which does indeed have nothing but hatred for the West, for the Jews, for the Hindus and for the free thinkers, atheists, agnostics, liberals, secularist and democrats. Hatred that is complemented by its loathing for those Muslims or ex-Muslims who do not share its fascistic values, and whom it is slaughtering and oppressing wherever it has the power to kill.
Instead of acknowledging radical Islam’s existence, the BBC politely ignores what was in front of its nose and implies that to oppose radical Islam is to incubate a racist hated of all Muslims.
The only fanatic it quotes is Pastor Jones, the Florida preacher who wanted to burn the Koran. He is a nasty piece of work, to be sure, but an insignificant figure whose global notoriety owes everything to media corporations such as the BBC. The fanaticism we should worry about is Christian fanaticism not Islamist fanaticism, the suggestion runs. At the very least there is a moral equivalence between the two. The BBC then mentions the 7/7 bombings, which as I remember them were perpetrated by men with “nothing but hatred for the West”. Instead of finding someone who can talk about the killings with honesty and intelligence, it drags up a vicar so wet you could wring him out. His contribution is to blame the media for “piling on the agony” – as if journalists were the suicide bombers – and to describe the atrocity in tellingly woozy and illiterate language as “something international,” when it was all too clearly “something domestic”.
I am glad to say that in the studio discussion afterwards, Stephen Pollard exploded. “The idea that there is some kind of equivalence of extremism” between a Florida pastor with a tiny congregation and a global clerical fascist movement was “fantasy,” he boomed.
Here is my first prediction for 2011. Radio 4 will not invite Mr Pollard back for a very long time.
What of that prediction of Nick Cohen's? (I love revisiting past predictions!) Did he get it right? He certainly did. Mr Pollard has, indeed, never been invited back onto Sunday

Kevin Bocquet
(not pronounced 'Bucket')

Unfortunately, I can find no transcriptions of the offending report by Kevin Bocquet, but a certain someone   - Sue of this parish no less! - had something powerful to say over at 'Biased BBC' at the time (which, incidentally, also proves highly germane to our discussion on the A response to a response thread):
Hooray. Three cheers for Yolande Knell’s report on the recent bomb attack in Egypt against Copts. A balanced report at last! She rectified the omissions we’ve been pointing out on B-BBC, and more. Listen to her report, then skip till just after halfway, when Kevin Bocquet starts his “analysis” of Islam v the West.
Boo. Kevin Bocquet undid all the promise of Yolande Knell’s integrity by reverting to obfuscation, moral equivalence and politically correct mumbo jumbo, and by the way, Muslims admire America, and modestly dressed women embrace free speech, particularly the freedom to praise the burka.
In particular Bocquet pitted all of fundamental Islam against Pastor Terry Jones as if they represented opposite examples of extremism. To him, Jones’s Koran-burning threat counterbalanced the whole of radical Islam’s terrorist attacks, treating them as though they were equal combatants in a philosophical, moral conflict.
The mind boggled till Stephen Pollard pointed out how ludicrous this and many other things in Kevin’s report were, only to be shusshhed by Ed “Holy book” Stourton, and again later when Pollard had the audacity to mention the upsurge of Islam-fuelled antisemitism on campus.
Indy/ Church Times columnist Paul Vallely mentioned intolerance, and Stourton assumed he was referring to Stephen Pollard. But he denied that. For a fleeting second I thought he was referring to the ROP. Silly me, he was referring to Stephen Pollard after all, albeit indirectly. He was, of course, alluding to our intolerance of Islam. 
I think I see what Helen Boaden meant about impartiality.
In the debate between God and the Devil, the BBC proudly sits on the fence. In the struggle between good and evil, they’re impartial. Tolerance is handed out to all indiscriminately.
Just as after some Islam-fuelled violence the Egyptian authorities round up equal numbers of Islamists and Christians for the political expediency of appeasing radical Islam, the BBC rounds up equal numbers of Muslims and non Muslims for balance, struggling over who to blame for Islam-fuelled discontent, forever locked into their impossible quest to resolve irreconcilable differences. 
Does Sunday have a long track record of 'moral equivalence' here? That's another question I will try to answer over the coming weeks.

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