Wednesday 17 July 2013

Doing the decent thing

Spot the difference time.

Here's Adam Withnall writing in The Independent:
Former health secretary Alan Johnson said there was “reluctance” in the NHS to make its biggest mistakes public under Labour, while the party tabled a motion saying the problems had got worse under the coalition “since May 2010”.
Speaking to BBC Four’s Today programme, Mr Johnson said there was a “resistance to recording harms - when something terrible happens even to the extent of amputating the wrong limb”. He said it happened “very rarely but nevertheless there was a reluctance to make this public”.

Despite these acknowledgements he said that the criticism from the Conservative party represented a “political operation”, and said this contrasted directly with the “statesmanlike and fair” way it had presented the report into the failings of the Mid Staffordshire Trust in 2010.
And here's Rowena Mason and Laura Donnelly of the Daily Telegraph reporting on the very same interview:
The NHS was reluctant to reveal mistakes that caused harm to patients under Labour, Alan Johnson, a former health secretary has admitted.
Mr Johnson acknowledged some failings in the NHS started under Labour's watch amid a furious political row about who is to blame for the scandal of poor care at British hospitals.

Speaking on BBC Radio Four's Today programme, Mr Johnson argued that Labour had been forced to rebuild the NHS after decades of neglect. He pointed out that a review by Lord Darzi under Labour had identified a need to focus on quality. But he also acknowledged that there was a "resistance for instance to recording harms - when something terrible happens even to the extent of amputating the wrong limb".
He said this happened "very rarely but nevertheless there was a reluctance to make this public".
"We must focus on this remorselessly," he said.
Compare those takes with the BBC News website's reporting of exactly the same interview and you won't fail to spot the difference:
The Conservatives are trying to "re-write" history about the performance of hospitals during Labour's years in power, an ex-health secretary has said.
Alan Johnson told the BBC that a "political operation" was going on to discredit Labour's record on the NHS.

Mr Johnson, who was health secretary between 2007 and 2009, said the Conservatives' arguments had changed since the publication earlier this year of the Francis report into the 2008 Stafford Hospital care scandal - which attributed no blame to politicians.
"There is a political operation going on here," he told BBC Radio 4's Today programme.
"Contrary to what happened over Stafford, when the prime minister presented the Francis report in a very statesmanlike and fair way.
"Something has happened between Francis and Keogh that is almost trying to re-write the Francis report."
Both the Independent and the Telegraph make Mr Johnson's admission that Labour did make some mistakes their main angle. They both, however, also report Mr Johnson's criticisms of the Conservatives.

The BBC, in complete contrast, turns Mr Johnson's criticism of the Conservatives into their main angle. Moreover, they make it their only angle. 

Yes, the BBC account omits all of Alan Johnson's admissions about Labour's mistakes. 

OK, maybe the Indie and the Torygraph articles are biased against Labour (the Telegraph one certainly is), but at least they also have the decency to report Mr Johnson's comments in the round. The BBC article has no such decency. It gives every impression of being completely biased in the other direction.

Whatever shenanigans the Conservatives and their supporters in the press may have got up to in recent days, that still takes nothing away from the fact that this is a clear and unambiguous example of BBC bias. 

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