Sunday 8 September 2013

Who's dithering over Syria?

Biased BBC David Preiser has been patiently pursuing Mark Mardell, the BBC's North America editor, over the latter's agonised response to President Obama's twisting and turning over the issue of Syria. David's charge is that Mark Mardell is a very biased reporter who allows his opinions to show throw in report after report, and that he often acts as if he were Barack Obama's official defender-in-chief. 

I have to say that if there's one area where BBC bias is particularly clear it's over its coverage of U.S. politics and that David's posts and comments carefully demonstrating why that's the case have long been one of the highpoints of Biased BBC for years. The case he's been making against Mark Mardell seems to me to have been sealed long ago. 

For a chronological take on David's most recent posts and comments about Mark Mardell's reporting of the U.S. administration's stance on intervention in Syria, please click on the links below. (They go backwards in time).

David's writing about Syria reminds me of a series of comments I put on Biased BBC two and a half years ago in response to one of his critiques of Mark Mardell's less-than-impartial dithering over Libya, which shows that 'twas ever thus with Mark's reporting. 

You might also enjoy reading this trip down Memory Lane for its description of a little run-in I had with the BBC's blog moderators.  

  1. Craig says:
    Well, the moderators over at Mark Mardell’s blog are taking their sweet time deciding whether to publish a comment I put on there at midday today. It was never published and the message ‘This comment has been referred for further consideration’ has been up ever since.

    It was just a recycling of some comments I’ve made on David’s last couple of posts. What ‘house rules’ can it be breaking? Is it just censorship?

    For the record, this is the comment:

    This latest blog post is just extraordinary. What a volte-face from Mark!
    Answering his own question from the other day about whether President Obama had been “dithering” or “deliberating” – of course he’s been deliberating, despite what the critics say! – Mark presents a thorough-going justification for all Obama’s actions. Jay Carney, the White House spokesman, couldn’t have put a more positive gloss than Mark does here.  

    That the UN resolution is much tougher, ‘at America’s insistence’, than anything those “gung-ho”, “sabre-rattling” Brits and French were asking for, apparently, is a good thing, because it’s “practical”. Mark may have been pretty openly opposed to military intervention in Libya up till now but (a) because his beloved Obama’s policy and (b) because it’s gone through the sainted U.N. (hated by all those nasty conservatives), suddenly it’s a sensible policy.
    Mark’s other blog posts have left it very clear where this particular “impartial” BBC reporter stands on the issue at hand. Or did, before the president finally revealed his hand in favour of the policy Mark previously seemed so opposed to.
    Evidence? As well as the give away use in one post of “it may be grown up, it may be sensible in the long run”, i.e the U.S. administration’s apparent opposition to military intervention in Libya, in an earlier post Mark wrote:

    “A no-fly zone probably wouldn’t help the rebels an awful lot. But that is not its purpose. It would ease troubled souls in the West and satisfy those who feel something must be done without being over concerned about the consequences or logical implications of that something.”

    In other words, Mark was openly arguing that it was the wrong policy, merely useful for soothing a few restless, reckless. illogical Western consciences. It’s a “gesture” that is “more about self-validation than problem solving”. The French and the Brits are “gung-ho” over the policy. They want “Top Gun over Libya”, unlike the “earnest” Obama and his “concerned” spokesman, who don’t. Sorry, didn’t. 
  2. Craig says:
    An earlier post puts Mark’s position just as plainly, though he pretends to be reading the president’s mind:

    “I suspect the Obama administration sees it as rather a distraction, dramatic and headline-grabbing, but neither as effective as putting legal and financial pressure on Gaddafi’s henchman, nor as urgent as easing the crisis on the border.”

    In the article before that – the one about “Cameron’s no-fly zone fervour” – Mark openly criticizes the British prime minister’s “sabre-rattling”:

    “Mrs Clinton’s testimony made it clear she thought America should lead the world through what she called “smart power”.
    The UK still has to get used to a world where that doesn’t always imply smart missiles.”
    (Very little of this squares with impartiality of course.)
    What a difference a day makes!
    Nick Watt of the ‘Guardian’ writes that this UN resolution is a diplomatic triumph for David Cameron, who played a key role in the lobbying of the deeply divided US administration. 
    Wonder what Simon21 makes of all this.

    Craig says:March 19, 2011 at 7:20 am 
    Well, the mods published it sometime overnight, after at least ten hours of ”further consideration”. By that time a new Mark Mardell new post had been up for some time and was getting comments. If I’m being cynical, I would say they waited till the old thread ran out of stream and then, because it was safe to do so, published my highly critical comment. If that’s the case it’s a pretty shabby (if clever) way for BBC moderators to behave.

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