It's raining and blowing a lukewarm gale outside, Morecambe F.C. are being held 1-1 at home by Portsmouth (having blown a penalty opportunity) and I've got a few spare minutes, so what better time to read a fine article about BBC bias from a former BBC producer, Scott Grønmark, at The Salisbury Review?
(I do like ex-BBC insider pieces).
Scott wonders, "Why does the corporation keep doing things seemingly designed to confirm right-wing conspiracy theories?"
His suspicion is that it's something to do with "malfunctioning feedback loops".
And what explains those "malfunctioning feedback loops"?
Well, his first answer is that while he worked (for 12 years) at the BBC he found very few right-wing employees at the corporation:
Of the dozens of news journalists I worked with, I can think of only four who, either openly or secretly, admitted to being conservatives. My instinct at the time was that at least 90 per cent of my colleagues were leftists of one sort or another – possibly 95 per cent. In that sort of overwhelmingly liberal atmosphere, it’s no wonder that conservatives keep their politics secret for fear of damaging their careers.
And many of those "leftists" - including managers - display open contempt for the Right. (He provides several vivid examples from his own personal experience).
What's his second answer to the question at hand?:
You might imagine that employees would receive feedback about bias direct from right-wingers they meet in the real world – I certainly heard enough complaints from non-media types when I worked there. But urban leftists tend to socialise almost exclusively with their own dirigiste kind. I suspect most BBC news staff assume – despite the evidence of polls suggesting 45 per cent of the electorate lean to the right – that right-wingers are similarly rare in wider society, and that they resemble the cartoonish figures featured in BBC news stories – the truffle pigs of the banking world, the blazered bluff coves of UKIP, the knuckle-draggers of the EDL etc. You and I know that the vast majority of Tory and UKIP supporters are perfectly nice, kindly, unextreme people – but the average BBC producer probably doesn’t.
His third answer?:
This perception of right-wingers as a tiny minority of greedy racists who enjoy seeing the poor suffer is reinforced by the fact that the most important potential source of feedback – Conservative voters – hardly ever complain to the BBC about bias. A paedophile presenter scandal, an insult to the Queen, or cruel on-air phone calls to a much-loved comedy actor will light up the switchboard. No doubt they also get upset about the make-up of Question Time panels or the way John Humphrys never lets a Tory minister answer a question without interruption. But as they don’t descend on Broadcasting House clasping flaming torches – or even send a complaining email – the BBC assumes Middle England is content.
As for criticism from what the BBC invariably calls the right-wing press, well, those papers are all mouthpieces for wicked capitalist robber-barons and – unlike, say, the Guardian – are hopelessly biased and can therefore safely be ignored.
Finally, you might imagine the consciences of senior managers – all honourable men, as I said – would cause them sleepless nights. But as they know they aren’t part of a sinister conspiracy (there really aren’t any secret meetings to plot Labour’s return to power), they feel no guilt. Besides, left-wing views confer on the holder a delicious, unshakeable sense of being on the side of the angels. Even if you suspect that providing a constant diet of anti-Israel stories and US political coverage suggesting the centre of the solar system is located in the vicinity of Barack Obama’s backside might not represent true balance, you can tell yourself you’re helping to create a better, fairer, cuddlier world.
Unless the Right can think of ways of making the BBC’s feedback loops work effectively, or the BBC spontaneously recognises its responsibilities to license-fee payers who don’t share its equalitarian instincts, Europe’s most significant left-liberal broadcaster will continue – shamelessly – to dress to the left.Very well worth a read. See if you agree with it.