Monday 9 June 2014

BBC bias proved, once and for all

The other thing that shocked me tonight was the astonishing contrast between the way the BBC and ITV reported the 'Trojan Horse' story - in the wake of Ofsted's report - on their respective main evening news bulletins [i.e. the news programmes that most people watch]. 

Now, if you want clinching proof of BBC bias - and blogs like this are always after that particular Holy Grail - then this, it seems to me, is finally it....

....yes, clinching proof that the BBC deliberately downplays the dangers posed by Muslim extremism.

Please take a quarter of an hour to read in full the transcripts below. 

You will see how the BBC downplays the 'hardline Muslim' threat, in contrast to ITV (which doesn't). 

The bias is not in doubt. The evidence is too strong. The case is proved. The BBC is guilty. Is the BBC biased? and Biased BBC can pack up and go home, job done. QED. 

Note, for starters, how long it takes - respectively - for the two channels to bring in the Muslim angle to the story - the angle which makes the story so highly-charged. ITV mentions it straight away (13 words in), while the BBC holds off for a good couple of minutes (175 words in). 

That's proof enough perhaps. [As is the frankly bizarre use of the unspecific phrase "hardline extremists" in the BBC's headlines, minus the obviously-informative-and-relevant word 'Muslim']. 

Immediately, ITV hits us with the main charge, quoting the head of Ofsted: 
"There's been an organised campaign to target certain schools in Birmingham in order to impose a narrow faith-based ideology". 
i.e. there is a big story here - a Muslim plot.  

The BBC's headlines, in sharp contrast, skirt around that and move on instead to the BBC's own preferred angle: The wounded feelings of offended Muslims. 

Everyone - from the newsreader to Reeta to Nick Robinson - then reinforces the message that there's no Muslim plot here, nothing to see here, move along, move along. 

Yes, 'the wounded feelings of offended Muslims' really is the BBC's preferred angle. The headlines spotlight it and Reeta Chakrabarti's report - the main report - is largely focused on it. 

ITV's first report does a good job of reporting the day's event: The report's findings, the responses. The BBC's first report, in contrast, bangs on [to a quite absurd degree] about how aggrieved some of Birmingham's Muslims feel about all this. 

For ITV the Ofsted report is 'the story'. For the BBC, however, the hurt feelings of some Birmingham Muslims is 'the story'. 

ITV's Lucy Manning and Rupert Evelyn spotlight those who agree with today's report [a 4:1 ratio]. In contrast, Reeta Chakrabarti spotlights those who disagree with today's reports [a 2:5 ratio] - a contrast that couldn't be clearer. 

Yes, the BBC did give us "Third boy pupil at Park View" (see below - good lad!) and a complaining, context-fee sick-leave-bound headteacher [huh?], but, otherwise, you might be easily forgiven (and granted absolution) for believing that Reeta & the BBC were wanting you to share the pain of those aggrieved Muslim parents, pupils, trustees, and other Muslim parents, and wanting you to dismiss the concerns that Ofsted, Michael Gove, Andrew Gilligan, Damian Thompson, and many of us, have about this. 

Were it not for Nick Robinson's very brief mention of 'wot Michael Gove said' the BBC could be convicted here of ignoring all the head-spinning evidence of Muslim malpractice in Birmingham's schools. ITV News provided yet more evidence for such Muslim malpractice tonight. The BBC chose not to. 

Please take a read of the transcripts below. Can you defend the BBC here? 


Newsreaders: The damning verdict on the schools at the centre of an alleged Muslim plot. Inspectors claim there is a culture of fear and intimidation that needs to be tackled.
Sir Michael Wilshaw, Ofsted: There's been an organised campaign to target certain schools in Birmingham in order to impose a narrow faith-based ideology.
One of the schools involved rejects the claim made. Tonight the Education Secretary calls for British values to be taught in schools.  

Newsreaders: Good evening. Ofsted delivered a damning verdict today on the Birmingham schools at the centre of an alleged takeover plot by hardline Muslims. It found a culture of fear and intimidation. Headteachers were forced from their jobs and at one school arts and music were removed from the curriculum. The Education Secretary, Michael Gove, said children were exposed to things they shouldn't have been exposed to. Five schools are now being placed in special measures. A sixth had already been 'failed' by Ofsted. The schools rejected today's findings saying they are simply 'not true'. Our first report today comes from our UK Editor, Lucy Manning.

Lucy Manning: Across Birmingham, schools under suspicion. The fear? Islamic extremism in the classroom. The verdict? Some schools now rated inadequate and put into special measures; that there is a culture of fear and intimidation; headteachers reporting an organised campaign to target schools and impose religious views. 21 schools across the city were investigated by Ofsted and the Education Funding Authority. Five schools were placed in special measures. A sixth was  already in them. Ofsted found that headteachers has been "marginalised or forced out of their jobs" and some governors were "narrowing the curriculum, manipulating staff appointments and using school funds inappropriately to impose a narrow, faith-based ideology". Oldknow Academy was found to have organised a school trip to Saudi Arabia "exclusively for Muslim staff and pupils" and at Park View inspectors find the curriculum "restricted to a conservative Islamic perspective". 
Sir Michael Wilshaw, Ofsted: Some of our findings are deeply worrying and in some ways quite shocking. While a number of these schools are doing well and providing their children with a good, well-rounded education, there are others that give cause for grave concern. In the most serious cases a culture of fear and intimidation has taken grip since the schools were last inspected.
Ofsted found that in some schools girls and boys weren't being treated equally. Some girls at Park View, scared to be identified, said teachers were discriminating against them.
1st Girl pupil at Park View: We had a tennis tournament and they sent the girls home just because there were male instructors, and stuff. He said the girls are was it?
2nd Girl pupil at Park View: Revealing.
1st Girl pupil at Park View: Yeah, the girls are too revealing. I don't see...There was only four of the girls, and how can you say that about us, just because there were nine boys.
But the school trust said the inspectors' conclusions were truly shocking.
David Hughes, Vice-Chair, Park View Educational Trust: The problem here is not extremism or segregation or religious indoctrination - all the things that Ofsted looked for and failed to find in our schools. The problem here is the knee-jerk actions of some politicians that have undermined the great work that we do here and undermined community cohesion.
At Oldknow Academy inspectors found it 'outstanding' for teaching but 'inadequate' overall because it was told phrases like "white prostitute" were used in assemblies and some activities were banned for being "unIslamic". The Education Secretary said Birmingham's children were exposed to things they shouldn't have been exposed to.
Michael Gove MP: We will put the promotion of British values at the heart of what every school has to deliver for children. What we have found is unacceptable and we will put it right.
But the schools insist they don't tolerate or promote extremism and that Ofsted didn't find it. In the middle of all this pupils sit their exams with questions raised over the education the received. Lucy Manning, ITV News, Birmingham

Newsreaders: At the heart of Ofsted's criticisms is the serious failure by the council and the schools to protect children from extremist views. Rupert Evelyn has heard from one pupil at the Park View Academy who says such views became a regular part of school life.

Rupert Evelyn: Consistently denied by governors and management it is now a matter of public record that Park View Academy has been delivering an 'inadequate' education. 
Rupert Evelyn [to Park View governor, Tahir Alam]: What do you make of the report into your schools? Many of your pupils say you have been segregating students. Your answer is to deny everything. Is that still the case?
Tahir Alam chairs the Park View Trust. Ofsted says he has an inappropriate role in the school. He refuses to respond. Many are afraid to speak out but one pupil told us the culture inside the school favoured Islam. 
Boy pupil at Park View: In one assembly, like, a year ago, they told us that they're going to get rid of all the Christian...not Christian but, like, non-Muslim teachers and replace them with Muslim teachers because, somehow, it helps us learn better, or something like that.
Evidence of radical thinking has been found inside a student newsletter shown to ITV News. It says,
With major terrorist events like 9/11 and 7/7...these so-called Muslim bombers are just scapegoats for Western media to persecute or instigate persecution. 
As soon as the headteacher saw it it was destroyed. The promotion of an Islamic agenda, using derogatory words for non-believers, some of many concerns for one former member of staff.
Ex-Park View staff member: The children feel pressured into know, all these posters going up on the wall: 'If you do not pray you're worse than a kaffir'. But, you know, how does that make the non-Muslims there feel about themselves?
Despite everything, many in this community still support the school.
Sheraz Chohan, parent: I've spoken to most of the teachers and I've haven't come across any issues. They've always been helpful for the children.
Park View is still run by those who Ofsted investigated. The status quo is unchanged. For now. Rupert Evelyn, ITV News, Birmingham.

Newsreaders: OK, let's return then to our UK editor, Lucy Manning. So, Lucy, what does the Education Secretary want done about these findings?
Lucy Manning: Well, Michael Gove's answer to this is to cut funding, to replace the governors at the schools they have concerns about, also to have inspections without giving warning. At one school it's thought that a lesson on Christianity was put on because they knew the inspectors were coming. And there is this potentially more controversial issue of 'promoting British values in schools', which begs the question, 'Just what are British values?' Speaking with some of the pupils here at the gates today they ask me, 'Well, what do people mean by 'extremism'?' And I think that is the key question. Now the inspectors didn't find any evidence that extremist views were being taught in the classroom. What they did find is that there was a narrow, religious view being imposed, and I think they there is an acceptance nationally and locally that this hasn't been dealt with quickly enough.


Newsreader: The Chief Inspector of Schools in England delivered a damning verdict on the way some schools are run in Birmingham. Five in the city are placed in special measures after claims of infiltration by hardline extremists.
Sir Michael Wilshaw, OfstedIn the most serious cases a culture of fear and intimidation has taken grip since the schools were last inspected.
But at one of the schools parents say inspectors came looking for extremism and found absolutely no evidence of it:
Arshad Malik, parent: There is a failing in the process of Ofsted or they've come back here with a political agenda to look for certain things to fit a narrative.
Tonight the Education Secretary says that he wants all schools in England to promote British values to tackle the problem.

Newsreader: Good evening and welcome to the BBC News at Six. The Chief School Inspector for England has issued a damning verdict on how some schools in Birmingham has been run. Five have been put into special measures today as the Chief Inspector reported back from his investigation into claims of hardline Muslim takeovers. He said there was evidence of an organised campaign to 'target certain schools and change their character and ethos'. He pointed to 'a culture of fear and intimidation' in some schools where some headteachers have been marginalised or forced out of their jobs. He also said that there had been a 'sudden and deep decline' in some school standards. The claims have been firmly rejected by leaders of one of the schools. Well, Reeta Chakrabarti is in Birmingham for us now. Reeta?

Reeta Chakrabarti: Well, Sophie, I'm here at Park View School, one of the schools at the centre of the allegations. It's all quite quiet here now but all day feelings have been running very high. This is a community that never invited the spotlight, and there are many here who feel they've been unfairly judged. But not all.

Birmingham's schools have endured months of leaks and rumours about radicalisation and extremism. Today, a damning verdict for five of them, with Ofsted condemning a 'culture of fear and intimidation' that was 'quite shocking'.
Sir Michael Wilshaw, Ofsted: Some headteachers, including those with a proud record of raising standards, have been marginalised or forced out of their jobs. This has left a vacuum in which schools previously rated 'good' or 'outstanding' have suffered enormous staff turnovers, a collapse in morale and a rapid decline in their overall effectiveness.
Ofsted said there'd been a deliberate attempt to change the ethos of the schools, with the curriculum being narrowed and an exclusively Muslim culture in non-faith schools. Outside one of them today, Park View, opinions were sharply divided as to what was going on.
First boy pupil at Park View: In 2001, the people achieving A star to C was only 57% but now, in luck, it's 76%, so that's a real achievement, so the haters, the people who are against the school, they don't want us to do well in this deprived area.
Second boy pupil at Park View: We do have Islamic assemblies but they, like, just teach lessons like 'be nice to one another', 'be nice to your parents', and so on. It's not like we have some courses on how to make bombs and all sorts of stuff.
First boy pupil at Park View: In this school they say, 'If you sit with the girls you will be lucky to work better'.
Reeta Chakrabarti to third boy pupil at Park View (not previously seen): He says you could sit with the girls.
Third boy pupil at Park View: You can, you can. But you can't, like, have a girlfriend or have a boyfriend. You can't do any of that.
First boy pupil at Park View: Yeah, that's true, and in Islam you can't have a girlfriend and boyfriend either, so...
Third boy pupil at Park View: Yeah but it's not an Islamic school!
Reeta Chakrabarti to third boy pupil at Park View: And it feels like one does it?
Third boy pupil at Park View: Yeah, it does feel like an Islamic school but it's not supposed to be an Islamic school. It's an academy.
Arshad Malik, parentThere is something wrong that two years ago a school that has been rated as outstanding in all the different sections of the report 18 months later has been classed as inadequate. There is is failing in the process of Ofsted or they've come back here with a political agenda to look for certain things to fit a narrative.
Earlier their teachers expressed anger their school, which was found to be 'outstanding' by inspectors two years ago, was now graded 'inadequate'. 
David Hughes, Vice-Chair, Park View Educational Trust: Ofsted inspectors came to our schools looking for extremism, looking for segregation, looking for proof that our children have religion forced upon them as part of an Islamic plot. The Ofsted report found absolutely no evidence of this because this is categorically not what is happening in our schools. 
At this school, Oldknow, Ofsted said a small group of governors has been promoting a 'narrow, faith-based ideology' with staff afraid to speak out, but it left one parent almost speechless with rage.
Shabina Bano, parent: Where do I start from? Last year this was 'outstanding', a "Trojan Horse" document that is now exposed as a hoax. You know, a baseless document has caused so much hysteria, and this school has just been dragged into it.
The school principal, currently on sick leave, said she had been targeted by a hostile governing body. 
Bhupinder Kondal, headteacher, Oldknow Academy: I am upset because I'm the principal of Oldknow Academy and I've been treated in this manner. It's disgraceful.
The Education Secretary today said that he would take decisive action. 
Michael Gove MP: Schools that are proven to have failed will be taken over, under new leadership, and taken in a fresh direction. Any school could now be subject to rigorous, on-the-spot inspections, with no advance warning and no opportunities to conceal failure. And we will put the promotion of British values at the heart of what every school has to deliver for children.
On today's evidence schools in Birmingham have been subject to an organised attempt, in some places, to entrench a conservative form of Islam, but whether or not that amounts to extremism will be hotly debated. 

Well, here in Birmingham we can now expect action to be be taken, including probably a change of management and leadership in those schools in special measures, but that isn't the end of the matter. There are two other major investigations still underway, including one led by a former counter-terror chief. So that question about how much of a threat these events really pose has still to be fully answered. Sophie.

Newsreader: Thank you very much. Well, our Political Editor, Nick Robinson, is in the Houses of Parliament for us now. Nick, what do you make of Michael Gove's response to this?
Nick Robinson: When he read out some of the allegations made by Ofsted - that girls were referred to as "white prostitutes", that a Saudi trip was done only for Muslim parents, that school funds were used to set up a madrasa - you could sense shock around the House of Commons, and yet Michael Gove, the Education Secretary, did not come up with evidence of...Ofsted have not come up with evidence for the original allegation, that there was a city-wide 'plot' by Muslim extremists to take over schools in Birmingham. Now, he says that there is still an enquiry going on by the former head of counter-terrorism for the Metropolitan Police - a man called Peter Clarke - into those allegations but it seems unlikely they will be fully proven. So he found himself guilty, his own department, of not doing enough and said he'd look at it. He found the city council guilty. He found the school inspectors Ofsted guilty as well. What now seems to be agreed in government is that not enough is being done to deal with what he calls 'non-violent extremism'. Labour are clear. It's a result, they say, of government reforms that give less control to local authorities. The government say, no, that isn't the problem but, as yet, they are not entirely clear what the solutions are.


  1. I grit the impression that the three boys in the BBC report had been well rehearsed in their comments; I noticed a guiding hand behind one boy,probably one of the others been interviewed but definitely been encouraged by the one to the right as they faced the camera.

    1. Something was definitely up there, Deborah.

      The first boy (with the incipient Hamas beard) was definitely spouting some rehearsed lines [by his family? his teachers?], as was the second boy [far too clever a line for a kid to say]. There was definitely some off-camera influences being brought to bear there.

      The third boy shot off message - and, typically for the BBC, was the ONLY one challenged by the BBC reporter. He was rather drowned out by the other three voices in that section of Reeta C's report, and she made sure she gave the 'It's all a conspiracy against us Muslims' guy the final word.

    2. absolutely smack on the money here. This is the whole problem with Aunty that its a state organ for propaganda. That's why I hate the BBC

  2. I absolutely agree that the BBC always bends over backwards to minimise the threat of fundamentalist attitudes being piped down our children's necks.

    Whether this is due to an institutional pro-Islamist bias, liberal 'leftishness' or just plain timidity is hard to tell - and frankly irrelevant.

    I'd suggest that there's a huge amount of timidity about it - no one there wants to risk their plump salaries or their favoured access by puting their heads above the parapet.

    But what's sauce for the goose, is sauce for the gander - could you seriously imagine the BBC broadcasting something like this ABC documentary today? ..


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