Friday 31 October 2014

A cunning plan

The Greens are still hopping mad at the BBC for refusing to give them a spot in the general election leadership debates. Many a sympathetic left-winger has been petitioning, tweeting, blogging or writing articles in the nation press claiming that this shows right-wing bias at the BBC - especially as the hated UKIP are being given a spot (on ITV). 

Here, however, courtesy of the Telegraph's Michael Deacon, is a way to present all this as proof of the BBC's left-wing bias after all:

Seeing red over green bias at BBC
For decades now, many of the BBC’s critics have accused it of having a Left-wing bias.
I’d find it easier to dismiss these critics as conspiracy theorists if only the BBC didn’t seem so determined to prove them right – at least on the subject of the televised leaders’ debates. This is because Corporation executives are apparently refusing to allow the Green Party a slot – while at the same time offering one to Ukip and its leader Nigel Farage.
I can’t see why the BBC shouldn’t include the leaders of both parties; the more options the electorate is offered, the better for democracy. Of course, the party most threatened by the rise of the Greens is Labour.
The inference critics will draw is that the BBC is happy to split the Right, but not the Left. 

Almost The Lad Himself

There's much more to life than BBC bias. Honestly.

Don't believe me? Then please try The Missing Hancocks on Radio 4 - recreations of lost episodes from the original Galton and Simpson scripts, starring Kevin McNally as Tony Hancock (and doing a very good impersonation of him).

The first episode, The Matador, was broadcast today and certainly made me laugh. So much so that I feel it's my blogging duty to share some of its best gags with you, our loyal readers:

Tony Hancock: Well, doctor, what's the verdict?
Doctor: Well, I'm not going to beat around the bush. I may as well tell you straight out. You're a malingerer. Go away!
Tony Hancock: Yes, doctor.

Bill: Well, what did he say, Tubb?
Tony Hancock: I've got malingery. He says I've got to go away.
Bill: That's tough. Malingery. And you look so healthy. 
Tony Hancock: Well, that's always the way, William. A rose is always at its fullest bloom just before it's plucked. I'd suspected something was seriously wrong with me for a while now. My strength's going. I'm right off my food. 
Andrée: I've never seen you push your plate away.
Tony Hancock: Well, there you are you see. Shows how weak I'm getting. Who'd have believed it? Me, a malinger? I'm glad I gave my job up. I wouldn't want the lads at work to catch it.

Bill: Don't worry, Tubb, perhaps they can cure it. 
Tony Hancock: No, I've heard about this disease. You hang on for about sixty or seventy years. Then it strikes. 

Tony Hancock: No, I promised your mother I'd never let you go to Paris after that terrible thing that happened last time.
Bill: But I've never been to Paris.
Tony Hancock: No, but your mother has.

Tony Hancock: I'm scared Bill. I've never been up in an aeroplane before. 
Bill: You told me when you were on holiday in Southend you were whizzing around on an aeroplane all day.
Tony Hancock: But that was different. Andrée was following behind in a little bus while the man turned the handle. 

Pilot: Oh, you don't need to worry about me. I'm an experienced pilot. I went all through the Battle of Britain. You should have seen me throwing my spitfire all over the place, looping the loop, diving, chasing planes, firing bullets at them, all through the summer of 1948.

'Today' doesn't agree with Nick

Nick Clegg encouraged the BBC to give airtime to organisations that promote the legalisation of drugs including heroin, it was revealed yesterday.
Mr Clegg’s attempt to manipulate the BBC came in the hours before the official publication of the Home Office report. 
An aide working for the Deputy Prime Minister sent journalists on the flagship Radio 4 Today programme and other current affairs shows an email picking out the Lib Dems’ favoured passages, many of which amounted to arguments for decriminalisation.
Astonishingly, the email from special adviser Phil Reilly recommended that producers and reporters at the BBC and other broadcasters contact Niamh Eastwood of Release and Danny Kushlick of Transform.
Release, a charity founded in the 1960s to give legal and other help to drug users, is calling for the decriminalisation of drug possession offences in the UK. Transform, a charity, campaigns for the legalisation of drugs. 
It states on its website that ‘prohibition doesn’t work and never will’.
Today producers rejected the aide’s advice, instead interviewing Lib Dem home office minister Norman Baker, who wants drug laws relaxed, and Tory MP Michael Ellis, who is opposed to legalising drugs.
Good on Today!

Sunday 26 October 2014

All the people of the lulled and dumbfound state...

So, Dylan Thomas was big in Germany. 

Who knew? Former BBC Berlin correspondent - and Dylan Thomas fan - Steve Evans, that's who, and his Cold War Poet tonight on Radio 4 was fascinating.

John Humphrys won't like the tense I'm using here, but to begin at the beginning:

1954. Dylan Thomas is dead. The BBC has already posthumously broadcast his wonderful radio play Under Milk Wood. Seeking to spread British culture to the parts of post-war Germany under British control (the north-west), they commission an Austrian Jewish exile, Erich Fried, to translate Under Milk Wood into German. He translates it within a week, as requested. It becomes Unter dem Milchwald. A top-class German cast is employed to perform it and North West German Radio broadcasts it in the very same year as its British broadcast. It's a big hit. Two more broadcasts on the station follow that same year. The other German radio stations follows suit.

There's a thirst for literature in West Germany - post-war, post-the-Nazis. Paper is hard to come by. Radio rules. 1,300 radio dramas are broadcast around that time (1954-5), including hitherto hard-to-come-by British, French and American literature.

The rough but lyrical poetry of Dylan Thomas even gets through to unfree East Germany, where a vibrant underground poetry scene flourishes, against the efforts of the Stasi, wherever it can, whenever it can. His innovative, unplain poetry - bursting the state's anti-formalist taboos -  actually seems closer to life than the closed, political, official poetry of the dour communist state. 

Some of Dylan's deeply personal, unpolitical poems even make it into official poetry collections - partly, it seems, because he came from Wales and the GDR censors, therefore, assume he's working class and a poet for the people. And it may have helped that Erich Fried, who has kept on translating Thomas into German, is a socialist who makes several visits to the communist East. 

Well, that's enough historical present tense writing for the time being...or is it?
To begin at the beginning:
It is spring, moonless night in the small town, starless
and bible-black, the cobblestreets silent and the hunched,
courters'-and-rabbits' wood limping invisible down to the
sloeblack, slow, black, crowblack, fishingboatbobbing sea.
The houses are blind as moles (though moles see fine to-night
in the snouting, velvet dingles) or blind as Captain Cat
there in the muffled middle by the pump and the town clock,
the shops in mourning, the Welfare Hall in widows' weeds.
And all the people of the lulled and dumbfound town are
sleeping now.

John Simpson on the hard-done-by BBC, the 'rather likeable' Saddam Hussein and 'useless' UK leaders

Unless you read the Southern Daily Echo (and who doesn't?) you might have missed some comments made by the BBC's John Simpson (best known for liberating Kabul from the Taliban single-handed). He was giving at a talk at a fundraiser for Winchester Cathedral, but had some things to say about the BBC's funding too - and Saddam Hussein and the UK's leaders.

On the BBC, he thinks it is “in its last stages” because of funding cuts:
Cuts that we have been seeing will be nothing to the cuts that we are going to see, because the government will ensure that the license fee is cut back massively and this ten years will be the last effective as we know it. To continue it will have to take advertising and other ways of funding itself.
He says that British newspapers ‘have it in for’ the taxpayer-funded corporation with “story after story about the BBC’s waste of money”:
The people of this country would not agree with it, or the large numbers won’t, but there’s a desire to see the end of public service broadcasting paid for by the license fee.
As for Saddam, John Simpson said he “rather liked” him. According to the Echo's Charlotte Neal,
Mr Simpson also had the audience in fits of laughter after relaying an encounter with the Iraqi leader violently forcing an old man in the street to say he loved him.
It must be the well 'e tells 'em.  
"We are not talking about a liberal democrat politician here. I know it’s an ugly story but it does show a sense of humour, doesn’t it?”
Does it?

Charlotte continues, 
The outspoken journalist also said he tries not to “have an agenda” and thinks the UK’s leaders are “useless”.
I think Charlotte knows what she's up to with that sentence - and probably all her other sentences too. Maybe the Southern Daily Echo is out to get the BBC too.

A wolf in Armani

If I wake up early enough on a Sunday I enjoy listening to the radio 4‘s Profile. This morning, the clocks worked in the programme’s favour, and I listened with interest to the episode on Sir Andrew Green.

However I missed the previous episode about Hassan Rouhani so I thought I ought to listen to it on the iPlayer, to see if it would help me understand the BBC’s approach to  Sir Andrew Green, and to see if Mary Ann Sieghart would agree with Jack Straw, that Rouhani is a twinkle-eyed softie, or Benjamin Netanyahu, that he is a wolf in sheep’s clothing. (Rouhani wears Armani suits -  Islamic style.)

I think they’re portraying him as a canny tightrope walker -  trying to keep a balance between pleasing reformers and hard-liners. A skill that might propel him to the top job, said someone. 

I thought Mary Ann Sieghart hedged her bets, but on the whole it was a slightly more affectionate portrait than I would have liked of a man who heads an Islamic republic that is hell-bent on acquiring nuclear weapons with which to annihilate Israel and surrounding region, and hangs people at the drop of a hat, if you’ll pardon the expression. But that’s the ‘no value-judgement’ BBC for you. 

Sir Andrew Green has already ruffled the feathers of the left with his concerns about mass immigration. The Profile, however was at pains to emphasize that as an Arabist, Sir Andrew was no racist. In fact his motive for advocating the monitoring and limiting of mass immigration was to prevent ghettoisation.

It seems that his former colleagues assume that the founder of Migration Watch and opponent of mass immigration must be a racist.  But no, not at all, say others. He didn’t like Robin Cook or Tony Blair and regarded the Iraq war as culturally insensitive. He wasn’t to be characterised as a sort of Ukip type. He was a good guy, said nearly everyone, and to prove it, added the presenter Jo Fidgen, he is “Pro Palestinian” .

Okay, so the BBC thinks being pro Palestinian is a symbol of righteousness. But does his pro Palestinianism amount to the ugly anti-Israelism that besmirches much of the pro-Palestinianism we know and love? “Jews to the gas” and so on. 

I see Sir Andrew chairs something called Medical Aid for Palestine. Well, who would oppose the principle of ailing Palestinians receiving medical aid? It’s just when medical aid morphs into terrorism aid that some of us balk. 

Imagine that the other way round. Therein lies the difference. Just as most Israelis support the two state solution so that they can get on with their lives in peace, many Palestinians want their state so that they can get on with their lives without any Jews. They want their state to be a stepping stone to an Israel-free region.

So is Sir Andrew Green is actually one of those pro-Palestinians whose pro-Palestinianism stems from anti-Israelism? The BBC is taking the trouble to do his profile, so while they’re at it shouldn’t we be told?  

"I don't feel the thing smells good"

Usually on a Sunday morning I post something complaining about bias on Radio 4's Sunday programme

Instead, this morning, I'd like to post a transcription of a report from the BBC's John Laurenson, featured on today's programme, which looks at anti-Semitism in France. [Transcribing French names isn't easy, so there will be asterisks where names cannot be deciphered.]

I found it to be a report which, not for the first time, does John Laurenson great credit - and giving credit where credit's due is something we ought to give much more often. 

France was the country where Theodore Herzl finally realised the necessity of a Jewish homeland. Watching the public humiliation of Dreyfus in front of a baying French crowd, Herzl saw the danger facing Europe's Jews as a whole and the need for some place of safety to escape to. Thus, Zionism was born. That place of safety, Israel, now exists. Shockingly, in 2014, many French Jews are now again feeling the need to flee their own country. Israel awaits.


William Crawley: Figures from the Israeli Integration Ministry show that, for the first time, France has become the biggest source of new migrants 'making Aliyah' (or going to live in Israel). 4,500 Jews left France for Israel in the first eight months of 2014. That's far more than from the next-placed countries - Ukraine, Russia and the United States. The reason? France's economic woes, but also what some describe as a climate of anti-Semitism. This report from John Laurenson starts in the Parisian suburb of Sarcelles. 

John Laurenson: In a synagogue courtyard a hundred or so families gather around trestle tables laden with food and drink. They're dressed up smart because it's Simchat Torah, the day in the Jewish calendar when you celebrate the Jewish holy book. Dressed up smart, and dressed up Jewish. Some French Jewish leaders now urge Jews not to wear their skull caps in the street in order to avoid trouble, but Sarcelles - 'Little Jerusalem' they sometimes call it - is different. Jews who moved here from North Africa in the 1960s make up a third of the population, and most of the time they've lived peacefully, side-by-side with Muslims who now make up another third. But this summer it all went wrong when an anti-Israeli demonstration that had been banned but went ahead anyway turned into a riot. **** is a Sarcelles resident.

Sarcelles resident: The shops that were targeted were Jewish and Iraqi Christian. A Chaldean bar, a Jewish pharmacy, a Jewish supermarket burned down. Another Jewish supermarket was looted. 

John Laurenson: Around here everyone knows people who have left for Israel, says Max ****, president of this synagogue:

Max: We have friends who have left. We have friends who are planning to leave. We've been living hear for years. We are French. Why should we be forced to leave? It's not right. That's what saddens us. We're all from North Africa. We lived very well there. We left when it became no longer safe to stay. I think those people who pushed us to leave there followed us here and are now trying to throw us out of France.

John Laurenson: In a boulevard cafe in the Bastille neighbourhood of Paris, the waiter brings a coffee to Cendrine ****, the CEO of an internet advertising start-up. She was born and brought up in Paris. Next April she's making Aliyah.

Cendrine: When I saw since two or three years how people are in France, I said to myself, "I have to move right now".

John Laurenson: If she's alive today, she says, it's because her grandfather took a similar decision and got out of the Greek city then called Salonika before its Jewish inhabitants were rounded up and sent to the death camps during World War Two.

Cendrine: I don't feel the thing smells good. For me it looks like the beginning of the Second World War, with the people protesting in the street saying, "Jew, go back! Go away!" It's crazy.

John Laurenson: Ashdod, the town between Tel Aviv and Gaza, where Cendrine's moving to, is full of French Jews she says. One she's already met there is a survivor of the school shooting in Toulouse where the young Muslim fanatic Mohammed Merah shot dead three very young Jewish children in 2012. In an office block near Montparnasse Station, after passing through some very impressive security, I found myself inside the Jewish Agency - the Israeli government body that helps people move to Israel. I'm surrounded by Franco-Israeli migration guides on their coffee break. The agency is now running two Aliyah information evenings a week for Parisian Jews. They've never been so busy, says director Ari Kandel. 

Ari Kandel: This year we're going to have close to 6,000 people moving to Israel from France. Last year it was 3,300. Many of these people are from what we call the 'core community' who go to the synagogue and send their children to Jewish schools. But now we're getting increasing numbers of Jews from outside that core, people who want to live their Jewish identity in Israel because they feel that nowadays getting up in the morning and walking through the streets as a Jew is more and more difficult.

John Laurenson: Ari, who's now an Israeli citizen, left France for that reason.

Ari Kandel: I was walking through the Gare du Nord station at 6 in the evening with by skull cap on my head when a man started insulting me. He even started pushing me. The station was full of people but no one lifted their little finger to help me. It was that day I decided to go and live in Israel because people there know how to look after each other.

John Laurenson: According to the French Jewish representative organisation, the CRIF, in the first seven months of this year the number of acts of aggression like this were up 91% on the same period last year to over 500. I asked CRIF president, Roger Cukierman, what he says to Jews who say they want to leave France - a country where Jews have lived for 2,000 years.

Roger Cukierman: I think that you have to face adversity wherever you are. The life of Jews is not easy in any place. All over Europe you have anti-Semitism. Israel is surrounded by enemies. It's also a country that's at war, frequently at war. So I think French Jews have to take the example of the Israelis and face adversity and confront it. 

John Laurenson: Back in Sarcelles, Max **** says they're worried about the future, about the France they'll leave to their children - the ones who haven't already bought their one-way ticket to Tel Aviv.

Turbans, casettes, and George Bush the First's strongest cuss word

And while I'm being a positive polly rather than a negative nelly, I'd also like to say that this morning's Broadcasting House wasn't half bad either. 

The programme marked the end of Britain's military involvement in Afghanistan. It also looked more generally at Afghanistan by inviting two BBC reporters - Lyse Doucet and her youngish Afghan protégé Tahir Qadiry - to try to capture the spirit of Afghanistan in six objects.

The warmth of their feelings towards each other was endearing. I felt the humanity of Lyse Doucet there, proud of having found this young man for the BBC and of his having helped him make the most of his life during that small window of optimism which arose after the overthrew the Taliban (by us) in 2001. 

One of the objects Tahir brought was an ID card showing him as a very young man wearing a turban. He was too young to have a beard but had to wear the turban. The Taliban insisted on it, and you didn't say no to the Taliban. To get the ID card (and, thus, travel abroad), he had to recite lines from the Koran to them. He now wears Western clothes again, and sounded very happy about that. 

He also brought in a cassette tape of traditional Afghan instrumental music. He and his friends would play it in secret, behind locked doors, under the Taliban. The Taliban only allowed sung music. 

He also has a brightly coloured map of Afghanistan's 34 provinces (in the form of a rug) which he looks at every day. Not too many of those provinces are at peace now, though he says his own home province is one of them. 

One of the other features that stood out was a clip from a long-thought-lost 1980s Letter from America. Someone had recorded them all - which is more than can be said for the BBC, who were incredibly careless back then. That someone, it turned out, had more recordings of Alistair Cooke than the BBC. Now the BBC has digitally do-dahed them all (I believe that's the correct technical term) and is releasing them all. 

The clip in question concerned the news that Nancy Reagan had brought an astrologer into the White House to help shape her husband's diary. When President Reagan's Chief of Staff Donald Regan found out he told Vice President George Bush who, in Alistair Cooke's wording, "delivered himself of the strong expletive he had ever been known to use - utter" - "Good God!"

That gave me a Proustian madeleine moment. I remember that very Letter from America. From nigh on thirty years ago. So that's what I did as a teenager!

Yes, I was an assiduous Letter from America listener in my late teens. I'd forgotten that. And I definitely heard that one about the revelation of Nancy Reagan's use of an astrologer in the White House. I don't remember any of its details, just the fact that I'd heard it at the time.

And that's how the BBC exerts such a pull on so many people. We're tied to it by memories and sentiment. That's long made it so difficult to shake.

Polly and the Nightjar

Forgive me for NOT being a 'negative nelly' about the BBC for a moment, but I used the extra hour given unto us by the clocks falling back (as the mnemonic says - though I keep getting confused between falling back and falling forwards, springing back and springing forwards) to listen to Radio 4 between 6 and 7 o'clock and was transfixed by the delights of Something Understood and The Living World.

Something Understood was about our need for art, but playwright Polly Stenham used it chiefly to explain what writing plays means to her - and doing so in highly-charged, poetic language. She got so metaphorical at times that I sometimes lost the sense of what she was actually saying, but her enthusiasm and general meaning was plain - and touching. I was persuaded.

Anyhow, her use of language, even when I didn't understand it, was something out of the ordinary, and none the worse for that - and much the same could be said for some of her musical choices. I've never heard Florence and the Machine before, and was rather taken by them. They even sang a version of Addicted to Love.

The Living World went out into the woods of Somerset on a hot, midge-ridden summer's night to see and hear nightjars. Chris Sperring (and his unseen producer Ellie Sans) accompanied two nightjar experts there - Ian Parsons and Andy Harris. The results were informative and fascinating. 

Despite the midge, I wouldn't have minded being there too - especially to hear that astonishing call of theirs (the nightjars, that is) which I'd describe as being like a 1960s sci-fi computer buzz, oscillating between two notes, then tumbling down step-wise to the accompanying of rhythmic claps as the bird's wings beat and take to the air.

A tip for anyone tempting to go and listen to nightjars: Cup your hands around your ears to amplify its call. 

Nightjars arrive late (early May) and leave early (late September). They come for food - moths. They migrate, taking much the same path as swifts and cuckoos, down over the Med and over the Sahara to central and southern Africa. 

In a pleasingly upbeat bit of news, we learned that nightjars are doing well. Numbers are up. They are widespread too, so most of us should be able to experience them (at dawn or dusk) somewhere near to where we live. 

If I'd have known I could have used that extra hour to watch nightjars instead - except that they're probably all in Africa now, so there wouldn't have been much point.  

Saturday 25 October 2014

David Aaronovitch, the EU and BBC bias

Despite the previous post finding pro-EU bias on this morning's Today programme, it was Friday's edition of the programme that sent pro-EU David Aaronovitch of the 'Times' off on one on today's Dateline London, claiming anti-EU bias

David complained that he'd woken up yesterday to hear a debate between a Conservative right-winger and a UKIP supporter without a pro-EU voice being present, and wondered, "Where was the European presence, or anybody to put a contrary view? Nowhere." 

He said it's been like that with the British media since Maastricht and declared himself "absolutely bloody fed up with it".

Unfortunately for him, he was doing that thing that people do when they shout 'Bias!' without having properly checked their facts first.

Had he stayed listening he would have found that the prestigious 8.10 spot was given over to an interview with Patrizio Fiorilli, spokesperson for the EU Budget. 

So let's re-visit David Aaronovitch's questions in that light:
"Where was the European presence?" 
Right there, David.
"Where was the anti-EU presence, or anybody to put a contrary view for Today listeners who'd woken up at 8.10?" 
On an hour earlier. You obviously missed them.
The great irony of David Aaronovitch's outburst is that it took place on Dateline London, a programme where pro-EU voices have been dominant, nay rampant, for years. 

Alongside David here was Die Welt's Thomas Kielinger, another strong pro-EU voice (and one of the programme's most regular guests), today denouncing the UK and defending the EU demands on us. That added up to two strong pro-EU guests on one programme.

There were no anti-EU guests.

Nahlah Ayed of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation cited the FT denouncing the UK government. Jeffrey Kofman of ABC News described David Cameron as sounding like "a kid in an Eton debating society" and said the "positives" of EU membership are getting lost.

And on it went, with barely a murmur of devil's advocacy from Gavin Esler. 

Right then, David. That's another instance of blatant pro-EU bias on Dateline London. Yet again. Where was the anti-EU presence? Where was anybody to put a contrary view? I'm absolutely bloody fed up with it.


The other discussion on today's Dateline dealt with the attack on the Canadian parliament by a Muslim convert and conformed to (BBC) type.

Though Palestinian-Canadian Nahlah Ayed gave a BBC-like 'neutral' account, Jeffrey Kofman of ABC (another Canadian) said that THE threat in Canada comes from the "very conservative" security policies of the Harper government. There was a general consensus among the other gentlemen present that such tough measures would only serve to alienate Canada's Muslims.

And there was no less a consensus that the attack, and the other very recent attacks (in Canada and the U.S.), aren't Islam-related. They are just "disaffected" lone-wolves with mental issues, nothing more. And, for good measure, David Aaronovitch condemned those people who always try to associate such acts with Islam and "Islamic violence". 

Finding bias on 'Today'

What else is there to say about BBC bias and this morning's edition of Today

Why did the story of Scottish Labour leader Johann Lamont's resignation lead the Today news bulletins? Was it simply a case of the BBC showing all those angry anti-BBC Scots Nats that it takes Scottish politics seriously? Seriously enough indeed to make it its main UK-wide story? Or did it come about through some kind of political bias? And - if so - which kind of bias (pro-Labour or anti-Labour)?

Given the slating it got during the Scottish independence referendum debate for being 'too English-focused', the BBC really had no choice, did it, but to lead on this significant development in Scottish politics? Making it the second or third story (or worse) would probably have provoked a storm (or at least very strong winds) outside Pacific Quay.

As for bias, well, it depends on your starting point. 

Obviously, at first glance, it's clearly a 'bad news story' for Ed Miliband and his Westminster Labour Party colleagues as they were the targets of some very sharp criticism from a clearly bitter Mrs Lamont ("parting shots" indeed). It makes them look awful. The story's also 'big', therefore, because it has UK-wide implications and seems to say something important about Ed Miliband's leadership. Anti-Labour bias? 'Westminter Bubble bias' in disguise?

However, the news reports on Today certainly weren't unhelpful to Mrs Lamont and her Scottish Labour supporters. Far from it. It gave their grievances a great boost, and James Naughtie's staff room-style chat with former (Labour) first minister Henry McLeish (just before 8 o'clock) was just as helpful to their cause. Mr McLeish entirely shared Johann Lamont's negative feelings about the Labour Party at Westminster and James Naughtie didn't attempt to talk him out of them. [Mr McLeish also agreed entirely with Jim's pre-interview summary of the situation in Scotland]. 

If there was any bias there then it was a bias towards Scottish Labour.


The main 'Westminster Bubble' angle though arose out of the programme's continuing coverage of the fall-out from the European Commission's demand for an extra £1.7 billion from UK taxpayers. This, when discussed on Friday's programme, tending to focus on the story from the 'What does this mean for David Cameron?' angle, and that angle still clung around today's two discussions of the story. 

[What do you make of that, Scots Nats? Only one segment about the Scottish Labour leader resigning, but two segments (with four people) about what that £1.7 billion demand means for David Cameron? Dusting your placards off again?]

Now, those discussion did broaden out somewhat. Were they biased though? 

Well, looking at the guess selection, the first interviewinvolved the granddaddy of Conservative Eurosceptics, Bill Cash MP, and one of the BBC's favourite go-to Europhiles, Alexander Graf Lambsdorff of Germany's Free Democratic Party (he's charming and speaks great English). The second interview involved Labour's strongly pro-EU Baron Roger Liddle and Sir Malcolm Rifkind, the former Conservative Foreign Secretary, who seems to be himself as a 'moderate Eurosceptic' but is considered by most Eurosceptics to be an out-and-out Europhile. 

So, there was a spread of opinion from the pro-EU centre-left (Roger Liddle) to the pro-EU centre (Count Lambsdorff) to the pro-EU/'moderately sceptical' centre-right (Sir Malcolm Rifkind) to partly anti-EU centre-right (Bill Cash). 

What was lacking there was a voice representing a significant proportion of UK opinion - that portion which favours withdrawal from the EU. (Bill Cash, to the puzzlement of many, wants us to remain in the EU).

So, yes, there was a pro-EU bias in the guest selection. There really should have been a 'withdrawalist' involved (perhaps in place of Bill Cash), shouldn't there?


A couple of days ago Today reporting on the report of the future of the NHS by Simon Stevens and opened the issue up to listeners' questions.

As James Delingpole very fairly wrote on Thursday, the Today team failed to spot a concerted effort by a group of left-wing activists to hijack the programme's question-and-answer session and force the issue of 'privatisation of the NHS' to the top of the agenda. 

That's no conspiracy theory on Dellers' part. The group 38 Degrees really did try to do that by using a particular hashtag on Twitter  - and they succeeded too. No one at Today seemed to think it odd that so many listeners were worried about the 'privatisation of the NHS' above all else. [A sign of left-wing bias on their part?]

This morning's Today returned to the issue at around 7.20, asking if the claims of NHS privatisation are true and whether the private sector is really at the margins of the NHS, or not. The discussion took place between Nigel Edwards of the Nuffield Trust and Paul Evans of the NHS Support Federation campaign group. 

This turned into one of those discussions between someone reassuring us that the private sector has a very small role (so it's nothing to worry about) and someone else who thinks private involvement in the NHS is 'a very bad thing, full stop'. 

What was lacking was someone saying that, yes, the private sector does have a small role at the moment and that the problem with that isn't that it shouldn't have any role whatsoever but that it should in fact have a much bigger one - i.e. that the private sector is a good thing, that that it should be used a lot more to help improve the NHS, and that the ideological obsessions of anti-private sector campaigners are irrational and harmful. Such a point of view is usually lacking on BBC programmes like this [though that's not helped by the fact that most politicians, including the Conservatives and UKIP, are very shy about broaching the subject].

So shall we chalk that up as a case of anti-private sector bias from the BBC?


Talking about anti-private sector bias from the BBC, the news bulletin featured a woodland charity denouncing a private quarrying company for planning to dig up some ancient woodland. The quote from the charity spokesman denounced the profit motif - i.e. couched the case against the company in classic left-wing terms.

Towards the close of today's programme we heard from that charity at greater length, namely from Austin Brady, Director of Conservation for the Woodland Trust. He's worried about an area of ancient woodland near Tamworth, Staffordshire, cited in the Domesday Book, threatened with destruction for the estimated 9 million tonnes of sand and gravel underneath it.

Now, I do turn green over ancient woodlands. I'd like to see them conserved and I don't like the sound of this one bit. We've too little ancient woodland as it is. But I was still hoping - and expecting - to hear the company's point of view. It didn't come.

Making Scottish Labour's case, establishing a pro-EU bias in its guest selection and, twice, bashing the private sector - that's what Today appeared to be up to this morning, did it not?

Did it not?

Don't panic! Don't panic!

Listening to this morning's Today, I was struck by the programme's Ebola coverage. 

Today has been covering Ebola extensively over recent weeks but - despite all the worrying reports - has evidently been very much at the forefront of pushing the idea (government-sponsored?) that we in the UK (and those of you in the US) have very little to fear from the disease - i.e. promoting a 'Don't panic!' campaign - and urging that the focus be shifted back onto West Africa instead. 

This may be an entirely reasonable, responsible and correct policy for the the BBC to pursue, but it probably needs pointing out as it clearly shows a conscious agenda on the BBC's part in action.

At 7.09 this morning, John Humphrys and the BBC's Aleem Maqbool discussed the latest actions taken in the United States. 

John Humphrys described the U.S. authorities as "nervous...very nervous" and began the conversation by saying, "I suggested to him that all of this might be a bit of an over-reaction". Aleem Maqbool agreed and complained that the U.S. media is ignoring Africa. "Is this being led by genuine fear?", John H pursued, or is it politicians stoking things up? Aleem M replied by talking of the "generation of hysteria" by local politicians and the media. He absolved the federal authorities (i.e. the Obama administration) of any guilt here though, saying they were behaving responsibility.

At 8.10 Mishal Husain took over. She interviewed Dr Amash Adalja from the Infectious Disease Society of America, asking her "But are the authorities over-reacting?". Dr Adalja said yes to that, calling the U.S. actions an "over-reaction" and talking of "public hysteria" there. Her other guest, Yvonne Aki Sawyer from the Sierra Leone War Trust for Children. was also invited to comment on the U.S. situation and expressed her regret over the "hysteria" in the U.S.

What arose was a consensus - BBC presenters, reporters and guests all criticising the U.S. authorities and public, all talking of "over-reaction" and "hysteria". Stay Calm and Think about Africa.

And maybe we should.

Brand Promotion

Russell Brand in Newsnight's Danish studio (perhaps)

Newsnight's decision to hand over 17 minutes on Thursday night to Russell Brand hasn't gone down too well with some. 

The hirsute ex-Big Brother's Big Mouth presenter-turned-revolutionary hero (to Owen Jones and the like) outed himself on Newsnight as a 'truther' about 9/11..

I see that BBC defenders are putting it about that Ol' Russ was outed as such Evan Davis, and his new, understated kind of questioning. Others, however, think that Russell rang rings round the former Today man.

Here's a flavour of some of the criticism.

The Left-wing intellectuals at The Guardian and BBC, not least Newsnight’s Ian Katz, who have embraced Russell Brand or even given him house room, should hang their heads in shame. 
Time was when Newsnight was a serious programme – indispensable viewing for serious people and an important part of the national discourse. Today, obsessed with juvenilia and gimmickry it’s become a gravitas-free zone. How sad.
‘I’ve no idea what the BBC are up to. If they think that the general public want to see this kind of nonsense on a serious political news programme they need to get out more. It is bewildering why they have given Russell Brand a platform to display such ignorant views. One might wonder what expertise he brings to this subject. The answer is none. The BBC have taken leave of their senses.’
For Liberal Conspiracy's Sunny Hundal (not one of the usual suspects), 
The establishment humours Russell Brand because he poses little threat to the system. Newsnight has him on because he’s good for their ratings, not because they want to bring down the system too.
That short selection of views show a range of suggested reasons for why Newsnight invited him back for his second extended Newsnight interview in a year. 

For Stephen Glover, it shows left-wing bias - the left-wing BBC getting a buzz from interviewing a 'radical chic' celeb. For the Mail, it's more a case of dumbing down. For Sunny Hundal, it's all about ratings. For Philip Davies, it's simply inexplicable.

I'm going with the ratings option mainly. Newsnight editor Ian Katz has often cited Russell Brand's previous interview with Jeremy Paxman as his idea of what a Newsnight interview should be like or the sort of thing his new Newsnight should do more of. He's immensely proud of it and the interview itself was a huge hit on social media (of which Ian Katz is also a huge fan), and very widely discussed in the mainstream media too. For Ian Katz, it was a triumph. So why not repeat the trick and get the world talking about Newsnight again?

Well, if that was his intention it certainly seems to be working. Social media has exploded again and the mainstream media is up in arms again. Another triumph.

Of course, it probably does help that Russ is espousing half-baked radical chic politics. If he were a right-wing 'truther' (an Alex Jones), I'm doubting that Newsnight would have had him on twice within a year. Such views would fall well outside of their comfort zones - unlike their left-wing/Islamist counterparts, even though the latter sound very similar (about 9/11) as the former. (It's the US government, the Bushes, the Jews). 

Russ himself was there to plug his new book, which brings me to a joke I saw on Twitter. (Mysteriously, I won't quote the source though):
Russell Brand says the economy is an illusion. His new book contains the line, "The economy is just a metaphorical device, it's not real, that’s why it’s got the word con in it" - a bold call for a man whose name ends with "SELL BRAND".

Update from Sue:

I've been looking at the clips of Russell Brand and Evan, and I'm thinking "Katz - what was you thinking?" I mean Brand's over-long piece with Paxo was bad enough, but who thought Newsnight needed another performance by this repulsive narcissist? Talk about cringeworthy. Then I saw that the Guardian had hosted a live-stream even with Russell and Owen. Can you imagine anything more annoying?

I find Russell brand physically repulsive.  I can't understand why anyone of either gender could find him attractive. (Even if he didn't start making those preposterous remarks) The way he speaks reminds me of when little girls dress up in their mother's high heels. Sort of like an unconscious parody of a grown-up.

Update from Rod Liddle:

The issue is not that Russell Brand seems to believe that 9/11 was some sort of joint effort between George W Bush and the bin Laden family – that’s sort of a given, no? The man is a drug-addled idiot with the geopolitical knowledge and awareness of a tub of ‘I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter’. The issue is, given these facts, what he’s doing on Newsnight, again.
The BBC, defending the decision to interview the fool, said that he is representative of the ‘anti-politics’ movement with which Westminster is trying to engage. No. He’s. Not. But even so, what utter cant – he’s on there because he’s famous and Newsnight, with its plummeting ratings, is these days in thrall to celebrity. Mind you, if I was Russell I’d begin to catch the whiff of a conspiracy. Isn’t it collusion between the BBC and politicians to discredit the ‘anti-politics’ movements by allowing a halfwit to represent it?  [Spectator]
P.S. ('nother update from Sue)
Fanks for sandwiching me in between you and Rod Liddle. 

After some thought, Dr. Sue’s diagnosis falls within the ‘Histrionic personali’y Disorder’ paradigm. 


Throughout that interview, Russell showed a complete inability to listen. Russell repeatedly turned away, arranged his body into that non-receptive slouch, while emitting streams of blustering, histrionic dialogue, during which Evan was lamely failing to make himself heard. 

A couple of over-protective reviewers have praised Evan’s fortitude and patience, but I thought he looked like a wabbit in a panic.

Sometimes Russell invaded Evan’s personal space, touching his leg or patting his hand as if to say, “watch out, mate, I’m dangerous, I’m volatile, I’m a one-man reincarnation of the notorious sex pistols ‘whatever will they do next’ shock horror *live* on dark ages National Television”.
Now and then he got so excited that he forgot the glottal-stop. Some reviewers astounded me by describing him as ‘eloquent’. Others said ‘intelligent’. 
so excited

Not everyone though. Here’s the funniest one so far. Polly Toynbee and Jonny  Lydon didn’t think much of Russell and his antisocial call for people not to vote.
“I want to hug you for what you said about Russell Brand, You called him a Bum hole.” said Polly. 

Gales of laughter, mate.

I looked up ‘paradigm’, a word no-one but Russell Brand actually uses in conversation. Glad that’s cleared up.

1. a typical example or pattern of something; a pattern or model."society's paradigm of the ‘ideal woman’"
2.LINGUISTICS a set of linguistic items that form mutually exclusive choices in particular syntactic roles."English determiners form a paradigm: we can say ‘a book’ or ‘his book’ but not ‘a his book’"

Is Russell Brand 1.) the idiot’s paradigm of ‘intelligent’? or 2) is ‘Revolution’ a book, his book, or a his book?. English determiners (that’s me) say it forms a paradigm and it is definitely a ‘his book’. 

The 'Guardian' attacks the BBC

The Guardian has accused the BBC of overstepping its public service remit in an attempt to dominate global news.
Andrew Miller, the chief executive of Guardian Media Group, said that the BBC’s plans to expand aggressively overseas is putting it in competition with British media groups that do not enjoy its public funding.
“In our fast-changing industry, the time has come to address and remedy the implications of BBC dominance,” he said in a speech at the London School of Economics last night.
Executives at other media companies said that Mr Miller’s comments were strong, particularly as The Guardian is usually a supporter of the BBC.
Well, yes, the BBC's dominance is overwhelming  and damaging. Local newspapers have been complaining about this for years. Now even the BBC's main supporter in the British press is aghast. 
The Guardian and other publishers are concerned about the BBC’s plan to double the international reach of its TV channel and websites to an audience of 500 million people by 2022. The BBC’s expansion is of special concern to The Guardian and MailOnline for which attracting foreign users and advertisers is crucial to their business.
Those concerns have been stoked by the BBC’s decision to increase its coverage in Australia, where it has hired local journalists and launched a dedicated section on the website.
The Guardian has invested heavily in the highly competitive Australia market and Mr Miller thinks the BBC should be focusing its funds on countries where there are fewer alternative media outlets. 

He also thinks the BBC should open up its licence fee-funded content and archive to its British commercial rivals. 

Interesting times when the BBC and Guardian fall out.


Looking at the various news websites this morning (6.30am), it's interesting to see their contrasting news priorities.

Sky News and ITV both lead with the latest school shootings in the U.S., a story BBC News doesn't feature in its top 10. The BBC leads with the resignation of Labour's Scottish leader.

Politically, the most striking difference is that both Sky and ITV make Tony Blairs alleged negative remarks about Ed Miliband [the lead in the Daily Telegraph] one of their top 3 stories, while the BBC website ignores the story - which will doubtless provoke a few knowing 'aha!'s from those who accuse the BBC of pro-Labour bias....

...though the fact that the BBC is leading with Johann Lamont's parting shots at her Labour colleagues rather counters that criticism.

Sky News
1. Student Dead After Shooting 'School Friends'
2. Automatic US Quarantine For Ebola Medics
3. Tony Blair Denies Saying Miliband Can't Win
4. Google Executive Sets New Parachute Record
5. Ukrainian Refugees Flee To Russian Arctic
6. Johann Lamont Quits As Scottish Labour Leader
7. Shocking Moment Blind Man Thrown On To Tracks
8. Human Remains Are Missing Student Hannah Graham
9. Axeman Who Hacked Cops Was 'Self-Radicalised'
10. Schools Urged To Teach Body Confidence

1. Two dead in US high school shooting
2. Two-year-old Mali Ebola girl 'could have infected hundreds'
3. Blair denies saying Miliband can't lead Labour to victory
4. Spider-Man joins Hong Kong protests
5. UK clocks could soon tick in time with central Europe
6. Egypt declares three-month state of emergency in Sinai
7. Human remains confirmed to be UK-born student Hannah Graham
8. David Cameron: I am not paying £1.7bn EU bill
9. Driving licence fees to be slashed by 32%
10. Canadian soldier's body taken to hometown

1. Scottish Labour leader standing down
2. State of emergency imposed in Sinai
3. 'Many exposed' to Mali Ebola girl
4. Cost of driving licence to be cut
5. Man injured in west Belfast shooting
6. Cancer-killing cells made in the lab
7. Life terms for Argentina jail crimes
8. New HS2 station proposed for Crewe
9. Anger over ancient woods quarry plan
10. Used car buyers 'need more support'

Where the BBC website leads Radio 4's Today tends to follow. [UPDATE: And so it proves].

Friday 24 October 2014

The playground bully and the Tory

Some are likening it to the rumble in the jungle, others are calling it a ‘heated exchange’ but it does seem that the incident between Tory Philip Davies and lefties Jon Snow and his sidekick Krishnan Guru-Murthy  caused quite a stir at the ITN newsroom where Channel 4 news is based. Or should that read ‘biased’. 

Anyway, Anita Singh has an article in the Telegraph about it, which is headlined “Jon Snow ‘acted like a playground bully’ says Tory MP”
 Philip Davies MP had previously expressed incredulity at Rona Fairhead’s faith in the BBC’s reputation for objectivity and impartiality,  so we can guess what he thinks of Channel 4. Well, we don’t need to guess, because he’s quite open about it. 

It seems that Mr Davies was invited to the ITN building in his capacity as a member of the Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee, but was ‘ambushed’ by Jon Snow to whom he had just been introduced by the deputy editor of Channel 4 news. 
she said, 'This is Jon Snow.' I said hello."He stood up out of his seat and at the top of his voice, so everyone in the newsroom could hear he said, 'You said I'm left-wing and biased - give me one example of an interview where I've been left-wing and biased.'"I said I had come to look around and hadn't come for an argy-bargy. He just kept repeating the same thing in a deliberately loud voice. It was like he was the playground bully and the newsroom was his playground. This carried on for at least five minutes.”
The exchange spiraled out of control till Mr. Guru-Murthy asked the MP to leave the building. 
During the heated exchange Jon Snow said to Philip Davies:
'You said I’m Left-wing and biased – give me one example of an interview where I’ve been Left-wing and biased.’”
Isn’t that annoying? Someone whose every word is Left-wing and biased asks for one example. You’re on the spot and there are so many to choose from you don’t know where to start. 
Stephen Pollard has an interesting piece about this in the Telegraph. As Pollard says:
“At the risk of provoking a further eruption from Mr Snow, who appears not so much to be thin-skinned as to possess a comical lack of self-awareness, I have to ask: is there any viewer of Channel 4 News who does not think Mr Snow is biased? Isn’t that the very point of him and his show?”
Pollard is arguing that he prefers his bias up-front and open, not all pretendy like the BBC. He thinks fans of Snow like it that way and they’re getting what they want, adding that the same thing could be said of Guardian readers, which I suppose is one way of looking at it.  Many people are less sanguine than Pollard about that. They are disturbed by the harmful influence of Channel 4 and the Guardian as well as the more slippery bias of the BBC. 
  It wouldn’t be so bad if  Jon Snow didn’t deliver his bias whilst wearing the cloak of authority that automatically graces the anchor of a flagship news programme.
“The BBC’s bias – or disposition, if you want a less pejorative word – isn’t conscious. But we all bring our own dispositions to the work we do, and that’s as true of BBC journalists as it is of lawyers and plumbers. The BBC’s news simply reflects the mindset of its urban, culturally liberal staff.”
Of course Jon Snow massively abused his position when he aired his appallingly biased film about Gaza. I’m sure many people must have had this in mind when they read about the dramatic ITN newsroom confrontation.  Stephen Pollard probably did too, despite making the following, rather cavalier assertion: 
 "I’m a lot less bothered by Mr Snow’s obvious, in your face, that’s-why-you’re-watching-me bias than I am by the BBC’s, which makes claims for its news as something altogether more elevated."
He ends his piece with: 
“This summer, (Jon Snow) recorded a video about Gaza that could have been straight out of the Hamas PR manual, entirely lacking in balance or context. The BBC’s deputy director of news and current affairs, Fran Unsworth, has said that no BBC presenter would have been allowed to make such a video.
Give me Jon Snow’s explicit bias any day, though, rather than the Beeb’s supposed but spurious objectivity. When it comes to Middle East coverage, at least Mr Snow’s heart is there on his sleeve for all to see. The BBC’s Middle East editor, Jeremy Bowen, is no less opinionated, but his views are couched in notional neutrality.But oh what fun it is to see the reaction of one of the great panjandrums of the liberal Left, when someone dares to utter a word of criticism. They can dish it out. But boy, they certainly can’t take it.
Update 26/10:  And here's Rod Liddle's take on this from the Sunday Times:
While being shown around the studios of Channel 4 News, the Conservative MP Philip Davies was set upon by a snarling Jon Snow, outraged that Davies had once dared suggest that the presenter was a tad biased to the left.
The row got so heated that the pair had to be separated by Snow’s unctuous homunculus, Krishnan Guru-Murthy, and Davies escorted from the building.
Snow demanded Davies show him evidence that he was biased. Phew — well, there’s a challenge, if ever there was one. But other than every single edition of Channel 4 News, is there anything else for the prosecution to work on?
Snow was once described as a “pinko liberal”. You might put that down simply as name-calling, but the person who described him thus was, er, Jon Snow. And then there was the video he made about the children of Gaza. The BBC said it would not pass its partiality test.
When a film is so pro-Palestinian even the BBC wouldn’t touch it, I think the word “bias” is not too strong.

Thursday 23 October 2014

Parallel worlds

Philip Davies, the MP who responded cynically to Rona Fairhead’s satisfaction with the BBC’s objectivity is in trouble with Channel 4.

Jon and Krish

This piece in The Guardian is about a bizarre row that occurred when Philip Davies visited ITN and was sent packing by Jon Snow’s colleague Krishnan Guru-Murthy
Davies visited ITN on Tuesday after quizzing new BBC Trust chair Rona Fairhead about the future of the corporation, in his role as a member of the Commons culture, media and sport select committee.The MP for Shipley, who had numerous tetchy exchanges with Fairhead’s predecessor Lord Patten during culture committee hearings, asked the BBC Trust chair: “Have you gone native in record time?” Fairhead replied: “Absolutely not”.
 The below the line comments are from a parallel world where they believe the BBC is right wing and think Channel 4 is  “the only regular news programme that does not seem to cower under the scrutiny of those in power.”
In the sidebar, more media (anti UKIP) stories provide additional platforms for aerated Guardian readers and conspiracy theorists.
Mike Reed has decided to apologise for the calypso. To date there are 2225 comments below the line; it looks like (approximately) a 50/50 split between hatred of Mike Reed, and hatred of UKIP. Everything about this topic is a waste of brain activity including mine for writing this and yours, if you’re doing so, for reading it.

However, I’ve just had a look at the Times where Deborah Ross has wasted half a page of newsprint and a modest amount of brain activity on a rebuttal, calypso style. 
Strangely enough, people’s polarised view of, and outright dismissal  of UKIP as racist is as simplistic as it gets. (Not that I haven’t misgivings of my own, but they’re different misgivings.) Here’s part of a verse of Ross’s ‘Jewish’ calypso:
Ukip you live in a remembered Britain, that’s for sure/A sentimentalised golden age with the border a closed door/We were white, Christian and happy, with trusty phone boxes too/But my family have been here for hundreds of years and we are Jews!
So the argument from Ross and people like David Aaronovich seems to be that if you’re Jewish it’s hypocritical to be concerned about immigration, because you and your ancestors were once immigrants. ....and evidently Muslims are the new Jews(?)  

However, if Ukip are more concerned about temporary economic migrants from Europe than they are  about permanent  ‘cultural’ migrants from the third world, then that’s where I part company with Nige. By the way, I suspect many of the worries that are being expressed about Poles - using our scant resources and hospitals and so on - are a front for unacceptable, politically incorrect but sincerely held worries that are sneered at by ‘the left’ for being “Islamophobic” and ‘racist’.

During the BBC’s baffled response to the breaking news of the Canadian shootings (talking to mother of Muslim convert recently killed in war against IS) Gavin Esler on News 24 suddenly came out with:
 ”I have many Muslim friends so I know that Islam is genuinely peaceful.......”

Talking of parallel worlds, last night's The Apprentice (episode 3)  highlighted the irrational basis of the whole concept of this programme. First of all, the prize isn’t even supposed to be an apprenticeship. It’s supposed to be a business partnership. 
How sustainable would a business be if it was wholly dependent on ripping people off? Come to think of it, there are a lot of companies who seem to do okay on that principle, but    it’s a very sad state of affairs when the girl whose unremitting appetite for ‘the margin’ overrode the principle of creating a quality product, which if they hadn’t made a balls-up of their sales technique, might have won the task for the team. At least that product stood a chance of growing into a sustainable business.

The much anticipated sensation of one candidate suddenly coming to her senses was somehow disappointing.  The firing of Nurun, the girl with the massive Muslim headdress was executed in a tidily non Islamophobic manner, and her appearance with Dara on the You’re Fired programme showed her to be a thoroughly nice lady with a sense of humour and the very model of a modern moderate Muslim. They do exist, as Gavin Esler will gladly attest.

On the other hand Nick Hewer the lefty capitalist is looking more unsustainable with every episode.

I wonder if there’s a parallel universe out there as well as here on earth? Where’s Brian Cox when you need such answers, and the parallel Brian Cox? 

Wednesday 22 October 2014

Another day

Here are a selection of comments from under the latest post at Harry's Place:

[Recently, Canon Andrew White lamented that ISIS are beheading Christians, yet people tend not to even believe the horrifying and harrowing accounts that White shares with his readers.]
Thanks to our Blessed BBC and C4's obsession with Israel...

I can imagine the waves of distress that sweep the BBC News Room when rumours of alleged outrages come in. The spin priorities? Are there Muslim involved or not and, just as important, if Muslims are involved, are they true Muslim or not? 
Also, preventing an "Islamophobic" reaction is vital. Even if it is, as usual, Muslims killing people and justifying it by their religion, it absolutely, positively has nothing whatsoever to do with Islam. Now what about Gaza? Time to march on the Israeli embassy again...

An other not completely OT news: Rooger Cukierman, president of France’s largest Jewish group, was indicted for calling the comedian Dieudonne M’bala M’bala a “professional anti-Semite".

Jerusalem Terrorist attack: Baby killed, 8 injured. A busy day for Islam. 

The BBC reports:Nine hurt as car hits pedestrians at Jerusalem station. Not a terrorist, not a Palestinian but an evil car...

Not entirely OT - shooter on the loose currently at Canadian National War Memorial and parliament..

I was listening to some Canadian Parliamentarians on BBC. They seem to be Liberals on steroids. Between Tony Livesy (BBC) and themselves they couldn't figure how it might be connected to Canada joining coalition on ISIS. Are they living in a goldfish bowl?! About three weeks ago several jihadis (12) were arrested in Australia for soldier beheading and shooting-up the Australian Parliament plots!!! They are still trying to work this one out.

The Missing Word Game from BBC:- BBC online showed a tweet from Canadian Homeland equivalent. Statement on the screen was read verbatim by presenter. It read "..raised threat level ..... due to chatter from radical Islamist terrorists". Only one word from the statement was left out. Guess which word. Was this BBC editorial policy meets the real World?


Commentary's Seth Mandel takes up one of the points above in a piece called A Case Study in Media Bias: Today’s Jerusalem Terror Attack

The Times of Israel reported the story thus:
A three-month-old girl was killed Wednesday afternoon and eight others were injured when a car crashed into a crowd at a light rail station in Jerusalem in what officials said was a likely terrorist attack. A suspect, identified by an Israeli official as a member of terror group Hamas, attempted to flee the scene on foot and was shot by police, a police spokesperson said.
This is what Seth Mandel noted about the BBC's online coverage:
Scanning the BBC, I had noticed their initial headline (since changed as well): “Nine hurt as car hits pedestrians at Jerusalem station.” As the Jerusalem Post’s Seth Frantzman pointed out, the headline on the version he saw, and took a screenshot of, was “Car hits people at Jerusalem station.” Either the BBC was deliberately downplaying the story, or the editor in charge thought he was posting a story about an evil car magically becoming sentient only to lash out, like Black Sabbath’s Iron Man, at the humans around him.
Later in the day, after executives at the BBC located a shred of integrity hidden somewhere in the sofa cushions, that was changed as well. It now reads: “Jerusalem car ‘attack’ kills baby at rail station.” I say “a shred of integrity” because the BBC still saw fit to wrap “attack” in scare quotes. What are the options, here? Was it a car “love tap”? It was a terrorist attack, perpetrated by a member of a terrorist organization.