Sunday 16 November 2014

Hugh, me, Janet and 'BH'

It's a while since I've done a post on Paddy O'Connell's Broadcasting House but this morning's edition calls for some comment.

(Actually, it doesn't really. Should I leave the post there? No people are doubtless gagging to know what you made of it, so on you go!)

As I confessed a while back, I'm quite the fan now but...

The discussion on charitable giving was an interesting one. There were many thought-provoking ideas, albeit largely from the charity sector side. It featured two studio guests and several talking heads. All but two of the people expressing their views were senior figures from well-known charities. The rather random-seeming exceptions were Labour MP Lisa Nandy and TFTD regular Mona Siddiqui. Those seeking out evidence of pro-Labour/pro-Muslim bias are free to make what they want of that. 

Paddy asked his studio guests how much they give to charity. The one who said she gave 10% of her income - and then made a point of saying that she'd buy the new Band Aid single but that its purchase would be on top of her existing 10% - reminded me just how bad it looks when you actually say how much you give to charity (if it's quite a bit). It makes you sound as if you're boasting about your own goodness, like FAB FM's Smashie's "lodda work for cheriddy". (I, of course, give 81.524% of my income to cheriddy - which rather puts her in the shade I have to say!)

The opinionated Hugh Sykes was also on the programme. As I've said before (yes, I know I keep repeating myself), Hugh is one of those BBC reporters who just can't help slipping in their point of view - usually something negative about 'Western' foreign policy.

His report today, coming in the light of today's horrible news about U.S. hostage Abdul-Rahman Kassig's murder at the hands of the sensibly-called Bunch of Islamic Bastards, featured an interview with an Iraqi Sunni leader who took part in the U.S.-backed Awakening against al-Qaeda-in-Iraq back in the aftermath of the fall of Saddam and is now seeking U.S. help again to fight the latest bunch of Islamic bastards, BIB. 

It was a very interesting interview. We've not heard much from such people. 

And as I was listening to it the thought entered my head that Hugh was holding off on his 'West'-bashing. I felt pleasantly surprised. But as soon as I'd thought that he immediately launched into his closing section - a prolonged attack on the West for causing the problem in the first place by disbanding the Iraqi Army. Everything flowed from that, he argued. "That is not hindsight", he insisted. A Jordanian had told him in 2002 that a 'Western' invasion would cause terrorism in Iraq.

And that was the thought he left us with, 'our' guilt written all over our faces and Hugh's finger wagging furiously. It just wouldn't be a Hugh Sykes report if it didn't end like that. 

The press panel consisted of Robert Winston, Patience Wheatcroft and Janet Ellis. Mmmmm....Janet Ellis!

If you were waiting for Paddy to mention that Lord Winston is a Labour peer or that Patience Wheatcroft is a Conservative peer you would have been waiting until The Archers (and to infinity and beyond). He didn't even mention that Janet is a former Blue Peter presenter (which is surely du rigueur)...or that I used to have a crush on her (hence the various pictures of her on this post). If we'd have known that (not the bit about me fancying Janet I hasten to add) it might have put their collective rottweilering of UKIP into some kind of context. 

Baroness Wheatcroft was especially insulting about UKIP. Reading the comments at Biased BBC and some of the comments on Twitter, I know that some people aren't at all happy with her for that. She's been accused, among other things, of being out-of-touch.

I let you be the judge about that, only adding that she called Drummer Lee Rigby "Sergeant Lee Rigby" and described Tony Abbott as "Stephen Howard, the Australian prime minister". (Kindly, no one corrected her on either mistake). 

Some took against the BBC for promoting the UKIP-bashing threesome's behaviour. Others (on Twitter) abused Paddy O'Connell for sticking up for UKIP in response.

That, of course, brings up the BBC's favourite response: We get complaints from both sides, so we must be getting it about right - an argument I've debunked so many times here that I'll refrain from doing so again.

Still, I would clear Paddy and BH on both counts here. They aren't responsible for what their guests say, and Paddy did make an attempt to counter their collective attacks on UKIP. Does that make him pro-UKIP? Hardly. He was just doing what a BBC presenter is meant to do in the face of such a hostile consensus from his guests, playing devil's advocate against them, and he did let them continue their attack before moving things along. 

That said, I'm not clearing Paddy and BH of failing to mention the party-political links of his guests - unless he's flattering his audience and believing we're all knowledgeable enough to know that Patience is a Tory and Robert a Labour man. I doubt that though. A fair number of people might know that Lord Winston is Labour, but Patience's allegiances are much less well known and her Conservatism ought to have been made clear.

And...there's also a case for investigating the guest list for the press panel on BH. Have they ever invited any potentially pro-UKIP guests? 

Still, the closing section, with astronomer Carolin Crawford of Cambridge University, was captivating. It broadcast the sounds of the universe - the "purring" of a comet, the "marbles-thrown-into-a-biscuit-tin" sound of flying through a comet's tail, the turning-and-tossing wind sounds of Cassini's descent through the clouds of Saturn's largest moon Titan, the ethereal "Doctor Who" sounds of Saturn's 'northern lights' (which I could have listened to for much longer), and the avant-garde-sounding atmospheric motions of another of Saturn's moon, Enceladus. sounds!

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