Saturday 24 January 2015

It's all Greek to me

I saw a comment the other day saying that BBC has 
...actively avoided reporting on the real social and economic problems in Greece, exacerbated by the totalitarian ideals of the EU over the past 4 years....The trials and tribulations of the poor and vulnerable of Greece? No. Nadda. Don’t want to expose the serfdom that results from unconstrained corporate socialism. 
Well, that's not not my impression at all. 

Far from the BBC reporting "nothing" about "the trials and tribulations of the poor and vulnerable of Greece" over the past four years, I've seen (and heard) countless BBC reports from Greece describing the hardship caused by the EU-designed austerity strategy there. There have been innumerable reports on the effects of the cuts/tax rises, especially on Greek public sector workers. The impoverishment of swathes of the Greek population because of austerity has been extensively covered. The months of anti-austerity protests there were very widely reported. (While at Newsnight, Paul Mason seemed to be almost permanently encamped with the revolting dispossessed of Athens.) 

The commenter puts what he sees as the BBC's complete failure to report such things down to the BBC's pro-EU bias. I, in complete contrast, might put what I see as the BBC's very heavy reporting of Greek hardship down to their anti-austerity bias. 

One of us is clearly wrong about the extent of the reporting of Greece's economic woes (and it's not me!), but (assuming you accept either of those propositions) it's still quite possible for us both to be right about the presence of BBC bias here. The BBC can, after all, be anti-austerity and pro-EU at the same time.

How? Well, here's what I think is a classic example: The closing words of Gabriel Gatehouse's piece for last night's Newsnight:
The Greeks themselves face a difficult choice. For while many see Berlin and Brussels as the enforcers of their current austerity, they also understand that in Europe lies their best chance of future prosperity.
His report focused on the hardship caused by austerity but, as you can see, concluded with the BBC reporter telling Newsnight viewers that the Greeks "understand" - i.e understand the 'fact' - that "in Europe lies their best chance of future prosperity"...

...which is a questionable statement of belief from Gabriel Gatehouse [given the evident fact that it hasn't worked out quite like that so far for them].

Of course, given that large numbers of Greeks have suffered drastic falls in living standards in recent years, the BBC's strong focus on their hardship is understandable. 

As time has passed, however, I've been hearing ever-diminishing mentions on the BBC of what (I believe) prompted the introduction of austerity measures in the first place - the fact that decades of over-spending, inefficiency, tax evasion and corruption produced a massive bubble for whose bursting the Greeks as a whole, not just their mainstream politicians, must surely take a good deal of the blame. 

Austerity is only part of the explanation for what's caused so much suffering in Greece today. Shouldn't BBC reporters be asking if Syriza's promises amount to a return to the bad old days (with an added layer of extreme left-wingery)? 

Well that's my two euros/drachmas' worth on the subject. 

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