Thursday 8 January 2015

Last night's 'Newsnight'

Returning to the subject of yesterday's coverage of the Paris massacre, Newsnight was the worst of what I saw.

Besides former Charlie Hebdo journalist Hélène Constanty, Newsnight made what Rod Liddle might called slight nods to 'faux impartiality' by including brief contributions from two voices critical of certain aspects of Muslim behaviour - Ayaan Hirsi Ali and Gil Mihaely...

However, they were completely outnumbered by those much more attuned to the BBC's wavelength: Steve Bell of the Guardian tiptoeing around the central issue and proclaiming that all of us in Britain are a bit Muslim now; Sir Iqbal Sacranie using the occasion to call for new blasphemy laws; Maboula Soumahoro condemning French secularism and praising Anglo-Saxon multiculturalism; leftist historian and Guardian regular Andrew Hussey ('The French Intifada: how the Arab banlieues are fighting the French state') backing the grievances of French Muslims; researcher into "racism, populism, the extreme right and abstention" Aurelien Mondon, also backing the grievances of French Muslims; Muslim journalist Nadia Lamlili blaming the problem on the National Front and unhelpful media reporting; Elise Vincent, immigration correspondent for Le Monde (the French equivalent of the Guardian) giving a commentary of the day's events; socialist ex-PM Edith Cresson calling for unity; and, worst of all, leftist intellectual Tzvetan Todorov who got this series of non-BBC interviews going by worrying about the plight of France's Muslims and blaming the journalists at Charlie Hebdo for overstepping the mark. 

The BBC presenters - Emily Maitlis in Paris and Evan Davis in London - and main reporter Emma Jane Kirby - were almost pathological in their tiptoeing around mentioning the 'I' or 'M' words (except in connection with a possible 'backlash'), with Evan Davis in particular engaging in some startling circumlocutions to avoid casting this one particular community in a bad light.

Katie Razzall's report on the causes of the tensions in France between Muslims and non-Muslims (featuring Andrew Hussey, Nadia Lamlili and Aurelien Mondon) was the most blatant in its bias. It took a strongly critical line on French "confrontational" secularism as being the root cause, rather than anything French Muslims might be doing. and strayed perilously close to advocacy. There was no mention from Katie Razzall of anti-Semitism in France (or that the targets in Toulouse were Jewish children). She also (twice) used the disgraceful term 'Islamophobia' without 'inverted commas'.

And. in advance of the closing discussion, Evan Davis went so far in giving a potted history of recent calls for censorship in Europe as to list five examples - three Muslim (only mentioning a firebombing in regards to one of, and not mentioning actual violence - including deaths - in regards to any of then), one Christian (protests outside the BBC against 'Jerry Springer: The Opera') and one Sikh (against a play). The attempt to draw moral equivalence between the latter and the former (the Satanic Verses, the Danish cartoons, the book about the Prophet's wife) was jaw-dropping. All were grouped together under the label of "religious fundamentalism", as if the insane series of death threats, mob attacks, murders, attempted murders, and massacres we've seen over the past 25 years from 'offended' Muslims are really comparable to a few Christians chanting about how 'Jerry Springer: The Opera' shouldn't be broadcast. Such things lie very far apart, at opposite ends of a long spectrum. Neither should be indulged, but the one end is infinitely worse than the other, and trying to merge them into a single phenomenon is disingenuous. 

This Newsnight was, as far as I can see, a deliberate attempt to shift the focus away from where the focus ought to be and onto aspects of the story which the BBC feels much more comfortable reporting. 


  1. More of the same tonight. Rather than inquiring into what UK Muslims really think e.g. the poll figure of 76% of UK Muslims who think that mockery of Mo should be severely punished, they get a couple of westernised, liberal Muslims to have a meaningless debate with David Araanovitch (spelling?) - who, incidentally, wasn't tackled on his support for uncontrolled mass immigration, which has, as a matter of logic, created this problem in Europe.

  2. I just can't bring myself to watch QT anymore.


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