Saturday 30 May 2015


Here's proper impartiality for you: two pieces from Standpoint magazine - one bashing the BBC, the other bashing people who bash the BBC:
Here's a sample from each of them:

Stephen Glover
If the Tories can reasonably consider themselves hard done by during the election, UKIP is entitled to think it was taken to the cleaners by the Corporation. Despite Ofcom’s decree that it should be treated as a “major party” on the same basis as Conservatives, Labour and Lib Dems, it was regularly tacked on to the end of BBC political reports, and sometimes entirely ignored. In one television debate Nigel Farage was barracked by a BBC-selected audience that appeared predominantly anti-UKIP. When grilled by Newsnight’s Evan Davis Mr Farage was treated as though he was batty or an extremist or both, though when Mr Davis came to interview the SNP’s Nicola Sturgeon, he was full of smiles and reassurance. 
By way of further supporting evidence, let me point out that the editor of Newsnight, Ian Katz, is a former deputy editor of the Guardian, its political editor hails from the same newspaper, and its economics editor was previously an economist at the TUC. Ask yourself whether it is imaginable for the editor and political editor of the most important current affairs programme to have worked for the Daily Telegraph, or for its economics editor to have cut his teeth at the Institute of Economic Affairs. The answer is obviously “No” — as it is equally inconceivable that an ex-Tory cabinet minister would be appointed as the £300,000-a-year “director of strategy and digital”, as the former Labour cabinet minister James Purnell was in 2013. The same point can be made about the centre-Left participants who monopolise the Beeb’s satirical and culture shows. Sometimes it seems as though Tony Hall, director-general, as well as its head of news, James Harding, are ’avin’ a larf. 
I don’t doubt there are many fine journalists working for Auntie who strive to be neutral and objective, and often succeed in being so. But with a few exceptions they are what they are — metropolitan, conventional members of the slightly left-wing cultural elite, wary of Tories and their strange antediluvian beliefs. Appointing right-wing BBC chairmen or director-generals won’t affect the direction of travel, as Margaret Thatcher discovered in the 1980s. It is surely instructive that almost every BBC journalist to whom one talks is convinced that the organisation is even-handed.

Nick Cohen
You have to read the right-wing press to see how unrelenting the assault on the BBC is in England. You have to read Bella Caledonia or one of the other SNP blogs to see how Scottish nationalists ape English Tories. It’s not that the BBC deserves to escape scrutiny for its biases and faults, or for the many follies of its managers. Rather, you need to look at the cultish refusal to allow one good word to be said about the corporation, and at how this stifling uniformity reveals the emptiness of nationalist and Tory myths.
Conservative intellectuals are fond of Jonathan Haidt’s argument in The Righteous Mind that liberals do not understand tradition and therefore cannot tolerate conservatives. Haidt’s thesis is highly dubious — the American and European liberal-Left are suffused with traditions of their own. But when conservatives go on to say that the Right is more broadminded than the Left, they reduce Haidt to absurdity.
A glance at the conservative press shows you that dissent not only on the BBC but also on the EU is simply not allowed to exist. Even civilised conservatives, who deplore the dumbing-down of British culture, can never discuss in public what would happen to that culture if their allies succeeded in abolishing Radios Three and Four. Scottish nationalists boast that theirs is a warm and cuddly “civic” nationalism, yet they demand the sacking of BBC journalists who fail to show proper deference to their leaders.
The easy explanation for the group-think is that many journalists act like prostitutes, whoring out their integrity to whoever pays them. It is certainly the case that you cannot defend the BBC in most right-wing newspapers without running into trouble.


  1. Stephen Glover does make a few good points. Especially about rosters. I think it is all supposed to be balanced by Chris Patten, Jeremy Clarkson, Andrew Neil and Nick Robinson, though the first two are off the books now, Nick's dalliance from a time when I thought shoulder pads were cool and while Andrew may give Labour an equal opportunity bad day, UKIP remains beyond the pale.

    Nick Cohen is an oddity. It was he who outed something pretty awful (which I'd need to look up as there have been more than one), but it appears it is more from a position of unrestrained love toyed with than any sense of betrayal.

    I would point out to him (if not at risk of a blocking, which seems the default to counter views from most in that corner) that the Indy and The Mirror are also prone to noticing stuff the BBC and its legions of spokespeople would prefer not mentioned, and dismiss with a 'we don't think so, so it can be'.

    All I can see is the first uses... facts.

    The second seems to rely, as so much does, on 'Murdoch!!!!!'. Or Daily Mail readers' paper of choice.

    One seem more persuasive than the other.

  2. Just read 'em both.

    That Nick Cohen could write this about those he feels the BBC needs defending from, given its actual total dominance of UK media, suggests more than a wee dram of Kool Aid has been imbibed:

    "“You learn to become a good functionary, a good corporate functionary. You learn to instinctively edit your ideas to fit the newspaper and the political views of the proprietor and the editors.”"

  3. Weird how, if the BBC supposedly gets it about right because they get complaints from both sides, one has to read the right-wing press to know about the "assault" on the BBC for being biased.


Note: only a member of this blog may post a comment.