Saturday 16 May 2015

Stealth editing from 'Today'

This is very odd.

Following on from our earlier post about Sarah Montague's interview with Labour's Caroline Flint where the Today presenter said, 
OK, let's discuss why we...why you lost the election this time around in a minute...
I spotted a comment at Biased-BBC:

@1700hrs BBC today programme is not available. Are they gettting rid of the “We”?

I thought I'd better check that out, just to be sure, and found, at 18.00, that Today is available. So I tutted. 

But, to be even more on the safe side, I then forwarded through to 51:37 mark to make absolutely sure that everything was exactly the same, and found Sarah Montague asking:
OK, let's discuss why we...why you lost the election this time around in a minute...
Now, as you can see, that's slightly different to my earlier transcription of what Sarah said, in that "why we lost the election...why you lost the election" becomes "why we...why you lost the election" - i.e. something much quicker, much more like a mere 'slip of the tongue'.

All I can say is that when I first transcribed what Sarah Montague said, I listened four times to make sure I'd transcribed it precisely, given how juicy it was!

Yet now, it doesn't say exactly what I transcribed. 

Yes, it hasn't got rid of "we" but it now says something slightly less embarrassing.

Listening to that bit of Today now, you will not hear any obvious editing. Everything sounds as natural as if you were hearing it live.

But I am certain, absolutely certain, that what I transcribed a few hours ago is exactly what Sarah Montague said, and that what's on the i-Player now is a slightly-but-crucially edited version of that.

Very sneaky of the BBC, eh?

Update: Then again, and despite all my checking, what I heard as "let's discuss" was almost certainly actually something semi-decipherable containing the word "just". So maybe the blog should be renamed 'Is my hearing as good as I think it is?'

I remain certain though that Today was stealth-edited here, and the surely-Wikipedia-bound Sarah Montague's "we" remains intact.

Further update: As TrueToo pointed out in a comment at Biased BBC though, why would the BBC go to the trouble of editing this bit but not delete the bit featuring "we"?

Did I really transcribe what I heard so badly, despite repeatedly checking, as to imagine a "lost the election" where there was no "lost the election"?

Well, it's possible, what with confirmation bias, and all that.

I'm now officially nonplussed, and full of self-doubt. Has my 'gotcha' rebounded on me?

Still, the point of the original post, the 'slip of the tongue' over "we", remains, so Sarah's Wikipedia page is still due an update. Jim Naughtie would feel hard-done-by otherwise!


  1. Sounds like a compliant or FoI is called for.

    Of course it will be refused, because what the BBC broadcasts using public money is, once broadcast, exempt from the public checking on it (for various legitimate reasons)... 'for the purposes of...'.

    Still worth doing. Someone, somewhere may have recorded it, and if it turns out they have been 'sneaky', it's often the cover up that is worse than the original.

  2. Worth taking this further-because I only heard the edit,and thought she`d just been a reflex oaf who immediately corrected herself-if she`s been selectively edited-then the BBC need to explain why they fooled the likes of me...the original should stand.
    That the BBC dare do this only shows how used they are to lying and redacting`s newsworthy when they do that Naughtie deceit of theirs.

  3. Be a good idea to use some recording software:

    1. Thank ftumch. That's useful.

      Election-wise, it was a surprisingly close shave in your neck of the woods - close to being a Conservative gain in Barrow and Furness.

      I wasn't expecting that. I thought John Woodcock (Labour) would walk it, polling-wise.

    2. Can't remember what I used to use, but you need something that will record any input through the sound card. Few years back, I would maybe hear an interesting song on the radio, go to iplayer and record it for myself. These days, I just head to youtube; most new bands have a presence there. (Recording songs off the radio... was like being 14 all over again.)

      Re: election. Yes, surprised me some too. I suspect the Red Ed fear factor played strongly, because this is normally the proverbial turd wearing a red rosette territory; the last Tory we had here was when Thatch guaranteed Trident for Vickers.

      Had myself and all the other UKIP voters voted tory, we would have a tory mp, and Cameron would be more secure. Personally, I think we sent an important message to Mr Cameron. You think he'll listen?


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