Saturday 6 February 2016

The ghost of Noel Edmonds

The BBC's coverage of that UN panel's verdict on Julian Assange's 'arbitrary detention' in the Ecuadorian embassy hasn't been straightforward.

Given the BBC's extraordinary behaviour when Wikileaks first 'broke' (via the Guardian), when the BBC seemed to be hanging on the Guardian's every word and was very uncritical of Mr Assange, I kind-of expected the BBC to betray a strong pro-Assange bias.

Maybe others did too. When the story first 'broke' (the day before the UN panel officially released their 'ruling') the BBC were up to their neck in it, having received a leaked copy of the ruling (from some interested party no doubt!). 

It was 'the BBC has learned' territory yet again - and, as ever, they made as much of it as they could. 

I read some comments over at Biased BBC on Thursday saying that the BBC was being heavily pro-Assange in its reporting that day - singling out Caroline Hawley on that evening's BBC One News at Six for particular opprobrium. 

Checking it out for myself I found myself in total agreement with the folk at B-BBC. Caroline Hawley's report appeared very pro-Assange to me too. 

She called the UN panel "experts", stuck to their narrative for nearly all of her report, gave the pro-Assange people featured in her report significantly longer than the anti-Assange people (curiously a Lib Dem) and, most strikingly of all, didn't even mention the rape charge.  

I was all ready to post about that yesterday when I watched the BBC One News at Six again and saw another Caroline Hawley report, following the official release of that absurd UN ruling. Would it be as bad? 

Well, no. This time she did mention the rape charge and was far more even-handed throughout. She didn't call the UN panel "experts" either. 

That stopped me in my tracks.

My only other encounters with the BBC and this story concern last night's Newsnight and this week's The News Quiz. 

Newsnight completely confounded my expectations. 

My expectations were that by (a) inviting one of the UN "experts" to be its sole interviewee and (b) by getting that notorious lefty James O'Brien to interview him, we'd be given a full Guardianesque homage to Julian Assange's 'triumph'. 

Not so. In fact, we saw JO'B give the man from the UN a thorough duffing up, with JO'B aggressively putting the anti-Assange case and the Beninese UN man crashing and burning. 

It was grimly compelling - that grimness being compounded by the fact that however happy I was to see the UN idiot brought low it was James O'Brien doing it.

The UN man's less-than-perfect English and the time delay on the long-distance feed meant that JO'B's loud interruptions left the UN man at a severe disadvantage and a very long silence resulted at one stage, broken by the UN man asking if he could still be heard. 

That was rude, incompetent, look-at-me interviewing on James O'Brien's part but - thanks to the UN man's complete and utter ineptness - it gave the impression of being a knock-out fisking by the LBC/BBC man.

And as for The News Quiz (which this week was minus the usual far-left suspects), they were 100% unsympathetic towards/mocking of Julian Assange. There was a complete consensus that the man had 'arbitrarily detained' himself and considerable mockery of him to boot. (The audience didn't sound as if it expected this - doubtless being a typical BBC Radio 4 comedy audience). Someone called him "the Twitter Generation's David Icke" and Miles Jupp called him the "ghost of Noel Edmonds". 

So I can't rule that the BBC has been non-arbitrarily biased here. 

(That said, I didn't see or hear that much of the coverage, so I might be missing a lot of other bias - one way or the other).


  1. Probably a bit of feminism v anti-Americanism tension going on in the BBC cultural ghetto. Obviously in the case of migrants v feminism, the migrants have won out so maybe they are due a bit of compensation.

    That said, if you read into the assault allegations against Assange, you will be how little substance there is, apart from possibly "He wasn't a very considerate lover - though I didn't realise that until 7 days later"...followed by a rather curious assignation with some woman who was VERY KEEN to meet him...cue conspiracy theories and not all conspiracy theories are wrong.

  2. The BBC's initial credulous support for the 'UN'-report (apt description) really backfired on their traditionally safe social media circuit.

    The funny part now is seeing the BBC being mercilessly attacked by the loonie left, especially The News Quiz.

    Awkward silences all round at Islington cocktail parties tonight. Shame.


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