Saturday 16 April 2016

One voice

Caroline Hawley on Lesbos

This evening's BBC One Weekend News led with Pope Francis on Lesbos and his 'shaming' pleas for more 'humanity' (from people like us) and for much more to be done (by countries like ours) in order to help the 'refugees'.

Watch it for yourselves (while you can) and you'll see that this BBC bulletin gave the Pope's view, supporters of the Pope's view (including someone from Save the Children and Cardinal Nichols), and 'desperate' refugees' views which were wholly in line with the Pope's views (for obvious reasons) a completely free run.

There were no opposing views. It was one message, one plea, throughout. 

And the newsreader (Kate Silverton) and the reporter (Caroline Hawley) adopted facial expressions and tones of voice that merely reinforced the Pope's message too. (Watch and see for yourselves if you doubt that).

And the BBC's language? Well, here's a representative sample:
Thousands of migrants are stuck on Lesbos. 
He came to what's being called 'the frontline' of the migrant crisis to meet the people who've risked their lives to get here to plead for a more humane international response to them. 
The Pope is used to provoking emotions. They're usually drawn from religious fervour not desperation
...a growing chorus of concern.... 
He'll hope at least to have managed to stir Europe's conscience
The Pope flew back to Rome taking with him three Syrian families whose homes have been destroyed - the chosen few, while thousand of others have been left in limbo here
...that has come at the cost of Europe having its humanity questioned
Impartial language? I don't think so.

Though the BBC has (perhaps because of the EU referendum) let this story slip somewhat out of focus recently, I'd say from this that the BBC is clearly as committed as ever to cajoling us (one way or the other) into thinking we ought to take these people in. 

If the BBC was being genuinely impartial about reporting this wouldn't they have featured at least some contrasting or contradictory points of view?


  1. Allegedly, on some other show, they will have someone on to offer an opposing viewpoint. In fact, they could probably use John Humphrys raising the point with that Cardinal of them not being actual refugees in dire peril as proof that, on balance, in the long term, they get it about right. It doesn't matter if the BBC basically lies about it here.

  2. Good...I hope they run more and more stories like this. It can only aid the Leave campaign. Sadly, though, I expect this to be a bit of one-off bit of Papal Bull and we will back to the migrant news black out in the run up to the Referendum - nothing like last year with Jenny Hill jumping up and down excitedly waving a "Welkommen" sign.

    1. I think you'll be proved right about that and that this was a mere 'one-day wonder' from the BBC. Near-silence will now be the norm again for the next two months (after tomorrow's 'Sunday' on Radio 4 has covered it in huge depth - a prediction I'm even more sure will come true).

  3. It is probably more certain that Sunday will cover this story than that the Sun will actually rise tomorrow.


    I am not sure about the BBC's EU Referendum Reality Check on the website which got a good review here earlier in the week. It seems to me they are mixing in a lot of comment. Take this for instance:

    "It [a House of Common Library paper] says that Norway's contribution to the EU in 2011 was £106 per capita, compared with the UK's net contribution of £128 per capita in the same year.

    The paper says that Switzerland's contribution as a member of the European Free Trade Areas (Efta) has been about £53 per head in recent years.

    We don't know what deal would be done in the event of a Brexit, but if it is anything like the deals done by Norway and Switzerland it would be a decent chunk.

    So we don't know how much would be left over to be spent by the government on the NHS, but it is important to bear in mind just how big the NHS is, to get these figures into context."

    Well that's not reality that's comment and supposition. A decent chunk? You could equally have said it would be "a much smaller contribution". Does anyone seriously believe that the UK couldn't negotiate a better deal than Norway? Norway's political elite wanted in and so wanted to make the difference between EU membership and non EU membership as small as possible. They put up no resistance at all. I would personally be extremely surprised if we couldn't end up with a much smaller contribution than the Swiss one if we want a free trade deal with the EU. We also will not have to sign up to free movement (remember both Switzerland and Norway were actually quite keen on free movement. I expect we could negotiate a separate deal on movement - probably minimum quotas and other arrangements.


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