Sunday 13 November 2016

Shut up!

After everything that's happened recently you might expect that some, especially on the Left, would finally give up trying to insult and silence 'unacceptable' people, given that their dogged attempts to do just that have plainly not worked  (so far) .

In fact, such attempts only appear to have made things worse for them by fuelling the anger of supporters of the very people they want to silence and, as a direct consequence, helping to bring about the very results they so wanted to prevent happening (UKIP getting 4 million votes, the Tories winning the last election, Brexit, and now Trump).

And yet, instead of considering that and changing tack, it looks as if the selfsame people are now simply going to ratchet up their old strategies of hatcheting people with labels and 'no platforming' them, and to keep on keeping on with their loud demands that 'unacceptable' voices be silenced - only doing so even more energetically than before. 

There's been a huge Twitterstorm over the BBC's decision to interview Marine le Pen on The Andrew Marr Show this morning, coupled with a small protest outside Broadcasting House. Labour MPs have been involved, with Jeremy Corbyn adding his support. Doing so on Remembrance Sunday is particularly disrespectful of the BBC, they say (though a surprising number of them are combining such criticisms with sneering about people wearing traditional poppies). 

Randomly sampling such tweets suggests that, though the numbers have seemed huge, they've been overwhelmingly the same tiny minority of people who are always involved in this kind of Twitterstorm - people who see everyone from Marine le Pen to Nigel Farage and Suzanne Evans (yes, Suzanne Evans!) as far-right "fascists" and want them silenced, and who think that giving airtime to Trump got him where he is and giving airtime to UKIP got us Brexit, and that it shouldn't be allowed to happen ever again, starting in France with Marine le Pen.

The idea of crushing Mme le Pen in the arena of rational debate with the strength of their arguments still isn't proving a very popular idea with them it seems. It will doubtless be their loss in the long run, yet again, though.

Not that Andrew Marr came anywhere near close to crushing Mme le Pen through the strength of his arguments this morning.

The BBC itself, though refusing to bow to the Twitter mob, was remarkably defensive about the interview - which is most unlike them. 

It started on BBC Breakfast with the presenters making it clear how "controversial" the decision to interview the FN leader was and BBC statements being read out justifying the decision. 

And Andrew Marr himself also felt the need to preface his interview by issuing a 'trigger warning' (while sticking to his guns):
Now I know this morning some people are offended and upset that I have been to interview Marine le Pen and that we're showing this interview on Remembrance Sunday. I understand that, but I would say this: Le Pen could, under some circumstances, become the next French president in the Spring. This week, in the immediate aftermath of the Trump victory, she's declared that the whole world has changed and that her brand of politics is on the march. What does that mean? In the end, we are a news programme and I don't think the best way to honour the fallen is to fail to report on the next big challenge to Western security.  


  1. I love twitter, but concede it is but a starting point at best, a steam release at middle, and only the insane would obsess about who says what on it at worst.

    That latter describes the small bubble the BBC has decided it must inhabit and dominate, when not apologising to the cheap seats.

  2. I see now Marr and the BBC believe they must interview le Pen and that Remembrance Day is absolutely the most appropriate time to show it. Marr introduced her popularity and Trump's election as the "next great challenge to our security". Say no more.

    After all, this is how Hitler came to power, right? How long have we been hearing Beeboids say how the current mood reminds them of the 1930s? They're still at it. This is as much about Trump as it is about le Pen. In fact, I bet Trump is going to be blamed for a lot of things that happen in Europe. Even while they know on some level that Trump is a symptom, not the cause.

    The interview itself gives the appearance of being robust but seems rather unedifying. Or maybe that's just me.

  3. And there it as at the end. Marr explicitly linked Trump's election to the rise of the Front National. It's defamatory, and slanders almost 60 million people. Typical BBC, then.

  4. Just to 'borrow' a couple of interesting comments from B-BBC, relevant to this interview:

    Raphael November 13, 2016 at 4:08 pm

    In the interests of fairness (because after all this site is about fairness) I would like to give kudos to the BBC for broadcasting this interview. However, is all what it seems?

    First, is it mischief-making to schedule it on Remembrance Sunday in order to stoke up the cries of foul? The BBC loves twitter, so it will have been loving this or possibly instrumental in whipping up any “twitterstorm”.

    Second, Marr’s “apology” is simply a chance to demonize Marine le Pen. Look, I am pretty centrist in my politics – some ideas from left of centre, some from right of centre, and I have a great mistrust of ideologues – but this is blatant signalling to the BBC’s bubble. I want to be allowed to hear an interview and make up my own mind, not have it framed in this way. Does he apologize for the far-Left loonies he interviews on a regular basis, far less call them out? What about Paul Mason, or even Corbyn – do they get introduced with a disclaimer?

    Third, Marr makes several insulting conflations, not least that of making sure that the viewer links Nazism and the Front National. Any other careful listeners notice the way he asked whether her brand of politics was “on the march”? Plenty of other casual insinuations in the language, too. I would have been far more interested to know exactly where he thinks the parallels are, and debate this. I am not saying this as a supporter of Madame le Pen, just as someone who sees the dangers of simplistic assumptions to suit the political narrative, especially at a time when calling people by these tired labels is being shown every day to harden their attitudes.

    Fourth, I am unhappy about the way the interpreter spoke over le Pen, so that those of us who speak French had no way of telling how well her words were being translated. When all trust has gone in the national broadcaster, we needed to hear her speak.

    embolden November 13, 2016 at 6:25 pm

    Good post Raphael. Your analysis of the way the Le Pen interview was “framed” is a good example of how BBC bias works.

    As it happens we could make a direct comparison with the way in which the far leftist, Corbyn was handled on the specific issue of anti Semitism.

    I was nonplussed at watching “far right, nationalist party leader” Marine le Pen being asked to explain her fathers 30 year old comments on the Holocaust….after the comment had been spun slightly by Marr…an “accident” (which le pen senior didn’t say) elided with a “detail” which I’m told he did say. This was early in the interview and thus framed the interviewee as being on the defensive from the start.

    Corbyn on the other hand, had his cuddly credentials confirmed by the story of his “dear old friend” accompanying him to the Cenotaph, but at no point did Marr ask Corbyn about his personal and his party’s more recent troubles with and relationships with anti Semites in the Hamas influenced Islamist Palestinian terrorist groups. Nor was Corbyn asked about the questionable ennobling of Shami Chakerabati following her whitewash inquiry into anti semitism within the Labour Party this year.

    Why? Bias that’s why. Blatant bias.

    1. Is BBC interviewing a far right French political party on Nov 13 an issue because of the First World War only, really? Are you sure or is there another reason why it shouldn’t have taken place that particular day.

      My name is Olivier, I am French, and would like to remember you (BBC) that your broadcasting strategy is extremely indecent because 13 Nov is the last year anniversary of the terrible terrorist attack in Paris.

      I guess that it is the main reason why Marine Le Pen was given the opportunity to speak on BBC. Like if France should be falling into chaos of racism and selfishness.
      FYI, Farage says he want to be the Trump ambassador in Europe “to kill it”! That is what he just says few days ago.
      Did you put that on your head news? Why don’t you invite him to come to talk about his wish to destroy any European idea?

      Personally I see Marine Le Pen as very small player compare to him. Or you hope that it will be fantastic for UK, or anyway, too complicated for UK now, let’s avoid sharing too much of what is really happening there... May be Trump will share US fortune with UK since as long as we are wealthy everything is fine (who cares about the rest of the world).

      Surprisingly, few days after the Brexit, BBC head news was about the same topic “France far right political party may take power in France” and idem with Germany and many other European countries which make me wonder if BBC is just getting lost with its own British political struggles searching for similar things happening around.

      Is that real journalism, free and independent or the main concept is to make people reading BBC in thinking that’s “good we Brexit just in time because all Europe will become a nightmare?”.

      If it is true that reading BBC seems to me quite ambiguous these days, fortunately on the same 13 Nov Sting was the one giving the tone in Paris, saying in French, we will not forget and singing "Nothing comes from violence and nothing will."
      Thank you Sting, you upgrade the level!

      Well, to finish, if you don’t mind, I hope that Europe will survive the today struggle in order to build a better world where dignity and respect between different peoples still stay the main reason to build together.

      And frankly, hope as well that England will be part of it since the Brexit as the Trump phenomena doesn’t look like to be the most appreciated today’s political turn by British citizen. But that as well is not much making headline on the “fair and free BBC” news decision.

  5. Raphael's comment is spot on. Especially the bit about the 'health warning' double standard giving away the BBC's bias. As for emoblden's reply, they can't ask Corbyn about Baroness Shame of Whitewash or Hamas every single time he's on. You have to mix it up and be topical sometimes. In this case, though, Corbyn was brought on specifically to lay out an alternative viewpoint to the straw men explanations for Brexit and Trump. So Marr wouldn't dare challenge him as he usually does.


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