Monday 6 March 2017

Introspective wittering

“………..most, if not all, of the critique here tends to leave the impression of a pro-Brexit, pro-Trump, anti-left, anti-liberal crowd.”
“I'm starting to wonder what the point is though? There are already countless sites and forums with viewpoints like the ones espoused on here”

Funny you should say that AnonAnon, because only the other day Craig and I were just saying the exact same thing. We both agreed that dissenting comments liven up a blog, especially one that’s that’s teetering on echo-chamber territory. We’re on red alert, at high risk of radicalising ourselves and anyone who passes by. So we’re grateful for the input.

Why, only the other day me and Craig were nostalgically reminiscing about one particular online adversary from the olden (Biased-BBC) days of whom neither hide nor hair has been heard since 2010. (Where are you now?)  His provocative disputatiousness kept us on our toes. Citing specific examples of our ridiculousness - some valid, some not - was good for us and made us more scrupulous and self-critical. 
He even started up a dedicated tribute blog.   What larks!

The penultimate comment-of-all-time was particularly perceptive: 
“Anonymous” 24 April 2011 at 20:28  said: 

“Stumbled on this by accident.What the fuck is this shite about.No wonder this blog is dead. Was the “writer” committed to an asylum?

We’ll never know if he was or if he wasn’t. Probably wasn’t. 

Seriously, Craig and I had virtually this identical conversation about two days ago. “All the ‘action’ is on social media now. Blogs are so last season”  we said, and so on. In fact the contents of your comment were so familiar to me (and Craig agrees) that I immediately thought it was somehow a “false flag” affair.
I wouldn’t put it past Craig. Or, I’m getting quite forgetful myself - it might have me, and I’d clean forgotten having done it.

Anyway Craig and I kind of left it in the air. What’s the point, we asked ourselves.

There is an inherent problem with focusing on BBC bias, which is of course that as soon as one complains about the BBC’s unfair treatment of: Brexit, Trump, Nigel Farage, Israel etcetera, it forces one into a position that isn’t necessarily the position one would ideally wish to be in. Namely  being seen as, or coming across as uncritical aficionados of the above-mentioned, when of course one needn’t really be that at all. 
I’ll give two examples. Israel and Trump.

My last piece rather generously compared the BBC’s stock-in-trade web-report of Banksy’s crass political stunt (“Walled-Off Hotel”) with Channel Four’s sycophantic effort on the same topic, fronted by an embarrassingly fawning Krishnan Guru-Murthy. Least Worst, I called it.
Lo and behold, a link through our ‘traffic sources’ on the dashboard led to a left-wing forum which referred to ITBB as a “Zionistic” blog. The commenter appeared to regard my muted critique of the BBC as evidence that  the BBC was in thrall to the Zionist lobby. See ? Not for a minute did they think this might be an example of balance and fairness but they leapt straight to their own foregone conclusion - Jewish tentacles is wot done it.
This is an example of where being ‘fair’ amounts to arming one’s enemy, which promptly and predictably comes straight back to bite one on the bum. I’m perfectly well aware of Israel’s imperfections, but the BBC’s gross misrepresentation of both Israel and her foes is what I believe needs to be countered. 

So, let’s say that if we allow ourselves to appear less than wholehearted, the enemy will pounce. This principle applies across the board.

Let’s consider Donald Trump.
What an absolute shame that the only time the leader of the free world appears to be ‘on the right side’ it has to be in the form of a man “who has no words.” 

That was how Howard Jacobson described Donald Trump while chatting to James Naughtie on “Meet the Author” on the BBC News channel. This was an extended and/or slightly different version of the radio programme Craig transcribed

In the interview about his collection of articles from the Independent, Jacobson also spoke about a forthcoming novella inspired by Trump; a fairy tale about  the leader of the free world - a man with “no words”. 
No-one in their right mind could argue with the general consensus that Donald Trump is vulgar, narcissistic, devoid of taste and super-inarticulate. 

However the trouble with Trump isn’t just the absence of words or the lack of vocabulary, but the inability to express his ideas and aspirations articulately or eloquently. He can barely make himself understood, and one has to hope that one’s interpretation of his ideas and aspirations is valid, and not just one’s projection upon a suitably blank canvas and a wishful interpretation of what one would like them to be. (rather like Hope and Change) 
To camouflage this debilitating wordlessness, Trump plugs the deficit with hand gestures and ‘meaningful’ reiterations, ultimately arriving at a persuasive kind of fluency. It almost works. 
Let’s not forget Obama’s ‘meaningful’ pauses, which were routinely given the benefit of the doubt when he too might have been plain stuck or lost for words. Repetition is a commonly used cover-up; think Jeremy Corbyn.

Anyway, if you’re one of the millions who think it’s time that politicians and the media abandoned their dance macabre of choreographed evasiveness and euphemism which simultaneously bored and frightened us to death. If you wanted politicians to break free from empty political posturing you’d have no choice but to weigh your misgivings about Donald Trump against the current ‘hell in a handcart’ scenario, and take a deep breath and plump for Trump, a big gamble, but the least worst.

Those who desire certainty and familiarity whenever we leave our front door have little choice but to pin our hopes on a wretched man with no words, even though the man’s fundamental aspirations are irredeemably tainted by his flawed personality.

Over at Biased BBC, Alan quotes Peter Hitchens, circa 2013. (If I had done such a thing back in the day, I’d have been greeted with a flurry of “This has to do with BBC bias precisely what?) Nevertheless, much of what Hitchens wrote back then is still relevant, apart from the bit about Enoch Powell, whose infamous “Rivers of Blood’ speech proved astonishingly prescient, with time.

And just to be clear which are the similar blogs you allude to? Are they any good?

Oh yes, so what’s the point of this blog? At the very least it could be a therapeutic spleen-vent for the authors, and at best it could be ……….. 


  1. What AnonAnon fails - or, more likely, refuses - to understand, is that the opinions are beside the point. The point is to document the BBC's bias and demonstrate it where possible. Or at least, that's how I've always understood things.

    1. Quite. The BBC is supposed to be impartial but it clearly has its own policy agenda and supports those whose policies coincide with theirs. Mostly this means that the BBC opposes conservatives and populists and their policies e.g. migration control and reducing welfare dependency. But as we have seen, the BBC don't like the Corbynistas much either because Corbyn's brand of socialism is essentially anti-globalist, anti-EU and too suspicious of great wealth. This doesn't mean the BBC has "got it about right", it means the BBC promotes a narrow band of soggy-left, often dangerous, policies like no borders, accepting all asylum claimants who want to move here, mass immigration, EU membership, further EU integration, disguising the truth about Sharia and anti-Americanism.

    2. The upper-echelon Beeboids don't like Corbyn because they know he will keep Labour in the wilderness for another decade. That's the beginning and end of it. It's obvious from the way they approach interviews with him or his associates.

  2. Personally I'm enjoying AnonAnons presence here and he should be encouraged to stay. I'm sure I wouldn't agree with a lot of things he believes but he keeps it polite and ask's decent questions of us all.

    I think the problem is that, post Brexit, the BBC has put the afterburners on in terms of bias about that particular subject. They've also gone mental about Trump. If you call out this bias you kind of get tarred with being a supporter by default.

  3. What is the point of anything?

    If you enjoy writing this blog then keep doing it.

    I enjoy reading it and appreciate the time and effort you put in to write it. That will certainly be a lot more than chucking in the odd spanner does.

  4. Have you ever considered broadening the focus of the blog and taking in examples of economic bias - pandering to the views of business leaders, adherence to the 'mediamacro' narrative, etc?

  5. What is significant about "Is the BBC biased?" is that it is a question rather than a statement, thus inviting a conversation rather than simply stating a position. I think that it is also important to remember that bias can come in many forms and is not simply a contest for influence between the political right and left.

  6. "’s time that politicians and the media abandoned their dance macabre of choreographed evasiveness and euphemism which simultaneously bored and frightened us to death."

    Waves hand in agreement.

    Whatever Pres. Trump is, he is at least not this:

    Which really serves nobody well, including the cause of sensible governance.

    Barry was of course more lucid, but really not too great when the Teleprompter was off, so in many ways he was and is in the same camp. And his deeds are mostly lines in the sand now washed away by events.

    But I do agree, being kept on toes is vital, though sadly the calibre of toe keeper these days is beyond woeful. I have had fish in barrels who pulled the plug and committed suicide long before I arrive with my gun who have put up better fights.

    BBC defenders seem almost to a man, woman or other skilled in making the BBC appear even less appetising by the association, were this possible. So, long may they waste their time and wonder why as they do.

    However powers that actually do need to be held to account sensibly are a different matter.

    President Trump is one. He has said and done some daft things and needs proper challenge to reduce chances doing them again.

    Sadly, the response of most MSM to anything he says or does has meant that now even if there is a point to be made he'll likely get away with it as the public now assume it is partisan kindergarten media luvvies throwing their PC, SJW, ideological, partial toys out the pram.

    Which is not good.

    The solution seems to be to get rid of these wastes of space and hope the void is filled pronto by actual professional, objective media of genuine integrity who do speak for the public as a sensible fourth estate.

    A man can dream.

  7. Agree with Terry. The title suggests it's a debate, but it soon becomes clear that it's nothing of the sort. It has a bias all of its own. The focus of "bias" on this site strongly hints at the kind of pro-Brexit, pro-Trump, anti-left, anti-liberal bias that is so legion elsewhere in the cyber-verse of social media and blogging. Some replies to my posts have been so predictable through experience of the aforementioned - i.e. unwarranted assumptive insinuations about support for Sharia Law, some blah blah about snowflakes and lefty-liberals. Even the mildest expression of liberal or leftist thought is enough to place people on the same level as Stalin or Pol Pot. Apparently though it's the lefty-liberals silencing debate, this is the mantra that's repeated ad nauseam. It stinks every bit as much as the insults of "fascist" and "racist" and destroys debate at birth.

    In time to boost this point comes Peter, who has just declared himself too intelligent for "the calibre of toe keepers these days" and conveniently grouped and dismissed all "BBC defenders" together. Interestingly, the comments at the bottom of the linked Hitchens article (a typical mesh of liberal-lefty bashing) include this gem "the Gramscian says to himself / herself it it because he/she is more intelligent , better informed...". Spot the difference. On another post, Anonymous sets out to tell me how he can debate with anyone, even in the Guardian. Amusingly he'd just blown his foot off by disparaging liberal lefties - or "snowflakes" and "soft lefties" as he called them - as incapable of doing likewise. I don't know about you, but insulting people at the get-go and inflating your own ego is not a good way to encourage debate.

    Back to Trump momentarily. It's interesting that excuses are already being made on his behalf here, despite admittance that he's a narcissistic, vulgar man with an inability to articulate and despite the fact that he was the Republican Party candidate. It seems the "alt-right" (I hate this term, but let's just call it that for the sake of shorthand) managed too to overlook that a millionaire (or is it billionaire) TV show host with all his obvious personality disorders and excessive belligerence, was perhaps not boasting the right credentials to lead the overturn of the "establishment".

    More later...

    1. So it isn't a debate because people on here won't agree with you ? hmm sorry but your dismissive tone is just as bad as anything you claim this site does and shows you are not coming here and acting in good faith

    2. Where am I being dismissive and how does this show I'm not "acting in good faith"? Mystified.

    3. AnonAnon,
      The title does suggest it’s a debate, and we hoped it would be a debate when we set out.

      If you want, this blog does indeed have a bias of its own, as in an actual debate. Argument and counter argument.The BBC represents the motion, and we represent the counter motion.

      At the outset we intended to give the BBC its due. When we liked something we saw on the BBC we said we’d say so. Craig was especially forthcoming in that respect.

      However, due to Brexit, Trump, Syria, the Refugee situation, the rise in antisemitism etc., there was a surfeit of material; an overwhelming surge. As two individual bloggers, not a team of writers, we had to prioritise.

      I tried to explain above that our arguments force us into polarised positions, which don’t necessarily show the whole picture. However hard we try, nuance nearly always falls on deaf ears.

      If you read the whole piece above rather than skip straight to the comments below the line (I often do this myself on other blogs) you might realise that turning it into a debate is in your own hands. It’s partly up to you. If it’s an echo chamber, you’re free to widen the conversation, and if you do so cordially, so much the better.

    4. Thank you Sue. I did read your initial post and apologies, I do understand that to rail against bias can unintentionally give the impression of support to the 'victim' of bias. This will be a rushed train of thought, and so probably rambling...

      Just to clarify my earlier comments - this site gives creedence that it is predisposed to the ideology of the right. That's fine, but if that's the case it should be made clear. The second point I was trying to make is that it's a common complaint of those with right-wing views that "the left" (all of them?) shout down debate and ridicule views that differ to their own. Point being I don't see any difference with "the right" either. Entrenchment truly sets in. Thirdly, there are many varying reasons you can have issues with the BBC and you don't have to be ideologically right-wing to have them.

      I don't agree with everything this site posts, some of it reads a lot like nitpicking (a couple of digits in the wrong order), some of it doesn't take into account what to me is an obvious general decline in the overall quality of news reporting, plenty infers a "lefty-liberal" bias (though I wouldn't dispute plenty of times you could make a case for this) where I see the bias of a rather staid and self-serving establishment. It ignores the ramifications of its status as a State broadcaster and hides behind its alleged impartiality to strike blows. Logically a State broadcaster is not impartial and the Government of the day can (and I think it's naive to suppose it doesn't) exert influence on its output.

      The BBC isn't going to pick holes in, or lead critique of enclaves of the domestic population based on race or religion, it isn't going to cheer-lead those who wish it ill. It is going to act as P.R. for the Monarchy, it is going to insist we share a "special relationship" with the U.S., it is going to deter the break-up of the Union, it will scratch the back of those who scratch theirs.

      On Brexit, it would be wrong to suggest that the general tone of the BBC's coverage was anything but pro-Remain (nudged by the Government and its own self-interest perhaps). But, beyond the tone, it did give a lot of coverage and weight to the Out camps, including the unofficial Nigel Farage charm offensive (I like Farage less than I like Trump FYI). The OUT campaigns messages DID get through and this should be acknowledged.

      Perhaps my biggest complaint on Brexit is that the BBC (and the MSM in general tbf) allowed both sides to get away with conducting campaigns riddled with cheap empty slogans, cheap empty promises, half-truths, obvious lies and an almost total absence of substance/accountability.

      On Trump, hell I won't even begin to argue. The bias couldn't be clearer. But is it an establishment bias or a lefty-liberal bias, a general revulsion or is it simply that Trump generates traffic? That is so much less clear. The second problem I have with the Trump coverage is why? Why is the focus on this so much and so little on domestic matters?

    5. You clearly do suffer from a misplaced belief in your own intellectual prowess, even down to thinking that people would be fooled by your initial consensual tone. We see that has been followed up by an admittedly futile attempt to get this blog shut down - a sure indication of your intolerance of anything that diverges from the BBC-Guardian-Globalist consensus.

    6. AnonAnon, the BBC spent far more energy attacking Brexit campaign talking points and most everyone not named Andrew Neil supported Remain talking points and did not challenge them much at all.

    7. AnonAnon knows it, he's just involved in a one-man disinformation and demoralisation campaign.

    8. I suspect there is a wider range of opinion on this site than you seem to suggest. It’s Sue and Craig’s blog and I am merely someone who occasionally adds to the comments, but I would certainly not consider myself to be particularly “of the right”. Although it does rather depend on exactly how you define these terms. I can certainly think of issues raised here that I have disagreed with.

      You raise some interesting points, particularly the general decline in the quality of news reporting. When the BBC puts out a story that is factually incorrect, often qualified by some vague phrase like “some people say…” or “A BBC source…” or even worst has not been properly checked I am as much annoyed by shoddy journalism as I am by any suggestion of bias. It is not entirely unbelievable that the Government of the day exerts some influence, but I think we will have to agree to disagree about a general liberal/left bias. Even the BBC grudgingly admitted this a couple years ago. In reinforcing what I have already said I would be equally concerned if I thought there was a right wing bias.

    9. The last post was directed to AnonAnon.

    10. "The BBC isn't going to pick holes in, or lead critique of enclaves of the domestic population based on race or religion, it isn't going to cheer-lead those who wish it ill. It is going to act as P.R. for the Monarchy, it is going to insist we share a "special relationship" with the U.S., it is going to deter the break-up of the Union, it will scratch the back of those who scratch theirs. "

      Which BBC are you watching? The 'cheer leading' for monarchy is limited to reporting, (badly), major events. The BBC knows that HM is too popluar to be openly criticised but that hasn't stopped its 'comedians' being offensive. The BBC is certainly no fan of 'white van man' or Christianity, unless they find a priest that is pro their viewpoint, homsexuality, female superiority, anti-capitalist, pro-immigration etc. As for being in favour of the 'special relationship' you must be joking! The BBC only 'love' America to the extent that its 'output' being in English it is easier for them to think that they understand the Americans, (they don't). The BBC would love to see the UK break-up, it is no supporter of the union. Where do you get the idea that the BBC is a 'state broadcaster'? It is established by statute/charter but revels in its 'independence' to push its left of centre agenda. The last time it pushed the government's line was probably checking for cattle TB in the 1950's via 'The Archers'!

    11. Well you know me and this "one-man disinformation and demoralisation campaign" I'm waging based on my "intolerance of anything that diverges from the BBC-Guardian-Globalist consensus". I'm more powerful and influential than I could have ever dreamed.

      I disagree with Anonymous above (not sure if it's the same one as the belligerent fantastical conspiracy theorist), but at least addressed my post rather than pulling a few insults from the agit-right standard collection.

      I'll just address those accusations for a moment and try and make things clear :
      1) I have no connection with the BBC. I have known a few people who worked for them down the years but am no longer in touch.
      2) I don't read The Guardian but I do find BBC News remarkable. Remarkable in its uselessness, that is, a trait I believe it shares with every single other MSM out there.
      3) There was once a time I was happy to pay the licence fee. That was not because of any belief one way or the other about its commitment to balance, but because its output was more varied and more qualitative than its competitors. This is no longer the case and has not been for some time. Witness the decline of Panorama and Horizon into garbage magazine gazettes.
      4) I believe there's a general decline in the standard of news media, worsening incrementally in the digital age.

      Re: Terry's post, I probably should have been clearer. I do think there is a (upper middle-class idea of) left-liberal bias within the BBC yes, but I don't think it's the only bias nor the sole reason for some of the angles it portrays which are critiqued as such.

    12. If I'm a fantastical conspiracy theorist, then so is Sweden's official Civil Contingencies Agency.

      If your purpose was simply to give expression about your views on the BBC, you went about it an odd way by suggesting this is far right blog that should be closed down because it serves no identifiable purpose.

      I personally consider myself a left of centre populist. I don't have a rosy view of our imperial past or our current armed forces. I don't for instance support private insurance based health care or grammar schools. I believe the state can play a constuctive role in people's lives. There is clearly a range of views present on this blog.

    13. I never once suggested that the blog should be closed down and I'm not sure how you managed to come to that conclusion. That's the "fantastical conspiracy theorist" I was referring to.

    14. If you're now saying that you think this blog is a wonderfully vibrant and incisive exploration of BBC bias, and that your comment below didn't mean you wanted it closed down, then all is fine and dandy isn't it?

      "I'm starting to wonder what the point is though? There are already countless sites and forums with viewpoints like the ones espoused on here - and let's be clear here, the pro-Brexit and pro-Trump campaigns did a good job saturating social media, blogs and forums - so why another one dedicated to taking an agenda-driven swipe at the BBC? It's far from being the only blog of its kind."

  8. Dear Sue and Craig,
    I enjoy your blog very much.
    It's perfectly obvious to me what it's scope is.
    I find it intelligent and well-balanced.
    Unlike the BBC and AnonAnon.
    Please continue your blog. I feel we are friends even though we have never met.
    Best Regards

  9. I too greatly enjoy this site.
    A friend told me of you, so I`ve been here quite a bit at times. Inevitably thoghtful and balanced-incisive and a real treasure trove for any media studies quants.
    keep it coming-particularly enjoy the Israel stuff...Personally, I`d lob Channel 4 into the BBC duckpond and include Sky etc for that matter.
    Their cumulative effect needs a good look, their agendas , order of stories and hidden curriculum look remarkably similar-all trained at the BBC I`d imagine.

    1. Including all the MSM in the same pot would only go to expose how remarkably similar they are and you're absolutely right - it's the cumulative effect that matters.

      Narrow focus, heavy influence of the Twitter spats of the moment, the same commentators brought in to the studios for their "expert opinion" appearing over and over again, embarrassing vox-pops on the street with random members of the public, soundbites over substance, bit of a studio chat between random representatives on each "side" of the argument etc. etc. The overall effect is one of repetition, background noise you've grown desensitised to and you begin to realise how little news there is actually featured on any of the news programmes.

    2. It is certainly the case that if you tune into BBC World Service you find that as well as the usual left-liberal drumbeat, there is still even now a hell of a lot more news, and far less comment, opinion and speculation - much more like the BBC used to be. No doubt that's because there is a lot more ground to cover. But the same is true in the UK, it's just the BBC and Sky + ITV decide not to cover a lot of that news. For instance, there is virtually no science and tech reporting apart from politicised climate change items despite the UK being one of the leading science and tech nations in the world. On the world stage all three channels are obsessed with the USA, Russia and the middle east. Africa, Latin America, and the Far East get hardly a look-in.

  10. Whether the BBC News folk read this blog is open to question, but over the last few days the BBC News website has removed the 'Explainers' section and replaced it with 'The Full Story'. No change in content, but perhaps, Sue and Craig, you can chalk up a success! 'The Full Story' carries slightly less of the Thought Police menace - to which many of your contributors have suggested, when saying we don't need the news to be explained.

    1. The BBC, whilst it rejects all claims of partiality, is not impervious to criticism. Even Evan Davies was embarrassed by that Newsnight Panel of "ordinary voters" that came out 9-1 in favour of Remain in the run up to 23rd June. By the end he was warbling on about it not being a scientifically selected panel...which begs the question "why wasn't it?". But they were definitely embarrassed by "overshooting the runway" in such an obvious way.

  11. More bias, more fake news. The coverage of this week's budget headlines from Emma Barnett on 5 Live Daily this morning went something like: 'Tory Party in crisis over taxation manifesto pledge'. How is this adjustment of National Insurance percentages for the self-employed a crisis? Surely it is the Labour Party under Corbyn's leadership that is in pretty much permanent crisis, but we hear very little about that.

    The best bit of the budget speech about driverless cars so far as I can see has been airbrushed out. It's a pity - I thought Hammond's comic timing was spot on.

    1. For once I would defend the BBC on that...breaking a manifesto pledge is always a crisis. They said they wouldn't raise NI rates but they have, albeit for a single class of NI payments. Also, I don't think the BBC has been backward in covering the Corbyn crisis - they don't like Corbyn, he's not their preferred leader. That said, I think it's clear the BBC fell on the broken promise like ravenous wolves in a way they wouldn't with a Labour broken promise, which would be a "more in sorrow" occasion.

    2. On this subject, a crisis would have been a reality had the self-employed, a group that are probably in general Tory supporters, reacted strongly, taking to the streets in anger etc etc. I have heard very little hostile reaction from any self-employed group spokesperson other than the odd grumble, which might be expected. As usual the BBC have rushed to the defence of a group who don't really need the BBC's help, but who have been identified by the BBC as a convenient vehicle for their anti Government rhetoric.

  12. It's not a "crisis" but it's not "fake news" either, just the standard over-dramatisation employed by news media for many a year. The Conservatives have never had it so good as they have now.

  13. A bit late to this thread, but I'll throw in my tuppence. On Trump, cards on the table, I'm not a fan - but in terms of bias, what's concerning me most is the apparent sudden shift in coverage of Russia.

    Where was the media narrative espousing criticism of the Obama administration over, either their attitude towards Russia (the re-set button, the ridicule of Mitt Romney for calling them the number 1 geopolitical foe), or their response to Russia's actions (in Syria or Ukraine)? Compare and contrast that to the seemingly sudden up-surge in interest over who had contact with the Russian ambassador and when.

    My point is not that Trump/Russia should not be covered, rather over the level of focus on a subject, which at this point is fairly speculative in nature. There also seems to be little of the evaluation of the McCarthyist tone of the Democrats either.

    Bias, for me, is a question of focus / tone rather than accuracy. For example, the left may criticise the 'right-wing press' for 'whipping up' anti-EU sentiment, due to a way a story is covered, regardless of whether it is factually accurate or not.

    Similarly, the BBC may well point to facts to support the legitimacy of the Trump/Russia question - but that doesn't justify the level of coverage. An element of proportionality and balance is required, for the sake of their own credibility if nothing else.

    I don't have much sympathy for Trump, truth be told, given his apparent willingness for a media confrontation that would suit his narrative. But the media should focus on upholding their own standards, as their credibility is judged independently of Trump's.


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