Sunday 4 June 2017

Liar, liar

The letter to the Times in the previous post (and Rod Liddle's piece) has aroused a bit of scepticism. Isn't it too good to be true? 

Things that are 'too good to be true' tend to go down very well with those who want to believe them. The problem for the rest of us is in trying to sort the truthful wheat from the untruthful chaff.

Take the case of Jake Painter, the lyricist behind Captain Ska's anti-Theresa May song 'Liar Liar'. 

He was on Emma Barnett's Radio 5 show last week and on the Victoria Derbyshire programme too, talking about his song and complaining about the BBC's refusal to play it in full during the general election - an act of 'censorship' which has outraged the massed legions of Corbynistas on Twitter. 

We're into an interesting area, impartiality-wise, here. What should the BBC do? 

Should it ban the song and be accused of bias by 'one side', or broadcast the song and be accused of bias by 'the other side'? (There's are, of course, more than 'both sides' to most 'complaints from both sides').

If the BBC bans the song but then allows the song's lyricist to criticise the BBC's decision on air (at least twice), doesn't that negate some of the criticism of the BBC that the song's supporters have? But won't it also arouse the ire of those who oppose the song's message and who, in this case at least, back the BBC's ban? 

As far as broadcasting the song in full it's a classic 'The BBC are damned if they do and damned if they don't' situation. They could never win with partisans of those 'two sides'.

'Complaints from both sides' indeed.

What though about the plugging of the song that came about by EB and VD's focus on it (including fairly extended clips from the song)? Was the BBC knowingly playing a canny game here? Was it both having its cake and eating it? Was it promoting the song by 'censoring' it and then promoting criticism of that 'censorship', thus giving it even more publicity? Or was it 'doing the BBC proud' by taking a correct stand and then allowing those oppose to its stand to then speak freely on the BBC's airwaves? 

It's tricky, isn't it (unless you're a blinkered partisan)? I'm not at all sure where I stand on this - and not ashamed to say so either. 

Anyhow, I've gone off track here, so back to the main point...

When Jake was appearing on the VD programme he made a statement which when viral with the Corbynistas on Twitter. An edited clip from the programme (of which a less-edited version can be found here) showing Jake claiming on air that the VD programme's editor has asked him "not to go too heavy on the Tories" during his appearance, something that was taken as yet more 'proof positive' of BBC bias in favour of the Tories

Yes, Jake is very bold in making that statement and the clip doing the rounds makes the BBC presenter sound as if she's slightly panicked and 'moving the debate on' (the less-edited version makes her seem far less panicked).

But the editor of the VD programme, Louisa Compton, says that she said no such thing:

So who's the 'Liar, Liar' here? The BBC editor and her colleague? Or Jake, the anti-austerity, Tory-hating activist? 

Like you, I've no way of knowing, having not been there. But I can guess. 


  1. In one fell swoop, BBC Radio 5 Live managed to play a sizeable section of the song (which was meant to be banned), interview and give extended publicity to the strongly anti Conservative lyricist, and register a big score in the ‘complaints from both sides’ column - quite some achievement.

  2. As with this BBC Radio 5 Live story, HIGNFY from a week ago (when BBC darling and fast-tracked elder statesman Ed Balls was in the chair) seemed to be employing a new tactic against the accusation of bias. By making it clear with a sarcastic sneer in the voice that they must be vigilant against bias, they then go on to put forward their biased view all the same with impunity.

    1. I saw this HIGNFY. Ed Balls said this: After a 6 to 7 minute unrelenting attack on Theresa May and the Conservatives, something like... ' and now to Labour' ... with about 15 seconds on Trident - nothing about Jeremy.

      On the bright side, at least there was an acknowledgement that anti Conservative bias might exist, and the programme was aware of the one-sided content.


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