Saturday 23 September 2017

'Complaints from both sides' - Part 659

Puppy showing bias

A very dear anti-Brexit friend of mine gave me a spontaneous lecture recently, telling me to open my eyes to BBC bias. 

"Why can't people see that the BBC does exactly what the Tories tell them to do?", she asked incredulously. "It's all government propaganda". 

"They are so biased over Brexit," she continued. "Whenever there's an interview, the pro-Brexit person is always allowed to speak without interruption while anyone who opposes Brexit is talked down by the BBC". 

"It's so obvious, the bias", she concluded, before re-asking in total exasperation, "Why can't people see it?"

There are obviously more people out there who think like this than I realised. They obviously aren't only on Twitter.


Those on Twitter, however, were sounding the same note about BBC bias this morning. 

One, listening to the same Radio 3 news bulletin that I listened to at 8 o'clock, fumed that the BBC was "lying" about Theresa May's speech by "saying the EU has welcomed it", calling it "state propaganda" from the BBC.

The newsreader actually said that EU leaders had given the speech "a cautious welcome" before quoting a further demand on the UK from one particular EU leader and then moving on to the story of Moody's down-rating of the UK's credit rating in part because of uncertainty over Brexit. Hardly pro-Brexit 'state propaganda' for the Tory government then!

The fact that both Radio 3 and BBC Breakfast put the Moody's story second was making such people even moodier, for example the woman saying that BBC Breakfast are living in a "parallel universe" because "Item 1" is "world welcomes TM's Florence speech" and "Item 2" is "Moody's downgrades". It's "BBC bias" you see because they didn't lead with the ratings agency being negative about Britain's post-Brexit prospects merely ran it second.

Others, of course, see the ratings agencies as a busted flush and see the BBC's heavy promotion of their views today as evidence of bias in the other direction.

This morning's Today on Radio 4 certainly didn't underplay the ratings agency story. It had two segments on it - one an interview with former BBC reporter Linda Yueh, the other an interview with Alastair Wilson of Moody's. And tonight's PM was still making a lot of the ratings agency story, carrying an interview with someone who used to work for Fitch.

And this morning's Today had a Remain-voting MP (Hilary Benn), a Remain-backing peer (Lord Bridges) and a Czech minister on to discuss Mrs May's speech - not exactly evidence of pro-Brexit bias either!

I'm guessing the same Tweeters won't be tweeting about any of that. (Or maybe they will, and still find a way to complain about BBC bias.)

It's yet more evidence that the 'complaints from both sides' fallacy is a fallacy. Years of incredibly detailed studies of Today have shown that the bias goes consistently in just one direction, and to a remarkable degree - and it's not the direction that people like my friend believe. Very far from it!

Let these examples stand as yet more proof of the true nature of the 'complaints from both sides' fallacy.

1 comment:

  1. The BBC leading on the "cautious welcome" is the equivalent of Goebbels readying the German people for news of the calamitous defeat at Stalingrad. It would make them look a bit stupid if they carried on with the "EU will never agree free trade with UK and will punish UK" line up until a free trade agreement was this needs to be managed by the BBC. May has to be depicted as a broken supplicant and the EU have to be presented as highly reasonable, magnaminous, clever negotiators who have decided that enough is enough and they will allow us some access for the greater good, even though they don't really need us.


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