Sunday 26 November 2017

Real news?

The final item on today's The World This Weekend was a feature about 'fake news'. 

As you might expect from the BBC, this present day issue was framed as being exclusively a problem with social media. Indeed, the piece ended with Jonny Dymond saying, "The headlines...the real news...again".

To put it far too simplistically, the world is increasingly divided between those who think that 'fake news' is a serious problem associated with the mainstream media and those who think it's a serious problem associated with social media - and the BBC, naturally, is very much in the latter camp.

Nick Robinson, would-be doughty defender of the BBC, has a Mail on Sunday piece today headlined Vladimir Putin is using fake news just like tanks and missiles...and from Brexit to Catalonia his goal is to weaken the West. It's also entirely in line with the view that it's social media which is the problem and that the mainstream media is the real, trustworthy media. 

Now, I've absolutely no doubt that Vlad the Imputin is trying to undermine the West and that social media is one of his government's key tools - and Nick's "Now, I’ve learned, there are concerns that Russia is even fuelling anti-vaccine campaigns on social media" is alarming, if the concerns he's "learned" about are justified - but I still think his (biased) slip is showing here.

This is the kind of piece which includes such rhetorical gambits as:
So far, there is no firm evidence the Kremlin tried to, let alone succeeded, in bringing about Brexit. However....
I am not arguing that those who backed Brexit or Scottish independence fell for a foreign plot. But...

(And please read this comment from the Open Thread about Nick's piece too).

My Twitter feed, incidentally, is full of people disagreeing furiously about the Mail on Sunday's lead story concerning claims that the pro-Brexit Legatum Institute think tank is under the malign influence of Putin's government and, through it, that the Russians were linked to "Boris and Gove's Brexit 'coup'".  Some think it's fake news. Others think it's real news.

Andrew Marr (in my view rightly) handled the story cautiously this morning:
Finally, the Mail on Sunday there, quite a complicated story about an alleged link between Brexiteers and Russians and so forth, but you have to follow quite a lot of dots to work it out. 


  1. I will post my comment on the Open Thread re Nick Robinson appalling bit of Remainia in the Mail on Surrender.

    Here is my overall take:

    1. Were all foreign influence to have been removed (included American and Irish and rest of the EU, as well as Russia) then the result would have been the same but more pro-Leave.

    2. The Russian influence was very marginal. Yes they probably used bots. But I strongly suspected that someone with a load of money, probably a Hungarian expat living in America, was funding a load of pro-Remain bot comments. My reason? There had been hardly any pro-Remain commments on the Mail and then suddenly there was a whole splurge of them, a lot in not very colloquial English.

    3. Robinson is a complete snake. What a dishonest article! Hiding behind all those if, buts and maybes when it is quite clear he is a complete Remainiac, as you expect from a left-wing Tory in the Clarko-Heseltinian mould.

  2. This was my earlier comment...


    Nick Robinson in the Mail on Sunday writing about - er - "Fake News".

    This guy's unprofessional bias towards Remain even down to the built-in deniability of the "Of course I'm not suggesting that the Russian subterfuge swung the Referendum vote to Brexit but..."

    And he's definitely in mote and beam territory. He comments darkly that in plain sight Russia has set up its own state funded TV station - RT - to influence opinion around the world. Er - yes, OK. But then what about BBC America and the BBC World Service and the BBC Pidgin Service?

    And whilst he was happy to point to Russian interference in the Referendum he makes no mention of the direct interference of the US President and the Irish PM (who was actually going around campaigning in the UK!).

    Most sickening when you look back over the years is that this "Russian interference" is not a new phenomenon. The fact is that the BBC never, as far as I can recall, exposed Soviet attempts to influence policy in the UK, through subsidising newspapers and magazines, recruiting agents of influence and creating subversive links with organisations like CND. In fact the BBC used the boo word "McCarthyism" to actively oppose attempts to expose such influence.

    Another beam in the BBC eye is their Fake News refusal to address the serious social issue of mass immigration and its effects on our lives. For many years they peddled the idea that concern about immigration is per se racist. Now they refuse to accept any linkage between mass immigration and the housing crisis, the increased security threat, the pressures on the education system, pressures on the health system and the pressures on the welfare name but a few issues.

  3. And another thing...Robinson mentioned that Russia was threatening the health of the nation by spreading doubt about the safety of vaccinations! lol Now - strangely, almost as if Robinson could foresee how this would go - it's been picked up MSM newspapers.

    What a load of crock from Robinson!

    I have heard senior government-appointed medical advisors tell us that "Vaccines as safe". FULL qualification. Well that is a Fake Fact and it is Fake Fact that is put about by the BBC - including its worst practitioners like Robinson. In fact only quite recently the government had to fess up that one of the recommended vaccines was causing a form of narcolepsy in some recipients.

    You think I'm a Russian agent? Well read this:

    That is only one example. There are numerous examples of people being harmed by vaccines.

    That is not to say that children should not be vaccinated. It is to say that we should have a rational debate about the balance of risk. I think at the behest of Big Pharma who make HUGE profits from vaccinations we have swung too much to the vaccination side, ignoring the fact that many medical scientists think that the more you protect against specific diseases in this way you also suppress the immune system, leading to other life-threatening diseases like asthma (which has risen hugely in recent decades).

    According to Nick Robinson the above makes me a subversive. He really is a blight on our state-funded broadcaster.


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