Thursday 15 March 2018

Very Random Thoughts

The four corners of the planet Mercury

If you didn't listen to the Boris Johnson interview on Today this morning and hear John Humphrys's heavily insistent line of questioning (as mentioned in an earlier post), you really should - if you feel up to it...

...and then try to relate John's relentless pursuit of an already dubious point about President Macron opposing Mrs May to the four corners of the earth (and, given his relentlessness, very possibly to the four corners of Mercury, Venus and Mars as well) to the brutal fact that all of his thunder and lightning was subsequently rendered ridiculous by France's ringing backing for the UK's position over Russia.

So much sound and fury from John H. to so little purpose!

There was a strong whiff of 'fake news' about the BBC's reporting of this - as Andrew Neil suggested (though not in quite so many words).

I suspect - perhaps with my tin-foil hat on, perhaps not - that this was the BBC pushing their 'Brexit is harming the UK and the UK is losing its global influence' thing - something which has turned out to be far from true, given that the US and European countries have swung very firmly behind us over the Skripal affair, #despiteBrexit.


Talking of 'fake news'...

Tonight's BBC One News at Six ran a feature about the BBC's latest 'School Report Day'.

Its theme this year has been that very thing - 'fake news', and the BBC have been going into schools telling pupils to be wary of fake news, especially on the internet.

The BBC as the purveyor and protector of 'truth' and 'reality'!

As a conscientious blogger, I worked my though their various BBC News website features and found nothing objectionable, bias-wise. It was just largely obvious and reasonable good advice (albeit in no way meant as being advice for pupils as to how to treat their consumption of BBC news, other than a few strong hints that the BBC is a 'good guy' here). 

The one bit where it strayed into political matters was the 'Recognising Fake News' video (with its youth-friendly loud music and gimmicks) where the BBC's new main man Amol Rajan cautioned pupils against believing politicians who cry 'Fake news!' in order to deflect attention away from their failings.

Hmm. Wonder who Amol was nudge, nudge, wink, winking at there? 



There have been two widely reported breaking news stories about the Grenfell Tower disaster today.

The first concerns the conviction for fraud of a woman (Joyce Msokeri) who pretended to be a Grenfell survivor whilst claiming that her fake husband died in the fire. (She's not the first person to have been convicted of this kind of fraud when it comes to Grenfell).

The second concerns a new report which found that a fire door installed in the tower block was only able to hold back the flames for around 15 minutes - just half the time it was supposed to work for.

Only one of those stories - the second - made it onto tonight's BBC One News at Six.

An editorial decision was obviously made not to report the first story on the BBC's main early evening news bulletin. Wonder what their thinking was there?


My timeline today has again been full of people criticising Agent Cob for his confused contortions over the 'Russian poisoning' story.

And however sensible you might think some of his questions have been (and about his positing of 'rogue elements'), Our/Their Cob certainly has veered all over the place over the past couple of days or so.

(I personally think he's been genuinely all over the place rather than being dishonest).

Again BBC One's News at Six left potential PM Jeremy and his party's travails out of its reporting equation tonight, for some reason.


Tonight's Question Time has caused controversy by including an RT presenter (Afshin Rattansi) on its panel (alongside an actor, an EU bureaucrat, a Labour front-bencher, a Conservative minister and, perhaps, a fluffy kitten).

Some are asking, 'Why invite on someone from the Russian state propaganda channel, especially at this time? Aren't the BBC siding with our enemy?'

Other are objecting to the RT man's antisemitic past on social media. Shouldn't the BBC no-platform him?

As a free speech man, I'm firmly of the 'no, of course it shouldn't' point of view here. Let him be heard, and (if needs be) let him be heckled and robustly challenged.

Will he get the full David Dimbleby/QT-'Nick Griffin treatment' tonight?


Talking about antisemitism, The Independent has an 'exclusive' tonight: Frontrunner for Labour's next general secretary 'gave work to someone suspended by party for antisemitism'.

If true, that should be a lead story on every media outlet, including the BBC. The antisemitic nature of the tweets of the suspended woman is beyond question (even down to 'Jews having big noses' comments).

If the likely next Labour general secretary ignored this and gave a job to this woman in full knowledge of her antisemitism then the BBC should surely make a massive deal of it (the way they used to if even the most obscure UKIP candidate for a local council seat ever said anything even remotely racist-sounding or batty)?


'Let's have a look at what you could have won'

The super, smashin', great Jim Bowen died within a day or so of his hero Ken Dodd, and was (to me) a 'local lad made good'.

He taught at Lancaster Road School in Morecambe, and used to own the fine (wonderfully-rural) Royal Oak pub halfway between Morecambe and Hornby along the Lune Valley and, for a while, owned Morecambe FC (The Shrimps) despite being a lifelong Blackburn fan.

I'd quite forgotten until I read the obituaries (if I ever actually knew) that he had a brief fling with the BBC. His Radio Lancashire show lasted about three years until they made him resign for "making a racist remark on air", as the BBC News website's obituary put it.

For obituaries, however, if you can read it beyond the paywall, the Telegraph's obituary of Our Jim is unbeatable. It's wonderfully wry but warmy, and a masterly piece of writing (albeit with the odd forgivable factual error). It relates his short BBC past in a slightly more charitable way:
From 1999 Bowen worked for BBC Radio Lancashire, presenting a magazine programme with Sally Naden called The Happy Daft Farm. When he was sacked in 2003 for using the expression “nig-nog” on air, he protested that in his part of Lancashire, it meant nothing more than a nitwit.
(That '2003' is the factual error. The BBC actually pushed him out in 2002).

It quotes a classic Bullseye moment:
“Hello, Ken, and what do you do for a living?”
“I’m unemployed, Jim.”
“Smashin’, Ken, super.”
 You really couldn't beat a bit of Bully.  

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