Monday 9 April 2018

Getting things wrong

The BBC hasn't exactly done its reputation for reporting much good over its coverage of the Hungarian election. 

Firstly, there was the misinterpretation of the meaning of a high turnout:

BBC One's early evening news bulletin was still reporting that "the high turnout could benefit opposition parties" as the polls closed last night. 

I follow a Twitter feed called Europe Elects, which provided updates on turnout throughout the day, and I noticed them reporting, some four to five hours before that BBC One bulletin, that Fidesz-leaning counties were performing better than opposition regions, turnout-wise so I suspected this was nonsense. Yet still the BBC ploughed on regardless, and, bizarrely, persisted in saying "the high turnout could help the opposition" as late as last night's BBC One News at Ten

Jenny Hill (rightly) took some flak for that tweet about a high turnout possibly leading to "greater resistance to Orban" but her colleague Nick Thorpe was entirely on the same page as her, telling the BBC News Channel that a high turnout was "important" and that an "upset" was possible.

Well, they were wrong. The historically high turnout led to a significant swing in the popular vote towards Fidesz. 

Was it wishful thinking (i.e. bias) on their parts? Or had they taken the predictions of Hungarian political 'experts' on trust?


Secondly, having failed to stop digging that hole, Jenny Hill then decided to start digging another one on last night's BBC One News at Ten:
We are just getting preliminary figures which suggest that Viktor Orban has done it, securing himself a third consecutive term in office. But, something has shifted. It looks as, if these figures are borne out, that his Fidesz party has a majority but it has narrowed. Something has really shifted here. It has been an extraordinary day, record turnout and some voters queuing for hours to demand change. It's as if a country is holding its breath. Tonight could, just could, affect profound change for Hungary. 
Wrong again. The only shift was towards 'no change', with Fidesz increasing its vote share and the two biggest opposition parties falling back. 

After all this I had to grin at how the BBC was introducing this story this morning:
Hungary's Viktor Orban has defied critics at home and abroad again with an impressive win in Sunday's general election. 
Never mind the "critics at home and abroad", he also "defied" the BBC!


The third area where the BBC fell down yesterday is frankly bizarre... 

At 9.19 am, 10.29 am, 12.26 pm and 1.21 pm on yesterday's BBC News Channel variations on the following were read out by the BBC newsreader:
Hungary will elect a new parliament today, with the Prime Minister, Viktor Orban, hoping to win another term in office. He's been in power since 2003.
People in Hungary are going to the polls today, with the Prime Minister, Viktor Orban, hoping to win another term in office. He's been in power since 2003.
"He's been in power since 2003" was the recurring phrase over those 4-5 hours of BBC reporting. And yet it's completely untrue. Viktor Orban hasn't been in power for the last 15 years. He was first PM from 1998-2002 and then again from 2010 onwards.  Why did it take so long for anyone at the BBC News Channel to spot this error?


The incompetence of the BBC's reporting here is quite something, isn't it? 


  1. BBC set it's stall early on with James Naughtie in Budapest last week to report on the build up to the election. Bizarrely the only Hungarian he managed to interview was an expat Hungarian in the USA, who was of course anti-Orban.

    Orban does not support open borders. He prefers not to have terrorist killings, intrusive security, surging crime and failing infrastructure. The BBC does not like Orban.

    In contrast, when Jenny reports on Merkel, it's like she referring to a female Messiah.

    The BBC is a disgrace and it's a State[sponsored broadcaster.

  2. Couldn't agree more Craig (as already discussed on the Open Thread BTW). This is always the problem for extreme ideologues, whether it be Communists, Fascists, Islamic totalitarians or PC multiculturalists, sooner or later their ideology parts company with reality and they look stupid beyond stupid. Not to say they can't impart terror and make people do their bidding, as the BBC does with threats to report commentators to the police, their employer or their school.

    Some twitterists aren't impressed by Jenny Hill's BBC-approved "impartiality".

    Ozfan, that Naughtie report sounds terrible (what's new?). I can just imagine the breathy intensity of his hackneyed "finds itself poised at a crossroads" style of journalism. I expect the reason he couldn't play back any interviews with Hungarians (I mean Magyars) is that they probably among the least PC people on the planet. He could spend a week in Budapest and not find anyone to say anything nice about a Gyp sy. Hungarians are also very depressive people, and so when the look to the future they are not inclined to believe they are looking at sunlit uplands.

  3. This is how Nick Thorpe began his report on the midday Radio 4 news bulletin today:

    "Hungarians woke this morning to a country divided. The capital and two provincial cities were won by the opposition, the rest of the country by Fidesz. The young voted for change, while older voters expressed their almost religious devotion to Viktor Orban and granted him this landslide victory".

    Hmm. Half the country voted for Orban, but the other half didn't so much vote for "the opposition" as split their votes between a wide, deeply-divided spectrum of much-less-popular parties.

    And the curl of the lip about those older voters and their "almost religious devotion to Viktor Orban" is pure Nick Thorpe.

    As for the young, they seem (from what I've been reading on Europe Elects in recent months) to have been going mainly for Jobbik and, to a lesser extent, Momentum - two right-wing parties (one a BNP-style party that's now trying to pass itself off as mainstream conservative, the other a pro-EU centre-right party).

    Yes, the 'divided nation' narrative is a very popular one with the BBC at the moment, and this shows it in action again.

  4. No, the BBC got it 'just about right'. You have all been mislead by 'fake reality'. The 'real reality' is alive and well within the 'BBC Bubble'.

  5. Well the BBC must read this site. I see they've finally got round to using the "landslide" word they have been avoiding in all their main news bulletins (probably just a bit of ar*e-covering in the event of complaints about Jenny Hill's incredibly biased reports).

    But even in this report, it's completely skewed. They interview only people who clearly dislike Orban! In other words, a quite small minority.

  6. Why does the BBC bother to send it's 'reporting staff' to Budapest, Washington or even Tel Aviv when they could just remain in "The Ministry of Truth" Portland Place reporting the 'party line'.

    1. Indeed. Jenny Hill has four expectant tweets from Budapest on election day...and none since the result became clear! :) That tells you something. You'd think she might want to tweet about the result since she gave it such a build up.

      Why even have reporters? They could just agree the "line" and say that's what happened.


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