Thursday 31 May 2018

The BBC profiles George Soros

The BBC has a new profile today of the famous George Soros - the man who (Putin-style?) is interfering in the British Brexit debate by pouring some of his billions into a new 'second referendum' anti-Brexit campaign group dedicating to overturning the referendum result and stopping Brexit. 

Let's look at how the BBC frames its profile of him by quoting the profile's first four paragraphs. 

And, were this an old-fashioned English exam paper question, the question here might be phrased:
Do you detect any bias on the reporter's part here? If so, in what direction and how is that bias communicated? (3 marks)
OK, your time!:
Hungarian-American businessman George Soros is one of the world's most renowned, and philanthropic, financial investors. 
Earning his fortune through shrewd financial speculation, he has spent billions of his own money funding human rights projects and liberal democratic ventures around the world. 
In recent years, that funding has made him a target of the world's nationalists and populists, who have painted him as a master-manipulator of democracy. 
Much of the criticism aimed toward the 87-year-old has been criticised as having anti-Semitic undertones.
Well, I'd say that the first paragraph is favourable to Mr. Soros. It uses positive language ("renowned", "philanthropic") about Mr. Soros and includes no balancing negative terms. 

The second paragraph, which could have been unfavourable to him by reminding British and Northern Irish readers of his role in attacking the UK's currency in the early 1990s (to his own advantage), merely uses the positive phrase "earning his fortune through shrewd financial speculation" - the word "shrewd" making all the difference there - and then continues the flow of positive language with words emphasising his "philanthropy".

In the third paragraph, we get a description of his enemies ' - "the world's nationalist and populists" - and those rascals "have painted him as a master-manipulator of democracy". (Note the loaded language there: "painted him", "master-manipulator". It can be inferred from that that the reporter doesn't accept that characterisation of Mr. Soros). 

And, following straight on from that, comes 'the killer paragraph' about how "much of the criticism" of  the poor, frail, elderly 87-year-old person, "has been criticised" - N.B. BBC 'degrees of separation', 'some say...' etc, in action here) "as having anti-Semitic undertones"...

...thus, 'logically', connecting the criticisms from "the world's nationalist and populists" with those unnamed people responsible for the "anti-Semitic undertones" - i.e. implying via 'much' that most of George Soros's critics are antisemitic. 

A balanced account might say he has poured billions into realising his personal vision of democracy. His supporters say XXX but his critics say XXX. But no, this article asserts he is a philantropist, skirts over how he has made a personal fortune from crashing currencies, and does not query Soros's own description of his efforts. His critics are described as nationalists and populists as though they are somehow opposed to democracy.
Now, I've been disgusted for ages about the tone of some of the criticism of George Soros I've read, which most certainly has been antisemitic (or verged very heavily towards it), but most of what I've read (especially from here in the UK) hasn't been in any way antisemitic, simply sharply critical. 

What of? Well, of his pouring billions into projects that many if not most UK, US and EU citizens oppose - e.g. mass immigration (for his EU and UK critics especially) and his opposition to Brexit (for his UK critics especially). 

Why shouldn't people criticise him for that? 

The context of this article is Mr. Soros launching 'Best for Britain'. It's a deeply 'divisive' intervention from Mr/ Soros, and of course it's bound to draw heavy criticism.

For the BBC to publish a profile of him, specifically published to mark that launch, and for it to begin in such a biased (sympathetic) fashion is surely yet another clear cut piece of evidence to be added to the case against the BBC's claims of impartiality.

If the BBC reporter who wrote this piece didn't vote 'Remain' in the EU referendum I'll eat every hat Lord Ashdown owns.


  1. Soros's effect on politics in countries like Britain and Hungary is probably far more marginal than either he or his enemies think. But as a matter of principle I don't think we can simply acquiesce in foreign billionaires seeking to reverse democratic decisions.

    Let me put a further point...the Remainiacs keep on about the defective nature of the decision to leave the EU - well don't blame the Leavers, blame Cameron and Osborne who prevented a full open debate about the issues, preferring instead to subject the population to the worst propaganda barrage since Lord Haw-Haw. Do you recall how they used the Royal Family, Police, Generals, Ambassadors, the EU itself, the Irish President, the President of the USA, the Treasury and the Bank of the England - involving them all for the first time directly in the UK's domestic politics. It was absolutely shameful. Without that propaganda barrage the vote would have been 70-30 for Leave.

    1. I'm not sure 'Project Fear' was that effective - take for example Obama's ham-fisted attempt to bully us into remaining - it had, I am sure, the opposite effect to that intended & tipped many 'undecideds' into voting Leave. For this reason I am beginning to think a second referendum would work to Leave's advantage: Soros's antics, and the BBC's latest big Remainiac push are antagonising a lot of voters.

    2. True, it was Obama's intervention that was the tipping point. They overplayed their hand.

      But that's doesn't mean Project Fear had no effect. I believe it did. Fear is always a factor in democratic wasn't that I minded so much, but it was the way public servants - Treasury, Bank of England, Generals, Police Officers and the rest were dragged into it that I think was very reprehensible.

      Cameron and Osborne could have chosen to debate the issues openly and honestly, because I would fully accept you can make arguments for the EU. But to simultaneously pretend you are a Eurosceptic while advocating continued membership, denying Turkey and other countries were on a membership path, and pretending the EU didn't have plans for a common foreign and defence policy...that was a dishonest form of argument.

    3. MB I agree entirely that it is reprehensible to pretend to be a Eurosceptic while advocating continued membership, but what concerns me more is claiming that 'Brexit Means Brexit' while giving Remainers a 2/3rds majority in Cabinet & throwing away our best bargaining chips early in the negotiations. A government that meant what it said would surely have brought the BBC to heel or, at least, subjected it to heavy criticism for its continued, and escalating, support of the Remainiac cause. I believe that the Beeb must have been 'tipped the wink' that No 10 will not be heartbroken if they sabotage Brexit. The question is 'Can they?' - I would argue that they now have far less influence than before because people have seen that all Remain's threats of impending economic collapse, all of Carney's huffing & puffing about rising unemployment & economic stagnation have been shown to be just that.

    4. That the state broadcaster has not been curtailed in its Remainiac bias has been a clear indicator that the Government does not want Brexit. Since June 2016.

    5. Ozfan, I agree m. I’d go further, the entire establishment is against Brexit. The BBC is just one of many institutions who are trying to frustrate Brexit because that are all against it. MB has listed some of them above.

      The democratic vote has cause them a real problem which they are grappling with. How to get what they want without being seen to overturn the referendum result.

  2. In what way is it acceptable to have a foreign national interfere in UK politics when the BBC clearly believes that is unacceptable for foreign governments, allegedly, to do the same?

    It must depend on the direction of the interference, in which case that is bias.


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