Saturday 4 August 2018

Is the BBC Biased?

About ten years ago, when I was an occasional below-the-line commenter on Biased BBC, a pseudonymous here-today-gone-tomorrow fellow-commenter disagreed with a criticism I had made of the blog, (perhaps impertinent, but sincerely meant.) He replied to me with something like. “Why don’t you go away and start your own blog? No-one would read it.” 
I took that as a put-down rather than a genuine suggestion, and I found it rude and quite hurtful at the time, but in retrospect it was also funny, because obviously, Craig and I did eventually start a blog; admittedly, a comparatively obscure one, but the page view stats indicate that plenty of people read it. (Okay, so some of them are bots.)

The launch of this blog was delayed because of a long drawn out period of indecision over what to call it. We dithered over this for ages. We thought we should include ‘BBC’ and ‘Bias’ for the sake of search engine optimisation, but the title we settled on was deliberately worded in the form of a question.

We wanted to differentiate our blog from the Biased-BBC blog, which someone once described as having bagged “the best domain name evah”. That may be true enough, but we thought the assertive, ‘settled-question’ title invited rants from people who’ve heard or seen something on the BBC they personally disagree with, which seriously dents the blog’s credibility. I mean, there’s bound to be the occasional bias on the BBC in some shape or form; it’s just that a reasonable balance is required. As the saying goes: “remember! journalists are humans too.”

At the time, we saw our chosen title as a genuine question. At the risk of sounding like Jeremy Corbyn, we wanted a conversation. But we’ve all been on a proverbial journey, and nowadays it’s almost a given that the BBC is biased, albeit with minor disagreements about the precise nature of the bias. Overall, it’s generally accepted that the thrust of the BBC’s editorial bias is ‘left-liberal’ or ‘Metropolitan bubble’. You know, anti-British, anti-Brexit, and anti-Israel with antisemitic implications.

To date, the question in the title of this blog is still relevant, but in a completely different sense than the one originally intended. It’s no longer a genuine question, but it’s more appropriate than ever now, in the sense of that well-worn and unmistakably sardonic query about the religion of his holiness. Not to mention bears.  It’s sardonic. “Is the BBC Biased?  / Do bears shit in the woods?”

Originally we gave ourselves leeway by including the caveat “any other matters etc”. So it seems we’ve travelled, the long way round, from trying to discourage personal rants with little immediate connection to actual BBC bias, all the way to not only allowing such rants but giving them prominence, like I am about to do right now.

Melanie Phillips is a person you’d like to have on your side. Her defence of Israel is unparalleled in its eloquence and clarity. She can deftly deconstruct an argument and make her point with breathtaking precision and economy of language. Therefore it’s doubly disappointing to see that she has taken a strange and blinkered path over the Tommy Robinson fiasco.

It’s pretty obvious that she’s au fait with the legal intricacies of the case. She is married to an eminent legal beagle. He is even the BBC’s go-to legal expert. Perhaps this is why she can’t seem to see the wood for the trees over the Tommy Robinson affair, which is doubly puzzling because the media’s demonisation of “Tommy” bears quite a similarity to its demonisation of Israel. 

In her recent article, which she has titled: THE TOMMY ROBINSON CIRCUS OF FOOLS she falls into the very same elephant traps as the ones she so cleverly exposes and demolishes when they happen to have been laid by the anti-semites and anti-Zionists one might find in the Guardian.

The first alarm-bell rang over her use of pejorative language, which she criticises when she sees it used by others.  In the very first paragraph, she uses the term “crowing”. As soon as I read that word my heart sank.
”His supporters are crowing that this (his release) proves they were right all along.” 
If that word was the ‘giveaway’, then the general lumping together of ‘his supporters’ and the accusation that they were ‘crowing’, heralds the straw man she constructs next. A portrait of Robinson’s supporters as one homogenous bunch of brainless far-right football hooligans and thickos.

Now I haven’t been following Tommy Robinson’s output very closely. I haven't seen his ‘live-streamed’ broadcast, I haven’t followed his twitter timeline and I can’t argue authoritatively about whether his own claim that “I was merely reading from the BBC website outside the court" was true, partially true - or a complete load of cobblers. 

But I can say that out of all the Tommy-supportive articles I’ve read, not one of them has shied away from admitting that he was a very naughty boy, and that deliberately violating the court’s conditional discharge or suspended sentence  (or whatever it was that he was warned against doing) was utterly stupid and counter-productive. Ezra Levant for one has always said as much. 
However, in my humble opinion, with regret, I have to say I suspect that Melanie Phillips has misjudged this one by dwelling on legal intricacies to such an extent that the bigger picture has been obscured completely. I think a suitable expression would be that she has lost the plot.

Melanie says of the collective, brainless, conspiracy theorists that comprise Robinson's supporters  “there is simply no evidence that will ever persuade a conspiracy theorist that he or she is wrong.” 

Now, where have we heard that kind of thing before? It is a familiar lament, and it is only too true. Just not true of the bulk of Tommy Robinson's supporters - the majority I’d contend - of whom happen to fall outside the straw-man caricature she has tailor-made to fit her theory.

She states that these deplorables allege that
 “the state had locked him up to stop him speaking the truth about Islamisation, that he had done nothing at all wrong, it was a kangaroo court, it was a secret court, he was a political prisoner treated as an enemy of the state, he had been jailed because the state wanted him murdered in prison, Britain was now under the rule of sharia law, and so on and imbecilically on.”

If that’s not pejorative, manipulative and downright devious language I’m a Dutchman. Yes, Tommy has written a book titled ‘Enemy of the State’. I haven’t read it, but I have read enough about what has happened to this man and his family to know that he was, effectively, a political prisoner. I don’t see myself as an imbecile. Not particularly. This sort of exaggeration and spin is unworthy stuff from such a clever purveyor of logic, morality, and ethics as Melanie Phillips, whom I still admire.
Oh — and guess what. The state hadn’t “sentenced him to death”. It held him in solitary confinement to protect his safety. And Britain is not under sharia law; the courts have continued to uphold the rule of English law by addressing a serious procedural error, as from time to time they habitually do.

I have watched various film clips, mainly via that invaluable source of info, the comments section over at Biased-BBC, in which Tommy poses one particular question Melanie skirts around. Why was he moved from a relatively ‘safe’ prison to one with a disproportionate number of Muslim inmates? Thus leading to his solitary confinement ‘for his own safety.’ By accident, coincidence, or some other well-meant happenstance? 

Did he need to be incarcerated in a cell where shit and spit could be pushed in through the window? I only ask because I’d like to know the answer. 

And yes Melanie, you and Andrew Norfolk have been saying this stuff for years. And you’ve been marginalised for saying it and dismissed as “Mad”. Tommy Robinson has broken the law, kicked up a fuss, perhaps made himself into a martyr and brought the issue into the limelight. A bit like the suffragettes, when you come to think of it.
“Everything I wrote about all this was true. And yet Robinson is even now still being misleadingly supported by people who should know better, who are still claiming “kangaroo court”, “secret trial” and all the rest of the rubbish, as well as (after yesterday’s judgment) “vindication” and “victory”. Their arrogance is even greater than their ignorance of the English legal system and their consequent utter inability even to understand the words of a judge’s ruling.

Indeed, if you say so, some stupids may well be claiming the things you say - kangaroo court - secret trial etc. Every cause has its unfortunate followers. Even those that insist the BBC is biased.

Your last sentence says it all. 
“The current climate of ignorance, gullibility, and unreason is even worse than anyone could ever have imagined.”
And that is just as applicable to Israel-bashers, antisemites, Corbynistas, "literally Communists" and Guardianistas as it is to detractors of “ex-EDL founder Tommy Robinson aka Stephen Christopher Yaxley-Lennon” as well as a few of those imbecilic, crowing, legally illiterate supporters. 


  1. This is a question I posted to the open thread below:

    The Rebel Media/Ezra Levant video uses as its starting point the written text (a three page summary) of the appeal hearing by the court. It is, as EL says, written in plain English and is not difficult to understand. It makes for a trusted record of the judgement.

    Q. Why has the BBC failed to reprint this document?

    This omission tells me that in the BBC's corporate mind, their readers and viewers cannot be trusted to reach the conclusion that they (the BBC) would wish for. Melanie Phillips's approach is purely automatic; her opinions rooted in the BBC handbook of who's who, and whether they are on message or not. I remember the day when Joshua R would himself have taken us through the judgement line by line. Not this time though, it doesn't suit the narrative.

  2. Well said Sue. I'm a huge Melanie Phillips fan, forever tediously pointing out that she is Britain's best MP. But on this occasion you have her bang to rights.

  3. I don’t pretend to know much about Tommy Robinson. I have no idea what kind of things he was saying back in his EDL days, or what he believed at the time. But that is the problem. However reasonable his present position, and however unfair it might be, his EDL background will always follow him around. And then there is class. I doubt whether Tommy Robinson has said anything about Islam that wasn’t said before by Christopher Hitchens.

    Tommy Robinson might one day be remembered as the ordinary man who took a stand against the all-powerful state or he might be remembered as the man who led a rather nasty racist organisation. I’m sure Melanie Philips recognises, perhaps cynically, that in the present climate to throw her hat in with him would be professional suicide.

    1. A clear message showing the BBC's standpoint on this was during a report from outside the Court of Appeal, when a protest banner held aloft behind the reporter was 'accidentally' shown - with the 'stamp out racism' header and the words 'Tommy Robinson belongs in prison'.

      This sounds to me as if, by association, the BBC would be only too happy to see dissidents of their cosy world such as TR locked up and removed from society. That is a terrifying thought.

    2. There's a good video clip from Paul Weston via BBBC:

      He has a whole series of questions directed towards our Home Secretary - the first minister to swear his oath of office on the Qur'an.

      From Wiki: The position of Home Secretary has been held by Sajid Javid since 30 April 2018. By my reckoning this entire episode has taken place on his watch. Weston also calls into question why there has been so little (if any) questioning by journalists, human rights lawyers etc.

  4. Is the Tommy Robinson 'brand' just too toxic for Melanie to show the slightest bit of concern?

    Nobody should fear for their safety in jail and it is a national scandal that some do. Melanie will be telling us next that Robinson was imprisoned because it wasn't safe for him to be on the streets and her line that 'the state' was protecting him by putting him in solitary confinement is beyond belief. The worst crime Robinson might be guilty of is contempt of court, he isn't a murderer or jihadist.
    I can't believe she really believes herself when she implies that British justice is in good shape because the appeal shows that 'wrongs can be righted'. Is she happy when DNA tests clear the executed and they get a 'pardon'?
    Like you I am not a follower of everything that Robinson has done but the recent treatment of him has been quite remarkable both in the speed with which he was 'put away' and the delays in releasing him, (the judge might have wanted time to write up his judgement but he could have bailed Robinson in the mean time.
    Even people that we don't like have rights and I thought Melanie knew that. I also thought Melanie was better than those that blindly label everyone that doesn't agree with them 100%. Can she see into the minds of all of Robinson's recent 'supporters', might some of them be people appalled by the legal process?

    1. I don't think it's right that people in jail are at risk of violence or abuse, but it's pretty much inevitable, given that jail is the place we send some of the worst people in society. Short of keeping all prisoners in permanent solitary confinement they will have many opportunities for violent altercations. And there is also the ever-present risk of violence from warders too.

      I'm sure many of TR's supporters are indeed appalled by the legal process, but they shouldn't be surprised by it. When you have a suspended sentence against you, you have to tread extremely carefully.

  5. It's bizarre that Melanie Phillips, a leading figure in the struggle against the Islamisation of the West, would get the Tommy Robinson saga so utterly wrong. However, I do recall one other instance of serious lack of judgement on her part: some years back in an address (Unfortunately I can't remember when or to whom) she expressed sympathy for young Muslim men who come to the UK and find themselves in a decadent, drug-rudden culture where young British girls throw themselves at them. (I paraphrase.) She has since moderated her stance, what with the obscenity and extent of Muslim rape gangs becoming evident, but it troubled me at the time and troubles me again with her current opposition to Tommy Robinson.

    In the article linked to by Sue, Melanie Phillips has left out so many pertinent facts it's almost as if she was writing it with a BBC Memory Hole in easy reach. Why, for example, did she ignore the fact that Lord Pearson threatened legal proceedings against Home Secretary Sajid Javid if harm came to Tommy Robinson in prison? That might well have been the reason he was put in solitary, having first been moved to a prison with enough Muslim prisoners to guarantee him being harmed.

    Equally bizarre is the tone of the article. It's as if she sets out deliberately to scorn and diminish Robinson and his followers.

    She writes this: "Moreover, Robinson’s claim to be the one person in Britain telling the truth about Islamisation is nonsensical. I was drawing attention to Islamisation, and to the government’s refusal to address it properly, years before Robinson was ever heard of."

    So she was. But here she herself could be seen as 'crowing.'

    This is so disappointing from Melanie Phillips. She should be backing Tommy Robinson as a fellow warrior in the struggle against Islam. As she fights with the pen, he is down there in the thick of it, fighting with the sword. But he also fights with the pen, and really doesn't do a bad job with it.

    1. She seems annoyed that somebody else is trespassing on her territory. Very petty-minded. The Robinson business has put most of the media on the wrong foot, including the hitherto sensible people. He won't be easily forgiven for this. Extraordinary that not one MP or newspaper has yet had the courage to step out of line. This case is one of those that sorts people out, like Brexit and Trump, but people find this one harder to judge, for some reason; is it the fear of being thought Islamophobic, which, at bottom is really the fear of Islam itself, which the entire establishment shares and cannot admit to?

  6. Sue,

    I think we are all here becoming "woke" - if I understand the current usage of this description correctly!

    I was fairly proud of the UK's systems of Government, but then the EU Referendum and it's aftermath has "woke" me to how little democracy really counts for in this country.

    I was fairly proud of our freedoms and our rule of law, but TR's arrest and jailing WITHIN 5 HOURS, AT A SECRET TRIAL (yes Melanie) for an unclear reason, seemingly determined on the whim of a judge, "woke" me to what is really going on.

    I am somewhat reassured that the Appeal Court has freed Tommy (on bail), but very concerned that the BBC and all MSM have ignored the Appeal Court's damming judgement to concentrate only on Tommy's past. The idea that this recent injustice is part of a long-term pattern of persecution or even a future trend is not investigated. The uniformity of the BBC/MSM stance is very concerning ... I don't believe it's coincidental.

    Of course, the BBC are nowadays very happy to redirect our attention; the BBC is a very far gone Globalist propagandist. We might expect better from Melanie and the like, but I believe they are all now very "frit". And with reason! They see what happened to Tommy, and the threats to his family, they can see also what has happened to the likes of Katie Hopkins and even Nigel Farage. To ask too any questions in support of Tommy would be to be demonised and to say goodbye to any more commissions from the BBC / MSM, and likely to invite imprisonment and threats of death or disfigurement on yourself and family.

    Tommy's treatment in prison sounds to be exactly that which many predicted.
    He wasn't protected, quite the opposite. Has it been released how Kevin C (the bacon at a mosque man) died in jail? And guess what, all those inmates from whom Tommy was "protected" from in solitary will be released in not distant future ... it's not looking good for the UK is it.

    I expect Tommy and his family will have to leave the UK. I also expect the Appeal Court judges will find themselves "under pressure" or replaced. That's how "woke" I am.


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