Saturday 15 December 2018

All very BBC

Dear readers. If you want a Christmas present for yourself, I'd recommend treating yourself to David Sedgwick's BBC: Brainwashing Britain? (hot off the presses).

I'm just a few pages away from the end of a first read-through and I've enjoyed every page of it.

It's the book about BBC bias that I've been waiting for, and I wish I'd written it myself.

It covers a lot of ground (from Antifa to Israel, from Grenfell Tower to Owen Jones), with a good deal on the BBC's biased Brexit coverage, though its recurring focus is on the BBC's hostile coverage of the Trump presidency.

And I think it absolutely nails the BBC, again and again and again.

(I'll be bringing you endless highlights from it over the coming weeks).

Admirers of Monkey Brains' fabulous Festive Fifty will also find fascinating examples of various 'bias by...' types detailed therein.

And, pausing to listen to tonight's PM on Radio 4, I now hear it through David's book:

First, as the BBC presenter put it, "no one said that saving the planet would be easy". Yes, it was global warming, and an interview with the right kind of BBC guest for this issue: the intensely activist former Tory minister John Gummer (Lord Deben). He wants the present (centre-right) Australian government chucked out because of its policies on climate change. The BBC presenter didn't defend the Australian government or challenge His Lordship.

Second, delaying Brexit and that 'second referendum', and an interview with Brexit-disliking Stephen Bush of The New Statesman, who very much talked the BBC talk on the matter and was treated as if he were an impartial sage.

Third, the Yellow vests protest in France, and a BBC reporter (Hugh Schofield) giving BBC favourite President Macron a French kiss, saying that he "has diffused this", and that "it's on a classic trajectory, this protest movement. It's dying down. And I think he can be satisfied he's not going to see it up again for a while". (Carry on Emmanuel!)

Fourth, one of the BBC's main present bogey countries, Myanmar, and an interview with a critic of the BBC's fallen heroine Aung San Suu Kyi over the imprisonment of two journalists there. The BBC really do have a bee in their bonnet about Burma.

And, fifth, the usual BBC race thing, featuring an interview with a black sports reporter from the Daily Mirror who reinforced claims that racism in football is as bad as it ever was and that the media is partly responsible for that. 'Discuss?' Hardly. Just repeat and amplify instead.

All very BBC.


  1. The BBC's race thing is seriously out of kilter - it really is dividing people by racial background, setting citizen against citizen. It's a very dangerous thing they are doing, trying to whip up hatred, fear and distrust.

    1. It's a wrong thing as well as a dangerous one. And indeed seriously off, as you say. It has the irrationality of an obsession at the BBC. The problem is that no one in the public sphere, in influential or official circles, is challenging this mad and reckless pursuit of division. That needs to change.

  2. Back by popular demand, well...Craig mentioned it. So let us begin...

    A message from Lord Hall for Christmas 2018:

    "This year we can look back over twelve months of rising bias that has finally begun to pay results. We have derailed Brexit. If our biased reporting continues to have the desired effects we will soon overturn the results of the democratic vote in 2016 and secure our remaining in the EU - a stunning victory for BBC bias.

    On a global scale we continue to play a major role in the World Coalition Against Trump along with our allies such as CNN.

    In 2018 we welcomed new media friends in the UK - the Mail and the Express who now back our suite of progressive policies including enthusiasm for EU membership. I have already issued instructions to the News Quiz, HIGNFY and the Now Show to stop all satirical jibes directed at those two august publications.

    We have seen progress elsewhere of course. Radio 4 is now operating a full 24/7 Bias Service, covering drama, science, the arts and comedy, as well as news and current affairs. We hope to see this 24/7 approach extended to our TV services in the New Year.

    Congratulations to all our biased staff! Whether it's Jon Sopel in Washington, a humble telephone operator misrecording a complaint, a researcher deciding which left wing cleric to invite on to Thought for the Day, or a regional news presenter pulling a face at the mention of Nigel Farage's name, we all have a part to play.

    And so in conclusion may I wish you a very happy time during this outdated festive period. Who knows? - in years to come, with our steadfast Sharia allies we may even be able to bring an end to this absurd distraction from progressive politics. For the moment you will have to make do with the Festive Fifty.


    Tony (Hall, not Blair but it might as well be!!)


    1. Bias by News Agenda Choice. The biggie. If we don’t report it, it’s not news. And we don’t like to report things like Juncker's Me Too fondling of female staff, numerous knife attacks across Europe by mentally disturbed individuals with something else in common or the economic success of Hungary and the USA under Orban and Trump respeticvely.

    2. Bias by News Prioritising. OK, sometimes we can’t avoid reporting something but we can certainly give it very low priority. It only needs to appear for a nanosecond for us to be able to say that we have done our journalistic duty.

    3. Bias in Perpetuity. If we like a story…”Tories racist says report”…we might leave it up on our website for months to make sure just about everyone gets to see it, even though we are allegedly a “news” organisation. Likewise we will return obsessively to stories we love like Grenfell Tower (though we managed for a long time to avoid all mention of culpability on the part of the fire it's come out, we are doing our best to play it down).

    4. Bias by Burying. If we don’t like a story we will bury it away somewhere like “News from Leicester” which you get to by navigating four or five pages on our website. In terms of broadcasting you will have to live in the East Midlands to be informed of what happened. I am not going to say what happened, because that would defeat the objective of this particular technique.

    5. Bias by Headline Creep. Sometimes we know a story hasn’t really got legs but by using the headline ruse we can make it sound a lot better. So “Boris “racism” claim” on the front page of the website becomes…”Boris claims government is acting on racism”….becomes “Boris has rejected a UN report claiming that racism in the UK is rising at an alarming rate”.

    6. Bias by Interruption. An old time favourite…if you don’t like what the interviewer is saying, interrupt them to hell and back, so that they can’t get their points across. This is something we have been using to great effect in fact we've become so good at it that a few right wing fascists (like Peter Lilley) have started accusing us of bias during we will have to think about how to respond to that (probably keep them off our airwaves in future).

    7. Bias by Misrepresentation. It’s important that we at the BBC control debate by ensuring we get to mispresent viewpoints. Under this approach, being worried about hardly ever hearing the English language spoken in your neighbourhood (a perfectly legitimate concern) obviously becomes “racist attitudes to migrants”.

  4. 8. Bias by Concept Merge. Sometimes it pays to be pedantically precise about definitions (a favourite of both Dimblebys on occasion). But with this technique, it is important to be vague and overlap differing concepts until the viewer or listener is taught, in Pavlovian fashion, to associate “Member of Conservative Party” with “Far Right Nut”. Thus we merge “Neo-Nazi” into “Far Right”, which in turn merges into “Right Wing” which then merges into “Nationalist” (as in “Bad Nationalist” – obviously does not apply to SNP, Sinn Fein and Plaid Cymru) and further blends with “Tory” and “Conservative”. By constant mixing and association Neo Nazis, Nationalists and Tories all become part of a dangerous amorphous group that like to persecute minorities. We find this approach very effective at the BBC.

    9. Bias by Mirroring. Under this ruse we call extreme radicals like Iranian Mullahs or Chinese Communists “Conservatives” so as to make toxic the whole “conservative” brand. You have to admire our cheek in doing so! But the useless Tories never make any effective protests about this.

    10. Bias by Intimidation. We tell our audience that we will report them to their employer or school if they voice opinions of which we disapprove. This can be more effective than you might think. Of course we have combined this with a sustained attack on the Have Your Say function on our website and also by turning the Feedback programme into a meaningless “complaints from both sides” exercise now stuffed full of disguised adverts for BBC programmes.

    11. Bias by Mockery. The mockery is not just something for “comedy” panel shows or the Now Show. News presenters like John Sweeney or Jonny Diamon can also join in the mockery of anything the BBC doesn’t like. But woe betide anyone who mocked say Stella Creasy or Chukka Umuna!!! (not that that would ever happen under my watch!) - that would be sexist and racist and would lead to instant dismissal. We of course produce an in-house list of who to mock and who not. The favourite remained Boris Johnson as he is still viewed as extremely dangerous. Michael Gove has dropped down the list to be replaced by Jacob Rees Mogg.

    12. Bias by Complaint Dismissal. As long as we keep batting away complaints in the face of the truth and the facts, we can maintain our absurd formal claim of impartiality.
    This year things became a little more complicated as we had to pretend to take seriously complaints from Lord Adonis and Alistair Campbell about anti-Remain bias!!! (I know - absurd!!! but the other Tony insisted we had to go along with it, so I told people to be respectful of the complaints).

    13. Bias by Propaganda Tentacle. The BBC has a long reach. Our correspondents conintue to use Twitter to good effect.
    We are now going into schools as well to brainwash children with our “Fake News” agenda. Our tentacles can basically reach anywhere.

    14. Bias by Question Selection. What questions get asked is vital. If you think we pull the QT questions out of a hat then you are very, very naïve.

    15. Bias by Simple Fact Denial or Avoidance. For instance we will not admit even the possibility that the housing crisis might have something to do with mass immigration. It’s rather like that loose thread in a pullover. If you start pulling on it before long the whole thing will unravel.

    16. Bias by Expert. We choose the experts. Our experts are guaranteed to support our views. That’s how and why we select them!

  5. Don't forget "racial bias" in drama whereby if there are white and black suspects you know 100% the perp will always be the white person. Then there's the "black" expert informing the ignorant deluded white person where they are going wrong. Not forgetting "class bias" in drama where the posh boy is always the baddie. European drama is not like this. I loved French Spiral and Swedish Brett. Baddies are all colours. Stop trying to bend my mind BBC. You are so BORINGLY predictable.

    1. Many a "suspense thriller" has become a "totally predictable thriller" as a result. Midsomer Murders changed overnight from somewhere recognisably rural scripted for humour and entertainment, to somewhere that had had an inner-urban transplant and was now meant to be some sort of morality play about the virtues of political correctness.

  6. 17. Bias by Org-Labelling. For instance, that think tank is “right wing”, this think tank (the one we like) is “respected”! It’s not so difficult once you get the hang of it. We have added the Institute of Government to our list of respected think tanks despite it being madly Remainiac.

    18. Bias by Person Labelling. That person (someone standing up for beliefs that were uncontroversial 50 years ago) is “far right”, this person (a Marxist totalitarian) is the “conscience of the left” or a “revered academic and commentator”.

    19. Bias by Tone of Voice. So important! When we are children we listen to our parents’ tone of voice before we understand the meaning of their words. Are our parents angry or pleased with us? We know this and so we play on these very human weaknesses.

    20. Bias by Atypical Person Choice. It may be true that most female followers of Islam in Bradford may wear a Hijab and rarely go outside the family home but we have the resources at our disposal to find one who doesn’t wear a head covering, uses make up, wears tight jeans and has set up her own business.

    21. Bias by Drama and Soap. I can’t overemphasise the importance of this bias technique. This is how we really buttress the news and indoctrination agenda.

    22. Bias by Lifestyle Show. We can make frightening things appear comforting all by the magic of lifestyle TV. Of course this has to be managed. It can be an area requiring sensitive handling. We didn’t show a Hijab for years. Big beard presenters are still out and the Burka is I am afraid still a big no-no. But this is a Long March we are on. Eventually we will be able to de-sensitise the backward segment of the British public on such matters by associating such features with nice things like baking, cooking, shopping and home décor.

    23. Bias by Over-representation of Minorities. Following the example of TV advertisers we are trying to reinforce the “resistance is useless” message. Of course refers only to certain minorities. Poles, Japanese, Filipinos, Chinese and South Americans need not apply.

    24. Bias by Slow Information Release. We wouldn’t want you to run away with the idea there’s just been a terrorist incident carried out by an IS operative migrant who shouted Allahu Akbar…so we will slowly drip feed the news and then disappear the story altogether.

    25. Bias by Local News as National News. Local news is a good way of extending the bias especially in areas where there are lots of Labour MPs and we can call on them to provide a steady drumbeat of public expenditure propaganda. So we rarely feature real local news stories, preferring to echo national politics.

    26. Bias by Survey. Our opinion polls are frequently wrong. But they always seem to favour the left for some reason. Also our representative panels are of course insanely imbalanced (think of the weirdo May-supporting Rev! - how we laughed!!!).

  7. 27. Bias by Decree. Certain of our reporters and pontificator - heavyweights (in every sense of the word) like John Simpson or Jeremy Bowen think they can make something true by fiat.

    28. Bias by Obfuscation. David Dimbleby has been a past master in this department always ready with a smugly sceptical or irrelevant question if a member of the public (how we shudder at those three words) manages to puncture the PC consensus.

    29. Bias by Yawn. In 2018 we tried recognising this with a "Bored of Brexit (BOB)" campaign. We got out Breakast presenters, DJs and other airheads involved but it had no more success than our "Bored of the Referendum" campaign back at the start of 2016, when we hoped to douse enthusiasm for leaving the EU. We are thinking of dropping this from our Festive Fifty.

    30. Bias by False Friend. This is one we have been using a lot since Trump's election: "So let's go over to Washington to discuss Trump's latest tweet. We have leader of the Democrats in the House of Representatives and the Republican Governor for Wyoming..." Balanced? Nope - the Republican hates Trump as much as the Democrat! Happy days!!!

    31. Bias by Herd Instinct. Human beings have a tendency to follow the herd so we at the BBC do our best to create bandwagons for the campaigns we favour. Biased BBC Trending do a lot of good work in this area.

    32. Bias by Recruitment . This is what we at the BBC call the “Guardian readers only need apply” ploy. This is really a very important and self-fulfilling bias category. Our 2025 Vision Plan aims to ensure that in 6 years' time all BBC news presenters will have worked for the Guardian at some stage in their career.

  8. 33. Bias by Vocabulary Choice. This is of course a huge area of bias. The “bread and butter” of bias you might call it. It covers many things but among my favourites are right wing think tanks "claim", "assert", things whereas left wing think tanks "point out", "conclude", "find evidence"...

    34. Bias by Paragraphing. We often leave the key information to the penultimate para of a long article (not the final paragraph because people sometimes skip to that). You can hope the punters have got bored by then and miss it...thinking the perpetrator was simply a "man" with known "mental health issues" not someone who visited Afghanistan last year and was carrying an IS flag.

    35. Bias by Mandy Rice Davies. The point of this technique is to make the denial sound as thin as possible. Norman Smith remains a key player in this regard. He is adept at telling us the unfavoured have "denied" something...but does so in a "well wouldn't you too if you'd been found out" sort of way...

    36. - Bias by Uneven Standards. Of course at the BBC we believe in high standards, we just don’t believe in applying them consistently around the world. Israel is always held to high standards.

    37. Bias by Photo Choice. A picture tells a thousand words and picture bias tells a million. Add in a misleading caption and you have "Bias Heaven".

    38. Bias by Placard Placement. I rather like this one. I used to use it a lot myself back in the day. We at the BBC know we are not going to get away with a newsreader saying "The Tory fascists have decided to dismantle the NHS." But there's nothing to stop us showing a placard in a protest that says something like that!

    39. Bias by Soft Interview. This is a technique I think is sometimes underestimated but all staff should appreciate its importance. Kirsty and Emily on Newsnight have recently given master-classes in the "good cop-bad cop" approach to interviewing...where they each play both!

  9. 40. Bias by Celebrity Endorsement. No! This doesn’t refer to the celebrity endorsing a product but the BBC endorsing some celebrities over others! We keep a list of "Approved Celebrities" - it doesn't matter if they are drug addicts, prostitute users or people with serious criminal records. As long as they spout PC platitudes, that's fine. They know the score - their agents warn them they won't be invited back if they tell the truth.

    41. Bias by Reality Checking. This was one of our most popular bias techniques in 2017 and we thought it would go on to great things...but with Chris Morris live filleting on radio by Peter Lilley we are not so sure. That was an embarrassment. But we hope we can get things back on track.
    We will of course be "Reality Checking" Peter Lilley at some point in retaliation...

    42. Bias by Absent or Abbreviated Nomenclature. At the BBC the "criminal surname" is often reserved for people for whom we have a visceral hatred.

    43. Bias by Emotional Response. This is where we ensure the BBC acts as emotional gatekeeper to the nation. You can cry about your factory closing down but not about your neighbourhood being changed out of all recognition by mass immigration.

    44. Bias by Views as News. Like smugglers of old we are always smuggling in contraband views into our news reports. As long as it is done subtly there should be no problem.

    45. Bias by Vox Pop. Never underestimate the Vox Pop. They are a really important bias tool which you will find used in nearly every national and local news programme.

    46. Bias by Newspaper Review. This is a specific technique we use to build a kind of Potemkin village of opinion out of MSM news. By using left-liberal reviewers, a left-liberal presenter and a selection of stories biased to the left-liberal view of the world, we are able create the erroneous impression that the BBC’s agenda is very much in line with that of the rest of the MSM. Of course now the Mail and Express are on board, we have a lot less to worry about.

    47. Bias by Some-say. Let’s be honest, it is rare for an hour to go by without a BBC presenter or reporter having recourse to that well known family "The Somes": "Some say"/"Some believe"/"Some argue". In truth the "some" are normally Guardian columnists.

    48. Bias by History. We are slowly turn the past into an inspiring version of the present where intrepid women excel in science, exploration and the arts, black people take the world of mathematics by storm and a backward Europe is taught rationality and tolerance by the wonderfully advanced Islamic world.

    49. Bias by Counterintuitive Injury Reporting. At the BBC we use this mostly in the context of domestic or American demonstrations. So, "twelve people were arrested in violent scenes at a demonstration led by Far Right leader Tommy Robinson, whose real name is Stephen Laxley-Lennon" means the demonstration was attacked by violent Far Left anti-free speech activists posing as anti-fascists.

    50. Bias by Absorption. There are many cultural events or phenomena which we seek to make our own. Glastonbury, Turner Prize, MOBOs, Chelsea Flower Show, Women’s Football...we are like some giant amoeba, absorbing chunks of other DNA safe in the knowledge that it can replicate inside us and produce a yet more bloated version of the BBC itself. I think it’s what I would call cultural synergy. By absorbing these other cultural phenomena we make ourselves stronger and better project our cultural aims.

    Well that's the Festive Fifty for 2018! If you have any suggestions for what techniques might be bubbling up, please let us know!:)

    1. I have been harping on about the Turner Prize (50. Bias by Absorption). Unless there is a strong political PC ideological message, very little art is featured on the pages of the BBC News website. Will G is the principal protagonist in 'art for art's sake' - just as long as the story of the artist is on-message.

    2. I had to rush out earlier and needed to get the post of your Festive Fifty right, so, slightly belatedly, thank you!

  10. At BBBC Pugnazious quotes from the book:

    ... gives us the astonishing statistic that of 214,864 complaints received in 2016/2017 only 36 were upheld in their entirety. In addition many of those that are actually upheld will be inconsequential, trivial and innocuous complaints that don’t in any way impact upon the BBC’s ‘business as normal’ narratives....

    1. One of the 36 upheld was mine. Complained about 5Live interviewing the nurse and rabid leftie mouthpiece, Danielle Tiplady. Twice. Took weeks to go through their complaints process.

    2. That 36/214,864 figure is truly astonishing. No way would a private company have such a stupendously extreme rejection rate when it comes to complaints.

      Well done, Unknown, for persisting. I remember that. Various newspapers (of the non-BBC-attuned kind) picked up on it.

  11. All very BBC - third point, Yellow Vests protests: Well, Schofield is right, Macron's initial handling of the demonstrations certainly did 'diffuse' the protests - but I suspect that the word he was looking for was 'DEFUSE'!


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