Sunday 9 December 2018

Use it or lose it. Or: Rod Liddle on BBC bias

Having been a subscriber to The Times for longer than I care to admit, I'm suddenly denied online computer access (maybe because of a recent decline in activity) so I had to copy this piece from another device (inexplicably with normal access) and email it to myself in order to post this.) All for your edification.

(Must get round to reading Robin Aitken sometime.)

To show that I'm still here, I give you a major chunk of Rod Liddle in today's Sunday Times. I've left out the introductory passage because it's about Dr Who. Here's the meaty bit:

"The liberal bias within the BBC increases, almost exponentially, with each week that passes. It managed to behave itself, just about, during the Brexit referendum, but now the gloves are off — as the “editorial director” of BBC News (what’s that?) Kamal Ahmed revealed in a leaked email: ram it home to those thick-as-mince leaver losers just how hellish their lives are going to be if we get out (I have paraphrased his email to staff). Every piece of good economic news prefaced with “In spite of Brexit . . .” and given caveats, every bad piece of news leading the bulletins. 
Seventy MPs wrote to the BBC to complain about its bias on this issue; the Beeb told them to get stuffed. But then, the bias is just as bad on every other issue within the news, especially immigration, which is something to be incontestably welcomed and people who are a bit wary about it are knuckle-browed racists who require re-education. Not to mention foreign affairs, which consists of a perpetual sneer at Donald Trump and a good kicking for Israel whenever it dares to respond to a violent attack from Hamas (which will have gone unmentioned). 
This kind of relentless, institutionalised bias in the news is dismally, but brilliantly, adumbrated in a new book by a chap called Robin Aitken, a BBC staffer for more than 25 years. Aitken, sick to the back teeth of the partisan nature of the corporation’s news coverage, concludes that the BBC has “whether through carelessness or hubris” given up any pretence of impartiality, preferring instead to promulgate its philosophically asinine world view. And with an unrelenting authoritarianism which, as he puts it, demands: “You will tolerate what I say must be tolerated and condemn what I say must be condemned, and if you do not you will be branded racist or misogynist or Islamophobe and be shamed off the public stage.” 
The worrying thing is that Aitken is actually being kind to the BBC. His book, The Noble Liar, concentrates on its news programmes, which are at least compelled by statute to pay some sort of vague obeisance to impartiality. 
It’s in the rest of the stuff that the BBC propaganda really goes to town, as we saw with Doctor Who. The comedy panel shows where every single joke is from the left; discussion forums on Radio 4 and BBC2, where only liberals are allowed to take part; dramas constructed simply to promulgate a liberal point of view; the cringeing tokenism of panel programmes where there must be a black or ethnic minority person no matter how thick or unfunny they are and despite the fact that we are still an 87% white country; even its food programmes, which are relentlessly anti-big business; its soaps; its light entertainment. 
I beg to differ from Aitken — carelessness does not come into it. The BBC promulgates this idiotic world view because it thinks it is the only one that is true. And those of us who think different are simply, objectively, wrong."


  1. Good article from Rod but I also beg to differ - about his claim that the BBC were pretty unbiased during the EU Referendum campaign. I think if you look back through the archives, you'll find many instances of gross bias by the BBC, and let's not forget their attempt to influence opinion prior to the campaign. Remember "The Great Brexit Disaster Movie" - completely unadulterated anti-Brexit bias presented as a fiction with no pro-Brexit equivalent.

    1. I just had a quick look at the archive and pulled out these stats from Craig analysing Newsnight guests related to the Referendum debate:

      "That raises our running total to:

      60 Pro-Remain
      44 Pro-Leave
      12 Questionable

      As for the sub-trend of regarding who gets most of all of the solo appearances (i.e. not in joint interviews), well, that continues as well. I make the totals for that:

      Remain - 25
      Leave - 14 "

      It was clear that the Remainers were given the lion's share of the limelight and that's before you look at the Interruptometer to see who was being allowed to speak and who was aggressively interrupted by the Pro-EU interviewers.

  2. How do people at the BBC get these top jobs of editorial director, director of strategy etc? We know why James Purnell did; it was political. Blairite ex Cabinet man needed at time of Charter review, under threat from Conservative Whittingdale. Picked by Hall who himself was picked by old chum Patten without any competition.

    Something I didn't know, until I put in a search for BBC Economics Editor - I couldn't remember his name - was that Kamal Ahmed used to work for the Commission for Racial Equality and for The Guardian but even more interesting:
    'He is an old friend of James Harding, BBC head of news. The relationship between the City University journalism alumni is so warm that, while Ahmed was still working for a Sunday paper, Harding asked him to prepare a document on improving the BBC’s business coverage. He then encouraged Ahmed to apply for the Peston post. The BBC denied the suggestion that he got the job on account of his friendship with Harding.'

    Another item that came up was about a row at The Guardian where an investigative reporter accused Ahmad of being close to Alastair Campbell and he and others of copying and pasting press handouts instead of doing proper journalism.

    Whether it's correct about Ahmad or not I don't know but it is something that's often been said about BBC articles and interviewers citing press releases from political parties, think tanks and the like, instead of doing their own work.

    A couple more things I came across when searching for something else, was that the Deputy DG is a woman who worked at the Royal Opera House, where Hall was Director(I'm sure that had nothing to do with it!), and Purnell is no longer the Director of Strategy, though still in charge of Radio. I've forgotten who's replaced him but what are the chances he has the right politics or knew someone important?

  3. Spelling: Ahmed.

  4. It's everywhere.
    A new BBC4 documentary on the History of British Animation was determined to sideline British white men (and flooded the screen with a massive over-representation of everyone else in the process).
    It managed to loudly debunk a "myth" that all British Animation was made by British-born animators - a "myth" which I've never heard and I doubt that anyone else has either. It usefully had Dad's Army style arrows coming into the British Isles in case we were too thick to comprehend the idea of immigration. (I await with baited breath the BBC doing a similar graphic illustrating the influx of terrorists.)
    Following the docco was a series of new animations by "new and emerging" filmmakers co-funded by the BFI and the BBC.
    In the introduction this initiative was described as "brave".
    Some of us might think that it would be braver for the BBC to show some of the older classics which have disappeared from our screens because they embody unfashionable attitudes or commission a truthful animation of the Koran.
    In the event, the first animation was about a disabled penguin who was far cleverer than his or her able-bodied and mean brethren.
    I thought I wouldn't be able to cope with all the bravery and gave the rest a miss.

    1. Yes, tilting at windmills indeed! The other day they ran two concurrent stories on racial discrimination against ethnic minorities in terms of academic pay and advancement. Is the BBC really wanting us to believe that the world of academia, which probably contains the most PC, anti-racist, pro-equality, liberal, lefty bunch of people in the country are vicious racists on a par with the KKK?

      Apparently yes, judging from the headlines and the framing of the narrative.

    2. I expect we were all too busy ignoring 'African-American' tap dancers to be bothered making animated films.
      Why I, a British person with no slaves to my name, should be made to feel guilty about the demise of this unique art form, with no connection whatsoever to Northern European folk dances, by BBC4 beats me.

  5. I haven't watched Blue Peter for years - but I would bet they have at least one black presenter and have had so for some years?


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