Saturday 26 January 2019

Are we all to blame?

Meanwhile, Jon Sopel broke his silence on the 'Covington boys v the Native American' story this morning on Today. Here's a transcript of his John Simpson Memorial Lecture on this morning's Today programme:

Jon Sopel: This time last Saturday it was all so straightforward. A video appears on Twitter. A group of teenage white boys are surrounding and jeering at a Native American who quietly, defiantly, is banging a tribal drum by the side of the Lincoln Memorial. One in particular, with a goofy grin and lips red from the cold, is standing right in his face and wearing a red Make America Great Again hat. The kids, from an all-boys Catholic school in Kentucky and nearly all wearing MAGA caps, had been in the nation's capital for the annual Right to Life March - the big gathering of the anti-abortion lobby. They seem braying and boorish. Social media lit up. Moral essayists dipped their quills into their self-righteous inkwell and started opining about the state of American society. Where were the parents? Why has American youth been so coarsened? What had happened to respect for our elders? And, in particular, what did this say about the nastiness of Trump's America? The council in Kentucky called for an inquiry. The school promised suspensions. The 65 year old Native American, Nathan Phillips, who was besieged, went on TV to lament their behaviour. Trump supporters were unusually sullen. 
But then something odd happened. 24 hours later new smartphone video emerged painting a very different picture of the confrontation. A tiny group of African-American men are captured this time hurling vile abuse at the teenagers. They were from the fringiest of fringe organisations, the black Hebrew Israelites. They were abusing the Native Americans as well as the white boys. And whoosh! Social media lit up once again. The kids were singing out school chants this time as a way of drowning out the insults. Their restraint is now praised. Our teenage sinners from Covington High School are now saints. They'd been wronged. Donald Trump weighs in, blaming the media, exonerating the children. Now liberal America went a bit quiet. And the teenager, Nick Sandman, who'd been in the face of a tribal elder, took on a PR firm to act for him. He gave an exclusive interview to NBC's breakfast show:
Nick: My position is that I was not disrespectful to Mr Phillips. In hindsight I wish we could have walked away and avoided the whole thing, but I can't say that I'm sorry for listening to him and standing there. 
The elderly Native American had his life turned over. The Covington boys, who went from an ugly MAGA hat-wearing mob to pious Catholic students in a heartbeat, got a mauling too - perhaps justifiably. But maybe all of us who dabble in Twitter emerge with our reputations sullied.  Since when was truth ever simple? Why can't we wait for more facts to emerge before passing judgment? Why do we seem so pre-programmed today to believe what we want to believe, and baulk when forced to listen to an opposing viewpoint? Whether it be Brexit, Question Time, Scottish independence, Trump, the wall, you name it, maybe we all have something to learn from what should have been a rather unremarkable confrontation at the Lincoln memorial last Friday. 

That's all well and good, and is probably better than nothing, but...

It ignores the point that much of the mainstream media, including the BBC, disgraced themselves just as much as the citizens of social media over this. 

(And, of course, many of Jon's BBC colleagues certainly didn't wait for more facts to emerge before they passed judgment on Twitter either.)

And by shifting the blame towards social media users and spreading the blame to "all" people, he rather too neatly side-steps fact that it was actually social media users, not the mainstream media, who stopped the truth being 'simple' here, and who showed that it wasn't 'the truth' after all. 

Even his own version of events here suggests he hasn't checked out the third video - the one showing Mr Phillips approaching the boys, not being "besieged" by them, so the BBC is still getting it wrong.

Plus note how Jon's own sympathies emerge, especially in that "perhaps justifiably" in the final paragraph, and in his descriptions of Mr Phillips ("The elderly Native American had his life turned over.")

Not Jon Sopel's finest hour.

Update: Or to put it another way....


  1. As ever Sopel serves his bosses well
    .. bosses at the US Democrat Party

  2. Soft-Soap Sopel trying to shampoo away the truth.

    These "moral essayists" Sopel refers to of course include lots of BBC folk like Nick Bryant (actually - maybe that was a sly dig at his upstart rival!) and Hugh Sykes...who has still failed to apologise for misrepresenting the boys' actions and in coward's fashion refuses to engage with those like DB on twitter who have taken him to task for the fake news he's been putting about.

    Sopel also does not deal with the Fake News put about by the MSM that Mr Phillips was a Vietnam Veteran.

    It's true that the "rush to judgement" phenomenon is there. But then it's always been there, hasn't it? The difference now is that BBC journalists actively assist, en masse, in the Left's rush to judgement.

    1. Yes, the thing is Sopel’s trademark is to make a headlong rush to judgement in an attempt to take the moral high ground and cause maximum damage whilst virtue signalling at the PC altar. Sopel’s liberal left preferences prejuduce his supposed journalistic impartiality every time he opens his smirking mouth. Along with the rest of the BBC US gang of biased propagandists.

  3. "maybe we all have something to learn from what should have been a rather unremarkable confrontation at the Lincoln memorial last Friday"

    Given that there are 150 plus countries in the world, (28 in the EU apparently!) and 7 billion people, 'maybe' the BBC should be asking itself why it has a constant need to promote these US stories that it clearly sources fifth-hand?

    1. An excellent question they should ask. Sadly they are too busy asking all those nonsense PC questions like "I'm mixed raced - will I be accepted at Cambridge?"

    2. Anon, The BBC is not there to serve the interests of the British people
      ...rather it is a PR agency for metrolib causes
      The US Democrats seem to have a massive advertisisng credit with them, hence TrumpMustFall is a key BBC operation
      Likewise StopBrexit, and GreenReligion (with it's prophesy that Gloabal Warming catastrophe is around the corner, but subsidised greendream business will be our saviour.)
      Likewise assuaging the guilt of the BBC staff's own privilege , hence all the continuous virtue signalling , saying : "I'm not privileged I even love every SpecialVictim group much more than the scum that are white male heterosexuals, yay solidarity with the sistas * black brothers"

  4. Jon and his cabal seldom manage a halfway decent minute between them.

    The attempt to distract from the plain facts of their headlong rush to join the media mob is laughable.

  5. Twitter and the likes have made reporters of us all. Sopel's title is 'North America Editor'. Surely, his job must be to sift through reports and deliver a balanced view based primarily upon the journalistic endeavours of his sources - that is to carry out a genuine editorial process. What he actually does is to hang his hat on the flimsiest of reports and then, only if they fit his prejudiced narrative. There's no evidence of incisive journalism.

  6. Sopel’s contrition is completely phoney. Listening to it this morning I got the distinct impression that he was presenting what actually happened as just another version of the truth. Even now he doesn’t want to tell the whole story. He still wants us to think that the young man had, “been in the face of a tribal elder”, which we now know was not the case. Who could blame Nick Sandman for employing a PR firm. His whole future might have been at stake in the face of such an onslaught. Why does Sopel even mention it if not to discredit his statement.

    I might have some respect for him if he had said, “I got it wrong” rather than the mealy-mouthed, “maybe we all have something to learn”. Who is this group vaguely referred to as “we”? Presumably not all Twitter users, but the group who Sopel identifies with politically. The group who are always on the side of right, but apparently not on this occasion…maybe. The group who in the liberal worldview the young man in the Youtube video doesn’t belong to.

    Am I not right in thinking that the slogan, Make America Great Again was originally coined by Bill Clinton?

    1. You've put it better than me there, Terry. “And the teenager, Nick Sandman, who'd been in the face of a tribal elder, took on a PR firm to act for him” really is dreadful from Jon Sopel.

  7. As has been already established, despite ‘overseeing’ the N. America desk, it would seem that what passes across such a desk is ‘nothing to do with him’™️.

    But just in case, individual staff wisely conduct most of their business via Twitter where, for no reason I can fathom beyond an ongoing uniqueness not extended by the bbc to anyone else, they are allowed to say what they like under a bbc banner by wearing a simple talisman around their headers: ‘Views not the BBC’s.

    I was reminded of this today having pointed out to young Zurcher a trait he holds in common with his employers.

    A stout defender has taken me to task:

    “Views expressed are not the BBC's. It's in Anthony's Twitter bio.”

    Indeed it is. But does not make them impartial. As claimed.

    1. This comment has been removed by the author.

    2. Zurcher only receently added the 'not the BBC's opinons' spolier last summer. Build up a a substantial Twitter following based on your BBC status, then, and only then declare that your views are not those of the BBC . . . .

  8. DdA - It would seem this is the BBC twitter policy as 'evolving the story' is to editorial that is caught doing a 180 without acknowledgement.

    It might be interesting to one day develop a list of those the BBC have tried to get fired or employers ruined based on views the BBC feel need to be dealt with.

  9. So a few days ago Sopel was absolving himself of responsibility
    saying 'there was no, we at the BBC'
    with his reply to @DB of
    \\ If I didn’t report it, why would I need to correct it? //

    yet now on today Sopel diverts attention from "we at the BBC'
    by saying the fault was "we the general population"


    Something needs pointing out : The evidence that the claim was true, was the media so wanted it to be true, plus they had the apology from the school's bosses, that was weakest proof, but MSM so wanted the claim, they took that as the green light. We know the apology of the school bosses was nothing cos they weren't there, but the video against the claim was.


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