This is about ITV and Channel Four. Turn away now if you’re exclusively interested in bias on the actual BBC.
She’s clever and pretty and she’s not afraid to swear at George Galloway on Twitter. What’s not to like?
The first thing that struck me here was that she was extraordinarily late in the day in becoming - may I use the word ‘woke’? (i.e., alert to injustice in society, especially racism.) I mean, how disappointing was it to discover that she has existed (I assume) within the Metropolitan bubble for at least ten years, yet until the Jewish community got its act together and took some concerted, high profile action, she knew zilch about the media’s relentless bias against Israel or the antisemitism in the Labour party?
But there you go. Her personality + brains + beauty are invaluable assets for publicly raising awareness; and who knew the glamorous mathematician from Countdown possesses a fully functioning Jewdar?
What we did hear, loud and clear, was Krishnan G-M’s appalling ignorance. Of course, one expects him to take a pro-Palestinian / anti-Israel stance in accord with Channel Four’s remit, but publicly displaying (and hence perpetuating) his core ignorance of the topic under discussion is (should be) a huge embarrassment to himself.
He tries to expound on the ‘difference’ between anti-Zionism and antisemitism and pretends to be playing Devil’s advocate. But Rachel Riley, as a beginner - a newcomer to the subject - is ill-equipped to make the strong rebuttal that this particularly foolish “Devil” deserves.
“I’m having to have so much knowledge that I didn’t have before, to combat it” she declares.
She insists that Israel is necessary as ‘somewhere for Jews to go’ should the need arise, to which Guru-Murthy counters that the Palestinians shouldn’t have had to be “displaced” for this to happen.
“As you know, people on the there side will say it is not racist to say Israel shouldn’t exist because all I’m saying is …. they (are saying)…it was wrong to displace the Palestinians; we should go back to a pre 1948 situation and that means the modern state of Israel doesn’t exist, that doesn’t make me….I’m not hating a people, I’m not hating Jews, I’m just saying that state, you know, is an unjust state … let’s go back to before it existed.”
In the eyes of this particular devil’s advocate, Israel’s Jews are simply interlopers in “Palestinian Land” - and violent and aggressive with it. Perhaps the Naz Shah remedy would satisfy Mr G-M. Of course, nowadays even the United States is beginning to look a lot less like the safe haven for Jews it might once have been. Antisemitism is rife on campus, and now in congress too.
It’s pretty shocking that Krishnan Guru-Murphy invites a guest to discuss a frought topic on film and doesn’t even bother to gen up beforehand.
Sarah Baxter has written about this in the Sunday Times. (£)
Riley was inspired to speak out on Twitter after the Jewish community protested against Labour anti-semitism outside parliament last spring. “Jews complaining about anti-semitism in 2018?” she wondered. “This is a bit odd.”
As she explained on a Channel 4 podcast last week: “There were moments when my mouth was on the floor about Holocaust denial.” With a Jewish mother — and, she laughed, a “Manchester United father” — she was horrified by the level of abuse she received from Corbyn supporters.
“This is what Jeremy Corbyn is inspiring,” she said. “You can’t say anything against [him] without getting shot down.” The hard-left fan site Skwawkbox falsely repeated smears accusing Riley of “meeting” Jacob Rees-Mogg for talks about her “potential political future”, a piece of nonsense designed to discredit her.
By her enemies you shall know her. Riley also attracted the wrath of George Galloway, leader of the so-called Respect Party, after he was kicked out of Labour. He was incensed by her attack on the intellectual guru of the far left, Noam Chomsky, who had previously defended a French Holocaust denier. “Dumbfounding,” Galloway tweeted. “She calls Chomsky . . . an anti-semite and slanders half the Labour Party as the same.”
To which Riley replied with a simple four-letter expletive: “F*** off George Galloway.” If only Corbyn would do the same.”
Ms Baxter also mentioned Fiona Bruce’s debut Q.T.
Personally, I thought Fi was pretty ineffectual as a chairperson. Rather than facilitating free and fair debate, I thought she took a bit of a liberty in exploiting her position. Rather than letting the panellists get on with it, she kind of ‘joined in’ and took on the argument with each panellist herself. Some would call her approach ‘interventionist’.
I don’t know if that’s what’s required of a chairperson. I’d prefer the chair to be a non-interventionist with the ability to allocate time between members of the panel fairly, sensitively and intelligently.
Several commenters online remarked that Melanie Phillips wasn’t given much space. However, she made good use of the window she was given, slapping down the obnoxious comedian, Nish Kumar. No-one knows why he was there. Since this was meant to be a ‘fresh look’ at the programme, how about abandoning the role of rogue, comedy guest altogether.?