Earlier today I was reading a review in The Sunday Times by ex-BBC man Misha Glenny of 'This Is Not Propaganda: Adventures in the War Against Reality' by anti-Putin, anti-Trump journalist Peter Pomerantsev.
Around the same time I was reading a BBC online report and listening to Radio 4 bulletins telling me that Donald Trump has been accused of racism again for attacking a black Congressman and saying something about rats in black-majority Baltimore. Apparently, he meant 'black people' when he wrote 'rats'.
Here's the headline from Radio 4's 7am bulletin this morning:
President Trump is facing further allegations of racism after criticising an African-American congressman.
Naturally, I checked the actual tweets from the US president:
Rep. Elijah Cummings has been a brutal bully, shouting and screaming at the great men & women of Border Patrol about conditions at the Southern Border, when actually his Baltimore district is FAR WORSE and more dangerous. His district is considered the Worst in the USA. As proven last week during a Congressional tour, the Border is clean, efficient & well run, just very crowded. Cumming District is a disgusting, rat and rodent infested mess. If he spent more time in Baltimore, maybe he could help clean up this very dangerous & filthy place.
Now, from that it seems clear to me that Donald Trump meant 'rats' rather than 'black people' when he called Rep. Cummings's district "a disgusting, rat and rodent infested mess", but if Nancy Pelosi and The Squad and the BBC say otherwise I might be missing something.
One of the things that immediately struck me though from the Radio 4 bulletins was how - yet again - certain words got dropped.
When Donald Trump last got accused of racism for saying 'go back' the BBC repeatedly failed to quote the 'then come back' words later in the very same tweet.
And here today was the BBC's Chris Buckler:
In a series of posts on Twitter President Trump struck back, accusing Mr. Cummings been a bully, and said he should concentrate on cleaning up the district he represents in Baltimore, describing it as "a dangerous, filthy and rat-infested mess".
Now, as you can see, that wasn't quite the exact direct quote it sounded like. What, for example, happened to the word 'rodent' - an added word that might have made it even plainer to Radio 4 listeners that Mr Trump was talking about literal rats and rodents rather than black people?
Checking online to see if Baltimore is known for its rat problem, I find (again and again) that it is. Baltimore is a 'top rat city' in poll after poll and a recent highly-acclaimed US film about rats and race in Baltimore by a black Baltimore film maker was titled 'Rat Film'. Even The Washington Post had a long-read article a few years back headlined 'Oh, rats. There's one aspect of Baltimore she can't get used to'.
Seriously, do blogs like this really have to do this kind of research?
So yet another fake news twisting of the facts by the MSM, with the BBC following suit like Trump-hating, Democrat groupies?
Well, the BBC website report, headlined 'Trump’s ‘rat-infested’ attack on lawmaker was racist, says Pelosi', was the BBC site's second story this morning, but is now gone from its home page. (Have the BBC yet again realised that they leapt too soon and then abruptly dropped the story?)
Nonetheless, Newssniffer tells an interesting tale, catching the BBC in the act of toning down their reporting.
One version says:
The episode has echoes of the racially-charged rhetoric Mr Trump used in tweets lambasting four Democratic congresswomen of colour earlier this month.
The next version tones it down slightly (partly by recourse to a variant on the BBC's trusty 'some people say' formula') to this:
The episode has echoes of the rhetoric Mr Trump used in tweets lambasting four Democratic congresswomen of colour earlier this month.
[P.S. Note how the BBC now slavishly parrots the US identity politics-led 'woke' formulation 'women of colour'].
What do you make of this? Am I right or am I wrong? Does it matter?