ITBB was set up about seven years ago to debate or pinpoint the BBC’s bias, but Craig and I wrote a proviso into our ‘constitution’ allowing us to deviate and go off-topic if we wanted to.
We have an invisible preemptive, written-in apology for accidentally flouting Jacob Rees-Mogg’s list of grammatical crimes up to and including the Oxford comma and the odd typo.
At that time we thought Biased-BBC (the mothership) was growing away from us; we felt edged out by the sheer volume of material posted by the one-man blitzkrieg that was ‘Alan’, who disappeared as anonymously as he arrived. (His disappearance may not be as complete as all that)
We weren’t trying to duplicate or compete with Biased BBC. We ran in tandem with it, if you like.
Craig has never had a harsh rebuke; a couple of mild ones perhaps, but I’m not afraid of being criticised or disagreed with, (as I have been) and It’s fine. The original aim was to create a lively blog with its own identity.
It’s gratifying that Craig’s strong and stable observations, characteristically underpinned by statistics and specific examples, have been picked up by The Conservative Woman and are often cross-posted on their lively site. The one where people take notice.
The Biased-BBC blog did have some genuine influence at one time. The old magenta design is still my favourite iteration of that blog. I’m thinking that 2009 - 2012 marked the high point - the pinnacle - of my blogging life. You can still access historic Biased-BBC content via the current Biased-BBC archive, which goes waaayy back. Sadly, nothing much has changed chez Beeb. If anything the bias is worse; more entrenched and more invisible to the unseeing perpetrators.
However, the zeitgeist has shifted. Amongst huge swathes of the public the BBC is perceived as biased, lefty and shamelessly - hopelessly - pandering to a youth market that has moved on. It’s not ordinary missing the target - it’s M & S missing the target. Dear Beeb, you’re spitting in the faces of your core customer and chasing after some unattainable target with an ardour that will never be reciprocated. More and more people say they find radio 4 unlistenable.
This disillusionment with the BBC is so widespread that blogs like this are redundant, or soon will be. We are being self-indulgent here, especially in the light of the fact that we have had very little or no impact on the BBC at all.
I don’t really know who the Biased-BBC site owners were in 2007 (before David Vance’s reign) but they must have been delighted with these contemporaneous articles by the BBC’s Martin Belam.
Here’s what Martin Belam wrote about the Biased-BBC blog in March 2007:
“I’m sure that I qualify genetically as a Beeboid, and so view the site through a prism of my own telly-tax funded bias, but I enjoy reading the Biased BBC blog. And I do mean enjoy. I always used to keep it in my subscribed RSS feeds when I worked at the BBC, and still dip into it from time to time in Austria.
And there are a few reasons why I still find it an useful and enjoyable place to visit on the internet, not least of which is the fact that the issues being debated on the pages of the site are issues that link me back to home.
That’s nice, ain’t it though?
“It was also at least partly as a result of the Biased BBC comments thread that the notorious From Our Own Correspondent piece where Barbara Plett said she cried about Yasser Arafat has been appended with a note that the piece had been the subject of a complaint that had been upheld by the BBC Governors.
“I find though, that there is a real difference between what is written on the blog "proper", and what is posted on the regular open comments thread. Biased BBC usually operates an "Open comments thread" near, or at the top, of the homepage, which is refreshed every few days. These threads can often run into hundreds of inter-twining comments which can be quite difficult to pick through.
What I find a shame about all this is that I think that the mainstream body of the site, the actual posts written by the editors and named contributors, sometimes raise points that the BBC should be aware of, and seek to address within both the online journalistic and broadcast operations of the corporation.
So, a dig at some of the shakier, more fanciful contributors to the open threads, but an observation that reveals a possible weakness in the current B-BBC ‘running’ open thread format, which has virtually replaced the authored above-the-line articles.
On the other hand, (au contraire!) the current user-friendly comments field has transformed the open threads, and many interesting nuggets of news and views can be picked up from it. Including a rare sighting of a right-wing (non-lefty) comedian H/T Stewgreen. No, it’s not Jeremy Clarkson, but Will Franken - sounds like a question. (Well will he?) I bet he’s never been asked that before.
The characters featured in 2007 B-BBC have come and gone, as characters will, but the principle stays the same. One of Belam’s blog posts features B-BBC’s take on (man-made) global warming,
and one is about Israel and Palestine, which I’ll quote from below:
“The coverage of the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians is probably the most challenging area the BBC faces in balancing news coverage, and I'm certainly not one of those people who believes that the BBC gets it spot on in every report on every output medium. It should also be pointed out that a few minutes on Google will turn up plenty of people arguing that the BBC offers a pro-Israeli slant on the news. However, the general consensus of opinion on the Biased BBC blog is that the BBC is blatantly and repeatedly biased against Israel in their coverage of the situation.
Complaints from both sides? For a tiny moment, I thought he was going to conclude that they must be getting something right.
“An independent study commissioned by the old BBC Board of Governors didn't find that to be the case, in fact it slightly erred on the side that the BBC didn't put across fully the disparity between the two sides, and thus was doing a disservice to the Palestinians. Previous to that, the contents of the 2004 Balen Report are not fully known, thanks to the BBC's attempts to prevent it being released into the public domain, but this is thought to be more critical of the coverage in the other direction.
Some commentators on the Biased BBC blog are not arguing that the BBC should take a neutral stance on the issue, they believe the corporation should 'grow a backbone' and stand up for what they say is right. And frequently on the site commentators leave references to the "Pretendistinians", which serves to make their own particular bias on the issue quite clear.
That was almost the same as the familiar accusation: “You don’t want balance, you just want your kind of bias” Later in the piece he says:
Biased BBC believes that the BBC is pro-Palestinian despite any evidence to the contrary because, as you've previously identified, they are right-wing loons who believe that Thatcher was a bit soft. Whenever an Israeli spokesman comes on, they're never questioned as to why they claim to be more peaceful than Iran, despite attacking all their neighbours pretty regularly, or why, despite this, they should be allowed nuclear weapons and Iran shouldn't. Obviously, by criticising Israel, I am a dreadful nazi anti-semite, but so be it.
Clearly he does qualify as a bona fide Beeboid if he believes that making a completely context-free assertion that Israel is guilty of “attacking all their neighbours pretty regularly” is enough to invalidate its claim to be ‘peaceful’ is an example of a reasonable, ‘non-antisemitic’, criticism of Israel, not to mention negatively equating Israel with Iran in a brazen advertisement of his own ignorance. I suppose he got his dis-info from Jeremy Bowen.
Of course, there wasn’t BREXIT in those days. Over the last almost seven years!! here at ITBB we’ve picked up a healthy tally of page-views and a distinct identity of our own. At present we are distinguishable from Biased-BBC by our labour intensive above-the-line offerings, (working day and night) in the hope that one day someone important from the BBC will come along and say “Hello Craig and Sue, you were right all along. How can we change for the better?”
Dominic Casciani may not belie-e-e-ve it but we do this for nowt, (try not to make too many mistakes, trying to spell names correctly, finding links and images) and we charge £0 per hour, which is below the minimum wage.
Why do we do it? Yes indeed. Why.
Vanity; to stave off dementia; for mental exercise; for your entertainment; waiting for someone important from the BBC will come along and humbly ask ‘how can we change?’