Saturday 12 October 2019

The stable door of BBC impartiality

A comment on the Open Thread this morning -

Anonymous12 October 2019 at 10:47 
Heard a rant from Jon Sopel this morning - either on Today or earlier on World Service - in which he seemed to be reaching near hysteria - Trump Derangement Syndrome seems well named. It was worse even than Norman Smith in one of his bouncing up and down performances in Downing Street. I couldn't see any Sopel bouncing but he definitely sounded like a man who could not contain himself. Perhaps he did achieve 'lift off' unseen by the listener or the editor yanked him out of there before he went berserk.

- had me scouring TV Eyes to find the piece in question. It was broadcast throughout the night on the BBC World Service. And, yes, Jon Sopel did sound very excitable. (Maybe he got caught short while talking):
A lot of people saying that American foreign policy is careering all over the place and that you're getting very, very mixed messages. 
Look, it's undoubtedly clear that Donald Trump's phone call with President Erdogan last weekend paved the way for the invasion with the removal of American troops, since when Donald Trump has been saying it's time to get American troops out of the Middle East, out of these endless wars costing trillions of dollars. 
What happens today? An announcement that an extra 1,800 US serviceman are being sent to Saudi Arabia. We've had President Trump saying he would like to broker some kind of deal between the Kurds and the Turks. Turkish sources in Washington saying that's not going to happen. We've had the threat of sanctions from the Treasury Secretary that Steve Mnuchin says could shut down the Turkish economy, but what will trigger them we don't know. 
You get the slight impression that the White House is calling in the locksmiths to put on a couple of extra bolts on the stable door even though the horse has long since disappeared from view.


  1. I commented on the Open thread, that BBC coverage of the Turkish attacks on the Kurdish forces in Syria have largely been presented as though President Trump was attacking the Kurds personally.

    It's a complicated area and I don't pretend to know all the details, but it seems that again President Trump is only doing what he said he would. His actions save the USA blood and money. USA now self sufficient in oil and energy. Will the EU step-up instead to defend the Kurds? Haha. Will Emily and Jon being volunteering for the PKK? Nope. Will we will be told by BBC that we should welcome back ISIS fighters for trial? Of course.

    1. Very true about the BBC's prejudicial coverage.

      The BBC's hypocrisy is off the scale. They spend 20 years moaning about the involvement of the "West", and in particular the USA, in middle east wars. Then, because it's Trump withdrawing, they are suddenly all in favour of war.

      I am not best pleased with Trump's decision on balance. Erdogan is Muslim Brotherhood and supports restoration of the Caliphate, just as IS did. Many people claim, persuasively I think, that the Turks have been working with IS and other Jihadists. Out of a pretty bad bunch the Kurds seem not too bad...women for instance appear to have a bit more of a public role in their society and they appear to have treated POWs fairly by the standards of the region. You can tell a lot about a society by how they treat their POWs.

      Overall I think Trump's foreign policy has been pretty successful. Crimea was annexed under Obama, not Trump. Russia has not made any territorial advances while Trump has been in power. He's renegotiated deals like NAFTA which were destroying the US and he's taking no more BS from Cheating China. N Korea have stopped their nuclear weapon missile development programme. Trump has closed off support for terrorist organisations like Hamas. He's correctly aligned himself with the world's largest democracy in the world, India.

      More generally, he has not got the USA embroiled in any pointless unwinnable wars.

      He is "America First" - so we should keep an eye on our own interests all the time of course.

      The Syrian decision is probably the first time he might have put a foot wrong...he might have been assuming the Turks would simply create a buffer zone. But the Kurds are tough fighters. This was might expand...and Erdogan might well be looking to revitalise IS. Difficult to tell. No one knows - least of all Emily Maitlis or Jon Sopel.

  2. This is not about bias but one of those odd items of interest one still comes across on the radio. While listening to the World Service for much of the wee hours, hence picking up Sopel's raving, I also heard a remarkable tale: 'The Blue Diamond Mystery' which was featured in a programme called 'The Fifth Floor'.'In 1989, a Thai cleaner in the palace of a Saudi prince stole jewels worth around $20m. Although he was caught, many of the jewels remain missing, including a rare blue diamond.'

    Turns out there is a fuller account on the BBC website here: and the story becomes ever more like crime fiction as initial theft begat crime upon crime and mystery upon mystery, to this day unsolved.

    1. To add: link to the Fifth Floor:

  3. Had I started listening to the World Service earlier last night I might have been cheered at a rare sighting of a Brexiter, albeit that it was on Hard Talk with Stephen Sackur:

    'Stephen Sackur speaks to Stuart Wheeler, a successful businessman and lifelong gambler who backed his commitment to Brexit with plenty of his own cash.'

    So far so good but ah, the very next line shows which way this is going: 'Has his money given him undue influence over Britain’s future?'

    I wonder how many people meddling in our leaving the EU that question could be asked of, but hasn't, by the BBC. Include public position, influence and profile along with money in the net and it would increase the catch considerably.


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