Saturday 15 February 2020

Tales from the Factory Floor

David Sedgwick's The Fake News Factory is a book that needed writing. 

For us, it might feel like a strange trip down Memory Lane at times, as David revisits many of the stop-off points of BBC bias that we've also recorded over the years, but - along with plenty of other examples - he gathers everything together in a juggernaut of hard evidence that is absolutely crushing.

The thing about a blog like this is that is provides endless instances - snapshots - of BBC bias in action but it's the threading of a thousand blogposts into a single tapestry that allows you to properly stand back and gasp at just how bad the BBC has become. 

Take one example: 

Chapter Two brings us to David's list of 'tells' - ways to spot the BBC getting up to mischief. The first 'tell' concerns how the BBC treats wrongdoers and whistle-blowers. 

Here David recounts the remarkable tale of how two BBC whistle-blowers - Meirion Jones and the late Liz MacKean - were slyly hounded out by the BBC in the wake of the Jimmy Savile scandal.
A senior press officer who vowed to 'drip poison' about Jones was later promoted. 'I will throw shit at him [Jones]' promised another senior BBC staff member. It was made clear to BBC staff attempting to establish the truth that should they continue to dig it would spell the end of their careers. 'When the Savile scandal broke,' recalled MacKean, 'the BBC tried to smear my reputation.'
I remember Liz MacKean. She once replied directly to a complaint of mine, and did so to my satisfaction. 

This was a shameful episode in the BBC's history and merits close attention. 

And what of the BBC 'wrongdoers' who got away with it, despite those pesky rulings against them? 

What about anti-Trump BBC dirt-disher Paul Wood, who helped lose the BBC a libel case brought by a former Ukrainian president but who's carrying on regardless at the BBC? 

And what about Dan Johnson, who was criticised by a judge over his involvement in the Sir Cliff Richard and is still a high-profile BBC correspondent? Or the BBC higher-ups judged untrusty and evasive in their testimony by the same judge? 

Or Jasmine Lawrence, the BBC News Channel editor pulled from local election duties in 2014 after ranting against UKIP on Twitter, subsequently promoted to be a Deputy News Editor on the Channel?

Or Emily Maitlis, rebuked by the BBC over her unfair treatment of Rod Liddle and now their award-winning golden (bronzed) girl? 

Or Jeremy Bowen, a man with a deeply personal grudge against Israel, continuing as the BBC's Middle East Editor despite the BBC itself ruling against him for violating guidelines on impartiality and accuracy in 2009? 


  1. Yes, I always thought Liz McKean, who did much to bring into the public sphere the reality of abuse, was treated in scandalously shabby fashion by the BBC. Wasn't that when the arm-biter in chief (Mark Thompson - twice bit members of staff on the arm but suffered no ill consequences, now of the Noo Yoik Times) was in control?

    Talking of anti-Trump partisanship, there was a fine piece this morning on Radio 4: an impartial, free and fair discussion of the usual topic ("Who the hell can beat Trump? - anyone, just anyone please!") with Jon Sopel (rabidly anti-Trump), Jonathan Freedland (even more rabidly anti-Trump BBC presenter allowed to give free rein to his political views for some reason) and Reid Epstein of the New York Times (possibly even more rabidly anti-Trump than even the other two).

    No balance, just Beeboid believers confirming the rectitude of their faith.

  2. I wonder if the BBC has a HRC Editor.

    And I don't mean one who reports on Mrs. Clinton.

  3. I remember Liz McLean from the days when I used to watch Newsnight. She had an emollient voice and earnest manner. It's interesting looking at the link to see Craig's detailed coverage back then. It even names the person referred to by David Sedgwick as a senior staff member.

    Liz of the soft soothing voice made a memorably sharp comment about the BBC after she left:

    'In August 2013, MacKean told a session of the Edinburgh Television Festival that the row about excessive severance payments to senior BBC officials went to the heart of problems at the BBC where an "officer class" had been created which was treating the BBC as a "get-rich-quick scheme" for themselves and their colleagues.'

    Thompson when he was there certainly was all for grabbing as much money as he could get away with, justifying it by reference to commercial sector. He clearly thought he was worth it.


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