Thursday 18 June 2020

A good deal of criticism

I suspect the silent (silenced?) majority in this country appreciated Dominic Raab's refusal to 'take the knee' in support of the extremist Black Lives Matter movement.

But there's no escaping the engulfing madness at the moment, and - after a huge Twitterstorm - he's now been forced to semi-apologise, despite being right.

Turn to the BBC though, and it's clear they think he was wrong.

You had, for example, their obedient deputy political editor Norman Smith babbling on this lunchtime about "the fact that [Dominic Raab] knows he has blundered badly and caused unnecessary offence by his remarks, and bear in mind this is the Foreign Secretary, so one of the most senior figures in government and, on top of that, the man meant to be in charge of the diplomatic service and yet, at the very least, his remarks are deeply undiplomatic".

And, reviewing that on TV Eyes, you see that disapproval in BBC News Channel presenter Martine Croxall's facial gestures and vocal intonations as she tees up Norman's damning commentary by describing what Mr Raab said. Every contour of her face, every modulation of her voice, signalled the presence of a ten-foot barge pole between her and the BBC and Mr Raab's comments.

BBC One's News at One was at it too, focusing on the "The Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab has been heavily criticised" angle. After playing a clip from Mr Raab's interview with Julia Hartley-Brewer which ended with Julia laughing, the BBC's Chris Mason put on his most serious voice and said "Others aren't laughing" and quoted David Lammy slamming Mr Raab. Two 'talking heads' were also featured (Lisa Nandy and Sir Ed Davey), both slamming Mr Raab. And Chris Mason's narration then ended by saying: 
Taking the knee has become a symbol of global protest loaded with huge feeling and sensitivities. One critics insist their man's diplomatic language from the Foreign Secretary. Chris Mason, BBC News. 
Lots of people agreed with Dominic Raab's original comments. So why not feature some of those? Why only feature critics? And why back up those critics with a narrative wholly in tune with theirs, rather than a balanced report?

And Chris Mason is usually one of the better ones at the BBC. 

And going back to Norman Smith earlier, he'd ended his chat with Martine Croxall entirely in terms of this 'critics are saying' angle, so beloved of the BBC these days: 
Quite apart from the row his comments have caused [not how Norman 'victim-blames' Mr Raab for 'causing' the row with his comments, rather than putting it more neutrally, or noting the fact that the row was 'caused' by his critics concocting a storm about them], the timing is also deeply damaging, because it comes, of course, as President Macron is about to arrive in London a hugely symbolic moment, to mark the 80th anniversary of the wartime broadcast by General de Gaulle encouraging the French to carry on with their resistance against the Nazis, and it is a big, big moment diplomatically, but also for the French, so the timing for the Foreign Secretary to be embroiled in a separate set of headlines is not good, added to which it comes just days after Boris Johnson launched his race commission, in part in response to the protests we saw from the Black Lives Matter movement. At the time, it also faced a good deal of criticism from people who suspected that it was all being rushed out and hadn't really been thought through and it was just another report and an attempt to deflect attention from the protests, and [and here comes the editorialising!] I suspect the fears of those critics, that somehow the government just doesn't get it, will have been further bolstered by Dominic Raab's comments this morning.
I like Norman Smith, but that's not neutral reporting.

And how did Martine Croxall interview Sir Ed Davey? Well, she began with this question...
Dominic Raab has issued a correction, clarification, he's saying that people have every right and he respects anyone who chooses to take the knee. How sufficient is that?
…and then let him speak uninterrupted and without challenge throughout. Sir Ed duly delivered an Emily Maitlis-style diatribe.. The only other thing the BBC's Martine said was, "Sir Ed Davey, acting leader of the Liberal Democrats, thank you very much for your time today".

And how sufficient is that, Martine? Why not challenge him?

There's more of this kind of thing that ever at the moment, which is why - for me - the BBC is becoming absolutely insufferable. 

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