Thursday 31 December 2020

The Beauties - BBC Bias à propos US Politics


A Guest Post by Arthur T 

I have made the point recently that the BBC’s news gathering and broadcast is more biased in the US than in the UK. From top to bottom, the BBC have allowed their dislike of President Trump to pervade every pore of news reporting as they seek to ridicule him. Jon Sopel just couldn’t wait to label his nemesis ‘loser’ as the BBC declared Biden victorious in the November 3rd Presidential Election. 

The above screenshot from the other day has replaced the US Election feature on the BBC News website US and Canada pages. What caught my eye was the Sopel and Maitlis Americast: Review of 2020. I thought ITBBCB? might review Sopel and Maitlis’s podcasts, one in particular: 'Hunter Biden’s Laptop, Why the media isn’t covering a story Trump wants them to’, a podcast from 21st October - just two weeks before polling day. Craig has very kindly made a transcript:

Jon Sopel: Let's go onto the topic of conversation that Donald Trump would love to be talking about. It's a complicated story, but it seems that someone got hold of a laptop allegedly containing emails written by Hunter Biden. Hunter Biden's laptop, which apparently he had taken in for service. He had forgotten about it. Owner of the shop looks at it, thinks 'Oh, those are interesting emails', sees if the FBI are interested, they're not, and it ends up in the hands of Donald Trump's personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani and in the hands of Steve Bannon, former campaign director at the last election. And they have touted it around. They have tried to give it to Fox News. Fox weren't interested. Then it ends up being published by The New York Post, a Rupert Murdoch-owned newspaper. And the suggestion, I think, at the most is there may have been a meeting organised between Hunter Biden, who was then a director of this Ukrainian energy company Burisma and his father Joe Biden, then the vice-president, to meet a couple of the executives. But it is a screenshot that has been taken. And the reason a lot of people are very suspicious about this is that no one's actually examined the hard drive to see whether the screenshot has been doctored in any way. And so that it why a lot of news organisations have been treating this story with suspicion. It ain't Hillary Clinton's email investigation of four years ago when the FBI announced two weeks before polling that they are investigating her. This is a laptop that has kind of washed up and, you know, it looks may all be genuine but it looks like it's dirty tricks as well. 

Emily Maitlis: But the interesting thing is, you said that Fox News wouldn't cover the story but Fox & Friends, the chat show, did talk to the President about this because this is fertile ground, as Sopes said, for him and they said, "What are you going to do?", and he said, "I think we ought to get the Attorney-General William Barr and ask him to investigate". Now that is an extraordinary step, you know. Just think about that in sort of political overreach terms. You're actually going to get the Attorney-General to investigate Hunter Biden,...

Jon Sopel: For corruption.

Emily Maitlis: ...your opponent's son, for corruption. Let's not forget, the last time Donald Trump asked somebody to investigate Hunter Biden for corruption it was the Ukrainian government, and it got him into the impeachment scenario. So this is something that you kind of, you does sort of make you think it's a whole different league of playing politics. And really the cards are on Bill Barr, who has not shown himself to have an enormous spine in standing up to this president, and to see how far he will go in playing this game.

Jon Sopel: Well, I thought there was a fascinating moment where Donald Trump is on the tarmac, he's about to go off to one of his rallies, he's about to board the plane, and Jeff Mason, who's a very well respected agency reporter who covers the White House beat, asks the President about the allegations and calling for a corruption investigation and this is what Donald Trump said: 

Jeff Mason: Your campaign strategy seems to be to call Biden a criminal. Why is that?

Donald Trump: He is a criminal. He's a criminal. He got caught. Read his laptop. And you know who is a criminal here? You're a criminal for not reporting it. You are a criminal for not reporting it. Let me tell you something, Joe Biden is a criminal and he's been a criminal for a long time, and you're a criminal and the media for not reporting it.

So, you guess, a real sense of the President's mood that he thought that they had gold dust. Interestingly, this occurred last week. That's when the story broke in The New York Post. And it was the night of the duelling townhalls, where we did the podcast afterwards, and Donald Trump didn't mention it once, as if to suggest that Donald Trump didn't really believe quite what was being reported. But here you have the White House correspondent for Reuters being accused of being a criminal because he obviously has doubts about the veracity of the story of this laptop and how it came to be in the hands of Rudy Giuliani and Steve Bannon.

Emily Maitlis: The Zurch, do you think that if it was flipped more papers would be picking this up? If it was a story about Trump would more papers be more inclined to be latching onto this? I mean, that's obviously his allegation in that clip, so maybe we should, you know, air it and we should analyse it?

Anthony Zurcher: Giuliani definitely shopped it around before he ended up with  The New York Post. And I think there were some legitimate concerns, as you mentioned, from even outlets like Fox News about where this laptop came from and the story behind it. Obviously, back in 2016 The New York Times had no problems and media outlets had no problems poring over the hacked emails of Hillary Clinton's campaign team and reporting on them. So in that case it was flipped and we saw what happened. I think maybe this time around there's a little more reluctance on the part of mainstream outlets to run with things that are of questionable sourcing. And there are a couple of things, as you pointed out, in these emails - if they are legitimate - that raise some questions. The one about the Ukrainian businessman thanking Hunter Biden for the opportunity to meet Hunter Biden's father. Of course, that could just have been a handshake at a public event. The Biden campaign has denied that there is anything on the official schedule for it. And then there was another one, a 2017 email where a Chinese associate was paying money to Hunter Biden's company and a business associate of Hunter Biden's said that $10m was going to be set aside, given to Hunter Biden for The Big Guy. And Fox News said that The Big Guy was Joe Biden. So the question is: Did Joe Biden get any money from that business deal? But then again, you know, Donald Trump has clear business dealings with China, we've learned from the The New York Times a bank account in China, so I don't know if the attacks that we see from the Trump side are going to be able to strike home here. It will come up in the debate though, I'm sure of it. 

Jon Sopel: Oh, I'm sure. The debate is going to dominated. I would think that Donald Trump is going to go on and on about this, because that way it will have to be picked up by network news bulletins in a way that the allegations haven't been hitherto. Donald Trump's calculation will be, look, if I talk about the border wall or I talk about whatever it happens to be it's not going to get much purchase. If I want the subject to be Hunter Biden, Burisma, corruption, his father, the best way to do that is, you know, saturate bombing the debate with these allegations. And I think the Biden campaign will be thinking long and hard about what the response should be in the debate to all of that. Does he get drawn into this debate or does he try and make a brief statement and move on? It's tricky. Tricky for Biden.

Anthony Zurcher; And I want to drive home the point, right now there's no evidence that Joe Biden did anything untoward, either in his dealings with Ukraine or in his dealings with China. Although I think it's clear that - it's something we knew before but we know again if we take this laptop at face value - it's clear that Hunter Biden was capitalising on his connections to power and his last name in order to sign business deals, which, unfortunately, in Washington is kind of an age-old tradition, and it is certainly not limited just to Hunter Biden.   

Emily Maitlis: I think you could probably say it's really inclusive of the Administration itself, could you?

Anthony Zurcher: Yeah. I think that's safe to say. Yes. 

The tone throughout is to make light of the laptop story - passing it off as unimportant. Zurcher in particular asserts that ‘there's no evidence that Joe Biden did anything untoward, either in his dealings with Ukraine or in his dealings with China.’ He offers no supporting evidence for this point of view, and neither does he offer any evidence for his claim ‘in Washington is kind of an age-old tradition, and it is certainly not limited just to Hunter Biden.

Emily Maitlis: I think you could probably say it's really inclusive of the Administration itself, could you?

Anthony Zurcher: Yeah. I think that's safe to say. Yes.

In two short sentences he absolves Biden of blame and accuses POTUS of corruption. That’s BBC bias pure and simple, coupled with a loathing for President Trump. As we know, Zurcher, Sopel and Bryant get nowhere near the White House. Most broadcasts are from the pavements of DC far enough away to know only what they are fed through US MSM channels. 

James Delingpole in TCW and now Josh Glancy The Times’ Washington Reporter have finally broken ranks and admit to believing that the laptop story was by no means trivial, but in fact crucially important.

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