Saturday 31 July 2021

July Continuing Open Thread


Broadcasting House, under construction in the 1930s


It's July live across the world, so time for a new open thread. Thank you for your comments.

Has the BBC fact-checked this?


It's got to the stage where whenever I read a BBC News online report I automatically think, ''Has the BBC fact-checked this?''. 

I don't trust their basic competence these days. 

A whole new blog might be devoted to correcting basic errors in BBC website reports. 

A fresh case in point...

As you'd expect the Twitter-obsessed BBC picked up on the Twitter furore over Lord [Digby] Jones's criticisms of BBC sports presenter Alex Scott for doin' a Beth Rigby and droppin' her 'g's. 

Alex Scott proud of accent amid criticism from Lord Jones - BBC News

I immediately spotted something that didn't look right and Googled to fact-check myself.

The BBC writes:

Digby was never a Labour transport minister. He was a trade minister under Gordon Brown. 

Friday 30 July 2021

Doctor, Doctor

Desperately specialist subject territory perhaps, but as discussed on the open thread...

Forget plummeting through sci-fi wormholes. The BBC's Doctor Who's ratings have in scientific reality hurtled down the plughole in recent years. 

As Buzz BBC would say - ''To infinity and wherever what we flush away goes to and beyond!''

Departing box-ticking, white, middle-aged, big-boned 'woke bloke' Chris Chibnall's unsuccessful reign as showrunner, with Jodie Whittaker as his Doctor [The First Female Doctor], saw the gradual fall-off under their immediate predecessors [Steven Moffat and Peter Capaldi] haemorrhage into an either-switch-off-or-turn-over avalanche of desertification of Biblical proportions. 

[Not that they had avalanches in the Bible.] 

Episode 1 of the first Jodie series began with well over 10 million viewers while the final episode of series 2 ended up sinking under 4 million. 

Many have claimed that this is classic 'Go woke, go broke' territory, with sledgehammer political point-making taking over from good story-telling and proper character development, and viewers switching off as a result - quite literally in their millions. 

And there's certainly a lot of truth to that. 

Some of the scripts truly stank to Skaro - and to Betelgeuse and beyond. 

The ticked-off, plodding, half-baked 'wokery' went far off the scale in episode after episode after episode with almost comical regularity, including actual out-and-out tell-not-show lectures from Doctor Jodie on everything from climate change to racism.


But questions of box-ticking and 'woke'-pandering aside, the acting also left a lot to be desired. 

People keep being nice to her - as they should. But, being kind, Jodie Whittaker has been a poor Doctor Who impersonator at best, aping the most popular recent incarnation David Tennant and failing. The role hasn't suited her, and she's not suited it. 

And yet the BBC, reporting her and Big Useless Chib's departure in 2022 today, has been accentuating the positive. 

They claimed, via a 'woke' gathering's Radio Times poll, that she was the second most favourite Doctor ever - which only proves that echo chamber polls are worthless.

The ratings contradict that Radio Times poll - a dodgy poll, which the BBC New website's report on this story cites.

I've a pretty clear idea of who the online Radio Times demographic consists of. So I think this poll is pretty much as context-reliant as any poll on this site might be in answer to a question about whether the BBC is biased or not. 

Of course people who respond to Radio Times polls are going to say 'Jodie Whittaker' as their second favourite Doctor Who. Their chosen mag has been one of her biggest cheerleaders after all, and their [small] demographic is just the sort who, even ever really bothering about the programme, would vote Jodie above Tom Baker or Jon Pertwee, or even Matt Smith with a click just for purely ideological reasons.

And most True Whovians think Jodie's been next to useless too, failing to embody their favourite character.

Yes, the freefall viewing figures and all those popular YouTube channels despising the Chibnall era's 'ruining' of 'fandom lore' are probably a far better guide. 

Many long-term fans would happily set the Daleks onto Mr Chibs to do unto him what Daleks keep on endlessly repeating what they want to do unto everyone else.

ExChibinate. ExChibinate. 

And multitudes of hardcore, lifelong fans didn't admire Jodie's bizarrely hostile attitude to the show's past and fans when she said, on being first made The Doctor, that she'd not watched the show before but deplored its male gaze.


Still, in fairness to Jodie, her diverse companions have been even worse. 

Offended pieces of wood have complained to the Met about 'hate crimes' after being compared to Jodie's companions' acting abilities - with the possible exception of Bradley Walsh, who dialled it in as well as anyone could given the rubbish scripts and the paint-by-dots-not-very-well characterisation given him by Chibs and Co. 

Despite heavy competition from Ryan - the thumb-sucking black lad with a deadbeat dad and dyspraxia who mostly stood around like a jammed door, except when turning into Clint Eastwood and unerringly overcoming his disability and blasting just-stand-and-take-it guardian robots and pathetic cannon-fodder Cybermen to hell....

....the worst companion in recent years and Doctor Who history has been Yaz, the under-characterised female Muslim police officer, who has done nothing whatsoever except to be dull, and flirt with her female Doctor, and be useless and obnoxious. 

The scriptwriters, in a truly cringeworthy moment, even had Bradley's character call her pretty much the most wonderful person in the universe in an episode in which she did nothing except say things the merest minimum the plot required her to say while Chib's hapless Cybermen rampaged around helplessly getting easily popped off - like men in most BBC dramas do these days.

Ms Perfect - our boring, useless, Muslim female Yaz who does nothing yet is the BBC's poster gal for Doctor Who


Still, however dull and unsatisfying Yaz and The First Female Doctor have been, some fans of box-ticking still wish them well. 

[SPOILER on the The First Female Doctor thing, if you're a year behind and not a nerd. 'Woke white bloke' Chris Chibnall wrote the last episode for the last series and 'revealed' that William Hartnell wasn't the first Doctor. The first doctor was a little black girl. I kid you not.]

One such said yesterday, ''Have to confess I still hold out a hope to see these two marvellous women adventure on their own in the Tardis for a while before Jodie leaves.'' 

That tweeter posted an image of Doctor Jodie and Yaz - the worst Doctor and the worst companion, according to many fans. But both women.

So the presence in the next series of a white, middle-aged male like comedian John Bishop - which prompted that comment - clearly leaves this person feeling disappointed. 

She evidently wanted the just cosplay First Female Doctor and her personality-free-yet-strangely-obnoxious female Muslim companion to explore the universe by themselves, without a male. 

Old-fashioned feminist girl power maybe, and it almost makes me hope than a transwoman [i.e. a man] is made the next Doctor. 

Well, if it's any consolation to this tweeter, if the trailer is anything to go by John Bishop will play the new archetype of middle-aged, white masculinity - a bumbling, absolute laughing stock - so everything will be fine.

And if you're wondering who tweeted this, yes, it was BBC Newswatch's Samira Ahmed - the impartial BBC's impartial watchdog.


So now everyone's guessing who the next showrunner and Doctor will be.

In the spirit of GB News impartiality and blogs hereabouts, I'm naming Dame Katie Hopkins as the next Doctor and Sir Nigel Farage as the next showrunner. 

I'm hoping for an episode featuring the Sea Devils and Silurians floating across the English Channel in dinghies and The Doctor using his/her/its/gltiqt+/wtf sonic screwdriver to defeat the evil people traffickers and deliver the Sea Devils and Silurians back to the place of safety from whence they came.

France. 🐌

Wednesday 21 July 2021

Tuesday 20 July 2021

Not Another One

Bashir and Asma al-Assad at their betrothal

I think there’s a touch of elephant in my DNA. I should get a test. In the innocent eyes of a child, Babar the elephant and his family seem gentle and sort of poignant, but it turns out he was a massive racist and has had to be banned. Oh well, like the proverbial elephant I can’t let go of certain memories. Just can’t shake ‘em off. (Not that I’ve tried)

I recall Joan Juliet Buck, a senior editor of Vogue magazine at the time, publishing the now-infamous puff-piece about Syria’s first lady Asma al-Assad. The piece was titled A Rose in the Desert. Buck’s subsequent confession of regret and embarrassment didn’t make a big splash, but at least she came clean even if Vogue magazine did not. Of course, that was before hubby Bashir gassed half his subjects. Ms Buck had fallen for Mrs al-Assad and family hook line and sinker, in much the same way as Charlotte Edwardes-with-an-e appears to have done, as evidenced by her obvious admiration for, nay, crush on social media stars and anti-Israel activists ‘the twins of Jerusalem’.

If you thought the illustration I used in my previous post looked familiar, you’ll have recognised it as an oblique reference to an interview in Saturday’s Times magazine, which has been thoroughly deconstructed by others. 

What is it with these fashion mag people? It may be bitchy to say so -perhaps racist - but I see them as a ‘type’ - middle-class, blonde, London-centric, and with a sense of entitlement that allows them to brandish their superficial and totally unsubstantiated polemics with the confidence only fools possess. And they get them published.  I’m disgusted with the Times for promoting this ill-intentioned article, but such things are getting a bit too frequent to be mere aberrations. 

Charlotte Edwardes’s article immediately flagged up the memory of “Rose of the Desert”, which, much as Vogue magazine and its ilk might not like it, we elephants never forget. One day in the future The Times and Charlotte Edwardes might regret the way they’ve decontextualised and glorified such fanatical haters, but the way things are going I ain’t holding my breath.

So here’s where I can safely say, in the words of the great Brenda from Bristol - Not another one!

I used to follow the writings of Hugh Fitzgerald, way back in 2009, when I wanted to educate myself about political Islam. Then I lost track a bit, but he’s popped into my consciousness again because he’s directly addressing the BBC. Here’s his take on Tala Hawala, and this piece: The BBC’s notoriously anti-Israel and pro-Palestinian Middle East coverage is worth a few minutes of your time; here’s an excerpt:

I had occasion some time ago to write about Bowen’s reckless disregard of important facts. As one example of this, I noted that he has been cavalier about the numbers of terrorist attacks that Israelis have had to endure. In an interview Bowen gave to Paul Blanchard, he claimed that “plenty of Palestinians feel very threatened by settlers, armed settlers, by soldiers, by raids in the middle of the night, by helicopters, you name it. And many Israelis have been hurt by and continue to be worried about attacks by Palestinians, though there haven’t been all that many in recent years.”


“John Simpson once proclaimed at his website that he was “doing my best to make sense of a crazy world.” On the subject of Islam, he has been among its stoutest apologists. When he interviewed Pim Fortuyn, he infuriated that supremely intelligent man with his absurd charges about Fortuyn’s “racism,” and his obstinate refusal to accept Fortuyn’s statement of the obvious, that Islam is not a race; the courtly Fortuyn ordered Simpson and his BBC crew to leave his home after accusing the newsman of “failing to show him any respect.” You can read Simpson’s report on the man he called “Holland’s anti-Islam dandy.” Notice the sneer in his description of Fortuyn’s “high-camp charm” and how the Dutchman “sat in his garden bower like an 18th century dandy whose wig had fallen off.” 

Currently linked to in our sidebar, David Collier has unearthed yet another BBC-related anti-Israel activist and exposed the BBC’s Tom Bateman as a bit of a fanboy, if that’s the right expression. 

This is mere 'tip of the iceberg' stuff. But still, paint me Brenda from Bristol. The BBC really seems to be full of staff members that are hostile to Israel and happy to remain ignorant of and/or turn a blind eye to the implications of political Islam. 

The tip of the iceberg, but still worth reminding you. (Isn't it?)

Monday 19 July 2021

We need to talk about bias

After unearthing some historic Hitler-related Tweets by its employee Tala Hawala the BBC dismissed her from her job as Palestine Specialist for BBC Monitoring. 

An impassioned response to the dismissal appeared on Twitter and was reproduced by some of the media, many of which chose to close comment fields that are normally open to the public. This is so sensitive a topic that a partial “don’t go there” situation apparently prevails. We’re tacitly colluding in a conspiracy of silence. (Are we?) The prospect of being drowned under a tsunami of un-woke, racist hate-speak must be a bit too much for the editorial community if there is one.

Why though - why close the comments? Opinions on Israel and the Palestinians (and sometimes on ‘Islam-in-general’) are invariably divisive and turn nasty at the drop of a hat, but I wonder if preemptively cancelling comments altogether is a sensible policy. It probably is, while the general public is so ill-informed and ill-equipped to argue knowledgeably. See that, BBC? 

But suppurating boils ache to be lanced, and because this blog is all about the BBC and Bias, and because one aspect of the media’s egregiously one-sided reporting is the BBC’s pro-Palestinian / anti-Israel bias, particularly by omission but also by inference and outright advocacy -  because of all that -  we need to talk.

In the self-pitying reposte above, Ms Hawala paints herself as a victim of the pro-Israel mob. I’ve heard it argued that her views are perfectly in accord with the BBC’s, therefore singling her out for dismissal is unfair and that she merely crossed the line with a much-too-unsubtle reference to Hitler, accidentally a little too overt and in-yer-face to pass for impartiality.

“I apologise for my single offensive and ignorant Tweet” came the weasel-worded non-apology. “I blurted out the “Hitler was right” remark in the heat of the moment” This confession looked suitably self-deprecating with a whiff of mea culpa thrown in. and had she left it at that, with the possibility of a Naz Shah style redemption. ‘Lessons learned / sorry for what I did‘ she might have bought herself some time. 

But no. Racism will out. Begging for sympathy, Hawala painted her heat-of-the-moment outburst as understandable. Cherry-picking incidents from Israel’s 2014 retaliatory incursion into Gaza - devoid of context and full of obvious omissions - not least three murdered Israeli teenagers - was a clumsy and stupid tactic. She even managed to trash her own boast, of (her own) ‘impartial and professional journalism’ by coming out with a litany of stereotypical antisemitic conspiracy theories. Hoist on her own gratuitously self-damning petard and reducing her vindication thing to parody.

There’s no way back. Chances of reconciliation - quashed. She needn’t worry though. There are plenty of opportunities still open to her. The Times might be interested.  

For anyone who still cares, that loaded allusion to ‘Industrial in scale’ is quite obscene 

Saturday 17 July 2021

Another Tala Halawa?

It's a hot Saturday evening, so I lazily checked Twitter and saw a tweet from Radio 4's Sunday programme:

Because of the whole Tala 'Hitler was right' Halawa affair, I just as lazily Googled 'Emb Hashmi'.

Her Twitter feed describes herself as ''BBC journalist''.

Her LinkedIn profile describes herself as ''award winning journalist at BBC'' and states that she joined the BBC in April 2014.

Just because of the Tala Halawa business, I then - not expecting anything - did a quick Twitter search for Emb's past tweets using two search terms, 'Israel' and 'Gaza' - not expecting to find anything remotely Tala-like. 

But I found these:

If her LinkedIn page is correct, she joined the BBC before these anti-Israel tweets. 🤔