Hello to August. Time for a new open thread. Thank you for your comments.
Monday, 30 August 2021
Well, whatever it is, I think Adrian Hilton captures it rather well:
I'm pleased to learn of this project from Lewis Goodall at BBC Newsnight. Please send directly to him your harrowing tales of grief, anxiety, depression, exasperation, desperation, and thoughts of suicide over the intolerable (/impossible) costs of the #claddingscandal.
Sunday, 29 August 2021
There was a revealing comment, in passing, from BBC presenter Martine Croxall to Dateline London Canadian regular Jeffrey Kofman this weekend:
What Extinction Rebellion are saying, Jeffrey, isn't exactly controversial, is it?
Some - at the very least - of what they're saying is certainly controversial - e.g. their claims, and their targets, and the possible economic impact of their proposals.
Is this rosy view of XR common at the BBC?
A prominent story in the Sunday Telegraph today, Top scholars launch fightback against woke brigade’s ‘blatantly false’ reading of history, tells how ''leading academics'' [e.g. Prof. Robert Tombs and Andrew Roberts] are ''joining forces'' for a campaign called History Reclaimed which is ''aimed at calling out misleading narratives about historical figures'' in the light of ''growing consternation at the steady march of “woke” ideology which has seen statues pulled down, university degrees “decolonised” and museum exhibits relabelled or removed altogether''.
The Telegraph report was discussed on this morning's BBC Radio 4 Broadcasting House paper review and all three of Paddy's guests mocked it, presenting it a non-story, and dismissing concerns about “woke” as right-wing nonsense.
It's the BBC, so who's surprised at this very BBC meeting of like minds?
As Rod Liddle once put it, ''On Radio Four, you get the bien pensant toss rammed down your throat, almost without variation''.
And that, ladies and gentlemen and others, is why GB News - or something like it - is needed.
John Simpson: Just reported for the 6pm BBC Radio News on Britain's and America's serious defeat in Afghanistan - including the judgement of a leading UK diplomat: the withdrawal from Afghanistan is ‘a thoroughgoing abdication of everything we stand for.’
I suppose if you were wanting to write a satirical piece depicting the BBC as relentless purveyors of ''metropolitan liberal elite'' groupthink and ''woke ideology'' you might imagine a fictional BBC Director, Factual, Arts and Classical Music Television ticking his boxes and announcing the following televisual treats:
His Arts remit might lead him to commission a profile of the personal and political life of an artist with trendy attributes, eg. someone who's a gender-bending, feminist icon, and a far-left political activist too. My satirical antennae tell me that the fictional Director would be best ticking the name 'Frida Kahlo'.
Also on the Arts side of things, our satirist might imagine the BBC Director then commissioning a Black Lives Matter-inspired major arts series, provisionally titled 'Black Art Matters'. Even funnier, the satirist would joke that it's bound to be presented by one of the BBC's two go-to race-baiting activist presenters, Afua Hirsch, because it wouldn't be the BBC these days without a ''woke''-filtered documentary series starring Afua Hirsch.
And there'd have to be something for the other one too, as what BBC season would be complete without David Olusoga? Maybe our satirist would imagine the BBC commissioning a series from him about Britain and British identity and get him to talk again about race, given that that's what he always does.
Hm, a major new series about Planet Earth is needed. Brian Cox is a bit passe, Sir David's done a lot in recent years, so which ubiquitous flavour-of-the-month would the BBC chose to present it? The satirist wouldn't hesitate, even for a second. It has to be Chris Packham.
As for Classical Music, our satirical BBC high-up would have to commission a documentary about a composer with certain attributes. It it isn't a composer of color, it must be a left-wing, homosexual, pacifist activist, or something of that kind for the programme makers to peg their politics. What about Sir Michael Tippett? He'd tick a few boxes.
And so on.
As you've probably guessed by now, this isn't satire. It's exactly what the BBC announced for its new season. And the white, privileged BBC boss who did all this commissioning is called Patrick Holland.
Israel today is in a state of confusion, in a state of panic. They know very well that what happened in Kabul Airport will repeat itself at Ben Gurion Airport. But Ben Gurion Airport will be closed, there will be no planes in it…. Israelis should listen to the advice of [Hezbollah leader] Hassan Nasrallah and start learning how to swim, because their only option will be Cyprus, their only option will be the Mediterranean Sea.Abdel Bari Atwan, Lebanese television station Mayadeen TV, 18/8
Friday, 27 August 2021
But he suspects this doesn’t happen ''because programme-makers are passionate about championing social justice'', given that ''most of them live in Holland Park in London on salaries well north of six figures'', but that it happens ''because they are supinely following quota rules issued from above''.
What has happened, Richard Morrison argues, is that the pendulum has swung too far,
...possibly because of the “must please management” mentality ingrained into every organisation - even one where employees imagine themselves as creative and free-thinking. Pragmatism, common sense, moderation and subtlety go out of the window. Then programme-makers find themselves way out of step with the public, and people start asking themselves why they should pay the licence fee.
A population as stubborn as the British will never respond well to arrogant preaching or their favourite shows being hijacked to represent views they don’t hold. Quite the reverse. People switch off. Government ministers sniff blood. Views polarise and harden, and fundamentally worthwhile institutions are threatened with break-up.
And he ends with a question:
Those delegates in Edinburgh did well to expose the sociopolitical gulf between themselves and the majority of the public. Now who’s going to be brave enough, clever enough and humble enough to bridge it?
Thursday, 26 August 2021
AGAINST NAGA MUNCHETTY
FOR NAGA MUNCHETTY
Sunday, 22 August 2021
Newsnight, BBC Two, 20 April 2021We conflated the vaccination rates for Israel’s Palestinian citizens and Palestinians in the occupied territories when we said the roll-out rate was half a percent.In fact, within Israel it was then estimated to be around 67%.We also said the “Palestinian population has not been inoculated at anywhere near the rate of the Israeli population.”To be clear, this was because of vaccine hesitancy.16/08/2021
I had to dig a little, because the BBC gave no clues, but...Can you guess who at Newsnight said these things, and got them so wrong?
Yes, it was Emily Maitlis.
She keeps on getting the BBC into trouble, doesn't she?
An interesting part of this story is that Robbie Gibb communicated his reservations about Jess Brammar in a message to Fran Unsworth. Someone at the BBC has obviously leaked this.Jess Brammar is part of the old Newsnight circle of friends on Twitter that includes my old favourite Lewis Goodall. Lewis and Robbie Gibb, as you'll probably remember, had a bitter Twitter spat over impartiality after Sir Robbie laid out a long list of reasons why Lewis's reporting wasn't impartial. I suspect Robbie Gibb was aware of her being in that circle when warning Fran Unsworth about appointing her to a senior BBC news management role.
Well, there's been a development on that latter front today. The BBC has made Lewis Goodall delete a tweet about Jess Brammar, attacking the Mail on Sunday:
The deleted tweet said:
You can read the Mail on Sunday's ''unhinged, simply misogynist'' article by Glen Owen and Katie Hind here.
All I'd add is that Newsniffer reveals a very telling edit, as the BBC corrected a particularly egregious mistake - five days later:
Version 1 - The photo of Celine holding a doll in the ruins of the tower block that was brought down by Israeli air strikes next to her family home - which was also hit - clearly struck a chord.
Version 2 [correction, 5 days later] - The photo of Celine holding a doll in the ruins of the tower block that was brought down by Israeli air strikes next to her family home clearly struck a chord.
Saturday, 21 August 2021
Hope @BBCJonSopel is not reading this. Biden's number one fan will be so disappointed.
Tony - I wrote it.
“Burn!” cried Jon's delighted Twitter fans.
Wow. I'm impressed and should have read the credits!! Fair play to you Jon on this article, which is well balanced. Changed your tune a bit, though.
Nope. Have not changed a bit. Hold people in power to account - fairly and firmly whatever their political stripes.
Jon Sopel's belief in his own impartiality is undoubtedly sincere. He evidently thinks he's getting it right.
He's proclaimed it many times, from his appearances on Feedback and Newswatch, to his newspaper/gazette interviews.
He's even favourably contrasted his own 'fair' reporting of Donald Trump to that of 'unfair' partisan, liberal US outlets, despite himself reporting on the previous US president in pretty much the same hostile, sneering spirit as they do - albeit with added British dryness.
There's none so blind, perhaps...
Or to quote the ripe-for-cancelling Rabbie Burns on behalf of Jon: O wad some Power the giftie gie us, to see oursels as ithers see us!
I, personally, don't think that Jon Sopel has been even remotely impartial as the BBC's North America editor - whatever he thinks. He objected to Donald Trump and fixated on Donald Trump's tweets [despite criticising others for fixating on them], and sneered and sneered and sneered about Mr Trump, whilst evidently getting a real kick out of playing to the gallery, reinforced by the enthusiastic responses he got from the usual, unrepresentative suspects on Twitter.
Yes, many more people than just Tony - including me - found themselves taken aback by the sheer unexpectedness of Jon Sopel's strong criticisms of President Biden over the incompetent-at-best Afghan pullout.
From Twitter to the BBC's News at Ten he's actually been pretty brutal.
Here's a small sample of his reporting, broadcast over the month on BBC One's main news bulletins:
- Those optics are terrible. This looks like being the most consequential decision that Joe Biden is going to take. It could also be the most calamitous.
- Over many years and at a cost of tens of billions of dollars, the US trained and equipped Afghan forces to be ready to take back control of their country. But they collapsed like a house of cards - one of many miscalculations made by the Biden administration over these dizzying few weeks.
- This may have been Donald Trump's policy, but it is Joe Biden's implementation, and I think he will play quite a price for the shambles that has unfolded over the past few days.
- America is the world's pre-eminent superpower, but after the past few days, it doesn't look very super and it actually doesn't look that powerful.
So is this a sign of impartiality? He spent four years 'holding Donald Trump to account' and then some, after all,
Or does it show the opposite?
Because this could very well be Jon marching in lockstep with like-minded US journalists, let down by and angrily disagreeing with 'their' President.
Many of them - just like the BBC's John Simpson - seem to be deeply wedded to the liberal interventionalist model, and aghast at the pullout.
[They also like war reporting.]
And, indeed, it does strike me as being highly suggestive that huge swathes of the US liberal media - even some of the most partisan outlets - have just-as-suddenly turned on Joe Biden over Afghanistan too, at exactly the same time, over exactly the same issues, and just as fiercely, and that they are all making much the same criticisms of the incumbent President as Jon Sopel's been making.
Liberal interventionist birds of a feather flock together, even on opposite sides of the Atlantic Ocean?
And it also strikes me that Jon Sopel, like his BBC colleagues, has been just as guilty as those partisan, liberal US outlets of not holding President Biden to account...up till the point when the Afghan debacle began unfolding.
The other day on GB News Simon McCoy [ex-BBC] commented, just as the crisis began:
If you watch some channels you would be forgiven for thinking everything's fine because President Trump's gone. And yet America, Joe Biden, with the decision to remove troops from Afghanistan, there are issues, there's sleaze bubbling under around President Biden.
I think he had the BBC in mind, doubtless among others.
The Real Simon was, I think, rather understating it though. From the border crisis and growing economic woes to VP Kamala Harris's unpopularity and the divisiveness of Democrat identity politics radicalism, there's so much to say about the present US government.
Indeed, the 'Nothing to see here' attitude to the Biden administration's many failings even saw the BBC park their Americast podcast - the one with Sopes, Maitlis, and Zurch.
No Trump to sneer at, no fun perhaps.
And then came Afghanistan.
Americast was brought back this week, and Jon Sopel rose from his post-Trump slumbers, describing Joe's handling of the Afghanistan fiasco as ''totally incompetent''.
Despite all this, I'm sensing - especially from his latest BBC One reports - that Jon's now starting to restrain himself, slipping back into more circumlocutory turns of phrase in describing the latest Biden misspeaks than he was last week.
He started expanding on his earlier criticisms of Mr Biden's ''totally incompetent'' handling of the Afghan crisis [as he put it], but found himself alongside a far-more-charitable-to-Biden Emily Maitlis and - their special guest - a kind-to-Biden ambassador.
BBC and US media liberal groupthinks colliding and scattering, maybe.
It's a tricky thing, thinking you're impartial when you're not.
And to end, a little light relief, plus an opportunity to post a map...
The good old 'crossing the DMZ from Tajikistan' defence for getting your facts wrong is one we've surely all used, especially in pub quizzes.
I once got a Lady Gaga question wrong in a pub quiz, saying that Her Ladyship really was the sister of Queen's Radio Gaga, but excused myself by saying ''Sorry, but Jon Sopel crossed the DMZ from Tajikistan once'', and was awarded the point.
Rightly so. Maybe Joe Biden should try it?
Indeed, as geography fans will know, Russia now has a minimum of two countries between it and Afghanistan [almost always three countries], depending on your land journey - unless you take the narrow but long land route via China.
Clicking the link in the tweet Jon replied to, you find that Jon has [without admitting so on Twitter] edited the piece.
Instead of ''three countries that neighbour Afghanistan - Russian, Iran and China'', the piece now says ''Why, three countries near Afghanistan - Russia, Iran and China''.
Hm, Russia's still not that near. Kazakhstan, especially, is huge. Gawd know what they eat in Kazakhstan to make their country so big. Yaks? Lost yetis? Or former Kazakh regime advisor Tony Blair's legendary all-you-can-eat Brown burger specials?
Monday, 16 August 2021
Sunday, 15 August 2021
Saturday, 7 August 2021
|Afghanistan from space|
What more do you want on a soggy Saturday than to read a transcription of a 'liberal interventionist' John Simpson Twitter thread on Afghanistan?:
John Simpson - Amazing how fast people forget. Afghanistan, left to rot by the outside world in 1990, was taken over by Islamist extremism & the whole 9/11 plot was organised from there - with results that still affect us all. Now we’re bored with Afghanistan, & the process can begin again.
Fillip Jar - How much destruction was caused by the US invasion? How does that make 9/11 less likely to be repeated? Why was / is there a lack of international law on countries being able to start random wars?
John Simpson - There was no US invasion of Afghanistan. The Afghan Northern Alliance, with the backing of US air power, drove out the Taliban in 2001.
Gary Smyth - But let’s not forget that the extremists were supported & funded by the West (principally US & UK) after the Russian invasion, in a catastrophic case of ‘my enemy’s enemy is my friend’. Therefore the answer to the monumental tragedy of Afghanistan CAN NEVER involve US/UK/Russia.
John Simpson - It’s true that the US was suckered by Pakistan into sending some money & weapons to Hekmatyar, Gary, but it was the far more moderate Northern Alliance & the hugely impressive Ahmad Shah Masoud who got just about all UK & most US cash & support.
This is an important exchange about a horrific incident that took place on 24 July:
Benedict Spence, writer and commentator - I’m still staggered that the death of a woman who was set on fire in a street in England isn’t the biggest story in the country.
Benedict Spence - Civilised people should be appalled and enraged by this primitive savagery in our midst. Everyone needs to know this happened.
Ben Cobley, author of The Tribe - On the contrary, it is not in the least bit surprising.
Stella Coppard - Cold blooded premeditated murder & it is almost hidden from mainstream news channels. Shame on them. The pain & horror this women suffered is unthinkable. NOTHING honourable about murder, downright malicious evil.
Lord Milton Damerel - I'm even more amazed that MPs such as Jess Phillips who've worked so hard to highlight violence toward women, don't seem interested. Of all the atrocities we've seen in the news this needs to be spoken of in Parliament.
Emma Webb, The Free Speech Union - A Muslim woman from Bury has died after she was found on fire in the street. Three men in their 20s and 30s have been arrested. It’s barely been covered. Why do some horrors cause outrage and others do not?
As far as I can see, searching via TVEyes, this story has received no coverage on BBC One or BBC Two's national news programmes and just two brief mentions on the BBC News Channel on 24 July at 7.14pm and 8.14pm. North West Tonight, the BBC local news programme hereabouts, also gave it two short mentions on 24 July, adding little but the ages of the victim and the three men arrested.
Sky News's Mark Stone seems to have become as unpopular as the BBC's Jeremy Bowen with pro-Israel critics of the media - and that was before this week when one of his reports for Sky used footage from a 2017 visit to Yad Vashem, Israel's official Holocaust memorial site, to accompany these words about embattled New York governor Andrew Cuomo:
The investigation concluded that the Governor kissed, hugged and groped inappropriately. He made comments that were deeply humiliating and offensive. But in a statement he rejected all the findings.
So as Mark Stone spoke, Sky viewers were shown Governor Cuomo wearing a kippah [or yarmulke] and laying a wreath before bowing his head in respect for the victims of the Holocaust. Many were understandably appalled at this terrible editorial decision, and some took to Twitter to challenge him about it:
Sussex Friends of Israel - Mark Stone, how is it appropriate to have your report on the deplorable actions of Cuomo being accompanied with footage of him in yarmulke laying a wreath at the Yad Vashem? You are fully aware of the significance of the Yad Vashem, why use it in your report?! Shameful.
Mark Stone, Sky News - Hi Sussex Friends, thanks for drawing this oversight to my attention. This report was put together by production teams in London. I am in the US. The report has now been changed. And you’re right, I have visited Yad Vashem a number of times & I’m well aware of its significance. M
Many were not satisfied with M's answer:
Gnasher Jew - This is not enough, there should be a full investigation into who thought this was appropriate and they should be given antisemitism awareness classes and disciplined.
Sussex Friends of Israel [replying to Gnasher Jew] - Which is precisely what would happen if this happened in context to any other minority community.
Jewish Writer [replying to Gnasher Jew and Sussex Friends of Israel] - I think it's safe to say they would have been fired if they did this to any other minority community.
Prosthetic Conscience - An "oversight" is when you unintentionally fail to notice something, not when you intentionally try to make someone who's in trouble look Jewish despite them not actually being Jewish.
Charles Kirie - The main problem is choosing video that gives the (very strong) impression that he’s Jewish, when 1) the piece is about the very negative story of the allegations of sexual harassment that he’s facing, and 2) he’s *not even Jewish*. Very illuminating, and pretty sinister…
BCLP Roger Cohen - “ Oversight”? “Egregious error” possibly. And not a hint of an apology.
Kate - Any idea from the production teams in London *what on earth* laying a wreath at Yad Vashem has to do with the AG finding him guilty of a history of sexual assaults?
Nir Kahn - Sorry, that’s not enough. Somebody at Sky News made this deliberate and utterly unacceptable editorial decision and I want to know what you’ve done about it.
Bonsai Elephant - “Oversight.” Picking the one piece of footage out of thousands that has this non-Jew wearing a kippa. Right, it was an oversight.
Brandon - From 2017. Why on earth would it be picked?
It's Gnasher Jew's question that intrigues me: Who at Sky thought this was appropriate, and why exactly did they choose this incongruous, four-year-old footage?