Monday 27 September 2021

September Continuing Open Thread


''By putting a concern for neurodiversity at the heart of its design, the BBC’s headquarters in Wales has taken a radical approach''

Welcome to the September Open Thread and thank you for your comments.

News management

After London primary school teacher Sabina Nessa was murdered, I saw plenty of comments about how the BBC was seriously underreporting the story, probably for the usual BBC reasons of social cohesion.

No one had a suspect then, though many were clearly guessing.

Then, particularly after it became clear that the suspect appeared to be white, the BBC's coverage suddenly exploded, and Sabina became a second Sarah Everard - a focus concerning women's safety.
Newsniffer records 17 separate BBC articles about her - the first dated four days after her murder on 17 September. 

The breaking news this afternoon - reported by the likes of The Times - is that the suspect is Albanian, which will doubtless complicate matters for the social cohesion promoters at the BBC. 

The BBC News website hasn't got round to reporting that yet. 

Their latest report, posted late this morning, and with no subsequent updates, and with its very BBC headline Sabina Nessa: Man questioned on suspicion of murder, is no longer even on the BBC News home page.

We'll soon see if Sabina Nessa now vanishes straight back down the BBC memory hole again.

The BBC News homepage has seemingly moved on already. They're on the BBC's preferred ground, their 'safe space' perhaps, and talking instead about the far-right. 

Britain First registers again as a political party is one of their top headlines right now.

UPDATE - Just checking for the obvious test - whether the story would appear on tonight's BBC One News at Six, after featuring in BBC One's major bulletins for days now. 

It didn't feature at all.

It really speaks volumes about the BBC. They've evidently made an editorial decision.

FURTHER UPDATE [28/9] - At 8.50 last night, the BBC published a report on the BBC News homepage, and it's still prominently placed. 

Noticeably though, where The Times says of the suspect “who is from Albania” and The Sun describes him as an “Albanian national”, the BBC are refraining from mentioning that, evidently still 'managing' the story.

Two and a half months later...

On the open thread, Charlie referred to the BBC's 'reality check' of the causes of the lorry driver shortage, noting that it underplayed the availability of DVLA tests during the pandemic and overplayed Brexit as a cause.

Something interesting has happened to that BBC 'reality check' though. 

When I glanced at it a couple of days ago I spotted a glaring error. It said that there's now a shortage of more than 100,000 drivers in the UK and that:
That number included tens of thousands of drivers from EU member states who were living and working in the UK. 

I'd read in The Times that, according to available figures [figures already noted by the BBC's own More or Less at the very start of September], 19,000 out of some 45,000 EU drivers have left in the last couple of years, so saying ''tens of thousands'' for that 19.000 figure looked misleading, to put it mildly. [In fact it was plain wrong.]

I was just about to 'catch up' and post that, but things have changed. I see it's been 'stealth edited' this very afternoon. It now says: 
That number includes thousands of drivers from European Union (EU) member states who were previously living and working in the UK. 
So, this BBC 'reality check' has been up since 14 July. It's been updated in August and throughout September. Yet only now - nearly two and a half months after it was first published - has the BBC corrected it. 

Who reality-checks the reality-checkers at the BBC? 

I'm guessing that a complaint has wended its way through the BBC's tortuous complaints process to bring this about, though it could just be a BBC person spotting an embarrassing lapse at a time when many eyes are on the piece in question and quietly putting things right. 

It certainly was 'quietly' though. Thank goodness for Newsniffer. 

Sunday 26 September 2021

St Andrew and the Dragon

It was fascinating watching Andrew Marr don shining armour and go into battle, lance raised, on behalf of damsel-in-distress Labour MP Rosie Duffield this morning

It was even more fascinating watching Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer KCB QC looking distinctly uncomfortable throughout his interview today, like a boring, pratfall-prone, flaccid dragon.

Given that he's a barrister and former DPP, it's quite odd just how poor he is at defending himself.

I'd even call it a 'car crash interview'. 

It got so bad that I even wondered if Sir Keir must had had coaching lesson on interviewing techniques by Diane Abbott, the queen of car-crash interviews - though that's pretty unlikely, given that's she's betrothed to another. 

The analogy was made even stronger by Sir Keir's Massive overuse of 'Well, Andrew'. 

It was pure Jan Ravens on Radio 4's Dead Ringers impersonating Diane Abbott being interviewed by the late Andrew Neil. 

Well, Andrew...

Even Andrew Marr managed to pull Sir Keir apart on his contradiction of prior pledges over nationalisation and the contradiction between what he was saying on tax and what Rachel Reeves [his new, as-'boring, snoring'-as-he-is shadow chancellor] has said on tax, and even made him squirm a little over 'Scum'gate. 

The bit about Rosie, damsel of Duffield Towers, besieged in her Canterbury constituency by angry knights who believe they are maidens, was genuinely important - despite my flippancy - because it shows where we are now.

The Leader of the Opposition is a cowardly, self-censoring advocate for the Emperor's new clothes being real.  


As The Andrew Marr Show recently gave up posting transcripts of all their major interviews, so here's mine. 

Look out for Sir Keir KCB claiming that trans people are ''the most marginalised and abused communities''. 

Are they? Will the BBC fact-check that?

And look out for him calling for a ''tolerant'' debate but then uttering the most extraordinary words, that what Rosie Duffield say - a pure fact about biology - is ''not right'' and ''shouldn't be said''.

Well, what she said is right and should be said. 

Does Sir Keir really believe what he's saying, or is he just scared of saying the unsayable truth for fear of offending trans extremists and their aggressive supporters and the weirdest and least tolerant parts of the present Labour Party?

For the leader of one of the two main UK parties to say that views like those of Rosie Duffield - the factual truth - ''shouldn't be said'' and that only ''proper views'' expressed ''in a proper way'' ought to be allowed in the national debate shows that we aren't in a good place as a country, politically-speaking. 

To put it mildly.

That said, he has form, He largely bit his tongue and shifted and slid about and manoeuvred to keep himself onside with the Corbynistas over antisemitism when serving Jeremy Corbyn. 

He should have resigned. 

And I don't agree with how Andrew Marr far too generously characterised Sir Keir today. 

If you talk to...if one talks to a wide range of your colleagues, a similar picture seems to come through. They almost all say, Sir Keir Starmer, honest as the day is long, punctilious, hard-working, thoroughly decent, but in the end he's not really a politician, he doesn't have the oomph and the edge to cut through in those big seats - but in the end he is not really a politician, and these are the days when you need someone who's a bit of a showman, who can really let rip and show who they are emotionally, and you're not that man.

Is he ''thoroughly decent'' and ''honest as the day is long''. Well, Andrew, there's quite a bit of evidence to the contrary. 

Anyhow, here's the transcript.


Andrew Marr: Does someone who thinks only women have a cervix is [sic] welcome in the Labour Party?
Sir Keir Starmer: Now, look, Andrew. we need to have a mature, respectful debate about trans rights...
Andrew Marr: Yeah.
Sir Keir Starmer: ...and we need to, I think, bear in mind that the trans community are amongst, you know, the most marginalised and abused communities, and wherever we've gone to with the law, we need to go further - and we want to go further on that - but whatever the debate is it needs to be a tolerant debate, and I am absolutely sure that our conference will be a place which is safe for that debate to take place, and it is.
Andrew Marr: Is it transphobic to say that only women have a cervix?
Sir Keir Starmer: Well, it is something that shouldn't be said. It is not right. But, Andrew, I don't think that...
Andrew Marr: So Rosie Duffield should not have said that? Can you explain to people watching why she should not have said that?
Sir Keir Starmer: Well, Andrew, I don't think that we can just go through various things that people had said. Rosie Duffield...I spoke to Rosie earlier this week and told her that Conference was a safe place for her to come, and it is a safe place for her to come. And I spoke to others to make exactly the same principle. We do everybody a disservice when we reduce what is a really important issue to these exchanges on particular things that are said. But the trans community are, as I say, the most marginalised and abused of many, many communities and we need to make progress on the Gender Recognition Act.
Andrew Marr: You could say that 'exchanges' is how people communicate and resolve these things.
Sir Keir Starmer: Yeah but, Andrew, this debate...I am concerned that this debate needs to be conducted in a proper way in which proper views are expressed in a way that is respectful.
Andrew Marr: Sure. You've spoken to Rosie Duffield. We've spoken to Rosie Duffield. After your conversation, she still doesn't feel comfortable about coming to this Labour Party conference. What does that say about the Labour Party?
Sir Keir Starmer: Well, Andrew, I spoke to Rosie just earlier this week and made it absolutely clear to her that this is a safe Conference for her to come to.
Andrew Marr: She doesn't agree with that.
Sir Keir Starmer: Well, Andrew, I spoke to her, and what she said...
Andrew Marr: As did we.
Sir Keir Starmer: What she said to me was that she didn't want to come because it would cause a distraction from the ideas that we are putting forward at this Conference, and i asked her when I spoke to her whether that was something I could say on her behalf and she said yes. So that's what Rosie says about this, and I'll take that from Rosie.
Andrew Marr: OK. She said to us that she didn't feel comfortable.

Wonder what that Rosie/Sir Keir phone call actually said? I'm not sure I quite believe Sir Keir's gloss on it.

Thursday 23 September 2021

Selective checking?

I see that the BBC's rather selective Reality Check unit has fact-checked Boris Johnson's UN speech.

Boris, therefore, joins Brazil's President Bolsonaro in being fact-checked so far. 

It will be interesting to see which other world leaders the BBC chooses to fact-check.

Will they fact-check President Biden, for instance?

[They would certainly have fact-checked his predecessor.]

A Tale of Two Takes

The OECD's predictions for the world economy received some contrasting coverage this week.

City AM headlined their take OECD: UK muscles out G7 to top economic growth rankings, and began:
The UK economy will grow the fastest among the group of the world’s richest countries, according to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). 
The OECD thinks the UK economy will expand 6.7 per cent in 2021, the highest rate of growth among the G7.”
That sounds positive, but the BBC found a negative angle for their take. Their headline is Inflation to remain higher for two years, warns OECD, and - in contrast to City AM - the BBC compared the UK unfavourably with the world's other richest countries, beginning:
Prices in the G20 group of major economies will grow faster than pre-pandemic for at least two years, a leading global agency has forecast.
Higher commodity prices and shipping costs are pushing up inflation, Paris-based policy forum the OECD said.
The UK is expected to have inflation running at about 3% at the end of 2022, the highest rate of the advanced economies, the OECD said.
By contrast, inflation is expected to fall in the US, France, and Germany.
It's very BBC of the BBC to cast us in an unfavourable light.

Being kind

A tweet from Jeremy Vine today...

...hasn't struck people as being very kind, or classy. Here's a flavour of the reaction:

  • Genuinely. Is there any need for such a spiteful comment?
  • Anyway, sympathies today for anyone who thought Jeremy Vine was nice, whoever you are and wherever you may be.
  • It's an astonishingly wrong footed comment from Vine. Perfectly sums up what's wrong with the BBC: deep-seated self regard. Andrew Neil is one of their "stars". Colin comes from a different background, family man, working class and above all *normal*.
  • Classic BBC, pretends to be kind but can't help but bully anyone who is deemed beneath them. Colin Brazier is great. Calm, interesting, kind and patient with guests.
  • Really? I've been watching Colin Brazier's show since he stepped in and have been massively impressed by his work.

On Monday I pointed out that Jeremy Vine is paid twice more than our PM - wages we are legally forced to pay via the BBC license fee. I think publicly-funded broadcasters need to be careful how they express personal opinions. 

Update: Jeremy Vine has deleted his tweet. 

Did he delete it off his own bat, or did the BBC tell him too?

Wednesday 22 September 2021

Nothing new under the sun


This won't be my finest post perhaps, and if it weren't for this blog I would never watch Newsnight again...

Newsnight isn't a patch on what it used to be, and I only ever dip into it now, on extremely rare occasions, to test BBC bias - when time and the mood strikes me.

And I tested it last night to see how the three-way first interview between climate change activist Sarah Colenbrander, pro-Brexit ex-MEP Dan Hannan and serving Democrat Congressman Brendan Boyle would go in the wake of the Biden UN speech and the muffled Boris-Joe press conference. 

I guessed that pro-Brexit Dan would get all the interruptions and the powerful US Democrat congressman get none. 

I guessed right. Dan Hannan got three challenging interruptions and a fourth abrupt cut-off interruption, while neither of the others - including Democrat Boyle - got any interruptions whatsoever.

It was wholly inevitable, given how biased the programme is.


And, except for a half-hearted 'devils advocate' question from Emily Maitlis to Bren Boyle, it was all about 'getting Dan Hannan' over the UK's position after Brexit.

Very, very BBC. And very, very predictable. 

I'm no interviewer, but I think I even I could have given the obnoxious Irish lobby, Biden-supporting, shiny-faced Democrat congressman a much harder, more incisive ride than Our Emily. 

And as a pro-UK viewer I feel he deserved a lot harder push-back from Our Emily given how obnoxious and dishonest I found him. 

But, as a BBC bias watcher, I just knew what Emily and Newsnight would do what they did because it's what Newsnight always does now - with relish, and without shame. Especially as they get away with it.

They might as well have kept James O'Biased on the presenting roster.

I'll support anything now to make it stop that the public has to pay for such biased BBC broadcasting.

Tuesday 21 September 2021

Tim in the kittens' den


I've just caught up on the whole of Tim Davie and Richard Sharp's appearance at the Commons Culture Select Committee today.

If you missed it and want to give over 1h 20m of your life to watching it, please click here.

Various things struck me:

Firstly, just how far the BBC's tentacles reach. Four out of the very small committee of MPs attending - I counted six or seven at most [as one may have been a clerk] - declared their BBC affiliations at the start. All four had been BBC journalists in a past life, and one even publicly declared his continuing financial benefits from the BBC. [What about the others?].

Secondly, how plausible Tim Davie is. He still talks a good talk. BBC chairman Richard Sharp was less assured. And the third musketeer, Leigh Tavaziva - the BBC's chief operating officer - came across as little but a babbler of corporate-speak. 

Thirdly, how soft the committee were on the BBC - including all but one of the Tories. 

Most of the Tories were kind to the BBC. And the Clacton Conservatory MP Giles Watling, who initially declared his continuing BBC financial rewards, turned out to be especially kind to them. He cocked his head and knitted his brow in sympathy for their financial flight and 'loss of talent'. It was like eavesdropping via video on a conversation between Tim Davie and Giles from the Samaritans. 

The SNP's John Nicolson [ex-BBC] quoted two contrasting emails from members of the public, one attacking the BBC from the left and one attacking the BBC from the right, and played the 'complaints from both sides' card, like he was some defensive BBC editor on Samira's Newsnight - which is intriguing. Are the SNP feeling much warmer towards the BBC now? 

Talking of which, Billy Bragg's chum Labour MP Kevin Brennan helped John Nicolson prove his point by going after Sir Robbie Gibb and The Tories Atop the BBC over JessBrammargate. Wonder what BBC returnee Jess Brammar made of Labour's Kevin Brennan being on her side? At least she's not retweeted him yet.

Fourthly, only Julian Knight, the committee chairman, really sunk his teeth into the BBC - though oddly, despite what he said the other day about the Mail on Sunday's latest piece, he didn't go after the corporation over Martin Bashir.

Fifthly, Damian Green - the Europhile former Conservative high-up under Mrs May - kept quiet. He was one of the four former BBC people.

All in all, it was a very easy ride for Tim and Richard. So many questions that could have been asked weren't asked. They were in a den of kittens and politicians.

Sunday 19 September 2021

''BBC Hit By New Bashir Shame''

“The BBC has a really grim bit of reading in The Mail on Sunday. This is another Martin Bashir-related story. Goes on for pages and pages and it is tough stuff for BBC people to read”, said Andrew Marr this morning

He didn't elaborate, or mention the story again. 

This morning's BBC News Channel paper review also merely mentioned it, with Victoria Derbyshire laying heavy emphasis on her own words, “it claims”.

The Mail on Sunday's remarkable investigation into how Martin Bashir took the Babes In The Wood victim's bloodied clothes from her mother, and then lost them, focuses on how that was followed by “derisory” efforts to find them by the BBC. 

The loss, the Mail reports, was only found out when the mother asked for them back to help police review the evidence and help convict the chief suspect.

As with the Princess Diana scandal, it's the allegations of a cover-up by the BBC that are particularly telling:
At the time, a BBC spokesman announced 'extensive inquiries' had been made to find them. 
But we can reveal today that the Corporation failed to even carry out the most basic checks, including speaking directly to Bashir. 
Key journalists who worked alongside him on the Babes In The Wood documentary also said they were never contacted. 
Nor were the families of Karen and fellow victim Nicola Fellows, nor a forensic scientist named by the programme's editor as an expert who could analyse scene-of-crime material. 
The acting director-general of the BBC at the time, Mark Byford, has also admitted no 'formal investigation' was held into the missing clothes.

Well might Julian Knight MP say in reaction, “These allegations, if proven, would amount to one of the most shameful episodes in the history of the BBC. This could be the BBC's Milly Dowler phone hacking moment.” 

His Commons Culture select committee will be interviewing Tim Davie on Tuesday. 


Update - The story was discussed during this morning's Broadcasting House paper review. Only one guest commented on it, namely  former Conservative MP for North Devon Peter Heaton-Jones, who also previously worked for...guess who?...yes, the BBC:

Paddy O'Connell: What is the front page of the Mail on Sunday, Peter?

Peter Heaton-Jones: Well, yes I thought I should dip into the world of journalism from my previous life Paddy, and so...the Mail on Sunday is obsessed with the BBC, has been for some time, shows no signs of waning. So you can read about the BBC and the Mail's view of it on pages 1, 2, 6, 7, 8 and 26, should you be so disposed. I love the BBC. I worked here for 20 years and I think that the licence fee is the right way to fund the BBC. Let me get that out of the way first. But the Mail says one thing in its editorial which I think has some substance to it, and it's this: They...quote, “The BBC's closed and haughty elite with its insistence on being judge and jury in any case where it comes under criticism, ploughs on regardless”. And I just think if there's one lesson for the BBC to learn, it's you can get it wrong sometimes, don't always defend yourself to the hilt if someone accuses you of getting something wrong. 

Paddy O'Connell: And this front page is another scandal involving the disgraced journalist Martin Bashir.

Peter Heaton-Jones: Yes, BBC hit by new Bashir shame”, they say on page 1 - and about 18 other pages. It's not a good story, which I don't think I want to go into detail about Paddy, but it's another example of how I think the Mail and certain other newspapers will try to find any chink in the BBC's armour. They are there, but they find them very actively.


Further update [Sunday evening] -  The BBC has radically undermined BBC apologist Peter Heaton-Jones tonight. 

He said it wasn't a good story, but the BBC obviously disagrees. They've taken onboard the Mail on Sunday's investigation.

As a result, the BBC has now issued an apology, saying they're “extremely sorry over the loss of the murdered schoolgirl's clothes

This is important, and needs exploring further, though the BBC website report - true to form - spins the 'cover-up' claim as wrong, to the BBC's advantage.

Maybe time will tell, or maybe it won't.

Whatever, well done to the Mail on Sunday, however many pages they took over it.

The Bishop of Radio 4's 'Sunday'


It's surely time now for David Walker, the go-ahead Bishop of Manchester, to be officially installed as Bishop of Radio 4's Sunday

He's on the programme so often, usually receiving the BBC's blessing for one of his campaigns.

This week Sunday helped publicise his campaign against the Government's latest immigration bill. 

If you didn't hear it yourself, here's a flavour of how it was framed today:
William Crawley: Good morning. On this week's Sunday, is the medieval idea of sanctuary coming back in a world of asylum seekers and refugees? 
William Crawley: Still to come on Sunday, why being a Good Samaritan may soon be a criminal offence, according to the Church of England. 
William Crawley: The Nationality and Borders Bill currently going through Parliament has angered some Church of England bishops. 12 bishops have signed a public letter this week accusing the government of effectively criminalising Good Samaritans. They say the bill would criminalise not only attempts to cross the border irregularly, nor even simply people-smuggling, but even those who take part in the rescue of boats in distress at sea. This week churches have also been welcoming Afghans who fled their homeland last month after the Taliban took control. The BBC's Carolyn Atkinson was at St Paul's church in Marylebone as volunteers welcome some of those refugees.

Naturally for Sunday, no one who thought differently on the issue was heard from, so here's a flavour of the response on Twitter instead:

  • The Bishop of Manchester once again managed to walk past the issue that the people he is discussing are effectively fleeing France & by extension the EU & are in no way "compelled" to risk "perilous" crossing over Channel from which everybody arrives safely in Kent, so parallels [with the Good Samaritan story] seem weak.
  • Suggest these bishops look at a world map. We are a tiny island. Across the world millions face war & prejudice but, realistically, it’s just not possible to accommodate, integrate, house, educate & offer free healthcare to them all in the UK. 
  • The clueless bishop who doesn't think before opening his mouth. Encouraging people to risk their lives illegally crossing one of the busiest shipping lanes in an inflatable. Placing themselves & others at risk. And what of the poor, whose jobs they would take, he doesn't care.

And the Bishop of Manchester wasn't the only bishop given a bit of free advertising for his campaign this week. The programme began with Mark Strange, the go-ahead Bishop of Moray, Ross & Caithness campaigning about climate change, and here's how that was framed by Sunday:

William Crawley: Ahead of Cop26, the UN climate Change Conference in Glasgow taking place next month, faith leaders across the UK have united in a declaration, which they hope will raise up a new generation of advocates for climate justice. The Glasgow Multi-Faith Declaration calls on faith communities to make transformational changes in their lives for the sake of the planet and to speak truth to the politically powerful about their responsibilities. But what does transformational change look like in practical terms, electric cars, avoiding air travel, moving away from meat based diets, reusing clothing. I asked Bishop Mark Strange, Primus of the Scottish Episcopal Church, the Anglican communion's delegate to COP26 and one of the architects of this new multi-faith declaration.
William Crawley: Well, on this third commitment of speaking truth to power, when the UK Government, when Boris Johnson's government effectively, says the Government's most international priority is dealing with with the climate crisis and at the same time the Government is supporting a new coal mine or cutting taxes on flights in response to what we've been through with Covid, some have used the term 'hypocrisy' of this Government in describing what they say and what they are doing. Would you use that term? 
Bishop Strange: I think I probably have used that term.

Again, no alternative voice was heard from.

Very Sunday.


It also wouldn't be Radio 4's Sunday without what I used to call "the usual airing of Muslim grievances". This week's programme plugged a book by two Muslim sisters. William Crawley described it as "very funny". The funny thing for me was that the passage they read out was "the usual airing of Muslim grievances":
Tariq: Sufya, there's enough bad press about Muslims without us joining in as well.
Me: I wasn't singling out Muslims.
Tariq: Look, it was OK when we were young, right. We could pretend it didn't matter then. We were just harmless Asians. But things have changed. I go into those meetings with the Home Secretary and all those excellent liberals that advise the big man. To them we are book burners, wife abusers, terrorists. That's how they see us. Most of them don't count me on their team, even though I'm sitting right in the middle of them.
Me: But I can't be on a team with all the fundis.
Tariq: They won't have you in the Islamophobes.

Did you🤣?

The Farhud

BBC Radio 4's Sunday marked the 80th anniversary of the Farhud - the murderous expulsion of Jews from Baghdad by pro-Nazi Arabs. I agree with these tweets about the feature:
  • Almost interesting, but not enough on background politics.
  • Yes, interesting report on something little known about. In fact, the programme makers were careful to refer to this "holocaust" without actually describing what happened, I suppose so as not to offend Arab or Iraqi sensibilities.

It's a remarkable thing that there are now just 3 Jews left in Iraq. 


Jim Al-Khalili: I know that of all the things wrong in the world, such trivialities shouldn't bug me, but who's told all TV journalists to start mispronouncing Kābul (long a) as KaBULL? Gah!
John Simpson: What about Northern Island (a favourite of weather forecasters)? Or RE-search? Just about everyone pronounces the ‘j’ in ‘Beijing’ like the ‘s’ in ‘pleasure’. It ought to be like the ‘j’ in ‘just’. Good luck persuading anyone of that, though.

Jim's not wrong, and if you tune into Today or watch BBC reporters you'll hear many manglings of words like 'Taliban', and even 'Pakistan'.

Saturday 18 September 2021

Back on my hobby-horse


The BBC's flagship international affairs programme Dateline London [the one hardly anyone in the UK watches] reminds us why the BBC is the BBC and not, say, GB News.

This week's guests - two of the mainstays of the programme, the third the BBC's Asia/Pacific editor - said many interesting things.

I was particularly intrigued by mainstay Ashis Ray saying that Pakistan played a major part in getting North Korea's nuclear programme going. 

But it's long been typical of the programme that the majority of the people who the BBC invites to appear on the programme end up saying pretty much the same thing on most subjects, and there's too much agreement.

It's an extension of BBC groupthink.

One example...

What with all that's been going on with Joe Biden's hapless, dubiously honest administration at the moment, quite why this week's trio of guests kept taking potshots at Donald Trump seemed odd - especially as it's been eight months since Mr Trump was last in office. 

And, even odder, they barely even mentioned Joe Biden and gave him a free pass.

The reason is pretty obvious though, surely. 

These invited BBC guests have a particular outlook on the world - one shared by the biased BBC - and when they all get together they naturally bond by doing familiar mutual-grooming things...

...and also by very much not talking about certain other, uncongenial things - like how 'Crap hat. No rabbit' Magic Joe has been.

So what's more natural, when appearing on the BBC's Dateline, than to have a dig at the previous US president? 

Mutually-reinforcing digs at The Donald have been as regular on Dateline as even numbers in a list of numbers for well over five years now, and they've scratched themselves to happiness so many times that today's outbursts were merely par for the course. 

In presenting a weekly snapshot of world opinion, Dateline remains very selective. If there's just one Indian regular guest for well over a decade, for example, let him be strongly anti-Modi and not for one second think of inviting a new, pro-Modi voice in all that time. 

Very BBC.

A second example....

On the question of the UK government and Covid, all sang from the same medical sick note. 

The two non-BBC mainstays said that the UK government is being reckless by being so soft. They both want face masks made mandatory in the UK. And the BBC Asia/Pacific editor [Celia Hatton] wants the UK to do its international duty and cough up money and vaccines to vaccinate the world's poor. 

And BBC presenter and blog favourite Martine Croxall added to the unanimity by posing her questions from the 'Is the UK government being reckless in taking a light touch approach to Covid given how bad things are already getting and how much worse it could get this winter?' angle,

Here are all her comments and questions on the matter:

  • Hello, and welcome to Dateline London. I'm Martine Croxall. This week we ask, has the UK Government announced enough measures to protect people from Covid, flu and a National Health Service crisis over the winter?
  • Boris Johnson has revealed a light touch plan A and a tougher plan B to tackle Covid in England this winter. And many suspect that the UK is bracing itself for another grim few months. But is his plan enough? Hospitalisations are up. Diagnosed cases of Covid are still high. Parts of the National Health Service already say that they are under strain. It is worth repeating that the different nations of the United Kingdom run their own Covid policies because health is part of their devolved powers. Henry, looking into what Boris Johnson is trying to do to get Britain through relatively unscathed this coming winter, how well does it look like he is doing?
  • Ashis, we have also seen several countries have been told that they are going to come off Britain's so-called red travel list, which will be music to their ears. A clear signal from the UK Government that they really do want to be open for business again but how wise is it, given the rates in some parts of the world? 
  • Celia, here in the United Kingdom, there has been a massive push for people to be vaccinated. Adults first, then older teenagers and now young teenagers, 12-15. We are seeing massive differences though around the world, particularly the parts of the world that you cover in how much vaccine is available. 

Such uniformity of thinking is very BBC, and the mirror image of the uniformity of thinking that sometimes afflicts GB News and this end of the social media spectrum - though, of course, neither of the latter are licence-fee funded so their biases are far less consequential.

I prefer Dateline London when the people invited to appear on it don't agree about everything. [Bring back Alex Deane!]. But editions where that happens have been the exception rather than the rule for well over a decade now. It's why the BBC is as bad as it is, and why urgent action is needed and why alternatives are vital.

Choosing the best guest

As I now get my news from many places, the remarkable tale of General Mark Milley apparently going behind President Trump's back to directly reassure the Chinese communist regime both before and after the 2020 US election is a story I've kept my eye on. 

It's not one that's interested the BBC News Channel much though. I can find only one discussion about it, when Christian Fraser interviewed an American security expert about it on 15 September at 9.30pm.

The American security expert fully backed General Milley's actions and repeatedly went on the attack about Donald Trump, so I smelt a rat and looked him up on Wikipedia. And Wikipedia - unlike the BBC - was very informative about his background:
Miles Taylor is an American former government official in the George W. Bush and Trump administrations, best known for his previously anonymous criticisms of Donald Trump.
In 2018, after being appointed DHS deputy chief of staff, Taylor wrote The New York Times op-ed "I Am Part of the Resistance Inside the Trump Administration" under the pen-name "Anonymous", which drew widespread attention for its criticism of Trump. In 2019, he published the book A Warning, later revealing himself to be "Anonymous" in October 2020 while campaigning against Donald Trump's reelection. 
In August 2020, while on leave of absence from his work at Google, he produced an ad for Republican Voters Against Trump, denouncing Trump and endorsing Joe Biden in the 2020 presidential election. Taylor was the first former Trump administration officials who endorsed Joe Biden.

Hm, the BBC certainly know how to select their guests.

It's a shame they can't give us a little context though about where that guest is 'coming from', especially if it's relevant - as it surely was here.

Different president, different reporting


Even since the Biden administration's bungled withdrawal from Afghanistan climaxed in the deaths of 13 US marines and some 200 others at Kabul airport at the hands of Islamic State's Afghan offshoot and the US quickly retaliated, claiming to have successfully struck two ISIS-K targets, doubts have been expressed about those targets. Were they really terrorists? 

We'll probably never know if those killed in the first, surprisingly swift strike were really senior IS commanders, as was claimed at the time, or were merely low-level IS members, or just unlucky locals killed by mistake, because the US has refused to provide any details. It happened out in the Afghan countryside, far from journalists' eyes.

The doubts about the second ''righteous strike'' [Mark Milley, US chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff] surfaced straightaway. I saw photos of the children killed in the attack within hours and some media organisations were on the case straightaway too saying that an innocent family had been hit, not IS-KP terrorists. From the first hours it looked to me as if the US had struck the wrong people. But the bullish Biden administration/Pentagon officials stuck to their line that it was IS terrorists on their way to attack the airport again who had been vaporised. Finally, the US has now admitted that they did indeed strike the wrong target. They actually hit an aid worker and a translator and another ally, and seven children. What the US military thought were weapons were actually water bottles.

Watching BBC News at Ten's brief coverage of the US admission last night and reading the BBC News website's report on the story, featuring 'analysis' from Barbara Plett-Usher, I was struck by how little they were tying the Biden administration to the story. It's as if they were downplaying the Biden administration's responsibility. No mention of Mark Milley. Just a passing somewhat positive reference in the online piece to Joe Biden.  [''The last US soldier left Afghanistan on 31 August - the deadline President Joe Biden had set for the US withdrawal.'']. And quotes from the US Defence Secretary being added to the online piece 9 hours later.

I think blog favourite Adrian Hilton sums it up well:
Adrian Hilton: If this appalling tragedy had occurred under Donald Trump, I'm sure UK media (esp. BBC News and Channel 4 News) would have apportioned blame directly at his feet, and given it hours of negative coverage. But under Joe Biden it's excusable; not newsworthy...'collateral damage'.
To put it another way: Just imagine what would have happened if Donald Trump had carried out the strikes, and seven children had been killed in a botched response to a terror attack which killed 13 Americans as a result of bottlenecking caused by the chaotic withdrawal from Kabul airport, accompanied by images of people falling from the wheel wells of aeroplanes. 

It speaks of biased reporting. 

And scanning the BBC's TV channels today for 'Biden', he's only being mentioned in connection with a pro-Trump/pro-Capitol protesters rally coming up this weekend and the French withdrawing their ambassadors to the US and Australia over Aukus.

UpdateNomia Iqbal's report on the BBC News Channel this morning ended by focusing on ''the US military'', not the Biden administration:
This awful mistake further dents the US military's reputation, that has already been damaged by its chaotic withdrawal from Afghanistan.


Luxmy Gopal, not the first female newsreader

This week's Newswatch with Samira Ahmed began with viewers complaining about BBC journalistic ''sloppiness'' after the BBC News Channel's 4pm headlines on Wednesday said this:
The Prime Minister is re- shuffling his top team of government ministers. In the past few minutes, the former Trade Secretary Liz Truss has been appointed Foreign Secretary, the first woman to hold the role.
I checked that out at the time and found that the BBC corrected it within 7 minutes, noting that Labour's Margaret Beckett had got there first [in 2006]. 

It was a bit 'sloppy' but I didn't think it was worth pointing out here given the speed of the correction and the fact that such things can happen during 'breaking news'. 

I didn't realise till Newswatch though that this wasn't an isolated example. The mistake was repeated on the following morning's Today programme...
More ministerial appointments are expected to be announced today after Boris Johnson carried out an extensive cabinet reshuffle yesterday. Liz Truss became the first female Foreign Secretary after Dominic Raab was demoted to Justice Secretary.
...''and elsewhere'', as Samira put it.

Friday 17 September 2021


The BBC's angle on Aukus this morning...

  • Funny that the story mentions only China and France but the headline suggests it is entire world. No wonder MSM is losing credibility.
  • 2 countries being upset is not "global." They are both on this globe, but that does not make this global. They are on two different continents and timezones, but again, it's not global.
  • BBC, which side are you on? There is no GLOBAL BACKLASH?? Do you side with CHINA?
  • There is NO backlash global. 

Update -  The political editor of The Sun isn't impressed:
Harry Cole: Some of the BBC headlines in the last 24 hours have made you double check which state broadcaster you are reading/watching. New pact endlessly reported through the prism of China’s hypothetical reaction rather than why it is needed.

Nor is Col. Richard Kemp: 

Richard KempIn so much U.K. and US media any positive move by our countries in defence of our national interests is slanted against us by default.

Out with Brexit, in with Climate

There's been an intriguing change to the BBC News website.

At the start of this year the BBC added "Brexit" to the category banner on its homepage:

The BBC has now removed it and replaced it with "Climate":

Leo Hickman, director/editor of Carbon Brief, is pleased
Significant development...BBC News has just added "climate" to the category banner on its homepage - and second only to coronavirus. The move came after it published the first article in its new "Life at 50C" series. A reminder that BBC News is one of the most read/watched – and, crucially, most respected and trusted – news organisation in the *world*, not just the UK. That's why this is so significant.

Thursday 16 September 2021


When watching the TV or listening to the radio, I especially don't enjoy it when broadcasters set up 2-against-1 discussions/debates on a controversial subject.

It doesn't feel fair to me. 

Even worse is when the host of the programme takes the invited majority side and makes it 3-against-1. 

And my hackles really rise if that host then sends the bias sky-rocketing by either mainly or exclusively interrupting the one and only, single and unique dissenting voice, making it 3-against-1 with an added power imbalance against the 1.

And I find that grossly rude.

So let me confess: 

In first getting acquainted with GB News a while back, I was heavily disappointed to find GB News host Dan Wootton doing that very thing on a matter of controversy.

It was 2-against-1 guests, made 3-against-1 by Dan himself sharing the same view of the 2 against the 1, then Dan going after the lone dissenting 1 with contradictions and questions...

...and I thought to myself, ''I don't think I want to escape the BBC just to end up with a mirror image of the BBC - even if it's slightly better because its biased host isn't pretending to be impartial'' [or words to that effect].

And I wasn't thinking that because I agreed with the harassed dissenter. 

Far from it. In the discussion, I agreed with the 3 against the 1 and didn't particularly like the 1, who I felt wasn't right.

It just felt wrong though. 


And I've held that view for about a month now regarding parts of GB News's output, but now I'm starting to think again...

My new thought is: Given how the BBC is, is that reasonable? Maybe a mirror image of it it necessary after all, especially as the BBC is publicly-funded and getting away with murder?


And what provoked that re-think was last night's publicly-funded Newsnight on BBC Two.

This was the first discussion about Boris's reshuffle, hosted by Emily Maitlis

It was a classic biased BBC discussion.

It featured two Boris critics - Peter Kyle, Labour's Shadow Schools Minister, and someone Emily introduced as ''former Cabinet minister, now outspoken critic of this PM'' Anna Soubry - pitted against just one Boris supporter, Charles Walker, briefly former leader of the 1922 Committee.

That's Stage One. 

The obvious question already is: Why not just feature one guest from each side? Why not, say, just have either Mr Kyle or Ms Soubry face off against Mr Walker? Why stack it against Mr Walker with a 2-against-1 situation?

Then came Stage Two, as the biased host entered stage left, and intervened most aggressively against the single, dissenting voice - here Charles Walker. 

It was 3-against-1 time again,

Yes, it was pure Dan Wootton on GB News again, but from the opposite direction while - far worse - pretending to be impartial.


Ironies abounded.

It began with Labour's Mr Kyle being given a long, free run to attack the Government. He got 1m 4s of uninterrupted ranting.

Then pro-Boris Charles Walker was brought in and Emily asked him about there being ''very little diversity of opinion'' in the new cabinet - which, in the first irony, is particularly rich coming from the present Newsnight team of left-liberal thinkalikes who think nothing of repeatedly labelling Nadine Dorries - the new culture secretary - a ''social conservative'' [as they did at least twice last night].

Hilariously, Mr Walker then 'did a June Sarpong' and replied listing all the racially diverse members of the present cabinet, and Emily - repeatedly interrupting him - told him, as if it was wrong, that he was ''talking about race'' rather than diversity of opinion [O irony upon irony!] - something Emily didn't want to do here but which Newsnight would undoubtedly have done if given even the remotest chance...

...except that they are famously one of the whitest, most right-on broadcasting teams at the BBC and that the Government puts them to shame as far as the identity politics 'putting diverse people in the top jobs' front goes.

Charles Walker barely got a sentence out before being quickly and repeatedly interrupted and contradicted by Emily, who seemed to be gunning for him. Her first interruption came 9 seconds into his first answer. [Note the contrast with Mr Kyle].

Anna Soubry was then brought in and soon fell out with Mr Walker. Ms Soubry said, ''Could you let me finish? You've spoken an awful lot, Charles'' - even though he hadn't been allowed to speak much at all.

I've counted it up and he got the same amount of time, prior to Anna entering, than Labour's Mr Kyle [around 1m 10s each] - though Peter Kyle got his free run while Charles Walker had to bat off Emily Maitlis's targetted-to-him questions and interruptions. And Anna went on to get plenty too.

Mr Walker, his hackles rising, asked why she was even on, given that she's no longer a member of Parliament. It's a good question, though we can easily guess the answer. Emily replied that she ''actually'' has ''been in cabinet''. Mr Walker replied that Ms Soubry ''wasn't in cabinet''.

''Let her finish her sentence, please,'' said Emily to Charles around this time - which was ironic given that Emily had repeatedly interrupted his sentences earlier. 

Anna Soubry, of course, unlike Charles, wasn't interrupted by Emily after 9s. She was also given free rein, only stopped by Charles Walker interrupting her. 

Anna then continued again, at length, ranting against Nadine Dorries. Emily let her finish her sentences. And on Anna Soubry was allowed to go, for an entire minute, raging against the new culture secretary. 

Charles Walker then defended Nadine Dorries and slammed Anna Soubry for not being ''nice'' - a section ending in all three guests speaking at the same time.

Emily then went on the attack against Charles Walker, gunning for him again. 

And Emily then did the BBC thing of playing devil's advocate for the one and only time, asking the Labour man a  half-hearted question about about how Boris is ''getting stuff done'' and doesn't looked ''scared of your party''.  Mr Kyle then delivered another long rant with the shortest interruption midway from Emily. And then Anna was given another long go. And then Mr Kyle returned again to add to his rant.

And finally Charles Walker was asked a long, complicated, heavily loaded by Emily - one with half a dozen questions embedded in it. He answered briefly. Then Mr Kyle leaped in and slagged off Michael Gove, uninterrupted.

And that was that.  


And after that, frankly, please give me openly biased Dan Wootton over 'claims to be impartial' Emily Mailis any day. 

It's the pretence of impartiality whilst being any but that really, deeply sticks in the throat.

Sunday 12 September 2021


As mentioned a couple of posts ago, I'm so grateful to you all for pointing out the BBC lowlights this week on the open thread. It's keeping the ITBB archive going. 

And the BBC have had quite a week of lowlights.


In my teenage years back in the 1980s, Paul Gambaccini was one of my heroes. His Radio One Saturday afternoon US chart show was something I never missed. 

Or hardly ever. And as I was in my early teens at the time and charts-obsessed, and would always be listening to it with my cassette recorder at the ready to catch every new entry on the UK and US charts, I could get quite ratty if Mum and Dad ever made me miss it. I remember going into a particularly huge 14-year old sulk on being taken off to see my gran in Kendal [Cumbrian home of the famous mint cake] one Saturday afternoon and missing the latest US Top 30 countdown from Mr G.

So I've always had a big soft spot for him. And he's always been the broadcasting pro's broadcasting pro. And I'm so glad he's come through all the horrors of hideous false allegations, and that he's now come out fighting, and is seeking redress. I wish him well.

It is intriguing though that he says he'll be coming for the BBC too one day for aiding and abetting such injustices because he does still work for the BBC. I only hope the BBC remember they still have a 'duty of care' towards him, consider their role in reporting [or mis-reporting] these stories, stick by him and avoid the pettiness that the BBC can often sink to when they feel threatened.


I'm not one for late nights, but even I stayed up to watch wonderful Emma Raducanu triumph in the tennis. 

She's so much more likeable a UK champion than Andy Murray, and everyone seems to be celebrating her today.

It's probably just a Twitter thing that the usual suspects have been scoring political points though. It's like an obsessive compulsion. 

I've at least left it a few hours before doing something similar and pointing out that Gary Lineker has been busy on Twitter scoring political points over Emma's victory, racialising her achievements and pushing pro-immigration, anti-government comments, and reinforcing crude ad hom attacks on Nigel Farage [with apologies for quoting the attack on Nigel that Gary joined in with, ''the nasty little turd'']. 

I've lost track of Gary's tweeting over recent months [not that I've ever paid much attention to him on Twitter], but to see him in full flow today has reminded me why he's so controversial as far as BBC impartiality goes. He remains very opinionated and politically-focused, and shouldn't have joined in that nasty attack on Nigel Farage. 

Anyhow, it was a triumph for Channel 4 too, ''humiliating'' the BBC by getting the rights to broadcast Emma's match. I hope everyone was watching that rather than Match of the Day. It's something sporting that will be remembered for a very long time. 

Update. And, being the BBC, here we go with the signalling retweets:

Why doesn't Sopes get back to reporting the lying, incompetent Biden administration? He should be rushed off his feet at the moment.


As Charlie noted, the BBC's first LBGT Correspondent Ben Hunte's short career at the BBC is ending. 

John Humphrys, on leaving the BBC, specifically named and shamed him for being a new breed of activist compromising BBC journalism. 

And Ben soon landed the BBC in trouble, with an impartiality-busting piece on transgender matters that saw complaints galore, and correction after correction, and BBC clarifications, and ECU rulings against it over endless months. 

He then seemed to have been sent off to Africa for months to do special reports. 


I've read the thread and it looks like a particularly bad case of the BBC spreading disinformation by failing to check the facts. Please see what you think. 


The whole BBC 'allyship' thing may make your jaw drop for not being satire. But it's another bizarre sign of where we are. I'll quote Charlie's accurate summary:
Reported in The Telegraph tonight. You couldn’t make it up! BBC staff have been offered an “allyship” test which identifies whether they are more privileged than their colleagues, as part of diversity training. The manual also sets out seven types of allies that staff can become in the workplace. One of them, the “upstander”, is someone who “shuts down, reports and pushes back on offensive jokes and inappropriate comments, even if no one’s hurt by them”. This type of ally should “check in privately with anyone who’s been offended” by the joke and “don’t just be a bystander”. Another ally type is a “champion”, who “voluntarily defers to colleagues from underrepresented groups in meetings, events and conferences”. Voluntarily deferring to underrepresented groups - the BBC do this already anyway.

In tackling this kind of nonsense, the BBC is a big part of the problem. They aren't just buying the Emperor's new clothes, they're selling them on too.

Backlashes, peace, submission and the BBC

Radio 4's Sunday had a very Sunday take today.

I saw a tweet which summed it up very well:
David Robertson: The weekend of 9/11, the thought crossed my mind that the BBC’s right-on religious affairs programme would use it to talk about Islamaphobia. But no, surely they wouldn’t be so crass? It was worse. No mention of victims. No commemoration. Just Islamaphobia in Bradford.
That said, there was even more, as there was also a piece on how Sikhs got mixed up in the original 'backlash against innocent Muslims' after  9/11. 

The 'backlash' angle has been a classic BBC kneejerk take on such events for twenty years now. It seems to be their default angle.

The piece David mentions was a massive, uncritical plug - an advert, pure and simple - for Peaceophobia, a Bradford-based theatrical self-declared ''unapologetic response to rising Islamophobia around the world''. 

[So much for the BBC not featuring third-party advertising].

The piece featured someone explaining the title. She said that, as 'Islam' means 'peace', if you're 'phobic' about Islam you're also 'phobic' about peace.

Though doesn't 'Islam' actually mean 'submission'? 

'Submission' is something people might rightly be 'phobic' about, surely?

Poison blades in shoes and BBC gossip


Thank you for your comments on the Open Thread. You've covered - and nailed - so much of the ground I would have covered, including the departure of BBC lifer Fran Unsworth.

Today's Sunday Times - featuring that photo of Ms Unsworth which always draws Rosa Klebb comparisons in comments fields - includes lots of BBC insider gossip, including claims that Tim Davie is glad to see her go because she's “stuck in her ways” and part of the “malaise” at the corporation.

Friends of Tim also give us some juicy quotes, including saying that he's engaged in “constant fire-fighting” and that “he feels he opens Pandora’s box every day, and only the bad stuff ever comes out”. 

As far as the general exodus of BBC lifers go, any BBC source quips “More people are leaving the BBC than Afghanistan.”

And who's going to replace Francesca as Director of News and Current Affairs at SPECTRE the BBC? 

The piece names four people: present Deputy director of news Jonathan Munro, Senior controller of news output and commissioning Jamie Angus, Digital director of BBC News Naja Nielsen, and Commissioning editor for factual and arts at Channel 4 Shaminder Nahal. 

Mr Munro has 'issues' involving the debacles over Cliff Richard and Martin Bashir while Mr Angus is considered “lightweight”. Cue two more insider gossip quotes:
On Jamie Angus: “He’s a dilettante. When he was at the World Service, and your job is to know this stuff, I remember him saying he hadn’t heard of Waziristan, which was where bin Laden was hiding at the time.”

On Jamie Angus and Jonathan Munro: “Angus is a man who has risen without trace and Munro is a man who should have sunk without trace”.
Ms Nielsen is a recent arrival from Danish broadcasting, and “relatively unknown.” while Ms Nahal has all the baggage of being associated with left-wing Channel 4 and was jointly responsible for Black to Front, the channel's recent racist day when only black people appeared on the channel. “We were tired of taking small steps, say Vivienne Molokwu and Shaminder Nahal”, Broadcast reported her saying two days ago.

Especially as she previously worked for Newsnight, I'd place my money on Ms Nahal.