Thursday, 30 December 2021
December Open Thread
The media, especially the BBC, have disgraced themselves over the Liverpool bombing.
Was there any sensible person when the 'Christian convert' element to the story first broke who didn't instantly think, 'Well, he's obviously reverted back to being a Muslim again or he would have done what he did'?
Using Occam's Razor, the likeliest explanation was always that his Remembrance Sunday attack had an Islamist inspiration, especially given the methods used and the likely targets.
And yet, following reports in various newspapers, the BBC especially went overboard in shoving the phrase 'Christian convert' and mentioning 'his' Christianity in report after report.
Mr Rebello [the senior coroner] said there had been reports Al Swealmeen had rejected Islam and converted to Christianity.
Det Ch Insp Meeks agreed with the coroner that he might have converted to strengthen his asylum claim.
The inquest heard a Koran and prayer mat were found when police searched his premises.
Mr Rebello said: "It was fairly evident that he carried out the religious duties of someone who is a follower of Islam, not withstanding the reported conversion to Christianity."
You don't say!
Dan Hodges: “I don't get what the BBC think they're doing here”
Jake Wallis Simons: BBC has *serious* questions to answer. We reveal that the Board of Deputies commissioned independent, forensic report. Conclusion? Victims of Chanukah attack did NOT utter an anti-Islamic insult. And the Jewish kids themselves told us they didn't. You can read Board of Deputies president Marie van der Zyl's searing piece demanding an apology from the BBC here. She also demanded BBC staff undergo antisemitism awareness training, joining a host of MPs, peers and community groups to urge BBC to formally adopt IHRA definition of Jew-hate. Details coming soon...ENDS (for now).Dan Hodges: I don't get what the BBC think they're doing here. Why are they dragging this out. It's simple. If they are standing by their report, they need to produce the evidence to substantiate their report. Or they need to retract and apologise.Emily Kate: They see no reason to produce evidence because their model of journalism is about narratives, not facts, and an AS narrative is well-established in the BBC now. They also see no reason to explain because they don't see themselves as serving the public, but as instructing them.
Another disagreement on Twitter
Jay Beecher: Made the mistake of putting BBC Radio 4 on in my car. A young Asian woman was saying walking in the countryside 'isn't inclusive' because white people live there. "I like seeing the odd brown face - means there's less white people to kill me". The BBC - promoting racism again.Tom Scott: You fail to mention that this was part of a comedy show in which every single absurd & *fictitious* character was making a variety of absurd & ridiculous observations. But hey - why bother with honesty when your sole aim is to smear the BBC?
I guessed that Tom would probably be correct, especially as he sounded so certain, but checked it out myself and found that Jay was actually closer to the truth. The 'comedy show' in question was a ragbag collection of things, some funnier than others [especially the Simon Evans bit]. One of the sections featured Poppy and Rubina from the Brown Girls Do It Too podcast - and one of those young Asian woman said pretty much what Jay Beecher said she said. They are actually real people with their own BBC Asian network-linked podcast - just like Jane Garvey and Fi Glover have a Radio 4-linked podcast - and their conversation on Slow Radio Comedy was genuine conversation reflecting their views. That's what they do, and that's what Radio 4 got them to do here. They are not “absurd & *fictitious* characters making a variety of absurd & ridiculous observations”. So when Tom accused Jay of dishonesty, he wasn't being fair. In fact, in his defence of the BBC, he looks to have strayed somewhat from the truth himself.
Looking Ahead and Back
The Black Lives Matter movement put injustice and diversity on the agenda as never before and the pandemic focused minds on saving not just lives but our planet in our climate emergency.
Hm. I rolled my eyes at that! The BBC's Chief International Correspondent was signalling her very BBC views there.
Dharshini David opines and predicts
The programme's powers of prediction haven't greatly improved over the years. The first substantial contribution came from BBC economics reporter Dharshini David. Having nailed her colours to the usual BBC 'spend, spend, spend' mast by openly praising the Bank of England and Chancellor Rishi for “pumping money” into the furlough scheme - a “financial vaccination” she called it, describing it as both “good” and “good news” - she went on to make predictions for the UK economy in 2021. She said a double-dip recession “is pretty much a given, Lyse. I think that ship has really sailed”. Well, we're 12 months on and it's still not sailed quite yet. She also predicted unemployment “continuing to grow for some time”, which again didn't happen this year. Bias and inaccurate predictions - a cracking start!
My eyes kept on rolling, but they needed to calm down as we were only in the foothills and they needed to brace themselves to follow my eyebrows as they rose up ever higher...
Katya Adler then, predictably, painted a rosy view of Mrs Merkel's Germany.
Left wing round table chat
Lyse then discussed protests and coronavirus in the US in terms of how the pandemic had “exposed inequality” in its disproportionate effect on African-Americans, Hispanics and Latinos and Aleem Maqbool drew the comparisons with how much better white Americans were doing in a context-free, BLM-style fashion.
Lyse then discussed with Justin Rowlatt the issue of “less privileged” countries not receiving their fair share of vaccines and Justin criticised the “unseemly behaviour” of the developed world. He held out hopes though for Bill Gates and the WHO riding to the rescue and getting a project going.
Do you take my point about it being like eavesdropping on a left-leaning convention?
Box-tickers to watch
Moving on to a regular feature, the next section was the BBC correspondents' traditional 'persons to watch' bit. Those for this year were:
 Alexey Navalny, who Gabriel Gatehouse predicted would “make waves” if he went back to Russia - which he did in January before being imprisoned in February and dropping out of the headlines.
 Deb Haaland, a Biden appointee who Aleem Maqbool discussed in identity politics terms as being “the first native American to lead the Department of the Interior...with its history of oppression against native American people”. It was all about identity politics.
 Janet Yellen, a Biden appointee who Dharshini David also discussed in identity politics terms as the the first woman Treasury Secretary. “The US have beaten us...we've had none...” here in the UK in the top financial jobs, she said. It was all about identity politics.
 Alok Sharma, who Justin Rowlatt chose for his role in the “crucial”, “terribly important”, “very important” and “crucial” COP26.
 Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who Lyse Doucet predicted would become Saudi king in 2021, which didn't happen. She also predicted he'd become more powerful. Except for taking over Newcastle United FC, he didn't really feature on BBC News very much this year.
 “The ever growing shadow behind Angela Merkel”, which Katya Adler also discussed in terms of identity politics, talking of the “three slightly aging, middle-aged white men” of the CDU fighting to succeed Mutti and “probably” win the September election - which none of them actually did as the CDU failed to win.
Besides the inaccurate predictions, it really is quite something how much identity politics informed this part of the conversation. It continued from the earlier discussion. And it continued.
It was the 'post-BLM' edition of Correspondents' Look Ahead.
The man who tweeted too much
US politics - the change from Trump to Biden - was next for discussion.
I had to chuckle on hearing Lyse Doucet begin it by sticking to focusing on The Most Important Thing For The Likes of the BBC for the Entirety of the Trump Presidency - Donald Trump's tweets - saying he's “still certain to unleash tweets from his own account”. Well, she got that wrong as the censors at Twitter swiftly banned him.
Aleem Maqbool goes full CNN
Aleem Maqbool then talked about inequality, and the plight of women and minorities, and the polarisation that “won't go away” even after the “figurehead” [Donald Trump] has been removed - thus presenting the polarisation in a rather one-sided fashion himself.
And - of course - Aleem talked about race, which he very much filtered through a BLM lens, saying:
The race issues. So much protest happened, so many people took to the streets. There's been very little in terms of structural change on race and policing over the last year.
Aleem predicted a lot of political violence in 2021. I suspect the events at the Capitol in January will be dwelt on and cited as a successful prediction in this Friday's programme. He also predicted the return of mass shootings.
Aleem then talked of fixing immigration and asylum and “reuniting children who were separated from their parents under that system under Donald Trump” - which [a] was a very BBC focus on the needs of immigrants rather than numbers or the problems caused to the host community and [b] repeated the falsehood that the child separation issue arose under Donald Trump when it actually arose under Barack Obama and his VP Joe Biden. [As we now know, because of the Biden administration's policies, there's been chaos on the southern UK border this year].
As for Joe Biden, Aleem Maqbool said he's playing the card of “a uniter” - “and he's playing it relatively well so far”. [Well, that didn't last long].
More “good news”
Then “Good news” from Day 1 was predicted by Lyse and Justin for the Biden administration's climate change actions for what Lyse called the “climate emergency”. She also worried about people she called “climate deniers”. Quick as a flash, Aleem replied “But at least there won't be one in the White House”, said Aleem.
Are you feeling the impartiality?
Lyse pulls the rug from under Aleem
One amusing moment came when Aleem employed the 'some say' strategy beloved of BBC reporters trying to make a point through other people's mouths, talking of “a lot of.. as many people see it” regarding “the damage done” by Donald Trump's environmental policies. He later added an “as they see it”, referring to Trump critics' claims of damage, thus putting further 'fake impartiality' distance between him and them. And then Lyse Doucet went and ruined it all by giving her opinion and dropping him in it too, saying “As Aleem says, a lot of the damage has been done”. Haha!
Justin sings 'For Xi's a jolly good fellow'
On the same theme, Justin Rowlatt found President Xi's climate pledges “enormously optimistic”, which he seems to believe. Green energy is “the cheapest”. he said. [Fact check?]
Places to watch [or not]
For flashpoints/places to watch:
Gabriel chose Taiwan [a very safe bet that it would remain a worrying issue in 2021].
Aleem chose Venezuela for a looming humanitarian crisis moving towards a flashpoint [well, it didn't really reach that point].
Dharshini chose Dover [for possible Brexit problems].
Justin chose Denmark [for a company that's transitioned from being an oil company to a renewables company and that might become a giant].
Katya chose Italy [to wonder how it would cope in 2021. I wonder how many reports she did about it in 2021 as I've heard very little about it?].
And Lyse, inevitably, chose Afghanistan, predicting that the Taliban might come close to power or achieve power either through negotiation or the battlefield. [She didn't predict the disastrous handling of it by the Biden administration which gifted the country and billions of dollars of US equipment to them].
The final segment seems 'very a year ago', as Lyse asked whether there would be a Brexit trade deal between the EU and the UK - then still in doubt in a 'final hours of diplomacy' kind of way.
This was a classic BBC discussion:
Darshini said there should be if economic sense is followed but 2020 suggests that if we've learned anything it's that “Brexit isn't about the economics” and there'll be “a fudge”.
Gloomy Katya said “the thing that's really going to hit us in 2021 is that even if there is a deal it's a very narrow deal because this is at best a hard Brexit and at worst a no-deal Brexit” and piled on the negatives about both, including worrying about whether you'd be able to take “Boris the dog” to Europe if you're blind and need your guide-dog - a stark reminder of the remarkable negativity and negative language about Brexit that assailed us on a daily basis back then.
Justin said he “agreed” with both Darshini and Katya [of course he did because they were in an echo chamber] and thought “a very, very narrow deal” would be “sneaked over the line”, predicting “a very, very uncomfortable New Year for the UK”.
And Gabriel, continuing to be cautious, sensibly said he'd “duck the question”.
Are you still feeling the impartiality?
Friday's panellists looking ahead to 2022 will be Faisal Islam, Gabriel Gatehouse, Katya Adler, Laura Trevelyan and Nick Eardley. It looks as if there's a greater focus on UK politics from the presence of Laura and Nick, but we'll see. I expect it will be blander. I wanted Aleem Maqbool, Darshini David and Justin Rowlatt back. Still at least Lyse Doucet's still in the chair.
ITBB's inaugural BBC Top Bias awards - the winners
It ain't over till the fat lady sings
However cerebral and dispassionate we think we are, I contend that at heart we are all influenced by tribalist instincts. ‘Speak for yourself!' I hear you say - that is what I am doing.
In the case of good old Alan M. Dershowitz, I take issue with the Times quote (which I initially mistook for Craig’s own opinion) for reasons that might very well (in the circs quite reasonably) be dismissed as tribal. I contend that the quoted article is susceptible to being unduly weaponised by those of us who are apt to take the reflexively anti-BBC stance that can easily run away with us all.
“Despite being personally involved in the case himself and previously being involved with Jeffrey Epstein, Professor Dershowitz was merely introduced as a “constitutional lawyer”, and someone who had been brought on to give “more analysis”. Moreover, his BBC interviewer, Ben Boulos, failed to challenge him in any way when he used the platform granted to him by the BBC to try to discredit Virginia Giuffre, the woman accusing both him and Prince Andrew.
“Let me be clear: I never met Virginia Giuffre, who is now 36 years old. There is documented evidence that until she met her lawyers in 2014, Giuffre never accused me.... In one email, a well-known journalist urged her to include my name because of my fame, writing that although there is "no proof " that Dershowitz had sex with you, he is a "good name for your pitch." Giuffre then included me, but as someone who she met and did not have sex with.
Full disclosure. I am tribally predisposed to align with Dersh. His book The case For Israel (You can now get it online for only £3.99!) influenced and substantiated my own (some might say pathetic) attempts to defend Israel against the BBC’s tribal loyalty to the Palestinian cause.
Using partisan witnesses without ‘full disclosure” is one of our principal and ongoing accusations re BBC bias, but it is hardly fair to imply that the BBC failed to fully disclose Derchowitz’s partiality as he was “merely introduced as a constitutional lawyer.”
Well, indeed he was “personally involved in the case himself“ ...... as a constitutional (Jeffrey Epstein’s) lawyer!
He didn’t pretend otherwise; see Craig’s detailed transcription.
Alan Dershowitz: Well, I think the most important thing, particularly for British viewers, is that the government was very careful who it used as witnesses. It did not use as a witness the woman who accused, for example, Prince Andrew, accused me, accused many other people, because the government didn't believe she was telling the truth. In fact, she, Virginia Giuffre, was mentioned in the trial as somebody who brought young people to Epstein for him to abuse.
I do get it. I get what they are saying here. However, for readers of this blog, don’t let’s fall into the trap of criticising the BBC for any and everything it does and every move it makes. Perhaps, granting ‘the enemy’ a platform is ‘merely’ Tim Davies’s way of redressing the imbalance. (I don’t actually believe that by the way. It’s my flippancy talking)
Ah! A timely update from the BBC News Press Team in the form of an apology for giving a platform to the guilty-until-proven-innocent Alan Dershowitz - well, back to square one.
Let us never forget Carl Beech. Could Virginia Giuffre be a fantasist? Could she be a bit on the ‘flakey’ side? Hmm. Carl Beech’s unsubstantiated allegations hung over Leon Brittan’s grave and the Maxwell story isn’t over yet. Plenty of fat ladies still waiting to sing.
“Let's get more analysis of that verdict now”...
Caoilfhionn Gallagher QC: Sorry, what?! BBC News now have Alan Dershowitz on to analyse Ghislaine Maxwell’s conviction, without any reference to his background;he’s simply introduced as “constitutional lawyer” as if he’s a neutral expert. Shocked. Utterly bizarre decision & does the audience a disservice.
Sarah Churchwell, writer: So BBC News has decided that the expert witness they need on the Maxwell trial is Alan Dershowitz. Who has taken the opportunity to say that it shows how accusations against him and Prince Andrew are wrong. I’d really like to understand how BBC News treats as an expert witness someone who literally admits without being asked that he is among the people implicated in the case. “The question is when will Giuffre be charged rather than her charging people like Prince Andrew and me.” I am not a lawyer, so I can’t comment on the legality. But journalistically, he should not have been presented as an impartial expert witness only to say the verdict vindicates him, personally. People have taken this thread as an opp to bash the BBC, so let me be clear I’m a fan and a beneficiary of brilliant people at BBC News. But this- Dershowitz as “constitutional lawyer” without explaining his screaming conflicts of interest - is not ok.
Rob Burley, ex-BBC: I don’t work there, but suspect bids being thrown out for relevant guests with little time to consider the implications. Very bad choice of first guest. In mitigation, probably small number of staff and possibly not enough editorial leadership. The cuts have gutted the newsroom.
Rolling Stone: Alan Dershowitz, Accused of Involvement in Epstein Sex Ring, Analyzes Ghislaine Maxwell Guilty Verdict. BBC inexplicably brought on the Harvard professor, who has been accused of (and denied) sexually assaulting Epstein accuser Virginia Giuffre.The Times: Ghislaine Maxwell verdict: BBC criticised for interviewing lawyer implicated in Ghislaine Maxwell case.Newsweek: Alan Dershowitz Interview on Ghislaine Maxwell Leaves Viewers Outraged: 'Inexcusable'. The BBC is facing criticism for hosting constitutional law expert Alan Dershowitz.
Ben Boulos, BBC: Let's get more analysis of that verdict now. We can now speak to constitutional lawyer Alan Dershowitz, who joins us now. This was a much-watched trial and after a long set of deliberations, spanning Christmas with a break, suddenly the jury reached a verdict.Alan Dershowitz: Well, I think the most important thing, particularly for British viewers, is that the government was very careful who it used as witnesses. It did not use as a witness the woman who accused, for example, Prince Andrew, accused me, accused many other people, because the government didn't believe she was telling the truth. In fact, she, Virginia Giuffre, was mentioned in the trial as somebody who brought young people to Epstein for him to abuse. And so this case does nothing at all to strengthen in any way the case against Prince Andrew; indeed it weakens the case of Prince Andrew considerably because the government was very selective in who it used. It used only witnesses who they believed were credible, credible, and they deliberately didn't use the main witness, the woman who started the whole investigation, Virginia Giuffre, because, ultimately, they didn't believe she was telling the truth. They didn't believe that a jury would believe her. And they were right in doing so. So it was very smart on the part of the government.Ben Boulos, BBC: And yet, the version, the image, that was portrayed of Ghislaine Maxwell as a sophisticated predator is the one that the jury have agreed with.Alan Dershowitz: Well, the jury agreed that she helped Jeffrey Epstein and his activities, and the question is then whether or not she will be sentenced as if she were Jeffrey Epstein or sentenced as if she were simply somebody who facilitated and helped. And the other question is who else will be charged? Because the testimony introduced evidence that other people where guilty and involved. Again, Virginia Giuffre. She was alleged by the same women who the jury believed to have brought them to Jeffrey Epstein knowing that they were under age, of getting undressed, having sex with Jeffrey Epstein in front of them when they were under age in order to encourage them also to have sex with Epstein. So I think the next question is when will Virginia Giuffre be indicted and charged rather than her accusing people like Prince Andrew and myself and Ehud Barak and George Mitchell and dozens of other people who she has accused. So the next question is who else will be charged for facilitating Jeffrey Epstein's misconduct?Ben Boulos, BBC: Just returning to the issue of the guilty verdicts again Ghislaine Maxwell, as a lawyer where you expect the sentencing to fall on the spectrum of prison terms that are available to the judge?Alan Dershowitz: Well, I think she will get a substantial prison term because she was convicted on five counts, and the guidelines provide for fairly high sentencing. So it will certainly be in the double figures. It won't be five years or six years or seven years. It will more likely be in the teens. She will get credit, of course, for the time she has already served. I don't think she is going to get 30 or 40 years - that would be utterly inconsistent with what prior sentences have been in comparable cases - but I think she probably can expect a significant sentence. She will also appeal, obviously. She will not get bail pending appeal, but she will appeal, and within, say, eight months or so, three judges will decide whether the trial was fair. The fact that the jury stayed out so long and did distinguish counts - five yes, one no - will make it a little bit more appealing for her to successfully appeal. But there will be an appeal.Ben Boulos, BBC: OK, we will leave it there, but thank you very much indeed for speaking to us.
On a lighter note, Ben Boulos kept calling 'Ghislaine Maxwell' “Glenn Maxwell” through his stint as presenter. At least he didn't have to try saying “Caoilfhionn Gallagher QC”.
UPDATE [11.30am] - Given that many of the people complaining are precisely the kind of people the BBC takes notice of, this was inevitable:
Tuesday, 28 December 2021
2021 in a nutshell
It's been a funny old year here at Is the BBC biased? We closed and then re-opened.
Here's a far from exhaustive review of some of the things we caught - and some we didn't catch.
So Memory Lane, here we come!
If we've missed anything major please let us know:
The BBC began the year by broadcasting fireworks from London in tandem with Mayor Sadiq Khan. Their broadcast - featuring NHS worship, praise of multiculturalism and Sir David Attenborough lecturing us on climate change - was described as “soulless propaganda”. BBC One ended their New Years Day Doctor Who with a two-minute message from Sir David Attenborough about the need for urgent action on climate change. Radio 4 marked New Years Day with a BLM-inspired poem calling for “a true history, true democracy and true racial equality” which Jonny Dymond called a “message of hope for racial equality going forward”. Mark Easton popped down to Dover to report post-Brexit problems at the border posing in front of a sign saying "No access to the docks". Dad's Army was given a 'trigger warning' on BBC Two. Emily Maitlis's first Newsnight of 2021 saw her use her 'monologues' to advocate for tougher lockdown restrictions and criticise Donald Trump's “embarrassing” behaviour. Everyone clearly started as they meant to go on. Radio 5 mishandled the Laura Duffel's scaremongering about children hospitalised through Covid. Nick Byrant compared Donald Trump to Mussolini and James Landale compared him to the Nazis after the trouble on Capitol Hill. After YouTube [temporarily] 'terminated' talkRadio's YouTube channel a Marianna Spring 'analysis' that justified the removal by Big Tech was replaced by a far less sympathetic analysis by James Clayton. BBC Two's Bitesize programmes for secondary school children began with a Big Read - a book called The Extraordinary Life of Greta Thunberg. The BBC got a new Executive Sponsor Safeguarding Impartiality, paying him £325,000 a year. Jon Sopel was talking about "a socially distanced inauguration for a nation tearing itself apart" just as viewers were watching Kamala Harris hug both Barack and Michelle Obama, another couple (at some length),another man and then two more women. Roger Harrabin's campaign to prevent a new coal mine in Cumbria fully swung into action and Jon Sopel described the likes of GB News as a greater potential threat to democracy than Britain’s already openly biased newspapers. The BBC gracelessly withdrew its '100-plus genders' BBC Teach video blaming others.
The Jewish Chronicle laid a charge list again BBC Arabic for a "fawning" portrait of a Hamas terrorist, describing Jerusalem as “the occupied city”, calling the Israeli army the “Israeli Occupation Forces”, describing the PLO as “the Palestinian Resistance” and referring to nine victims of a terrorist attack as “nine Jewish settlers”, though four weren't Jewish and none was a settler. Roger Harrabin continued his campaign against the new coal mine in Cumbria. Outgoing BBC chairman Sir David Clementi said, “We are one of the very few British institutions to be seen as world class... it would be a colossal act of national self-harm if regulators or governments were to take steps which diminished the role of the BBC”. ignoring the fact that there are many British institutions seen as world class. Jeremy Bowen said during the Iraq War that he'd “wondered what might have happened to an Iraqi news team if Saddam's men had somehow managed to kill 400 civilians in London or New York. I thought they'd be strung up.” Lewis Goodall tweeted that cancel culture isn't a real problem at universities and then deleted his tweets. Emily Maitlis 'liked' a tweet condemning the government and then deleted that 'like'. Radio 4 broadcast a 3-part programme on "the unbroken thread of fascism in Britain," originally describing fascism as "a central and on-going part of the British story" before editing that out. Nick Bryant did a long From Our Own Correspondent piece on New York's experience of Covid, having a pop at Donald Trump along the way but failed to mention Democrat governor Andrew Cuomo or the nursing home scandal. BBC TV news failed to report President Biden's bombing of Syria. Ski Sunday did a feature where its white presenters gave viewers a lecture on white privilege.
Naga Munchetty presented a Panorama called Let’s Talk about Race. On Breakfast Charlie Stayt and Naga Munchetty mocked Robert Jenrick's use of union flags, with Naga having to issue a half-apology after liking a tweet that said “The flag shaggers will be up in arms.” Radio 4's Today misreported Meghan's racism claims against a member of the Royal Family and Emily Maitlis misreported an “attempted suicide” by Meghan on Newsnight. A landmark report into racism in the UK by ethnic minority thinkers that found that we're by and large a tolerant country was assailed by the BBC with Mark Easton saying the report “risks deepening distrust and division”. Roger Harrabin's campaign to prevent a new coal mine in Cumbria was won.
The BBC had to apologise to Sir James Dyson after “twisting the truth” about his ties to the Tories. Samira Ahmed said she was 'haunted' by a fear that the BBC's coverage boosted Nigel Farage and Ukip. The BBC's coverage of the Duke of Edinburgh's death provoked some 100K complaints after being across all channels. The BBC went after Boris over Wallpapergate. Clive Myrie presented a Panorama on racism in the Church of England. The National Beef Association wrote to Tim Davie accusing the BBC off anti-meat bias after Blue Peter launched a “one-sided” green initiative. The BBC dropped the anti-meat message in response. Anti-lockdown protests in London saw the BBC's Disinformation Unit emphasize the cranks in the crowd rather than the concerns of ordinary protestors. BBC diversity chief Miranda Wayland complained that Idris Elba’s Luther “isn’t black enough to be real”.
The Dyson Report into the Martin Bashir scandal was published, a day after Mr Bashir resigned from the BBC. The BBC somehow survived the scandal and moved on. Relations with the Royal Family chilled and got worse as the year went on as the BBC antagonised them further. Huw Edwards was forced to delete a tweet after laying into other media outlets for criticising the BBC over Bashirgate. The BBC provoked criticism by delaying a Panorama about the affair, apparently because they were looking out for Mr Bashir's mental health. Aleem Maqbool, a Muslim later to be appointed BBC religion editor, presented a misleading and inaccurate report on events in Jerusalem. Mark Easton informed BBC One viewers that “the role of BBC News is to hold the powerful to account”. The BBC issued a video on how to hug safely.
Gary Lineker tweeted, “If you boo England players for taking the knee, you’re part of the reason why players are taking the knee.” James Naughtie was banned after admitting drink-driving. The BBC accentuated the negative when the UK-Australia trade deal was announced. The BBC adopted a 'no whites' policy when advertising an £18,000 trainee job on Springwatch and The One Show.
The BBC revealed that their diversity tsar June Sarpong is being paid £267,000-a-year for a three-day week. more than the PM. Mark Easton returns to the south coast to look at the crisis in the English Channel and asks us to please think of the children. Emily Maitlis told the BBC off in the Press Gazette for criticising her over impartiality and got told off again for doing so. It was announced that Gary Lineker is to boost his huge BBC salary by hosting a new quiz show at ITV called Sitting on a Fortune. The sausage wars and the NI protocol saw the BBC's John Campbell and Chris Morris doing their usual thing, the former attacking “the juvenile British banger rhetoric [that] seems to play well in English newspapers”, the latter fuming that the UK action would make for poisonous politics. The BBC News website saw the BBC report Ben and Jerry's decision to not sell ice cream in the Palestinian territories and give 11 paragraphs to pro-Ben and Jerry's/Unilever/pro-BDS points and just 3 paragraphs to anti-Ben and Jerry's/pro-Israel points. The BBC heavily reported “racist graffiti” on a mural of Marcus Rashford and then heavily underreported the news when it turned out that it wasn't racist at all. Tala Halawa, the BBC journalist who tweeted ‘Hitler was right’ about Israel, left the corporation. The BBC ran an advert on BBC One at 7.55pm Hate won’t win, a public information message about racism. An Emily Maitlis 'monologue' said, “The Home Secretary called taking the knee a show of 'gesture politics'. Now England's footballers have shown her why it wasn't. How far can those in power be held responsible for what happens on the ground?” The BBC News website ran a piece headlined 'Rural racism in Dorset: Why is our countryside 98% white?'. Naga Munchetty got a 30% pay rise.
BBC Sport tweeted that it would report to the police those who expressed hateful comments on its threads across eleven subject areas, but seems to have been particularly targeted at women critical of male-to-female trans militancy. Tim Davie ruled out releasing the Balen report into the BBC's coverage of Israel, having discussed it with other BBC people who'd previously resisted its release. Martine Croxall said that what Extinction Rebellion are saying “isn't exactly controversial.” The BBC, without mentioning her by name, issued a correction clarifying a mistake by Emily Maitlis that smeared Israel over vaccines and Palestinians. Jon Sopel, having largely withdrawn from covering the Biden administration, returned to briefly condemn them over Afghanistan before going quiet again. John Simpson also railed against the withdrawal but blamed Donald Trump for it. Listen very carefully, 'Allo 'Allo! got a trigger warning from the BBC for jokes about French and German stereotypes and the high number of sexual innuendos. 'Woke' arrived at Woman's Hour with a tweet that talked about “people who struggle with heavy periods” rather than 'women'. BBC Three launched a programme called Transitioning Teens said to have skewed the stats and presented a one-sided 'woke' case. A BBC briefing on how to target climate change messages to particular segments of society was revealed, proving activist/propagandist intent on the BBC's part.
BBC DG Tim Davie's salary increased by £75,000 to £525,000, nearly 3 times what the UK's PM earns. The former editor of the Left-wing Huffington Post UK Jess Brammar is confirmed as executive editor of the BBC’s news channels despite the controversy over her anti-Brexit, anti-Boris, pro-woke, pro-BLM political views. The BBC was typically reluctant to report the Albanian background of the man charged with murdering teacher Sabina Nessa. Jeremy Vine described GB News replacing Andrew Neil with Colin Brazier as “like replacing a shark with a goldfish” but then deleted his tweet. The Mail on Sunday reported how Martin Bashir took one of the Babes In The Wood victim's bloodied clothes from her mother and then lost them and then lied about it. The BBC continued to downplay the Biden administration's failings, either not reporting them or not specifically tying them to Joe Biden. The BBC repeatedly forgot Margaret Beckett when describing Liz Truss as the UK's first female foreign secretary. The BBC's reporting of the Aukus deal between the US, UK and Australia was overwhelmingly negative. The BBC used the HGV drivers' shortage to attack Wetherspoon's Tim Martin over Brexit. The BBC shamed the town of Driffield over a mural featuring only white people despite the town being 98.7% white and the mural featuring shopkeepers, restaurant owners and other local personalities. The coverage of a major report on sexual abuse among UK faith groups received the BBC treatment with the BBC avoiding mentioning Islam on its News at Ten, unlike Sky or ITV, with Mark Easton focusing on Jehovah’s Witnesses and Orthodox Jews. The BBC gave many the impression of campaigning hard for 12-15 year olds to be vaccinated. BBC staff were offered an “allyship” test which identifies whether they are more privileged than their colleagues as part of diversity training. Ben Hunte, the BBC's activist-like ‘LBGT Correspondent’, left BBC News for Vice News. Fran Unsworth, head of news, announced her departure.
The month was dominated by BBC reporting of the Yorkshire Cricket Club with the BBC siding with Azeem Rafiq, even after his antisemitic past was disclosed. It almost rivalled their exhaustive COP26 coverage for intensity. On climate change Justin Rowlatt claimed Boris Johnson looked “a little bit weaselly not answering the coal question” during an interview with the PM while Laura Kuenssberg called Ed Miliband “an expert in this field”. The One Show lectured on eating less meat, having less children, not travelling by air and having better insulation. Andrew Neil said the BBC has becoome “the PR department of Greenpeace” and had colluded in the “conspiracy theory” that the Kremlin helped Donald Trump to win the presidency of the United States, and refused to tell the truth about the origins of Covid-19. Despite weeping on air while reporting on the impending famine in Afghanistan, John Simpson took great care not to mention the B-word [Biden]. The BBC reported the not guilty charges against Kyle Rittenhouse with a pronounced bias against him, including Americast. The attack on the Waukesha Christmas market march by a black racist was downplayed and deracialised by the BBC. Many people took exception to republican Amol Rajan's The Princes and the Press, not least the non-Sussex parts of the Royal Family, further deepening and embittering the split between the BBC and the Royal Family. The BBC obfuscated the Liverpool bombing, placing emphasis on the suspect being a 'Christian convert'. Doctor Who [aka 'Doctor Woke'] featured Mary Seacole and praised her to the skies. Ex-BBC reporter Martin Bell said that parts of the BBC's output “are now so lopsided that they need serious review through the lens of the principles that guided us.” Huw Edwards was “spoken to” by the BBC after tweeting that he felt uncomfortable about a portrait of a Waterloo 'hero' being taken down by an art gallery. The BBC partially distanced itself from Stonewall but their new diversity training scheme was described as Stonewall ‘in all but name’. The BBC's reporting of Claudia Webbe MP's sentencing was very low-key, not making that day's Newsnight or News at Ten. Andrew Marr announced his intention to leave the BBC to be free of BBC rules so he can speak out on climate. On the migrant crisis in the Channel, Mark Easton argued that it's not a big deal, the government's pandering to pro-Brexit sentiment over the issue, and what problems exist are because of Brexit, and there's nothing we can legally do to stop the poor migrants in their dinghies, and don't even mention concerns about terrorism. and please think of the migrant children. Newsnight's Ben Chu dismissed concerns as a “gut reaction”. Following the tragedy in the Channel, the BBC fired on all cylinders to spin the story in particular directions and Mark Easton attempted a statistical sleight-of-hand over asylum seeker numbers. Roger Harrabin announced he was leaving the BBC and Jon Sopel left the USA.
This was the month of Partygate. Andrew Marr presented his final BBC show, leaving to become a chief writer for The New Statesman, among other things. Michael Buerk said that Radio 4 is becoming “increasingly woke”. The BBC was late on parade reporting the antisemitic incident in Oxford Street and then caused a furore when its reporting cast slurs on the victims. The Simon Wiesenthal Center placed the BBC third behind Iran and Hamas on their Global Antisemitism Top Ten List, believing the corporation to be guilty of several instances of antisemitism this year. The BBC ruled against their gender and identity reporter Megha Mohan for disobeying the BBC guideline saying “Staff should also not post offensive or derogatory comments or content on social media and avoid abusing their position as a BBC employee in personal interactions” after she joined in an intense Twitter pile-on by hardline trans activists against a woman. She then deleted and un-deleted her Twitter account. Mike Wendling, editor of BBC Trending and the BBC News team investigating disinformation, got into another Twitter spat defending an indefensibly biased article about mandatory vaccinations. In the wake of research by the Sir Lenny Henry Centre for Media Diversity the BBC committed themselves to avoid the BAME acronym “wherever possible”. The 100 Women 2021 featured two trans women [i.e. men]. The BBC upheld a complaint against Justin Rowlatt after he said the UK offshore wind industry is “now virtually subsidy free” and a viewer complained that wasn't true. The BBC reported the outcome of the Jussie Smollett trial by omitting details and deracialising the story. New BBC culture editor Katie Razzall has presented biased reports on a transgender row and cancel culture in comedy this month. The BBC's Ros Atkins found fame with his “assertive impartiality”. Ex-BBC editor Rob Burley objected to a “class of super-managers who have become v powerful” at the corporation. A BBC whistleblower wrote a piece for The Spectator about how the BBC “lost its way” and “failed in its reporting on the pandemic”. Two former senior BBC editors, Roger Mosey and Richard Sambrook, told Parliament that younger BBC journalists do not understand impartiality and confuse it with “social justice”. It emerged that 56% of the BBC’s television output is repeats. Laura Kuenssberg confirmed that she's stepping down as BBC political editor.
Announcing ITBB's inaugural BBC Top Bias awards
Monday, 27 December 2021
'The BBC is silencing the viewers who should be heard'
The BBC downplays another major story
Sunday, 26 December 2021
The BBC's Twelve Biases of Christmas 2021
The Simon Wiesenthal Center, antisemitism in 2021 and the BBC
Israeli soldiers have shot dead a 26-year-old Palestinian man - Muhammad Issa Abbas, killed last night near al-Amari refugee camp. IDF says they fired on a gunman who’d shot at them from a car. Palestinian health ministry says he was shot in the back and died in hospital.
The way this was put provoked a strong reaction from many British Jewish commentators because of the tweet's ordering of events - putting the killing of a Palestinian man by Israeli soldiers outside a refugee camp first, and because the 26-year-old Palestinian man was quite literally a Hamas terrorist. There are even photos of him posing with his many guns. And the later 'one side says, the other side says' equivalence doesn't appear to be borne out by the facts which favour the Israeli version.
Boxing Day Smorgasbord
...a postdoctoral research fellow at the University of Exeter, studying the transition to green energy - so global warming is something she's been thinking about for a while.
What's happening on the comedy stage and in real life is a sign outdated views are being weeded out. Or a worrying assault on free speech, depending on your perspective. Culture often leads the way on the big issues of our time as we all navigate what we can say, and what it's best not to.
...for using fowl language.🎄
Wednesday, 22 December 2021
It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas
If you're not already in the Christmas spirit, here's a 'very BBC' tweet [and re-tweet]:
Tuesday, 21 December 2021
Sunday, 19 December 2021
An insider-out's view. Rob Burley speaks
1) Lots of people have asked me this [''so many journalists and back room staff have left the BBC this year, what’s the reason Rob? Is it something us BBC viewers and listeners should be concerned about?'']. So here goes: lots of great people are leaving the BBC because of big cuts which are landing on BBC News. The essential reason for this is the loss of funding that’s come with freezes to the licence fee and extra costs loaded on the BBC.
2) The current cuts have also come as a consequence of a reorganisation of BBC News which establishes a new way of running things. There’s a hope that this will improve output - it won’t - but it’s really driven by cost-cutting which has to be done.
3) The consequences of all these cuts and changes have already impacted the programmes you see on air but with the Govt talking about a further freeze it will only get worse. It’s also been very bad for staff apart from a class of super-managers who have become v powerful.
4) For staff it means no career progression, more responsibility for things that can go wrong without any more money and massive centralisation. This is all driven by cuts. While at the BBC I never expressed public concerns about this but now can: it’s a very worrying situation.
5) Worst thing is the end of the distinction between the news and programmes teams. Disastrous and dangerous especially in political programmes, but when you just have to save millions you cross your fingers and risk destroying the very thing that makes the BBC special.
Oh dear. Trouble at t'mill.
I'm especially interested by Rob's objection to the ''class of super-managers who have become v powerful''.
Excellent question. It’s not to say cuts have not fallen elsewhere but you’d think the BBC’s core function would be News and that it would be prioritised. The opposite is true. Shameful really.