Sunday 19 December 2021

A BBC whistleblower speaks

The Spectator has a scoop - a detailed critique of the BBC written by a BBC whistleblower, headlined How the BBC lost its way on Covid I’ve seen from the inside how the corporation has failed in its reporting on the pandemic

It's written under a pseudonym. The author - who has taken no fee - is described as a ''BBC News employee who has worked at the Corporation for several years''.

It's a fascinating read that won't go down well at the BBC.

The author criticises the lack of balanced discussion and the heavy-handed treatment of people with concerns about lockdowns and vaccines and sees the BBC as acting as a supporter and promoter and enforcer of further restrictions. He describes the corporation's record as ''a dismal failure'' and argues that the demands of the 24-hour news cycle have ''exacerbated'' the crisis because the BBC panicked and is still panicking.
The atmosphere in these BBC offices in the early days of the pandemic became comically oppressive. Absurd in-house ‘safety measures’ were introduced, including baffling one-way arrow stickers on floors which routinely pointed the wrong way, making navigating staircases the stuff of an Oscar Reutersvärd fever dream. Ludicrous lift capacity limits were also imposed: only one person at a time would be allowed to travel in an elevator capable of holding a small crowd – but only up, not down. Then, in a move that could have come straight from the sitcom W1A, ‘proximity monitoring devices’ were issued to staff to enforce social distancing. These re-purposed pagers issued a quacking noise whenever one colleague came ‘dangerously’ close to another.
This had an effect on the editorial stance of the BBC, he says, and soon saw respected colleagues ''succumb'' to ''the whole gamut of coronavirus measures'' as ''the only viable route out of the crisis'' and ''dismiss'' alternative strategies ''as dangerous or the work of cranks without any effort being made to properly examine their ideas''. And ''in a further deterioration of journalistic standards'', the author says the BBC conflated and confused the effects of lockdown with those of Covid-19, always blaming Covid-19, and changed how they reported the daily death figures and removed context. 
Licence fee payers might have expected the BBC’s well-remunerated senior correspondents to step up to the plate and interrogate the long-term impacts of the lockdown strategy. Covid restrictions may have saved the lives of mainly older people in the short term but what of their impact on the lives and livelihoods of younger generations in the longer run? Anyone who held such hopes was to be seriously disappointed. 
He notes, as we've noted, that BBC political correspondents ''lined up to pile pressure on ministers to take ever more draconian steps to tackle the coronavirus''. And he slams the BBC's Health Cluster news department for failing to scrutinise No. 10’s medical advisers ''but instead amplifying them, becoming, in effect, the government’s Covid propaganda wing'' and says that, ''blinded by liberal sensibilities and hamstrung by an unhealthy departmental culture'' its reporters ''went out their way to characterise the suggestion that Covid-19 might have leaked from a Chinese lab as a conspiracy theory promoted by Donald Trump. 
On a BBC News webpage (which remains online), one BBC health hack said the World Health Organisation had ‘closed the lid’ on the lab leak theory after visiting Wuhan in February. 
He says he thought things might have been getting better as ‘Freedom Day’ beckoned in July, but ''noble cause corruption'' is kicking in again.
The national broadcaster should surely feature both sides of the debate and not just relentlessly make the case for further restrictions while ignoring the toll they have on our society. The BBC insists that it has ‘covered the pandemic with great care and in detail’ but there are signs that the corporation is once again failing in this critical function. 

He foresees this happening again and again. 

This is a heavily abridged version, so please read the whole thing and see what you think of it.

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