Monday 3 January 2022

The BBC's worldview

UnHerd's Peter Frankin has a piece today about how Radio 4's Correspondents Look Ahead reflects the BBC's worldview to perfection. 

The BBC may say it hasn't got a worldview but it certainly has, on subject after subject. 

He gives some examples, including:
There was also a preachy little section on “global vaccine inequality”. Noting the low levels of vaccination in many developing countries, the question asked for 2022 was “will the West do better?” No consideration was given to the performance of developing world governments or to local levels of vaccine hesitancy. That’s not to absolve the West of its responsibilities in this matter, just to point out that yet again the discussion was one-sided.
When I listened to it on New Year's Eve I made the following note for this section: 
St. Gordon of Brown - vaccine inequality - “a moral issue” [Lyse Doucet] - GB's “stain on our global soul” mentioned twice - “No one is safe until everyone is safe”.

Over on the BBC World Service's equivalent programme the BBC's Africa correspondent Andrew Harding went even further. This is how he rather hotly characterised it: 

Andrew Harding, BBC - The last two years, it's clear, have been about apartheid, if you like. It's been a systemic failure of the international community. Those with their stockpiles, those democracies looking after their own people first. And you mentioned earlier that idea of no one's being safe until everyone's safe, completely ignoring that basic fact and, despite plenty of promises, denying Africa its fair share of vaccines. 

Going back to the Radio 4 one, Peter also notes how they didn't ask why the biggest economic story of 2021 — the global supply chain crisis” happened:

Perhaps that’s because one of main causes of the crisis — the surge in demand created by the American government’s excessive stimulus program — doesn’t fit the “Trump bad, Biden good” narrative. Similarly when contemplating America’s continuing political polarisation, the Republican delusion about a stolen election was highlighted, but not the doctrinaire woke politics of the other side. For instance, the campaign to “defund the police” at a time of surging crime rates might have been worth a mention.

One thing they did discuss, of course, was the Capitol riot on 6 January. Indeed, from Sunday to Pick of the Year, that's been the US event every BBC journalist seems to want to talk about above all else. 

Peter gives another example:

The partiality of BBC’s analysis doesn’t just apply to American politics. Inevitably it also applies to Brexit. Attempting to explain continuing UK-EU tensions, the BBC’s Europe editor Katya Adler repeated the EU line that the British government is playing to a domestic audience. The idea that the gratuitous Brit-bashing of the French government might be similarly motivated went entirely unspoken.

It did indeed. My note on the night for that bit ran as follows: 

Katya on EU/UK. Brussels perspective given. UK side presented cynically. Usual language about Tory Brexiteers - ''hard wing'', ''hard''. Brussels perspective. Brussels perspective.

Indeed, no one countered Katya's Brussels perspective with an attempt at presenting the UK perspective in similar terms. 

Katya also talked of the rise of “illiberal democracies” like Poland and Hungary, characterising that rise as “extremely dangerous”. 

Peter Frankin concludes by noting that, whatever the BBC says, BBC correspondents “do have opinions”, as shown by this programme, and though “in itself that’s not a problem,...the issue is viewpoint diversity and the lack of it.” He ends

Instead of maintaining a semblance of neutrality, I’d much rather the BBC allowed and encouraged its journalists to examine the great issues of our time from a variety of different ideological perspectives. We might just get a clearer view of the future if they did.

He can hope. 

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