Saturday, 26 February 2022

February Open Thread



Time for the February open thread. Thanks for your comments and please keep them coming.

What do I know


Such a pity Biden is ga ga and Putin is a maniac. But what do I know? I only listen to the media.


Once again we’re in When the Wind Blows territory. Deja vu all over again.  The credible and true possibility of imminent worldwide nuclear conflagration. So who should we believe? The BBC? The Alt media?



Apparently, Nigel Farage has admitted that his prediction, (that it would all “blow” over) was contra to the actualit├ę.


The relevance to this blog is within KK’s explanation in the podcast above, namely why he no longer accepts invitations to appear on GBNews’s opinion panels. The reason? He doesn’t like being cornered into opining about stuff upon which he knows little or next to nowt. 


It’s one thing to strive to be literally non-judgmental and democratic over what is broadcast, opinion-wise. I think this is virtually impossible. Claims of impartiality are neither credible nor true, when made by the BBC or anywhere else. Including here. (Not that we have ever claimed such a thing) Personally, I don't ever want to talk utter nonsense,  but as the Rolling Stones famously said, "You cain't always git what ya wawont."


How representative of public opinion could ‘random’ vox pops be, when they’re aired, edited, and selected at the whim of whoever selects them. The same goes for experts. 

 

According to KK, everything that goes out is controlled by 20-year-olds, for it is they who fundamentally run the MSM. 


One thing I have learned though. Only personal or empirical experience can be relied on. Everything else is regurgitated, hear-say, Chinese whispers, and nearly always agenda-led. 

Wednesday, 23 February 2022

Coda to Sue's post...


So Mates and Soapless are off to join James O'Brien, presumably leaving The Zurch in the lurch. 

It's worked out nicely for the Beeb because the Defund the BBC campaign has lost its poster girl, but - looking on the bright side - it's worked out nicely for us too because we'll hopefully never have to think of either of them ever again. ­čÖĆ

Tuesday, 22 February 2022

Oh!

 

 


The Telegraph. Hope you can all access the comments!  Quick summary for those who can’t :

“Good riddance / we are all watching GB News now anyway."

Sunday, 20 February 2022

Listen With MAMA


Radio 4's Sunday had a very odd feature this morning. It concerned a perennial Sunday topic: 'Islamophobia'.

The section began with Emily Buchanan saying:
An organisation which monitors anti-Muslim hatred says it's seeing more cases where Muslim children and their teachers are being prevented from praying on school premises.
That organisation is Tell MAMA (Measuring Anti-Muslim Attacks). It says that half a dozen incidents have been reported to them in the last 6 months.

Emily then interviewed Mohammed from London, whose story has appeared in the papers. 

[Muslim boy ‘ordered to stop praying and told “this is not a religious school” ran Metro's headline.] 

Mohammed claims his 11-year-old son was physically stopped from playing in the playground by a teacher. 

Today's interview revealed the fact that the offending teacher is also Muslim. 

Obvious thoughts for any listener: So a Muslim teacher tells a Muslim pupil to stop praying in the school playground because that Muslim teacher says it's not a religious school, how does that make it an example of anti-Muslim hatred? And what, therefore, was the point of this interview?

Then the programme interviewed someone from Tell MAMA, who - like the programme itself - carried on regardless. 

She kept saying that though schools aren't mandated to have prayer spaces it's 'best practice' for all schools to have them. She repeated that at least three times. She clearly wanted prayer spaces in all schools.

I'm not sure this redounded greatly to Tell MAMA's credit.

Rope-a-dope

  

I've learned a new phrase today, courtesy of Nick Robinson:
“Rope a dope” is clearly Boris Johnson’s new tactic on partygate - he simply absorbed & ignored repeated questions from Sophie Raworth before linking his plight to the Ukraine crisis by insisting he’s lucky to live in a democracy where PMs can face such troubles.
rope-a-dope
NOUN US informal
a boxing tactic of pretending to be trapped against the ropes, goading an opponent to throw tiring ineffective punches

In other news, it's being widely reported that there's a 'very BBC' all-female shortlist developing for Andrew Marr's replacement and Sophie's on it. Nick Robinson himself has stood in for Andrew Marr several times. I'm guessing he might have fancied the job permanently. 

Ukrainian affairs


Peter Hitchens has the BBC squarely in his sights in his Mail on Sunday column this week

I'm rather proud of having helped him, ever so slightly, by using TVEyes to track down all the broadcasts of the offending Orla Guerin report for him.

I suspected he was going after her usual mawkish, award-winning purple prose. But, no, he was concerned about something more specific. 

Given how relentlessly the BBC will focus in on fringe figures/groups, neo-Nazi swastikas, Confederate flags, etc, even if they are in no way representative of the group the BBC disapproves of, if they are reporting on people they disapprove of, he wonders how the BBC last week “repeatedly broadcast an entire news item, featuring a group of undoubted, shameless neo-Nazis, actually wearing SS insignia on their clothes – and not even notice?”.  

The report “starred a sweet old great-grandma” from Ukraine - a “doughty 78-year-old” woman, being taught to use a gun against the Russians by Ukrainian soldiers sporting shoulder-flashes displaying a Nazi emblem, the ‘Wolfsangel’”, used by the Waffen SS. Many wartime massacres were perpetrated by men sporting that jagged symbol. And their Ukrainian supporters proclaim their membership of the ‘Azov Battalion’ - a ‘paramilitary unit… known for its association with neo-Nazi ideology and the use of Nazi symbolism’, lately absorbed into the Ukrainian National Guard. 

Peter Hitchens asks: 
Is it really possible that, in the BBC’s vast and costly apparatus of reporters, editors, producers, fact-checkers and bureaucrats, not one person spotted the problem? If so, we are dealing with Olympic-level incompetence.  
But it is my suspicion that something else is going on. The generation that kept the BBC relatively impartial is fast dying off. Those who remain have accepted a large number of contentious opinions as facts. 
One of these opinions is the ridiculous cartoon idea that Russia is like Mordor in Lord Of The Rings, an utterly evil country ruled by a Dark Monster. And that Ukraine, its current enemy, is by contrast a shining Utopia, pluckily defending itself against the orc-like hordes of Moscow. This explains why the BBC were so keen to use this film, in which a Brave Granny Gets Her Gun. ‘Brave Granny Gets Her Gun From Some Neo-Nazis’ is not quite the same, is it? 

He ends by arguing that if we are going to interfere in this very complex problem, then we are going to need to tell each other the truth about it”. Including the BBC.


UPDATE - Meanwhile, an old blog favourite has roared back in this morning, smearing away:

John Sweeney: Peter Hitchens says that Ukraine has "quite a few Nazis." So does UK. But President Zelenskiy is Jewish, something he does not mention. Peter Hitchens is Putin's man. Happy to debate this, Hitchens Minor, in person. I'm in Kyiv. And you?
Peter Hitchens: John Sweeney, you are incapable of debate, as you proved during the great panic with your repeated untruths. Why am I not surprised that you have attached yourself to the latest liberal fad?
John Sweeney: Vladimir Putin has the knout, the whip, the tanks and Peter Hitchens. Ukraine is a democracy. Once again, Peter, you're welcome to come to Kyiv and we can debate in person. But don't call a nation pro-Nazi when it has a Jewish President. Unless, of course, you are Moscow's man.
Peter Hitchens: I know you won't read my replies, because your mind is shut, but others might. I have not 'called a nation pro-Nazi'. Mainly I have pointed out that the BBC has failed to report that there are neo-Nazis in Ukraine. My actual words: 'One of the roots of the Russia-Ukraine problem is, alas, the existence of some very crude and nasty factions of Ukrainian nationalism, many of them unblushing neo-Nazis. Of course there are plenty of perfectly civilised Ukrainian patriots, but bigoted racialist thugs have an influence way beyond their numbers in that country'. I am a British patriot and defend the interests of my own country, no other.

Did the BBC back up misperceptions during the Covid pandemic?


Harry de Quetteville, special correspondent at The Telegraph, has a report on one epidemiologist's view of how we reacted to Covid. 

Of relevance to this blog, Prof Mark Woolhouse of the University of Edinburgh has some things to say about the BBC's role during the pandemic. 

See what you think:
Yet the Government decided that telling half the population that they were at extremely low risk would dilute adherence to the harsh rules it was imposing, and instead ramped up the threat warnings. “We are all at risk,” noted Michael Gove in March 2020. “The virus does not discriminate.” But it did then, and it does now.

“I heard [the official] argument caricatured as: everyone died, but at least no one was saved unfairly,” notes Woolhouse. Policy became a form of epidemiological communism, with imposed equality, even if it was equality of misery. “BBC News backed up this misperception by regularly reporting rare tragedies involving low-risk individuals as if they were the norm,” notes Woolhouse.

When in April 2020, for example, BBC cameras were allowed into an ICU at University College Hospital in London, the first patient interview for News at Ten was Imran Hamid. “I didn’t take this seriously enough,” said Imran, as the sombre voiceover intoned: “Imran is just 37…” Strategies that challenged this universalist dogma by emphasising the protection of the vulnerable were dismissed. “It became a mantra that protecting the vulnerable was actually unethical. Unethical! I mean how on earth did we find ourselves saying that?”

Alan Cochrane on the BBC's reporting of the SNP


The Telegraph's doughty Alan Cochrane today echoes Andrew Neil's concerns about the BBC's attitude to the SNP government at Holyrood, observing that the BBC’s main day-time news bulletins, in London and Glasgow, “contained not a word” about Sarah Smith's experiences at the hands of abusive SNP supporters or “the massive controversy her comments had engendered, certainly in Scotland.”

He says it's “highly unlikely” that here bosses didn't know what was happening to her, “but BBC executives have never been that keen on shining a spotlight on the SNP – even in defence of their own journalist.”
The station’s unofficial line has always been to tread a cautious, even timid, path in its relationship with the Nationalists. At times it’s almost as if, with most newspapers opposed to Sturgeon’s independence demands, it regards itself as the one organ which can put the record “straight” by essentially parroting the SNP line. 
Thus, critics have complained that controversial stories are invariably “neutered” thanks to the way the BBC, in both local and network reports, always seems to give too much weight to the SNP position, no matter the circumstances – a situation seldom adopted by the Corporation’s political reporters at Westminster.
He thinks that Nicola Sturgeon’s political control “verges on” being an “elective dictatorship”...“which is why it is so important that the BBC is able to report freely on events in Scotland. Its journalists should not be subjected to abuse just for doing their jobs.”

The BBC is “that polar bear on a shrinking ice cap”


Nadine Dorries has been interviewed by Charlotte Ivers of The Sunday Times. Here are her latest comments on the BBC from that interview:
There is a problem with groupthink within the BBC, and I don’t think those people think they are left or they are right. I think they just believe they are absolutely right about everything. And they have a world view and a view of the UK, which is, I think, sometimes very wrong. 
Our responsibility is to save the BBC from itself, because it is that polar bear on a shrinking ice cap. It’s a global British brand, which must be protected. If you could make sure you get that line in, Charlotte. That branding must be protected. 
I’m afraid the BBC in its present format, in its present funding model, will not exist into the future. Whether I’m here or not, it will hit the buffers as more people refuse to pay the licence fee. You have to open your eyes and see what’s coming.

Saturday, 19 February 2022

Of Nick Robinson, BBC turkeys and GB News


Here's a civilised Twitter discussion (such things do exist) about an exchange on this morning's Radio 4 Today programme:
Nick Robinson: And you got 200,000 viewers at one point?
Jerry Dyer: 238,000 live viewers at one point.
Nick Robinson: They dream of that at GB News, I’ll tell you that”.
Rachel Wearmouth, Daily Mirror: Big Jet TV man is on R4 saying they had 238k viewers yesterday & Nick Robinson says “they dream of that at GB News”. Really unattractive attitude. Arrogant, even.
Mark Wallace, Conservative Home: It also reveals a lack of the confidence it’s intended to project.
Iain Martin, Reaction: Was quite a funny joke though? Media plurality is great but prominent people making jokes is to be encouraged, surely?
Mark Wallace: Oddly not a joke Nick made about various BBC turkeys…
Iain Martin: Just can't get remotely concerned about it? In the 70s and 80s people made jokes all the time, about TV programmes, football teams, politicians. Radio man makes funny joke about new TV station is... fine. GB news should make a joke back.
Mark Wallace: I’m not particularly concerned about it - but in an era of self-righteous hyperventilation by BBC people about the danger to their sacred institution/salaries, Beeb ads lobbying for itself etc, I don’t think it’d hurt to be a little less pissy about other outlets.
Iain Martin: Miles better than they used to be? Used to be prohibited from even mentioning what was on "the other side".

UPDATE - Meanwhile, GB News's excellent Colin Brazier has responded:
Every one of our viewers and, increasingly, listeners - is there because we've earned their interest, loyalty and custom. Our wages are paid, not by a broadcasting poll tax, but through the exercise of choice. Every sneer will cost you dear.

Andrew Neil on the BBC's reporting of the SNP

  

Andrew Neil has a piece in today's Daily Mail headlined The sinister abuse of BBC star Sarah Smith...and how Scots 'cybernats' have turned independence battle into a toxic cesspit

Sarah Smith - the BBC's former Scotland editor, now North America editor - said this week that she's been looking forward to escaping the “criticism, bile and hatred” she's suffered as BBC Scotland editor and hopes her new beat will be far less stressful.  

Andrew Neil compliments her and says she was “scrupulously fair in her reporting” of Scottish politics as BBC Scotland Editor. But, he says, BBC Scotland itself “is too cowed by Sturgeon and her henchmen” and “generally timid in its coverage of the SNP”, adding:
It is significant that Auntie has barely reported Smith's remarks — which are, by any standard, a major story. But timidity trumps truth.

Genital Power

  

The New Statesman is enthusing over a new BBC Radio 4 programme:
A delightful mix of science, history and feminism, BBC Radio 4’s Political Animals explores what animal sexuality reveals about the female libido. This show is all about “celebrating stories of females in the natural world that defy sexist stereotypes”.
The blub on the programme's website summarises it like this:
Lucy Cooke meets the female animals - and pioneering scientists - moving evolutionary biology beyond the male-centric Darwinian narrative.

Lucy Cooke meets females from the animal world that smash the ‘dominant male’ stereotype

How 'Radio 4' is that!

Episodes include: Sex, Monkeys and the 'Coy Female' Myth; Mole Rat Queens and Genital Power; and, of course for the trans, Sex-Switching Fish and Non-Binary Brains.

Talking of science, one experiment The New Statesman has tried today is to put out an internet poll on the matter. The results so far point to a predictable conclusion: that internet polls often go 'the wrong way':

Wednesday, 16 February 2022

The BBC shall speak peace unto the BBC


11.15pm is past my bedtime, so I'll doubtless miss the debut on BBC Two next week of John Simpson's new show Unspun World with John Simpson

Here's a delightful exchange about it on Twitter today between IainW5 - 'a London-dwelling European with left-leaning values' - and the BBC's world affairs editor:
IainW5: I hope you will be able to talk to experts in the issues and not to politicians. In general (certainly UK Govt ones) they are (i) not well qualified, (ii) not objective, and (iii) pushing an agenda which is not about truth and justice.
John Simpson: This is the rationale for the programme. The only people on it will be BBC correspondents and experts. The range is hugely impressive. No politicians, no spin. Hence the title - ‘Unspun World with John Simpson’.

This is exactly what's needed: yet another BBC programme where the BBC talks to itself and regards itself as the be-all-and-end-all of impartial truth-telling. 

I'm so hoping this new hermetically-sealed BBC echo chamber gets the audience it so richly deserves.

Monday, 14 February 2022

Now then, now then


I see the BBC is still making moral judgements rather than merely reporting and letting the public decide:
Boris Johnson says he has "said more than enough about that issue," after being asked if he wants to apologise for Sir Keir Starmer receiving death threats since the PM's false claim about the Labour leader and Jimmy Savile.
But 'ere's an alternative point of view:

Goodness gracious, as it 'appens, Keir Starmer was DPP and head of the guys and gals at the CPS from 2008 to 2013 and under his watch the the guys and gals CPS failed to prosecute the BBC's Jimmy Savile. 

'Ow's about that, then?

Sunday, 13 February 2022

BBC business


The Sunday Times has a strong piece today by seasoned business reporter Oliver Shah

BBC’s dilettante attitude to business is a symptom and cause of its woes

I learned from it that the Today programme’s business team is being moved from London to Salford “in a right-thinking but wrong-headed decision that could have been parodied on the comedy show W1A”, despite the capital being “the centre of big business and finance”. With most company directors remaining in London and some BBC people refusing to relocate, one even hiring a lawyer, and lots of BBC newcomers replacing experienced old-hands, it sounds like a right pig's ear has been made of it.

Oliver Shah's main point, however, is that the BBC has gone backwards in its business coverage and “is no longer serious about company news”. He quotes a BBC insider describing the default BBC position:
This is a longstanding thing. It doesn’t really like business or want to understand it. It has a mindset that it’s all a bit mysterious, and somehow a bit dirty. And maybe, in that, the BBC is a reflection of British society at large.
Greg Dyke tried to change that mindset, bringing in Jeff Randall and putting a business programme in a prime-time spot. Robert Peston and Kamal Ahmed continued to push business stories. But they've all gone and the BBC, Oliver says, has reverted to its bad old ways.

He's criticising it as a fan of the BBC, and says:
On business, Auntie is her own worst enemy. The Today programme’s way of covering the spike in BP and Shell’s profits last week was to bowl underarm questions at academics about the need for a windfall tax. This kind of intellectual laziness justifiably angers those on the right who perceive the BBC as existing in a luvvie bubble.
He concludes:
In this respect, the BBC’s attitude to business is both a symptom and a cause of its troubles with government. The more it produces business content that would embarrass most trainee reporters on The Times or The Telegraph, the more it winds up hawks who want to cut the licence fee, and the more pressure it comes under to find savings — by getting rid of business journalists. For reasons of self-preservation, let alone the blood pressure of listeners who care about free enterprise, director-general Tim Davie and chairman Richard Sharp urgently need to wake up to business.

One after the other


Today's Sunday programme on Radio 4 conformed to type when discussing the Macron government's latest initiative to tackle Islamic radicalism in France. 

The segment began with a clip of a Muslim activist attacking it for being unfair to Muslims and followed it with an interview with an American academic who thought exactly the same, also disapproving of it.

Edward Stourton even inadvertently admitted as much saying, 'And what do you make of the point we just heard from [the Muslim activist], which is very close to what you're saying...'. 

And it was also very close to what nearly all guests say when they've invited to talk about Islam in France on Sunday, where uniformity of thought prevails - especially on these kinds of subject matter.

********

The increasing 'woke' programme also did a feature on the transatlantic slave trade and St Helena and marked Racial Justice Sunday with a feature on racism in the Church of England and talked to a campaigner about it.

********

Another regular element of Sunday is its heavy focus on particular countries. India is one such country regularly in its crosshairs, and the coverage of it is usually from the same angle - one of intense negativity towards the ruling Hindu nationalist BJP. Here a BBC reporter piled on  - nay, positively heaped on - the negatives. The feature attracted a passing comment on Twitter:
Linda Floyd: Discrimination of any religion always wrong & if that’s happening in India it is indeed wrong. However, I fail to understand why same condemnation isn’t directed at the dreadful discrimination of religious minorities in Muslim countries like Pakistan.

Saturday, 12 February 2022

The toxic BBC


 


It's a piece by Tom Symonds, BBC home affairs correspondent, and - following on from our earlier post on the subject - pursues what very much seems to be 'the BBC line' on the matter, basing most of its direct quotes on two people with a similar outlook: 

[1] Leroy Logan, founding member of the Black Police Association, who the BBC News Channel turned to first on Thursday night as Dame Cressida Dick's chucking-out broke and who the BBC News Channel then interviewed again just two hours later. 

[2] Shabnam Chaudhri, former detective superintendent with the Met, who the BBC has reported on before under headlines such as 'My 30-year struggle with racism in the Metropolitan police'. 

And Ms Chaudhri is the person BBC Tom pegs his front-page analysis piece around, extensively quoting her complaints about Met racism. 

The BBC News Channel interviewed her yesterday. 

[I've not checked her appearance elsewhere, but I'm guessing she's been elsewhere on the BBC too.]

It's a funny thing. Having largely left off listening to BBC radio, I'm now listening to other radio outlets. On stations like talkRADIO I get a very different sense of the many reasons why Dame Dick might have been worthy of the chop. There's a litany of non-'BBC' criticisms of her out there.

All this BBC focus on stuff about -isms and identity politics isn't what's getting those people's goat.

And that increases my sense that the BBC is trying to speak to [a] people who already think like it and [b] people it hopes to persuade to think like it. 

Tom Symonds, BBC home affairs correspondent, needs to broaden his horizons.

Clarifying and Correcting, featuring friends of China and Lewis Goodall

 
Qing dynasty art, attributed to Ma Quan [no relation to Ma Barker]


Regular readers will know that we value those vanishingly rare 'BBC corrections and clarifications'.

They are like the most endangered species of butterfly - almost never seen and extremely hard to capture.

The latest pair are particularly intriguing. 

The first is unusually fulsome and concerns a China expert who writes nice things about communist China's influence in the world - winning plaudits from pro-CCP types in the process. 

She complained that the BBC edited her Today interview and removed a key bit of what she wanted to say:

Today
BBC Radio 4, 1 December 2021

In an item about Chinese ‘debt trap’ diplomacy we interviewed Professor Deborah Brautigan, who explained that this ‘is the idea that China is deliberately luring countries into borrowing more money than they can afford with the goal of using that debt for strategic leverage, to seize assets of some kind or otherwise push the country to do China’s bidding.’ She went on to give an example of the Sri Lankan port of Hambantota, saying it was used by the Trump administration to promote this theory.

However Professor Brautigan’s further point, that these ideas have little basis in fact, was edited out of the broadcast interview. In fact Professor Brautigan’s research shows that Chinese banks are willing to restructure the terms of existing loans and have never actually seized an asset from any country, much less the port of Hambantota.

We apologise for the error.
7/2/2022


Googling around, it turns out that the BBC also wrote directly to the China-defending professor and blamed an editing error by an inexperienced producer.

Guess what though? The BBC's 'correction and clarification' misspelt her name. She's Professor Brautigam, not Professor Brautigan

Standards really are slipping at the BBC.

Talking of which, the other new 'correction and clarification' concerned yet another botched Newsnight report, and what looks like a particularly slipshod example:


Newsnight
BBC Two, 13 July 2021

A graphic attributed the following statement to the Government Race and Disparities Report 2021:

Not a single police force in England and Wales registered an arrest rate of less than 20 for every 1000 black people.

By contrast not a single police force in England and Wales registered an arrest rate of more than 20 for every 1000 white people


We should have made it clear that this conclusion had been carried by The Independent newspaper the previous year in a wider survey of social and economic data on disparities between different ethnicities in the UK and reflected statistics from a different Government website which was now out of date.

The most recent figures show there are four police forces with an arrest rate of below 20 for every 1000 black people.
4/2/2022


As I've moaned before, it's hard to track the guilty BBC party after these BBC statements about poor BBC reporting, as the BBC keeps its mouth shut and rarely names names, most likely in order to spare their people's blushes. So it often takes a lot of patient digging to track down the culprit and the context. 

'Advanced searching' on Twitter reveals however that it was my favourite Newsnight reporter, shiny-faced Lewis Goodall, who bungled it here.

Pleasingly, a retired police officer called him out on it for 'pedalling dodgy statistics' at the time - and for BBC-style race-baiting too:




As so often, it took over six months for the BBC to post that 'correction/clarification' on a page hardly anyone other than me reads. 

I think Lewis should correct it publicly on Newsnight and explain what he did wrong.

[Chances of that happening = Zero].

“Why is the BBC saying Boris’s Savile claims are false?”


Why is the BBC saying Boris’s Savile claims are false?” asked The Spectator this week:
Is Boris Johnson’s claim that Keir Starmer failed to prosecute Jimmy Savile ‘false’? The BBC certainly thinks so. During the Radio 6 bulletins last night, a BBC newsreader stated: “The Commons Speaker has rebuked Boris Johnson over his false claim that Sir Keir Starmer failed to prosecute Jimmy Savile after the Labour leader was targetted by protesters.”
The Spectator argues that though the BBC is correct to sat there's ‘no evidence that Sir Keir was involved at any point in the decision not to charge Savile’ that's not the point - the point concerns where responsibility should lie. Can Sir Keir be held responsible as DPP for the failures of his subordinates? This, the magazine argues, is a moral question more than a factual one.

“The dispute isn't nearly as clear cut as the BBC is making out”, says The Spectator, before describing the BBC's decision to brand the claim as ‘false’ “a technique often used by American broadcasters when covering Donald Trump” - which is a fair point. 

The BBC is morphing into CNN in that respect.

The point though, The Spectator concludes, is how the BBC chooses to present that distinction between personal and organisational responsibility:
When the Corporation reports that the statement is ‘false’, it implicitly makes a value judgement on where responsibility lies. For all its talk of objectivity, the BBC has made that moral judgement for you.

What struck me on digging into this via TV Eyes, is just how relentlessly the BBC used the term false claim or false accusation in connection to Boris's statements about Sir Keir and Sir Jimmy. 

Some senior editor/editors at the BBC must have told their journalists to shove it in every item about the story every hour, across all BBC news platforms. 

Every news presenter/reporter who appeared used the term.

There's a notorious modernist piece of classical music by Stockhausen called Klavierst├╝ck IX, which begins with the same chord repeated 139 times. Even that isn't as unrelenting as the BBC in full cry. 

Such behaviour raises questions...some of which were raised, rather admirably, by this week's Newswatch:


Samira AhmedHello and welcome to Newswatch. I'm Samira Ahmed. Has BBC News reported accurately on what the Prime Minister said about Keir Starmer's time as Director of Public Prosecutions? The temperature in Westminster has been high for a while now, and so it remains. One argument in particular has gained further traction over the past few days. Ignited by an incident on Monday involving the Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer. 

Laura KuenssbergThis is not normal rough-and-tumble. But the abuse and untrue accusations being hurled at the leader of the Opposition. One false claim that he protected the paedophile Jimmy Savile. Keir Starmer bundled to a police car. Two arrests were made. It happened outside Parliament where seven days ago the Prime Minister made a false link between the two. 

But was that link made by the PM last week incorrect? Not according to Brian Gare, who told us on Tuesday: 

Brian Gare: This small group of protestors have been outside Westminster for about a year and have harangued politicians and journalists alike. Yesterday's protest was in thee main about Julian Assange and the vaccination programme. There was only one woman who shouted out about Savile. But to listen to the BBC broadcasts, it was all about Savile.

Then there's the issue of that claim made by the Prime Minister, later clarified but not retracted that Keir Starmer had spent his time as head of the Crown Prosecution Service prosecuting journalists and failing to prosecute Jimmy Savile. That's been unambiguously described as false, not just as we heard there in Laura Kuenssberg's report, but across BBC News. 

Huw EdwardsTonight at 10pm: Boris Johnson is called upon once again to withdraw a false accusation he made against Keir Starmer. 

Chris Mason: Keir Starmer used to be Director of Public Prosecutions, but there is no evidence of the Prime Minister's original allegation that Sir Keir had failed to prosecute Savile. 

Ben BrownDowning Street has no intention of apologising for the Prime Minister's false claim that Sir Keir Starmer failed to prosecute Jimmy Savile for sex offences. 

Francis Morton was pleased to hear such clarity on truth and falsehood writing:

Francis Morton: I have been highly critical of BBC News, but now I wish to applaud you: “The Prime Minister has refused to apologise for false claims made against Sir Keir Starmer.” Factual, accurate.

But Paul Binge had a concern about the  coverage, despite the repetition that the claim was false:

Paul Binge: By continually linking Keir Starmer and those the CPS failed to prosecute, BBC News is doing the PM's grubby work. The BBC has an obligation to ensure that our politicians are supported and not slurred. 

Others thought the status of Boris Johnson's claim was not as black and white as the BBC had portrayed it, arguing that as head of the Crown Prosecution Service at the time that it failed to prosecute Jimmy Savile, Kier Starmer had some responsibility for that failure. So was the Prime Minister's claim actually false then? David Jones thought not:

David Jones: We have been hearing repeatedly from BBC News about the 'false claims' made by the PM concerning Keir Starmer and Jimmy Savile. Will BBC News please tell us which of the following statements are 'false': a) Keir Starmer was DPP and head of the CPS from 2008 to 2013; b) The CPS failed to prosecute Jimmy Savile.

We wanted to discuss all of this with someone from BBC News, but no-one was available. Instead, we were given this statement:

BBC statement: The BBC has reported on all aspects of this story - including the reaction of Boris Johnson to the treatment of Sir Keir Starmer by protesters, and criticism from some Conservative MPs and others linking what happened to remarks made by the Prime Minister in the House of Commons.


If 'I think we got it about right' is the Newswatch BBC interviewee's catchphrase, then surely 'But no-one was available. Instead, we were given this statement' is Samira's catchphrase. 

A pair of interviews



Following on from the previous post...

It was fascinating watching Operation Midland victim Paul Gambaccini [my teenage favourite] reacting live to the breaking news of Dame Cressida Dick's eviction on Mark Steyn's GB News programme on Thursday night. 

As you'd hope, he was given time and space to have his say, and not interrupted. 

Contrast that to Newsnight's inept, awkward interview with Harvey Proctor, another Operation Midland victim. 

He was constantly interrupted by rookie presenter Emma Vardy, as the BBC programme repeatedly panicked at what he had to say in criticism of Dame Cressida and her high-up Met colleagues - despite him insisting it was perfectly OK legally to say what he was saying. 

Why invite a victim on if you're going to repeatedly get the Heebie-jeebies when he says something you've obviously not prepared for?

Dame Cressida Dick's departure: Comparing BBC News and GB News


Many hereabouts will have welcomed Thursday's ousting of Dame Cressida Dick, even if it was provoked by Sadiq Khan. 

I was curious about how the BBC News Channel covered the breaking news that evening and have drawn up a list of those interviewed after the story broke just before 7pm that night. 

The following were specifically invite on to discuss the story: 

  • Leroy Logan, founding member of the Black Police Association 
  • Sir Peter Fahy, former chief constable of Greater Manchester Police 
  • Parm Sandhu, senior female Asian police officer who accused the Met of racism 
  • Caroline Russell, Green Party member of Greater London Assembly 
  • Jamie Klingler, co-founder Reclaim These Streets, women's rights activist 
  • Leroy Logan, founding member of the Black Police Association [2nd interview] 
  • Sarah Sak, mother of victim of murderous homophobic attack 
  • Munira Wilson, Lib Dem MP 
  • Dal Babu, former chief superintendent Met and ex-president of the National Black Police Association

What was so interesting about those is that, with the exception of Sir Peter Fahy, who had a regretful but nuanced take, everyone else thought and said much the same things about the story. They all approved of Dame Cressida's ejection, and followed the BBC's focus on what BBC presenters called 'the central charge' against her: that she had failed to tackle a culture of 'racism, misogyny, sexism and homophobia' at the Met.

Others were pre-booked guests, so for Context there was: 

  • Ed Vaizey, former Conservative MP, now a member of the House of Lords 
  • Dahlia Scheindlin, left-leaning political analyst and fellow at Century International

They also sang from the same hymn sheet, especially Ed Vaizey, who sounded more like a Guardian columnist than a Tory peer. 

Tellingly, despite fewer guests, a much wider range of views was heard on GB News that evening, with specific invites to talk on the story going to:

  • Stephen Roberts, former deputy assistant commissioner at the Met
  • Paul Gambaccini, broadcaster
  • Chris Phillips, formerly with the National Counter Terrorism Security Office

And there was a very diverse set of pre-booked guests - 'diverse' in all respects, including opinion:

  • Jacqui Smith, former Labour home secretary
  • Shaun Bailey, former London Tory candidate
  • Amy Nickell, left-leaning author and broadcaster
  • Dominique Samuels, right-leaning commentator

They talked about a broader range of areas of criticism that Dame Cressida faced and disagreed on her removal. 

It was a proper cross-section of views - unlike on the BBC News Channel, which was almost entirely monochrome in terms of diversity of opinion. 

Thank goodness for GB News.

I hear you're a racist now, Mr Coyle


The suspension of Labour MP Neil Coyle yesterday is receiving the kind of low-key BBC reporting we'd expect. 

The story appeared on BBC One's News at One and News at Six but not on BBC One's News at Ten. On both News at One and News at Six it was treated as a minor story, getting just 18 seconds on each bulletin.
 
The News at One version lacked detail:
The Labour MP Neil Coyle has had the party whip suspended, following allegations that he made racist comments to a journalist on the Parliamentary estate. Mr Coyle said he was "very sorry" for his "insensitive comments", which politics reporter Henry Dyer said made him feel uncomfortable in his place of work.
And the News at Six barely added much more:
The Labour MP Neil Coyle has been suspended from the party following allegations he made racially insensitive remark in a bar in the House of Commons. Mr Coyle says he's very sorry for his insensitive comments, which were reported in a formal complaint by a journalist who's of British-Chinese heritage. 
This morning's BBC Breakfast has been giving it 24 seconds:
The MP Neil Coyle has been suspended by the Labour Party after allegations he made racist comments in a House of Commons bar. The member for Bermondsey and Old Southwark has apologised for what he called his "insensitive behaviour" when talking to a political journalist of British-Chinese heritage. Mr Coyle said he wants to "re-prove" his Labour values and be readmitted to the party in due course.

Another interesting aspect of the reporting of this story is how the BBC has sensitively avoided mentioning, or even hinting at, the "racial stereotype" Mr Coyle is said to have used - Sax Romer's Chinese supervillain Dr. Fu Manchu. Other broadcasters mentioned it. 

And the BBC's online report went through 6½ hours and seven edits before finally getting the name of Mr Dyer's employer correct. 

For trivia fans, here's Wikipedia's list of who's play Fu Manchu in film. It's an intriguing list:

Harry Agar Lyons, Warner Oland, Boris Karloff, Lou Marcelle, Henry Brandon, John Carradine, Glen Gordon, Christopher Lee, Peter Sellers and Nicolas Cage.

Monday, 7 February 2022

Accidents will happen

I accidentally listened to Nick Robinson grilling James Cleverly on the Today Programme one morning last week.  

As others have mentioned a few trillion times, surely opposing the government is the role of Her Majesty’s Most Loyal Opposition and not the role of the Beeb.

Maybe someone could remind Nick Robinson that the BBC is not yet officially amalgamated with the Labour Party? Or am I missing something?



ll




I was surprised to see this programme at lunchtime the other day, while the TV was accidentally tuned in to the BBC.


I hadn’t come across Jiyar Gol before. He’s a Kurd, I find.   I know it’s a bit of a stretch but this documentary reminded me of Fauda - but real-life!  (I looked at Rachel Shabi’s review of Fauda - in the Guardian, of course. Predictably, Shabi found a way of complaining that (the fictional ) Israeli series (made by Israeli TV) wasn’t anti-Israel enough.) 


I dread to think what the bulk of BBC-educated viewers made of this interesting documentary about the Iranian nuclear programme and Mossad’s efforts to disrupt it. BBC educated viewers will probably see things from a Guardianist point of view, but I found this film surprisingly impartial. Facts. Facts and derring-do. 


On the other hand, it’s possible that viewers more knowledgeable than I will have spotted flaws and biases that went over this viewer’s head. It was well worth watching.


Update:

And lo and behold, Camera has supplied more info. I hadn’t seen the BBC web article accompanying the film when I wrote the above. The flaws and biases may or may not have been more egregious in the written piece, but I’m linking to it. You be the judge.


lll


I meant to say something about this several weeks ago. It’s growing more belated with every day that passes.


Straight after the Ghislaine Maxwell verdict, the BBC accidentally aired an interview with eminent lawyer Alan Dershowitz - and, shock horror - without highlighting the fact that he ‘had a dog in the fight’.


We know the BBC believes this was ‘an accident’ because the BBC apologised for doing so. 

The fact that Dershowitz himself drew attention to his own involvement in the Epstein/Maxwell affair - he is one of Virginia Giuffre’s alleged abusers - didn’t seem to materially affect the BBC’s unique display of contrition. The regret was solely that they’d inadvertently given a platform to an undesirable speaker. After the broadcast, the corporation admitted that the US lawyer had not been "a suitable person to interview as an impartial analyst" at that time.


“4.3.12 We should not automatically assume that contributors from other organisations (such as academics, journalists, researchers and representatives of charities and think-tanks) are unbiased. Appropriate information about their affiliations, funding and particular viewpoints should be made available to the audience, when relevant to the context.” [emphasis added]


I hope that apology sets a precedent for all forthcoming interviews with agenda-driven and partisan spokespersons and that the BBC is obliged to state the interests and biases therein and provide relevant apologies where appropriate. 


Suggest all interviews with agenda-driven spokespersons be automatically accompanied by a sign-language interpreter signing ‘he (or she) would say that wouldn’t he’ 


Saturday, 5 February 2022

A Saturday Selection


I've been a bit out-of-action recently, but here are a few things I noted down this week:

I

Never mind Partygate. Sue Gray and Dame Dick need to investigate the Foreign Office for blowing lots of licence fee payers' money on a sparkling farewell party for departing BBC North America editor Jon Sopel. 

That's reported by Steerpike at the Spectator

You'll find beneath his piece this comment from former Harry's Place regular Lamia which will doubtless strike a chord with many of us:

Sopel spent the four years of Donald Trump's presidency Tweeting his disapproval of Trump and his Tweets, helping keep the humble folk of Broadcasting House and North London in a permanent state of gratified superior outrage. Once Joe Biden got into power, Sopel and the BBC simply lost interest in reporting about the US President, except what flavour of ice cream he likes. Sopel is a worthless journalist, let alone a journalist for a supposedly impartial broadcaster, because his personal and political biases have infected and dictated everything he reports (and everything he doesn't report about). Not only should he not be the BBC's political editor - if the BBC had any standards (yes, we know it doesn't...) then he would have been sacked years ago. So obviously he's a shoe-in as BBC political editor.

II

Rod Liddle probably ought to hang up his satirical spurs because BBC reality is outpacing him faster than the winner of the Kentucky Derby. A Guardian exclusive reports that the BBC is preparing to broadcast a new take on Dickens's Oliver Twist that will “make a conscious effort” to put food poverty “to the fore” and echo footballer Marcus Rashford’s campaign to reduce child hunger. Very BBC.

III

The BBC is celebrating what they call “a hundred years of our BBC” and they've released a two-minute campaign video - in response to Nadine Dorries - about how the “BBC belongs to all of us”. As you'd expect,  the last word - “every one of us” - goes to Sir David Attenborough and the whole party political broadcast on behalf of the BBC ends with the caption, “This is our BBC.”

The estimable Lance Forman responded:

If the BBC belongs to me - Please can they release the Balen Report which examined anti-Israel bias at the BBC. The BBC have spent circa £500,000 to keep this covered up. With antisemitism rampant there is a public interest in releasing this. Transparency belongs to us all!

IV

The BBC's world affairs editor John Simpson pompously gives us “a reminder”:

Just a quick constitutional reminder for the BBC’s 100th anniversary: it belongs to the people of the UK. It doesn’t belong to the government. And, contrary to what the current Culture Secretary seems to think, it isn’t state-funded.
It may not be, but it still drags thousands of reluctant viewers through the courts.

V

As Paul Homewood notes, BBC Future has a piece by some white woke guy called Jeremy Williams headlined Climate change divides along racial lines. Could tackling it help address longstanding injustices? The pasty-faced gentleman in question has a book out tooClimate Change is Racist: Race, Privilege and the Struggle for Climate Justice, thereby evidently making him absolutely irresistible to the BBC. I'm not sure I was even aware of BBC Future. The BBC has no many tentacles it's hard to keep track.

VI(a)

I see some people on Twitter have been complaining that BBC One's main new bulletins gave mere seconds to the jailing of former Labour peer Lord Ahmed of Rotherham for paedophilia last night. Indeed, News at Six gave the story 17 seconds and News at Ten gave the story 13 seconds. It beggars belief.

VI(b)

It remains a telling fact that Newsnight has still never covered the Barry Gardiner/Chinese Communist Party influence story or that their policy editor Lewis Goodall, despite being a hyperactive Twitterer, has never tweeted about it either - despite the CCP's influence on the UK being one of the biggest new stories out there. I put it down to bias. 

VII

Wagner's Ring cycle lasts 17 hours and runs for over four days. In it the bronzed Valkyrie Br├╝nnhilde disobeys the Director-General of the gods Wotan, ensconced in Valhalla House. The weak Wotan, despite Br├╝nnhilde's flagrant disregard of Valhalla editorial guidelines, merely slaps her wrist by giving her a talking-to and then sentences her to a good night's sleep on a luxury bed surrounded by fire. The dragon-slaying idiot Siegfried awakens her with a kiss and an embittered, self-righteous Br├╝nnhilde then - after various twists and turns - mounts her mighty steed Grane and, immolating herself in the process too, brings about the fiery destruction of Valhalla House and the godly board. Similarly long-lasting is the BBC's Monologue cycle. In this saga the bronzed Emily Maitlis disobeys pasty-faced chief god of the BBC Tim Davie. Tim Davie weakly slaps her wrist by mildly saying she might, possibly, not have been quite entirely right - and then does nothing more. She disobeys him again. And again. And again. Always playing throughout to her main audience, her fellow Valkyries on Twitter. The Trump-slaying Jon Sopel awakens her with a kiss and she mounts her mighty stallion Twitter and disobeys Tim Davie yet again. So what happens next? Well, if my tortuous Wagner analogy runs on, Emily's biased behaviour will help precipitate BBCd├Ąmmerung, The Twilight of the BBC, as Tim Davie sits forlorn in Broadcasting House as everything around him goes up in flames and, amid floodwaters, the Thamesmaidens swim in to take back the BBC licence fee. So is Tim Davie ever going to do something about her? She's making a mockery of 'BBC impartiality' and sneering at her BBC bosses, but I doubt he'll do anything. He doesn't seem the type to tackle BBC bias full on. As BBC TV sitcom Valkyrie Mrs Slocombe was wont to say, he's ''weak as water''. 

VIII

BBC disinformation reporter Marianna Spring has been busy promoting a new 10-part podcast series “investigating the human cost of pandemic conspiracies online in one town, who believes them - and why” for Radio 4 and BBC Sounds. She “will share more details soon!” This drew a sarcastic reply from Peter Hitchens: “Looking forward to this, Marianna Spring. Obviously this is the most urgent lack in BBC coverage of the last two years. But will a mere ten episodes be enough?”

IX

The BBC's diplomatic correspondent James Landale followed UK PM Boris Johnson to a press conference in Ukraine with the Ukrainian president and provoked criticism in some quarters for “making the UK look like a joke” by asking Boris about Partygate rather than Russia-Ukraine. I suspect that as extraterrestrials first emerge from their twenty-mile-long mothership to make contact with humanity for the first time BBC types will be there at the front of the press pack asking about the Sue Gray report. 

Friday, 4 February 2022

If you missed it

 

Wednesday, 2 February 2022

Contrasting Views on GB News

Gosh. A year ago I wrote about the case of the Israeli tourists who had allegedly gang-raped a 19-year-old British girl in Cyprus.  It caused quite a stir both here in the UK and in Israel.

The outcome of the trial was thus:

 

“She (the English girl) has now been found guilty of “public mischief”, a crime that is punishable by a prison sentence of up to a year and by a fine equivalent to £1,500.”

 Whereupon the boys were allowed to return home. Yes, and now it’s deja vu all over again, again. 

I wrote about this case the time, so I won’t go over it all again. Please do read that post. It’s quite comprehensive if I say so myself.  At the time I wrote:


"The way the media keeps emphasising “Israeli”. Compare this with the way the media collectively obscured the ethnicity of the ‘men’ involved in our homegrown grooming gang scandal. Notice the language -  that they refer to the Israelis, whose ages, as reported, range from 15 to 20 - as ‘men’, yet the girl is described as a ‘teenager’ or a ’nineteen-year-old.’"

 Now the case is back in the news because the verdict has been appealed and retrospectively overturned. The girl has been vindicated by the Cypriot court, and it looks as if the whole case is going to be reviewed and perhaps turned on its head. 

Last night GB News’s Mark Steyn aired an impassioned interview with ex-police woman Maggie Oliver who is well known for her dogged pursuit of the police’s systematic cover-up of the ongoing grooming gang scandal. (Scroll to about 10:09)



Contrast this with Nana and Mercy’s interview with the human rights barrister Dr. Charlotte Proudman on GB News this morning  (11:16 AM)  featuring her “always believe the woman” approach to all allegations of rape, her very special subject. So the young lady in question is contemplating some sort of retrial, after which the “Israeli men” might go to prison. (Scroll to 11:16)



All I want to do here is to ask the good Dr. Proudman if she couldn’t possibly have squeezed in another couple of dozen mentions of the nationality of the “men.” It cannot be emphasised enough that they were Israelis and came from Israel, just in case the audience might have missed it the first, second, and third time their nationality was revealed. The audience could also have mistakenly assumed the alleged rapists were 'men' rather than teenagers and a 20-year-old.  


The fact that the accused were both Israeli and men is something that can never be stated loudly and frequently enough, is it? Someone might get the wrong impression and we can’t have that, can we?


(I’m being sarky by the way.)