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.
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