Monday 28 March 2022

March Open Thread

Pinch, punch, first of the month!
Mad March Open Thread
Your comments are much appreciated; please keep them coming. 

Sunday 27 March 2022


before and after

On the same theme as the last post, following complaints the BBC changed a website article overnight. The piece by BBC West reporter Sammy Jenkins (she/her) originally began:
Heavy periods, debilitating pain and infertility - those are some of the symptoms of endometriosis, a condition that affects one in 10 people of any age in the UK, who are assigned female at birth.
This has now changed to:
Heavy periods, debilitating pain and infertility - those are some of the symptoms of endometriosis, a condition that affects one in 10 women of any age in the UK.

Saturday 26 March 2022

Very Radio 4

It sounds as if Radio 4's Tom Sutcliffe was taking the easy option last night:
Women's Rights NetworkLast night BBC Front Row did a show about art & morality which drew moral equivalence between Eric Gill (serial rapist of daughters), R Kelly (child abuser), Hitler & J.K. Rowling.
Please register your complaint here:
Front Row, 24.3.22, Radio 4, Offence

Emily Kate 🏴󠁧󠁢: Not just a passing mention, either. She is a big part of the discussion, sandwiched in-between Gill and R Kelly. The bubble these people live in is beyond belief. 
Emily Kate 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁥󠁮󠁧󠁿: "Sutcliffe and his interviewee wringing hands earnestly over the moral darkness of JK Rowling. 😂" 
Emily Kate 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁥󠁮󠁧󠁿: One of the most extraordinary things I've ever heard on the BBC - among some stiff competition. A children's writer and philanthropist who simply believes in the facts of biology finds a place in a discussion about morally depraved artists, alongside paedophiles and genocidists.


If William and Kate's Caribbean tour was “a PR disaster”, as the BBC's royal correspondent Jonny Dymond claims, there's a question to be asked about how much the BBC and its royal correspondent contributed to making one, especially with largely negative reports like this:

Another question might be whether the following tweet, in reaction, is true:
Only in this country would the ‘national’ broadcaster lead with such a negative headline on a overall successful royal tour!

A third question might be whether the bad blood between Prince William and the BBC is getting out of hand and / or bringing out the BBC's anti-monarchism. 

John Simpson, Lord Grade and Ofcom

As discussed on the open thread, the news that Michael Grade - previously controller of BBC1, chief executive of Channel 4, chairman of the BBC and executive chairman of ITV, now a Conservative peer - is to become the new Ofcom chairman prompted a snarky response from senior BBC journalist John Simpson. 

To expand on this, here are all his tweets on the matter, some in response to various left-wing, pro-EU followers [his Twitter fan base by the looks of it]:
John Simpson: Congratulations to Michael Grade on becoming the head of the media regulator, Ofcom. I’m sure his recent criticisms of the BBC licence fee & BBC political coverage had nothing to do with the decision.
Ant: Naughty, Mr. Simpson.
John Simpson: I’m a stirrer by nature…
Parmenion62: No freedom of speech at the BBC now then. All will have to follow the Tory party line. Real shame that we are about to lose something so precious as the BBC.
John Simpson: I can promise you that nothing you’ve said here is true.
John Simpson: Actually I think a lot of people will be greatly relieved that Michael Grade has got the job. He was a good and supportive BBC chairman. And remember the government originally seemed to want Paul Dacre as the head of Ofcom.
Nick Morrell: Not the old trick of making an extreme candidate look less so by first suggesting an ultra-extreme candidate?
John Simpson: No, he’s not in any sense an extreme candidate. And real life isn’t about conspiracies like that.
Nick Morrell: Fairly unserious comment - seems to me the push for Dacre was serious - but still makes it easier to accept a highly-partisan anti-BBC candidate if you've had to face the prospect of a frothing at the mouth alternative.
John Simpson: I understand completely, but Grade isn’t a frother. He just couldn’t resist making the kind of criticisms of the BBC which he knew would help him get the job.

Is John Simpson correct that Lord Grade has been making BBC-critical noises just to get the government's backing for his appointment and that the BBC doesn't really have anything to fear from him?

Friday 25 March 2022

Edits, fake news and BBC misreporting

That people on Twitter - especially anti-Brexit people - would put out and spread a 25-second clip 'showing' Boris Johnson looking isolated, a 'Billy-no-mates' at yesterday's EU/G7 summit despite longer videos of the event showing no such thing is, well, just typical of Twitter. Twitter partisans are not always noted for their fairness, or honesty. Where it becomes serious is when the BBC's main news bulletins spread this 'fake take' too.

Sarah Smith, the BBC's new North America editor, was one of the guilty parties yesterday.

On yesterday's BBC One News at Six, while a 6-second edit showed Boris 'standing alone' as others greeted each other, she said:
This show of solidarity is why President Biden's here. With the Nato chief and over 30 other world leaders to display the unity they believe is their strength. Although Boris Johnson looks remarkably isolated, even as the Kremlin crowned him the most active anti-Russian leader.
But she cannot take all the blame for this as that bulletin has editors, especially as they allowed her to broadcast the same brief misleading clip on the News at Ten too and say:
Boris Johnson looked a little isolated but remains in step with allies over Ukraine. Everybody wants peace, including the United Kingdom.

A lot of complaints seem to be going in to the BBC about this. And rightly so. 

Here's are two longer videos disproving Sarah Smith and the BBC's misinforming take:

Wednesday 23 March 2022

Friends Reunited

I continue to have lots of conflicting opinions about Julian Assange. 

I, therefore, still don't quite know what to make of him, or how much to admire him or dislike him. 

I veer all over the place over him, like John Sweeney on a Ukrainian ice rink after too many Kir Royales.

But I think I do know what to make of the BBC's world affairs editor, John Simpson: 

John Simpson is a BBC man who lets his biases show, with his BBC bosses' indulgence, whilst vigorously claiming to be impartial and aggressively claiming that those who criticise him are rude and unreasonable.

Back in January 2021 Charlie - here at ITBB - mentioned a John Simpson report on BBC One's News at Ten, saying that JS is "obviously a fan of Julian Assange", adding:
His long ‘love letter’ report on tonight’s main news was a one sided affair carefully crafted in its use of words and images to leave the viewer in no doubt that he is more a hero than a villain.
I then raked up a 2019 tweet from John Simpson that was typically partial:
Alan Rusbridger, writing in defence of Julian Assange: 'Whenever you read about journalists harming national security, massive alarm bells should start ringing.' Absolutely right. Assange revealed uncomfortable truths about US policy & tactics, & the US wants to punish him for it.
Today, however, comes the absolute clincher.

Many congratulations to my friends Stella Moris and Julian Assange on their marriage today. Great pity it had to be in Belmarsh.

So what does this mean? 

Surely it means that one of the most senior/high profile BBC journalists has been using BBC One's News at Ten and Twitter to campaign on behalf of his friend?

Admirers and non-admirers and undecideds as far as Julian Assange goes alike...what does it say about the BBC if this is allowed under BBC guidelines?

Sunday 20 March 2022

Business as usual

Meanwhile, the usual goes on as usual...

I saw a tweet from Douglas Murray responding to this tweet from Justin Trudeau:
The attack on congregants at the Dar Al-Tawheed Islamic Centre is incredibly disturbing. I strongly condemn this violence – which has no place in Canada – and I’m keeping the community in my thoughts today. I also want to applaud the courage of those who were there this morning.
Douglas replied:
In related news, the name of the alleged attacker is Mohammad Moiz Omar.
This led me to other tweets, some from Canadian MPs leaping in too soon to denounce 'Islamophobia', others responding to those Canadian MPs telling them the name of the alleged attacker and criticising them for leaping in too soon, and leaping to conclusions. It also led me to tweets criticising the Canadian answer to the CBC for doing what we so often accuse the BBC of doing.

But what of the BBC themselves? 

They've reported it under the headline Canada mosque: Worshippers stop axe wielding attacker

In typical BBC fashion they do mention Mohammad Moiz Omar but wait until the 10th paragraph to do so:
Worshippers at a Canada mosque have confronted and restrained a man who was allegedly wielding an axe and attacked them with bear spray during Saturday morning prayers, police say.

One worshipper knocked the axe from the man's hands, and held him down until police arrived, local media reports.

A 24-year-old man was arrested at the scene in the suburb of Mississauga, and he has since been charged.

Some congregants had minor injures from the bear spray, the mosque's imam said.

One of the worshippers said the experience was "terrifying" and described hearing a scream before turning around to see a man holding an axe and using bear spray - similar to pepper spray - against three people.

"By the time he was spraying, the people in the first row realized something was going on and one of the young men turned around and knocked away the axe before he had a chance to use it," Noorani Sairally told Canadian newspaper The Globe and Mail.

The young man then held the alleged assailant down until police arrived, the witness said.

"Before he could inflict harm on any worshippers, several congregants bravely were able to stop him in his tracks," imam Ibrahim Hindy said in a statement, describing the moment the attacker entered the site.

"Our community will never be broken and we refuse to be intimated," he added.

Police have named the man they arrested as Mohammad Moiz Omar, and charged him with six offences including assault with a weapon and administering a noxious substance with intent to endanger life or cause bodily harm.
Here, courtesy of CNN, is how the BBC could have reported it. These are CNN's opening two paragraphs:
Worshipers at a mosque in the Canadian city of Mississauga on Saturday subdued a man who discharged bear spray while brandishing a hatchet in what police said was a possible hate crime.

Mohammad Moiz Omar, a 24-year-old Mississauga resident, was arrested at the Dar Al-Tawheed Islamic Centre about 7 a.m. local time during the dawn prayer of Fajr, Peel Regional Police said in a statement.

Isn't that so much more instantly informative?

The other typical thing about the BBC report is that having finally mentioned Mohammad Moiz Omar they then proceed as if the attack was an Islamophobic attack after all and end by rounding up reminders of past Islamophobic attacks in Canada, as if they were relevant to this attack.

Nothing changes.

Where is Ukraine?

“BBC chiefs are lining up journalist and newsreader Clive Myrie to replace Emily Maitlis on Newsnight, The Mail on Sunday can reveal”, says the The Mail on Sunday.

My favourite Clive Myrie moment came five years ago when he appeared on Richard Osman's House of Games and had to locate Ukraine on a map of Europe. My flabber was well and truly gasted when, after TV presenter Angela Scanlon correctly marked her guess for where Ukraine is with a green dot, Clive, having given it time and thought, then revealed his orange dot for where he thought Ukraine is:

Clive had located it in Azerbaijan. He didn't win the point. 

“He reads the news. It would be embarrassing”, teased Richard Osman, quipping, “Clive, you know what, Ukraine hasn't really been in the news recently, has it?”

Everyone laughed.

Saturday 19 March 2022

Two out, one back in

Another of our old BBC favourites, retired BBC veteran Hugh Sykes, took to Twitter the other day in light of the BBC's Ukraine coverage to take a potshot at Jon Sopel and Emily Maitlis:
Hugh Sykes: I bet the recent Big Name defections from the BBC are regretting their decision to go dosh-and-podcast - they are nowhere near the front line now: out of sight, out of mind.
David M. Beneš: Oh they’ll soon be back, like KK.
Hugh Sykes: No one is indispensable.

I was also thinking about Maits and Soapless today in light of all the chat hereabouts about how The New York Times has just conceded that The New York Post got it right in 2020 when reporting the Hunter 'Son of Joe' Biden laptop story - a possible major scandal with strong implications for the ethical standing of the present US president, especially in light of the Ukraine crisis. 

This was, notoriously, something that landed The New York Post - a famous US newspaper - with a two-week Twitter ban for its now-shown-to-be-accurate journalism in the run-up to the 2020 US election. 

It's the sort of thing the BBC's disinformation unit and Ros's Radio 4 Media Show should look into and John Simpson should object to. 

Where Jon and Emily come into this is that they did an Americast podcast for the BBC at the time [which Arthur T got me to listen to] where they 'covered' the story. 

'Covered', in inverted commas, is the word. They 'covered' it, but Emily Maitlis in particular - then in her pomp at the BBC - was openly derisive about the story, sarcastically mocking the fact that they were covering it at all. Her and Sopes and The Zurch used every trick of language in the book to show how little they thought of the story. It was all a distraction by The Donald apparently.

On listening back today the word 'covered' took on other connotations: Unconsciously or consciously, they were 'covering' for Joe Biden as he fought for office with President Trump, blowing the same bubbles that their US counterparts were blowing from their echo chamber to help make this story blow away.

Anyhow, they're now LBC's business. Rob Burley, bless him, will probably end up having to defend them on Twitter. For his sake only, I hope they're not a walking disaster for LBC's ratings.

Meanwhile, as David M. Beneš tweeted above, KK - Katty Kay - is back at the BBC. 

She was formerly the face of the BBC in America but left last year to join a left-wing US media outlet that closed shortly afterwards following fraud allegations

The BBC has kindly taken her back on as a 'US special correspondent'. 

Kindly for her, though not necessarily for BBC licence fee payers.  

She's now back on the Beeb defending the Biden administration as if she'd never left and back doing the BBC's claim of impartiality harm again.

Despite Hugh, Emily Maitlis and Jon Sopel's departure was a blessing for the BBC in impartiality terms. Rescuing Katty Kay - the kind of partisan BBC journalist who also moans about the influence of 'the Jewish lobby' - isn't a good idea for the publicly-paid corporation in that respect.

John Simpson takes issue with Ofcom over Russia Today

Russia Today's UK licence has been revoked by Ofcom. Ofcom says RT isn't "fit and proper to hold a UK broadcast licence".

Intriguingly, the BBC's opinionated world affairs editor John Simpson disagrees with the decision:
John Simpson: I’ve got contempt for Russia Today — the ultimate fake news station. But is it right for a democracy to try to silence it? This makes me feel really uneasy.

The responses are intriguing too:

Joe and the Scot: Yes it is. The disinformation is killing people.
John Simpson: If you start blocking disinformation, you wouldn’t have many newspapers left. And precious few politicians.

Roast Dinners In London: Should have been done 10 years ago. Democracy and freedom is too important. RT is actively against both.
John Simpson: So democracy and freedom are too important to allow freedom of speech?

Such replies provoked a further tweet on the subject:

John Simpson: Orwell wrote ‘If liberty means anything at all, it means the right to tell people what they do not want to hear.’ The irreflective answers here to my question are troubling. Essentially people are saying ‘If I don’t like something, it should be blocked.’

The discussion continues: 

The Bullingdon Club (twits): That rather depends upon whether what you have to say is the truth or lies.
John Simpson: And who makes the judgement?
Kamran: This is exactly what every government that practises censorship says.
John Simpson: Exactly my feelings, Kamran.

And mine too, Kamran. 

'The BBC should correct this, it’s totally misleading and confusing and wrong'

Talking of Andrew Marr, his old editor at BBC One's The Andrew Marr Show is now his new editor on his LBC show. 

Yes, our old friend Rob Burley has landed at LBC too. 

Here's Rob, also getting his own voice back, agreeing with The Observer's Sonia Sodha that a BBC News website report about a horrific crime left something to be desired:
Sonia Sodha: When the imperative to respect a male serial killer’s preferred pronouns supersedes the journalistic duty to help readers understand a story about a terrible form of male violence against women.
Rob Burley: Quite agree. The BBC should correct this, it’s totally misleading and confusing and wrong.
The issue with the BBC report in question can be summed up by a couple of earlier tweets I read objecting to the same BBC report: 
Paul Embery: A man who killed a woman, attacked a second woman, is now accused of murdering a third woman, has admitted that he has “problems” with women, now identifies as a woman. So the media refer to him as ‘she’ and all crucial context is removed from the story.

Austin Williams: Last line: "She has also been charged with tampering with evidence". When you read this article, you realise that the BBC has also tampered with the evidence. Exhibit A: She, who recently identified as a woman, admitted to having "problems" with women.

 The report began: 

Pensioner arrested after dismembered body found in New York
A pensioner has been arrested on suspicion of killing and dismembering a 68-year-old woman she met online.
An adult female torso was found in a bag inside a shopping trolley near 83-year-old Harvey Marcelin's apartment in Brooklyn, New York. 
She has now been charged with second degree murder and concealment of a human corpse. 
Marcelin had previously spent more than 50 years in prison for killing two girlfriends.

In its original version the article described the arrested 'pensioner' as  'she' [3 times], 'her' and 'woman'.

The article was later amended to add a further sentence at the very end, with a further [4th] use of 'She':

She now identifies as a transgender woman.
After two days of criticism and anger, the article was edited again. That new information was moved a few paragraphs up...:
In 1963, a jury found Marcelin - who recently identified as a woman - guilty of murdering Jacqueline Bonds. After being paroled in 1984, Marcelin was arrested again for stabbing another girlfriend.

...with 'She has also been charged with tampering with evidence', returning to being the final paragraph.

This was about the time Rob tweeted his disapproval.

Regardless, the BBC is pretty much sticking to its guns. It seems you can take the BBC out of Stonewall but can't so easily take Stonewall out of the BBC.

Getting their own voices back

Dr Philip Cunliffe, Senior Lecturer at the School of Politics and International Relations at the University of Kent, is someone I follow on Twitter. Being a man of the Left he naturally reads The New Statesman. He wasn't impressed by one of its latest pieces though:
Philip Cunliffe: Perhaps you thought the Ukraine war was about defending sovereignty and national independence? It's actually about us Rejoining the EU, according to this latest Andrew Marr piece. They will never accept democracy went against them.

Andrew Marr's piece begins like this: 

In the earthquake caused by this war, a grand reshaping around the world, relations between Britain and the EU must again become our biggest near-at-hand argument.

Almost nobody in mainstream British politics wants to talk about this. For Brexiteers any other issue may, in theory, be reopened, from tax promises to Scottish independence; but Brexit is a sacrosanct and holy victory that must remain forever untouched. Pro-European politicians largely agree, although out of fear of English nationalism rather than pride.

Following the outbreak of war in Ukraine, this cannot be allowed to stand. 

A couple of responses to Dr Cunliffe's tweet may strike a chord with you:

Ike Ijeh: Well I never! It's such a good job the BBC is impartial. If it wasn't I would literally have had *no idea* Marr held these views until he left!
Jonny Austin: I know. Its shocking that Fogarty, Mair & now Marr move from the BBC to LBC & their opinions are centre-left anti-Brexit. Almost like we knew. which can be added the names Emily Maitlis and Jon Sopel no doubt. 

Comic Relief: another fall in 'white saviours' contributing?

Last night's £43 million for Comic Relief looks to be following a trend. 

Here are the previous totals listed on the charity's own website, showing a massive fall since 2011:

2011 - £108 million
2013 - £100 million
2015 - £99 million
2017 - £76 million
2019 - £64 million
2021 - £55 million


Here's an interesting Twitter thread from someone called Marwood who identifies on his bio with William Clauston's Social Democratic Party:

Why is it you can’t move for women’s football coverage on the BBC website despite only an avg of 2K fans attending each game, Vs 40K with men’s Premier League?

You see something like Chelsea 10-0 Arsenal and think whaaatt, better check that out and then oh, double hat-trick by Sarah Smythe.

It is the political imposition of the BBC on a mission to ‘correct’ the patriarchy, and that a fair world would be same wages & attendance for men & women’s sport, which will never happen purely bc most ppl prefer the spectacle in seeing the physically best athletes compete.

Man Utd women’s sell tickets starting from £3. Avg attendance 1,891. Men’s tickets start from £98. Avg attendance 75,000. don’t know but I’m pretty sure this isn’t just sexism at play here.

The BBC’s “50:50 The Equality Project” (fwd by Tim Davie) aims to “better reflect the world around us”. They have 670 teams across the BBC using a data monitoring methodology that “monitor the number of men and women in their content to set benchmarks and track their progress”.

“In 2020, 27 Sport programmes began piloting the monitoring of their coverage of sporting events, from Premier League Football to Athletics. They are working towards equal representation of reporters, commentators, athletes and other contributors”. So there you have it.

June Sarpong - Director of Creative Diversity (salary £267,000) - “I raise up my voice - not so that I can shout, but so that those without a voice can be heard”. We are paying for this garbage.

Sarpong is part-time (3 days/wk, full time salary equiv. £445k) and her job so exhausting it leaves her free to rake in thousands more from book deals, corporate speaking events and her work as a diversity ambassador on the board of fashion firm Burberry.

In 2021 she said “there are benefits even if you come from a low income and you're white. You're never judged on your race” But her stated goal is “equal representation of reporters, commentators, athletes and other contributors”. She is de facto judging people on their race.

The 50:50 project's ambitions don't stop with the BBC. 100 outside orgs have signed up incl "public and private media, academia, public relations, law and corporations". June is "struck by 50:50’s simplicity and how it diversifies voice through something as simple as counting".

Affirmative action is now routine at the BBC, where this manifestation of identity politics is going to upset a lot of people. Kuenssberg and Andrew Marr’s replacement will come from an all-female shortlist.

Monday 14 March 2022

A hae ma doots


(Didn’t know I was Scottish, did you?)  We’ve been pretty quiet on the BBC’s coverage of the War / Special Operation in Ukraine. The BBC is quite confident that it is one of the most - if not THE the most - reliable and unbiased sources of information on this alarming state of affairs.

As Jamie Angus says:

“Are we an arm of the Government? No, we’re nothing of the sort. We are an independent news broadcaster funded by the licence-fee payer. That’s why we’re so trusted and why the BBC Russian news information is so widely trusted…”

Ros Atkins asks:

So no discussion between the BBC and the government as to how the BBC covers this conflict?

Jamie Angus responds:

It’s not the government’s job or position to tell the BBC how to cover the conflict; our editorial independence from the UK government is assured….”

etcetera etcetera.

Anyway, as I’ve said over and over, whenever the press gets hold of a story about which one has empirical knowledge - ‘based on first-hand observation or personal experience’ - one knows only too well the vast potential therein for bungling, garbling the details and omitting crucial facts.

If I were to take the BBC’s reporting on Israel as a model, I would have to doubt that I am getting the whole story from the BBC on almost any issue, let alone this particular one. How can I believe it’s simply a case of Ukraine=good, Russia=bad, much as I’d like to? 

Listening to Jeremy Bowen, Fergal Keane, and Orla Geurin doesn’t fill my heart with joy and I’m not totally convinced that there’s an iota of genuine impartiality between them.

Sadly, the BBC’s record on all sorts of issues raises doubts and sets alarm bells ringing. It hasn’t turned me into an all-out conspiracy theorist yet, though I’m noticing that a few others are there already, or on the cusp. 

I must just be one of nature’s Doubting Thomases. I doubt everything, including myself.

Monday 7 March 2022

More on Mark Easton

I may not be watching BBC News at the moment but I can guess what certain reporters are up in their broadcasts from their tweets - especially when they link to their own BBC One news reporting.

The BBC's pro-open borders/mass immigration home affairs editor Mark Easton - their most shamelessly biased reporter - hasn't been letting a world crisis get in the way of his agenda-pushing. 

In fact, he's latched onto it and exploited it. 

He's been plugging away relentlessly at one single thing for two weeks, trying to shame the UK government into opening our borders to far larger numbers of refugees.

He's been at this kind of thing for years - though this time he has genuine refugees to latch onto.

And now the poor Ukrainians are his convenient excuse for pushing his pro-immigration, open borders hobby-horse yet again.

He uses every trick in the book here, using careful framing, loaded questions that aren't genuinely meant as either/or questions, editorialising hashtags, heart-tugging individual cases, etc. 

It's a masterclass in the art of biased agenda-pushing very consciously just-about covering itself so it can get away with it with BBC bosses:

  • Feb 25: Should Britain offer sanctuary to Ukrainians fleeing the war? The Home Office says refugees should stay in the first safe country they reach. But Nottingham's Ukrainian community hopes the UK will agree to do more. #bbcnewssix 
  • Feb 28: Asked today if Ukrainian pensioner refugee Valentina Rumyantsyeva could come to London on the Eurostar having been turned back on Saturday, the Home Secretary said 'yes'. But the UK Home Office has since told me she is still not eligible to join her daughter. 
  • Mar 1: Someone from the UK Home Office contacted Ukrainian refugee Valentina in Paris after my piece last night promising she would get a visa to the UK. Still nothing in writing. But on what basis? The current rules mean she remains ineligible. Compassion or desperate PR? 
  • Mar 1: UK government to ask the public to sponsor a Ukrainian refugee. Reluctant to put money into a conventional resettlement scheme, the UK Home Office is looking at #BigSociety to help out. Will it work? 
  • Mar 1: "Leave to enter outside of the rules!" Valentyna Klymova, in the yellow beret, now has her visa to come to London. She is tired, relieved and delighted she has helped the UK Home Office become more generous to refugees. #bbcnewssix 
  • Mar 1: Valentina has arrived at St Pancras, wrapped in the Ukrainian flag as passengers gave her a round of applause. #bbcnewsten 
  • Mar 3: Ukrainian refugee Valentyna arrived in London on Tuesday to join her daughter, her visa stating she had 'leave to enter outside the rules'. But rules allowing other parents, grandparents, adult children and siblings to seek sanctuary here don't start until tomorrow. 
  • Mar 4: On Tuesday Priti Patel said Ukrainian refugees with family in the UK could stay for a year. Today the UK Home Office increased the limit to 3 years, matching the EU offer (although EU doesn't demand family ties). Still playing catch-up? 
  • Mar 6: The only UK visa application centre in Ukraine at Lviv has closed, according to the UK Home Office website. Guidance changing by the hour (see below) causing confusion consternation for those fleeing the war.
  • Mar 6: In a letter to Priti Patel, French interior minister Gerald Darmanin says that 150 Ukrainian refugees have been turned back at Calais by Border Force officials, accusing the Home Secretary of a "lack of humanity" and a "completely unsuitable" response.
  • Mar 6: Priti Patel has responded to Gerald Darmanin: “Let me just correct what has been said by the French government. The British government is not turning anybody back at all”.
  • Mar 7: What did Priti Patel mean when she told The Sun “I’m urgently escalating our response … to create a humanitarian route” for Ukrainian refugees”? Downing Street insists nothing has changed but the UK Home Office says a new route IS being worked on. #confusion
  • Mar 7: Ukrainian refugees stuck in Calais tell me there’s a gap as wide as the English Channel between the supportive rhetoric of the UK government and their experience on the ground.

Sunday 6 March 2022

Amol Rajan, Evgeny Lebedev and Sir Ian McKellen

I'm not sure if The Sunday Times story Boris Johnson’s Russian crony Evgeny Lebedev got peerage after spies dropped warning amounts to much but it raises interesting questions, not least for one of Lord Lebedev's former advisors and editors - Amol Rajan, then of The Independent, now of the BBC. 

Wonder if he'll have anything to say about it, especially if he conducts interviews about the influence of Russian oligarchs on the Today programme? 

And talking of Amol Rajan's interviews...

Amol's new BBC Two series Amol Rajan Interviews this week interviewed actor Sir Ian McKellen. What risks sending me down Marianna's rabbit hole is that, though serendipity, I've just learnt something I didn't know: by coincidence, Sir Ian and Lord Lebedev are listed as joint directors of a London-based company:

Not that it's remotely a secret. Far from it: Wikipedia's page on Evgeny Lebedev notes that they own a pub called The Grapes together, as does Wikipedia's page on Sir Ian

I've used TVEyes to scan the Amol Rajan-Sir Ian McKellen interview for mentions of their shared associate, Lord Lebedev, but it didn't bring up any results. 

Curiouser and Curiouser. 

It's a small world though, isn't it?

“The BBC’s hero in a hard hat” [ALERT: Bad language warning]

Just catching up with Rosamund Unwin's Times interview with “the BBC’s hero in a hard hat” Clive Myrie. One paragraph follows on from something we were talking about yesterday:
It is that humanity which has struck viewers, particularly when Myrie appeared to shed a tear for Ukraine on screen. The era of the emotionless foreign correspondent is over, he believes. “We are in an age of feeling,” he said. “It would be odd to be reporting on a colossal tragedy like this and for empathy not to come out.
It's also interesting to see him state what he sees as the purpose of his reporting:
Although he is careful to compliment other broadcasters, Myrie argues that the BBC’s coverage is made possible by its public funding. “It is important at times like this that we show what we really can do,” he says. “You get the weight and breadth of coverage because of the licence fee.” 
He sees his role as to ensure that viewers understand what is happening to civilians: “Then they can put pressure on their elected representatives to do something about it.
He's no fan of social media of course:
It is also as a corrective for fake news online. “Social media is the perfect breeding ground for utter crap,” he says. “I can be held accountable for every word I put on air — so can ITN, Channel 4, Sky, CNN. Some dick in his basement putting up rubbish cannot be held accountable.”
And he's no fan of GB News either by the sounds of it: 
Myrie swears a lot more than viewers of the news might expect. He calls the “false equivalence” of those who liken Russia’s invasion of Ukraine to the West going into Iraq “f***ing bullshit”. He doesn’t “want to hear guff from some jerk on GB News saying while he doesn’t trust Putin, he doesn’t trust the mainstream media either, and he’d rather surf the internet ... F*** people like him,” he says.

Clive has spoken. 

Saturday 5 March 2022

The BBC and the Russian invasion of Ukraine [and an EXCLUSIVE behind-the-scenes glimpse of an ITBB discussion]

Craig: The BBC is being praised to the skies for its war coverage, and not only by itself and the usual suspects. Not that I've seen any BBC coverage, so I can't say if it's deserved or not, but lots of surprising people are singing its praises. It seems to be having a good war.

Sue: Well, I was half thinking that the BBC is ‘having a good war’, too. But with all its resources and long-standing infrastructure it would be surprising if it wasn’t. 

I haven’t watched it very much though, but sometimes the ad breaks on other channels drive one BBC-wards. I haven’t seen any of the Beeb’s opinion stuff, only the Myrie/Doucet reporting. I must say Lyse is getting more emotional than usual (and Clive is okay. A bit drained obvs.) 

I saw Konstantin Kisin's performance on Question Time (excerpts on YouTube.) It’s weird to see him on the dreaded BBC, especially when he’d only just said he’d stopped appearing on GB News because he felt he was being expected/required to opine on things he didn’t particularly know enough about. 

This unexpected invitation from the QT team must be partly to do with the new ‘impartiality’ pledges. 

Speaking of which I dread to think why they’ve let Jeremy Bowen loose on Ukraine. He will inevitably make comparisons with the M.E., (how he sees it - The bully against the oppressed, the brave Ukrainian-Pally resistance, the almighty Russian-Israeli aggressive warmongering.) 

I think I actually heard him make a reference to the M.E. in an aside on the Today prog, though I couldn’t find it when I searched. Can you imagine how the BBC’s new impartiality regulators let someone like Jez go to Ukraine with all that baggage? 

Craig: I've tracked down that Jeremy Bowen bit:
The Chinese strategist Sun Tzu talked about building your opponent a golden bridge to retreat across. In the Cuban Missile Crisis - the closest the world has come to nuclear disaster in 1961 - the deal there after the Soviets put missiles into Cuba was that the US move missiles out of Turkey. Now, of course, the things are know, you can't directly transfer the idea, but the point is, there needs to be in all these crises, to finish them, a face saving deal. Otherwise, the two sides tend to fight until one side wins or both are exhausted, which is a catastrophe for the countries affected by that, as we've seen in the Middle East extensively.

BBC reporters like Lyse being more emotional than usual was one of the topic on Samira Ahmed's Newswatch this week, asking: How new is it? Does it help or hinder the viewer's understanding? 

The fact that it featured a particularly toe-curling example of heart-tugging purple prose from Fergal Keane [‘On platform 6, a father's farewell to his infant son. What cannot be held must be let go. Until another day’] shows where that kind of thing probably began at the BBC, with the likes of him and Orla Guerin - and Jezza Bowen, with his endlessly-repeated, embittered, personalised memories of a particular moment involving Israel and his unfortunate friend. 

Even John Simpson cried recently - though he told Samira Ahmed that he's not proud of doing so and it won't happen again. 

So, as you can see, I've actually watched a BBC programme now. 

Jeremy Vine gets it about right, according to Jeremy Vine

As discussed on the open thread Jeremy Vine revolted many people with a particular exchange with a caller on his moonlighting-from-the-BBC Channel 5 show:

Jeremy Vine: If you put on a uniform for Putin and you go and fight his war, you probably deserve to die don’t you?

Caller: Do you? Do kids deserve to die, 18 and 20 years old, who are called up and conscripted?

Jeremy Vine: That’s life, that’s the way it goes.

For those who enjoy transcripts of Twitter conversations about things, here's one prompted by Iain Dale linking to Drum article:

Iain Dale: Jeremy Vine on his ‘dread’ of cancel culture as he faces storm over Russia remarks. One of Britain's most popular presenters Jeremy Vine has become embroiled in controversy after suggesting Russian soldiers 'deserve to die' on his talk show this week.
Giles Dilnot: Be fair Iain, it was a pretty dumb and unpleasant thing of him to say.
Mike Love: We should not censor people who say stupid things.
Giles Dilnot: I didn’t and wouldn’t say we should. JV said he was “worried”…..all I said, and stand by, was it was an incredibly dumb think to say. I don’t need him sacked, or even penalised. Be nice (not compulsory) if he recognised how dumb it was though.
Mike Love: Isn’t that part if his brand though? It keeps people talking about him.
Giles Dilnot: Maybe.

ThDrum piece says that JV himself defended himself by saying he was merely doing his job, “replying to a caller with the counterpoint to his view”, adding “My views are neither here nor there.” 

It possibly is true that this was a cack-handed attempt at devil's advocate questioning, but JV doesn't seem up to 'fessing up to it being in any way a mistake on his part.

For your further delectation, the article continues:

Vine has always been studious in his neutrality. “I don’t think you’d know, if you [analysed] my output from the last 10 years, you wouldn’t have a clue which way I voted,” he claims (speaking ahead of Thursday’s controversy). 
On his computer he has created something he calls his “bias wall”, where he charts audience complaints, according to where they place him on the political spectrum. “It’s amazingly 50-50. It’s actually a beautiful thing and I’d like to create some wallpaper out of it because some of them are fantastic,” he says, recalling that he was accused of being “up Boris’s arse” and a “Corbyn lover” in two separate complaints made in “the same minute”.

Ah, the tiresome, fallacious 'complaints from both sides' argument is deployed yet again, with a twist. Here impartiality is proved in a computer-generated Jeremy Vine chart where he, Jeremy Vine, statistically proves that Jeremy Vine is innocent of bias. Nice.