Wednesday, October 27, 2004

BBC Bias Part 391

I'd almost forgotten this little gem - the Today Programme 'debate' (RealAudio) last week between Colleen Graffy of Republicans Abroad and Tony Benn.

The subject - the Guardian's Operation Clark County. The question from John Humphrys - 'was it a good idea ?'.

Graffy opened - discussing the backlash, the dangers inherent in one country trying to interfere with another's politics, that interference by the US in a British election would not be popular, mentioning the bad press John Major got for helping Clinton's opponents, and concluding that while in principle she disapproved, in practice it had probably been a Republican windfall.

'Tony Benn ?'

'My wife was from Cincinatti, Ohio, retained her citizenship, lived in London for fifty-one years, she campaigned with me in all my election campaigns, she was president of the Socialist Education Association and campaigned for comprehensive education - and when we're talking about Americans not telling us to do, what about Rupert Murdoch .... ?'

We were off. Occasionally Professor Graffy got a word in. Benn laughed over her as she spoke and compounded his bad manners by patronising her as 'my dear'.

"740 military bases in 130 countries ... bombed 9 countries ... the United States under Bush is a rogue state, that is the reality of the matter ... Vietnam ... Cuba ... tried to kill Ghadaffi ... "no obliteration without representation" ... after 9/11 the world was overflowing with sympathy (see this blog for the way the Guardian overflowed) ... now you are feared .. tear up UN charter .. hostages you kidnapped ... Guantanamo Bay the symbol of America .. be very very careful - be very careful"

Humphrys : "I'm afraid Tony Benn gets the last word - I didn't have to do much work in that interview, did I ? (laughs)'

That depends on whether you wanted your question answered, or whether you wanted an anti-US rant. I think we know what John Humphrys, usually so swift to pick up a politician who strays from the point, wanted.

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