Saturday, December 18, 2004

BBC Bias - A Random Selection

Short of blogging time - a few notes made in December 2001, when I was posting to the Evening Standard boards.


Have the BBC learned anything from the last 3 months ?

Not if its recent coverage is anything to go by. A couple of nights ago BBC2 featured a documentary by Bonnie Greer, who started by saying what a patriot she was (she left the US for Britain some years ago) before trawling her immediate family (who to a man or woman thought 'the chickens were coming home to roost') then various Chicagoans for their views. She nodded wisely when people said 'what goes round, comes round', but those who, like the solemn 10 year old boy, said 'these people should be put to death' were pointed out as examples of US 'insularity' and lack of empathy with the Muslim world.

The whole program gave the air of having been put together in that time (it seems so long ago now) when the 'liberal' left was preparing for a global wave of anti-Americanism to be unleashed by the military blunderings of the cowboy in the White House. Markets were crashing, dire predictions were being made of 'another Vietnam', and America was being told to try and work out just why the whole world hated it.

And tonight on Radio 4 news the coverage of Yemen seems to have gone straight back to early October in its defeatism - just substitute 'Yemen' for 'Afghanistan' and rebroadcast. Some polytechnic lecturer was wheeled out to explain why Yemen was so much trickier than Afghanistan for any kind of intervention. Apparently the Yemenis are 'xenophobic' and 'resent foreign armed forces'. And the Brits left 'with their tails between their legs' in 1967. But that's just what they said about the Afghans. And in 1967 I'm pretty sure more than one survivor got back, unlike 1842 when we lost 12,000 (admittedly 9,000 of those were civilians, victims of 'collateral' killing by Robert Fisk's mates).

St George's Day, 2001
Billy Bragg is chosen by 'The World Tonight' as their (sole) guest to discuss 'Englishness'.

March 2002
The Long View - Was Drake a Terrorist ? With Tariq Ali.
Drake equated with Osama Bin Laden.

'Dumbing Down of BBC' discussion on 'P.M.'. Two guests chosen - Tariq Ali and Bob Holman (the Holy Fool of Easterhouse).

14/03/2002 - World At One
Ann Sloman, BBC political head, discussing the Appeal Court decision against the BBC (re pro-life alliance election broadcast censorship) "There is no liberal elite".

28/5/02 – James Naughtie on R4 “Today” (discussing a Ms Amos' imprisonment for not sending her children to school)
“Her daughters say, surprisingly, (my italics) that prison works ..”

(Interviewing Estelle Morris, Education minister) “We know there are too many women in prison who shouldn’t be there (no response from EM) ... are you saying that prison works ?”

Ms Morris “Yes ...”

19/6/02 – John Humphrys interviewing Ivan Massow on ‘On The Ropes’
H - “are you still a Labour Party member ?”
Massow – “I’m really not sure – I may still be paying the fees .... do you pay by direct debit ?”
Humphrys (seemingly flustered) – “I – I can’t answer that one

October 2002
BBC R4 Social Affairs correspondent Rita Chakrabati describes the late Baroness Young as ‘a campaigner for so-called ‘family values’’.

Why is Stephen Lawrence always described on R4 news bulletins as “the black teenager Stephen Lawrence”, when Philip Lawrence is not described as ‘the white headmaster’ and Damilola Taylor is not ‘the black schoolboy’ ?

BBC news does not present news as such, but rather events are selectively used to illustrate an ongoing global morality play where the heroes and villains are well known.

Nationalist rioters in N.I. were reported as ‘venting their anger’ after the release of the jailed paratrooper Stephen Clegg ...

Classic example is the reporting of the Indonesian riots preceding the fall of the Suharto regime in May 1998. Those burning cars and buildings in Jakarta were described in bulletins as ‘protesters’ and ‘demonstrators’, and one R4 bulletin described ‘demonstrators’ burning and looting, observing that ‘Chinese areas were particularly targeted’. A remarkably restrained description of racist mob violence, and one which it is impossible to imagine the BBC using if the rioters were, say, white Britons. As reports over the next few days pointed to continuous anti-Chinese violence including mass rape, the tone of reporting changed and the ‘demonstrators’ became ‘rioters’ – which of course they had been from the start.

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