Denis Boyles does a best /worst of the year list. The Beeb makes the cut in both!
The BBC is the worst in this best of all possible media planets. The Beeb’s grotesque old-Labour bias and blatant anti-Americanism continues apace, despite the mismanagement of the Corporation by Greg Dyke and his sidekicks, all of whom rested the credibility of the BBC on the quality of Andrew Gilligan’s slipshod reporting, captured here by the Guardian.
Pretty sad when the only one bringing up the rear is France 3. All is not lost, though. Boyles is happy to catch the BBC producing an excellent car show.
This just in:
Caroline Thomson, the BBC’s director of policy and legal affairs, said the Today programme report that led to Lord Hutton’s judicial investigation fell short of the “truth and accuracy” that are the “gold standard of the BBC”. She said the concessions made by the BBC during the inquiry had been “spectacular”…
Ms Thomson conceded that the BBC’s regulatory structure, in which the organisation’s editorial impartiality is upheld by its board of governors, was “out of kilter with modern fashions of regulation”.
…Ms Thomson, speaking on Radio 4′s PM programme, said Andrew Gilligan’s original Today story, in which he reported concerns about the September 2002 dossier that made the case for war on Iraq, was not up to scratch. “Truth and accuracy are the gold standard … but you don’t always achieve it and we rather spectacularly had to admit that we hadn’t got the entire details of the Hutton story, the Gilligan story right.”
It only took an expensive, sweeping government enquiry — which saw the testimony of even the Prime Minister — and the suicide of a good man to get them to admit it.
And people wonder why this website exists…
. Christmas is a busy time for personal life and a quiet time for news, or rather, news bias. What’s the point in the BBC launching an offensive against their bettes noire or an extensive cover-up of ‘bad news’ when the punters are flat out with surfeit of this or that mind altering substance (even if it’s just the old post-prandial-orgy-chasm their minds have fallen into)? There’ll probably be another absence of posts in the coming days, but you never know. As Mark Steyn helpfully pointed out on his lovely website (not a blog, honest!), BritXmas lasts two weeks. Convenient, huh?
Well, I’ve still been watching the Beeb with my beady eye and my head in my hands (odd angle, but still) and it’s still dire. One general issue I find myself considering at the moment is why the BBC is so much more animated discussing the problems in Iraq compared with their interest in the ongoing Serbian crisis that has dragged on painfully and is enduring its fifth year. Today the Beeb has reported the Serbian election, where friends of Slobodan- the guy the international community is trying to try to try for war crimes in their lovely shiny Hague courts- have cornered over a quarter of the popular vote. Slob’s party, the Socialists, have a respectable 7 percent. Would this have anything to do with the rarely mentioned persecution of Serbs in UN liberated Kosovo, I find myself asking? (in this link you will find a prized Beeb report on persecuted Serbs- notice that they don’t blame the UN, but publish a call for more resources to be given to acronymic police).
Anyway, the Beeb doesn’t run an article on the pathetic failure of UN-led forces to plan for the post war situation, or speculate on whether there’s a connection to the fact that Slobodan and other suspected criminals have yet to be judged and in some cases yet to face a court. It doesn’t blame ‘multi-lateral’ action as weak and corrupt, or discuss the feasability of a ‘multi-polar’ world. It doesn’t even mention that the French and the Germans, and Bill Clinton too (not forgetting our Tone), were the authors of this particular post-spring 1999 chapter of European history. The Beeb in general presents all the pomp of the UN and none of the failings- since here the typical UN trumpeting mysteriously fades away and becomes instead the ‘international community’. It seems more convenient to blame ‘ghosts’ . When these chains of command are conveniently blotted out, exactly who do I write to to complain about these states and affairs? Santa Claus?
Far from concentrating on the proven problems with getting results against nasty Serb nationalists the Beeb focusses ‘in depth’ on the speculated ‘problems’ in bringing Saddam Hussein to trial. I don’t know why: even the one and a half years mentioned sounds a really good timescale compared to the thinking time lavished on Slobadan and his chums. I also don’t know why they consider that there will be such problems proving the guilt of Saddam, since much of what he did he was so proud of he had it videotaped. The catalogue is so extensive, the Saddam-cult so primary in Iraq’s murderous political life, where’s the problem? Ah, but I am remiss- the Beeb are better at covering speculated problems than real ones.
‘Tony Hall, the U.S. ambassador to the food program… asked one of Mugabe’s top aides: “Why do I get the impression that I have to beg you to feed your people?” ‘ -Michael Grunwald, Washington Post Staff writer, Jan 03
Funny how in this article about famine in Zimbabwe, a certain man’s name is missing. On top of that, they’ve chosen just about the most tendentious ‘fact’ possible with which to launch their story. It is reported that
‘Millions of Zimbabweans will go hungry this Christmas because international donors have failed to provide enough food, the United Nations has warned.’
That ‘Millions of Zimbabweans will go hungry this Christmas’ is a fact I would not want to argue with, and awful if so. Why is a different matter- our unnamed African leader ought to dominate that discussion. However, if the BBC merely wanted to report a shortage of aid from donors, they should have pointed out that because the price of all sorts of grain has risen strongly this year, due to a run of mixed world harvests (and the running-down in years past of surpluses by, for instance, the EU), usual inflation adjusted aid budgets that last year might have been adequate are not any more. So it’s not just a simple case of the ‘selfish West, as usual, stingy as they tuck into their Turkeys’, however the Beeb make it appear to be.
and it’s an embarrassment for Israel, says the BBC:
…the BBC’s Jill McGivering, in Jerusalem, says the incident is sure to cause some embarrassment for the Israelis.
Huh? Why Israel? Are the Egyptians likely to berate the Israelis for not having a bunch of non-Muslim security goons crawling over one of Islam’s most holy shrines? Are the Egyptians likely to demand that Israel make its control over Jerusalem more strongly felt?
It’s an embarrassment all right. But not for the Israelis.
Hello? Even the NY Times credits Bush with success. To admit that Bush has had success on any level (whether hunting down Saddam, a strengthening economy or scaring Col Gaddafi into cooperation) must be harder for the Beeb to swallow than cod liver oil. Hardliners in Beebland must shudder to read Bush-loathing Washington Post reporter Dana Milbank own up to Bush success.
It has been a week of sweet vindication for those who promulgated what they call the Bush Doctrine. Beginning with the capture of Saddam Hussein a week ago and ending Friday with an agreement by Libya’s Moammar Gaddafi to surrender his unconventional weapons, one after another international problem has eased.
So what does the BBC’s ‘expert’ , George Joffe, have to say about these developments? Gaddafi got what he wanted all along and Bush is just fending off his “many domestic critics”. Take your medicine, George.
Thanks to Power Line for NY Times and WaPo links.
. Hazhir Teimourian has serious worries about BBC World Affairs Editor John Simpson’s recent book, ‘The Wars Against Saddam: Taking The Hard Road To Baghdad’, which the Kurdish commentator on Middle Eastern affairs reviewed for the Literary Review (offline at the moment) this month.
Having blamed Simpson’s account for giving Saddam an easy ride, and accused him of blaming the UK and US far too much over deaths caused by UN sanctions, Teimourian points out the preponderance of Shia victims, and states ominously, ‘That was not a mistake’. He says that during the time of sanctions the mortality rate among children in the Kurdish-controlled North of Iraq (also subject to sanctions) actually fell and that
‘Simpson’s explanation that they (UN sanctions) stopped the importation of water-sanitation equipment is simply not true’
He doesn’t stop there. His most interesting comments are about Simpson’s attitude towards Saddam’s regime:
‘In several places, Simpson irritates by expressing gratitude to top Ba’thists who helped obtain visas for the BBC. By describing them as ‘cultured’ or ‘gentle’ (was Goering acceptable, then, because he hoarded paintings?), he invites us to believe that they bore no responsibility for any of the bestial acts committed by their security forces that Simpson himself describes so well elsewhere in the book.
One such man- and Simpson, incredibly, tried to bring him to Britain as an asylum-seeker after the war- is Saddam’s last foreign minister, Naji Sabri. After telling us how much he likes Sabri, he tells us that Sabri once saved his career as a junior civil servant by denouncing his own brother as a traitor. In return for this service, on top of saving his job, Sabri was exempted from taking part in the firing squad. His poor father was not. Sabri went on to serve Saddam so faithfully that he was eventually made a minister.’
Teimourian begins the conclusion to his review by saying:
‘These shortcomings are serious failures of judgement.’
No doubt these ‘serious failures of judgement’ have helped fuel the BBC bias in their coverage of the Iraq conflict and explain why so many journalists (Guerin, Frei, Hawley, Omar, Gilligan and many others) would express anti-US/UK opinion, and even drop apologetic hints for Saddam, without fearing the reaction of their managers.
BBC News Online journalists have been banned from referring to Saddam Hussein as a former dictator. Instead, they must call him “the deposed former President of Iraq”.
With 501 instances of Chile’s former dictator, Augusto Pinochet, being referred to as exactly that on the BBC’s website, one cannot help but wonder why such a double standard has come to pass at the BBC. What makes one former dictator more deserving of respect than another?
As the song says, the trouble with the truth is that it always begs for more truth. Exactly why a news organisation should wish to prevent the truth from being spoken by its journalists is, in this case, a total mystery.
If you’re outside of Britain, just be thankful that you’re not forced under penalty of law to finance this deeply troubled organisation’s efforts to dodge reality.
does the BBC respond to criticism? With censorship, of course. True, in this case it’s self censorship, but they can scarcely ask for more from the public than acceptance of a compulsory license fee (kind of an act of censorship by itself)- so they just have to put up with criticism and find ways of deflecting it.
Their new policy, apparently, is not to let anyone “whose main profile or income comes from the BBC” write newspaper columns about politics. This is verboten, as I say, unless you can prove your ‘main profile or income’ doesn’t come from the BBC. In other words, it’s a gag on non-senior journalists- who will be much more firmly under the thumb with this selectivity on the part of the Beeb- plus some high-profile, senior ones who will magically, imperceptibly almost, come to have greater ‘responsibilities’ and need better remuneration than their current settlement allows. Slander, me? Nooo. ‘Creativity’ in job description could well become the key, that’s all.
Of course, the great ‘El Dorado’ of BBC journalism will be to prove that your image and income transcends the BBC’s patronage- something, say, Kirsty Wark might be able to claim in Scotland, or Peter Snow on the subject of elections, or Michael Fish, on the political effects of the weather (heh). So, in conclusion, one might say that the answer to criticism is not to come clean but to complexify to bamboozle the oiks who criticise you. Sounds like a BBC policy to me.
The DT is equally sceptical.
There are some funny things happening on Blogger.
The BBC states it will not publish comments of an offensive or inflammatory nature on its websites. I am fairly sure that an email calling, let us say, for the execution for treason of George Galloway would never appear, even though plenty of people have opined that he should be strung up. However this post from Black Triangle gives an insight into what does and does not immediately strike the BBC as offensive.
There are also some wise words on stealth editing.
UPDATE: Looks like me and Jackie D were posting simultaneously. Great minds think alike, and all that. I’ll leave this post up as evidence that we abjure stealth editing on this blog. (Except for misplaced apostrophes, spelling mistakes and jokes we only think of later.)
Anthony Cox — who will forever be remembered as the author of that WMD 404 page — notes an interesting exchange with the BBC on his blog.
After BBC News published a call for President Bush’s assassination, Cox wrote to them to ask for it to be removed. In a very curt, two sentence reply, BBC News claimed they never published the call for Bush’s death — because, as it happened, the comment had been deleted. The BBC eventually admitted that they had indeed published the call for President Bush’s murder, and apologised to Cox for having done so, and for getting it wrong when they claimed they hadn’t.
How did such a statement make it onto the BBC’s pages in the first place, though? That’s anyone’s guess.
. Hazhir Teimourian is a writer and journalist, and he reviewed BBC World Affairs Editor John Simpson’s latest book ‘The Wars Against Saddam: Taking The Hard Road To Baghdad’ for the Literary Review this month (unfortunately offline at the moment). Teimourian’s review is headed ‘The BBC Tribe At War’. The headline caught my attention, and what he had to say held it completely.
Teimourian is of Kurdish origin, but has lived in Britain and been associated with the BBC for over thirty years. He is an accepted expert on Middle Eastern conflict. Nevertheless, he approaches Simpson’s book warily because he believes that Simpson, and the BBC World Service,
‘loses no opportunity to denigrate Britain’.
While praising the ways that in parts of the book Simpson captures events he has been a part of, he accuses him in one place of mounting ‘a tribal defence of the BBC in Baghdad’.
The title of Simpson’s latest book is, he argues,
bound to light up the heart of every Arab nationalist and Muslim zealot, implying that all of Saddam’s wars were imposed on him by the wicked West.
Teimourian also criticises the failure of Simpson’s book to hold to account the Ba’thist hierarchy- including Saddam- for its desolation of Iraq. Simpson, he says,
‘lets Saddam off almost completely’ over the deaths of children during the era of sanctions, and ‘this book will be used all over the world as the considered opinion of the BBC’s World Affairs Editor to ‘prove’ the inhumanity of his country’ (the UK) .
This is the same John Simpson who recently joined conspiracy theorist and BBC World presenter Nick Gowing in his indictment of US forces, accusing them of the ‘ultimate form of censorship’ in killing journalists in Iraq. If the World Affairs Editor of the BBC expresses his views in this way (and there is plenty more ‘rich’ material from Teimourian’s review of Simpson’s new book to be continued…), who can be surprised that the BBC coverage is as it is.
It’s puzzling why the BBC’s coverage of the Iraqi foreign minister slamming the UN has omitted the harshest words he had for the supranational organisation. In case you missed it, the New York Times — unlike the BBC — did find it fit to print:
“Settling scores with the United States-led coalition should not be at the cost of helping to bring stability to the Iraqi people,” Mr. Zebari said in language unusually scolding for an occupant of the guest seat at the end of the curving Security Council table.
“Squabbling over political differences takes a back seat to the daily struggle for security, jobs, basic freedoms and all the rights the U.N. is chartered to uphold,” he said.
Taking a harsh view of the inability of quarreling members of the Security Council to endorse military action in Iraq, Mr. Zebari said, “One year ago, the Security Council was divided between those who wanted to appease Saddam Hussein and those who wanted to hold him accountable.
“The United Nations as an organization failed to help rescue the Iraqi people from a murderous tyranny that lasted over 35 years, and today we are unearthing thousands of victims in horrifying testament to that failure.”
Now, exactly why would the BBC find these quotes irrelevant and not worth reporting?
Read Melanie Phillips on an exchange between John Humphrys and Sir Jeremy Greenstock, Britain’s top diplomat in Iraq.
Humphrys: ‘Doesn’t that rather weaken the argument for having gone to war in the first place? If he didn’t have support in the Arab world; if he didn’t have (as we must assume in the absence of any evidence that he didn’t have WMD)…’
Eh? What an astonishing series of non sequiturs! Saddam was a threat because he wanted to overthrow his neighbours, not because he was always round there watching a video with them. He had regional ambitions to rule the Arab world. By definition that would imply the Arab world wouldn’t have been too keen on him. And as for the ‘assumption’ that because WMD haven’t been found, they never existed — for heaven’s sake, is there absolutely no-one in the whole of the BBC’s editorial hierarchy who can tell Humphrys that this argument, which he loses no opportunity to make, is simply idiotic? Or do they all share this obsessional delusion?