Open thread – for comments of general Biased BBC interest:

Please use this thread for off-topic, but preferably BBC related, comments. Please keep comments on other threads to the topic at hand. N.B. this is not an invitation for general off-topic comments – our aim is to maintain order and clarity on the topic-specific threads. This post will remain at or near the top of the blog. Please scroll down to find new topic-specific posts.

Compare And Contrast – Again

The BBC are at it again. Yesterday I noted how the nationality and immigration status of a police killer is newsworthy if the killer’s American but not if he’s Somali.

Here’s the conviction of a bigamist and con-man.

“American William Jordan, 41, who has at least 10 children, wove a web of lies to con his victims, a court heard.”

Mr Jordan is a naturalised British citizen. But apparently he’ll never be British enough for the BBC.

Here’s the conviction of some killers.

“South Londoners Diamond Babamuboni, 17, his brother Timy, 15, and Jude Odigie, 16, were convicted of manslaughter. The four will be sentenced in February.”

The “South Londoners” are Nigerian nationals and illegal immigrants, but that doesn’t get a mention in the BBC report.

Probably just not relevant or newsworthy. After all, it’s not as if foreign criminals are a big news story.

One in 20 Hispanics ‘goes hungry’

BBC Views Online informs us that: One in 20 Hispanics ‘goes hungry’:

Five per cent of Hispanics in the US regularly go hungry and as many as 20% do not have sufficient access to nutritious food, a US report says.

Poverty and lack of awareness about state entitlements are the causes, says the study by Hispanic civil rights group the National Council of La Raza.

Hmmm, do we think that, possibly, maybe, the “Hispanic civil rights group the National Council of La Raza”, might just have the teensiest of agendas? Wouldn’t it be good to be told the origins of these claims up front, in the first paragraph, the one in bold, instead of the official sounding ‘a US report’ says?

Immigrants also face a series of linguistic, legal and cultural obstacles in accessing enough food.

Really! That’s shocking. Do you think they’d have realised that before they became immigrants? While we’re at it, compare and contrast this BBC concern for the welfare of Hispanic immigrants to the US with the BBC’s concern for British immigrants to Spain, as spotted by my colleague Laban the other day:

“It would be helpful if they could integrate a little more – why can’t they learn the language? It’s just lazy, isn’t it? Why don’t they bother to integrate more?”

To be fair to the BBC and their unvarnished reporting of this typically tedious ‘A report says…’style space-filler, I have heard that things are so bad in the US that large numbers of Hispanics apparently run, jump and swim across the border with Mexico every day. Oh no, wait, can someone remind me which way they’re heading?

More comparing and contrasting

The news headlines at 3am:

Sky News: President Bush has admitted that American Forces are not winning in Iraq yet.

BBC News 24: President Bush has admitted that American Forces are not winning in Iraq.

I wonder which of these subtly different headlines reflects Bush more accurately. Any guesses?

Compare And Contrast

When American David Bieber was convicted of killing police officer Ian Broadhurst in Leeds, BBC coverage left you in no doubt as to his nationality.

The report of his conviction opens with the words “A former US Marine“. He is portrayed as “the clean-cut, all-American boy“. We even have a report asking why UK immigration “failed to stop a killer“.

Another police officer was murdered in West Yorkshire recently, by Yusuf Abdillh Jamma, 20, “of Whitmore Road, Small Heath, Birmingham“. You’ll search the article in vain for the word ‘Somali‘.

It’s not as if the BBC are suppressing his nationality – they described it back in May. It just doesn’t seem to be considered of interest or pertinent – unlike Mr Beiber’s.

The trouble with this sort of ‘unwitting and unconscious’ racial bias in BBC news coverage is that you start wondering which other stories have had the appropriate racial filter applied.

The BBC reported this morning on an investigation into the ‘grooming’ of under-age girls in Oldham. There was a similar investigation in another Pennine town a couple of years back, unreported on the BBC website but the subject of a Channel Four documentary, a BBC Five Live report and a police investigation, in which the victims were overwhelmingly from one community and the perpetrators from another. You have to assume from the BBC Oldham report that no such scenario exists there – or they would have reported it. I think.

UPDATE – anyone reading this after around 11 am this morning might not understood my reference to the grooming story, which has changed utterly since I read it at 7.50 and should really be a separate report. The title, “Inquiry into sex grooming cases” is now “Five charged over abuse inquiry” and refers to specific criminal charges against named individuals, dating back to August. Thanks to the excellent Revisionista, we can see that the BBC are currently on revision 6. I read revision 2 which was as follows :

Inquiry into sex grooming cases
Wed Dec 20 07:40:12 GMT 2006
A major investigation is under way into the sexual abuse of as many as 20 girls in Oldham, some as young as 12.
It is alleged they are befriended by older men, who buy them expensive gifts. The relationship later turns sexual and the girls are abused.
Police said while it was a big problem, they did not have evidence it was an organised paedophile ring.
They have arrested more than 20 men, five of whom have been charged with offences including abduction and rape.
In care
The men are said to pose as “boyfriends” but they are much older than the girls.
They are not previously known to the girls, whom they approach in public places.
The men provide gifts such as mobile phones, electronic gadgets, and perhaps drink or drugs.
After a time the relationship changes and, it is alleged, the girls – a small number of whom are in local authority care – end up being physically harmed or forced into sex.
The council and police believe as many as 20 girls – aged between 12 and 17 – could have been abused.
The joint inquiry was carried out by police, Oldham council, Oldham Primary Care Trust and the charity Barnardos.

UPDATE – the Telegraph reports on the same issue. Any differences between that and the coverage of the £3bn tax-funded BBC ?

“Suppressing uncomfortable information (unless it’s about America or Israel). It’s what we do.”

They are like ravening beasts. What shall I feed them?

Blimey. 409 comments. Looks like it’s time for a roundup, below, and a new “open thread” post coming up in a minute.

  • An article in the New York Sun by Daniel Johnson says

    The BBC now has a huge audience in America as well as in the rest of the world for its endless reiteration of the implied thesis that the Jewish state is the root of all evil — not only of war in the East but of terrorism in the West too — and that the ” Israel lobby” rules in Washington. Gloating over the supposed triumph of Realpolitik since the midterm elections, the BBC can hardly contain its Schadenfreude at the departure not merely of Donald Rumsfeld but also of John Bolton.

(Hat tip: Alan)

Oliver writes:

“Hi BBBC – I thought this report interesting especially the line:

“The barrier goes up, and you drive in through a gap in the 30-foot high concrete wall that Israel says it has built to keep out suicide bombers.”

Love that ‘says it has’…



  • Neil Craig of A Place to Stand wrote to the BBC, copying us in. An extract:

    Dear BBCThis morning David Attenborough was interviewed on the Andrew Marr programme on the subject of putative global warming & made the somewhat improbable statement that “in 20 years much of Norfolk will be under water”. Since sea level has been rising at about 0.6 mm a year since the last ice age & does not appear to have significantly changed recently this would require much of Norfolk to be less than half an inch above sea level now which I do not believe is the case. Indeed historically Norfolk has, for geological reasons, been rising faster than the sea. Even the alarmist BBC have heretofore claimed only 30 cm* a century which amounts to 2 inches in 20 years.

    I was therefore somewhat surprised when the interviewer never even questioned the remark & finished the interview calling Mr Attenborough, whose basic claim to fame is as a BBC spokesman an “icon”, which clearly put a BBC seal of approval on it.

    If it really is the case that the BBC are officially promising us that Norfolk will largely be underwater by 2026 I will have to accept that as the sort of ridiculous propaganda which represents the very highest standards to which the BBC aspire.

    *Taken from the BBC article. A typo in Mr Craig’s email meant that the link url had been typed over the next few characters. Read the rest of his post here.

  • On a similar subject, another correspondent writes:


  • First, we know how these signed “petitions” by THOUSANDS of scientists go as reported by the BBC et al. Did deep and you’ll find a overwhelming list of left wing partisan advocates and non-”scientists”. This BBC article is no different. You get your usual suspects in this article. The BBC just carries the water whenever they put out a PR.

    US scientists reject interference

    The statement, which includes the backing of 52 Nobel Laureates, demands a restoration of scientific integrity in government policy…..[and the Bush bashing begins]

    One of the main article sources, the Pacific Institute for Studies in Development, Environment and Security is a San Francisco area left wing “green” advocacy group represented by the BBC as a “Non Partisan” organization. Well, as usual, the reporter simply didn’t look at the board of directors or it’s advisory board. Look for yourself

    The other source The Union of Concerned Scientists, again, is a green advocacy organization. Check it out.

    I don’t see this blog as having any particular collective opinion on whether and whither climate change. But we are getting quite a few emails saying, as these do, that the BBC is very much of one opinion when presenting the issue.

    UPDATE: Ian Hart, the communications director of the Pacific Institute, comments

    First, the Pacific Institute is a think tank or a research institute, not a “‘green’ advocacy group.” While we may advocate certain policies, it is not our primary goal or tool. If you look at our staff you will not find lawyers or lobbyists, but mostly scientists.

    Second, the Pacific Institute is a non partisan organization and Jonathan Amos was correct in noting that in his article. When we work with governments, we’ve worked with Democrats, Republicans, and Libertarians. We’ve also worked in numerous countries where those parties mean nothing. So we are indeed non partisan.

    Looking at its website, it is true that the Pacific Institute is non-partisan in the sense that it is not connected to any political party. The Advisory Board contains both Nancy Ramsey, the Legislative Director for Senator John Kerry (D) and the Hon. Claudine Schneider, a former Republican Representative for Rhode Island.

    Nonetheless, the Pacific institute is not apolitical. Sample quotes: “Social justice has long been the missing element from the debate over environmental pollution and economic development.” “Globalization and privatisation of the world’s resources are leading to controversy, dispute and even violence.” It favours mildly statist solutions.

    I am more sympathetic to Ian Hart’s defence of his own organisation than I am to the BBC’s description of it. The phrase “non-partisan” will be taken to mean “non-political” by most readers of the website, and I rather think the BBC knows this and exploits it – in many cases, not just this one. In particular I think that the BBC gently exploits the fact that in the US, because of campaign finance restrictions and the fact that political donations from individuals are made public there, the fact that an organisation can be non-partisan and yet have a political agenda is widely understood, whereas over here the two terms “non political” and “non partisan” are practically interchangeable. A think tank as right wing as the Pacific Institute is left wing would almost always be described as “right wing” on the BBC.


Open thread – for comments of general Biased BBC interest

Please use this thread for off-topic, but preferably BBC related, comments. Please keep comments on other threads to the topic at hand. N.B. this is not an invitation for general off-topic comments – our aim is to maintain order and clarity on the topic-specific threads. This post will remain at or near the top of the blog. Please scroll down to find new topic-specific posts.

“Why don’t they bother to integrate more ?”

Today’s Radio Five Drive show featured a BBC interviewer (around 25 minutes in, RealAudio for a week) giving immigrants a hard time :

“It would be helpful if they could integrate a little more – why can’t they learn the language ? It’s just lazy, isn’t it ? Why don’t they bother to integrate more ?”

Eh ? I’ve never heard a BBC presenter talk about immigrants like that before.

She meant British immigrants to Spain. Quite different.

David Duke, Neturei Karta and Holocaust Denial.

I do not have a means of checking the quotation from the Newsnight e-mail preview quoted in the following comment by “will” but have no reason to disbelieve it. In fact, in light of the post from Adloyada that follows, I have good reason to believe it. The comment from Will first:

Newsnight on Iran’s Holocaust Conference (from their e-mail preview)

In the face of international condemnation, President Ahmedenijad has hosted a conference in Tehran entitled “Review of the Holocaust”.

We’ve been speaking to some of the delegates who include the former Republican congressman and one time Grand Master of the KKK David Duke.

In Washington? No, he was a congressman in the Louisiana state government.

(Willful misrepresentation by Newsnight?)

& all Republican’s are closet KKK men? Well see who Duke overcame to win his state seat

In 1989, he ran as a Republican for a seat representing Metairie in the Louisiana State House of Representatives. He defeated fellow Republican John Treen, the brother of David C. Treen, the first Republican to be elected governor of Louisiana since Reconstruction, by a narrow margin of 51-49 percent. Duke’s victory came despite visits to the district in support of John Treen’s candidacy by President George H.W. Bush, former President Ronald Reagan, and other GOP notables.

- Wikipedia entry on David Duke

Now follows the post from Adloyada, who writes:

The BBC Radio 4 PM programme broke new ground this evening in offering David Duke airtime to justify his participation in the Iranian Holocaust conference on the grounds of “free speech” without alerting listeners to his Ku Klux Klan background, his convictions for fraud and his publication of virulently anti-semitic propaganda. It also gave an even more extended airtime opportunity to a leader of the Iran and Hamas supporting Neturei Karta, without letting its listeners know that the man was anything more than the rabbi of “an anti-zionist orthodox congregation in Vienna”.

Read the rest of the post to learn just how unrepresentative of Jewish Orthodox opinion Neturei Karta are.

I also note that the 2003 BBC article about David Duke that Adloyada links to seems to get his history wrong in just the same way as the email “will” quotes. The article says:

David Duke – who once held a seat for Louisiana in the House of Representatives

- I freely admit that the political system of Louisiana, which involves a “jungle primary” unlike any other in the United States, confuses me. But so far as I can see David Duke has never won office in the US House of Representatives. He has held office in the Louisiana State House of Representatives. There is a difference, you know. Oddly, a later sentence in the same article gets that aspect of things right:

Duke hit the Louisiana political scene in 1988, winning a seat as a Republican in the Louisiana House of Representatives after running on a “white rights” ticket.

But, wouldn’t you know it, that same sentence describes his party affiliation in such a way as to make the Republicans look as bad as possible. First off, Duke didn’t hit the Louisiana political scene in 1988 as a Republican – he first hit the Louisiana political scene in 1975 when he ran unsuccessfully for the Louisiana State Senate as a Democrat. He later ran for President, again as a Democrat. (And again unsuccessfully, in case anyone’s wondering.) Of course the BBC does not mention the official “reproval” from the Republican party nor the fact, quoted by “will” earlier, that the elder Bush and Ronald Reagan campaigned against Duke.

I would not bother quoting this old article at length were it not for the fact that the BBC seem to be making similar inaccurate statements now, possibly having got their “facts” from their earlier article.

Bishop incident “was not mugging”

Bishop incident “was not mugging” says the BBC. OK. What was it, then? The Beeb, not normally so solicitous of Christian men of the cloth, ain’t telling.

The Guardian is.

The Rt Rev Tom Butler, 66, one of the Church of England’s most senior bishops and a pillar of Thought for the Day on the BBC Today programme, says he has no idea. Others say he was seen sitting in the back of a Mercedes chucking children’s toys out of the window and announcing: “I’m the Bishop of Southwark. It’s what I do.”

I like that slogan.

Open thread – for comments of general Biased BBC interest

Please use this thread for off-topic, but preferably BBC related, comments. Please keep comments on other threads to the topic at hand. N.B. this is not an invitation for general off-topic comments – our aim is to maintain order and clarity on the topic-specific threads. This post will remain at or near the top of the blog. Please scroll down to find new topic-specific posts.

Curb your enthusiasm.

This article by the BBC’s education correspondent, Mike Baker, was published in November: “A way all children can be readers.” The article is one long exhalation of praise for a reading scheme called Reading Recovery aimed at children who are failing to learn to read. Mr Baker writes:

Is this the biggest missed opportunity in education?

Imagine if virtually no child left primary school unable to read.

Or if no teenager bunked off school and ended up in trouble with the law because their reading skills meant they could not cope.

If these things could be changed, how much might be saved?

The article talks as if all that stopped heaven on earth being established in 1995 was John Major’s Conservative government pulling the plug on funding. Later, confounding hopes placed in it by supporters of the scheme, Tony Blair’s Labour government did much the same.

Not everyone thinks Reading Recovery is wonderful. Most of the critics don’t think the programme is bad in itself. They just think it costs a fortune for the effect it has, and the money could be better spent.

Here are a few links pro and con.

An oft-quoted paper attacking it is Reading Recovery: An evaluation of Benefits and Costs by Grossen, Coulter and Ruggles.

Here is a response from Gay Su Pinnell supporting Reading Recovery.

Reading Recovery: distinguishing Myth from Reality by Tunmer and Chapman. Critical.

Reading Recovery: Anatomy of Folly by Martin Kozloff. Very critical.

Evaluation of Reading Recovery in London Schools by Sue Burroughs-Lange. Supportive.

Every child a reader: Results of the first year. This report is not pretending to be anything other than advocacy in favour of Reading Recovery. That does not make it wrong, of course, and there is plenty of information there. I think this is the document upon which Mr Baker’s article was based.

Although there is evidence that Reading Recovery is helpful it does not justify Mr Baker’s uncritical enthusiasm.

For instance, the paper by Sue Burroughs-Lange compares the results for 234 of the lowest achieving children at several primary schools. It says the group getting RR did better than the control group “who received a range of other interventions.” So the control group was really several very different groups with small numbers of children in each. Furthermore, so far as I could see from the information on page 21 onwards none of the alternatives were anything like as intense as Reading Recovery, so it is hardly surprising that they were less effective. A similar criticism was made on page 7 of this paper by Jonathan Solity of the control groups for Slyva and Hurry’s 1995 favourable evaluation of Reading Recovery.

Although Mr Baker writes,

It [Reading Recovery] is not an alternative to the general teaching methods for whole classes but is, instead, a highly structured intervention strategy for rescuing children who are struggling to take even the first steps towards reading.

True, but in the real world any one use of money excludes other uses of the same money. The strategy of taking children out of class for one-to-one instruction by people specifically trained in Reading Recovery is very expensive. It also (and in the context of teachers’ interests the expense may not be a bug, but a feature) can be used as an alternative to having general teaching methods for whole classes that might gain better results with the use of fewer trained personnel.

(My personal opinion is that the history of the teaching of reading over the last century could be described as one long epic struggle by educators of every clime and tongue to avoid admitting that progressive methods don’t work. A century of toil has almost sufficed to bring us back to the standard reached by the Victorians.)

In the US, Reading Recovery is more politicised than in the UK, there having been a big bust-up over its inclusion or exclusion from a government programme called Reading First. It is seen there as being on the anti-phonics side of the Reading Wars. This is not quite fair. The founder, Marie Clay, sought to minimize the explicit teaching of phonics, but the phonics component has been increased since.

One wouldn’t necessarily expect all that detail to be discussed in this one BBC article, and one certainly wouldn’t expect the state broadcaster to rant away like a common blogger. But the BBC could have done better than just “For the last 10 years there has been no shortage of research evidence showing its effectiveness.”