(NB: This post is not by Natalie, but by occasional B-BBC poster Niall Kilmartin.)
It’s not the jokes, it’s how you tell ‘em: BBC red-button news this morning reported the arrests in the US. The final sentence of the report was:
New York has been on alert for a new terror assault since the 9/11 attack claimed by Al Quaida militants
(no emphasis in original) Al Quaida do indeed claim the attack and one would hardly accuse them of lacking militancy, so the sentence is not factually wrong. It seems an odd way to put it – except, I suppose, inside the BBC, where it presumably seems natural to phrase things to accommodate the ‘truther’ viewpoint. (As the post below suggests, some other viewpoints get less consideration.)
Similar ‘how you tell it’ thoughts occurred to me during last night’s 10 o’clock BBC news in a piece on the never-ending expenses scandals. As usual, numbers were balanced: they mentioned one Labour MP and one Tory MP (there are few LibDem MPs so I concede some difficulties in their mentioning a LibDem every time as well). The report on Hazel Blears consisted almost entirely of a summary of Labour MPs’ sympathy for her and criticism of Gordon’s criticism. It was all reportage of others’ views but it had a ‘sorry for her’ flavour and lacked balancing hostile remarks – except Gordon’s, and ‘her behaviour was unacceptable but she’s doing a great job’ (I paraphrase) is already balanced, whatever else you may say about it. No such considerate remarks were reported of the Tory MP whose ducks benefited from our taxes; no suggestion that spending public money on wildlife habitat was very much the norm these days. To be sure, there were probably no sympathetic remarks to report: David Cameron’s statement about him was not as ‘balanced’ as Gordon’s about Hazel, and if any Tory felt otherwise, perhaps they (wisely) kept it to themselves.