This is regarding a comment from Dez on an open thread which had already dropped off the main page by the time I noticed it. I haven’t had time to put together the response his comment deserves, and since I think there is an important point to be made here, I’m making it a main post rather than continuing the discussion in the middle of an old thread.
A week ago on a previous Open Thread, John Horne Tooke commented in response to a criticism of BBC reporting by “As I See It” that the BBC’s biased coverage of the US had convinced his college-educated daughter that Republicans “do not believe in science”. It was on Page 7 of this Open Thread (Js-kit/Echo won’t allow linking directly to a comment).
That’s obviously about either Creationsim or Warmism, or both, on which the BBC has form. Basically this is based on the assumption that all Republicans are “climate deniers” and Christians who believe that the Earth is 6000 years old. The BBC has declared that skepticism that human activity is the driving factor in Global Warming is “anti-science”, and so all Republicans get tarred with that epithet, even though there are plenty who buy into Warmism. As for Creationsim, people like Justin Webb and Nicky Campbell (R5L Sept. 8, 2011) have conflated a belief in God as Creator (a very broad term) with the belief that the Earth is only 6000 years old, and suggested that, for example, both Sarah Palin and Rick Perry are unfit for high public office because of it. In the case of JHT’s daughter, she got it from Chris Evans. There’s probably also something there about opposition to embryonic stem-cell research being anti-science. It’s easy for the BBC audience to assume that this is the case for all Republicans, since the Beeboids themselves keep reinforcing that opinion. In short, biased BBC reporting, along with constant partisan attacks from BBC Light Entertainment personalities, forms incorrect opinions.
So I extrapolated from that to a pet peeve of mine, and replied that if JHT’s daughter also thought that the Tea Party movement was driven by crypto-racism, he’d know whom to blame. I was of course referring to the BBC US President, Mark Mardell, along with the fact that the majority of BBC reporting about the Tea Party movement has suggested that opposition to the President was based more on the color of his skin than on any policies. There’s plenty of evidence for this, which I’ll get to in due course. Dez disagreed with me. His comment in full is below the fold.
Hell Yeah! Because it can’t be anything to do with the idiots pictured here:
And it can’t be anything to do with The Patriot Freedom Alliance:
No! It’s all the fault of Mark Mardell because he told the BBC College of Journalism that; ”I’ve been to lots of Tea Party meetings and I honestly don’t think most of them are racist… I think for them it is about the Government spending their money…”
Bascially, Dez’s argument is that since others besides the BBC have pointed to fringe elements and isolated incidents, the BBC cannot be blamed for influencing public opinion on this matter. I won’t put words in his mouth and say that Dez also believes that the Tea Party is driven by racism. I think he does, although I’m happy to be corrected if he chooses to explain himself. Furthermore, he’s also misrepresenting what Mardell actually said at the BBC CoJ.
First of all, let’s discuss who influences public opinion. 50% of the UK public watch the BBC for their news. The BBC has far more influence there than any other television news organization. BBC News Online is Britain’s most popular news website, especially seeing a 109% boost in visitors during the last two years from that desirable 18-24 year old demographic. Nobody has as much influence in online news as the BBC. Outside of that, while Radio 4 has lost some of its audience share, Chris Evans has nearly 9 million listeners. So when he says the Tea Party is racist, he reaches more people at the same time – including JHT’s daughter – than just about anyone else in Britain who isn’t an athlete, royalty, or on X/Strictly whatever. Then there are all the Left-wing comedy programmes and news quizzes, on both radio and tv. The Beeboids at the Today Programme believe they set the agenda for the nation’s news each day. No other media organization has anything like the number of channels or online presence or audience figures of the BBC. It’s not even close. The BBC has by far more influence on public opinion than the rest of them.
The Daily Mail may have passed the New York Times as the top online news source, but how much is that due to celebrity gossip and photos of women in bikinis, never mind the fact that the NY Times has a pay wall which cuts readership short? The Mail got 45.3 million unique visitors in December, Those figures are worldwide, not only British readers. The BBC suggests that’s more about “popular journalism”, big photos, an search engine optimization than the quality of the actual hard news, so it’s difficult to claim that the Mail has more influence on public opinion than the BBC. Sure, the Mail can raise a fuss sometimes and affect a tiny bit of change, as Russell Brand and Jonathan Ross found out. But do 50% of the public get their serious news from the Mail, or do more of the British public read their website for news than BBC? Clearly not.
So I think it’s fair to say that the BBC has more influence on public opinion than any other media outlet. Does the BBC overwhelmingly try to tell you that the Tea Party movement is racist, inspired by racism, or is filled with racists? Yes. The list is seemingly endless.
Jonny Dymond recently made a dishonest report about how hate groups are on the rise because there’s a black President. This was part of the BBC Narrative which began in 2008, that opposition to The Obamessiah can be due only to skin color and not policy.
In one of his earliest blog posts since taking over for Justin Webb, Mark Mardell was openly asking if opposition to the President was driven by racism. He said that, considering how important racism has been in US political history, “it would be strange if it now mattered not a jot”. In his first weeks on the job, Mardell was already ignoring the main economic policy points of the Tea Party movement and Republican opposition to a Democrat President, and focusing instead on a suspicion he has, based on small evidence.
Not long after that, Kevin “Teabagger” Connolly was pushing the same Maureen Dowd article from the NY Times that Mardell waas. In that same post, David Vance also tells us about Gavin Essler in the Daily Mail scowling at those Hitler signs, and whipping up fear that someone might assassinate the President. So even if the Mail does have a negative influence on the public, we can partly blame Beeboids for that, too.
There have been plenty of comments on this blog about Richard Bacon and Victoria Derbyshire pushing this same Narrative, never mind all those edgy comedians who make a good living working the Left-wing tropes.
The next issue is whether or not Dez is correct that the outliers his examples highlight are enough to convince someone that the Tea Party movement is, in fact, racist. I’ve spent a lot of time on this blog trying to show that, contrary to BBC reporting, the movement is actually driven by people’s unhappiness with the President’s and the Democrats’ economic policies, and there’s no need to get into all that here.
The short answer is that every large gathering and movement is going to have its parasitical fringe element, people who ride the coat tails of the larger movement to push their own issues. It’s become a cliché that every Left-wing protest march will feature someone with a “Free Palestine” sign or a “Troops out of Iraq” placard or a hoodie with that “A” for Anarchy symbol, regardless of the issue of the day. But we don’t say that the student riots protests against tuition fees were driven by support for the Palestinian cause. The same thing goes for Right-wing gatherings and pro-life supporters or similar. So there are obviously going to be some racists somewhere who see protests against the President as an opportunity to bare their own racist grievances. It can’t be helped. Hell, there might even be people who actually are racist, but are also legitimately concerned about the destructive economic policies.
However, I’d say that it’s impossible for a grassroots movement which grew into a national phenomenon to be largely driven by racism if Herman Cain and Col. Allen West got so much support from them. The second Tea Party protest I attended back in 2009 was hosted by a black man. And how racist can people be who vote for Bobby Jindal or Marco Rubio? Or are there actual racists who hate black people but have no problem with Indians or Hispanics?
But I think it would me more informative to instead answer a question with a question.
If we’re supposed to accept that the Tea Party movement is driven by racism based on a few outliers and isolated incidents, would Mardell and Connolly and John Horne Tooke’s daugher and Dez equally say that the Occupy Wall St. movement is driven by anti-Semitism if I provided several examples? Would they do what we’re so often instructed not to about Muslims and extremism or young black men and crime, and stain the majority for the behavior of the few? Would, then, the following be enough evidence to declare that anti-Jewish sentiment does matter a jot in the Occupy movement:
Pete Sutherland traveled to Zuccotti Park all the way from Georgia Friday, shivering as he wielded a handmade sign that read, “The Reason the Arabs Hate Us.”
“Jews are the smartest people in the world,” said Sutherland, 79. Not in a good way.
“They control the media.”
But no one tells the truth about the Hebrew people, as he sees it, because “the media doesn’t want to commit suicide by losing the Jewish advertisers.’’
“I’m not anti-Semitic,” he finished.
The New York Times thought the Occupy movement was getting such a bad reputation that they went out to make a story defending them. The Times instructs us not to smear the majority for the acts of a few.
Occupy Wall Street Has an Anti-Semitism Problem
A quick sampling of the anti-Semitism on display among the Occupy Wall Street set yields the flamboyant and aggressive protester who yells,“You’re a bum, Jew” at his yarmulke-wearing interlocutor; the conspiracy theorist who laments that “Jewish money controls American politics,” and warns the Russians not to let the Jews take over Russia too; and the self-described Nazi with the swastika tattoo who regrets that America has been handed over to “other people.” Ah, people power.
I could go on. So do we declare that the Occupy movement is mainly anti-Semitic, or that it’s fair for people to get that idea? I didn’t say so after my encounter with the Occupiers at Zuccotti. In fact, I said that, despite the videos I’d seen and reports I’d read, I hadn’t seen any real anti-Semitism there, and so wouldn’t declare the entire movement tainted. Which brings me to my final point: Dez’s misrepresentation of Mardell’s CoJ appearance and misunderstanding and mischaracterization of my comment.
You can watch Mardell speak for himself here. (@ around 54:20 if the link isn’t direct)
Mardell mocks a Southern white woman while confirming his off-camera colleague’s opinion that racism was certainly a factor in the 2008 election. “You knew exactly what it was,” he chortles. He then says that he doesn’t think “most” of the people at Tea Party protests he’s been to are racists. “Certainly not in a straightforward sense.” Dez conveniently elided that bit. Which leads to his error about what I said. Mardell isn’t saying that most of us aren’t racists, he’s saying that it’s there underneath the surface of the economic issues. “Deeper than that, it’s about the Government spending their money on people who are not like them.” Dez conveniently elided that bit as well. Dishonesty? Or a simple mistake? Only Dez can tell us.
I said at the time, and have repeated many times since, that Mardell believes the Tea Party movement to be driven by crypto-racism. His own words tell you so. Now, I’m not blaming Mardell’s appearance at the CoJ for people being misinformed. That’s a misunderstanding on Dez’s part. What I am saying is that Mardell, the BBC’s top man in the US, believes it to be true, and that it influences his and his fellow Beeboids’ reporting. The question from his colleague presupposes that racism is a factor, and Mardell confirms it. This tells us the editorial opinion of and the conventional wisdom at the BBC, which informs all their reporting on the issue. In other words, they already thought that, long before Mardell’s appearance at the BBC CoJ. This is a problem. Aside from the smear factor, it also causes them to ignore or play down the real economic issues behind the opposition to the President’s and the Democrats’ agenda. Mardell can acknowledge that excessive government spending is a concern, but deep down it’s driven by racism. Even when writing about Herman Cain’s popularity, he actually thinks it’s important to ask if the man’s black skin would “bother any right-wingers”. So Dez’s portrayal of Mardell is absolutely false.
Of course there’s no memo going out telling everyone to push the racism angle or anything. It’s just groupthink, reinforced from the top. They read it in the Washington Post and the New York Times and the HuffingtonPost, and they hear it from their Left-wing associates and friends, and laugh at it with their favorite Left-wing comedians. It’s visceral, and is spread throughout the BBC. That’s why you hear it not only from Mardell and Dymond, but from Bacon and Campbell and all the rest of them.
And that’s why 50% of the public who watch BBC News, as well as heavens knows how many more who rely on BBC News Online – who combined make up the majority of the population – think the Tea Party movement is driven by crypto-racism.