You may often come to the conclusion that BBC presenters are ignorant of the subjects on which they are interviewing and have undue reliance on, or respect for, the interviewee ‘expert’ and subsequently fail to challenge him or her on their statements…either out of lack of subject knowledge, too much deference or all too often a set of beliefs which are in line with those being stated and so the presenter is disinclined to question them.
It seems that at least one person in the BBC itself has noticed this propensity for sitting back and accepting any old guff as insightful and knowledgeable comment.
William Dalrymple, it should be noted, is an English writer gone ‘native’ in India..one who has an affinity for the Muslim world view…and is inclined to make excuses for the Muslim terrorist….and as he himself says he is…‘an anti-colonial Scot, who has written fiercely critically of the Raj for a quarter of a century. ‘ No wonder perhaps that the BBC asks for his opinion on events so frequently.
This is a letter from a BBC employee to Ariel Magazine concerning an interview with Dalrymple…
‘Historian William Dalrymple was interviewed on Saturday, December 29 on the India rape story.
Twice he made derogatory, inflammatory comments about ‘Jatts’ – the community of North-west region (Punjab) – leaving the listener with an impression it’s this community that is a problem (if not to blame).
At no time was he challenged. Presumably, none of the PM team had heard of Jatts, so had no idea to whom the historian was referring – hence took his ‘expert’ view.
Like me, the majority of Jatts are Sikhs, not Hindus. They’re a minority community in India, mostly farmers, regularly caricatured in Bollywood films as uncouth country bumpkins.
Mr Dalrymple played on this prejudice at what is a highly emotive time in India. We have yet to know more about the accused – who they are, where they come from – but for him to use his interview to demean the Jatts was irresponsible and dangerously misleading.
More importantly, it was also lazy journalism on the part of Saturday PM. It may have been a quiet period during the festive season, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try to get a guest who was ‘best fit’ for this sensitive story. Mr Dalrymple was not.
All the team needed to do was to contact the WS Hindi team (London or Delhi) who’d have given good guidance and even suggested the right guest – one or two of the correspondents specialise in women-related issues and guested on World News on the story. All that rich resource at PM’s fingertips – unused. What a waste.
Guess WS Language teams still have a job to register on the radar of ‘big’ national programmes, be they radio or TV. ‘One BBC’ still has a way to go.’
Jat Dhillon, senior producer, BBC Global India TV and World News