The Director of the IRS’s tax-exempt enforcement division, Lois Lerner, has been placed on “administrative leave” after her publicly derided appearance in front of Congress the other day. Reality forces the BBC to report on a story they were quietly avoiding until the story got too big to ignore.
There are some glaring omissions here, as well as the usual partisan bias we’ve come to expect from the BBC’s coverage of US issues. Instead of my usual lengthy and tedious essays parsing every little word, I’m going to try something different. This time I’m simply going to rewrite the piece as if I were an editor, taking the bulk of what’s already been written and adding important things I believe they left out, and making a few changes to remove the partisan bias.
Read the BBC article above, and then read my version. Please compare and contrast, and let me know which version better informs you. (more…)
Everyone knows by now how the BBC got it wrong on Benghazi. I made a post about how the BBC was censoring news of what really happened on Sept. 13, 2012, two days after the attack. Plenty of people here from then on posted links to stories about it, and we all wondered why the BBC kept ignoring it or simply followed the White House talking points and dismissed those complaining. Now we know why they did this. As Mark Mardell has admitted (h/t DB), he thought it was all just partisan attack nonsense to which he needn’t pay attention.
In the interests of full disclosure I have to say I have not in the past been persuaded that allegations of a cover-up were a big deal. It seemed to me a partisan attack based on very little.
His very next sentence suggests that he was more convinced by a different spin on the incident, because it came from sources he was more likely to trust.
I remember listening to reports from the BBC and others at the time that did suggest the attack in Benghazi was a spontaneous reaction to a rather puerile anti-Islamic video.
Even though I’m not a journalist, I’ve heard enough from actual Beeboids who used to comment here, as well as from self-proclaimed journalists who’ve made attempts to explain it, not to mention the statements made by Mardell himself and the head of the BBC bureau in the US about how they decide what gets published/broadcast, to know that, no matter how hard everyone tries to be impartial, personal opinion is going to inform decisions on some level, at some point in time. The BBC’s top man in the US has now admitted that his personal opinion of both the sources of the complaints and what he understood of their merits prevented him from taking it seriously. It can’t be much of a stretch to conclude that the BBC in general took the same position. After all, they do tend to follow the lead of their fellow Left-wing journalists in the US.
One has to wonder just how much he knew about the complaints of mistakes regarding embassy security and the cover-up of what the Administration knew and the consequential lies to the victims’ families and the public about it, including lies told by someone at least one Beeboid sees as a global inspiration. Did Mardell simply dismiss it all because it was coming from Republicans, people he’s described on more than one occasion as “enemies” of the President? Not to mention the fact that everyone knew this was going to be a major issue in the campaign to re-elect Him. The BBC doesn’t like to report things which make Him look bad, and are more interested in demonizing opponents than investigating what’s going on. Mardell certainly has form on dismissing any criticism of Him as partisan attacks with little merit.
The day after the attacks, people were posting other news items on the open thread here about what actually happened, and showing what the BBC kept leaving out. It was clear even then that the President and His Administration was not being truthful, pushing the phony story about that video causing it. At the time, Mardell bought it hook, line, and sinker, and even seized on it to take a swipe at Mitt Romney (then the Republican nominee contesting His re-election). The BBC wasn’t interested in reality then, and continued to cover their eyes and ears for months. Defenders of the indefensible love to dismiss things because of the source (Fox News! Fox News!), refusing to even go into the merits of any of it. Yet who’s getting the last laugh now? One has to wonder if Mardell and the BBC similarly dismissed the merits of the stories simply because they didn’t like the source.
The fact that the BBC is only now getting around to admitting all of this and reporting it is revealing of how they prioritize news stories. It was only after the latest round of hearings started and the revelations were spread across the front pages of their preferred news outlets for more than a day that they decided is was newsworthy. The revelations had been out for days before that, and in some cases, weeks and months. Yet the BBC couldn’t be bothered. A simple news aggregator would have kept you better informed, and you could all decide for yourself what had merit and what didn’t. The gatekeepers failed you here.
The BBC has form on censoring deciding stories simply aren’t worth your time, only to be forced by reality to report it much later on, long after everyone here knows all about it. For example:
“Fast & Furious”, where the Administration oversaw guns being sold illegally to people who they knew would sell to Mexican drug cartels, without tracking them, in the hopes of creating a body count on which they could exploit to push for stricter gun laws, and then tried to cover it up.
They censored almost all news about the billions sent down the Green Toilet to failed green energy businesses run mostly by Democrat money-bundlers.
They’ve also censored news of all but two gaffes by the President, as it conflicts with the “He’s so suave and cool and far more intelligent than the inarticulate Bush” groupthink. Bush got no such protection, as even the slightest misstep was ridiculed for your benefit.
There’s plenty of other stuff the BBC thought you didn’t need to know. Have a look at this list and judge for yourselves if any of it was newsworthy or not.
The latest major story the BBC has so far kept from you is the admission by the IRS that they’ve been illegally targeting and harassing Tea Party groups and other non-Left organizations. This has apparently been going on for some times, as a top Administration official (at the time) inadvertently mentioned over two years ago that the President’s inner circle had illegal access to tax information of their political opponents. It’s a big deal, but in the interests of keeping this from being yet another of my tediously lengthy posts, I’ll just link to an op-ed from the national newspaper perhaps respected most by the BBC: the Washington Post. Not Fox News, not Breitbart, not Jihadwatch, not Glen Beck. It’s simply not possible for defenders of the indefensible to dismiss this because of the source.
A BEDROCK principle of U.S. democracy is that the coercive powers of government are never used for partisan purpose. The law is blind to political viewpoint, and so are its enforcers, most especially the FBI and the Internal Revenue Service. Any violation of this principle threatens the trust and the voluntary cooperation of citizens upon which this democracy depends.
So it was appalling to learn Friday that the IRS had improperly targeted conservative groups for scrutiny. It was almost as disturbing that President Obama and Treasury Secretary Jack Lew have not personally apologized to the American people and promised a full investigation.
With all this in mind, I say again that the BBC has given up being as serious news organization when it comes to US issues. They may have a titled editor on the scene, and at least 100 employees beavering away at the website and producing those “bespoke” video magazine pieces, but it’s little more than a lightweight content producer these days, with an eye to attracting the MOR and low-information crowd, along with the ad and subscription revenue that comes with their eyeballs. Your license fee hard at work. Sure, most of this is technically paid for by the commercial arm, BBC Worldwide, but there’s plenty of sharing of resources and funding. And after all, this is your official state broadcaster expanding far beyond its original remit.
UPDATE, 5/13: The BBC has now reported it. Because the President spoke out about it, it’s new. He has condemned the actions and promised to deal with it, so all is well.
“I’ve got no patience with it, I will not tolerate it and I will make sure that we find out exactly what happened.”
Zionism is an ideology or movement that asserts that the Jewish people have a right to a national home or state in what was the Biblical “Land of Israel”. There is no consensus among Zionists where the borders of the state should be. For Palestinians, the success of Zionism has meant the frustration of their national aspirations and life under occupation.
Except for one thing: there was no such thing as Palestinians or their national aspirations until after the Arabs failed twice to destroy Israel. Only then was there any movement to create the concept of Palestinians and a national identity, leading to the founding of the PLO in 1964. Only after Israel occupied territory ceded by Jordan and Egypt after yet another failed war to destroy the Jews was there even a concept of Palestinian territory. Until then, Israel’s enemies saw them as Jewish usurpers in Muslim Arab land, full stop. There was no such thing as Palestinian nationalism. Rather, the identity group was encouraged as a buffer and cannon fodder for the Arabs’ continued war against the Jews. As always, the BBC rewrites history so that 1967 is Year Zero. There was no “occupation” before that, unless one feels that the entire State of Israel has been an occupying force since 1948. That’s the impression given by this BBC article, though.
For other examples of this kind of BBC revisionism, see here, here, and here.
There was no movement for a Palestinian homeland when it was part of Jordan, or under the British Mandate, or under the Ottoman Empire or anything else. It’s a modern concept, created long after the creation of Israel. Of course, by “the success of Zionism”, one assumes that the BBC journalist who wrote this means that Israel hasn’t been destroyed yet. After all, the Palestinians’ true goal is not self-governance in Gaza and the West Bank (which they already have), but the removal of the Zionist Entity entirely. Every once and a while, the BBC admits this, but for some reason fail to mention it here. Nor do they ever mention that a Palestinian State will be Judenrein. If, hypothetically, there was a sort-of contiguous Palestinian State existing side-by-side with the Jewish State, does anyone seriously believe the Palestinians and the Arabs (and Iranians) would accept that the occupation of Arab/Muslim land had ended? Of course not. The very existence of Israel is the “success of Zionism”. That’s what the Beeboid meant here. The only logical conclusion is that, so long as Israel exists, Palestinian national aspirations will remain stunted.
(UPDATE: On further reflection, I’m now wondering if perhaps by “the success of Zionism”, the Beeboid meant not merely maintaining Israel’s existence but the conquest/occupation of Arab land. That’s more Palestinian/anti-Israel propaganda, as if 1967 was all about Israeli conquest and precious little to do with the attempts to destroy it. Can someone else find a better explanation? Or is this code for the evil Settlements?)
Whatever one thinks about the right of people who now call themselves Palestinians to their own self-governed territory, or the Jews’ right for same, the BBC is spreading a false version of history. This goes beyond mere criticism of Israel and strays into demonization territory. It’s impossible to have an honest discussion of the situation when the BBC taints the scene in this way.
Please don’t anyone try to start arguing about whether or not Israel is right or wrong, or give me any BS about how I think Israel can do no wrong or any other nonsense. This is about the BBC distorting reality in way that favors one side and demonizes the other.
I’m sure by now everyone knows about the looming swinging budget cuts that will happen automatically if no new budget deal is reached between the Republicans and the President. This is known as the “sequester”, and is the result of them kicking the can down the road a while back.
The BBC reports that the President doesn’t want this to happen, thinks it’s a bad idea, and has called on Democrat Governors to try and influence the elected Representatives and/or Senators in their States to cave compromise.
He warned the $85bn (£56bn) cuts would put thousands of teachers out of work and bring economic uncertainty.
The president has called on Congress to pass revenue rises and narrow budget cuts to avoid the automatic reductions.
The Democratic president will travel to Virginia on Tuesday to discuss the cuts’ impact on the defence industry.
“These cuts do not have to happen,” Mr Obama told a bipartisan assembly of governors at the White House on Monday. “Congress can turn them off any time with just a little bit of compromise.”
“Revenue rises”. Typical partisan language there. The Republicans refer to it as “tax rises”, of course, and the BBC uses instead the Left-wing terminology. Is the President offering to compromise as well? Don’t be silly. He doesn’t, and shouldn’t have to. According to Mark Mardell, when Congress is controlled by Democrats who don’t need to negotiate with Republicans to pass His plans, it’s a Golden Age.
Unsurprisingly, there’s another point of view that these cuts won’t really do much damage at all. In fact, spending will actually continue to rise and rise. The “cuts” just mean that the spending will rise slightly less than it would have otherwise. Does that sound familiar? Even Forbes admits this. Equally unsurprising is the fact that, not only does the BBC refuse to acknowledge this, but they even manage to quote a cuddly Republican, Sen. McCain, who says he doesn’t totally blame the President and is hoping for a compromise to protect the defense industry.
The BBC dutifully informs you that both sides of the aisle will try to blame each other. So, whose fault is this, really? The BBC reports it this way:
The budget cuts, known in Washington DC as the sequester, were devised in 2011 as an intentionally painful cudgel to encourage Democrats and Republicans in Congress to strike a deal to reduce the US budget deficit.
Note the passive voice, as if the cuts materialized out of thin air during some bi-partisan discussions. In actual fact, it was the President’s idea. He and the White House have been lying about it, and the BBC plays along like the good little propaganda organ it is.
Woodward documents in his 2012 book The Price of Politics that team Obama first proposed the idea of the sequester. Expanding on his work in a Sunday Washington Post op-ed, he noted—as he has before—that both President Obama and his would-be Treasury Secretary Jack Lew lied on the campaign trail by saying the sequester originated with House Republicans. The White House has now ceded that fact.
The BBC doesn’t want you to know this, so they spin for the White House and deliberately mislead you. Defenders of the indefensible cannot impugn Woodward here. After all, not only is the above not from Fox News or Breitbart, but a previous book on the President by Woodward was lauded by the former BBC Washington correspondent and anchor of BBC World News America, Matt Frei. A diehard Obamessiah worshiper himself, Frei’s only concern then was that all the fascinating issues in the book might get in the way of the reader appreciating “the nuance of his finely-tuned brain”.
The cuts probably won’t be a big deal at all, and in fact will be considered a good start in some circles. The possibility of this is so great that Democrats and their lobbyists are worried about what might happen if there is no disaster. That’s in the Washington Post, not Fox News, not Breitbart. So the President has to do as much fear-mongering as possible, and work behind the scenes (i.e. get the Democrat Governors to do political cuts in the manner of Labour councils in Britain) to ensure as bad an outcome as possible. Is the BBC providing any analysis from this angle? Of course not. He can do no wrong. It’s not His fault, you see. And in any case, cutting government spending is a sin.
Your license fee hard at work, providing a propaganda outlet for the leader of a foreign country.
One can tell the perspective of the Beeboid who wrote this up right away from the opening lines. They tell you that the game has been approved for children as young as four right up front, as opposed to mentioning it later on after explaining what the game actually is, and the NRA’s goals for it, figuring this provides maximum shock value. It’s more important, apparently, than the fact that the NRA joined the chorus of those condemning violent video games. Which the BBC censored from the report even though they spent nearly half of it discussing the issue of violent video games. It’s the whole reason the NRA created the game in the first place. I mean, the BBC could have at least used this as an opportunity for an irony alert, right?
Oh, and this isn’t actually a new game rushed out in response to the tragedy of Sandy Hook, either. This is only a mobile/tablet app game, and is basically another version of a game the NRA put out for consoles and PC in 2006. I won’t say the BBC censored this information because I’m pretty sure they didn’t even know about it, and didn’t bother to do any research other than reading the Left-wing blogs and news reports where they usually get their ideas on how to report US issues.
The promotional blurb for the original game pretty much sums up the NRA’s reasoning for the new version:
Join the National Rifle Association for a different take on the first-person shooter. Members of the NRA gun club will wield more than 100 firearms, ranging from consumer guns to specialty and military firearms. But the difference is they’ll use ‘em without any blood or violence.
The BBC left out the part where the whole point of this is to separate violence and killing from learning respect for the tools. That’s because the BBC sees this as a horrible brainwashing technique to encourage children to love guns. Two different perspectives, you say? Well, yes. That’s the point. The BBC is reporting from one perspective, and doesn’t allow other viewpoints to interfere with their angle. They even leave out key context which may distract from the story they want to tell. The fact that I don’t like the perspective they’re reporting is beside the point if they don’t provide balance. I want them to feature both sides, not just one. It’s a point lost on defenders of the indefensible (or they simply refuse to accept it), but I’m stating it nevertheless.
Interesting side note: the original game was rated “E-10″ (everyone over age 10) by the industry’s rating board, while the current game was given the “4+” rating – by Apple. It’s an Apple app at the moment, not a regular video game release, so the ESRB isn’t involved. The BBC’s darling Apple says this is good for the kiddies, not the NRA. Instead of directing your hatred towards the NRA, you might instead want to condemn Apple for selling such a thing. The BBC doesn’t want to distract you from their agenda, though, so they leave out more key background context.
Personally, I don’t accept that games cause violence. There have been plenty of studies done over the years, and as a long-time gamer myself, I’ve never seen any evidence of it, either. Other than WWII games where there’s no choice, I prefer my violent video games to involve killing aliens, mutants, or zombies, but that’s just me. The NRA is just trying to find another excuse besides blaming guns for these mass murderers. But that doesn’t make it right for the BBC to censor key context, nor does it mean it’s okay for the BBC to report from only a single perspective. It may very well be mainstream British opinion on gun control, but then it’s biased reporting. If you want your opinion reflected in the BBC’s reporting, then fine. Just don’t claim the BBC is impartial and balanced.
Half the news brief is taken up with the defense of video games in general. One might interpret this as defending the NRA’s game. It’s really just part of the whole debate about government control over people’s behavior. VP Biden tried to put pressure on the video game industry, so the voices the BBC provides in defense of the industry concern that part of the story, and are not meant to be interpreted as the BBC providing a line of defense for the NRA’s game. In fact, the inclusion of the debate about violent video games can actually be seen as more evidence of opposition to it.
Both the original game and this new app are non-violent. No living thing is harmed, or even remotely threatened. It’s all target shooting – inanimate objects. The whole deal of violent video games is about actual physical violence against other living (or undead) things, not sterile target practice. I mean, as far as I can tell, the NRA game doesn’t even have human-shaped targets like some real-life ranges do. It’s no more violent than the archery target-shooting game in the Wii Sports package that little kids play. By following the brief, not quite whole, story of the game’s release with the noise about violent video games, the BBC is framing the game in the context of violence. The Beeboid who wrote this up sees it as violence. Again, that’s a perspective informed by their personal opinion on guns.
This is just one in a series of BBC reports on the gun control issue, and the bias is only going to get worse from here.
This latest “bespoke” video magazine feature in the BBC’s “Altered States”* series really appears on the surface to be not only a balanced presentation on gun rights and laws, but could actually be interpreted by people not paying attention as being biased in favor of gun advocates. It isn’t, but it’s very cleverly disguised.
Remember the choice of “more” and “more” in this title for later. First, let me point out that this video piece was put together without BBC influence or prompting. It was made by Charles Ledford, who recently became Associate Professor of Journalism at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He seems to be a recent hire, as he only finished his MA less than two years ago. From what I’ve been able to find online, Ledford is into exactly the kind of new digital media journalism that the BBC has been pushing for the last couple of years, and which many see as the future of journalism, full stop. No problem there, I’m just pointing out why the BBC looked to him for content. It makes perfect sense from a newsgathering standpoint.
(UPDATE: John Boch, from Guns Save Life has posted a comment below.)
Now for the bias. If we judge this piece simply on the basis of how much time is given to each side of the debate, then gun advocates win handily. More time is definitely given to their side. However, Ledford very cleverly undermines all of it.
Ledford was, for reasons unknown (not necessarily devious, just literally unknown to me, and the BBC doesn’t reveal any), doing some video journalism on the issue of gun rights for some time before the Newtown mass murder happened. So this piece was clearly not created with that particular agenda in mind. Was there an agenda anyway? I think so.
The first segment features gun advocates from the Guns Save Life group in Illinois. One of the Directors, John Naese, who seems to be acting as spokesman here, is given uninterrupted air time to explain the group’s positions on gun ownership laws.
The blurb accompanying the video on the BBC website says that Guns Save Life “are arguing for more permissive gun laws”. But are they? Considering that politicians in Illinois and in other parts of the country are always trying to enact ever more restrictive gun laws, one could just as easily say that the group is arguing to protect existing gun rights. But that would be speaking from their side of the argument. The opposite side of the argument is that they want more permissive gun laws. This bias is inherent in Ledford’s production and in the headline provided by the BBC sub editor. “More guns”. Gun advocates don’t necessarily want more guns, they just want to be allowed to keep what they own, and for citizens to keep the rights they already have. That’s not “more”.
The blurb also claims that Ledford’s video provides “an insight into the strongly held beliefs that influence discussion on this topic”. It doesn’t. What it really does is show you one perspective on the people who strongly hold certain beliefs about gun rights. Which is actually the goal of the piece. Naese pretty much just spells out the position on gun rights. There is no insight offered into the beliefs themselves. Nothing new is offered. But to people like Leford and the BBC editor who thought this was great stuff, the key is that they look down on the people who hold those beliefs.
The clever bit, though, comes after the segment featuring the Guns Save Life meeting. At the meeting, we’re treated to a scene of members reading out humorous rhymes about self defense. We then segue to the mother of a victim of some mass murder. Naturally, she is going to hold absolute moral authority, and actually claims it herself.
The first words out of the mother’s mouth are: “I don’t have a sense of humor about deadly force”.
Ooh, cuts you right to the quick, doesn’t it? Just look at those fat, hirsute, rednecks laughin’ about killin’. Pretty much destroys their argument, no? Well, no. The light-hearted scene has nothing whatsoever to do with the real attitude about gun rights, the right to bear arms, the right to self-defense. But that’s the “insight” Ledford wants to show you, and the brilliant point the BBC editor who selected this for publication saw and felt you needed to see. It’s fairly obvious that Ledford (or a student he sent over to do the interview) showed the woman footage of the fat old rednecks reading their little jokes, and asked something like, “So, what do you think of these assholes?”
Then the mother claims absolute moral authority by stating that the joking gun owners don’t know what it’s like to to lose a loved one.
If one goes by the stopwatch or word count, sure, the gun advocates get the lion’s share of the piece. But it’s very obvious where the weight of the feature lies: with the absolute moral authority of the mother who lost her only child. It doesn’t get more tear-jerking than that. The gun advocates are even given the last word, but it’s just more boilerplate, more simple spelling out of their position: banning guns doesn’t help. There’s no insight, no actual argument being made.
This, to the BBC, is the entire argument about gun rights in a nutshell: stupid rednecks who have no clue love their guns, while the reality is that innocents are killed and it hurts all of us. At no point are we given any actual insight into the gun owners’ beliefs, but we are given insight into why some people are against gun ownership. One side is portrayed as serious, based on morality and compassion, while the other side is portrayed as a figure of fun. It’s a biased piece, intended to denigrate gun rights advocates while elevating those on the other side of the argument.
Again, Ledford did this on his own. Or, at least, did part of it on his own and then got a follow-up quote or two from the Guns Save Life folks after the Newtown tragedy at the BBC’s behest. Either way, the goal is clear, which is why the BBC selected it for publication.
*I hate the BBC’s title “Altered States”. It has negative connotations, implies things have changed, and not necessarily for the better. It’s been a running theme in BBC reporting since we elected a black man as President that the country has become more divisive, more messed up, more racist. This title emphasizes that perspective. Yes, I know it’s a reference to the rather entertaining little sci-fi movie starring William Hurt about a scientist who manages to regress himself back to a primitive state of evolution. It just supports my point.
This post was inspired by a recent comment from Jim Dandy, one of our defenders of the indefensible. He said that he wanted opinion in his journalism. I expressed my disappointment that he wanted “opinionated” journalism, and he objected to what he thought was my deliberate twisting of his words.
You do know what opinionated means don’t you? It does not mean the condition of having an opinion. Or perhaps you are deliberately twisting my words.
Impartiality allows for opinion to be expressed.
I was confused by this, and asked for an explanation, which I got:
Opinionated is a perjorative term suggesting the person unduly, aggressively and dogmatically holds by their opinions.
It might be different in the US.
Still confused, I tried a different tack, and asked Jim if he felt that the BBC’s North America editor, Mark Mardell was the embodiment of his definition, to which he said, simply, “No.”
This led me to compile this collection of Mardell’s journalism to provide evidence that he does, in fact, unduly, aggressively and dogmatically hold by his opinion. Specifically his opinion that the Tea Party movement and, essentially, all opposition to the President is based on racism.
Read the following, and decide for yourselves whether or not Mardell allows his personal opinion to inform his reporting, and whether or not he has dogmatically stuck to his guns in spite of the evidence before him.
September 15, 2009, when Mardell was barely a month into his new job:
So I am describing and inviting debate, not passing comment. The relationship between black and white has been such an important driving factor in American political history that it would be strange if it now mattered not a jot. The allegation is that many of those who are calling their president “un-American” mean he is not white.
Democratic propaganda, over-sensitivity or truth? Tell me…
He says he’s not passing comment, then gives his opinion anyway. This is after he gives you a link to only one point of view from the vaunted NY Times: yes, opposition to the President is based on racism. Mardell came to the US knowing for a fact that this is a racist country. Let’s see if he learns anything in the coming years.
Just a couple of weeks later, Mardell eagerly reported that Jimmy Carter said that opposition to the President was due to racism. He then went out to try and find people to support that, but came away with only the suggestion that the African-American community thinks it’s all down to racism. To Mardell, this is proof enough. The President Himself said that He doesn’t think that’s the case, but Mardell believes He’s lying.
Just outside his restaurant, I chat to some African-American women and mention what we are doing.
“Woah woah for Carter,” one says, raising her hands above her head. “He tells it like it is.”
She cannot peer into the soul of the protesters, any more than President Carter can.
But many African-Americans may feel as though a subterranean stream has burst above ground, even if the president would rather not get caught in the spray.
This woman may not be able to peer into people’s souls, but obviously Mardell can. And he does, over and over.
Mardell and the sub editor who wrote the title are actually referring to what they see as ideological purity regarding taxation and small government, but nobody with any intellectual honesty can claim that they don’t realize the not-so-subtle reference to the idea of racial purity espoused by actual white supremacists. Mardell chose the word very carefully. After talking about policy stuff, he said this near the end of the post:
There is no display of the visceral hatred that dripped from the cable networks last summer, and little of the sense that Obama’s government is some how illegitimate, rather than just plain wrong. There is a feeling that the president promised to govern from the centre and he hasn’t. But I have to ask, is this movement really of the people, or of largely white, largely well-off people?
They’re white, so there must be an underlying reason behind their objection to expanding government and raising taxes and increasing our debt and leading us to government-provided health care. Never mind what they say out loud: Mardell is looking into their souls. This is journalism?
Curiously, when reports came out about Sen. Harry Reid’s unfortunate statements about The Obamessiah back in 2008, Mardell defended him against charges of racism.
Indeed is what he said racist, or in any other way reprehensible? Liz Cheney thinks it is racist. The Kansas Star calls the remarks “stinking racist comments”. A left wing blogger Field Negro says it is “ignorant stereotyping”. Mr Reid himself refers to the comments as “improper”.
But what has irritated me about the flood of articles is that there has been a lot of nudging and winking but few have come out and said what they find offensive.
Imagine that. The man who has no trouble declaring racism without pointing to specifics which he finds offensive is irritated by what he sees as vague hints by other people.
So let’s have a look at what he actually said. The comments come from a book out this week, Game Changes .The authors say Reid “was wowed by Obama’s oratorical gifts and believed that the country was ready to embrace a black presidential candidate, especially one such as Obama – a ‘light-skinned’ African American ‘with no Negro dialect, unless he wanted to have one,’ as he later put it privately.”
Mardell then actually defends Reid by saying he’s just “old-fashioned”. Nothing to see here, move along. Why is this not racist, but someone who objects to wealth re-distribution, full stop, without a word about anyone’s dialect or skin color, is racist? Of course, Harry Reid is a Democrat. He holds approved thoughts, so cannot be racist. However, if one holds an unapproved thought about an economic or political issue, there must be something inherently wrong with one’s character, an underlying reason for disapproving of, say, the NHS. Reid gets a pass, but as we all saw recently with Mardell’s and the BBC’s coverage of Mitt Romney, a Republican is by definition flawed for making a much less dangerous gaffe (e.g. “binders of women”).
In closing, Mardell’s defense of Reid reached new heights of hilarity:
But the guts of what Reid was saying was that many American voters were still pretty racist but some wouldn’t see Obama as “really” black. He thought Obama was acceptable to the electorate because he was light-skinned and didn’t have a voice that identified him as black. That seems to be Reid’s attempt to describe a state of affairs that may be unpleasant, but may be true. He was explaining the lie of the land as he saw it, not endorsing the views he outlined. If you can’t do that you are no good as a strategist.
You read that right: Reid was making a racist statement to highlight the racism of other people. How clever of him. Mardell really does have a magical gift for peering into people’s souls, doesn’t he? Naturally, this supports his opinion that opposition to the President is based on racism.
So here there is a great paradox: a movement that boasts its theoretical love of America and democracy but which hates its real life institutions. It’s not their fairly mainstream economic theories I strain to understand, but the passion; a passion which means that political discourse has become increasingly uncivil, filled with vitriol and abuse.
It’s nice that Mardell admits his condescension, but this is where we depart the realm of journalism and enter the land of opinion. That’s the whole point of BBC editors, of course, which causes endless problems. Notice how remarkably different his reaction to the Tea Party movement was to his opinion of the Occupiers. He loved their passion. I wonder what the key difference is?
So why is the Tea Party boiling?
Some say it’s racism. Those I’ve met are not racist but I do wonder if for some there’s a sense of lost superiority. For all their lives there’s been a white man in the White House. It’s not just that Obama isn’t in this image, he does not fit any stereotype of a black person that they know. Cool, cosmopolitan, calm and aloof. There is a sense of disconnect for what ought to be their view of the natural order.
“Some say…” He says straight out he hasn’t met any racists yet, but refuses to let go of his suspicions. He’d been in the US for over a year by that point, gone to several Tea Party gatherings, spoken with lots of politicians. Yet it hadn’t changed his opinion one iota. Is he lying that he didn’t meet any racists? Or does he just think he hasn’t worked hard enough to find them under the bed? You can almost feel Mardell straining to justify his opinion in spite of what he sees in front of him.
A woman who told me that Obama was a socialist and her country was sliding into Marxism said when he was elected president she drew the curtains for three weeks and couldn’t answer the telephone. Only the Tea Party saved her.
America is changing fast and some in the Tea Party people don’t like the loss of the assumption that white, European, 1950s America is the norm, the benchmark.
He hasn’t met any racists, but is still confident enough to tell you that some in the Tea Party are concerned about race. Not only is no evidence provided to back this up, but he even says he’s never met any actual racists. How can he get away with this?
The main speaker said: “Our name is being dragged through the mud, that we’re violent racists.” The all-white crowd cheer or just nod. I have never seen any overt racism at a Tea Party rally and don’t today.
No “overt racism”, eh? Then why bother pointing out the “all-white crowd”? A rhetorical question, I know. When people don’t hold approved thoughts, there must be something wrong with them. Having given up the struggle to justify his opinion that it’s based on racism in the face of no evidence, he’s moved on to qualifying his statements that he hasn’t found any evidence. He doesn’t have to provide any now.
Over the past year I have spoken to many supporters of the Tea Party and been to lots of rallies. I have spoken to people whose characterisation of Mr Obama and his aims seems to me way off beam, a cartoon enemy conjured from some 1950s nightmare. Some believe the constitution tightly constrains the sort of economy America must have, and that only they can define what is properly American.
Now he’s giving his opinion on Constitutional law and economics. This isn’t journalism at all. This is an op-ed piece. Like I said, this the inherent problem in the very concept of BBC (titled) editors.
There is a wide-eyed enthusiasm that is easy to mock.
Yes, very easy to mock. In fact, it’s so easy, that Mardell happily mocked one of them during an appearance at the BBC College of Journalism. First, of course, he has to give the disclaimer that he’s never seen any overt racism. The relevant bit begins at around 54:45 in, where a young Beeboid asks Mardell about the “visceral hatred” of the President.
We’re not racist, he says, “At least not in a straight-forward sense”. Oh, really? He says that underlying the concern about government spending our money, it’s really about not wanting the government to “spend money on people not like them”. No real evidence, but he remains as convinced of it as he was the day he arrived. Even if we don’t come out and wear the pointy white hoods and carry our lynchin’ ropes around, we’re still racist under the skin. And he happily mocks a woman with a Southern accent. “You knew exactly what it was.” Oh, how they all laughed, eh? To Mardell, the Tea Party is driven by crypto-racism. This is what they really think of us, and it informs all BBC reporting on US issues.
(Full analysis of the BBC’s CoJ audience with Mardell can be read here.)
A lot of time in my first two years was spent trying to understand what lay behind the anger that I had seen on TV.
As we’ve seen, he had a pre-conceived notion of what lay behind that anger: racism. So what has he learned in the intervening years?
Beyond a fairly conventional conservative concern about taxation and debt, there is an inchoate angst that their country is going in the wrong direction, that they need to “take it back”.
Some think this is code for “take it back from the black man in the White House”.
After all the evidence of his reporting on the subject, it’s quite clear that Mardell is using the standard hack trick of “Some say…” to present his own opinion. We know he’s being disingenuous here. He’s said quite openly a number of times that he thinks it’s all about race. Using this dodge is a big phony act.
It is not that simple. Nearly all of the people I met were white and most middle-aged or older. But few were racist in the conventional sense.
The only time I have seen that in the raw, I was off duty, at a dinner party. A woman growing increasingly passionate as the wine flowed called Obama a “monkey” and said “he’s trying to give OUR money to THEM”.
Not the poor, not the shiftless, “them”.
Since the woman Mardell mocked earlier was a crypto-racist and didn’t openly make any racist statements, we have to assume that this is now two clear incidents – to him – of racism, out of the hundreds of thousands or people Mardell’s seen at Tea Party rallies and whatever political gatherings he visits. Yet on the strength of this he still demonizes the entire movement, still convinced that tens of millions of people are driven by racism and not legitimate policy concerns.
“They” are part of a different America, with a different history who want a different path for their country.
A millionaire in a designer chair in his plush Chicago home, surrounded by modern art, makes the same point as the broken-toothed men perched on smashed-up office furniture outside a beat-up shotgun house in Texas.
Next to me in the pew of a Florida church, the man with a trim grey beard and a “veterans for Obama badge” tells me the same thing.
These very different people all had one thing in common. They’re black. And that means they share a history and often they also share a perception of the present.
Black Americans up and down this huge country tell me Mr Obama didn’t create this mess, and he needs time to clear it up.
They know all about patience. They know all about clearing up other people’s mess. They know about being shut out of this country’s narrative.
There’s a black history month. It rather implies that for the other 11 months, it is white history that will have its way. With Mr Obama they feel that has changed, just a little.
And with that, Mardell moves from demonizing the opposition for caring only about the color of a man’s skin to declaring that we must re-elect a President simply because of the color of the man’s skin. It means a lot to black people to see one of their own as President, so we must dismiss all other concerns. He was only recently pushing that Narrative, in September 2012. (Even then he was still declaring that opposition to the President’s policies is really only objecting to redistributing wealth “to people not like us.”) This is racialist thinking at its finest. Anyone who watched the full video of Mardell’s appearance at the BBC CoJ will also have seen him admit that the President actually isn’t quite up to the job. In other words, we must keep a poor performer on simply because of the color of his skin. He’s not that competent, but it’s okay cos He is black. The soft racism of lowered expectations lives on at the BBC.
In the end, Mardell has learned nothing. He came here with a pre-conceived opinion, and steadfastly refused to let the evidence before him change his mind. His personal opinion remains unchanged, and informs all of his reporting. Since he’s the “North America editor”, his opinion also informs other aspects of BBC reporting on US issues.
Next, we can have a debate about what it means to have opinion in journalism, and how impartiality allows for it.
Following on my post explaining the situation, here are the tweets. Some will be screenshots or some other form of publishing because the actual tweets have been deleted after the BBC staff member responsible was caught. With one exception, there are no retweets here, as that’s a separate debate. A comprehensive research project if far beyond my means, but just scanning through so many of them tells me that for many BBC employees, this is just the tip of the iceberg. Note the trends on certain issues.
Because some people seem to keep missing the point, let me repeat: This is not meant to prove that all tweets are biased, nor is it meant to prove that all BBC staff are 100% of the Left. Many BBC employees are fairly responsible with Twitter, and do not tweet their political opinions at all. This is meant to prove that those who do freely tweet their personal political and ideological opinions are nearly all of the Left. Nearly every department of the BBC is represented here, both on air talent and editors and producers behind the scenes. This also demonstrates that in many cases the line between official and personal accounts has been blurred so much as to be essentially non-existent, contrary to BBC guidelines. The whole thing needs to be trashed and re-examined.
This is mostly all thanks to the keen eye of DB, without whose vigilance this would not have been possible. I just kept a list as the sheer volume of them began to reveal certain patterns, before starting to search the feeds myself. Other contributors are: Craig, Reed, Jeff W, Guest Who, Laban, Notasheep, BBC Waste, David Vance, ChrisH, and yours truly. (Apologies if I missed anyone.)
The former presenter of Loose Women, the ITV talk show, who presents a popular Radio Scotland show, was on holiday in Tuscany when she made a series of expletive-filled Tweets about London’s mayor. She has now apologised and deleted the comments from her Twitter site.
Also, when reporting from the Republican National Convention, Adams made 10 tweets, all negative, and for only one day, Aug. 30. From the Democrat’s convention, he made 30 tweets over three days, Sept. 4-6, all positive, including the #DNC2012 hashtag. The RNC hashtag was absent from all of his tweets.
Dear America. Your president is cool, witty and classy. Everyone likes you more when he’s in charge. Love, The Rest of The World — Mario Cacciottolo (@SOTMario) November 7, 2012
Jenny Clarke, BBC Radio Manchester
Shut up going on about how great Manchester is George Osborne. We know it is and flattery will not buy our votes. Now kindly fuck off.
She soon got caught out, tweet and entire account deleted before we could get the embed code. Original tweet url was: http://twitter.com/#!/jenrclarke/status/120849989885902848. She then set up a new account @jennyfleur88. Tweets protected now.
Katie Connolly, ex-BBC US correspondent. From Newsweek to the BBC, now works at a Democrat strategy group, worked on the campaign to re-elect the President. Go figure. Lots of tweets, too much to post here, but Craig’s list and full analysis can be read here. Highlights:
this palin speech is more like a stand up routine, esp with the redneck jokes 1,273,863,138,000.00 via TweetDeck ouch. sarah palin calls us the lamestream media. #palin #nra RT @chucktodd: FOIA-requested Todd Palin related emails involving Palin’s time in office in Alaska now up on MSNBC.com. http://ping.fm/YGnCF 1,265,387,931,000.00 via TweetDeck My boss Jon Meacham responds to critics of our Sarah Palin cover photo http://bit.ly/G5iCz 1,258,492,120,000.00 via TweetDeck
She regularly corresponded with a number of JournoListas, and RTed their groupthink as often as possible.
Matt Danzico, BBC News reporter in the US, and former Obama campaigner. His Twitter page has both the disclaimer and the BBC logo wallpaper
Doing some cold calling in Bushwick to get that vote out mister. — Matt Danzico (@mattdanzico) November 4, 2008
(UPDATE: Forgot to mention this last one is from before Danzico worked for the BBC. This was from back when he was working for the 2008 campaign. Usually people go work for a political party or campaign after a stint at the BBC. I included this to demonstrate both his consistency and as an example of what is not an obstacle to being hired as an impartial journalist.) Several more can be seen here. Tom Donkin, journalist for BBC News Online Magazine
Gavin Esler, newsreader, presenter for Newsnight and Dateline
1990s verbal attacks on US govt linked by Bill Clinton to the violence of Oklahoma bombing. 2011? Congresswoman on political hit list shot. — Gavin Esler (@gavinesler) January 9, 2011
Stephanie Flanders, BBC Economics editor
Ryan is risky VP choice for Romney. Republicans now so extreme, his main appeal 4 swing voters was record as a moderate. Ryan anything but. — Stephanie Flanders (@BBCStephanie) August 11, 2012
Matt Frei, ex-BBC, now with C4, former anchor of BBC World News America
Could the GOP now define itself in its reaction to healthcare reform in a way it might regret later this year. Remember Tories = Nasty Party — Matt Frei (@mattfrei) March 22, 2010
Leah Gooding, newsreader for BBC Newsround (Screenshot because Jude Machin changed the avatar after complaints, relevant tweet deleted.) Jim Hawkins, BBC Radio Shropshire (One of many presenters who uses his “unofficial, personal” account as the official one for a BBC show)
Rachel Kennedy, BBC News editor Screenshot because Kennedy deleted the tweets after Guido Fawkes linked to DB’s post on them and it gained wider attention. Same goes for this one: Dominic Laurie, Business presenter for Radio 5 Live
Now the NHS. so we’ve had the china up yours. Now it’s the US Romney up yours! #socialism — Dominic Laurie (@dominic_laurie) July 27, 2012
RT@ismh Just gave my kids a kiss as they sleep. Thanks to healthcare reform I can afford to insure them both not just the one without cancer — Dominic Laurie (@dominic_laurie) November 7, 2012
Big event this week is attempt by Palestinians to get enhanced observer status at UN Gen Ass on Thursday. Another log on the fire. — Dominic Laurie (@dominic_laurie) November 26, 2012
Brian Limond, “controversial” BBC Scotland comedian
“Would Prince William write to FIFA on behalf of the Scotland team wearing poppies? No. Cos he thinks ENGLAND won the war.” This message was quickly followed by; “I’d love to slide a samurai sword up Prince William’s arse to the hilt, then yank it towards me like a door that won’t f@*king open.” This was eventually followed by another anti-Royal family message: “Absolutely f@*k England and its royal wee family living it up while pensioners freeze to death.”
Tweets deleted after complaints. More here. Sue Llewellyn, BBC social media expert This is the only Retweet in this collection, included here as evidence of the groupthink regarding Sarah Palin, and particularly the blood libel so many BBC journalists and other staff tried to push. Even one of the BBC’s experts in social media felt free to retweet such a thing. Now for an original tweet:
So Cameron doesn’t know what Magna Carta means. What would Andrew Mitchell (allegedly) say about that? — Sue Llewellyn (@suellewellyn) September 27, 2012
Jude Machin, BBC journalist, formerly US-based, now in UK (See Leah Gooding above) Screenshots because it’s all been sent down the memory hold after she got caught, then got caught again, then got caught again.
And there you have it. Come see the bias inherent in the system. I’ve actually lost count of how many tweets there are and how many Beeboids are represented. Someone else will have to do it now since my eyes are all bleary from laying this out.
For balance, here’s one which appears to be from the Right by James Landale, BBC News political correspondent (h/t Jim Dandy)
Net migration down “significantly”, says ONS, from 242k to 183k. Good day to bury good news??
This “First Person” segment for the BBC’s online Magazine is not journalism but instead borders on political advertisement. It’s another one of those “bespoke” video magazine pieces for which the BBC has increased their spending and staffing in the US.
Is it just me, or is that an interrogative? We should expect an answer of some kind from the piece, no? No. Unless by “answer” you mean getting told that they should be allowed to vote, which is answering an entirely different question.
I understand that the concept of “First Person” necessarily involves presenting that person’s perspective. In and of itself that’s not bias. But this goes far beyond that and is little more than an advocacy advertisement.
The entire piece is a combination of an interview with an activist for restoring voting rights to felony ex-cons, Hasan Zarif (an ex-con prison chaplain, a rather common phenomenon), and quotes from the activist group The Sentencing Project. This group identifies itself on its website as an advocacy group, but the BBC doesn’t think you need to be told. I guess it’s supposed to be obvious so they don’t need to, but it’s really just another example of the BBC declining to label a person or organization if they’re on the Left/approved side of an issue.
It’s all about justifying the restoration of voting rights to felony ex-convicts. We also get ominous interstitials informing us of gently prodding facts such as how only the Governor of Virginia (one of the states at which the BBC’s bony finger is pointed) has the power to restore the right to felony ex-cons. As if that’s supposed to be evidence against the policy. At one point, Zarif speaks with another felon who is currently petitioning to get his right to vote back. Zarif helpfully reads out the evidence that the man has turned his life around and deserves it. We’re meant to think that if this violent criminal can do it, why not all felony ex-cons? It’s a false proxy, but that’s all part of storytelling (just like the tear-jerking piano ostinato in the background).
Plus, due to the unspoken (because we all know, right?) fact that African-Americans are convicted of felonies* at a much higher rate than white people, they’re hit hardest, when the BBC tells us that more of them are affected by this policy, the message is that it is de facto racist. The real question ought to be: is this de jure racist? Do we get an alternative perspective? Don’t make me laugh. That’s not why this piece was produced.
The only moment which is even a gesture towards explaining why felony ex-cons are barred from voting is when Zarif says this:
“We have committed some terrible acts, so it is reasonable that many individuals, they don’t want to see us vote.”
That’s it. This counts as balance in BBC land. The very next sentence is back to the advocacy.
“We need to prove that we can come back to society, be contributing members of the social order, and that we can take that second chance and do great things.”
Once again that’s a reason why voting rights should be restored. At no point is there discussion as to why some States withhold the right, which is what the title asks. Why don’t the anonymous Beeboids who produced this bother to go into it? Because you’re all expected already to have the approved thought that it’s wrong, so the question doesn’t really need answering at all. If you think like them, that is. This piece was produced from that perspective.
Because the BBC isn’t interested in discussing the overall scene in the US regarding the voting rights of ex-cons, here’s some information to put this sob story into perspective. It’s always difficult for the British Beeboids (and sometimes for the US-born ones as well) to grasp the concept of States Rights (aside from slavery and the Civil War, of course – in that case they definitely act like they know all about it), so they probably don’t understand how this can be. As one would expect, the rules vary widely around the country. Some states hold that people lose the right once they’re convicted of a felony, and even there the metric varies. Maine and New Hampshire even allow felons to vote via absentee ballot from prison. Other States restore the right to ex-cons after parole, or after petition.
What’s left out of this bespoke video piece – professionally produced from a media perspective as it is – is the fact that in every single State it’s possible for an ex-con to get that right back one way or another. Every single State. But that’s not good enough for advocates: they want it restored automatically, and eventually want the right granted to incarcerated felons. The goal of this particular BBC report isn’t about that at all, but is rather about pushing the idea that felony ex-cons should have the right restored, full stop. That’s why the insterstitial about how in Virginia only the Governor can restore the right is presented so ominously.
Before any defenders of the indefensible get busy, let me remind you that my opinion on whether or not felony ex-cons should be allowed to vote is irrelevant, as is yours. This is about the bias of the BBC’s video report.
* I’m using passive phrasing here, rather than saying “African-Americans commit felonies at a much higher rate”, in the interests of appearing impartial.
Daniel Nasaw is one of the handful of Beeboids working the US beat who was actually born and raised here. In his latest feature for the BBC online Magazine, a “From Our Own Correspondent” segment, he visits a Civil War battle reenactment to use as a metaphor for a primary Narrative about the current state of US politics we hear across the spectrum of BBC broadcasting: an historic, extreme polarization.
Nasaw doesn’t so much get the basic relevant history bits of the Civil War wrong as he does the lesson which he’s trying to invent from it.
(Audio “From Our Own Correspondent” version is here, beginning @17:18)
In addition to the morale-boosting effect for the North (it was a strategic draw, really but ended Gen. Lee’s push into Union territory), the Battle of Antietam is pretty legendary because of the carnage, so it’s a good choice for Nasaw to hold up as a symbol of how horrible the splitting of the nation was. Which becomes the problem, as we’ll soon see. First, a bit about the whole reenactment thing, which seems to baffle our not-so-humble correspondent as well as amuse him much in the way natives in exotic locations reenact colorful tribal rituals amuse the tourists.
It really is a pretty big hobby, as Nasaw says. Lots of groups all around the country – even in places that weren’t remotely involved in the conflict – many with the same kind of enthusiasm and attention to detail as any historical hobbyist group. They can be as hardcore as any bunch of enthusiasts, and relaxed about it at the same time. They’re their mostly to have fun rather than declare their allegiance to any political ideology. Not that the history behind the game isn’t on some people’s minds in many cases.
Unlike Nasaw, who seems to have approached this event from another culture entirely, I’ve actually participated in one of these battle reenactments. As these things happen, a friend of a friend knew someone involved with the local historical society who was putting on one of these battles. They needed bodies, so I jumped at the chance. Also unlike Nasaw, I had no ancestors involved in the Civil War, as mine didn’t even get to the US until more than almost 40 years after it was over. I ended up dressing for the Confederate (“Rebel”) side, simply because that’s where they needed bodies. I was supplied with a period costume of civilian clothing, not a uniform, as the South couldn’t always afford everything for their troops. This also struck home the fact that – as Nasaw points out but apparently doesn’t accept – many really did come out to fight for their homes and safety of their families more than for any political ideal, or to keep their right to own slaves.
We did a few minutes of actual drills from some period military book, and learned to load and fire the percussion muskets (all replicas, not rifled IIRC) used at the time. Having to stand there furiously attempting to reload after one shot while a wall of guns fired at me from the other side, and the next rank of my team running forwards into the volley to their next spot before taking their next shot, told me in about thirty seconds a whole lot more about why these battles were so bloody and not always conclusive than anything I’d ever read on the subject. It’s all a bit of a joke to Nasaw, but it can be a real lesson. As for who decides who dies when, naturally I asked the same thing he did, but didn’t take offense like he seemed to at being told that was a rookie question. As it turned out, there were a few veterans in charge of each side who would just occasionally say, “You’re dead….now you can die….we need a couple people to die on this next volley,” and so on. Not a big deal.
Now for why Nasaw is wrong to use the Civil War for the message he wants to get across. First of all, the concern about States’ Rights goes back long before the Civil War, right back to the founding of the United States of America. It was a vital issue debated by the founders for years before and after independence. In fact, the Civil War wasn’t even the first time secession came into the picture. Of course, what’s going on here is that Nasaw is trying cast light on the polarized political situation we’re in today. We keep hearing from our media elites that the country is more divided, political discourse is more polarized than ever before. Mark Mardell likes to cite claims of grizzled veterans that we all used to get along so well, politicians were never so partisan, etc., as part of his proof that it’s never been this bad before. They’re all at it, really, because that’s the same Narrative we hear from the mainstream Left-leaning media in the US. And they’ve been doing it for some time, not just recently. It all started, we’re supposed to believe, when the US elected a black man as President. All those anti-Bush protests and the ChimpyMcBushitler posters and celebrities crying about Bush hating black people after Katrina, that wasn’t polarization, you see. It’s only when a Democrat President – particularly this One – doesn’t get His way that we’ve suddenly gone horribly wrong. For example:
October 2011, Mardell: US ‘divided society’ protests spread (Oh, hang on, that was about their darling Occupiers’ class-war rhetoric, and no Beeboid was fretting about how they were polarizing politics)
Andrew Marr’s upcoming special film about the four years of The Obamessiah’s reign will see him push the same Narrative.
I’m sure everyone has seen or heard other examples as well. So what’s the most obvious historical example of the US being divided? Exactly. Because subtlety isn’t a quality trait with media types bent on getting convincing you about their world view, Nasaw needs to spell out just how relevant this is to today’s situation. It’s where he delves into the issue of States’ Rights and slavery that he gets it wrong.
Long before Lincoln was elected, slavery was a known problem. In fact, while quite a few founders were slave owners, quite a few more were not, and even the top figures who owned slaves at the time knew it was a bad idea. However, there’s a significant economic dimension to the problem as well. Slavery was actually kind of dying out because the trade became less economically viable, but the arrival of the cotton gin kept it going long after its sell-by date, to the point where it was becoming massively difficult to shift the South’s economic engine away from it. The South would have had to diversify economically eventually, but it wasn’t going to happen any time soon. Nasaw, like so many who don’t actually understand the history, sees the Civil War as being exclusively about protecting slavery and the concept of States’ Rights as a smokescreen behind which to hide it. Although it’s watered down in the printed version, in the audio version Nasaw is more explicit about this (beginning @19:18:)
“That’s the familiar slogan wielded by Americans who want to whitewash the stain of slavery from the War’s glory.”
Well, yes and no. While it’s true that slavery was the key right which led to the secession, it’s not something that’s been a major issue from the start. There’s also the fact that many in the South have a particular cultural heritage they want to defend (this feeling might just be familiar to some of you, no?) which has precious little to do with slavery. That gets suppressed every time someone whacks them with the slavery cudgel, which leads to no small amount of resentment. Plus we mustn’t forget the trials of the Reconstruction, when much of the South was occupied militarily and politically by the North. In some places they tend to teach that ear of history as if Gen. Sherman left only last week and the remains of buildings are still smoldering in the streets. That’s caused a scar on the regional psyche which goes far beyond a single issue. In short, there’s much, much more to the whole thing than slavery alone. But that muddles the issue, and gets in the way of the metaphor you’re meant to have jammed into your brains. It’s possible that Nasaw is simply unaware of all this, didn’t learn anything other than the standard liberal tropes (history being not only written by the victors but updated by future elites), and really does see it in the simplistic terms he lays out here due to ignorance and not just pure ideology. In “reporting” from this biased perspective, he’s denigrating millions of United Statesians.
Nasaw gets a Civil War expert to tell us that today’s debate goes all the way back to the War, it actually goes back much further. Of course a Civil War expert is going to focus on his area, and of course this makes it a nice red herring. It’s here where Nasaw starts to make some offensive parallels. His goal is to make a direct tie from today’s Tea Party protests and critics of ObamaCare to those desirous of keeping slavery going. He wants to show that it’s the same mentality, the same people, the same belief system. That’s how he sees it, and that’s the story he set out to tell.
I probably don’t need to point out how this also ties right in with the overall BBC Narrative that there is really no legitimate opposition to the President’s policies and that all those complaints are really driven by crypt0-racism, but reminders can be found here, here, here, and here.
While many of the Founding Fathers were slave owners, many equally felt that it was wrong, and that it was something that would eventually have to go away. But more important than that specific issue is that, besides the North-South divide we know about today, there was also originally a kind of chasm between the wealthy Eastern States – industrial and mercantile Northeast, coastal trade cities, etc. – and the poorer, rural West. When I say “West”, however, I’m using it as defined at the end of the 18th Century. Back then, the western parts of Kentucky and Tennessee were a largely unexplored frontier. In other words, very rural, and not wealthy. Even in the country’s early years there was a kind of resentment from those States.
Added to this strain is the more obvious cultural division between the more industrial, mercantile North and the largely agrarian South. Different European heritages also played a part. A further cultural difference was that many in the Southern region looked to Republican Rome for an example of how things should work. This was fine for a largely agrarian nation, not so much for an increasingly urban and commerce-driven one. So there was an innate suspicion of too much central government power from the very start, and for a variety of reasons. Slavery was not the only causus belli.
In fact, the State of New York under Governor Clinton (not the guy from Parliament-Funkadelic, and no relation to the former President) threatened to secede back in 1788 because he felt the ratification of the very Constitution we’re talking about today actually went too far in curtailing his own State’s autonomy. That was all about finalizing borders and maintaining the independence of a country – a State with a capital “S”, which is why I tend to write it that way – which he had been enjoying until then. Like several other key figures, he accepted it once they added the Bill of Rights. Even more important was Clinton’s objection to the new Federal Government imposing a national tariff on foreign commerce, New York’s cash cow. In other words, very much like the kind of objection involving States’ Rights and the Federal Government’s ability to tax commerce we heard about ObamaCare in front of the Supreme Court. More secessionist noise was going on under President Jefferson a few years later for other reasons, which is partly why Clinton was brought in as his Vice President (Somebody ask Paul Mason about a VP pick polarizing the country, right?). Yet Nasaw wants you to focus exclusively on slavery when discussing the concept.
Basically, the Civil War was the culmination of all this stuff, which had been brewing for more than 75 years. The right of secession had long been accepted. The irony of the early instigators of the Revolution’s feelings of being slaves to the British Crown while owning slaves themselves wasn’t lost on them. They knew, but were for reasons best left to people much more intelligent and informed than I, ultimately incapable of sorting it out early on. Lessons hadn’t been learned well enough, the South became too economically dependent on free labor, a lot of people in power didn’t want to suddenly have hundreds of thousands of opposition voters appear on the scene all at once (like in Mississippi, for example, where blacks would have instantly outnumbered whites) and the rest is…well, you know.
But Nasaw doesn’t seem to know any of this. All he sees is a chance to equate slavery enthusiasts with people who oppose a Federal Government wanting to “reform healthcare systems”. The very term “reform” is loaded with positive connotations, a biased perspective on its own, although that’s a discussion for another time, and one we’ve had before anyway. Any opposition, then, to new powers of the Federal Government are similarly tainted. This stifles debate even before it begins. When a couple of the people he meets object, Nasaw sneers. He gives the game away when he asks those playing the Union side if they feel “morally superior” to the Rebels. It’s all black and white to him (no pun intended, although it’s pretty unavoidable).
If one is going to have an honest discussion about the origins of the States’ Rights debate, one has to go way past the Civil War, all the way back to the years before the founding of the country. The concept is entrenched in the US Constitution for a reason: it was vitally important to the founders, who had been debating the topic for years already. It’s about something far beyond a single issue, even one as culturally and morally important as slavery. To simply dismiss the whole thing by tainting it with support for slavery, full stop (subtext: You’re A Racist!), does a disservice to the audience, to the debate itself, and to the nation’s history.
I understand that no humble correspondent can be an expert on every subject, and it’s impossible to do in-depth research for every story. But this is a clear example of a reporter having a preconceived story he wants to tell, one that is exactly in line with the perspective put forth by nearly every other report on the subject, and really screwing with history to get his point across.
PS: Amusingly, Justin Rowlatt’s preceding segment about Las Vegas’ economic struggles gives you in a few seconds more information about the looming economic catastrophe in China than pretty much all other BBC reporting in the last few months put together. Unfortunately, though, he’s yet another Beeboid who see that the money has run out but is unable to grasp why that is.
Last week, I complained that the BBC was hiding the truth about just how badly the doomed US consulate in Libya was staffed for security. There were no marines, and precious little else in the way of proper security in a known trouble spot at a known time of conflict. I pointed out that, while Frank Gardner’s “Analysis” bit admitted that the consulate was “under-prepared”, it was a far cry from reporting the truth. I added the usual charges of the BBC not informing you properly when it makes The Obamessiah look bad.
Credit where due, Gardner wrote up a more detailed report over the weekend, in which he says outright that the US deliberately watered down the security at the consulate.
But sources have told the BBC that on the advice of a US diplomatic regional security officer, the mission in Benghazi was not given the full contract despite lobbying by private contractors.
Instead, the US consulate was guarded externally by a force of local Libyan militia, many of whom reportedly put down their weapons and fled once the mission came under concerted attack.
I applaud Gardner for stepping up to the plate here, a pretty rare event for a BBC correspondent reporting on something that directly affects the President. It’s a little late coming, but naturally we always expect the BBC to wait until all the facts are in and verified before reporting, right? Er….except when they can declare the filmmaker is Israeli, or show a sexy photo of dead bodies to support a story about an alleged massacre, or opining on air that the Toulouse killer was a white supremacist, or….well, you get the idea.
In any case, Gardner also reports about a suspected inside informant at the consulate, who gave the attackers pretty accurate information about where to go. This doesn’t reflect badly on the President in my view. This kind of thing is almost impossible to prevent, which means that more trustworthy security staff is even more necessary.
Fortunately, the BBC found a credentialed academic (well, he’s still working on his PhD, but it’s at Harvard, but has given lectures and is a research fellow at the Royal United Services Institute, so that’s credential enough) to say that none of the violence is His fault.
Shashank Joshi opens by saying that the whole Arab Spring scene has created an environment where violent protests break out more easily than ever. It’s not racist to say that Mohammedans easily become violent when left to their own devices, because Mr. Joshi is, well, you guessed it. Rest assured,though, that it’s racist when people here say that. Joshi then explores the reasons why the protests have spread.
Additionally, such violence long pre-dates the Arab Spring and frequently took place under dictators, the most prominent examples occurring in the Middle East in 2006 after a Danish newspaper’s publication of cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad.
The second argument is that we are witnessing profound anti-Americanism, dormant for much of last year, fused with religious extremism – with the controversial Innocence of Muslims film merely a trigger.
It’s not His fault, you see. And never mind the claims that this was pre-planned, and the film was merely a pretext to rouse the rabble.
According to a June 2012 Pew survey, just 15% of those in Muslim countries held a favourable opinion of the United States, compared to 25% in 2009.
You don’t say. But I thought The Obamessiah was going to heal the planet, restore the US’s position in the eyes of the Arab World, etc. when He praised Islam, sucked up to Mohammedan sensibilities, promised to stop with the interventionism, and to help the Palestinians in His infamous Cairo speech in 2009. What’s gone wrong? Surely some of it must be His fault.
Polls indicate that anti-Americanism stems from a variety of grievances, including US policy towards the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, American wars in the Middle East, and US backing for friendly dictators.
Nope, all of that predates His reign, and He’s “ended” those wars (we can still keep killing people and have troops in country and send hundreds of unmanned bombing runs so long as we don’t call it a war) and has kinda sorta spoken out, gently, after much prodding, against a couple of dictators.
The irony is that, whereas Barack Obama is sometimes pilloried by critics in the West for naively supporting the revolutions, most Arabs see his actions as too late and too little. In Tunisia, for instance, only a third believe that the US response to their revolution had a positive impact.
Most critics weren’t so much saying the President was wrong for supporting the various revolutions, but that He was doing it all wrong. The main criticism was that He was going to let them all run wild, without getting involved to help guide them into the kind of free democracy many were hoping for. And then there’s the criticism that the President dithered far too long over getting the US involved in removing Ghaddafi, which led to the rather ugly overall situation in Libya. In other words, His critics in the West felt just like “most Arabs”: too little and too late, and not much of a positive impact at all.
What makes me laugh out loud, though, is that, if we’re to take the word of this well-credentialed academic as the BBC expects us to, the Arab World actually wanted us to help, wanted us to get rid of Ghaddafi and Mubarak and all the rest of them. Which means that people like Mark Mardell and all those Beeboids who were warning against and criticizing any kind of intervention at all were completely wrong, and did not in fact have their finger on the pulse of the masses, did not accurately gauge what the Arab Street was feeling, and reported from their own biased perspectives instead.
In case anybody’s staring to worry that the rest of the article starts to really give us a reason to blame the President for the chaos and widespread anti-US sentiment, rest assured that it doesn’t. Joshi shifts to explaining that there’s a difference between anti-Americanism and plain old religious extremism. This is obviously correct, no problem there. Much of this, he says, is due to religious leaders exploiting the extreme religious devotion of the masses for their own anti-US purposes. Again, correct. But again, this means that the BBC reporting has been wrong about the film being the cause. Clearly it was a pretext. And again, none of this is His fault.
Then we get this howler:
The US has no legal mechanism to censor the provocative film and, with eight weeks to go before a national election, President Obama will be careful not to appear unduly willing to appease mob violence.
I’ll pause for a moment while everyone wipes away tears of laughter. Hey, at least there’s no value judgment about how the US doesn’t have a law in place to censor free speech.
Still think that there’s something for which we can blame the President? Think again:
American freedom of expression cannot be a subject of compromise for any administration. This means that such triggers for protest will recur, as there is no shortage of provocateurs.
There is very little that the United States can realistically do. Broader US foreign policy is not going to radically change in a way that addresses regional grievances.
It’s not His fault, you see. And never mind all that healer stuff the BBC was shoving down your throat in 2008-09. The BBC sure won’t be reminding you of how the then-junior Senator from Illinois declared in 2007 that His personal experience of living as a Muslim will make them all trust the US more and “ultimately make us safer” because He understands their point of view. Some might say (he says, using the standard journo trick – ed.) that this might mean that the President hates the US just like they do. No, no, I’m sure that’s not what he meant at all.
Joshi adds more analysis with which I agree:
Mr Obama’s own experience with intervening in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict ended in humiliation years ago, after he was rebuffed by the Israeli government, and Iran’s nuclear programme has now crowded out the peace process.
Above all, however, many Americans will rightly or wrongly see this week’s protests as indicative of the failure of engagement, not a sign that more is needed.
“Rightly or wrongly”. How even-handed, yet gratuitous.
Some will argue that Mr Obama’s efforts to temper anti-Americanism were exercises in naivety; others that he went nowhere near far enough.
What more could He have done, I wonder, besides surrendering completely?
Either way, the irony is that just as fragile post-revolutionary governments are most in need of assistance to build institutions, small sections of their populations are making that task much harder.
In other words, the critics who said the President made a mistake by sitting back and letting them all run wild, because He didn’t want it to look like evil US intervention, were right. And the Beeboids were wrong. Except that’s not what Joshi wants you think, as he spent a lot of time explaining how there’s nothing He could have done.
Even when there’s an intelligent analysis which goes some way towards understanding the situation – and there is some good stuff here – the BBC still manages to find an opinion that helps shift blame away from the President.
Oh, wait….the BBC has censored all news of this. They’ve also gone silent on the identity of the filmmaker, now that it turns out he’s not a white Evangelical Tea Party operative, and was removed from his house – “voluntarily” – for questioning on direct orders from the FBI. How curious. On Today this morning, Sarah Montague opened her segment with Tony Blair by saying that the film caused the violence. It’s all just a “shrill minority” who are upset that the West doesn’t understand their religion. Except that it’s the small minority who are in charge of the damn countries. Ah, well, nothing to see here, move along.
(SEE UPDATE BELOW) With all that website space taken up with Mark Mardell’s encomium to Bill Clinton, a dishonest attack piece on Govs. Jindal and Haley, and Kate Dailey’s furrowed-brow musings over Elizabeth Warren’s mewling about horrors of “income inequality” (making sure not to mention Warren’s fake Cherokee ancestor controversy), the BBC News Online editors had no more room to report that the convention bosses had to force an acknowledgment of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital back into the Party platform. That must be the reason why the BBC seems to have censored the controversy from all news outlets.
Along with putting back the term “God-given” talent, it took three votes from the delegates to get the language restored to the platform. Party bosses who were not under the thumb of the Israel Lobby had removed the acknowledgment of Jerusalem, and what must be either public, media, or Israel Lobby pressure made them want to put it back. All censored by the BBC.
UPDATE: The BBC has now posted an article on it. Jonathan Marcus must have been filing this while I was writing my post.
How to describe the city of Jerusalem has caused controversy at this week’s Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, North Carolina, with confusing scenes on the convention floor as a vote was held on the issue. BBC Diplomatic Correspondent Jonathan Marcus explains why.
“Confusing scenes”, eh? Well, that’s “accurate”, alright. Some people were confused by what happened. But that’s all the BBC will allow you to know. They decided to keep censoring what actually happened: the majority of the crowd voted No, but the Party bosses decided to go ahead anyway. This is what democracy looks like?
Marcus reports claims that the President Himself personally intervened to get Jerusalem put back in. He also admits at last that the President said when running for election in 2008 that Jerusalem is Israel’s capital. But then we get doublethink: the President’s personal position is not the same as the US Government’s position. Can He be in two places at once as well?
Who decides the Government’s position on issues, then? Hillary? She’s already said Jerusalem is Israel’s capital, so it’s not her. So who? Valerie Jarrett? Michelle Obama? Nancy Pelosi? Harry Reid? The family dog? Marcus doesn’t explain.
No mention whatsoever, though, that this controversy has been ongoing for months. It’s just a political football, Romney was going to use it as an attack angle, etc.
Having said that, I’m very glad to see the BBC busting the dual loyalty myth about Jews. I applaud them for being brave enough to say that, because I expect they’ll get swamped with complaints about them being controlled by the Zionist Entity. They get complaints from both sides, you know.
As anyone can see from the video, at least half the delegates didn’t want this to happen. There’s no way to know if most of the objection was about the “God-given” bit or about Jerusalem, but only one of the issues has been an ongoing controversy. And there’s no way the BBC doesn’t know about this.
Useful Jew and Party chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz told the press that this was done “to maintain consistency with the personal views expressed by the President and in the Democratic Party platform in 2008″. In other words, there have been enough complaints about the fact that the White House position says the fate of Jerusalem should be left up to the Palestinians and Israelis to fight it out (I paraphrase slightly, of course) which directly contradicts what Candidate Obamessiah said in 2008. White House mouthpiece (and personal friend of Katty Kay) refused to say what the Adminstration’s official position was when pressed on it. Worse, The Obamessiah Administration decided last year to remove “Jerusalem, Israel” from passports of US citizens born in Israel, because that defines the city as the capital. The White House also redacted all references to Jerusalem from photos of a Biden trip there, replacing it with “Israel”. So they had to force it back in there.
CNN’s video, with the text in question visible on the big screen, can be seen here.
So the Israel Lobby got to the Dems, and the BBC is silent. I’m not surprised, really, because reporting this now means they would have to admit there has been a controversy at all about the President and Jerusalem’s status. They’ve been censoring news of that all along, so can’t really start talking about it now. Too messy, and it makes Him look bad.
I find this silence interesting. In May of this year, HardTalk brought in anti-Israel activist Norman Finklestein to declare that most United Statesians were fed up with Presidents being controlled by the Israel Lobby. In October 2009, the BBC discovered a Jewish Lobbying group of which they can approve: J-Street, whose goal is to fight against the influence of the pro-Israel Lobby. This was actually the second time the BBC discovered this “new” group. They made a similar report in April 2008. Sometimes, the BBC does approve of Jews trying to influence US foreign policy. In 2007, the BBC reported on the controversy over a book about how bad the Jewish Lobby is. The article opened with this:
The power of America’s “Jewish lobby” is said to be legendary.
So why the silence now, when this has been in the mainstream news? Because it makes the President look bad, and makes the Democrats look anti-Israel. I’m not sure why the BBC cares about the latter, but they definitely care about the former. So you’re not informed about real controversy and are instead treated to manufactured ones about “income inequality” and fake Christians.
Your license fee hard at work, supporting the leader of a foreign country.
Here’s Clint Eastwood’s performance at the RNC, soon to be considered a classic. A bit wobbly, but still pretty funny.
Will it change anything? I doubt it. I can’t see any worshipers switching sides because of this. But it does give a morale boost, and every little helps. I generally hate celebrities using their fame to push political ideology, and I’d feel that way about this appearance except that Eastwood at least spent a couple years as mayor of Carmel, CA. He ran for office and everything. A small thing, sure, but better than the rest of the Hollywood luvvies. It was apparently too mind-numbingly grinding for him to deal with his wealthy neighbors and their petty zoning squabbles, so he didn’t seek a second term. But he has at least that experience, a little bit of credibility, which none of the Obamessiah-worshiping celebs do.
However, I was momentarily taken aback by Eastwood’s harsh swipe at the war in Afghanistan. The current President didn’t start it, so it can only be taken really as a criticism of the whole war, which means of Bush. Maybe I’m the only one who took it that way, and even some – not most – in the audience laughed. But it sure sounded like he was criticizing the war in total with that dig about the Russians being there for 10 years. None of the punditocracy seems to have noticed, not that I’ve seen yet, anyway.
Other than that, it was very cutting, not at all kind to the President. Beeboids probably burning any Eastwood DVDs they own right about now.
May as well make this a thread for discussion of the BBC’s attacks on the convention in general, so I’ll also point out that once again the BBC went for a Left-wing, partisan voice for their “Viewpoint” piece. The same one as last time, actually: P.J. Crowley. He was previously asked by the BBC to come up with several biased foreign policy questions for the Republican candidates. Crowley’s latest contribution is equally biased, insulting “neo-conservatives who want to save the world”. Much worse is his telling the outright lie that criticism of the President’s job performance is “about style more than substance”. That’s an unbelievable lie. What was the criticism of ObamaCare and the Stimulus and Solyndra and caving to the Russians and China, to name just a handful of examples? That was all criticism about specific policies, and not about how the President appeared detached, or was too cool, or any of that BS. But fits right in with the BBC viewpoint: there can be no legitimate criticism of Him and His Word.
Wake me up when the BBC asks someone from even slightly right of center to write any Viewpoint piece on any topic.
Please feel free to add critiques of other BBC output about the convention to this thread.
I apologize in advance for any unpleasant images that title may have evoked. As most people here will know, I’m wont to complain about how Mardell is little more than a British mouthpiece for the White House Press Office. I’ve written at length about how this or that report or blogpost from him is supporting the President’s cause, spouting White House talking points, etc.
This time, though, it’s Mardell himself explaining what the White House talking points are. And it doesn’t take much to see how he and his BBC colleagues are in lock-step with the White House propaganda machine.
One has to feel a little sorry for the BBC’s US President, though. He was supposed to be wallowing in a political event, reporting on Romney accepting the nomination and whatever negative stuff he can imagine. But the Republican convention has been delayed because of the storm, so is stuck having to make something up instead. He’s got copy to file one way or the other, so I suppose the White House talking points have to get in there somehow. However, in casually laying these point out, Mardell inadvertently reveals himself and his colleagues for the White House shills that they are.
First, Mardell cleverly tries to use the storm as a metaphor for the impending doom he wants you think Romney’s campaign senses. They’ve been battered and put off message recently, he explains, and Romney is going to face a tough crowd. No, really.
The house band blast out a sound check, CNN’s Wolf Blitzer rehearses a walk and talk for his show. Everything in the vast auditorium is bathed in blue and red lights, atmospheric, but curiously reminiscent of emergency vehicles at a crash scene.
Yeah, it’s a bit ham-fisted, I know. But it’s not easy churning this stuff out on demand, you know. In any case, this is a not so subtle introduction to the White House talking points. In fact, it’s one of them: Romney is in trouble already.
Still, Republicans are crossing their fingers that there’ll be no accidents this week. They hope that Isaac will miss and Mitt will be a hit.
Who at this point – outside the Beltway and the HuffingtonPost, anyway – still thinks the Republican Party is going to turn on Romney and they won’t rally around him for the goal of unseating the President? This is a mentality from six months ago. Sure, Mardell was right all along that most of the Republican Party and sympathetic conservatives and independents wanted just about anyone but Romney. But that was then and this is now. There’s no way that lingering animosity towards him outweighs the desire to prevent the resurrection of The Obamessiah.
Now for the talking points. I’ll let the BBC’s US President editor explain:
He may not applaud all the statements coming from the floor when the convention does kick off. He has a tricky path to walk.
He might want to convince the conservative base that he really is one of them. But he doesn’t want to play into the hands of the Democrats who are determined to depict him as a scary reactionary in thrall to nutters and cranks.
Nobody is going to depict Romney as a reactionary. Mardell is straining here. But “nutters and cranks”? That’s pretty much how most Beeboids describe the Tea Party movement. But now that Mardell has laid it out there for you, pay attention from now on to how many of the usual BBC suspects start saying that on air.
President Obama, apparently determined to distract attention from the economy, said in an interview this weekend that Romney had “signed up for extreme positions”.
You mean like how BBC economics editor tweeted that Romney had gone “so extreme” by picking Paul Ryan as running mate?
The Obama campaign team pulled out all the stops to link Romney’s name to that of the once obscure congressman Todd Akin, who coined the ugly phrase “legitimate rape”.
You mean like how you and your colleagues pulled out all the stops to spread the story all over the place and link Romney inextricably with Akin? In a way, I should point out, that you don’t do with things that might make the President look bad.
You mean like how BBC Washington correspondent and anchor of BBC World News America tweeted that Romney’s joke was “dangerous”?
But they’ve already been buffeted off message in the last week by Mr Obama’s accusations.
Really? Is that why polls now have Romney as tied with or even slightly ahead of the President? So where is Mardell telling you that the President is equally in trouble, campaign on the back foot, after all the missteps like “You didn’t build that”, or the harshly criticized bogus ad accusing Romney of being responsible for a woman dying of cancer, or the Democrat mouthpiece who accused Romney of committing a felony – both of which the President Himself had to dance arounddeal with a question about it at His recent press conference? Don’t make me laugh. The BBC censored all news of it save for one brief mention by Mardell in a blog post. Which he, naturally, defended.
See, it’s not just me saying this or that is a White House talking point. This is the BBC’s top man in the US, a life-long political junkie, highly trained and an experienced journalist with close contacts in the White House, who regularly receives press releases and emails and all the relevant information, telling you that these are White House talking points. Which he and his colleagues then dutifully support.
Oh, and the whole idea that Romney is in trouble and needs to get his game going for this convention? Don’t take my word for it that it’s a White House talking point: read it on the White House website.
The BBC has been busy this week trying to carry the President’s water over various incidents. US President editor Mark Mardell has been especially active defending the President and attacking His enemies. And the youngsters at BBC News Online Recdep have been equally busy making sure some things are reported at length, while other things are censored entirely.
Before I continue, though, let me state first that this is not, contrary to what defenders of the indefensible love to claim, about me simply wanting the BBC to say only what I want to hear, or report from a Right-wing slant. This is about the failure of the BBC – specifically its top people in the US – to report not only accurately, but honestly, and give you some semblance of the whole picture. It’s also about how the biased reporting makes the BBC appear to support the President of the US, rather than being an impartial, honest broker of news.
The latest example is the foolish remark by Rep. Akin about rape and pregnancy. Naturally, since it’s been a big deal in the US mainstream media, the BBC is all over it, with no fewer than five features about it. currently at the top of the US & Canada (Who?) page:
(There have probably been at least two more news briefs going up since I’ve been trying to put this together while the site goes up and down). Contrast this with the amount of BBC coverage of two other big recent election stories. The President’s “You didn’t build that” statement (I hesitate to call it a gaffe, because He meant it) was censored entirely by the BBC, except for a single brief mention of it in one Mardell blogpost. Yes, Mardell was defending the remark, trying to explain the context. The other big story, one which has been all over the news was even brought up in the recent surprise Presidential press conference (more on this later), was the falsehood put out by a Democrat Super-PAC that Romney was directly responsible for a woman dying of cancer. The BBC has censored that completely.
These issues harm the President, make Him look bad. So the BBC isn’t interested in covering any of it. Yet this story about one Republican candidate for Senate – not even about Romney, not even connected to his campaign, mind – is a top priority for them. Even Katty Kay got into the game by tweeting that Missouri was an important State for Romney. It continues to be the biggest target for the Democrats this week, but that ought not make it a top news priority. Or do political targets dictate newsgathering now?
Back in January, Mardell managed to defend, sort of, Romney for his quip about how he loved to fire people. Actually, he didn’t defend Romney at all. Rather, he said that it was wrong to call the statement a “gaffe”, because it was really just clumsy and wrong for Romney to say it. Actually, it’s not really a defense at all, just the pretense of one.
A couple of days ago, VP Biden told an audience of African-Americans – descendants of slaves – that Romney and Ryan wanted “to put y’all back in chains”. Mardell defended him. In fact, he starts out by seeming to call any criticism of Biden over this remark “mud-slinging”. He curiously said that the mainstream media played down why the remark caused an uproar – the slavery reference – which is a joke. Everyone knows why it was a bad thing to say, which is why the media went into overdrive to protect Biden from the backlash. What’s much worse, though, is that Mardell had the nerve to suggest that Biden said it “perhaps inadvertently”. No, that’s simply not credible. Of course Biden knew exactly what he was saying, hence the pandering “y’all” thrown into the mix. Otherwise, Mardell is suggesting that Biden is as dim and unqualified to be VP as he thinks Sarah Palin is. I don’t believe that for a moment. Mardell here is basically telling himself – and you – a little white lie.
The defense continues. Suddenly people who saw this as race-baiting and wrong are, according to Mardell, “too sensitive”. Apparently the BBC’s top man in the US is unconcerned that people like Artur Davis (the co-chair of the President’s 2008 election campaign) and Doug Wilder (Democrat former Governor of Virginia) found Biden’s remarks to be deliberate, and offensive. The BBC wouldn’t dare suggest that the Black Coalition of Georgia Republicans are too sensitive to racial issues, would they? What Mardell really means is that white Republicans are making a mountain out of a molehill. He’s thus dismissing the objections of black people out of hand. And it’s not like he has no idea these people exist.
Actually, Biden’s dopey utterings have gotten worse. He opened his remarks in Virginia by saying that the Dems can “win in North Carolina”, and last week asked at a campaign stop, “’Folks, where’s it written we cannot lead the world in the 20th Century in making automobiles?’ Imagine if Sarah Palin had said such a thing. The BBC would have been all over it: Beeboids tweeting ecstatically, two separate online articles, plus a Mardell blogpost. But when Biden does it….nada.
It’s actually worse than you think. Biden’s idiocy has gotten so bad that his staff is actively trying to censor press pool reports and keep reporters from getting too close. This is from Politico, ladies and gentlemen, a favorite read and retweet source for both Katty Kay and Mark Mardell. They know all about this, but don’t want you to know. No, it’s much more important to whip up hysteria over Rep. Akin’s terrible remark about rape and pregnancy.
Let me repeat: I don’t want the BBC to report negatively about Biden, while supporting or sweeping Akin under the rug. I want them to report both accurately and honestly, without trying to defend one or the other. Explaining the potential damage or why one or the other is controversial is fine, but that’s not what you’re getting from the BBC, is it?
Speaking of difficulties with the press, people here may remember three weeks ago when Mardell was grumbling about how Romney wasn’t so friendly with the press during his visit to Poland. Apparently there wasn’t enough access granted, and his press man lost his temper with the pool reporters. Mardell was all over that. In fact, it was so important to him that he whipped up a second negative piece about it. His friends getting censored by Biden’s staff? Radio silence. You don’t need to know about that.
Worse, the President Himself actually didn’t give a press conference at all for eight weeks. No questions taken at all. Instead, He’s been hitting the local media, morning radio DJs, and the like. He’s been doing that instead because they bow to instructions in advance about what He wants to talk about. Where’s Mardell on this? He knows about it, but doesn’t want you to know. Again, I don’t merely want Mardell to attack the President: I just want him for once to report the whole picture, both sides, and not only negatives about one side, while providing the defense for the other.
And this is where the water-carrying becomes really obvious. Remember all those times Mardell was moaning about how things have gotten so negative, so nasty, and blamed the Tea Party or Republicans for it? There was another attack from Team Obamessiah last month, this time accusing Romney of committing a felony while at Bain. They even held a conference call with reporters to push it.
The other day, the President finally did grant an audiencegive a press conference where He took questions from reporters. It didn’t go so well for Him because one of them had the audacity to ask Him about the negative, ugly tone of His campaign. This was about both that bogus ad and the felony charge. The President tried to dodge responsibility for it. Previously, His campaign denied knowledge of it. Then they had to admit they knew. At the presser, the President showed that He knew all about it, while trying to claim that He didn’t, and that it was no big deal. Did the BBC report that? No, of course not, because that would mean you’d know about the ugly ad itself, or the bogus felony charge, which makes Him look bad. So they’ve censored this as well, in order to maintain radio silence about the ugliness coming out of the White House.
How’s that hopey-changey stuff workin’ out for ya now, BBC? Will you ever be an honest broker of news about US issues? Or is it going to be Pro Obama At All Costs until November 6? (Not Nov. 2, like Michelle Obama just said, at which the Beeboids will not be giggling on air.) It’s not bias to report about the two attack ads. No need to judge them, just report that they exist, and that they’ve caused an outcry. But the BBC can’t even do that anymore. It’s not just Mardell, either. There are other BBC journalists tasked with proper newsgathering in the US. They’re all responsible for this failure.