Here’s a recent post by Tacitus describing his quest

for useful news coverage during his Africa travels. Only the Beeb and a “nameless French network” were on offer in Rwanda and Ethiopia.

I give [the BBC] credit for better overall war reporting than we see in the States; but it’s pretty laughably biased. Apparently there was an ANSWER protest here in the US while I was away: watching the BBC, I half expected to come back to find America’s streets in ferment, and civil unrest rising over this war in Iraq we are evidently losing badly. Right. Well, it made for exciting copy, anyway.

So, I suppose there’s some use for overheated reporting after all.

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6 Responses to Here’s a recent post by Tacitus describing his quest

  1. ed thomas says:

    I give the BBC credit for that too, but the fact is that the US channels have a lot more domestic news to cover than the BBC does here. Furthermore, the US has four or five major networks against our one major network. Equally significant, the BBC’s coverage reflects the fact that they were founded in an era when Britain had colonial ‘possessions’ all around the world, and their contacts, exerience and ambitions stem from that foundation. Britain was the old colonial power in Iraq, so it’s not surprising that the BBC come to grips easily with reporting there- their history is in part our history. Remember that corrupt little fellow Donny George at the Bagdhad museum (ok, he may not be corrupt, but there were some very odd goings on there)? Oddly British name I thought, not especially Iraqi-looking, and very good English. He was right at home when he came to the British museum. That’s an example of the contacts that enable the BBC (and Channel Four, its terribly biased offshoot) to do an apparently good job in some of their coverage. They can also call on the Palin/Cruickshanks school of Panama hatted traveller that comes straight out of the colonial era.

    I said ‘apparently good’, because when it comes to the crunch they don’t have a very rational or well-formed grasp of the realities on the ground or the realpolitic which made Iraq the repressive country it was. They seem locked in an antiquated Lawrence-of-Arabia style nostalgia about the proud Arabic tribal people of Iraq without having got any further in seeing the consequences of that than Lawrence did- in the early part of the 20th century.

    On reflection, I can’t agree fully with Tacitus, much though I’d be pleased to. Nils points for the BBBC.





  3. Sandy P. says:

    OT: Keep up the good work! Via Lucianne:

    The BBC has appointed a “Middle East policeman” to oversee its coverage of the region amid mounting allegations of anti-Israeli bias. Malcolm Balen, a former editor of the Nine O’Clock News, has been recruited in an attempt to improve the corporation’s reporting of the Middle East and its relationship with the main political players.


  4. John B says:

    Channel 4 the BBC’s offshot?

    Excuse me, I think I’ve just died of laughter.


  5. ed thomas says:

    Wikipedia on Channel Four: ‘Like the BBC, it has a public service remit and is operated by a non-profit corporation’. Yes, it’s fundamentally advertising based, but an interesting ‘relative’ of the PSB BBC- certainly more so than ITV or Channel Five. I recalled that when it was founded it was billed pretty much as a high class companion to the BBC, and that’s pretty much how it is. I am intrigued to think how much contact there might be between them, but that interest also extends to news agencies like Reuters (completely independent as far as I am aware), which often seems to dovetail very well with the Beeb’s position on things. The word ‘offshoot’ was perhaps a little ticklish? Of course, if one’s email address really indicated a penchant for Stalin, media manipulation would not be of the least concern in the first place.

    For a fuller view of Channel Four’s set up, see


  6. John B says:

    I’m well aware of how C4 was set up. And for comparison, calling Fox an offshoot of NBC would be ridiculous, even though both are national private US TV networks (yes, I know Fox isn’t exactly a network in the same sense as the others, but that is effectively how it operates).

    The reason the BBC, C4 and Reuters tend to share a certain set of values is because those are the values that the majority of highly literate and well-read people in the UK (obviously including people who work in news media, but also academics and other people in broadly information-based jobs) also share.

    A debate on whether this is because they’re the most sensible values for well-read people to deduce from the evidence available, or whether this is because highly literate people in the UK tend to be arts, modern languages or social science graduates and these faculties at university are broadly liberal, would be interesting.

    And as you might have guessed had you followed the link to my website instead of just taking the mick out of the URL, I’m not a great fan of Stalin’s politics. Although he did have a rather striking moustache.