A Bias Tsar?

Well, as Sandy P. also noted below, a ‘Middle East Policeman’ anyway. According to the Telegraph, Malcolm Balen has been appointed to smooth over the ruffled feathers of the Israeli (and British) Government, who felt short-changed (to put it mildly) in recent coverage of the Intifada (and Iraq). Now, I might be being over literal (it has been known), but don’t you have a policeman to curb the activities of criminals? The BBC still denies it has done anything wrong, so why the ‘policeman’ except to send everyone the right sort of spin?

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16 Responses to A Bias Tsar?

  1. Barry Meislin says:

    “Short-changed” is an interesting way of putting it.

    Let’s see:

    * “‘Pravda’ short-changed its reading public.” (Hmmm. Except that the reader learned soon enough to read between the lines.)

    * “‘Der Sturmer’ short-changed its loyal readership.” (Well, kind of post facto, really; if the Nazis had won, we’d all be reading it, I’m pretty sure.)

    * “Al-Jazeera short-changes its viewers.” (Or does really it give them precisely what they want to see and hear?… Let’s find out about the courageous freedom fighters in occupied Iraq. Or let’s find out exactly how Jews control the US government. Or let’s take a look at the genocide in Palestine. Or let’s talk about the so-called Holocaust: Did it happen? Pros. Cons. Discuss.)

    * “The NYT short-changes its readers.” (Well, it is supposed to be the US paper of record.)

    Clearly, the media should have “Caveat emptor” plastered over the front pages or videos or radio reports. They really have become merely another commodity, albeit one that can cause extensive damage.

    Thank goodness for blogs and a multiplicity of news sources. While this does not ensure that people will avail themselves of alternate opinions, views, and accounts, one can be sure that where the reporting is monolithic, only trouble can result.


  2. ahbut says:

    Barry Meislin – BUT the BBC is financed by a compulsory levy on all British TV owners. Because of that fact it must provide a balanced view, caveat emptor should not apply & we shouldn’t have to “read between the lines”.


  3. Barry Meislin says:

    I’d like to be able to agree with you, everything being equal, and fair’s fair, and cricket cricket, and all that.

    But actually, I think you have it backwards. Precisely because the BBC is financed by a compulsory levy on all British TV owners, you had better get out that magnifying glass.

    The fact would seem to be that every media organ must be scrutinized very carefully precisely because those bastions of supposed objectivity (such as the BBC, the NYT, CBC, etc.) have proven themselves to be simply not credible too much of the time (though to be sure, at others, they can be marvellous—which is also, I suppose, part of “the problem”). As human institutions, and no more than that, they reflect human fallibilities. Big time.

    Especially when such commodities such as truth and objectivity seem to be up for grabs these days.

    Hence, careat emptor.


  4. David says:

    Ed —

    Your post makes it sound as though you don’t expect the Middle East Policeman to actually make the coverage more fair, since you use the phrase ‘just spin’. It will be interesting to see what happens. I don’t imagine that BBC’s critics will be satisfied without real changes. The actual BBC bias is just too well documented by you and others.


  5. Peter Bolton says:

    It’s a start but what about a ‘United States Policeman’ to stop the institutional anti-American bias and an’EU Policeman’ to sort out the BBC’s slavish support of this discredited organisation?


  6. Dan Skapol says:

    Peter, youv’e got that right. in fact, in my opinion they should have been assigned a judge to trial them for their propaganda effects. just like in nurenberg. i find it very very very hard to believe that their reports are biased naively due to lack of knowledge or lack of recieving information. ‘reporters’ like barbara ‘j streicher’ pletttt, or orla guerin could fit easily in pravda or der sturmer. the only real difference is that they work for the bbc.
    even articles that recently gained the bbc a little pat on the back from bloggers such as the PA fund scandal report carry with them the usual blame of ‘you guessed it’ sharon, just at the end.
    nothing new under the sun. the last phrase of that telegraph piece says it all:
    “The corporation faces increasing scrutiny of all areas of its activities during the run-up to the renewal of its royal charter in 2006.”
    looks like a very good reason to pretend they are sensitive to critism.
    their bias has become so institutionalised that it becomes embarrassing to mention it. one has to fart up petty comments again and again.
    their criminal intentional careless neglect (among many other media outlets) is baring fruit in the face of EU danger polls and rising antisemitism.
    after 3 years of constant dehumanizing me and my fellow israeli citizens, robbing my leftwing views (R.I.P) and my will to criticize, as i would normally do, my government, all is left for me is to beg for them to get an executioner.
    they have even taken away my pleasure of watching andy partridge.


  7. Mark Holland says:

    Andy Partridge, out of XTC, only making plans for Nigel?



  8. Dan Skapol says:

    lol, i was just going to correct this, damn.
    allan partridge of course, pfff, i’m biased


  9. Anonymous says:

    Another nice little touch – front page to news.bbc.co.uk has a “today in pictures” with a picture of a Rumsfeld (burning, naturally), from a Korean protest. One of their 10 pictures of today – and naturally the first so they can put it on the front page.


  10. ed thomas says:

    Just a couple of petty, farty comments (thanks Dan :-)) since so many have put in a good bit of input.

    I agree with ahbut in wanting a service where the lines don’t have much space to read between. David, my view on Mr Balen: I’m not getting excited about another PR man. I’ll wait until Greg Dyke books himself a slot on prime-time television for a public apology for some of the shambles and stampedes towards untruth that the Beeb has presided over (not to mention putting their sources under intolerable pressure). Like Peter Bolton I’d want a much more far reaching overhaul, which would be powerful and intrusive. On the other hand, I’m to lazy to be a control freak, so I’d much rather see competition do the job for us.

    Not to leave anyone out, Barry and Dan both seem to share my fervour and fears about the Beeb. I’m sure Mark Holland’s right too.


    Ed Thomas

    One more thing- I sincerely hope President Bush is safe this weekend, since the BBC has done nothing to impress on the British people that there is a real threat to his life (not that there’ve been any special warnings, but…), and the ‘peace marchers’ are supposed (according to Ken Livingstone and Michael Moore, courtesy of Beeb) to take priority. Yeah, great PSB.


  11. ed thomas says:

    Hey, I missed out anonymous- but I like the approach. I’d really like to examine how the pictures are used on the website, and the layout too- it’s like, cutting edge. Thanks anon.



  12. John B says:

    The British police’s top priority should be to ensure the freedom and safety of British nationals. The peace marchers are British. George Bush is not.

    Therefore the British police would be correct to focus on the very real threat to British nationals from trigger-happy Secret Service types, not on the entirely imaginary threat on Bush from – what, the SWP’s armed faction? Militant Lib-Dems?


  13. ken says:

    What an absolutely ignorant comment by John B. If you wonder why yanks have learned to ignore Zeropean opinion, your comment demonstrates it in a nutshell. As usual, an American is forced to ask “Uhhh, where are the facts to back up your assertion?” Idiotic emotionalism is hardly a substitute for facts (a beast long in hibernation in Zerope)

    And on the subject at hand, does one get the idea that Mr. Balen’s appointment will last ohhhhh……until right after the license renewal?


  14. Barry Meislin says:

    Ken, if you’re right, might this appointment be regarded as a journalistic “hudna” on the part of the BBC?


  15. John B says:

    It’s well known that a good way of demonstrating the ignorance of someone you disagree with is to call them “ignorant” without any clear explanation of how so.

    The streets of London will feature armed US secret service men. The secret service men guarding the president are under orders are to shoot on suspicion, not to minimise civilian casualties. What else were you quibbling?


  16. Jwarrior says:

    The thought of armed US servicemen on the streets of London scares me less than the thought of armed terrorists on the streets of London!