An American visitor’s impression

on the lack of substantial British press coverage of President Bush’s visit (especially the BBC!).

It was fascinating, and frustrating, to see this story from the other side. What was most striking to me was the utter lack of substance in most coverage of the visit. The focus was almost exclusively on the security precautions attending the trip, which were pretty universally frowned upon, and the demonstrations against President Bush, which were hoped-for, salivated over, and covered with gusto. No one spoiled the mood by reminding readers that these were the same tired demonstrations (and largely the same tired demonstrators) who have greeted past American presidents. The BBC, for the most part, disdained to cover the visit at all. Few news outlets showed any interest in what President Bush had to say; few showed any interest in the great issues that framed the President’s visit. The attitude of the British press is, for the most part, similar to that of the Democratic Party: the war with the terrorists is a minor inconvenience that shouldn’t be allowed to stand in the way of character assassination.

Observations by John ‘Hindrocket’ Hinderaker of Powerline.

UPDATE: Clive Davis explains why America is so misunderstood in Britain.

One of the great, unacknowledged lessons of the months since September 11, 2001, is that the British actually know next to nothing about the United States, its history and its institutions. Nor are they particularly knowledgeable when it comes to world affairs in general. They prefer to believe what Michael Moore tells them.

Read it all. Though Davis does not mention the role of the state sponsored broadcaster in this, is there any doubt that the Beeb is a major factor in this knowledge vacuum?

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6 Responses to An American visitor’s impression

  1. PJF says:

    Well, I suspect our doubters will populate the comments for this post, and justifiably so, for it’s just a report of a set of vague impressions of UK media coverage in general, and an incorrect impression of a lack of coverage by the BBC specifically.

    No evidence whatsoever of bias by the BBC. So what’s the point?

    Here’s a set of vague impressions by a Briton as relayed by Andrew Sullivan:
    “Just some notes from the UK
    – Thur 6 pm news BBC, only about a minute’s coverage on the demonstration!!
    – Wed 7 pm news Ch 4, a postive headline about Bushs speech!!
    – General, lots of people in the media condemning the demonstrations!!
    – Dinner party at mine Wed night, room fell silent when Bush spoke followed by applause!
    I think the visit has gone down pretty well!”

    Take your pick.


  2. ed thomas says:

    Yes, well, PJF, as a host I’m usually keen to know what the guests thought of where I live, however impressionistic that might be. The BBC are to some extent sophisticated people, and so is Andrew Sullivan. There are times when a man as strident as the amazing Mr Sullivan has to take it easy on his targets, and times when the BBC has to acknowledge that an item of news is not the magic bullet they would likle it to be for their Bette Noir. Despite these factors, the news goes on.

    I think Hinderaker’s observations hold some water. For instance, the number of times I heard about Bush’s famous armoured car became eyewateringly boring. I couldn’t think of him without thinking about that damn car. Now where is the sense in focussing on that kind of detail (just one of many bits of trivia) when there is a challenge to much of our society in the Al Quaeda strategy, and Bush’s visit was about that very thing? Much of what the BBC did was trivial, and as my Thursday post intimated, that was because the Beeb were/are unwilling to really engage with Bush in a truly critical/constructive way. He was an unwelcome guest, an intrusion, and they found their own distractions from that reality.

    Ed Thomas


  3. ed thomas says:

    Actually, PJF, you didn’t include the crucial quote from our Andrew:

    ‘What a difference Al Quaeda makes.’

    This is a valid comment. No doubt the midweek bomb has made/will make them think again about their coverage, though what the effect will be in the long run is a difficult judgement to make- but I’m not too optimistic. Nevertheless, the BBC is an institution; so is the Foriegn Office. No doubt here will be sympathy and a new awareness. We’ll have to watch that space and watch our view of the BBC to see if it needs tweaking.


  4. Barry Rab says:

    Typical BBC behaviour of “filtering”. Ignoring GWB’s speech makes it unavailable to lots of World Service listeners.
    Bias? This saves others the task of “translating”!


  5. PJF says:

    Ed, I didn’t include the Sullivan al Qaeda enhancement because it wasn’t necessarily part of the observations from his British correspondent (two of which were from before the Thursday bombings).

    The contributors to this blog are, of course, fully entitled to write about anything they wish. Most of what they write will probably gel with what I think. But such is the strength of my despising of the BBC, and my desire to see it ended, that I really would rather this blog concentrated on those obvious instances of BBC bias that are difficult for any “reasonable man” to deny.

    If you watch the behaviour of your visiting doubters you will see that they pounce on the frivolous or questionable observations from the blogging crew or, more often, the commenters. They seem quite unable to address the majority of the ‘official’ posts, most likely because even their mega-blinkers aren’t enough to block that light.

    But you can be assured that every dodgy post that fails to point out actual bias by the BBC will be used by its fans to support claims that this site is run by paranoid tinfoil hat wearers, etc. Hence my griping.


  6. ken says:

    My year living in Britain was an eye opener. I found Brits (even the PhD types) to be unbelievably ignorant of FACTS….any facts (anti American facts, pro American facts yada yada). Chock-a-block of emotion, but ask them to quote a stat or a even a factoid to back up a screed – nothing.

    Who’s fault is that? Der. By the way, I’m still laughing hysterically over the quote from Dyke’s speech in New York. My god

    The defintion of stupidity is acting with disregard to one’s own ignorance. Bingo! We have a winner.