My amazement is unabating

that the BBC saw fit to go direct to the public with their account of the David Kelly affair and the Hutton enquiry in a 90 minute docu-drama on BBC1 last week. Hutton watchers and commentators, perhaps initially taken aback by the audacity, are coming up to speed on the issue. Anthony Cox at Black Triangle has been focusing on some interesting points, and put me onto an excellent article by Dennis Boyles in NRO that goes some way to exploring the political manoeuvring that surrounds the Hutton Enquiry. In spite of the simple moral that Boyles extracts from this very British mess for any impatient US readers, it’s complicated, if fascinating- and totally worthwhile.

Almost as good though much shorter is this piece by the mercurial Gerald Kaufman in the Times, flagged up by Anthony as a critique of that docu-drama- a programme that I for one hope will become infamous as a blatant attempt to flex media muscle in the face of democratic and judicial legitimacy. Incidentally, flexing media muscle seems to me to have been the driving force behind the BBC’s news coverage for a long time now, and the coverage of the war in Iraq, as well as the Kelly affair, might well become the case study of that phenomenon for future historians. If they can get away with events like Wednesday night, I certainly wouldn’t say that the BBC is losing in its arm wrestles with Government. There’s one cheeky parallel here I’d like to finish by making, between dictators and the BBC: democratic politicians come and go, but the BBC and dictators go on forever. Now I can’t think why I should have been drawn to think along those lines.

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5 Responses to My amazement is unabating

  1. Pedro says:

    I’m really starting to get the impression that the BBC is trying to shape the agenda pre-hutton. John Humphrey’s was banging on as usual about WMD this morning, Andrew Marr then had a report on the human rights issue in Iraq. Then there was last week’s Panorama. It seems as if they’re trying to introduce wider questions into the debate so that Hutton will not be the be-all and end all.


  2. Barry Meislin says:

    This “technique” should come as a surprise to no one.

    It is merely Soviet “air brushing” on a far more sophisticated level.

    Sophisticated because it is not entire bodies of reports that will be made to disappear; but pieces here and snippets there, with contexts reframed for maximum effect. If one controls the information, one can decide how much of the truth will be exposed. And in which contexts.

    Stealth edits, it is true, also fall into this category; but they are small potatoes by comparison.

    In this case, we are dealing with an attempt to assert total control of information to an extent not often exhibited by official news organizations of non-totalitarian regimes. (France is, of course, an exception.)



  3. Barry Meislin says:

    The project will not entirely succeed, I suspect (though I could be wrong), largely because the blogosphere will attempt to subvert it.

    But it does indicate, it seems to me, an organization with totalitarian instincts—and a lot to lose—that is desperately afraid it is losing control of a situation it would very much like to be in control of.


  4. lune droner says:

    The BBC is also making a concerted effort to eliminate human rights as a justification for the war. Front page online article.


  5. JohninLondon says:

    Dennis Boyles articles over the past year on the BBC have been absolutely brilliant. I hope someone sent them to Lord Hutton !