“Down to Earth” is how the BBC describes Governor Ibrahim Shekarau of Kano State, Nigeria, who has made his name by blocking polio vaccination in his jurisdiction, on the grounds that the vaccine is a Western plot to make Nigerian Muslim women infertile. As Robert Hinkley, in whose “Sporadic Chronicle” I found this story, points out, the BBC story is written in a way that displays an astonishing degree of acceptance of and respect for an attitude that is already killing and crippling people in Kano and far beyond. I could get started on the contrast between the BBC’s flattery of Muslim conspiracy mongers such as Mahathir (this blog, passim) or Governor Shekarau and its scorn for US Christian fundamentalists who are little lambs in comparison, but that comes second to asking what the hell the BBC thinks it is doing? The one halfway believable justification most of these progressive world bureaucracies that the BBC so loves can offer for their bloated tranzi existences is that they eliminated smallpox and are on the way to eliminating polio and other diseases. But not, it seems, at the price of the BBC telling its Nigerian audience something it does not want to hear.
The BBC story ends with these words:
But Mr Shekarau says that any agency or government contesting the results of the findings of his scientists must bring their own scientists to work alongside his trusted team.
In the end, the team should come up with a joint result.
If his scientists are proved wrong, then and only then will he give in.
So far this has not happened.
To that Robert Hinkley responds:
“At which point the reader may feel inclined to ask “who are his ‘trusted scientists’ which the article mentions three times, and what is their evidence?” but is left uninformed. Come on, BBC, all you’ve done with that article is reprint the Governor’s official press release. That is the starting point from which they should start asking questions and… dare I suggest… do some actual journalism.
Mr Hinkley is still too gentle. When the BBC is urging us all to pay the TV licence fee with a happy smile or to demand that our MPs renew its Charter unchanged, the organisation makes much of its role as a scourge of the mighty and a light of reason. Just look at this example of pandering to obscurantism and conspiracy-mongering to see how they perform that role in practice. Re-read the conclusion of the BBC story with the eyes of a resident of Kano who has heard the views of his governor and now turns to the BBC to get the facts. If his scientists are proved wrong, then and only then will he give in. So far this has not happened. That can be read, and certainly will be read by many, to mean “so far his scientists have not been proved wrong.”
It was and is the plain duty of the BBC (trusted all over the world as it never tires of telling us) to state that the conspiracy theory is not true. It failed in that duty.
ADDED MARCH 4TH: For more about the Nigerian polio vaccine story, see here. The links and discussion refer more to the story itself rather than the BBC presentation of it, so I didn’t think they were appropriate for Biased BBC.