BBC Bias part 391

is a most amusing BBC related post on Laban Tall’s blog just now – do read it. In passing, Laban also links to another excellent Guardian bashorama by Scott Burgess on his excellent Daily Ablution blog. Bashing the Guardian might be like shooting fish in a barrel – but Scott pulls off a seemingly endless variety of witty fish skewering trick shots time after time.

Meanwhile, back at the ever reliable and carefully fact-checked BBC News Online, we are informed that the removal of the wreck of the Tricolor, which sank in the English Channel in December 2002, has been completed. According to News Online, at least for the best part of the last 12 hours since the article was last updated at 17:21 on Wednesday:

Since the accident, Dover Coastguard had been broadcasting regular warnings to passing ships alerting them to the Tricolor.

“We have been broadcasting every 40 minutes for the last 20 years, so it’s one less thing to worry about,” a Dover coastguard said.

How prescient of the coastguard!

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Trash your race and live

. Ok, he was describing the BBC as ‘hideously white’, which is intended to be unflattering to a corporation I hate seeing flattered, but somehow I think Gregory and I have different universes in mind when we criticise the BBC. (thanks to Max for the link)

Try rolling round your mouth that commonly heard phrase, ‘hideously black’, or ‘hideously brown’, and you’ll get an idea of the kind of man who is still a regular in the BBC pages, a ‘Hutton celebrity’ for BBC hacks- and of course you’ll get an idea about that famous BBC impartiality, too.

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Sambrook: Be more like us!

Trash your country and live. Now I get it…the BBC is only trying to survive.

NEW YORK — BBC World Service and Global News director Richard Sambrook on Tuesday took the U.S. news nets to task on their own turf for “wrapping themselves in the flag” and not asking the tough questions about the Bush administration’s reasons for going to war in Iraq.

Sambrook, speaking at Columbia U.’s Graduate School of Journalism, warned that such perceived partisanship of the news media may be playing a part in exposing journalists covering Iraq and other trouble spots around the globe to danger. “Journalists are now at a greater risk than they have ever been before. Where once their neutrality was widely recognized and respected, today they are targeted and sought out, seen as high-profile representatives of their countries or cultures,” Sambrook said.

Question for Richard: Why, then, didn’t it go well for your reporter in Saudi?

(via Drudge)

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World class “documentarian” Michael Moore

will provide election commentary for BBC World with a special Question Time. What a shock. (via OpinionJournal)

UPDATE: The panel will have (from left to right by my reckoning) Michael Moore, Sidney Blumenthal, Lida Rodriguez-Taseff, David Frum, Richard Littlejohn. As an ACLU official in one of the most disputed pieces of elctoral real estate in Florida, Rodriguez-Taseff can probably be trusted to keep to the ‘Bush-stole-the-election’ script.

UPDATE post-Question Time: I managed to watch it via the web and found it to be fairly moderated. This is where the Beeb had a less obliging audience for fielding its questions. If anything, the audience was more supportive of Bush than Kerry and quite ready to give Moore the jeers he richly deserves. For his part, Moore did not disappoint with his usual joker persona, his unserious demeanor, his unsubstantiated and baseless allegations combined with a thinly disguised contempt for his fellow countrymen (Brits are much more intelligent,etc.). He really was an easy target for Frum, Littlejohn and the audience. Blumenthal had to be challenged to stick to the question and came off (in my biased opinion) looking a bit off balance. He was roundly booed at least once. Rodriguez-Taseff was pretty even-handed in pronouncing ‘a plague on [the politicians] houses’ for failing to reform the voting system. Littlejohn did a decent job of bringing a British Conservative perspective to the debate. My concerns about the BBC’s use of Moore were unfounded. He has become a self-discrediting propagandist if ever there was one, good for the villain’s role, hissing and dissing.

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Now we can’t even call them insurgents.

The EU Serf writes:

As an overseas Brit, I watch BBC World from time to time. On Sunday I was watching the programme Dateline London, which invites journalists, usually foreigners, to give their views on events in the news. The line up for Sunday was as follows

  • Lauren Booth, Mail on Sunday
  • Patrick Tyler, New York Times
  • Jean Pierre Langellier, Le Monde
  • Tererai Karimakwenda, SW Radio Africa

With the exception of Tererai, their positions on the war in Iraq were obvious before they opened their mouths. Funnily enough, he was the only one with anything worthwhile to say, though he turned out to be against the war as well, his arguments were at least grown up, unlike the name calling that the majority of the media has descended to.

So far though nothing too distressing to report until this:

One of the group, I think it was Lauren Booth suddenly challenged the word insurgent, was it too condemning a word. Now I understand why a person may dislike the word terrorist in some circumstances, it is after all a political word, whichever side of the argument it may be. But insurgent, I couldn’t believe my ears. I had been thinking that it was an acceptable term for everyone, far better than militant and non condemning unlike terrorist. The word is totally neutral, a technical military term. According to the dictionary:


1) One who rebels against established authority.

2) A member of a political party who rebels against the policies and decisions of the party.

Absolutely nothing to discuss, but discuss they did, without any interference from the host.

I should have known better, I gave up watching this programme because of the obsession with Iraq and the opportunity the story gives to condemn the USA, GW Bush and the west in general. When there is so much else happening in the world, you would think they could give it a rest now and again.

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BBC at leisure

It’s been up for a long time, that report about the missing explosives in Iraq. Almost as if, to quote Roger Simon, ‘the New York Times’… progandistic drivel timed to encourage the defeat of a sitting president in favor of a candidate’ appealed so much to the BBC it had to be a fixture at BBConline for as long as it entertained the anti-Bush brigade.

Once again, as with the Bush documents story, a meme damaging the incumbent has found a semi-permanent place of repose on the BBC’s frontpage. I wonder when, or if, and if, then in what manner, the other side of the story that is being uncovered by the likes of NBC and our own Wretchard, will find its way into the BBC’s cosy little narrative of Bush incompetence?

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The Power of BBC Misrepresentation.

My fellow-poster on Samizdata, Paul Marks, is a fairly anti-war libertarian who opposes neocon views. (He knows what he is opposing and does not use “neocon” as a catch-all term of abuse.) Despite his own opposition this is some of what he had to say about yesterday’s BBC documentary “The Power of Nightmares”:

The program claimed that Soviet support for terrorist groups was another ‘myth’ indeed that the wise CIA rejected this ‘myth’ because they know it was originally based on CIA lies about the the Soviet Union. The trouble is that the Soviet Union DID support terrorist groups. The Marxist ones (including some in the Middle East as well as east Asia, Europe, and Latin America) were natural targets for Soviet support, and support them it did. The basic point of the Soviet Union was to spread Marxism all over the world – oh sorry this is another ‘neocon myth’.

On the basis of the above if The Power of Nightmares claims that ‘neocons’ have made up a ‘myth’ about an international network of Islamic terrorist network, I will take it as an indication that such a network does indeed exist. Do not laugh. The program was already laying the ground work for claiming that no such network exists – just a few isolated individuals. And that these individuals are the way they are because of the wicked United States. For example the United States corrupted Egypt – under President Sadat the economy was controlled by a “handful of millionaires”. The basic fact that Egypt was (and is) a state dominated economy and that Sadat only allowed a bit of private enterprise round the edge was utterly ignored.

“But” the defenders of the program will cry “The Power of Nightmares contained lots of interviews with neocons and other people who would defend all of what you say above”. So it did, but it did not allow any of these people to present the evidence for what they said – it allowed them to say something and then (at once) treated what they said as utterly absurd. The program (and I suspect the whole series) has an agenda – and that agenda is to spread lies. Many of them (although not the one about Sadat) may be nice lies for libertarians and traditional American Conservatives to hear, but they remain lies. And the people who were interviewed by the program, in order to be held up to contempt, would have better advised to say “no I will not be interviewed by you, because you are from the BBC and will leave out any facts you do not like”.

Boldface type added by me because I noticed exactly the same pattern. A thirty-second interview would immediately be followed by the commentator saying, often without evidence but with a tone implying that this was undisputed fact, that whatever the interviewee had said was rubbish. Read the whole post, including the comments by John Thacker.

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A Marriage made in Liberal Heaven

Melanie Phillips criticises Simon Hughes (Jenkins) defending the BBC’s risible attempt to bring ‘dissenting’ voices to their coverage of what they have often called the ‘so-called’ War on Terror. Kind of like giving alcohol to a drunk man. If you do get to read the Hughes (Jenkins) column, note how he shrouds his purple patch of anti-WOT feeling with his concern for ‘our boys’ in Iraq. I appreciate his concern, as I have concerns too, but in the circumstances it’s thanks but no thanks- and the same goes for the BBC.

Update: Apologies to Simon Hughes, although I’m fairly sure he wouldn’t dissent much from the views of Simon Jenkins. An illustration, perhaps, of how easy it is to get confused between the various members of the liberal family.

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The BBC’s Holiday 2005 series returned for its annual jaunt on our screens last night

– complete with the usual BBC celebs partaking of their own paid jaunts, at licence payers expense, natch (but “it’s such hard work”, as they never fail to point out when interviewed!).

Yesterday’s programme featured the various attractions of holidaying in Muscat, the capital of Oman – enticing and fascinating it was indeed – “fabled home of Sinbad the sailor and the Queen of Sheba, and a place where bottled water costs more than petrol”. Apart from the fact that the UK, in common with Oman (and many other lands), is also “a place where bottled water costs more than petrol”, the BBC omitted to mention that, whilst safer than the likes of Iraq or neighbouring Saudi Arabia, Oman is nonetheless a country where the UK Foreign Office advises caution on the part of British and western visitors, including:

  • “There is a high threat from terrorism against western, including British, interests. Attacks could be indiscriminate and against civilian targets, as they have been elsewhere in the region”;

  • “You should review your security arrangements carefully. You should remain vigilant, particularly in public places”;

  • “Small-scale demonstrations took place in April 2003, but were carefully controlled by the authorities, and there was no damage to people or property. You should take sensible precautions for your personal safety and avoid public gatherings and demonstrations”;

  • “In public, general modesty of behaviour and dress is expected. Women who wear shorts or tight-fitting clothes, in particular in downtown areas, are likely to attract unwelcome attention. There have been some reported cases of sexual harassment”;

This last one in particular wasn’t much heeded by the programme’s winsome presenter. Come on BBC, it wouldn’t have taken much to suggest that your customers at least check out the FCO’s advice before visiting a potentially volatile area would it? Even the BBC web page about the Oman jaunt, whilst helpfully asking “If you liked Oman, why not try Dubai?”, omits to mention the FCO or even provide a link to their Oman page!

Whilst we’re on the subject of the Holiday programme, the show also featured northern Cyprus – which, we are informed, “has been a divided island since 1974”. Time is spared for a ‘two-way’ with a ‘political analyst’ who informs us about the ‘green line’ and ‘UN troops’ and how “the military presence is more of a relic and has no real effect on its growing tourism”.

That’s as may be, and northern Cyprus does appear enchanting, but, amidst all this ‘political analysis’, would it have taken much to mention what the historical event that divided the island in 1974 actually was? Or would that be outwith the BBC’s mission to entertain, educate and inform?

And hey, let’s be careful out there folks!

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Top chefs quizzed over Eta ‘tax’

is an interesting article on BBC News Online about the extortion of ‘protection’ money by Basque terrorists in Spain. In typical BBC style the article finishes off with some relevant background details:

The raids on 3 October which resulted in key arrests, including suspected Eta leader Mikel Albizu, have also led to the capture of a large quantity of weapons.

On Sunday, two arms caches containing mortars, dynamite, anti-tank rocket launchers, guns, ammunition and assault weapons, detonators and documents were discovered in southwestern France.

Eta has been fighting for more than 30 years for an independent Basque state.

Unfortunately there doesn’t seem to have been space available (or perhaps it’s a lack of knowledge or effort on the part of the ‘journalist’) to add the small detail that the 30 year fight to which he or she refers has involved the murder, sorry Beeboids, ‘killing’, of more than 800 people.

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Those mean Republicans

are doing it again in Texas and the Democrats are not amused. (Gerrymandering, that is.) One could be forgiven for thinking the gerrymander is owned by the Republican Party. The careful reader will discover that there is usually a “payback” on the part of Republicans for Democrat-favored gerrymandering or vice versa. If the Beeb really wants to do justice to this topic, let them look at how the GOP and Dems have collaborated in California, where it’s all quite predictable. Or, just have Michael Barone explain it.

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I’m about to spoil a joke.

Rob Hinkley is just going to have to forgive me. Over at the Sporadic Chronicle he writes ‘Probe urged into baffling “supply and demand” phenomenon’ and links to a BBC news story. Without further comment he leaves the reader to follow the link and chuckle at just how baffling, how arcane, how incomprehensible to normal minds is the phenomenon the BBC describes. I am going to be rather more heavy handed because I want to bring out what it all reveals about how baffling, arcane and incomprehensible to normal minds the BBC can be, particularly when it is channelling Liberal Democrat press releases.

The story concerned is Probe urged into ‘turnstile con.’

The Office of Fair Trading is being urged to investigate claims that football fans are being ripped off at the turnstiles.

“Ripped off.” Auntie does try so very hard to talk as the people do.

The Football Supporters’ Federation (FSF) is concerned about clubs varying ticket prices according to the popularity of the opposition.

Italics mine. Screams of horror at such wickedness mine.

It says this unfairly penalises fans of big clubs, who are charged more.

One is charged more to see Manchester United than the Cligglesthorpe Lions, yes.

And it says Premiership clubs charge far more for tickets than their rivals in other European countries.

A study conducted by the Liberal Democrats at the start of the football season found supporters of Premiership sides paid as much as seven times more for a season ticket than fans elsewhere in Europe.

I am sure that the Portuguese and German clubs mentioned are much beloved by their fans. So I won’t ask if they actually play football as well as Messrs Rooney and Beckham do.

The increasing trend for clubs to categorise ticket prices according to which team they are playing can mean wide variations between match prices.

For example, fans travelling to Birmingham City to watch the team’s clash with Manchester United on 16 October will be charged £45 a ticket.

But two weeks later, when the club plays host to Crystal Palace, they will pay just £28.

The FSF says this means fans of popular clubs who travel to away matches will be charged more throughout the season.

A Birmingham City spokesman explained the difference by saying that “some games are more popular than others.”

Then he said, “Popular means lots of people like going to see the football game. Do you like football games? My puppet friend Binky does!”

It wanted to have its 30,000 ground at full capacity and that Manchester United was more popular than Crystal Palace, he added.

Poor Crystal Palace. Binky was very sad too.

The spokesman had no comment to make on the differences between UK and European club prices, saying only: “We keep our prices in line with British clubs.”

Then Binky whispered something in his ear. “Yes, Binky?” he asked. “You thought that was a comment? Me, too. What’s that you said, Binky? Oh, you naughty puppet – but since you’re offering, mine’s a whisky. Too right, Binks, old mate. We aren’t paid nearly enough for this.”

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Greg Dyke was too busy being popular to mind the store

. Eric the Unread links to a rather delightful spot of Greg Dyke bashing by way of a review of Dyke’s new book by Charles Moore in The Telegraph*. Here are a few snippets for your edification – the first four are hilarious, the last one something that we at BBBC can attest to:

When he arrived at the BBC, Greg wanted to change the culture. He learnt how to do this when he ran LWT from 1990. There, his first act was to “put up an enormous picture of me in reception at our building on the South Bank”: he wanted to be “accessible, open, and friendly”.

When he lost control of LWT, he became very rich through the sale of his shares: “It was a truly miserable time… I also learnt to live with suddenly being rich.” Things got worse at the BBC. He had to sell lots of shares and to scrape by on less than £500,000 a year. Luckily, though, thousands of staff came to love him.

“Three weeks to the day” after Greg had been pushed out, he visited Robben Island, the place in South Africa where Nelson Mandela had been imprisoned, and found it “an incredibly emotional experience”. As he went round, “…my tears flowed quietly, tears for what had happened on this horrible island, but also tears for what had happened to me in those three days in January”. Luckily, he says, he eventually achieved some perspective, and realised that what had happened to him was “insignificant in comparison”.

According to Greg Dyke, his book has “three themes: broadcasting, politics and me”. The reader, however, may find the first two topics rather thinly covered. Greg is enormously excited by the story of himself.

During, before and after the Iraq war, the BBC maintained neither impartiality nor accuracy. The assumption behind almost all its coverage was that the war was wrong. It therefore felt that it did not need to check the details of stories whose heart, as it saw it, was in the right place.

A classic goring! Do read the whole review if you have time.

* registration sometimes required – see if need be.

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All the news that’s fit to print?

As pointed out by BBBC reader Michael Gill in a comment, a silly conspiracy theory (of apparently dubious origin) doing the rounds of lefty blog sites about a bulge (i.e. a wrinkle) in President Bush’s jacket during the first presidential debate during the week before last have made it straight onto BBC News Online – Bush’s bulge stirs media rumours.

Moreover, just to make sure this dubious rumour is given maximum exposure, it is currently on the front page of News Online, with a headline reading ‘President Bush’s mystery bulge stirs rumours he was wired’, for those who skim the headlines rather than read the full story.

There was a similar conspiracy theory about Kerry pulling out and unfolding a ‘cheat sheet’ at the same debate (which turned out to be unfounded – Kerry actually pulled out a pen – in contravention of the debate rules nonetheless). Yet not a whisper of this has been mentioned on News Online, not even as relevant background information to accompany the wishy-washy Bush’s bulge rumour story that they’re currently peddling. Why the disparity in coverage? I guess it depends on what line the ever impartial BBC are pushing.

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