Grinning and bearing it

: with the partial (in both senses of that word) exception of Matt Frei (the BBC’s Washington corespondent, already often featured on this blog), and within the usual limitations of their analysis, the BBC 10’o’clock news handled Bush’s reelection more calmly than his doings in Iraq. I think this is because elections are a part of the world that the BBC accepts; somehow the concept of impartiality in reporting an election is not as alien to them as in reporting a war.

“America keeps faith with George Bush … He won more votes than any president in history … George Bush has won a convincing victory …”

The tone was very sober but you could not complain the chosen words betrayed any bias.

“If Kerry had won, Tony Blair would have been the last war leader left standing”

was a silly remark (Australia’s recent election obviously doesn’t count, or for that matter the other countries where leaders who supported Bush are still in place), but to be fair the same man who said it (Mark, standing outside Westminster), went on to say that:

“Many labour MPs think that only a few weeks ago Tony Blair moved British troops to help Bush’s campaign. I’ve never believed that, I don’t believe that at all but they believe it …”

so he isn’t swallowing every left-wing statement. Even Matt Frei mentioned something he could have omitted. As Bush was declared the next president:

“Sweet words (pause) again and after this election vistory they must sound so much sweeter (pause) to him and to them. [tone makes clear, not to Matt] … George Bush now has a very clear mandate. The question is will he use it to unite (significant pause) or to divide.”

but further on Matt gave us, even if incredulously, an interesting fact:

“There is a curious irony. The Republicans did what the Democrats used to do so well, organising the party from the grass roots. They spent less than the Democrats, can you believe it !!!”

Matt spoke of republican success in reaching out to the blue collar vote

“although Kerry said again and again [emphasis as Matt’s impatience broke through] ‘no tax cuts for the rich, we must help the poor.”

The tone betrayed his incomprehension of those stupid blue collar voters who don’t understand their own interests as well as Matt does, but the facts were welcome. Kerry and Kerry supporters got the lion’s share of the time but perhaps that is not so unfair; we’ll be hearing lots about Bush hereafter. The BBC’s general analysis was of course unable to step outside their worldview. There were many remarks along the lines of:

“… middle America that, just as Matt has been saying, surrounds itself with the flag …”

and much talk of Bush’s ‘radical’ view (implicitly contrasted to Kerry’s, or the BBC’s, moderate one), plus the

usual talk on Israel and on Europe

“… no doubting the interational pressure on George Bush to adjust his tone and tactics …”

However John Simpson’s discussion was, as often, rational and not marked by one-sided bias;

“… they (France and Germany) would have had a much harder time if Kerry had won; then they would have to help out in Iraq …”

John explained that instead they could now continue to do nothing. They had managed without close ties with the U.S. over the last few years and would continue to get along O.K. without such ties. The U.S. equally would manage to do without them. By the time he had finished talking, the divisions that had been much mentioned in the rest of the programme sounded hopeless, but not serious.

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26 Responses to Grinning and bearing it

  1. Andrew Bowman says:

    OT: is now just a page of the names of fallen US service personnel – as if he and the left are the only people who care.

    Anyway, at the bottom is a link to his email list, and from there you can click on Mike’s Message – the last entitled “Two Hours to Go” before the polls close – some excerpts:

    “Dear Friends,

    We’ve only got two hours left on the East Coast! I am in Cleveland and the turnout is huge. It was the same this morning as we went to polling sites in Florida. People waited for three hours to vote, but no one was deterred. One man told me “I’d wait in this line three days if I had to.”


    “I’ve been getting early tracking results from across the country and things are looking good”


    “This is it. The homestretch. Let’s do it!”

    And, of course, they did!


  2. Laban Tall says:

    Listen to the BBC’s favourite historian Simon Schama laughing on the Today programme as he describes Bush’s Christianity.

    “I mean there is a cultural civil war going on, it’s no good to pretend there isn’t – and it’s to do with those who essentially are guided by faith, from the President down, the President insisting that God tells him what (laughs) to do and when to do it – I shouldn’t be quite so facetious but it’s very important to him, and to millions of Americans – this is something often quite hard in a laid-back secular world like Britain, to really understand …”

    You have to imagine what the reaction would be if a BBC commentator found a Muslim leader’s faith amusing enough to laugh on air while describing it. He’d be out of the studio before you could say ‘Islamophobia’.


  3. Laban Tall says:

    Sorry – the Simon Schama link is at

    (RealAudio player needed)


  4. David says:

    I think it’s certainly true that the BBC are making a special effort at this time not to appear biased. It’s a strain for them, you can tell. I expect the Natasha Kaplinsky slip-up was more a reflection of her intellectual abilities.

    I noticed as well that they had made a special effort with the Question Time audience which again had a sprinkling of people with reasonable views.

    What I find pretty sickenign at the moment is the sudden concern for the welfare of soldiers. In all the thirty years of deaths in N. Ireland I don’t remember the BBC being so concerned.



  5. JohninLondon says:

    The BBC has been out hunting anti-war comments from relatives of the dead Black Watch soldiers. Quelle surprise !


  6. JohninLondon says:

    Just heard on Radio 4 that the BBC deployed 180 staff in the US for the elections. Just to get it all wrong !!!


  7. Eamonn says:

    Is that Barbara Plett mourning for “our Yasser” in the pic at the top of the page?


  8. Pam says:

    I fail to understand why the BBC threw so much money at covering an election without making any attempt to understand the issues concerning us. All these pundits and experts ( we have them in abundance here, too) seem to talk exclusively to people of like mind, so what’s the point? Why don’t they actually try to talk to people, instead of at them? I feel that would advance understanding and a common approach to the issues that concern our respective nations. I’m sure the denizens of the BBC would be as unhappy with Sharia law as I would, don’t we have that in common? I’m nauseated by the Arafat coverage, by the way, isn’t everyone aware he’s already on ice? ( Thank God)How long is this farce going to go on?


  9. JohninLondon says:

    I think the figure of 180 BBC staff in the US for the election relates ONLY to BBC Radio. (The number was stated by the Head of BBC Radio News.)

    BBC TV had a much larger number and budget.


  10. Eamonn says:

    Just think how many people the BBC would have had to send if they had bothered with the states that voted Republican as well.


  11. Roxana Cooper says:

    Do we *really* want the ‘help’ of Saddam’s erstwhile covert allies in Iraq? I think not!

    I am delighted to hear France and Germany are doing well without the United States. There’s no reason why they shouldn’t, they’re great big countries and should certainly be able to look after themselves – though hopefully they will try to do so more honestly in the future. No more undercover deals with UN sanctioned dictatorships!


  12. Susan says:

    I want to say how sad I am at the deaths of the 3 Black Watch soldiers. My condolences to all of you.


  13. Andrew Bowman says:

    Not to forget their Iraqi interpreter who also sadly lost his life – he went with the Black Watch from the south of Iraq, postponing his wedding, which was originally due to be held on the day he was killed by the mindless fanatical scumbags.

    We must finish the job in Iraq – it would be such a waste to let the terrorists win themselves a new old-style Afghanistan.


  14. Andrew Paterson says:

    How difficult would it be to strip the BBC of any Opinion whatsover by law?

    I want it to be more like the ‘Metro’ than ‘The Guardian’.


  15. Andrew Paterson says:

    BBC news I should say.


  16. Susan says:

    OT but speaking of (Don’t) Have Your Say, even a thread in which the topic is “Why did you vote for Bush” — (Don’t) Have Your Say must publish Bush-bashing comments.

    Why even have the topic in the first place if they are not going to stick to the stated subject? I guess there were too many positive and sensible comments from the pro-Bush people, so (Don’t) Have Your Say had to rush in some anti-Bush material in a “moral panic.”


  17. JohninLondon says:

    A few slaps for Michael Mooron and the Guardianistas – by Mark Steyn in The Australian :,5744,11288119%5E7583,00.html


  18. Zevilyn says:

    Funniest thing was Graydon Carter admitting that “perhaps we (ie: New York elite) are perceived as elitist”.

    No, Graydon, you ARE elitist.


  19. theghostofredken says:

    Mark Steyn is just your average sensationalist tabloid hack who’ll write anything to get himself quoted in other rags. Anyone who saw what he wrote about David Beckham’s ‘deliberate’ yellow card v. Wales can testify to that. The guy’s an idiot.


  20. I usually check what Mark Steyn writes against another source, the most recent example being his claim that the Dutch artist Chris Ripke had produced a mural outside his studio saying “Gij zult niet doden” (Thou shalt not kill) following the murder of Theo van Gogh. The studio is sited next to a mosque and the Imam demanded that the Dutch police remove the mural because it was offensive: the police duly complied.
    Of couse, as a rational person, I couldn’t believe this so I checked some Dutch sites and found it to be true. Steyn writes in a casual off-hand manner but the ‘facts’ he uses to present his case always turn out to be just that – facts!


  21. Andrew Paterson says:

    Steyn is my favourite columnist without a doubt. He’s right far too often to ignore. Stick to Frisky theghostofredken!


  22. JohninLondon says:


    Seethe and whine, seethe and whine.

    If you can’t recognise that Mark Steyn has an unerring ability to bring together all the threads of the week in one FUNNY article, you are even more pompous than your usual posts indicate.

    Meanwhile – here’s today’s article from Mr Steyn :

    As usual, he sticks it to the lib wierdos like you


  23. theghostofredken says:

    You have to register to read the above article. Do you have the Beckham opinion piece from The Australian to link to? I couldn’t find it anywhere from Google.


  24. biasedmyarse says:

    for all this whinging about biased bbc, this place is reeking of right wing bias. instead of distracting attention over important matters, like the plain fact that you took and take advantage of an (illegal) war to scare the populace into voting for you, piling fallacy upon fallacy. thankfully, here in spain, we’ve managed to throw the likes of you out of office.


  25. JohninLondon says:

    Spain hardly matters in the scheme of things.


  26. Roxana says:

    Spanish voters caved to terrorists, and you’re going to pay the price someday – pray it isn’t too high.