When has it become the BBC’s mission to spread innuendo and conspiracy theories?

That was the first line of an email from a reader. He or she then directed me to this:

“Why did US base escape tsunami?”

After outlining a current conspiracy theory about the tsunami mysteriously sparing the US base in Diego Garcia, the BBC article says:

Is America a power for good or ill in the world? Was there a malign hand at work, or has America’s role in the crisis in fact been a model of humanitarian leadership.

Let us know what you think. Is this just anti-US sentiment on the web or something more worrying?

You can read and send us your views from this page.

Contemptible. And now a public service announcement: have you remembered to pay your licence fee? This webpage will enable you to give £121 to the BBC, as you are legally obliged to do, with the minimum of inconvenience. Avoid any unpleasantness by paying now. Remember that the BBC relies on its “unique system of funding” in order to fulfil its vision of becoming “the most creative, trusted organisation in the world.” Come to think of it, why not pay twice? Then perhaps the the BBC might favour us with yet more internet conspiracy theories presented as neutral topics for discussion. I don’t think we’ve had the 4,000 Israelis or Operation Monarch yet.

The published comments were a mixture. There were some sceptical voices, but the usual run of earnest semi-literate cultists also jumped in. David Moore asks:

“Could it have been an attempt by the Neo-Conservative Christian Right to let set off an atom bomb, in order, to open the gates of hell and put out the flames with the water.”

Own up. Which one of you was it?

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124 Responses to When has it become the BBC’s mission to spread innuendo and conspiracy theories?

  1. Bob Gleason says:

    As a Yank, I want to confirm that the U.S. military can, indeed, start a tsunami at will, but then have it go around any installations we might have in its path.

    My tax dollars at work.

    Damn, we’re good!

    Bob Gleason
    Alexandria, Virginia

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  2. David says:

    Well said Bob. The best thing to do with conspiracy lovers is feed them such a rich diet of conspiracy that they make themselves sick on it.

    I was however a bit surprised to see the BBC item in question. My explanation would be that they really are trying to engage their Muslim viewers who take this sort of thing seriously, thinkign they were helping by dispelling such notions. The fact that people can subscribe to such notions speaks volumes.

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  3. Monkey says:

    The amount of energy needed to displace the amount of water required to produce a tsunami of that size far exceeds that produced by nuclear explosions.

    The American navy tested nuclear torpedos on a fleet of old ships in the 1950s, the results were dissapointing.

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  4. Zevilyn says:

    The actual item, as opposed to the BBC’s trailer for it, was actually pretty critical of the Anti-American mindset.
    The closing comments were for a change critical of France rather than the US.

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  5. Monkey says:

    All these religious types have no choice but to resort to conspiracy theories to support their world view.

    How can they blame their all powerful, totallitarian tyrant in the sky (who throws his enemies into concentration camps for eternity ie hell) for events like this?

    Surely the fact that they sychophantically bow to him every day and live their lives according to his ‘commandments’ means that he should be nice to them?

    So how come they (the muslim world) are so poor, and the ‘infidels’ are so prosperous? Could it possibly be because their religion is neo-primitive bullshit?

    No! It’s because of ‘the devil’ (america and the zionists!) , who keep sabotaging them.

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  6. Boris's Office says:

    Let’s go for hard facts rather than conspiracy theories

    melissa

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  7. Roxana Cooper says:

    It occured to me this morning that the utility such theories is that they allow believers to go on hating the United States while accepting her aid. So much for the hope of improving our image.

    Experience has shown that aid does not result in either gratitude or friendly feelings. This does not necessarily mean we should not give aid, just that we shouldn’t expect to get any reciprocal advantage from doing so.

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  8. Rob Read says:

    Roxana Cooper,

    That’s why Trade is much better than Aid, they have much more to lose, when they have to offer something in return for the money.

    Of course the BBC won’t publish any comments in DHYS that make this point.

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  9. Andrew Bowman says:

    Gosh, Melissa from Boris’s Office.

    Can you confirm whether or not the great man himself is a follower of Biased BBC?

    As for the BBC’s invitation to discuss Internet tsunami conspiracy theories, I haven’t been able to find their page discussing Internet conspiracy theories about the death of Yasser Arafat – surely such an interesting topic won’t be left uncovered by the new BBC News Online conspiracy theory team…

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  10. theghostofredken says:

    “So how come they (the muslim world) are so poor, and the ‘infidels’ are so prosperous? Could it possibly be because their religion is neo-primitive bullshit?”

    It’s a well known fact that only Christian countries can run a decent economy look at that poor Arabs in Saudi, err, …wait a minute…I take it all back, Monkey you’re a moron.

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  11. theghostofredken says:

    “…haven’t been able to find their page discussing Internet conspiracy theories about the death of Yasser Arafat – surely such an interesting topic won’t be left uncovered by the new BBC News Online conspiracy theory team…”

    Publishing conspiracy theories around an individual’s death, especially ones which suggest he died of AIDS, could leave in you a lot of legal bother. It’s not really a fair comparison is it Andrew?

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  12. Natalie Solent says:

    Zevylin and David,

    Both your comments sought to give the BBC the benefit of the doubt. I don’t give them any.

    Imagine the BBC issuing parallel invitations to discuss, let us say, whether Russia or France murdered hundreds of thousands of people. Hey, perhaps Russian nuclear bombs caused the Bam Earthquake! We already know about Rainbow Warrior – how many other secret black ops have the DGSE been up to to protect French nuclear tests? (Note to nutters out there: I made these up as an example.) Wars have started for less.

    Imagine it issuing invitations to discuss, in a spirit of calm enquiry, you understand, some of the anti-black or anti-Jew conspiracy theories out there.

    It has come close to doing the latter on many occasions.

    The BBC has a history of pandering to conspiracy theorists. In the case of the Nigerian Polio vaccine scare I am convinced it contributed t

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  13. Natalie Solent says:

    ..contributed to the deaths and crippling of many Nigerian children.

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  14. Monkey says:

    “It’s a well known fact that only Christian countries can run a decent economy look at that poor Arabs in Saudi, err, …wait a minute…I take it all back, Monkey you’re a moron.”

    Who said I was a christian? I was referring to ALL religious types.

    The west is succesful not because of christianity (apart from perhaps, the weberian ‘protestant work ethic’) but because we are secular, and we allow the ‘freigeist’ to publish his subversive ideas, rather than lynch him. (well, not since gallileo)

    Is it any wonder, with such a repressive, dogmatic culture, that the arab world hasn’t produced any Darwins, Newtons or Einsteins?

    As for Saudi being rich. Well that’d probably have something to do with the oil money ken. Plus, if you were to take away all of the western workers tommorow the whole country would collapse.

    If it weren’t for the infidels, the islamic world wouldn’t have cars, tv, electricity, science etc. This is a fact.

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  15. Andrew Bowman says:

    Ah TGORK, did I mention Aids? Are you suggesting that Yasser died of Aids? If so, perhaps you should be worrying about the ramifications of your suggestion!

    Oh, but wait, you can’t libel the dead – so you’re in the clear legally. You’ll just have to be careful in case some of his more extreme supporters take exception to your allegation.

    As for the fairness of the comparison, I suppose you’re right – the theories I’ve heard about Yasser are far more plausible than the idea of the US being responsible for the tsunami and/or having some special way of avoiding the consequences.

    Oh, and be a love – less of the ‘moron’ type insults to our other guests please – seems like you’re forgetting how to behave whilst a guest in other people’s blogs…

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  16. theghostofredken says:

    Monkey a.k.a. Kilroy: Is this point the last time that I started to list things invented by Arabs and you claimed that I was lying on their behalf/ my references were wrong/ Arabs lie about inventing things? I can’t be bothered to find the link to all the Arab mathematicians I found last time, live in your ignorance, I hope you’re very happy there. Yes oil, schmoil, whatever…I’m sure Japan and S. Korea would be first to agree with your West is best, slung-together, sloppy rhetoric. Incidentally, as you mentioned Darwin I’d like point out that only 35% of Yanks believe in evolution: (http://www.religioustolerance.org/rel_comp.htm). I only put this in because I surmise:

    a) You’re a yank
    b) You’re a Christian

    Correct me if I’m wrong…

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  17. David H says:

    This is typical of the sort of cowradly nonsense which the BBC indulges in – they invite readers to e-mail in their anti-American comments under the guise of investigating an internet conspiracy theory (and not a well-known one at that). Diego Garcia avoided the brunt of the tsunami for the same reason that some of the Maldives were untouched while their neighbours were devastated – geographical luck. It’s typical of the closed BBC mindset that having come across this obscure conspiracy theory they assume all their readers will enjoy the opportunity to have a go at the USA.

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  18. Monkey says:

    a) I’m Scottish
    b) I’m an athiest

    I am not the person who said that arabs lie. The middle east was actually the most sophisticated region in the world at one point, but the arrival of the islamic ideology led to stagnation.

    Secondly, the Greeks invented mathematics (and practically everything else).

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  19. theghostofredken says:

    “Oh, but wait, you can’t libel the dead – so you’re in the clear legally.”

    I don’t think that’s correct. I think his family could take issue on grounds of ‘defamation’.

    Point taken about my insulting behaviour, I’m well aware that I overstepped the line but I was acting in Monkey best interests. If no one had said anything he (I assume) might have thought his comment was in some way related or useful to the debate. So I stepped in. I stand by that decision.

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  20. Monkey says:

    “Is this point the last time that I started to list things invented by Arabs”

    I could also compile a list of all the things invented by Scots (TV, radar, phone, capitalism, the battered mars bar, the word ‘shite’ etc) which would be far more impressive.

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  21. theghostofredken says:

    “(a) I’m Scottish b) I’m an atheist”

    Rangers fan then? Never mind…

    Yes the Greek invented maths, blah, blah, no Persians involved certainly no Arabs.

    Look up the origins of the following words:

    Algebra
    Algorithm

    Hint: The clue is in the first two letters.

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  22. Monkey says:

    Mathematics is a greek word ken.

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  23. Monkey says:

    “Rangers fan then?”

    Hibs actually.

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  24. JH says:

    For Christ’s sake – Yes the Arabs and Persians invented modern mathematics as we understand it – Just because the Greeks called it something doesn’t mean they invented it. I call it hard sums – Doesn’t mean I’m a mathematician. Both Ken and Monkey have valid points here but splitting hairs over word derivations is hardly debate.

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  25. JH says:

    Whatever the innovative feats of the Arab world in the past something has clearly gone wrong for them and there must be some cultural/environmental reasons for that. It doesn’t take a huge leap of imagination to think that Islam might have something to do with it. Come to think of it – What went wrong for Scotland Monkey?

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  26. Laura says:

    Click below where it says homepage and you will see what an absolutely excellent, exhaustive, wide-ranging job BBC News online has done in covering the tsunami and its aftermath. you won’t find anything to rival that by any other news organistation in the world.

    splitting hairs about one tiny element of the relief effort is ridiculous. the BBC has shown the world what a fast, thorough and reliable organisation it is in its tsunami coverage.
    BBC reports have also helped raise millions for those who are suffering by bringing their stories to the world.

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  27. Laura says:

    Sorry – link should work now. if not cut and paste:
    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/in_depth/world/2004/asia_quake_disaster

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  28. JH says:

    Laura

    Nobody doubts the exhaustive and wide ranging job the BBC does but it doesn’t change the fact that the ‘conspiracy theory’ issue is just another example of its persistent willingness not to give the benefit of any doubt to the USA.

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  29. theghostofredken says:

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/in_depth/world/2004/asia_quake_disaster/

    Is the link you want Laura. Unless your post was a strange joke?

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  30. theghostofredken says:

    Scratch that last one Bob.

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  31. JH says:

    Ken

    You’ve lost me

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  32. jst says:

    So they should have exhaustive coverage of this event – they get billions of £’s of tv owners money to play with. They certainly didn’t use it to come up with endless high quality programme over christmas.

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  33. theghostofredken says:

    I meant ignore my last post. I’m not sure where Bob came from.

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  34. Susan says:

    Even knowing the BBC as I do, I am still shocked that an organzation considering itself a “reputable” news outlet would sink this low. When do they give David Ickes his own show? Heck, when do they appoint David Ickes overall news director? Why not replace Matt Frei as chief US correspondent with Lyndon LaRouche?

    Speechless. The Beeb hits bottom – and then digs.

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  35. theghostofredken says:

    “So they should have exhaustive coverage of this event – they get billions of £’s of tv owners money to play with. They certainly didn’t use it to come up with endless high quality programme over christmas.”

    Ah, the tricky Xmas scheduling. Channels loathe throwing money at it; your demographics are all over the place. Who’ll win the fight for remote on Xmas day? Granny or the kids who want to watch TOTP? Stick a few specials on and hope for the best, it’s all you can do really. No particular fault of the Beeb in this instance, all the channels do pretty much the same over Xmas.

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  36. Monkey says:

    I wonder if the Tsunami disaster will drive the government to remove the panama canal scene from ‘team america world police’ (opens january 10)

    I wouldn’t put it past them.

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  37. David says:

    There’s no one quite as atheist as a Scottish atheist.

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  38. Kevin says:

    What about this utterly incredible statement from one of the published comments responding to the article:

    “To be honest nothing would surprise me about how far the USA administration is willing to go to maintain its coercive dominance over the world. Would they use the “Star Wars” technology to cause an earthquake?”

    I am rendered speechless….it’s a bit like a bad dream and waking up to find that the world has gone mad and a malign broadcasting service has usurped power and introduced a malevolent form of thought control…..just pinched myself – it’s not a bad dream – the BBC really have started to do this.

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  39. Susan says:

    Star Wars is a missile defense system. It’s meant to shoot down incoming missiles in outerspace. How on earth could it be used to cause an earthquake?

    Barking mad, that’s what the Beeb and its true-believer sheeple constituency is. They need psychiatric assistance, not a taxpayer-funded platform for their collective insanity.

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  40. Joe N. says:

    Actually, MC Ghosty Ghost, the mathematics historically atributed with Arabs today was in fact a set of Persian concepts and developments.

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  41. Andrew Paterson says:

    Almost….almost unbelievable. Anyone going to defend the BBC on this point?

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  42. Joe N. says:

    Actually Laura, given the scale of the BBC, I would hardly call it far-reaching and exhaustive. Their analysts have not been the really big-ones-in-the-know, and quite frankly they aren’t reporting from the same number of locations as Reuters and AP.

    One more thing is that we all know HOW to feel. We don’t need coaching. We need them to report the news.

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  43. Susan says:

    Actually some of the loonier comments could be spoofs submitted by bloggers playing “Moonbat Bingo.” (Andrew at Non-Trivial Solutions or Mr. England Project, are you guilty?) But the fact that the Beeb takes them seriously enough to print them. . .that’s some scary sh*t going down.

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  44. Susan says:

    GORK: yes, indeed. Why waste money on Christmas specials when one can make yet another splashy advert for Islam masquerading as a “documentary”?

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  45. JH says:

    The trouble is the Beeb shouldn’t have to worry about viewer ratings at Christmas or indeed any other time – Its centrally funded and not dependent on advertising – Same rubbish though only publicly funded by us whether we like it or not.

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  46. Giles says:

    I ‘d have to hope that this is the enron of the BBC bias. The innuedo is so rediculous that even the most conspiracy minded leftist must be asking why the BBC is reporting this rubbish.

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  47. Laura says:

    What is a moonbat?

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  48. Bishop Hill says:

    From the Samizdata blogging glossary.

    noun. Someone on the extreme edge of whatever their -ism happens to be.

    Usage:”Definition of a ‘barking moonbat’: someone who sacrifices sanity for the sake of consistency”

    The glossary is at:
    http://www.samizdata.net/blog/glossary.html

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  49. jst says:

    “No particular fault of the Beeb in this instance, all the channels do pretty much the same over Xmas.”
    Overlooking the fact that whatever other channels do over a ‘tricky’ time , they have to generate their own funds for,perhaps I should have made clear that the eg. of rubbish on tbe BBC over christmas was merely an example. It’s not exactly brilliant over the rest of the year when the ‘demographics’ are more clear cut , which helps explain the diminishing viewing figures. Just what do they spend it on – apart from expensive adverts for themselves?

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  50. Anonymous says:

    “BBC defends Tsunami coverage”
    Read it and weep, people…
    http://news.bbc.co.uk/newswatch/ukfs/hi/newsid_4150000/newsid_4151500/4151551.stm

    My favourite bit: “Dismal anonymous sources are then wheeled out to give the impression there was some crisis in the BBC’s coverage overall.”

    Now they know what it’s like being on the other end of their constant “critics say”, “it’s widely regardled” and “it’s thought” comments which means their opinion wrapped up in vaugeness.

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