Kudos to the BBC

Kudos to the BBC for making several programmes in the last few weeks that covered areas that had previously been neglected or avoided.

  • This story, based on an issue of Radio 4’s Crossing Continents, is about how a young Malaysian woman who has converted from Islam to Christianity is threatened with violence by Muslim fanatics.
  • This BBC investigation looked into sexual abuse of children by UN peacekeepers.
  • Almost from the day that the BBC did a hidden camera exposé of the BNP, commenters to the BBC website asked why the BBC did not do a hidden camera exposé of radical Muslim groups. The joint Newsnight / File On 4 documentary in November did just that. (Full transcript here.)
  • I also approved of this story: Study backs Libya HIV case medics.When plague struck medieval Europe, an uneducated and fearful populace, unable to believe that the catastrophe could have a natural origin, would frequently blame the plague on the deliberate action of foreigners or infidels and launch a pogrom against the Jews. This pattern of behaviour has been followed in many other times and places. A modern example occured in Libya in 1999. In this case the victims were five Bulgarian nurses and a Palestinian doctor. They were accused of deliberately infecting 400 Libyan children with AIDS and, after confessions were extorted by torture, condemned to death in 2004.I approved of this BBC story because, although it maintained the editorially distant style proper to the BBC, it did not imperil the lives of these victims of hysteria by hedging or showing “balance” between the firemen and the fire. That is how you deal with irrational conspiracy theories. Contrast it with the pandering to the Nigerian conspiracy theory alleging that Westerners had contaminated polio vaccine displayed by the BBC here. Contrast it with the active assistance the BBC gave to spreading an anti-American conspiracy theory about tsunami of December 26, 2004. (More about that here.)I bring the polio and tsunami stories up fairly often, because I think they are the two most harmful examples of BBC bias I have ever come across. There are certainly Nigerian children dead or crippled by polio because the BBC was reluctant to offend some of its Muslim readers. As for the tsunami story, our regular pro-BBC commenter, “John Reith” has said that the BBC’s asking its readers “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.” …was actually the BBC squelching the conspiracy theory.

    No. That is what the BBC squelching a conspiracy theory looks like.

    There has been mounting international pressure on Libya to hear independent scientific evidence.

    International experts say the scientific report used in the trial was nothing but ‘conjecture’ and ‘supposition’.

    Note the absence of a “Have Your Say” forum asking readers whether these Bulgarians and this Palestinian might reallyhave been agents of enemy intelligence services seeking to undermine the Libyan nation by killing its children after all.

    As I’ve said before, never mind the name of this blog, there are times when the BBC has a duty to come down on one side and not the other.

 

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30 Responses to Kudos to the BBC

  1. Hippiepooter says:

    The BBC has an implicit duty to be a servant of democracy. To facilitate free and open democratic debate in the country and to report the wars we fight against terrorists and tyrants in a manner that will not prejudice our cause.

    The stories you have outlined have shown that the BBC is perfectly capable of being the BBC it used to be. Sadly, given the appallingly treacherous and subversive nature of its overall output, these items could be, at least in part, for reasons of deniable plausibility. To (only half) parody the logic of the BBC’s ‘House Tory’ JR: ‘Of course we are impartial, we try to strike a fair balance between propagandising for terrorists and tyrants and faciliting the cause of human rights and democracy’.

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  2. “The stories you have outlined have shown that the BBC is perfectly capable of being the BBC it used to be.”

    I once believed that there was a ‘BBC as it used to be’ but then I started to delve into the history of the 1930’s and Churchill’s attempts to make himself heard. The BBC sought to silence Churchill. The BBC has always been covertly anti-British (except 1940-44) and now it no longer hides this fact.

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  3. Simpson John says:

    Who’s biased now?

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  4. Rueful Red says:

    Though I can’t imagine the BBC of today broadcasting messages to be picked up by a modern equivalent of the French Resistance. That’d be judgmental.

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  5. jasp says:

    Almost from the day that the BBC did a hidden camera exposé of the BNP
    ———
    Dont make me laugh. Disgraceful politically motivated extremists in the BBC persecuting a political party.

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  6. I don’t see why the BBC shouldn’t do exposes of political parties especially if that party in question is breaking the law or a direct threat to the public. From the resultant trials and the likelihood that the BNP are not plotting to murder en masse, then I ‘d say that the BBC’s priorities were/are skewed: and I did ask myself that question.

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  7. anon says:

    Thanx to the Speccy and appropriate for any BBC related debate:
    http://www.spectator.co.uk/article_images/articledir_53/26806/1_fullsize.png

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  8. chevalier de st george says:

    Alan at Aberdeen

    Please can you supply links to the evidence that the BBC actively sought to suppress Winston Churchill’s warning about Nazi Germany in the thirties.
    If so, it would be complicit in far more than was shown in Natalie’s expose of its Nigerian polio episode.
    Churchill’s self torturing regrets about the delay in waking up Britain to the nefarious intents of Nazism did indeed cost millions of lives.

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  9. Anat says:

    Oh comeon. Of course the BBC wouldn’t treat the Lybian conspiracy theory the same as the anti-Western Nigerian, Tsunami, and numerous other conspiracy theories circulating in the Arab world against Americans and Israelis. The Lybian conspiracy theory is entirely different from all these because one of its victims is a darling Palestinian. Now that wouldn’t do. Would it.

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  10. chevalier,
    I bought the CD with Churchill’s greatest speeches, some of which were re-recorded. The CD is actually a BBC-audio but the great man himself on the CD is quoted that he was being side-lined and refused time to air his concerns by the BBC – I think John Reith was in charge, the real John Reith, and not that clod that visits here from time to time.
    Churchill was too “bellicose” for the BBC. I think that the Churchill Foundation website has his complaints recorded but whether there was a written policy to ignore Churchill is difficult to prove any more than there being a written policy to speak for islam: but we know it happened and we know it’s happening.

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  11. Bryan says:

    Hmmmm,

    I think Anat has a point here. How would the BBC have dealt with the conspiracy theory if an Israeli Jew, and not a Palestinian, had been falsely accused and jailed by the Libyans?

    And when it comes to Libyans vs. Palestinians, is the BBC saying that its Palestinian friends trump other Arabs in this particular instance?

    Hell, and here I was starting to get excited about a new look BBC.

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  12. Jack Hughes says:

    No – there is not a written policy to promote islam. None of the BBCs biases and fetishes come from a conscious policy. Its actually driven by “group-think”.

    Wikipedia has some stuff about groupthink:

    “In order to make groupthink testable, Irving Janis devised eight symptoms that are indicative of groupthink (197).

    1. A feeling of invulnerability creates excessive optimism and encourages risk taking.

    2. Discounting warnings that might challenge assumptions.

    3. An unquestioned belief in the group’s morality, causing members to ignore the consequences of their actions. [very true of the BBC]

    4. Stereotyped views of enemy leaders.
    [true of the BBC – opponents are “daily mail” readers and BNP types]

    5. Pressure to conform against members of the group who disagree.
    [dissent would be career suicide – dozens of ex-beebers have spoken of how it was on the insode]

    6. Shutting down of ideas that deviate from the apparent group consensus. [yep]

    7. An illusion of unanimity with regards to going along with the group.
    [yep]

    8. Mindguards- self-appointed members who shield the group from dissenting opinions”

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Groupthink

    There are other factors at work – for example I get the feeling that most beebers live in Islington – their reality may be different from my reality.

    And there is no internal system of checks and balances – for example someone saying “islam ? Give it rest. Haven’t we done enough of that recently ?”

    No – tis type of sensible comment would leave you open to the cahrge of islamophobia, which is nearly as sinful as racism in the demonology of the politically-correct.

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  13. Heron says:

    So John Reith is a Mindguard?

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  14. Bryan says:

    Yes, and he’s also typical of nos 2, 3 and 4.

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  15. Jack Hughes says:

    Not sure about JR’s role here. I got this list from Wikipedia – I don’t agree that all these things are necessary for groupthink to be present.

    I have watched lefties first hand and very often their reasoning goes like this:

    Any dissenter is a weirdo – a maverick – probably has a secret agenda. So there are no rational dissenters. So the policy / view / idea must be correct.

    Take the whole climate change hysteria, for example. It has moved seemlessly with no real debate from:

    1) The climate is changing. [This is measurably true.]

    2) The climate is changing for ever in a dramatic way. [This is actually controversial – except at the BBC.]

    3) The climate change is man-made.

    4) Climate change can be stopped or even reversed by human actions.

    5) Whatever proposals are in focus at the moment are the only suggestions that could possibly work and we must all muck in – anybody questioning this is self-evidently a top nazi in the pay of “big oil”.

    6) Aviation is the worst part of all this – but “true believers” like Nicholas Stern are OK to fly around the world spreading the received gospel.

    Its the mental jumps that have taken place – the BBC conventional wisdom has jumped from each stage to the next with no discussion, no testing of the theories, no caution or skepticism.

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  16. Anonymous says:

    Interesting mention of the head of Guardian Media in these comments on Guido Fawkes’ site
    http://5thnovember.blogspot.com/2006/12/comrade-konrad-sith-apprentice.html

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  17. MisterMinit says:

    “None of the BBCs biases and fetishes come from a conscious policy. Its actually driven by “group-think”.”

    Do you not think that this blog is a prime example of “group-think”?

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  18. Anat says:

    MisterMinit,
    What looks like group-thinking on this blog is the legitimate result of a voluntary association of likeminded people, which the BBC are not supposed to be. Can’t you see the difference?

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  19. Bryan says:

    MisterMinit,

    If you look a little more closely you’ll discover that there is disagreement among posters here on some issues.

    Here’s an example from as recently as yesterday:

    http://www.haloscan.com/comments/patrickcrozier/116517758638684416/#321032

    http://www.haloscan.com/comments/patrickcrozier/116517758638684416/#321052

    And you might have noticed that Anat just disagreed with Natalie a few comments up.

    That is if you are looking at this site with your eyes open.

    There are plenty of bright, highly individualistic people on this site. It’s about time you realised that.

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  20. MisterMinit says:

    “If you look a little more closely you’ll discover that there is disagreement among posters here on some issues.”

    I’m sorry, but I would hardly say that those examples that you have highlighted are serious disagreements.

    “What looks like group-thinking on this blog is the legitimate result of a voluntary association of likeminded people,”

    And how is that different to group think?

    ” which the BBC are not supposed to be. Can’t you see the difference?”

    Of course I can see the difference.

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  21. Bryan says:

    Who would want serious disagreements (though there have been many) among those dedicated to the same cause? Besides, the lack of serious disagreements doesn’t equal the presence of groupthink. I’m just pointing out that we are not unthinking people here – which is what groupthink implies.

    I’ve seen evidence of groupthink in the blogosphere but not to any marked degree on this site. This is partly due to the strong individualism of the majority of the contributors and partly due to the discipline required to evaluate and weigh BBC bias.

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  22. archonix says:

    Define groupthink. We can work from there.

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  23. Bryan says:

    Groupthink:

    http://www.haloscan.com/comments/patrickcrozier/116518528160727944/#321083

    I guess you could say it’s the superseding of individual thought by collective thought. A good example is the way BBC hacks handled the Israeli-Hezbollah war. The gang of them that went over there had a single-minded purpose: to demonise Israel while tiptoeing delicately around Hezbollah.

    There was one exception which proved this rule in the form of a tough interview with a Hezbollah spokesman in which the BBC interviewer tried to get him to reveal the extent of Hezbollah casualties. For the rest, it was groupthink and group prejudice worthy of the blinkered, mindless propagandists for Big Brother.

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  24. DifferentAnon says:

    “There are plenty of bright, highly individualistic people on this site. It’s about time you realised that.”

    I’m Bwyan.

    No, I’m Bwyan.

    etc.

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  25. RB says:

    “There are other factors at work – for example I get the feeling that most beebers live in Islington – their reality may be different from my reality.”

    Is your reality the one where vast gangs of Muslims are roaming the streets forcing conversions, socialism has forced everyone into rat infested slums and the downtrodden masses are itching for a UKIP government only to be denied by facist electoral fraud?

    If so please can you let me know where it is as B-BBCers all seem to live there and I’d quite like to visit.

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  26. Bryan says:

    DifferentAnon,

    If you want to try to lower the debate to that level, I’m not going to follow you down there, that’s for sure.

    You’ve simply proved you have no coherent argument to make.

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  27. Bryan says:

    Is your reality the one where vast gangs of Muslims are roaming the streets forcing conversions, socialism has forced everyone into rat infested slums and the downtrodden masses are itching for a UKIP government only to be denied by facist electoral fraud?

    Thanks for making my point for me so eloquently, RB. Have you had a look at France lately? The UK is not far behind.

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  28. DifferentAnon says:

    Bryan,

    Coherency? You mean as with your argument on Darfur when you:

    a) Cut out part of an article from some place or other
    b) Blithely stated the BBC didn’t cover it, without bothering to specify what unique piece of information was missing
    c) Acknowledged that you both had no idea how much content on the janjaweed the BBC actually had, nor had any intention of finding out because you already knew how biased the BBC was
    d) Told me to do some research into the BBC’s janjaweed coverage on your behalf to counter your non-specific accusation of bias-by-omission.

    That’s coherency, for sure – along the lines of the ad hominem “prove you’re not a paedophile” style of argument. If you can’t be bothered to substantiate your lightweight arguments, why should I?

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  29. Cockney says:

    France? Yeah nice place, good food and wine. People not quite as rude as they used to be.

    Couple of highly unpleasant slums around Paris which impact precisely zero on 99.99% of citizens.

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  30. Fabio P.Barbieri says:

    Couple of highly unpleasant slums around Paris which impact precisely zero on 99.99% of citizens

    Cockney, you miserable ignoramus. The “couple of unpleasant slums” are, according to an official Ministry of the Interior document, 751, and include the whole city of Marseilles. As for “impacting precisely nothing” on the 90% (not 99.99, dolt) who do not live there, the impact is so small that it has become the main theme in the presidential campaign, with Sarkozy and Royal trying to outbid each other on law and order and restoring control to the intifada-ridden cities. I don’t know what planet you live on, but you have just proven that you could not locate France on a map with a guidebook to help you. Et maintenant, tete de veau. tais-toi et laisse parler les adultes.

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