Ben Brown, BBC News 24 headlines at 9pm

Ben Brown, BBC News 24 headlines at 9pm:

“Nine men are in custody in connection with an alleged plot to kidnap a British Muslim soldier and film his execution”

Note to all BBC journalists (and some at Sky News too):

‘Execution’ implies a legal or judicially sanctioned killing. You cannot be charged with conspiracy to ‘execute’ someone. These people are being held on suspicion of conspiracy to murder (along with conspiracy to kidnap and torture).

Update:I was pleased to see at the end of the BBC 10 O’Clock News and at the beginning of Newsnight that Fiona Bruce and Jeremy Paxman, respectively, used the word ‘murder’ in their headlines. It’s a shame about all the other journalists who’re too biased or, more likely, too ignorant to realise that ‘execution’ is not a synonym for ‘murder’.

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Open thread – for comments of general Biased BBC interest:

Please use this thread for off-topic, but preferably BBC related, comments. Please keep comments on other threads to the topic at hand. N.B. this is not an invitation for general off-topic comments – our aim is to maintain order and clarity on the topic-specific threads. This post will remain at or near the top of the blog. Please scroll down to find new topic-specific posts.

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Bloody sincing*.

A BBC report headed Iraq blasts kill Ashura pilgrims contains this sentence:

Ashura, the most important Shia festival, has witnessed serious sectarian violence since the 2003 US-led invasion of Iraq.

That, alas, is true.

But the BBC should have made clear (as it did in the report from 2004 I am about to link to) that the reason for the relative absence of of bombings of Shia pilgrims at Ashura prior to the US-led invasion was not that the Americans had not yet arrived to spoil the bucolic peace. It was because Saddam Hussein suppressed Ashura. In the same way, his Sunni-dominated regime suppressed as dangerous to his rule many other expressions of the Shia branch of Islam followed by the majority of Iraqis.

These public commemorations of the death of Husayn Ibn Ali – the self-flagellating aspect which I admit I find somewhat distasteful, but if the practice is meaningful to these pilgrims, then it’s (literally) no skin off my back – have only freely taken place at all in Iraq since the OK-BBC-we-get-it “US-led invasion.”

*For an explanation of “sincing”, see here.

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Belated sense, belated reports.

The BBC banned then unbanned one of its message board threads discussing Little Green Footballs. There is a detailed post discussing the affair at Augean Stables: On the Politics of Silence.

The latter post led me to this post from Daniel Pipes’ blog, mentioned by Laban here, in which he said how odd it was that his recent debate with the mayor of our capital city, Ken Livingstone, in front of a capacity audience at a conference held yards from the Houses of Parliament was all but ignored by the media. There has been one BBC report on it, although, for a reason Laban pointed out, this report was of limited utility to most of the licence-payers. This silence despite the debate being chaired by the BBC’s own Gavin Esler. Perhaps a report is in preparation.

I still am terribly busy, and haven’t even had time to do more than skim the blogs – even Biased BBC! So apologies if this has already appeared and been discussed to bits.

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Along with various Biased BBC commenters

, I couldn’t help but notice how this BBC Views Online story, Three dead in Israel suicide bomb, about the tragic murder yesterday of three people in Eilat, had this paragraph tagged on to the end of it:

The last suicide attack was at a Tel Aviv restaurant, killing 10 people. Hundreds of Palestinians have been killed by Israeli forces in that time, mainly in the Gaza Strip.

The first of these sentences is of course wrong. They mean the last suicide attack in Israel.

The second sentence is just plain irrelevant to the story, although the cub journos responsible for this addition will doubtless claim that it adds ‘essential context’. Hogwash. Unless every story of ongoing Middle East violence is to be accompanied by a potted history of recent Middle Eastern events (which this one sentence just isn’t) or a scoreboard of deaths going back till who knows when, then that line just shouldn’t be tagged on to the end of this story apropos of nothing else in particular.

The second sentence doesn’t even read sensibly. When they say “Hundreds of Palestinians have been killed by Israeli forces in that time”, what time do they mean? Do they mean ‘since then’, since the last suicide terror murders? If so, wouldn’t it make sense to say that clearly? (They do mention April 2006 waaaay up at the top of the piece, but the two don’t seem to be otherwise related). Bleedin’ amateurs – can’t even propagandise clearly!

For anyone interested in following the development of this tawdry BBC Views Online attempt at news reporting, the wonderful News Sniffer Revisionista is the place to go (for some strange reason the BBC refuse to provide their telly-taxpaying customers with this information themselves).

The successive versions revealed by News Sniffer are quite illuminating, particularly the differences between versions 11 & 12 (see the News Sniffer page linked above). Notice how the story is massaged and a couple of chunks are excised, as if to downplay the horror of this incident – for instance, this line:

The force of the explosion left body parts scattered around the bakery, while outside trays of bread lay on the blood-stained pavement.

magically disappears, as does this sentiment from the UN’s Middle East envoy:

I feel deeply for those killed and I share the pain of their families. I send them my deepest condolences.

I wonder why these chunks were cut out. Reasons of space perhaps? No more room on the BBC’s servers?

While we’re on the subject of the Eilat murders, earlier, on BBC News Twenty-Bore, the BBC’s reporter on the spot (‘Going live!’) was making much of this being the first suicide terror attack in months (although he didn’t use the word ‘terror’, natch) and that things had been relatively quiet until today.

Hogwash, again. This is the first successful suicide terror attack in months. According to the former Labour MP, Lorna Fitzsimons, interviewed in Eilat by Sky News, there have been 62 foiled attacks over the last nine months. Whatever the exact figure, there have been many, many attempted attacks, with only Israel’s high state of security and the vigilance of Israeli citizens and security services preventing the indiscriminate murder of many more civilians – not that these failed attacks were mentioned on either BBC Views Online or on BBC News Twenty-Bore. Strange that, since the Beeboids are so keen on adding ‘essential context’.

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BBC Miscellany

Nigel Farndale in the Telegraph takes issue with the BBC’s Diversity Tsar.

Sooner or later she was bound to feel the need to justify her salary. So, just six months into the job, she has made a pronouncement. It is about the BBC’s coverage of Saddam’s execution. When BBC reporters expressed horror at the manner of it they were being “culturally insensitive” she says, because doing so imposed Western values on a different culture.

Mary, Mary, Mary. Where to start? The Nazis were a “different culture”. Does that mean we should have been more sensitive to their robust views on race relations? Or what about the Taliban? Is it insensitive to say that we find their enthusiasm for stoning adulterers a bit hard to stomach?

Another term for cultural relativism is moral cowardice. It means you don’t have the courage to stand up for what your culture believes in. As it happens, our culture believes in liberal democracy, freedom and tolerance. It also believes in equality for women. But when confronted by cultures that don’t believe in those things the BBC, or Mary FitzPatrick at least, wobbles.

In London last weekend the hottest ticket in town was the debate “A World Civilisation or Clash of Civilisations ?” hosted by Ken Livingstone and attended by around 5,000 people and 150 media representatives.

Extensively covered by the blogs, it was surprisingly ignored by the BBC. With the exception of this report. In Arabic.

Lastly – I wonder how the BBC missed this story. I bet they’re kicking themselves.

Bolton Council has scrapped its annual Holocaust Memorial Day event at its town hall on Sunday in favour of organising a National Genocide Day and claims by doing so “does not mean that the holocaust is being ignored”.

The north west England council will still mark the day by flying flags at half mask but has decided instead to host its own event in June which it claims will be supporting an interfaith council idea.

The move has been seen by some groups as bowing to local Muslim pressure for a renaming of the day which the Muslim Council of Britain has called for.

In a statement, the council said: “Following consultations with the town’s Interfaith Council and other faith groups it has been decided to take part in Genocide Memorial Day later this year in June when a bigger, outside event, in which more people can take part, is planned. Victoria Square outside the Town Hall could be the venue.”

(kippot-tip – FW)

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The reason is the death of hope

The reason is the death of hope, caused by a cocktail of Israel’s military activities, land expropriation and settlement building – and the financial sanctions imposed on the Hamas led government which are destroying Palestinian institutions that were anyway flawed and fragile.

The “death of hope”, eh? Sounds pretty comprehensive to me.

I thought about the leaked email from Jeremy Bowen when I made comparison between this November 2006 BBC report of a Christian exodus from Bethleham, and this January 07 articlefrom the Jerusalem Post. What you notice as the BBC journalist attempts to explain a massive lurch from Christian to Muslim domination is that somehow Israel is to blame for it. Two thirds of the article is devoted to the actions and restrictions meted out by Israel.

Most pathetic is the attempt made to tick the old “public/private” box when interviewing the locals:

“Publicly Christians here insist there is no friction with the Muslim majority.Earlier this year though the Islamist Hamas movement came to power.

And in private some say they now dress more conservatively. There have also been fights between Christian and Muslim families.”

Mmm- it would seem these “fights” were a little one-sided, given statistics which show that what was once an 85% Christian town is now 15% Christian (must be all the Jews moving in and grabbing land as usual, eh, Jeremy?).

Maybe the BBC could learn a little more, and so could we, from attending to the report (a second link here to the JP’s eyeopener) of Palestinian Muslim Khaled Abu Toameh. The brutal truth is out there, Aunty, but you don’t care.

“A number of Christian families have finally decided to break their silence and talk openly about what they describe as Muslim persecution of the Christian minority in this city.
The move comes as a result of increased attacks on Christians by Muslims over the past few months. The families said they wrote letters to Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas, the Vatican, Church leaders and European governments complaining about the attacks, but their appeals have fallen on deaf ears.”

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How the BBC buried the cash-for-honours story

from Saturday’s Daily Mail:

The BBC faced more claims of New Labour bias Friday night after giving prominence to Downing Street’s instant denial over the latest twist in the cash-for-honours scandal.

Rival ITV News led its 6.30pm bulletin on Thursday with allegations that police had found deleted e-mails on a second computer system linked to the probe.

The Mail was also working on making the story its front-page splash Friday.

But the BBC’s Ten O’Clock News spent less than 20 seconds on the story Thursday evening. When it did get round to the story at 10.20pm, the broadcaster decided to focus on the Government’s instant rebuttal.

On Thursday night’s programme, Dermot Murnaghan told viewers: “Downing Street has denied new claims about the cash-forhonours inquiry.

“ITV News and the Daily Mail claim that the police had uncovered a second computer system within Number 10 in which e-mails appeared to have been deleted.

“This evening Downing Street denied the existence of the system and said the story was untrue.”

A BBC spokesman said: “The story was reported extensively and the coverage was balanced and impartial.”

The criticism comes a week after Newsnight faced accusations of bias over its treatment of the story. The show led on an embarrassing e-mail between two Conservative Party members rather than the news that Ruth Turner had been arrested in the cash-for-peerages case.

Hat tip to commenter Alan-a-gale.

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Open thread – for comments of general Biased BBC interest:

Please use this thread for off-topic, but preferably BBC related, comments. Please keep comments on other threads to the topic at hand. N.B. this is not an invitation for general off-topic comments – our aim is to maintain order and clarity on the topic-specific threads. This post will remain at or near the top of the blog. Please scroll down to find new topic-specific posts.

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Last night’s BBC Ten O’Clock News brought us Matt Frei’s

latest report from the USA, also featured in other BBC bulletins and repeatedly on BBC News Twenty-Bore.

The report was on a new US Army device – a Humvee mounted heat ray system to disperse hostile crowds or enemies in a non-lethal manner. An interesting topic, but oh so nauseatingly covered by Frei, his smug voice dripping sarcastic disdain throughout his ultra-sceptical report.

Here’s a transcript in case you can’t watch the Youtube clip above, complete with some added commentary in red italics:

Dermot Murnighan: The US military has given the first public display of what it says is a revolutionary heat ray weapon for use against hostile crowds or stopping battlefield enemies in their tracks, but it’s only in the prototype stage, as Matt Frei reports.

Cut to pictures of soldiers playing the part of a hostile crowd…

Matt Frei: No, it’s not a rebellion from American troops refusing to serve in Iraq (Oh very witty Matt – sarcasm and Iraq in one go!), it’s a bit of Pentagon role playing (yes indeed, it’s all a game to these yahoos). These soldiers are pretending to be rioters and these are not shooting back because this machine will do it for them.

Cut to pictures of Humvee mounted system…

Meet the latest addition to the Pentagon’s list of weapons and euphemisms (Great suggestive use of ‘euphemisms’ there Matt), the Active Denial System. It looks like a satellite dish, it works like a microwave oven, and what it actively denies you is the desire to stay in front of it. Watch them…

Cut to two soldiers reacting to the machine’s heat ray, followed by an old sci-fi still (really old) spinning annoyingly (very annoyingly) on to screen, complete with a silly sound effect (very silly).

It feels like a blast from an oven, it sounds like a blast from the past (kerching, never spotted that follow up coming!). Not science fiction (even though I’m trying to suggest otherwise), but science fact according to the military (does that sound sceptical enough about the military?). And this is how it works…

Cut to animated graphic titled ‘Feeling the heat’…

A beam of microwaves fired from a Humvee is aimed at a human (a human, a HUMAN, you got that? Not a tree, a f***ing human!). The rays gently heat the water under your skin to about 54 degrees and then supposedly, you run for it (I’m b*****ed if I’m going to try it out so that I can tell you what it actually feels like!). It’s called the ‘goodbye effect’.

John Pike, (Gee, this guy has a real hick-style drawl, just the job!) The ‘goodbye effect’ is that when people feel their skin burning they’re gonna run away, they’re going to stop in their tracks and run away, uh, the military basically wants that to be able to stop people at checkpoints or to disperse crowds. The theory is that when they feel their skin burning they’re going to say ‘goodbye’ and get out of there. (Great editing, make him repeat what Matt’s just said…)

Cut back to soldiers and Humvee…

Matt Frei: But what happens if you don’t feel like saying ‘goodbye’? (I don’t know Matt. Aren’t you going to tell us? You are a reporter aren’t you, and I’m sure they’d give you an opinion), and could it work in places where would be suicide bombers are already used to the desert heat (Well could it Matt? Did you ask them? or are you just spreading doubt as you go?), like Iraq for instance (Yeah, let’s get Iiiiraq in there one more time baby!)?

The Active Denial System, non-lethal (I don’t think so, am I sounding sceptical enough)?, or just non-starter (These Yankee-doodle cowboys and their fancy machines!)?

Matt Frei, BBC News, Washington.

Next up, a new Active Denial P45* System, for getting rid of nauseating, hackneyed, sinecured reporters. It’s called the ‘f*** off’ effect…

* A P45 is a UK government form issued when employment ceases.

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An alternative Thought for the Day

, courtesy of Peter Mullen, Rector of St Michael’s, Cornhill, in the City of London, as published in the esteemed Northern Echo last year:

Aunties’s bias is showing

I sometimes worry for the sanity of the BBC. Let me say at the start, I’m a totally unreformed addict of Radio Four and I come over all sulky when we go abroad and I have to make do with satellite TV in the hotel bedroom.

The beauty is that you can have the radio with you wherever you go and you don’t have to stop everything you’re doing and gawp at it. There’s a regular ritual in our household. Sometime around seven o’clock, I get up and make the tea and carry a cup up to my wife. She has The Today Programme on while she’s dressing, and I listen to the one downstairs in the kitchen. We are both very much provoked into answering the programme back – not always in the most delicate phraseology. In fact, I would go so far as to say that many a morning it’s a toss up which one of us threatens to chuck the wireless into the street first.

It’s the inbuilt outlandish bias that gets through to us. I say “inbuilt” because I’m convinced they don’t know they’re doing it. The BBC bias is something learned by journalists as soon as they start to work for the Corporation. They are nice sincere, honest people and I believe they really do think they are merely presenting us with the balanced and objective truth. But this is not so. There is a BBC agenda which has a view on every aspect of public life and art, domestic and foreign affairs.
Advertisement continued…

Everything is divided neatly into good and bad, light and dark. Here is a sample of the good and approved things: the United Nations, the EU, socialism, the establishment view on global warming, foreign aid, ethnic minorities and non-Christian religions.

And here are some of the dark, bad things always disapproved: America, private education, elitism (that is the notion that we can actually distinguish between quality and rubbish), big business, foxhunting, smoking, Tories, the army, the police, stiff prison sentences, traditional Christianity.

There is one particular aspect of BBC bias which puzzles me – because I think it involves a contradiction and a confusion of thought. This is the anti-Americanism rife all over the network. For this bias is selective. The BBC hates what it always describes as “American imperialism” and indeed all American military operations. You wonder where these BBC producers and presenters learnt their history. Twice in the last century, in the First and Second World Wars, the timely military interventions of the US armed forces saved Europe from tyranny. America then fought to defeat the evil totalitarian expansionism of the Soviets. It was American military might which saved us from becoming part of the gulag. You would think the BBC types would be grateful. Far from it.

But here’s the anomaly: while despising America for all the good she has done, they worship her for the trash she creates. Those same BBC news and documentary departments that loathe wholesome American power, grovel before the worst and most trivial aspects of American culture. They send countless staff on freebies to the Oscars. They import trashy American sitcoms and even trashier children’s television shows. They even adopt the language and syntax of America – “kinda”; “math”; “elevator”; “sidewalk” and the barbarous “miss out on”.

It’s all very puzzling. I don’t mind bias. I’m biased myself about many things – but at least I know I am. With the BBC, there is only a blissful ignorance.

The Beeboids insist that the BBC is impartial and unbiased. Can all of the BBC’s many critics really be wrong?

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Tim, a Biased BBC reader working in Baghdad

, posts this update:

January 24th, 2007:

Hi All,

Spring time has hit Baghdad and the weather is fine.

Shit day yesterday: A girl I knew pretty well from the company we work for here was assasinated. She was Shia and lived with her mother in a real shitty Sunni area. The world is a sadder place without her. You can bet she was raped, pretty girl, and we heard that the militia were not even letting people get down that street to pick up the bodies. Scumbags were probably boobie trapping the bodies. (Sorry to be so morbid, but I did promise to tell it how it is).

Today was an angry day in town – predictably – Mr Bush gave his speech and the insurgency gave their answer – I heard a very good quote the other day – 90% of al-Qaeda’s war is fought in the media (and the BBC duly oblige!).

I come in off the streets and watch the crap being spewed about this place by BBC propagandistas and their panel of “experts” in amazement.

Thanks Tim. Keep us posted. (Click here for other updates from Tim).

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Calling Peter Barron!

I haven’t seen or heard any reply from Peter Barron, editor of Newsnight, to the questions I asked him the other day, even though many others have posed similar questions on his blog.

I’ve just posted a reminder for Peter on his blog:

Hello again Peter, I know you’re a busy chap, but from the questions and comments here it is plain that a lot of people are interested in answers to the questions that I posed above. They’re perfectly reasonable and straightforward questions – can you spare me, the ~1,600 daily readers of Biased BBC and the rest of the tellytaxpaying public a minute to give us some replies please? Thank you, Andrew (Biased BBC).

To save scrolling down, here’s my original comment:

Hello Peter. You say: “I don’t rule out the possibility that it was simply a misjudgement”, which rather implies that it wasn’t you who made that judgement. Was someone else editing Newsnight on Friday? If we accept that the running order was ‘simply a misjudgement’, it still doesn’t explain why Michael Crick et al made so much out of the ‘cripple’ email non-story (a story based on a private email sent four months ago from a private individual (not even a councillor) referring to someone else as a cripple – a non-story even without the Ruth Turner headlines). Also, can you explain how this email came to be leaked? It was a private email between two people, so unless either of them leaked it themselves (unlikely), how did it come to be leaked to the BBC? Left-wing council employees perhaps? If it was leaked in this way, do you really think that ‘public interest’ would justify such criminality? Looking forward to hearing from you further, Andrew (Biased BBC).

Perhaps one or other of the Beeboids that follow Biased BBC will be kind enough to give Peter a nudge for us. Thank you!

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More woe at Newsnight as Newsnight staff protest against redundancy process

, according to Media Guardian’s Leigh Holmwood. Not surprisingly, just like this chap (Ned that is, not Justin), the Newsnight turkeys aren’t keen on the approach of Christmas:

All of the flagship BBC2 programme’s 15 correspondents, including political editor Martha Kearney and veteran journalist Michael Crick, wrote to Mr Barron last week as part of the campaign against the compulsory cuts.

The journalists, who are all faced with selection for compulsory redundancy, told Mr Barron they would not fill in draft CVs or meet with him as part of the process.

“We are writing to express our deep concern about your decision to press ahead with the compulsory redundancy process on Newsnight,” the letter said.

“We will not cooperate with it. We will not be filling out the draft CVs. Nor will any correspondent be meeting you or your team individually as part of the selection process.

Poor Mr. Barron. Perhaps a good place to start would be with whoever swallowed (or went along with) the NuLab spinners and their exclusive (oh yes!) ‘cripple’ email non-story. The Newsnight staffers whinge:

“We note that some £546,000 in bonuses was paid to senior management this year. In the context of this, losing two high-profile reporters to save a much smaller sum, with all the resultant stress, bad publicity and loss of goodwill seems to reflect perverse priorities within the BBC.

I have some sympathy with that argument, but a much better target for huge cost savings at the BBC is the £18m being paid to the tiresome Jonathan Woss over the next three years. It’s an obscene amount of money, especially for someone who does nothing that special. The BBC argue that Woss is at the ‘top of his game’ (presumably that game is exploiting the poor bloody tellytaxpayers) and that they need to be competitive (there’s a novel concept for the BBC).

Here’s a suggestion, pay Woss £1m per year – it’s still money that most people wouldn’t even dream of earning, and a lot more than he’s worth, and it’d save the BBC £15m over the next three years. Marvellous, and I won’t even charge you a consultancy fee for my advice.

“Ah, but” you say! Well, if Jonathan doesn’t think a million a year is worth it for all of his services to the BBC, simply start a new Saturday night reality show, here’s a name to conjure with, “How do you solve a pwoblem like Mawia?” – I’m sure that out of a population of 60 million people we’d be able to find plenty of new and talented people who’d be thrilled to work for a million a year. Another free idea, and a new Saturday night programme into the bargain!

After that you can do similar programmes to find and nurture new British talent in place of all the hugely expensive moronic has-beens that seem to populate the BBC just now. Even Gordon Brown might smile at the creation of new jobs and the uncovering of new talent.

I’ll concede though that we do need to retain the services of Terry Wogan for the purposes of the Eurovision song contest – a genuine national institution, gently exposing and mocking the dishonesty of sundry Johnny-foreigners as they incestuously vote for one another year after year irrespective of the music. Well worth it!

Turning back to Newsnight:

Presenters such as Jeremy Paxman and Kirsty Wark are not affected.

That’s a pity – Kirsty Nark should have been dispensed with long ago – the business with Jack McConnell was so blatant and embarrassing that I’m surprised even she has the brass neck to maintain her pretense of impartiality at Newsnight. She and her husband have done quite well filling their boots at tellytaxpayers expense, so she’d be quite comfortably off even without the Newsnight gig.

Mercifully for you Beeboids:

BBC News had proposed cutting 108 posts. However, the number of compulsory redundancies has been brought down to about 10.

So life’s not as tough at the BBC trough as it might have been, more’s the pity, for those of us keen to see more exposure to reality at BBC News.

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