Example #1: Catholic cardinal denounces abortion, and says Catholic politicians who back abortion should consider their stance on receiving Communion.

The BBC invites comments on the following question:

“Should the church intervene in politics”

What are your views on the speech given by the Cardinal? Should politics and religion be kept separate?

Example #2: Anglican Archbishop criticises the government over its case for war in Iraq and says that there has been a loss of trust in the political system.

The BBC invites comments on the following question:

“Is Archbishop right to speak out against the government?”

Do you agree with the Archbishop’s views? Is he right to speak out about the government? Have you lost your trust in politics?

Notice how in the second case, Dr Williams is described as “speaking out”, which has a flavour of courage about it, whereas Cardinal O’Brien is “intervening in politics”, which suggests a busybody. Yet a Catholic prelate has a far more obvious duty to relay his Church’s clear and emphatic teaching about abortion (particularly when his remarks are addressed to politicians who identify themselves as Catholics) than an Anglican prelate has to employ a sermon give his personal opinion about one particular war, a subject upon which the Anglican church can have no doctrine, for all the efforts of its more “progressive” members. I wonder why the BBC did not see fit to ask “should religion and politics be kept separate?” in the case of Dr Williams’ views rather than Cardinal O’Brien’s?

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.

Fairly Unbalanced

Two links for you. One of them supports the continued existence of the BBC, one of them, er, does not. Both agree the BBC is biased.

Devil’s Kitchen pursues the line that it might be biased, but it’s quality bias. No adverts to interrupt the tone, and anyway, we can always complain! Yeah, must try that…

The pseudonymous poster of this video, though, takes the Daily Mail slam to the BBC. (thanks to Ultraviolets in the comments, who noticed it very promptly :-)).

Personally I recommend the comments to the DK post, where all the salient points about licence fee coercion, a poll tax for television, concerns about one way ideological traffic, are raised. My own view (aside from agreeing with the poll tax point) is that the fact that Britain has had a lively media that we can take some pride in is a historical legacy, but that the entrenchment of the BBC was a wrong turn which has progressively eroded the responsibility and freedom of the press, and is doing so more insidiously as the years go by. Whatever your pleasures in viewing, you could find them without the BBC.

Exit questions for the Beeboids: why do so many newspapers spend so much time talking about the BBC? Why did a news organisation become the news?

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.

The moral murk

From the pathetic (see below post) to the poignant. Joseph Loconte notes the frenzied way in which the BBC is campaigning for the release of its journalist Alan Johnston.

Naturally one feels a little of their desperation; we’ve seen far too many atrocities and needless deaths over recent years in the name of Islam and the Palestinians.

Quite whether almost daily Johnston-centred updates, pleas and reports from the BBC is a good use of telly-taxpayers money is a question almost indecent to mention, yet inevitable because the BBC is a state-sponsored organisation. One wouldn’t wish to be brought into it, but where one’s wallet is compelled, one is drawn afterwards.

There is also the question of the BBC’s closeness to Government, as HMG seeks to draw near and reason with Abu Qatada, a radical (terror enabler) believed to have close links to Al Qaeda, believed to have influence in the group holding Johnston. To what extent the BBC is using its influence to manoeuvre the Foreign Office- which funds the BBC world service – is as unclear as ever.

Loconte zeroes in on the words of Mark Thompson, BBC DG:

“Alan…is a brave, dedicated and humane journalist who was deeply committed to reporting events in Gaza to the wider world,”…“The people of Gaza are ill-served by kidnappings of this nature.” (highlight mine)

Loconte points out the strangeness of saying “kidnappings of this nature”, which implies that some kidnappings might be justified. Certainly such a distinction is in keeping with BBC moral equivocations over terrorism. Sometimes it is, sometimes it isn’t, just as any of your nuanced imams might say.


Yes, it was obvious, bird shit on a dark background.

The BBC couldn’t resist it. They quickly had the video evidence. They even shared it with the kiddies.

(hat-tip to Iain Dale)

I doubt that ever happened to Clinton, now, did it? He stained somewhat otherwise. I don’t suppose it’s ever happened to Gordon either, via the BBC.

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.

“Political realities.”

Stan Brin copied us the text of his complaint regarding a story about Jewish nostalgia for Iraq. He wrote:

The story “Israelis from Iraq remember Babylon” posted at: [Israelis from Iraq remember Babylon] is essentially a hoax. It falsely disguises a mass expulsion and terror campaign as a “mass migration” as if they just chose to move, or perhaps there was a crop failure. In fact, there were mass riots and mass murder.

Perhaps your “journalist” found someone who remembers the Shiah Muharam holiday fondly but I never met anyone who wanted to return to Iraq. I am an expert in middle east history, and lived with Jews from Arab countries, and they were unanimous that they would never go back, even if they miss the food.

It should be noted that well over 99 percent of the Jews of Arab countries fled since 1948. Most Jewish communities (except in Morocco) are essentially extinct. Some of the Jews were forcibly deported (Egypt and Libya), others escaped by fleeing across borders (Iraq, Syria, Yemen). All lost everything they had, their propert stolen, their citizenship revoked. Many died as they fled.

Iraq, the subject of the story, was especially brutal. Of a quarter million Jews in 1940, perhaps a dozen remain today.

My Iraq-born roommate fled across mountains, avoiding Iraqi border police who would have had him tortured to death. He tells of an Iraqi border guard who kept a box filled with the finger nails of Jews whom he and his colleagues captures.

He has no nostalgia for Iraq.

What next from BBC? Auschwitz was a fun place to visit? Jews enjoy oppression?

I guess that all begs the questions, if the Jews enjoyed having their finger nails pulled out, would they want to go back to Iraq so the Palestinians could move in?

Stan Brin

Some of the phrases used in the BBC article by Lipika Pelham are certainly masterpieces of euphemism.

“For the Jews of Middle Eastern origins, like their European co-religionists, coming to Israel was the culmination of a religious journey – it was the fulfilment of the centuries-old dream to live in the so-called Promised Land.”

Sounds like something from a success book. Follow your dream! Oh, sorry, should read “follow your so-called dream.” The impression is given that the mass movement of Iraqi Jews to Israel was primarily motivated by religious enthusiasm. I have no doubt that they did rejoice that next year would indeed be in Jerusalem. They also rejoiced to have escaped alive, if destitute. Ethnic cleansing is not usually described so pleasantly by the BBC.

“But many who came over to Israel as part of the mass migration that followed the creation of the Jewish state in 1948, look back with nostalgia and fondness for the life that they had left behind.”

Followed the creation of the Jewish state? “Followed by” is a phrase often used by BBC when it wishes to imply causality without having to assert it. It is certainly literally true that Operation Ezra and Nehemiah followed the creation of the Jewish state. However since it took place in 1950-52 the “following” was distant enough for other events to slip in between them, some of which might be worthy of mention. By omitting the violent persecution of Iraq’s Jews that took place in the meantime, the BBC implicitly shifts blame from the persecutors onto the Jewish state.

“…the descendants of the Iraqi and Kurdish Jewish immigrants.”

I assume that in the interests of consistency all references to “Palestinian refugee camps” such as this one will shortly be changed to “Palestinian immigrant camps.”

“Yakov recalls, with vivid, powerful details, the life that he had once led, a life that was changed overnight by the political realities of the time.”

At the idea of including in the same sentence praise for “vivid, powerful details” and the detail-free phrase “changed by the political realities of the time”, Sir Humphrey himself would blush for shame.

“Anti-Jewish sentiment flared up after the creation of Israel and the subsequent Arab-Israeli war in 1948-49.”

Any news on what form expression of that sentiment took? Any news on the riots and pogroms? Any news of the dismissal of Jews from government service? Any news of how Shafiq Ades was hanged on a trumped up charge, presumably by those malicious political realities? Not from the BBC.

“This led to the departure of most of Iraq’s ancient Jewish community. By 1952, 120,000 Jews had left Iraq for Israel.”

“Led to”. See comments on “Followed by” above.

UPDATE: According to News Sniffer the two sentences I quoted just above, referring anti-Jewish sentiment flaring up and how this “led to” the departure of most Iraqi Jews – two sentences that I thought inadequate and vague enough to criticise specifically – are actually an improvement. The original version of the article did not include them.

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.


Mr Blair’s visit to Iraq coincided with an interview in which former US President Jimmy Carter criticised the UK prime minister for his “blind” support of the war in Iraq.” report

Making the News

I’m not talking about the BBC reporting big events which “make the news”, but actually manufacturing it.

It’s one of the curses of our time that the big media, with none bigger than the Beeb, get to summon politicians almost at will. They do so especially to suit their own agendas, and their agendas are often quite extensive.

Recently two politicians interviewed separately by the Beeb were John Bolton and Jimmy Carter. The contrast in interviews was stark [and I notice that Richard North has noticed this too]. On the one hand, John Humphries on the Today programme gave Bolton the hardest time imaginable (superbly documented by Richard North at EURef blog). Fortunately Bolton in the end made Humphries look precisely what he is- an emotional, empty-headed leftist wind-bag. His attempt to force Bolton to backtrack in his support for the Iraq invasion (yes, still hearking back!) floundered amusingly as Humphries’ intent and line of questioning was exposed.

So that left the BBC with Jimmy. Needless to say, there was an eery calm as the BBC journalist waited to receive Jimmy’s words of wisdom, however contentious they might appear to someone who doesn’t see Iraq as the innate disaster it appeared through the lens of Bush House. They then created a webpage so that everyone visiting BBCOnline would get to read and hear too. A commenter to ATW (which drew my attention to it), pointed out that the article was more than slightly charitable to Carter’s record:

“In 1976, Mr Carter unseated the incumbent Gerald Ford to become the 39th US president, serving until 1981.”

Yeah, no mention of that nasty acting fellow who beat Carter soundly, or, I would add, Carter’s crowning accomplishment, the Iran hostage crisis.

One point about Carter’s comments: is a man really a friend of this country who would attempt to make Britain co-equal in responsibility for a supposed cause of terrorism, the Iraq war. Does Carter care about the relative vulnerability of the UK to terrorist attack, when he makes Osama’s talking points up for him? Does the BBC? Or do they just always see the cheap political points sitting temptingly in front of them, and to hell with the ordinary people?

It does seem quite likely that there is a cause the BBC has in mind in raising these tired points at this political moment- Blair is leaving, and the BBC would very much like Uncle Gordon to give them the gift of an ultimate moral victory for transnational correctness by admitting in proper fashion that they were right all the long by getting our soldiers well and truly out of there.

Propaganda Victory, Propaganda Defeat

: the BBC 10 o’clock news report (Wednesday May 16th) on the MOD decision not to let Prince Harry go to Iraq was an interestingly pure example of a kind of bias the beeb has acquired in the years between WWII and now. It was (I’m most pleased to be able to say) virtually unmixed with any of the other kinds of bias we often blog about here (what I talk about below could therefore be studied in its pure state).

Back in 1986, when three kidnapped Britons were murdered in Lebanon after the U.S. bombed Libya from UK bases, the BBC fell over itself in eagerness to give the terrorists the propaganda advantage they sought by the murders. (This was so obvious that pointed contrasts were drawn at the time between the beeb’s, “Britain is paying the price for its support of the U.S. … “, and ITV’s ,“Three kidnapped Britons were killed today … A spokesman for the group said it was in retaliation for the U.S. bombing …”.) This unwholesome enthusiasm has often been seen since but was pleasantly absent from last night’s report, which did not yet again wheel out Reg Keys or similar for predictable negative comment. The framing remark that opened their summary of Warminster views, about Prince Harry and others of the royal family being “… usually popular here but now …” was hardly necessary, but that’s a very minor point. Showing yet another cameo of April’s British casualties in Iraq was also somewhat irrelevant since it is fairly clear that it was the Iranian-backed threat to kidnap and torture the prince, not the long-known-and-accepted threat of death or injury, that caused the MOD’s reversal, but this fact did emerge strongly from the overall report so that too is a very minor (perhaps even carping) point.

What was lacking was any counterpoint to the report’s closing line about the propaganda victory we have given to Iran. The whole report simply led naturally to this line. Yes, indeed, we have given them a propaganda victory. In WWII, Germany sent films of its army and airforce in action to neutral countries. Their message was clear: see our tanks blasting your neighbours, our planes bombing them – this can be you if you don’t cooperate with us. Thus Germany gained a propaganda victory from its acts. These films were re-shown in British newsreels; you can hear the disdain in the voice of the British announcer saying, “This is what Germany is proud of.” Thus the Nazis’ propaganda victory was also their propaganda defeat: they got respect from their ruthlessness and military skill, and they got a lack of respect from the same thing. In those days, British media coverage hid neither the one nor the other.

The Iranian government (it would seem from the BBC’s report, and I can very well believe it for many other reasons as well) are extremely ready, nay eager, that their agents in Iraq arrange the kidnap and torture of the prince (or presumably, of anyone else suitably prominent whom they can hope to capture) and have made such effective and convincing preparations to support this that the MOD are no longer willing to take the risk. That we are so unsure we can protect him in Iraq is a propaganda victory for them, and would have been in WWII. That they are so very ready to do such a thing would have been a propaganda defeat for them in WWII. Will we hear a BBC announcer say that, “This is what the Iranian government is proud of.” ? One may hope.

[All quotations from memory after the programme.]


The very wonderful Jane Garvey is just too honest. Listen to her reminiscences (mp3) of May 2nd 1997, the morning after the Labour Party’s overwhelming election victory – from the Drive show of 10th May 2007.

Ah, well – I had been up for most of the night but I was doing this Five Live breakfast programme with our colleague at the time – it was a bloke called Peter Allen so – I had to get a bit of sleep, and I do remember I walked back into – we were broadcasting then from Broadcasting House in the centre of London – all very upmarket in those days – and the corridors of Broadcasting House were strewn with empty champagne bottles – I will always remember that (Allen laughs) – er – not that the BBC were celebrating in any way shape or form (Allen, laughing – ‘no, no, no, not at all’) – and actually – I think it’s fair to say that in the intervening years the BBC, if it was ever in love with Labour has probably fallen out of love with Labour, or learned to fall back in, or basically just learned to be in the middle somewhere which is how it should be – um – but there was always this suggestion that the BBC was full of pinkoes who couldn’t wait for Labour to get back into power – that may have been the case, who knows ? but as I say I think there’ve been a few problems along the way – wish I hadn’t started this now …

The mp3 gives you the full effect. Champagne socialists ? Hat-tips to Barnet Pete and al-dumbdown in the comments.

UPDATE – blogger (and B-BBC reader) Not A Sheep was first to pick up on Pete and dumbdowns good work.

Congratulations must be given to BBC’s Panorama for their show tonight on Scientology

Congratulations must be given to BBC’s Panorama for their show tonight on Scientology. Not that I would hold it up as a great example of unbiased journalism, and Ed Thomas makes an important point below below about the BBC’s double standards when it comes to dangerous religions, but nevertheless it was a brave program, as various critics of Scientology’s tactics can attest. Scientology came across very badly, not because of anything reporter John Sweeney said, but because of they way they treated him. Their chances of being taken seriously as a religion in the UK have decreased even further now.

(I think the releasing on YouTube of Sweeney losing it and screaming at themmay have backfired, because of the interest it has created in the show. The Church had apparently launched a new campaign to get the Charity Commission to grant them charitable status in the UK — this show is hardly going to help them).

It was telling, though, that Sweeney said of Scientology’s apparent bully-boy tactics that “you can’t imagine the Chuch of England acting this way” (or words to that effect). No, but there is one well-established recognized religion in the UK you can imagine acting that way, which Sweeney conveniently did not mention.