THE HEAT ON THE STREET.

I think it quite interesting if you first read this report of the burning to death of a Zimbabwean man in South Africa by a vicious baying mob, and then this report from the BBC. The BBC leads by parroting the ANC party line, assuring us that all is under control even as The Times exposes the raging hatred of the mobs. It strikes me that any criticism of the South African government is frowned upon by the BBC, still blinded to the total an absolute failure of Mbeki and his pals to do anything of substance even as their country burns and migrants are incinerated on the street.

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44 Responses to THE HEAT ON THE STREET.

  1. thud says:

    Mugabe turning out to be the murderous tyrant we always knew he was must have been a shock to his cheerleaders in the beeb.Now it seems the anc and mbeki are going down the same route…who would have thought it?….just what is a poor lefty to do? Blacks killing blacks…who to blame?

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  2. Peter says:

    “Blacks killing blacks…who to blame?”

    Sheeesh! Where to start,America,the Jews,Western Imperialism,it’s all in the handbook.

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  3. Bryan says:

    Spot on thud. Already I’ve been hearing on the World Service the unchallenged view that the violence is due to the legacy of apartheid. Yep, gotta find somebody uninvolved to blame. Eases the pressure on the guilty parties.

    Yesterday they had a World Have Your Say titled South African Violence.

    If you can stand it:

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/radio/podcasts/whys/

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  4. Triple G says:

    the carbon footprint of one of these necklace things must be huge. Not only are they killing each other, they’re killing the planet as well

    🙁

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  5. GCooper says:

    Thud has it right. I recall (only too well) the chorus of worship of ‘Comrade Bob’ when the thug (sorry, Gunnar) was handed Rhodesia on a plate.

    Ditto South Africa which, however hateful the white African regime may have been, has hardly improved since black Africans took over.

    Quite how the Left – and the BBC, in particular – squares its support for this parade of corrupt, genocidal, psychopathic tyrants is a modern wonder.

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  6. jason says:

    It certainly is..and I find this page about Stalin on the BBC website to be very illuminating:

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/history/worldwars/coldwar/stalin_01.shtml

    People will usually agree that Adolf Hitler, Joseph Stalin and Mao Tse-tung were among the greatest monsters of human history…….But is this a productive way to examine historic figures of this magnitude? Or is it time to look again at some of the received ideas of the past 50 years?

    Yes Beeboids – let’s reassess our judgment of a man who killed tens of millions of his own people, in order that we don’t neglect his “human” side.

    It’s enough to make you wonder if the BBC brass weren’t secretly honored when Paxman compared the corporation to Stalin’s Russia:

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/1561286/Jeremy-Paxman-likens-BBC-to-Stalin's-Russia.html

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  7. Bryan says:

    No time to find the link right now but a year or so back John Simpson did a TV report on South Africa that actually departed from the lefty BBC standard of ignoring or minimising all the ills of its favoured victims groups. He pointed out that many of Johannesburg’s skyscrapers stand empty or have become home to squatters because of the extraordinary levels of crime and interviewed black victims of black crime in Hillbrow, one of Johannesburg’s worst suburbs.

    SA’s ANC government reacted with fury to Simpson’s departure from the unwritten agreement on how the BBC should report on the country, accusing the BBC of regarding blacks as less than human.

    Strikes me that this could be the beginning of a process that sees the BBC eventually banned from SA for having the absolute nerve to occasionally delve into the truth about the country.

    Simpson bearing aloft the banner of truth for the BBC? Who’da thunk it?

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  8. gharqad tree says:

    Bryan, do you not think it more likely that any accusation of racism will send the BBC scuttling back to a state of friendly rainbow-coloured bowing and scraping at the colour and rhythm and dynamism of the place?

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  9. Peter says:

    “Bryan, do you not think it more likely that any accusation of racism will send the BBC scuttling back to a state of friendly rainbow-coloured bowing and scraping at the colour and rhythm and dynamism of the place?”

    Probably,but it is important that the BBC be seen doing so.

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  10. Shirley Tipper says:

    Where too are all the smug liberal anti-apartheid campaigners now that the blacks really need help?

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  11. Sarah Jane (20% BBC) says:

    The comment highlighted by jason does seem absurd out of context. But if you read the whole article, you will see that it is balanced and the author’s (Simon Sebag-Montefiore) point is that in order to defeat your enemy, you must first understand him.

    The link I gave and Bryan’s comment above show that coverage of SA is far from “blinded” as David alledges. Indeed, even the article he links to paints a far from rosy picture. It even mentions a burning incident:

    One Ugandan living in Johannesburg told the BBC he had seen a crowd setting a man on fire.

    “The police managed to get to him and sprayed him with a fire extinguisher to put the fire out,” he said

    “I am not sure what happened to him. It was terrifying.”

    Bishop Paul Veryn of the Central Methodist Church, where many foreigners have sought shelter and which was attacked over the weekend, said the attacks were “clearly orchestrated”.

    David – in the manners thread, one commentor mentioned that he would prefer, fewer, but better, articles. You were rather abrupt in your response, but when they are this easy to pick holes in (almost to the point where one might think you haven’t read the whole article), do you not accept that his criticism may, from time to time, be both valid and constructive?

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  12. Andy says:

    I think that the central point made by David Vance is fair and is not invalidated by any of the points made above.

    Comparing like with like, the BBC report seems deliberately mild in it’s criticism of the incompetent South African government and their inability to quell the violence.

    Instead we get platitudes used are “pledged to protect foreigners”, “would not deport migrants”, “discussing using troops”, “promised protection”, ad nauseam. Dissembling ways of saying that they have done very little.

    What if refugees or migrants were treated this way in America, or UK or Israel? The BBC outrage would have been insufferable. Talk about double standards squire.

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  13. PaulS says:

    Sarah Jane (20% BBC) | 21.05.08 – 12:29 pm

    I suspect that David Vance’s point here is the real mis-match between the BBC’s treatment of the ANC regime and other ‘failing’ regimes worldwide.

    To be consistent, the BBC should by now be running endless ‘The Dream that Failed’ analysis pieces focusing on the ANC’s failure to live up to its promises.

    During the apartheid years these awful shanty-towns were presented as a product of white racism. Many thought they’d be swept away by the incoming ANC government.

    But like endemic crime, poor education, poor health facilities and high unemployment – they’re still there.

    Bryan mentions Simpson’s piece as an exception. In its general coverage the BBC does indeed appear to be unwilling to point out how the ANC has failed its people and the world’s hopes.

    But you are right about Stalin – Simon Sebag-Montefiore is, anyway, a Sunday Times journalist and historian, not a beeboid.

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  14. Alex says:

    The BBC reports policy plus crisis. It doesn’t offer any criticism of the ANC, and doesn’t offer any support either. Where’s the bias in that?

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  15. Sarah Jane (20% BBC) says:

    If you do a search on “South Africa” and “crime” or “economy” then the stories are there.

    But I agree with your more general point that a few more in-depth and analytical stories like the Simpson one are worth doing. That’s my perspective as an audience member.

    Doing a few more is not the same as being “blinded” though is it?

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  16. Sarah Jane (20% BBC) says:

    Alex – I think what David is trying to achieve is to show bias by ommission, and the thing that is being ommitted is a viewpoint like his – it’s a bit tricky to prove at the best of time, but especially when the article you are linking to doesn’t contain any bias.

    The way you would have to do it would be to get all the articles on SA from the last 5 years, come up with a statistic like 73% of these articles are positive, 4% neutral and 23% negative and then square that against whether a representative sample of the audience though SA was going down the tubes, about the same, or doing better. If everyone thinks its fucked, but the articles are saying it isnt, then you have a problem.

    Its much easier to pick a phrase and then infer the generalisation from it 😉

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  17. David Gregory says:

    I like the feel of plastic pants when I go for a walk. They chafe my inner thighs.

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  18. Hugh says:

    Alex: “it doesn’t offer any criticism of the ANC”

    Sarah Jane: “I think what David is trying to achieve is to show bias by ommission, and the thing that is being ommitted is a viewpoint like his – it’s a bit tricky to prove at the best of times…”

    Is the absence of criticism not a little odd? Cast your minds back to the New Orleans Floods, Mad Cows Disease… almost any disaster ever reported. Has there ever been a time that there weren’t questions over a government’s handling of a crisis? And are these not usually reported?

    As the Times report makes clear, there are those criticising the government’s response and even laying this at the government’s door. It’s hardly just Vance, and it’s the BBC’s job to report these views. When you’ve got people running about setting others on fire, it would be fairly standard to explore whether the government is doing enough.

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  19. Anonymous says:

    Hugh | 21.05.08 – 1:50 pm

    there are those criticising the government’s response and even laying this at the government’s door. ….and it’s the BBC’s job to report these views.

    The South African government’s refusal to even acknowledge the crisis in Zimbabwe has resulted in as many as three million Zimbabweans walking the streets of South Africa. If President Mbeki and his deputy president, Zuma, had acted decisively on Zimbabwe nine years ago these Zimbabweans would not be here today. His refusal to address the crisis in Zimbabwe – and his friendship with President Mugabe – has brought them here. His block-headedness is directly responsible for the eruption of xenophobia.

    Those who kill, rape or otherwise assault foreigners must ultimately carry the blame themselves for their actions. But this eruption of xenophobia also took place within a wider context of national and foreign policy… it does look as though the inadequate response to the refugee or illegal immigrant problem is aggravated by a foreign policy shortcoming, namely Pretoria’s failure to acknowledge, fully, that there is a crisis in Zimbabwe and that it has repercussions beyond its own borders.

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/africa/7408320.stm

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  20. Alex says:

    True, the Times does report a lot of criticism that the BBC omits, but look at the kind of criticism:

    Once again, Mr Mbeki – whose “quiet diplomacy” towards Robert Mugabe has seen him derided at home and abroad – finds himself in the firing line. For years, the government has been warned that the influx of Zimbabweans into the country was straining relations among the poorest sections of the community to breaking point.
    Mr Mbeki’s government is blamed for failing to grant many of the Zimbabweans refugee status…which has fuelled “anti-foreigner” sentiment.
    Mbeki’s reaction to the current crisis – to call an inquiry – is dismissed as typical “Mbeki fudging”.

    I think Wikipedia calls this ‘weasel words’. Without knowing who this criticism is coming from, there’s no way we can say whether it is appropriate for the BBC to include. Just a gut feeling, but this sounds like a rough approximation of public opinion. And notice there’s no direct quotation except two words: “Mbeki fudging”, which, when googled, turns up exactly six results, four from the Indie and the rest identically worded. The BBC is right to be cautious with unsourced quotes.

    “People want action, on jobs, on Zimbabwe, on crime – instead we get reviews and inquiries. We know the causes of these problems, it is a failure of leadership,” said one political commentator.
    A radio talk show host accused Mr Mbeki and his “denialist” cabinet of not having the faintest idea what is happening in the townships while

    Both press opinions, and again, the BBC is right to avoid repeating the editorialising of other news sources except in the specific context of a press review.

    the ANC’s own Treasurer-General Mathews Phosa even called for Mr Mbeki to step down early – a call from which the ANC leadership later distanced itself.
    [said Mr Seephe] “The school system is crumbling, the public health sector is in crisis and the HIV/AIDs epidemic is taking scarce resources and this feeds a perception that nothing is improving.”

    Some criticism from the government and from quangos – but one is from one minister who the party refused to stand by and is possibly more of a party back-biting story, and the other has little to do with the riots.

    This is no criticism of the Times article – I find it a lot more informative and interesting than the BBC one. But the Times can have its own editorial line, the BBC has no such freedom and needs to be careful with what kind of expressions of opinion it prints. In this case, though I found nothing I particularly disagreed with in the Times article’s line, it was not the sort of thing I would want the BBC to report. Again, the complaint here seems to be not too much bias but too little.

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  21. Sarah Jane (20% BBC) says:

    Hugh – does the post by Anonymous do enough for you?

    I think someone has forgotten their medication today – eh ‘David’?

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  22. David Gregory says:

    Did anyone watch “Henry’s Cat” last night?

    Oh no, it wasn’t on. It should be though shouldn’t it?

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  23. gharqad tree says:

    “The BBC is right to be cautious with unsourced quotes.”

    I look forward to seeing similar scrupulousness in the next report concerning Israel and the Palestinian Arabs.

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  24. Hugh says:

    Anon/Sarah Jane: not really forgetting my medication I don’t think – that’s a separate article extracting comments from South Africa’s national press. I’m glad they’ve reported these, but it does seem odd to hive these off into a separate, subsidiary article that will only be read by those with a particular interest in this story. Since the criticism is so widespread (look who’s saying it, Alex) it remains odd that there’s no mention of it at all in the main story.

    Alex, once again you seem to display little understanding of what the BBC can and can’t report.

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  25. David Preiser (USA) says:

    For heaven’s sake, Hillhunt, at least remember to add the (BBC) after David Gregory’s name if you’re going to use the poor guy as a sock puppet for your ego trip.

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  26. Anonymous says:

    Hugh | 21.05.08 – 2:58 pm

    there’s no mention of it at all in the main story.

    In what sense is the story under discussion ‘the main story’? It is the third or fourth follow-up on the website – which is anyway not really representative of the BBC’s coverage on TV and radio.

    Long segments of airtime have been devoted to this. I believe World Service devoted a whole programme to discussion about it.

    Also, I don’t see what is wrong with the website collating comment/opinion on the issue into a separate page. That way news and comment are neatly fenced off.

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  27. Joel says:

    There are developments in any news story. The new development goes to the top of the report.

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  28. Sarah Jane (20% BBC) says:

    Hugh – the medication thing wasnt aimed at you – there is a troll around today pretending to be various BBC employees. They appear to have swallowed the complete script of the first edition of the Mary Whitehouse Experience.

    We’ve seen before how a big story online gets carved up into a set of articles (remember Castro?) and when you look at the whole it is balanced, but an individual article may not be.

    Of course you need to understand BBC editorial processes and/or to read all of them to get this and I accept that is not that relevant or helpful to most people.

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  29. David Preiser (USA) says:

    Sarah Jane (20% BBC) | 21.05.08 – 3:13 pm |

    We’ve seen before how a big story online gets carved up into a set of articles (remember Castro?) and when you look at the whole it is balanced, but an individual article may not be.

    Well, sure, but one major issue many of us have with the BBC is the exact opposite: often we complain that, while JR or someone is able to point to one brief on a given topic to defend the Corporation, that generally proves to be the exception to the rule. Many of us have complained about how an overall negative context – often comprised of several reports on a given subject over a period of time – frames one specific report or article in a way that affects its meaning. We also talk about a drip, drip, drip effect building up an impression in the audience’s mind over time.

    So we are not exactly ignorant of the big picture here.

    Of course you need to understand BBC editorial processes and/or to read all of them to get this and I accept that is not that relevant or helpful to most people.

    Surely we often try to understand the editorial process on this blog, even when casting aspersions on it. That’s why we value the contributions of actual Beeboids, and that’s why we argue all the time about how that process has gone awry.

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  30. Sarah Jane (20% BBC) says:

    David when assessing the impartiality of some output, it useful to know if the programme is attempting to acieve balance within the programme, series or over time. And you need to know what those things are, which I would consider technical information not that interesting to people who aren’t interested in it.

    I must admit I find it much easier to understand within the context of a linear programme compared to a huge website where everything is visible (except stealth edits natch). So I am not surprised people come across things they dont agree with, there may well be stuff they do agree with – but how do they know?

    The example with Hugh above is quite a good one, Hugh is clearly intelligent and web savvy, but comes across things, he doesn’t feel happy about, when a beeboid (expert user of the system) can show him other stuff he feels a bit happier about it. But it shouldn’t need that explaining to take place (IMO!!)

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  31. David Preiser (USA) says:

    Sarah Jane (20% BBC) | 21.05.08 – 4:22 pm |

    I must not have been clear. Many of us here actually do try to take into account whether or not balance is being attempted within a given report, or over a series. There have been several occasions where commenters here have pointed out that, while one article on a topic may have had some balance, the other two companion articles don’t.

    We’ve had this discussion at length with both John Reith and David Gregory, if not Nick Reynolds as well. There have been many times when someone here will complain about some article giving only one side of the story, and JR will chime in saying something like, “It’s only a news brief, no room for background details. Check the side links for more.”

    I’ve lost count of how many times people have pointed out instances where a report will feature one side of an issue with no alternative viewpoint, only to be told that other articles on the topic will. We eventually see the one that does, but it will inevitably also have a full rebuttal from the other side as well.

    Speaking for myself, I don’t buy your defense. I’ve seen too many examples posted on this blog showing a selective approach to balance in a given article versus balance over time.

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  32. Anonymous says:

    Sarah Jane (20% BBC) | 21.05.08 – 4:22 pm

    when a beeboid (expert user of the system) can show him other stuff he feels a bit happier about it. But it shouldn’t need that explaining to take place (IMO!!)

    There was a link to the comment/opinion stuff on the left hand column of the story under discussion here. So it hardly needed a web expert to find it.

    How much spoon-feeding do people need?

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  33. Anonymous says:

    ….sorry RH column!

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  34. TPO says:

    Goodness me.
    Why aren’t the BBC reporting this bit of criticism of the ludicrous Mbeki clown.

    ‘The (South African) Institute of Race Relations issued a scathing indictment on Mr Mbeki’s style of government, listing rampant crime, unemployment, education and corruption as they key areas where his government had failed.
    “In failing to maintain the rule of law, the state had conditioned many poor communities to violent behaviour,” the Institute said.’

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/africaandindianocean/southafrica/2000883/South-Africa-violence-spreads-to-Durban.html

    It (the BBC) is however quick to pick up on the claim that Inkatha are behind the trouble.
    Still punting for Thabo’s seat as a permanent member of the UN Security Council I suppose.

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  35. Peter says:

    The article posted by Anonymous was about the South African response to the violence.Nothing about the response of the BBC,in fact no response by the BBC.

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  36. TPO says:

    Does anybody bother to read Alex’ comments anymore?

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  37. Bryan says:

    Bryan, do you not think it more likely that any accusation of racism will send the BBC scuttling back to a state of friendly rainbow-coloured bowing and scraping at the colour and rhythm and dynamism of the place?
    gharqad tree | 21.05.08 – 10:47 am

    Maybe. I was interested in the last news extract from the link supplied by Anonymous | 21.05.08 – 2:02 pm

    ANDILE MNGXITAMA IN CITY PRESS:
    Negrophobia, or the hatred of blacks, has reached fever pitch in South Africa with the recent attacks on black Africans in Pretoria, Alexandra and Diepsloot… The rise of negrophobia is the logical conclusion of our failure to decolonise our minds and also socioeconomic realities… The root cause of these attacks rests deep in our colonial and apartheid history.

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/africa/7408320.stm

    Guy is black and he talks about the hatred of blacks as if whites are doing the killing, or as if the blacks who are doing the killing have white colonial attitudes. This kind of pseudo-intellectual bullsh*t is common in the more radical South African press and is obviously damaging in that it shifts the focus of blame onto those who have nothing to do with it and excuses those who do.

    John Simpson’s programme was a step in the right direction and I note Sarah Jane sterling defence of the BBC’s coverage of SA. But PaulS is correct that I mentioned Simpson’s piece as an exception.

    I’d like to see the BBC get a bit more adventurous here and act as a counterweight to the wrong-headed thinking of ANDILE MNGXITAMA and others. Dunno if the BBC can do that though ’cause it means dropping some fundamental and cherished beliefs of the left.

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  38. Terry Johnson says:

    As some comments have already mentioned, Al-BBC’s coverage of South Africa is literally coloured by thev race of those doing the murdering. The left-wing, multi-cult group think of the Korporation is that ONLY white people can be racist. Anything that offers evidence contrary to this belief is either hushed up, ignored or explained away by tying it to white colonialism.
    Thus the problems of Dafur, Zimbabwe and South Africa present a major headache for the Al-Beeb news teams.
    Al-Beeb are very happy to run daily stories about the “suffering” of the “Palestinians” at the hands of Israel (seen as Al-BBC as a de facto White state) but at the same time the worse suffering of millions of Zimbabweans is, in comparison , given scant attention because the oppressors are black. If it doesn’t fit the White=racist narrative of Al-Beeb then the news coverage will suffer.

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  39. PaulS says:

    Peter | 21.05.08 – 7:31 pm

    The article posted by Anonymous was about the South African response to the violence.Nothing about the response of the BBC,in fact no response by the BBC.

    Good. We don’t want the BBC editorializing about this, or anything else.

    I don’t mind the BBC reproducing examples of other peoples’ editorializing (so long as it makes a fair and representative selection) but the BBC should have no views of its own.

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  40. Paul, the BBC seeks out those who share its views and then hands them the microphone. The preponderance of what we hear is the BBC’s view by proxy.

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  41. Sarah Jane says:

    How much spoon-feeding do people need?
    Anonymous | 21.05.08 – 6:05 pm | #

    Quite a bit actually. ‘Dont Make Me Think’ is a pretty good rule to design websites by. A reasonable amount of what is discussed here would be covered if the architecture and navigation of the site were designed with a view to demonstrating impartiality.

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  42. The Cattle Prod of Destiny says:

    GCooper | 21.05.08 – 12:50 am |
    Quite how the Left – and the BBC, in particular – squares its support for this parade of corrupt, genocidal, psychopathic tyrants is a modern wonder.

    No doubt in the same way they keep blaming Maggie for NuLabs failures. Not enough time has passed since evil Whitey had the whip hand etc

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  43. Liquid Lunch says:

    Please tell me someone, when beeb reported on the mob violence and killings in SA – the victims were referred to as ‘foreigners’ and people from the Congo and Malawi were interviewed – when the resentment is really caused by the huge numbers coming from Zimbabwe?

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