Tony Newbery, of Harmless Sky, who is quietly doing brilliant work about BBC bias, tipped me off last night about an item on Today’s business news yesterday morning. It is a gem. First, the Guardian had already led on the story (one BBC box firmly ticked!); second, it involved a dodgy capitalist (who as a bonus was daring to exploit fossil fuel); and third it allowed the use of an “expert” who actually is a militant greenie anti-capitalist.
The story was that Tony Hayward, former chief executive of BP, has formed a company called Valleras and has secured £1.3bn of backing from a range of sources including the Rothschilds. It has very enterprisingly launched a reverse take-over of a Turkish company called Genel which has the rights to extract oil in Kurdistan, estimated to be the world’s sixth largest (and hitherto unexploited) oil field.
My instinct is to say…fantastic! Thank goodness someone in Britain has not thrown in the towel under the deluge of EU regulation and is showing a flash of the spirit that built an empire. But not, of course, the BBC. You could hear the disdain in presenter Adam Shaw’s voice that the new company might soon join the FTSE 100, especially as it was run by an executive who – as was rammed home with relish – had been associated with the gulf oil spill.
But the most questionable part of the whole exercise was that the woman chosen by the programme to react to the news – and introduced on air as only a “San Francisco based oil industry analyst” was Antonia Juhasz, who in fact is a hellcat hell-bent on destroying the oil industry. That’s not difficult to prove, because Exhibit A is her book called The Tyranny of Oil: the World’s Most Powerful Industry and What We Must Do To Stop It. With such neutral credentials, Mr Shaw asked the said Ms Juhasz several times what she thought of Mr Hayward’s return to frontline oil exploration. It doesn’t take much imgination to work out what was expected of her, and she duly delivered; essentially it boiled down to that Mr Hayward was a nasty, vicious crook who should not be allowed near an oil well and must be held to account for the “catastrophe” and “disaster” of the gulf oil spill. Mr Shaw uttered not one peep of disagreement.
Of course, the BBC and Mr Shaw got exactly what they wanted. But a very serious point of journalistic conduct is raised here, in that without a shadow of a doubt, the deliberate omission of Ms Juhasz’s highly partisan standpoint was blatantly dishonest, even by the BBC’s gutter standards.