The former editor of Today, Rod Liddle, has a brief blog post for the Spectator defending his former colleagues at the BBC against charges of a pro-Euro conspiracy. That sentence doesn’t contradict my headline. As most people here know by now, Peter Oborne wrote recently about how Liddle complained to upper mandarins about the complaints he was hearing about the obvious pro-Euro bias among the talent on his programme. He was told in no uncertain terms by a senior BBC figure that Euro-skeptics are “mad”, so those complaints should be ignored.
How many different topics now have we seen to receive the same treatment, I wonder? Warmism, the EU, open borders, the evil of the Tea Party movement, “Green” Energy, the list goes on. Sometimes it does seem that there is a coordinated effort to get a certain Narrative out there. On quite a few stories, as has been shown on this blog time and time again, the exact same position is taken by the presenter on several different programmes, radio and television, not to mention BBC News Online, essentially across the spectrum of BBC broadcasting. Then there are those quotes on the sidebar of this blog, particularly the one from Jeff Randall, in which he says that the bias is visceral, they don’t even realize they’re doing it. To put it another way, it’s in their DNA (you knew I couldn’t resist that one).
So following up on Robin Horbury’s post about yesterday’s biased performance by James Naughtie, now Rod Liddle confirms it. Liddle heard the show, and has a few words to say on the matter.
I heard my name mentioned on the Today programme yesterday, which is always nice, to be remembered by your old manor. The journalist Peter Oborne was castigating the propagandist forces, as he saw them, which back in 2000 attempted to convince of the need for greater European integration and joining the Euro. These were, he said, the Financial Times, the CBI and the BBC, pre-eminent amongst which latter was the Today programme. Jim Naughtie picked him up on this and pointed out that at the time the programme was edited by me, and I could hardly be described as a Europhile (Jim said this with a soft veneer of loathing). He was right; I was editor back then and was mildly Eurosceptic. Oborne responded by saying that I had also complained about pro-Euro bias in the BBC but that my complaints were ignored.
This isn’t quite right; Oborne seems to imply that there was a covert plot within the top echelons of the BBC in favour of the European project, and that’s not true either. It is rather more the case that the civilised, decent middle class liberals who ran the corporation genuinely believed that the Eurorealists were a bunch of deranged xenophobes, one step up from the BNP, and therefore their arguments should be discounted. I realise that covert plot or otherwise the result was the same – a heavy pro-Euro bias, and so you might argue my quibble does not matter. But the BBC’s bias was arrived at through a sort of inherent wet liberalism, rather than an actual plot as such.
And there you have it. This is exactly what this blog has been saying – not just about the Euro, but about a variety of topics – since its inception. There is a self-affirming, ideological groupthink on these issues at the BBC because of the personnel. BBC hiring practices ensure it, BBC editorial policies enshrine it, and the style guide reinforces it. It’s not just us saying this anymore. This will not change until there is a wholesale purge in certain departments, and complete rethink on journalistic practices.
I can’t leave without including one more bit from Liddle:
One part of the Beeb back then which was, however, entirely on board with the Euro project was the Brussels office. We presented the programme from their studio on one occasion and kicked the EU from pillar to post, to the clear discomfort of the resident correspondents. Our team, in the manner of football hooligans, then plastered their office with Just Say No and Referendum Now posters and stickers. I suppose you could argue that this showed clear anti-Euro bias on our part, but it was really just a spirit of mischief and an attempt to remind our Brussels colleagues that the country was not entirely behind the project, as they might have thought.
That last line could have been said about a dozen issues. Come see the bias inherent in the system.