Twitter Me This

Ranting about biased Beeboid tweets has become something of a favorite past time around here recently, and deservedly so.  DB’s trap shooting in particular has provided some real gems, and several other people have brought biased tweets to our attention. The problem, though, is that, with one exception, ultimately the BBC employees revealing their bias remain unaccountable, unaffected by any controversy, and the biased behavior continues unabated.  They have no problem openly laughing at us.

We know that the official BBC guidelines abjure openly biased utterances on social media.  The catch phrase is “Don’t do anything stupid”.  They make a distinction between “official” Twitter accounts and personal ones.  Only the “official” ones (NB: pdf file), which require the approval of management and are allegedly monitored by a senior editor, are required to follow BBC guidelines of impartiality.  If we take a broad constructionist interpretation, this means that anything which is not strictly prohibited in the text would be permitted.  Thus, all those personal accounts can use the “opinions my own” disclaimer as a get-out-of-bias-free card, even though they openly state their positions at the BBC.  It’s pretty obvious that there’s a massive grey area here, and I seriously doubt that BBC management has spent much time trying to draw a line between them.

I have my doubts because we know from Mark Mardell’s appearance at the BBC College of Journalism that they accept that their use of Twitter “doesn’t follow BBC guidelines” (@36:45).   I don’t know how much more proof we need.

The reason I bring this up is because there’s been a highly relevant incident recently at the Washington Post.

Jennifer Rubin, the lone non-Left voice at the paper (she’s a blogger and not even a reporter or editor), recently retweeted a blog post by “Bad Rachel” about the release of Gilad Shalit, which was full of rather unfortunate anti-Palestinian vitriol.  There was naturally a backlash, and Patrick Pexton, the WaPo ombudsman, chose to publicly chastise Rubin for it.  He admits that he always gets a load of complaints that the paper even allows a conservative voice in its pages, which is pretty funny.  But what he said was instructive. Remember, this is about a mere retweet, and not somebody telling George Osborne to [email protected]#$ off or calling for support for Occupy Wall Street:

But how responsible is Rubin for it? She didn’t write it. It did not appear anywhere in The Washington Post — online or in print. It appeared on Abrams’s independent “Bad Rachel” blog, and then Abrams broadcast it on Twitter.

Some readers suggested that because an employee retweeted this link, The Post somehow condones genocide against Palestinians. That’s nonsense. The Post’s journalism and its editorials show a deep commitment to human rights around the globe, from Russia to China, to North Africa, the Middle East, Latin America and beyond.

It’s also worth noting that the rules of objectivity that apply to editors, reporters and bloggers in The Post newsroom do not apply to Post opinion bloggers and columnists. Post opinion writers are given greater leeway to say what they want. That’s how it should be. If the opinion section were too politically correct, it’d be dull.

So we see here a distinction between columnists and opinion bloggers.  But is the BBC’s distinction between “official” Twitter accounts and the rest of them equally valid?  I would say not, as people like Matt Danzico and Mark Sandell and Jane Bradley are not opinion bloggers or op-ed writers for the BBC.  Yet they reveal their bias and, in the case of Bradley, seem to be proud of it.

The Washington Post ombudsman then lays out the official guidelines:

Social-media accounts maintained by Washington Post journalists — whether on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn or elsewhere — reflect upon the reputation and credibility of The Washington Post’s newsroom. Even as we express ourselves in more personal and informal ways to forge better connections with our readers, we must be ever mindful of preserving the reputation of The Washington Post for journalistic excellence, fairness and independence.

He again points out that writers hired specifically for their personal opinions are not included in the “journalistic excellence and fairness” bit, but that their public behavior reflects on the credibility of the WaPo nevertheless.

With this example in mind, one has to ask if the BBC should similarly be concerned about how the constant stream of biased tweets from Beeboids from a number of different departments and job levels reflects on their credibility.  Does the “opinions my own” disclaimer really excuse all of it?  Does the Washington Post – a paper so biased that the previous ombudsman apologized for their pro-Obamessiah bias during the 2008 election, and the publisher had to apologize for trying to organize dinner parties at her own home to provide personal access to Administration officials – have more integrity than the BBC?  Unless they rein in this partisan behavior, I would have to say yes.

If nothing else, the sheer volume of biased utterances from the Left and the fact that there has yet to be a single example of a Beeboid tweet from the Right shows that the BBC is full of Leftoids, and the groupthink is endemic. Intellectual diversity at the BBC seems to be practically non-existent, and their public behavior with social media proves it.

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21 Responses to Twitter Me This

  1. DJ says:

    I don’t mind them expressing their personal opinions, I mind that it’s always the same opinions.


  2. voiceforchildren says:

    More damming evidence concerning Jersey’s State Media


  3. D B says:

    Good summary. The BBC’s US/Canada page updates itself with the most recent tweet by Katty Kay, so when she bangs out five tweets in a row attacking Newt Gingrinch the BBC can hardly claim, “Nothing to do with us, guv”.


  4. Elby the Beserk says:

    Link “provided some real gems” just points to this story.

    BTW, DT has the Beeb fingered here. Can’t see a contact link.


    • David Preiser (USA) says:

      The link goes to a page listing all posts tagged “Twitter”. Obviously this one’s at the top. Please scroll down to see the rest.

      As for that Telegraph piece, it’s barely the lightest slap on the wrist.  The Trust found that the show was “duly accurate”, and “had not knowingly misled” the audience.  Of course they didn’t knowingly mislead: the Beeboids were just expressing their feelings, reporting things how they saw it. They think they got it about right.  There isn’t a single thing about them being biased in favor of the Travelers, just that one segment was slightly “unfair” to the council.  The Trust didn’t speculate on the reason why the BBC left out the salient fact about where the camp was built.

      So it’s basically nothing to see here, move along.

      The BBC mandarins will “take this very seriously”.  Uh-huh.


  5. Maturecheese says:

    There should be a campaign of non payment of the license fee as I am sure there are ways it can be done without the law enforcing payment.  I say this as why should we the public be coersed into funding a politial ideoligy we don’t agree with especially as they are not supposed to have a political preference.


  6. London Calling says:

    So the BBC employs clinically certifiable schitzophrenics does it? Their “personal” opinions are all rabid left beyond redemption, but when they put their BBC-face on,  they suddenly become consciencious investigative journalist who shine the searchlight of truth fearlessly and without favour into the darkest corners of err..err. no.. not a ruddy sausage.


  7. Scottie says:

    Richard bacon was banging on about how great Thatcher was the other day does that count?
    Oh and there’s a journalist called james menendez who seems to like the Telegraph.

    They’re everywhere!


    • David Preiser (USA) says:

      Links, please.  Then provide a mathematical proof that two is greater than 100.


    • Craig says:

      A link that shows Richard Bacon “banging on about how great Thatcher was the other day” would be quite something – can’t wait for Scottie to provide it! Bacon did describe a piece about her in ‘Vanity Fair’ as “terrific” earlier today, but surely no one would confuse that with “banging on about how great Thatcher was”?  
           Is that the same James Menendez who ‘follows’ roughly three times as many ‘Guardian’ writers as ‘Telegraph’ ones? Or is there another James Menendez at the BBC?
           Are we back down to zero again?


  8. George R says:

    “BBC forced to apologise after watchdog finds it was biased towards Dale Farm travellers in One Show report”

    Read more:


    • George R says:

      If local authority employees might think that the BBC-NUJ supports them, wait until your local council is confronted by publicly subsidised non-travelling travellers, as at Dale Farm; then we see which side BBC-NUJ is on.


  9. Mailman says:

    The BBC should only be about broadcasting the news, NOT its opinions. Sadly though, over the years the BBC’s opinion has become the news it reports.

    If I was in charge of the show Id ban all BBC reporting/blogging staff from using twitter, least it reflects poorly back on the organisation as a biased, corrupt collection of leftist propogandists!



    • David Preiser (USA) says:

      Exactly, Mailman. At most, they should use it as a tool to alert people of the latest news story or website feature.  There’s no valid reason for the Beeboids to be rewteeting stuff, giving their personal opinions on articles from other media outlets, or on current events.  It should be a marketing tool and nothing more.