Riddle on the BBC

 

From the Spectator in March:

What shocks me about the BBC: occasionally it isn’t biased

The corporation’s prejudices are so obvious as to be blinding – and they obscure its baby steps towards impartiality

There’s one thing that bothers me a lot about the letter sent by ‘more than 70’ MPs to the director-general of the BBC complaining about bias in its coverage of the Brexit debate. There are 650 MPs in the House of Commons, of whom 330 are Conservative. So does this mean that more than 570 of our elected representatives, including the vast majority of Tories, think the BBC is doing a bloody good job and is an exemplar of impartial reporting? If so, I suspect they have been secretly lobotomised — perhaps by members of the BBC’s impeccably fair and impartial editorial board. In the dead of night. Silently, without remorse. Chloroform, a hacksaw, a scalpel.

My guess is that the DG, Sir Tony Hall, will not give a monkey’s about the letter, for the reasons I’ve outlined above. But even if it had been signed by all 650 MPs, he would also be sanguine, hunkered down behind that familiar defence of: ‘If all sides think we’re biased then we must be getting it right’ — a self-justifying falsehood if ever there was one. We live in an age of fatuous petitions and round robins and most of these are best ignored. Especially those which come from a very small minority indeed of our politicians. Hall will probably dispatch some overpaid, half-witted, oleaginous middle-managing BBC gimp to placate the complainants while assuring them that they are wrong in every respect and that, within the BBC, everything is for the best in this best of all possible worlds. As it always is.

And yet the complainants are right, surely. Even the pre-referendum coverage, generally praised for its lack of bias, occasionally betrayed the BBC’s pro-EU mindset and its astonishment that anyone might contemplate voting Leave. After the referendum, Radio 4’s PM programme ran a regular feature called ‘Brexit Street’, in which a reporter was dispatched to sound utterly nonplussed by the troglodytic inhabitants of a road in Stockton-on-Tees that had been firmly for ‘out’. Weird, peculiar, uneducated people, was the gist. And yet, as we know, Brexit Street was simply a part of Brexit Town. And Brexit Town was just a part of Brexit Region. And Brexit Region was in Brexit Country.

The horror when this unexpected eventuality dawned upon the BBC was one of my greatest pleasures of last year. The presenters and reporters looked magnificently shocked on 24 June, as if they’d all been touched up or, in some cases, perhaps violated by a gibbon.

Since then the gloves have come off. Encouraging financial news — of which there has been a great deal — is reported always with baleful caveats: just you wait, you thick bigots. Gloomy financial news — by and large, just the falling of the pound — leads the news programmes with Armageddon headlines. And, as the letter to MPs rightly asserts, the BBC is never happier than when finding someone who voted Leave and now regrets it — despite the fact that the polls show the country has not remotely changed its mind.

It was pretty much ever thus with the BBC. I may have told you before about the comment made to me when I was editor of the Today programme about complaints from Eurosceptics which claimed our coverage was guilty of bias. I had been inclined to take the complaints very seriously. But a senior BBC apparatchik said to me: ‘What you have to understand, Rod, is that these people are all mad.’ That was the BBC’s controller of editorial policy, since you asked.

The BBC Brussels office, meanwhile, was implacably pro-EU: stories of bureaucratic profligacy and incompetence were routinely knocked down. Its impartial and fair-minded chief correspondent wrote a book about the populist movements then springing up across Europe — Pim Fortuyn in the Netherlands and the Front National in France, to quote two examples. The book was called Preachers of Hate. None of this was ever queried by the Beeb bosses.

In fairness, this was a long time ago, around 2002, but stuff hasn’t changed at New Broadcasting House. I was told that not a single person on Newsnight had voted Leave — although subsequent investigations rounded this up to ‘one’. The BBC is deeply, institutionally biased towards a soft-liberal, naïve, middle-class view of the world, especially with regard to immigration, Europe, Islam, homosexuality (yes, they manage to square that tricky little circle in their own minds) and all race issues.

But the corporation is at its most obviously biased away from the news programmes, which at least have to genuflect towards a notional impartiality. None of the other programmes — such as Countryfile, The Food Programme or The Archers — are required to follow the guidelines. And they certainly don’t. Give a listen to The Food Programme just once and tell me if you think the presenters and producers have ever been near a McDonald’s, unless it was to daub it in paint.

The bias is so evident, so obvious, so blinding that it sometimes obscures the good things the BBC does and the baby steps it seems to be making towards impartiality. For instance, there was a recent documentary on (supposedly) gender dysphoric children that actually shocked me with its even-handedness. Another documentary, fronted by the excellent Adrian Chiles, revealed that the Leave voters in his home manor of the West Midlands were actually not unthinking bigots at all. And check out the BBC’s China editor Carrie Gracie — superb reporting and analysis day after day. There is not a better foreign correspondent alive, I think.

Elsewhere, though, there is too much unthinking, liberal mush. As John Birt once pointed out, the BBC found it very difficult to come to terms with Margaret Thatcher’s victory in 1979. It is having precisely the same problems right now — and, sadly, that well-meant letter won’t change anything.

 

 

 

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25 Responses to Riddle on the BBC

  1. Guest Who says:

    Mostly however, it is as bent as a nine euro note.

    For all else there’s…

    https://bbcwatch.org/2017/08/06/have-your-say-on-the-bbc-complaints-system/

       25 likes

  2. Fedup says:

    I wrote the other day that the main reason MPs might not sign the bias letter is self interest in that they would want al beeb patronage.

    The second reason is simpler -.they are remainders .they are never going to admit al beebs bias. .

    Beeboids are always going to assume brexiters are thick members of the underclass . It gives them comfort and allows them to not think about the other side of the argument . It’s the same kind of thinking which lost them the referendum.

       43 likes

    • Grant says:

      Fedup,

      Are you suggesting that some MPs put self-interest ahead of principle ? I am shocked, truly shocked .

         27 likes

      • Fedup says:

        Grant,
        With a very few exemptions such as JRM . I think some “remainers” want to get on the EU gravy train which as better seats than our parliament .

           21 likes

  3. Deborah says:

    Like many people who post on this site, probably, I have given up on so much possible watching/listening of the BBC. Once you see the bias in not just the news programmes, but every other programme too, the only realistic option, is to give up on them all. I have been watching an early Great British Bake Off on Dave or some such channel. I don’t know the date but when it was made, Mary could be quite scary. (But her hair is not so immaculate, nor her clothes so ‘styled’) but the BME lady with a Birmingham accent and no hijab has just been knocked out meaning she didn’t get to the final. There is some obvious manipulation such as ignoring ‘doughy’ bread for the contestants they want to see through and highlighting it for the people likely to be out. But overall the competitors seemed to be more free to be themselves and judged on their baking rather than fitting the BBC’s agenda. I guess the programme is at least 10 years old.

    Now the agenda is everything and everywhere. Hot weather in Europe – it must be global warming (I think that was 2 days ago); sad about Usain not winning his final race (last night’s news didn’t know how to treat the story but by time Broadcasting House was on this morning, he was the ‘saviour of athletics); every ruddy round Britain cookery programme has to include someone whose ethnic background is not British (I am looking at you hairy bikers), every book programme too must have its share of authors and stories from an ethnic background; every quiz programme must have its share of women and people from a BME background (QI, Museum of Curiosity); etc etc. It leads to boring programmes as the BBC’s agenda is squeezed into everything.

    The National Trust was trying the same thing and people realised it, and didn’t like it. However the BBC presented it, what people didn’t like was being manipulated rather than because they were anti-gay. I hope people who don’t read this site are beginning to wake up, if they do, soon the people will roar.

       87 likes

    • Deborah says:

      My point proven: posted above then went to do the ironing, switched on the radio, Somalia female poet talking about her poems (she has lived in the UK for over 20 years but still writes in the Somali language); I cannot tell you anymore because I switched off.

      Even ‘Poetry Please’ has to fit the BBC agenda.

         77 likes

      • Dadad says:

        Deborah

        The only thing which I will really really miss when the albeeb does go tits up is the Prom season each year.
        I have a large archive of recorded concerts made over the years which I regularly play back.

           8 likes

      • vesnadog says:

        BBC thinking of making a new TV series based around “the invisible man” story but 80% of the BBC staff are threatening to walk out because the editor refuses to have a “transgender” invisible man!

           3 likes

    • Fedup says:

      Deborah ,
      Unfortunately this site will never get the publicity is deserved. I can’t see al beeb ever mentioning it in any context .

      I don’t mean to be insulting – just opinion – but many TV watchers accept what they are told without question until something really hits .

      But for many it never hits.

         47 likes

      • Grant says:

        Fedup,

        It would be great if just one MSM journalist would publicise this site

           30 likes

        • Broadcasting-on-Behalf-of-the-Caliphate says:

          Fedup & Grant – this site I think can only ever be a springboard towards other things. It is good as a sort of disorganised repository for information gathered by commentators. And Alan and David Vance are doing a sterling job in keeping this site going, adding highly interesting articles and allowing a small community to grow.

          But maybe people with a bit of time on their hands could create their own on-line presences / blogs/ small communities – perhaps with a different focus and spin. Some contributors on here seem to be finding a lot of examples of bias – maybe they could organise these findings into topics and dates and put it on an online repository. There is one person here who seems to be keeping an eye on the BBC twitter feed, another on the BBC facebook output – etc – maybe a separate website could focus on storing evidence of bias on those BBC channels …

          Eventually there needs to be some sort of activist movement developed. Maybe someone could lobby UKIP to adopt an “end the BBC tax policy”, and the same for the DUP in NI – both parties must have grievances against the BBC. A coalition of different groups and influential individuals could be formed for the purposes of lobbying and campaigning to end the BBC tax. Surely there must be many groups who see themselves as the victims of the BBC bias.

             37 likes

          • Fedup says:

            Broad ,
            Sounds sound . However there must always be room for a good old RANT!!

               17 likes

          • Grant says:

            BBC,

            Yes , good ideas. I do not know if anyone senior in UKIP reads this site. They should be aggrieved by their treatment by the BBC. They are not going to lose any votes by campaigning for abolition.

               21 likes

    • Doublethinker says:

      Exactly so Deborah, I too seldom watch the foul corporation owing to its bias and extremist PC agenda which is rammed down my throat .

         13 likes

    • Cranmer says:

      ‘…what people didn’t like was being manipulated rather than because they were anti-gay. ‘ Indeed. It’s the same with our Nadia from Bake Off. She seems a decent sort of person. What I and I suspect others object to is the way she has obviously been promoted on grounds of religion/ethnicity. In interviews etc they are always keen to show that she’s received hate mail etc but they never seem to consider the possibility of more complex reasons for people’s dislike of her other than ‘far right racism’ etc.

         5 likes

  4. theisland says:

    “The bias is so evident, so obvious, so blinding that it sometimes obscures the good things the BBC does and the baby steps it seems to be making towards impartiality.”

    Too late for any baby steps. The biased BBC has had more than enough chances to be impartial and has blown it.
    It is anti-British, treacherous and divisive.
    AXE IT.

       60 likes

  5. NCBBC says:

    The agenda of the left, BBC among them, has always been world government. In the recent past, attempts to build such an utopia, resulted in the most horrific deaths of some 150 million people, in the space of a few decades. Th EU is another attempt at world government. Hence Open Borders, and continued expansion of EU.Given the calamity the Left created in the 20th century, they should be declared insane and locked up – these people are infinitely more dangerous then psychotics and lunatics.

       55 likes

  6. Far Horizons says:

    I see the BBC website is reporting another attempted knife attack – this time at the Eiffel Tower and reports that the attacker shouted Allahu Akbar and the BBC unsurprising reports he is known to have psychological problems once again….. besides being radicalised
    Attack took place around 2130 GMT yesterday and item reported on the BBC site one hour ago – 1630 ish today. The BBC Paris office must have hand carried the report to London…………..

       47 likes

    • Fedup says:

      Fair,
      Even stranger about the speed of delivery of this event that it’s a quiet summer newsday.i suppose they think every ones away

      And the more of these events happen the more casual and normal they will become. Unless there is tv or cctv footage

         26 likes

  7. G.W.F. says:

    Seventy MPs took a stand against the Treezer May Government and criticised the BBC.

       26 likes

  8. Richard Pinder says:

    My sister visited me today, spotted my “Can we trust the BBC?“ book.

    “NO” she said, angrily. Thinks the BBC uses Remain supporting actors as fake Brexit supporters, who have turned into pro-EU Remain supporters, due to fear of the unknown. But laughed when I told her that if I see a new white male presenter on the BBC. I automatically assume they must be gay.

       41 likes

    • The Sage says:

      Yes, the BBC’s World Athletics coverage on Saturday evening seemed to get by without one white male presenter.

         24 likes

    • vesnadog says:

      “. But laughed when I told her that if I see a new white male presenter on the BBC. I automatically assume they must be gay.”

      BBC TV weather show has just dropped-in a new presenter: male, white! A cert for big things around the BBC gay chat shows/reality filth!

         3 likes

  9. Alicia Sinclair says:

    Like many others here, I hardly ever listen to the BBC any more.
    Nor do my friends, indeed I was one of the last to give up on it.
    No license fees, they`re reduced to living off the magic money trees that will need serious pruning very soon.
    All the crap over owing the EU money is just house slave whinings from the UE losers.
    43 years doing nothing-now they might have to write a law again and not go scurrying off to Brussels to ewscape their responsibilities.No wonder all the elite are pissed off.
    They have to face us again and not their lovely migrants and smootiechops foreigners.
    We despise them there will have to be a reckoning for all they`ve done.
    Just tell the moanie-maniacs that every pound in Junckers minibar or Tusks thong only menas one less for Grenfell Towers or that urgent IVF treatment that I really must have..menopauses need no longer thwart us, men more than welcome too!

       6 likes