Katty Kay Answers Your Questions With Pure Partisan Bias

The BBC’s highest-profile talent in the US, Katty Kay, held an audience Q&A session on Twitter this morning. Once the BBC publishes the transcript on their website, I’ll update this post with a link. She didn’t say anything that would get her in trouble like last time, but she did answer at least one question with pure, unadulterated, partisan bias:

This is one of Katty’s pet issues. She’s on record already advocating for it. Her reply:

And there you have it. The President’s  policies are correct, and the only thing preventing Him from saving us is Republican intransigence. Notice also Katty’s  belief that taxes and government spending will be at least part of the solution. This is pure Left-wing ideology, and the anchor of a BBC News broadcast produced in the US and aimed directly at the US audience is espousing it without  reservation or qualification. Whether or not you or I agree with her politics is irrelevant. The fact is that she is biased and displays it here. Here’s another one on essentially the same issue:

Katty’s reply:

Is she correct? The Wall Street Journal said no in 2009.

Yesterday’s September labor market report was lousy by any measure, with 263,000 lost jobs and the jobless rate climbing to 9.8%. But for one group of Americans it was especially awful: the least skilled, especially young workers. Washington will deny the reality, and the media won’t make the connection, but one reason for these job losses is the rising minimum wage.

Earlier this year, economist David Neumark of the University of California, Irvine, wrote on these pages that the 70-cent-an-hour increase in the minimum wage would cost some 300,000 jobs. Sure enough, the mandated increase to $7.25 took effect in July, and right on cue the August and September jobless numbers confirm the rapid disappearance of jobs for teenagers.

But wait, there’s more:

As the minimum wage has risen, the gap between the overall unemployment rate and the teen rate has widened, as it did again last month. (See nearby chart.) The current Congress has spent billions of dollars—including $1.5 billion in the stimulus bill—on summer youth employment programs and job training. Yet the jobless numbers suggest that the minimum wage destroyed far more jobs than the government programs helped to create.

Congress and the Obama Administration simply ignore the economic consensus that has long linked higher minimum wages with higher unemployment.

Katty Kay is an opponent of the consensus.

We can debate this issue of the effects of minimum wage laws until the cows come home, but the point here is that she stated this uncategorically as fact. The WSJ, on the other hand has a different opinion. If the WSJ is nominally right of center, then the opposite position must be on the Left. Katty Kay’s ideology is Left-wing. Her tweets (see her listing on the “In Their Own Tweets” page) and pundit appearances on MSNBC reveal her personal Left-wing ideology, and the same bias in on display when she acts in her official capacity as a BBC journalist. There is no question here about personal ideology directly affecting and being evident in her BBC journalism. This is just the latest example. Many more can be seen here, here, here, here, here, and here. And that just for starters.

Fixing the management structure and adding layers of accountability on internal spending will not fix this problem.

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We Must Obey The Obamessiah, Rather Than Human Beings

The President of the US will give His latest State of the Union address this evening, and the BBC has published the press release with key talking points.

Obama State of the Union speech to act on income inequality

Sound promising, no? Just by His words, He can move mountains. What they mean is that the President will announce one of His latest executive orders to help the poorest and most vulnerable and strike a blow against what Katty Kay has described as a social injustice which causes economic problems. There can’t be any doubt that she’s writing her from her personal beliefs. But is that really what He will be doing?

The White House said Mr Obama would unveil an executive order to raise the minimum wage to $10.10 (£6.10) an hour for new federal contract workers.

Oh. So He’s just spending more money that we don’t have, increasing our debt, as an ideological gesture. Not really doing anything to help the working poor in my neighborhood, then. The BBC wants to make sure you get the desired impression, though, so they add key details about who those public sector workers will be:

To sidestep lawmakers, Mr Obama will issue an executive order raising the hourly rate of federal workers with new contracts, such as janitors and construction workers. However, that measure is only expected to benefit a few hundred thousand employees.

Yeah, it’s only going to add a few hundred million dollars to the debt, but at least you know it’s going to noble blue-collar jobs. Now, what’s this about sidestepping lawmakers, you ask? After almost five years of this, we should all know the BBC’s Narrative by heart:

Just over a year after his re-election, Mr Obama must contend with determined opposition from the Republican Party, which controls the House of Representatives and has the numbers in the Senate to block his agenda.

Time is running short before Washington DC turns its attention to the 2016 race to elect his successor, threatening to render him irrelevant even with three years remaining in office.

In the face of a divided Congress, Mr Obama has pledged to use executive action to bypass Congress, and the White House says he will flesh out some of his plans in the State of the Union speech.

As always, the problem is an intransigent Congress, blocking His every move. Screw the separation of powers. Never mind that during the two years where He had super-majorities in both houses of Congress we got the disaster of ObamaCare and a failed Stimulus. It’s His Plans For Us that must be passed, regardless. As the BBC’s friends in the US Left-wing media and the Administration have been saying, the President has been acting too much like a Prime Minister and not seizing power like He should.

“The problem for us is that the test of our success became what we passed in Congress, and even in the best case — if the fever had broken and the clouds had parted — we still would have only gotten maybe 40 percent of what we wanted,” one senior White House official told the Post.

“The political discussion, the press, the politicians want to pull the president into the role of prime minister,” added the official, whom the Post did not name. “So you have to swerve really hard to the executive powers at a time like this.”

According to the report, an internal review of Obama’s failures last year — from Obamacare to sequestration to Iran to the 16-day government shutdown that cost American taxpayers $1.4 billion — led the White House to conclude that the president “too often governed more like a prime minister than a president.

“In a parliamentary system, a prime minister is elected by lawmakers and thus beholden to them in ways a president is not,” the report noted.

Obama will kick off his new agenda in his State of the Union address on Tuesday.

Funny how the BBC decided not to include that bit of information. And they certainly won’t be reminding you that the Junior Senator from Illinois criticized President Bush for doing this.

No. The thing is, the BBC is all for it because they support the President’s policies and report as if His Plans are correct and all opposition is wrong. What the BBC is doing here is more than reporting and analysis: they’re presenting this as if the President’s way is correct and Congress is wrong for not cooperating.

The worst part is Katty Kay’s inset “Analysis”:

Washington can be a cold, cruel city, as anyone who is living here this freezing January is well aware. And as he heads into his sixth State of the Union address, no-one is feeling the chill more than Barack Obama.

In last year’s address to the nation, Obama promised action on three important issues: immigration, guns and the environment. As of today, there has been no legislation on any of those. A gridlocked Congress has thwarted his every attempt to pass laws that would make it possible for undocumented immigrants to stay here legally or increase background checks on gun sales or expand environmental controls.

The president has three years left in the White House, but already everyone here is focused on who replaces him in 2016 and who will win the midterm elections in 2014. With time moving on, chances are slim that he can get anything major done in what remains of his presidency.

No questioning whether or not what He’s doing is entirely legal, no wondering about whether or not the policies He wants are correct, no asking if maybe Congress didn’t pass the legislation He wanted because maybe the majority of the public they’re elected to represent didn’t want it. No, to Katty Kay and the BBC, His Plans are correct, and inaction on them is wrong.

“As for God, his way is perfect:
The Lord’s word is flawless;
he shields all who take refuge in him.

For who is God besides the Lord?
And who is the Rock except our God?”

2 Samuel 22:30-32

Katty’s full editorial piece is more or less a pity party for Her beloved Obamessiah. Read the whole thing if you must, but have a sick back ready. While she points out that there have been some relationship problems for the President, none of it is apparently His fault. He has “an aversion to schmoozing”, but all that means is that He’s above the ugliness of political logrolling. It’s not meant as a criticism at all. Aside from an admission that He mishandled the discussion of attacking Syria, even the ObamaCare website disaster is presented as something that affected His political capital, and no mention of the damage the law itself has done and is doing.

Now is the time where a BBC journalist bashes and mischaracterizes Republicans and their policies:

His saving grace is that Republicans are in an even weaker position than he is. The party’s approval ratings are lower than the president’s. They are failing to reach out to women, young people, Hispanics and African Americans – all important voting groups. And on the signature issue of income inequality – something Obama intends to spend a lot of time on this year – Republicans are struggling to come up with any ideas that don’t smack of “let’s just cut taxes.”

This is an editorial remark, Katty’s opinion of her political opponents. Notice that cutting taxes is treated as an anathema. Also notice Katty’s ignorance on young people. They are in fact turning away from Him because of His policy failures. But Katty lives in the bubble, so isn’t aware of it. Now turn back to your hymnal:

This buys the president a little bit of time. He can still use that to get things done over the next six months, which is really all he has before mid-term fever makes legislative action totally impossible.

The smart money in Washington thinks two things could get done this year. First, we could see some form of immigration reform: not a big comprehensive bill, but something smaller. And, Mr Obama may be able to use his Presidential powers to bypass Congress and get something done to raise the minimum wage. That could help narrow the gap between rich and poor.

It is a far cry from the lofty, change-the-world approach of the first term. But six years have beaten the idealism out of Barack Obama. The man who goes to address Congress on Tuesday is more pragmatic. Forget changing the way government works here.

Here’s another way of saying it:

“Truly I tell you,” he continued, “no prophet is accepted in his hometown. I assure you that there were many widows in Israel in Elijah’s time, when the sky was shut for three and a half years and there was a severe famine throughout the land. Yet Elijah was not sent to any of them, but to a widow in Zarephath in the region of Sidon. And there were many in Israel with leprosy in the time of Elisha the prophet, yet not one of them was cleansed—only Naaman the Syrian.”

All the people in the synagogue were furious when they heard this. They got up, drove him out of the town, and took him to the brow of the hill on which the town was built, in order to throw him off the cliff. 30 But he walked right through the crowd and went on his way.

Luke 4:24-30

Everyone else is the problem, not Him, not His policies. The policies, as we learn from the personal friend of the White House spokesman, are good and just. So everything He does now will be correct in the eyes of the BBC. Can’t wait to hear the rejoicing in His word from the BBC tonight, and the scorn heaped upon Republican rebuttals.

PS: Post title is from Acts 5:29 with one alteration.

 UPDATE 1/29: The BBC has completely replaced the preliminary article I linked to and discussed at the top of this post with what seems mostly to be Katty Kay’s pronouncements on the speech. Not even News Sniffer has the original, so it’s down the memory hole.

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On Institutional Bias

This isn’t specifically about any one instance of BBC bias, but it is directly, 100% relevant to our ongoing debate about whether or not it’s possible for there to be an institutional bias at the BBC even though there’s no deliberate conspiracy to push an agenda or narrative (except, you know, when there is: e.g. 28-Gate and the deference to Islamic sensitivities and multiculturalism).

Will Bloomberg Challenge the New York Times

Now that Nanny Bloomberg is done with trying to use political power to directly control the personal behavior of New Yorkers, he’s aiming bigger. Despite his previous claim of not wanting to get into editorial control of Bloomberg News, well, that’s what he’s now doing.

Is Mike Bloomberg the next William Randolph Hearst, a tycoon who mixes media and politics, influencing the course of the nation? Bloomberg has the money and the opportunity; we know he wants a seat at the policy table.

In a recent piece, The New York Times says that the former New York City mayor is involving himself in the editorial activities of Bloomberg LP. The Grey Lady sounds concerned, and rightly so. Just as Mr. Bloomberg won unlikely election as mayor of a heavily Democrat city by skipping through the political middle, he could also steer Bloomberg’s news operation in between the left-leaning Times and right-sided Dow Jones, ending up where a great many Americans reside. It would be a fitting and satisfying next step for the successful financier and politician, who is clearly not ready to retire.

Anybody who thinks Bloomberg is going to seek the happy middle hasn’t been paying attention. I’m not sure how the normally fairly sensible Liz Peek thinks Bloomberg was anything other than a life-long Democrat dressed up first in Republican sheep’s clothing, and then pretended to be an Independent, and it’s worrying that she can look at the track record of his third extra-legal term in office and see anything even remotely resembling the middle ground where most Americans live. But that’s another story. The story here is that Bloomberg News has grown to be much bigger, staff-wise, than the WaPo, and is rivaling the NY Times. I’m bringing up this article because of the following:

But, it’s not all about numbers. It is also about positioning. The New York Times has become more liberal over time, derided on the right these days as a virtual mouthpiece for the Obama White House. The paper has not endorsed a Republican for president since Dwight D. Eisenhower in 1956; the nod has gone to the Democrat candidate in every election since.

It’s not just those on the right that see the paper as tilting left — former ombudsman Daniel Okrent wrote a farewell piece in 2004 describing the paper as slanted liberal, especially on topics like gay marriage. As he said, rather gingerly, “On a topic that has produced one of the defining debates of our time, Times editors have failed to provide the three-dimensional perspective balanced journalism requires.” He noted that the paper unintentionally tends to “tell only the side of the story your co-religionists wish to hear,” but adds that “negligence doesn’t have to be intentional.”

Another departing public editor, Arthur Brisbane, made a similar confession as he exited the paper a year and a half ago. He admitted “the hive on Eighth Avenue is powerfully shaped by a culture of like minds,” a “kind of political and cultural progressivism” that leads to “developments like the Occupy movement and gay marriage” being treated “more like causes than news subjects.” And, this is from the inside.

Emphases mine.

This isn’t the wittering of some angry, fat, old, single white male (or whatever other pejoratives defenders of the indefensible like to hurl at us) ranting because some media outlet publishes opinions he doesn’t like, pretending to read their minds and reading things that aren’t there. This is a case of two different professional, highly experienced journalists (three if you count Peek as well) saying that there is an institutional bias in a world-class, long-lived news organization, and that it happens quite naturally due to the personnel involved.

Does that sound familiar? It should. It’s what I’ve been saying about the BBC for years. For evidence of the hive-mind at the BBC, one need look no further than the “In Their Own Tweets” page. For more evidence, look at the “In Their Own Words” page. Then read the last line of this feature on the BBC’s “North America editor”, Mark Mardell. Then consider the evidence of 28-Gate, Robin Aitken’s book, Peter Sissons’ complaints, and Jeremy Paxman’s statement on using the World Service to “spread influence”. These are only the tip of the world’s largest media iceberg.

I submit that the evidence of this hive-mind which causes the institutional bias at the BBC is irrefutable. And professional, experienced journalists know that this is a very real phenomenon in media organizations.

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BBC Bias On Net Neutrality

A US Appeals Court has rejected an attempt to damage and control the internet provider market. Or, as the BBC put it yesterday:

Net neutrality threatened by court

Which is it, then? Since this is the BBC and a US issue, it’s a good bet that it’s not what the BBC is telling you. First, here’s the BBC’s explanation of what the “Net Neutrality” rules created by the FCC:

Net neutrality is the principle that ISPs should not block web traffic for customers who pay less to give faster speeds to those who pay more.

Sounds pretty reasonable, no? But is it really the goal of the FCC’s rules? We’ll leave for another time the debate about how this is another example of how federal departments are now essentially a fourth branch of government, enacting laws and making legal decisions on their own, outside the three official branches of government. The BBC wouldn’t be interested in that anyway. The BBC’s report continues:

Supporters of net neutrality said the ruling was a major threat to how people use the internet.

The rules were designed to ensure that small or start-up organisations had as much chance of reaching an online audience as a large, established company.

But broadband providers argue that some traffic-heavy sites – for example, YouTube or Netflix – put a strain on their infrastructure.

They say they should be able to charge such content providers so that users who pay more can get faster access to those sites than other customers.

As a consequence, companies who did not pay would find that access to their services could be slower for customers.

It might have been helpful for the reader to appreciate this in the proper context if the BBC had included the background information that YouTube and Netflix account for around half of all internet traffic during peak hours. In fact, Netflix shares dropped a few percentage points after the decision was announce, as investors speculated that this would eventually have an adverse affect on profits. And it’s only going to get worse as Netflix starts adding 4K content and more and more YouTube videos and content on other popular streaming services like Twitch.tv and LiveStream are in higher definition, requiring more and more bandwidth. At some point, something will have to give, and unpleasant decisions will have to be made.

But is it really about “fairness”? Wise people get suspicious whenever that term is used, as it often turns out to mean a highly selective set of beneficiaries.

Verizon had said in September 2013 that if it were not for net neutrality rules they would be looking at different pricing models.

In a statement released after the ruling Verizon said that the court’s decision would not affect customers’ ability to access and use the internet as they do now.

“The court’s decision will allow more room for innovation, and consumers will have more choices to determine for themselves how they access and experience the internet,” it said.

This is more or less true, although there’s a caveat. In reality, consumers are already paying more in some areas because the ISPs have to make up the revenue somewhere else. My own ISP offers consumers a choice to pay $10 more per month for higher speed and more bandwidth. The same people who are in favor of this “net neutrality” rule are against tiered pricing as well, and for the same fundamental reason. I’ll get to that reason later. Some ISPs cap their customers’ bandwidth usage, and some deliberately throttle it during peak hours or when doing a certain type of activity. Which type of activity is likely to get throttled? The voice the BBC provides as standing up for freedom and fairness is the giveaway:

The boss of BitTorrent – a system for sharing large files using peer-to-peer technology – warned that the court’s decision would be a major threat to innovation, free speech and “the internet as we know it.”

“For the ISPs, it’s a momentous decision. This ruling will consolidate their powerful role as arbiters of culture and speech.

Why the choice of BitTorrent here, which is used largely to distribute pirated content, as the voice for freedom? It could be because BBC journalists not involved in the business side of protecting property rights see them as heroes in the way most BBC staff see Julian Assange and the Occupy movement as inspirations. There’s another key bit of background information which didn’t make its way into the report. This graph says it all:

Source: Sandvine

Source: Sandvine

BitTorrent still accounts for more than a third of uploading bandwidth. The article where I found this graph has a little more pertinent information:

 Meanwhile, file sharing continued emaciating on many fixed-access networks as streaming video options like Netflix, YouTube, and others proliferate.

File sharing now accounts for less than 10 percent of total daily traffic in North America, down from the more than 60 percent it netted in Sandvine’s first Global Internet Phenomena Report released more than 10 years ago.

Five years ago, it accounted for more than 31 percent.

ISPs have been throttling torrent use for some time now. That’s the freedom BitTorrent and their advocates are really worried about, and the thought of having to pay ISPs for people to use the technology will be a nearly final blow. The BBC really should have pointed this out in order to paint a more honest picture of the debate their presenting.

Our favorite “Echo Chambers” feature has weighed in as well. (I’ve given up my experiment on that for the moment, pending a rethink.)

The concept, called net neutrality, has been the source of a great deal of debate – in the US Congress, courts and the media. Supporters view it as a way to ensure freedom and fairness on the internet, while opponents call it unnecessary government intrusion on business.

There’s that word again: “fairness”. The editor, Anthony Zurcher, first offers the conservative, anti-government regulation point of view from the Wall Street Journal. That view is essentially that it makes no economic or legal sense to prevent ISPs from charging more for more use of their service than it would to prevent a retailer from charging more when somebody buys more than one item. This kind of damper, they say will also impede other providers from getting involved because their chances of getting a return on their investment is severely curtailed.

Also from the Wall Street Journal is an op-ed from the former FCC commissioner, Robert McDowell, who says the whole thing is a bad idea because there are already plenty of measures in place to protect freedom. He’s been a staunch opponent of government meddling with the independent commission and attempts to get around legal infrastructure for some time. Furthermore, he says, more regulation could pave the way for a global body to try and regulate everything, which would ultimately place at least parts of it under the control of those who seek to crush freedom. That’s the part of his piece Zurcher feels was important to cite, anyway. I, on the other hand, think the bit immediately preceding it is more worthy of your attention:

But the trouble is, nothing needs fixing. The Internet has remained open and accessible without FCC micromanagement since it entered public life in the 1990s. And more regulation could produce harmful results, such as reduced infrastructure investment, stunted innovation, slower speeds and higher prices for consumers. The FCC never bothered to study the impact that such intervention might have on the broadband market before leaping to regulate. Nor did it consider the ample consumer-protection laws that already exist. The government’s meddling has been driven more by ideology and a 2008 campaign promise by then-Sen. Barack Obama than by reality.

What ideology could that be, you ask? McDowell has been fighting against this for quite some time. Zurcher doesn’t want you to think about that. Instead, to balance out the two opinions from the Right-wing echo chamber (which are really the same opinion, albeit one has the appeal to authority), we get the notionally impartial Yahoo blogger, a venture capitalist with a vested interest Zurcher forgets to point out, and his usual collection of Left-wing Progressive voices: Slate, Ezra Klein, and Juan Cole, the latter of whom is way, way out there on the far-Left fringe.

The best point from that side is the only one that comes close to something resembling fairness. It seems reasonable to worry that, as we’ve all become so spoiled by fast speeds that we’re wont to click away when something doesn’t load instantly, and choose faster loading sites over slower ones, the little guys will be harmed, and the internet won’t be an even playing field because they can’t pony up like the big boys can. Of course, that’s most likely not going to be the case as the ISPs are only going to try to squeeze the big boys, as the little guys aren’t using up all the damn bandwidth. More moaning about “preferred access” crushing new ventures and Rupert Murdoch’s “growing power” (like Mrs. Thatcher, he’s never far from a Beeboid’s thoughts, is he?) won’t change that.

If the point of this installment of “Echo Chambers” is to unscramble the noise, you can see which side of the debate the editor feels is the best one. As always, it’s of the Left.

Zurcher or the writer of the BBC Technology article could have offered another point of view, one that suggests this ruling isn’t really bad at all because it actually acknowledges that the FCC has more power to force behavior on ISPs. It’s from the Left-leaning Los Angeles Times:

The appeals court ruling Tuesday that rejected most of the Federal Communications Commission’s “net neutrality” rules sent a fair number of Internet advocates into panic attacks. But the worst-case scenarios laid out in the media — consumers gouged, rival websites blocked, commercialization triumphant — are for the most part overblown.

That’s because the ruling was actually a victory for the methodical rule-making process conducted by former FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski (shown in an unflattering photo above). In sharp contrast to his predecessor’s attempt to force broadband Internet providers to treat all legitimate traffic on their networks equally, Genachowski’s rules weren’t thrown out wholesale.

In fact, the court held that the FCC established that it did indeed have the authority to protect “edge providers” — that is, websites, services and uploaders — against mistreatment by broadband Internet service providers. What the court rejected were the specific rules the commission adopted to preserve openness online.

So it’s perhaps not quite the blow to “fairness” and “freedom” that all those from the Left-wing echo chamber claim. It’s a very complicated web (sorry) of services, technologies, and markets (the latter is a real problem regarding monopolies and fairness and harm to the consumer, but that’s another topic) and the author, John Healy, is aware that this might open the doors for ISPs to weight their services toward more profit-making content, but also says that history tells us that consumers and technology won’t put up with restricted freedom and choice for very long. He suggests it’s in the best interests of everyone for the ISPs to work something out that isn’t too restrictive. Why Zurcher decided to go with his usual opinion-mongering suspects instead of this more measured voice I have no idea. Maybe the LA Times isn’t in his echo chamber feed.

Getting back to the true reason behind all this, I’d suggest a different analogy about the folly of preventing ISPs from charging more from the one the WSJ editorial offered, perhaps one the BBC is more likely to understand. Preventing ISPs from charging more when more of their service is used would be like preventing Hertz or Avis from charging more when somebody rents a BMW rather than a Ford Focus. In this case, the rental company certainly can’t force BMW to lower the cost to get the car into their fleeet, so they have to pass that on to the consumer. Nobody complains about this because it’s obvious, up front. “Net neutrality” would similarly prevent ISPs from charging Netflix or Google (YouTube) more for offering their products, so they will continue to have to pass the expense on to the consumer.

And therein lies the true reason behind this whole thing. Behold:

The Origins of the Net Neutrality Debate

Telecommunications companies and their suppliers have been nursing dreams of tier pricing for years.

I mentioned tier pricing earlier, and here’s where it gets interesting. By the way, this is from 2006.

On June 28, the Senate Commerce Committee rejected amendments that would have built a ban on tiered pricing for Internet access into the big telecommunications bill Congress is trying to pass this session. It was a big blow for “net neutrality” advocates, who argue that if the major cable and telephone companies are allowed to sell certain customers faster Internet connections, those who can’t afford the new tolls will be relegated to the slow lane.

I think you can see where this is headed, no? John Fund wrote the following article in 2010 in that apparent bastion of the Right-wing echo chamber, the Wall Street Journal:

The Net Neutrality Coup

The campaign to regulate the Internet was funded by a who’s who of left-liberal foundations.

I’m sure you’re all shocked, shocked to learn that.

The Federal Communications Commission’s new “net neutrality” rules, passed on a partisan 3-2 vote yesterday, represent a huge win for a slick lobbying campaign run by liberal activist groups and foundations. The losers are likely to be consumers who will see innovation and investment chilled by regulations that treat the Internet like a public utility.

There’s little evidence the public is demanding these rules, which purport to stop the non-problem of phone and cable companies blocking access to websites and interfering with Internet traffic. Over 300 House and Senate members have signed a letter opposing FCC Internet regulation, and there will undoubtedly be even less support in the next Congress.

Yet President Obama, long an ardent backer of net neutrality, is ignoring both Congress and adverse court rulings, especially by a federal appeals court in April that the agency doesn’t have the power to enforce net neutrality. He is seeking to impose his will on the Internet through the executive branch. FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski, a former law school friend of Mr. Obama, has worked closely with the White House on the issue. Official visitor logs show he’s had at least 11 personal meetings with the president.

Like with the IRS scandal, we keep learning about these bosses of allegedly independent departments having lots of meetings with the President just before that department launches an obviously ideological initiative. However, I should also point out that Genachowski worked with McDowell for years, and he, too stepped down last year. McDowell, as it happens, praised his colleague when the former announced his departure, while acknowledging ideological differences. So perhaps he’s not quite as bad as Fund alleged. As for the ideology in question:

The net neutrality vision for government regulation of the Internet began with the work of Robert McChesney, a University of Illinois communications professor who founded the liberal lobby Free Press in 2002. Mr. McChesney’s agenda? “At the moment, the battle over network neutrality is not to completely eliminate the telephone and cable companies,” he told the website SocialistProject in 2009. “But the ultimate goal is to get rid of the media capitalists in the phone and cable companies and to divest them from control.”

A year earlier, Mr. McChesney wrote in the Marxist journal Monthly Review that “any serious effort to reform the media system would have to necessarily be part of a revolutionary program to overthrow the capitalist system itself.” Mr. McChesney told me in an interview that some of his comments have been “taken out of context.” He acknowledged that he is a socialist and said he was “hesitant to say I’m not a Marxist.”

Sounds like he’d fit right in at the BBC. Read all of Fund’s piece to get the full picture of the ideology McDowell was worried about. This is the true goal of the whole “net neutrality” thing: to put a stop to evil corporate capitalist profits, period. After all, first the advocates wanted to prevent ISPs from charging customers more for using more of their service, then they wanted to prevent ISPs from charging content providers for placing a higher burden on their services. The only goal of either approach is to prevent profits, no matter how much it’s dressed up as consumer advocacy and “fairness”. Instead, the BBC hides this from you and frames it in a “fairness”, David vs. Goliath context, just like all the Left-wing echo chamber voices Zurcher quotes.

Zurcher is a titled editor. In that sense, he operates on his own, and while he has a supervisor on some level he is not, so far as I’m aware, subject to editorial directives from on high, or from anyone else which might direct him to publish something reflecting the same point of view as the BBC Technology journalist who wrote the first piece I cited. The bias happens naturally, because they all think the same way. An echo chamber, indeed.

 

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Where Credit Is Due – The BBC And Christianity in Britain

I know this title will shock and annoy most people here. The following is not meant to discredit or dismiss all the complaints about the BBC’s shabby treatment of people with  Christian faith. I’m not here to claim there is no BBC harsh treatment of the religion itself and its various churches as opposed to what Mark Thompson admitted was the soft touch with Islam. I offer this only as a moment to take notice when the BBC actually does get it about right, as giving credit where due can only help deter charges of the blog seeing only negatives in everything and not ever taking an objective approach.

Watching the latest episode of Neil Oliver’s “Sacred Wonders of Britain” was a refreshing change to the sniggering and sneering or casting doubts we usually get from Beeboids about faith, especially that of believing Christians. For example, Jeremy Paxman giggling when asking Tony Blair if he prayed together with George Bush, or Radio 4 suggesting that the danger from Christian extremists was just as bad as from Mohammedan jihadi extremism, or having atheist Melvyn Bragg present a controversial programme about Gnostic Gospel ideas on Good Friday, have all added to the perception that the BBC treats Christians faith with some disdain. And let’s not even get into all the hate poured out by “edgy” comedians and the likes of Stephen Fry. Usually it seems like the only time the BBC nomenklatura approve of religious Christians is when they’re the useful kind: right-on vicars who espouse Socialism or hold the usual approved thoughts on pet BBC issues. I confess to being a little wary initially, being aware of Oliver’s otherwise typical BBC ideological credentials. For example, I saw him turn a segment of one episode of his “Coast” series into an advertisement for wind turbines.

In this series, though Oliver actually treats the expressions of faith with wonder and a smile. There are no side quips about modern problems, no rolling of the eyes at discussions of how faith was important in daily lives. His demeanor does not come across as phony or patronizing. While the series obviously began covering the old pagan faiths, it’s now into Christianity and it’s offered without any diminishing qualifiers.

Another recent example of getting it about right was the “Tudor Monastery Farm” series. Previous versions of the historical farming series didn’t really get into religion at all, but this one had it at its center because of the premise. This time, the producers chose the historically accurate plot vehicle of having the crew act as if they were tenant farmers on a monastery estate. So they really had no choice but to have unadulterated, old-school Christian faith infused into almost everything.

(Yes, I know some people here have been outraged at seeing a black face in Tudor England. I know it can be seen as a gratuitous token done not out of historical respect but in fealty to what we know to be their editorial policy to promote multiculturalism at all costs. Perhaps those who are angry can take comfort in the fact that, from what I saw, the blacks were never shown to be allowed indoors. This has nothing to do with the topic of Christian faith in the series, and I’m hoping we can all leave this issue alone this time.)

In this series, they had no choice but to act as if faith was the guiding force in everyone’s daily lives. Food was symbolic, the meals could take on ritual elements, and real faith was involved in nearly everything on some level. Like Oliver in his show, the “Tudor Farm” cast explained the various religious facets with smiles on their faces and positive expressions. It was done with sincerity, no downplaying it as, “This is what those people did, we’ve now advanced,” sort of thing, nor did they try to say that faith wasn’t all that important. Sure, they were probably acting for the camera, but that doesn’t detract from the sincerity of the presentation. Faith was not described as a negative influence at all. Celebration of religious festivals was not done ironically. Instead, it was presented as a fact of daily life, without negative qualifiers or denigration. Religion wasn’t the point of the series at all, of course. It was just there because it was accurate.

Sometimes – not very often – the BBC can get it about right on matters involving Christian faith. I think we should recognize it on the rare occasions when it does happen, if only to show that our own biases don’t prevent us from noticing. If anything, giving the BBC credit when they do it right should only strengthen our position on criticizing them when they get it wrong.

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“Echo Chambers” – An Alternative To The BBC Feature #2

The first installment with my own mission statement is here. Zurcher’s next topic was inevitable, so here goes. Again, I’m doing this without having read any of it other than the title and the first sentence.

Chris Christie’s Bridge-sized Headache

Somebody has leaked or stolen some emails by the popular and prominent New Jersey Governor detailing and gloating about deliberately blocking traffic on a vital commuter conduit in order to retaliate against a local politician who didn’t endorse Christie in the last election. The deputy chief of staff – whom Christie has now fired – seems to have made no bones about what they were doing, and even expressed pleasure in doing so in emails between her and the the Port Authority official in charge of running the George Washington Bridge, who’s a high school friend of the Governor and was appointed by him. It does have all the appearances of being very cozy.

It’s ugly business, not because it’s a national incident but because it’s a clear case of using government power to harm a political opponent, which is a major issue on its own thanks to the IRS scandal, never mind the negative affect it had on ordinary citizens, apparently simply because most of them voted the wrong way. As this editorial from Investor’s Business Daily says, “What’s infuriating is how this kind of politics is becoming the norm.”

This is a major national story also because Christie has a national profile not only because of his public image as a straight talker and a caring, competent administrator after the devastation of parts of his State from Hurricane Sandy, but because he’s been considered by many in the media and political wonk class to be the front runner for the Republican candidacy for President in 2016. Anything that calls his integrity into question is going to be big. It’s especially going to gain legs regardless of the facts because at the moment he’s the number one obstacle to President-in-waiting Hillary Clinton. So Christie now has the biggest target on his back of anyone in the country.

He’s going to get the vetting that the media never did for the Junior Senator from Illinois in 2008, or even during Obama’s first term as President. It’s no secret that the mainstream media knows they didn’t do their job properly, and that they really did use the power of the press to support him and attack enemies. There’s been a little pushback in the last couple of months, and it was probably always going to be inevitable that they were going to overreact in order to reestablish public trust and prove that they really do want to hold politicians accountable and speak truth to power.

As Paul Bedard points out in the Washington Times:

The Big Three networks, in a frenzy over New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie’s traffic headache dubbed “Bridgegate,” have devoted a whopping 34 minutes and 28 seconds of coverage to the affair in just the last 24 hours.

By comparison, that’s 17 times the two minutes, eight seconds devoted to President Obama’s IRS scandal in the last six months, according to an analysis by the Media Research Center.

“While routinely burying new stories on the IRS scandal, the media practically fell over themselves to start taking shots at the potential 2016 Republican presidential nominee,” said the conservative media watchdog.

It’s important to keep this background in mind when considering the media coverage now, regardless of the facts as they come out. Opinion on the validity of the IRS scandal can be viewed as a metric. So, naturally there’s noise in both the Left and Right echo chambers. Christie says he didn’t know the truth and was misled by his staff about the whole thing. Naturally, some won’t trust him and are asking “What did he know and when did he know it?”, while others are taking him at his word. While it’s impossible to prove a negative, many are pointing to his known brusk, tough-talking, and at times aggressive behavior as evidence that this attitude was endemic in his administration, and thus he shares blame.

A good example of this comes from the Washington Post’s Jonathan Capehart. Just his blog title says it all:

Chris Christie: ‘I am not a bully’ – LOL

During his 107-minute me-me-mea culpa over the traffic fiasco that plunged his national political fortunes into chaos, Gov. Chris Christie said something that was LOL funny. It came in response to a question from NBC News’s Kelly O’Donnell: “Your critics say this reveals that you are a political bully, that your style is payback,” she asked the New Jersey Republican known for his love of rhetorical fisticuffs and penchant for retribution. “Are you? And does this compromise your ability to serve?

Capehart then cites a couple of instances of Christie making snarky retorts at people asking him challenging questions. Those responses are part of what made independents and people on the Right like him, while it tended to anger those on the Left. To Capehart and those in his echo chamber, it’s proof that Christie is a bully, and proof that he either knew or his style encouraged the corrupt behavior.

At the top of that echo chamber is this editorial from the New York Times:

There are plenty of questions that Mr. Christie and his aides, current and former, need to answer.

First, is it plausible that officials as high up as Ms. Kelly and Mr. Christie’s top appointees at the Port Authority, which controls the bridge, would decide to seek revenge and create this traffic chaos on their own?

Did Mr. Christie know in December, when Mr. Baroni and Mr. Wildstein resigned, that these two members of his inner circle had taken part in the scheme? Did he ever ask them what happened?

Piers Morgan says it’s as big a scandal as Watergate.

The echo chamber from the other side is obviously more willing to give Christie the benefit of the doubt. But they’re certainly not just accepting his side of the story and drawing a line under the incident. Charles Krauthammer is taking a wait-and-see attitude. He even suggests that if Christie’s toughness image comes across after this as “a petty toughness”, he’s “toast”.  That and the IBD sentiment I mentioned above are echoed by Red State’s Eric Erickson (writing for Fox News here):

I’m ambivalent on his run for the presidency . But I don’t see him getting that far for the very reasons underlying this issue — he and his staff operate as divas.I have had congressmen, governors, and the staffers of congressmen and governors tell me horror stories about dealing with Christie’s people.

All of them seem to dread it.

It seems that even if Christie comes out of this with clean(ish) hands, the bully label is going to stick. Of course, nobody in either echo chamber is comparing that to Hillary Clinton’s own horror stories about how she treats people, but it’s only a matter of time if Christie does eventually declare.

So is it going to doom Christie’s presidential hopes? It’s too soon to tell, of course, but there are plenty of guesses out there. Lisa Schiffren in the National Review Online’s “The Corner”, thinks this too shall pass and Christie the (eventual) candidate might even come out of this the better for it. The other echo chamber, here in the form of Jason Linkins of the HuffingtonPost, thinks there’s always the possibility of a “Comeback Kid” story, as the media likes to create these Narratives.

There’s one other facet to this story – particularly the coverage and the opinion-mongering – which goes back to what I said about how opinion of the IRS scandal can be a kind of metric. The same people on the Left who defended the President on that saying he couldn’t possibly have known, and his behavior had no influence on the IRS going after his political enemies, are now certain that Christie’s behavior influenced and led to everything, and of course he probably knew.

Before closing, we must also consider the other, other echo chamber: Twitter.

 

 

It’s too early to know how this will turn out, but the various opinions have been far more revealing of the attitudes and politics of the people making them than about anything in the story itself.

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Nick Robinson’s Immigration Truthspeak – An Outsider’s View

I wrote this up while watching Nick Robinson’s “The Truth About Immigration”. After it was over, I rearranged a few things, but except for the last couple of paragraphs it was nearly all written as I watched. However, after having digested it for a minute, I think I can sum the whole thing up much more briefly.

Nick Robinson: How is it that a subject that was once taboo is now on every poltician’s lips? Why is it that the doors to Britain were flung open and what are the benefits and what are the perils of now seeking to close them?

Why is it now a major issue and what is the truth about immigration?

Shorter fisking: What Robinson covers is all old hat. See the BBC’s “White” Series for evidence that most of what he rehashes has been done before. In addition, everyone by now knows what Labour did and why. This is a dishonest discussion if one side of the issue is a strawman. Most people do not want to close the door, full stop. I suppose that makes for good TV, but it’s not honest.

What is the truth? Why is this issue now such a big deal that the BBC feels obligated to go over all this again? Aside from the obvious current event of Bulgarian and Roma(nian) immigration, Spot the missing murder of Lee Rigby with the murderer explaining himself on camera. Spot the missing no-go areas. Spot the missing imams preaching jihad. Spot the missing grooming gangs of Rochdale and Manchester. Spot the missing mass murders of 7/7.  Spot the missing discussion about how the BBC got it wrong as well, which was part of Robinson’s statement to the Mail.

I think that about sums up the BBC’s approach to the truth.

Longer version, if anyone’s interested:

So we’re expected to believe that the BBC’s original Young Conservative is straying off the reservation, are we? Sorry, no.

It’s all a big deal now, we’re told. Illegal immigrants are being told to go home. Robinson emphasized “illegal”. And what, exactly, were illegal immigrants being told until this national conversation hit an all time high? Oh, sorry, wrong national debate. I was momentarily stunned by hearing a BBC journalist use the words “illegal” and “immigrants” in the same sentence. I’m just so used to hearing them censor that word in their dishonest reporting about the issue in the US.

Notice the footage Robinson chooses to accompany that line. The police are clearly approaching someone who has just snuck across the border. This is an entirely different topic than the real concerns about immigration in Britain. By conflating the two from the outset, Robinson has already muddied the waters. Whoops, that’s a racist comment these days, isn’t it?

Nick’s Big Question: Why is it now a major issue?

Answer: Anything except third-world extremely fundamentalist Muslims coming in en masse and setting up segregated enclaves and not only maintaining those extremely fundamentalist behaviors and refusing to integrate, but causing certain local problems and then being enabled by politicians, police, and a BBC willing to kowtow to any demand in the name of political correctness and to give two fingers to their political opponents, as well as because they’re afraid.

I hadn’t even watched seven minutes of this before I could see it’s mostly a load of tired old talking points, and would ultimately be a dishonest approach to the issue. If the issues Robinson presents as the main concerns weren’t already talked about enough to be well covered, why did the BBC do that whole “White” Series a few years ago? What was “The Poles Are Coming” about, then? It was a deliberate attempt to control the national debate on this issue, and to demonize those who thought it might be a problem. If it wasn’t already a well-known concern, why was Mrs. Duffy such a story? The BBC was just as quick to paint her as a racist as any politician was.

And what about “White Girl”? That particular facet of the immigration issue was entirely absent from Robinson’s supposed truth about it. And let’s not pretend it’s not the main reason immigration is a hotter topic than ever.

Nick Robinson and the BBC think you’re all stupid. We could tell from their reactions to public complaints about Mandelapalooza, and Evan Davis more recently gave DB a hint of it: they hold you in contempt, now more than ever.

Another question – in two parts – left unanswered: If so many immigrants were needed, as Robinson states, to fill all those jobs, how many British people were unemployed at the time and why are there so many more now? Secondly, why was unlimited immigration the answer instead of training the citizens? Surely there must be a difference in cost – on several levels – between the two options. As was evident from the “The Poles Are Coming” episode, the “lazy British” Narrative has become an immutable object at the BBC. Now they don’t even think it’s worth addressing. It’s a given. Not a single moment was spent asking about  what to do with the unemployed youth in Britain.

(Side note to Nick Robinson and his producer: You really should have resisted the temptation to use the cute “boom and bust” reference there. It only highlighted how dishonest the BBC has been about that issue as well.

Other side note: I admit it’s nice to see Nick Robinson presenting politicians as being scheming and damaging rather than protecting and defending them, like he did for the Blair/Brown relationship or as the expenses scandal was at its height.)

I’ll grant that it’s good that Robinson got Labour politicians to admit how slimy they were on their policy, but if it’s just David Blunkett saying they were “on the side of the angels”, and Jack Straw saying Labour got it wrong, then the debate gets shifted to whether they were right or not, rather than how dishonest they were the entire time. Yvette Cooper was shown as trying to have it both ways, so nothing enlightening there, either.

Robinson, being of course ruled by the BBC’s requirement to remain impartial, leaves it there. For balance against three Labour politicians, two of whom essentially defended the policy without much reservation, we got Michael Howard. Oh, right, Robinson himself is supposed to count as being on the Right in this case, yeah.

The one saving grace of this entire hour was the part where Robinson showed non-white immigrants complaining about the same things that concerned the first round of complainers, meaning it can’t be called racist anymore. I know a couple people here have brought that up recently, and I imagine it would come as quite a shock to those who trust the BBC for their news on important issues. Unfortunately, it’s easy to predict that the BBC will forget all about that immediately and will be quickly back to calling it racist.

So David Cameron is putting a limit on “net immigraton” is he? How will that work out, Nick? No prizes for guessing. To make matters more pathetic, after going over the whole “We needed mass immigration to fill the jobs” theme, Robinson takes that to the next level to show that you need mass immigration to fill all those student slots at universities. Apparently, the university system will be economically threatened if you worry about the questionable student applicants and don’t let in enough proper ones.

Then we get to work permits. Um, what’s this about skills and the ability to speak English? Didn’t we meet some Eastern European kids who were picking strawberries and were told this is an example of the kind of jobs Britain vitally needs filling? Aren’t those the low-wage jobs lazy British young people won’t do, so limiting immigration to skilled workers will harm the economy? Of course that’s so, and Robinson is keen to tell you later on. He doesn’t have to come out and say it at this point, as that wouldn’t be, you know, impartial.

Then Robinson says that Cameron’s statement about allowing in skilled workers needed now (chefs in the shown example) – but he wants to train the next generation of home-grown workers – is a “blunt” message to stop hiring foreigners. Blah, blah, blah. This makes it all the more lame that Robinson didn’t flat out ask the practical question about training and unemployment I mentioned above.

Ultimately, Robinson tells us, immigration is a great net benefit to Britain. The only question now, apparently, is what’s the best plan to make it work more smoothly in future.

No. That’s not the question at all. Robinson asked at the start, why is this such a big deal now? He doesn’t dare touch the real answer.

I know why the BBC can’t touch the real answer. It’s because those of you who do want to shut the door (or at least put much more stringent limits than Cameron wants) want it shut mainly – and are talking about it more loudly than ever before, which is allegedly also what Robinson is meant to be investigating – because of the factors the BBC refused to address. So they just have to present that side of the argument as some phantasm. Everyone on camera is talking about limits, amd figuring out some common sense, not shutting it down, full stop. Yet Robinson frames that side of the argument in its extreme version. He and his producer know full well what they’re doing. This only makes it more galling that he avoided discussion of the BBC’s influence in the whole thing, after recently saying they made a “horrible mistake”.

This is a major public debate like never before because of things like the murder of Lee Rigby and the seemingly endless stream of stories about Muslim grooming gangs, not because a few Slovenians are picking strawberries for less than Wayne and Kaylee get on the dole. The primary reason it’s such a big deal now that even the BBC has to admit it is the reality of things like Tower Hamlets and Anjem Choudary, not Polish glass workers who moonlight as DJs and Bangladeshi students wearing the hijab at some hip university. That shot of the latter from the part where Robinson is discussing the need for students is almost like they’re taunting you. The only reason I’m noticing something subliminal is because I’ve been prepared to notice it. Perhaps they’re so far out of reality and intellectual honesty that they don’t realize what they’ve done.

Sure, Robinson at least briefly lays out the more general concerns along the way about too much pressure on communities and services, jobs, benefit migration, and people feel like they’re losing their own neighborhoods. But the only time Islam comes up is when he casually mentions that the Muslim population has rapidly doubled, as if it’s just another color in the rainbow.

If one thinks that the real reason unlimited immigration is such a hot-button topic right now is limited to jobs, then one will feel that Robinson has successfully opened the way for a more honest debate about the pros and cons of immigration. But it surely can’t be an honest debate if he reduces one side of the argument to some people wanting to “shut the door once again”. He doesn’t present anyone as saying they want the polar opposite of unlimited immigration, so why the reductio ad absurdum for only one side?

“Perhaps it’s time to have that open and frank discussion we’ve really never had.”

If only. And this documentary avoided that frank discussion at every turn. The BBC can now claim to have successfully addressed the issue, but they will only be lying to themselves, and to you. So where was the part where Robinson talked about how the BBC got it wrong? Where was the part where Robinson discussing how and why the BBC made a “horrible mistake” in suppressing concerns about unlimited immigration? The BBC has more influence on the national debate of every issue than any politician or political party could ever hope to achieve in their wildest dreams. Blaming politicians and I guess the media in general ignores the very real influence and deliberate policy the BBC had on the issue over the last decade, and still has now. This documentary is evidence of their desire to influence it.

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“Echo Chambers” – An Alternative To The BBC Feature

Last November, the BBC website created the “Echo Chambers” feature, and assigned one of their experienced editors and journalists, Anthony Zurcher to curate it. The mission statement as he originally stated it is this:

Welcome to Echo Chambers, a new blog about opinion and commentary in the United States and around the world.

The purpose of this blog is to discover and present quality opinion journalism wherever it may be – to find value amid the noise. We’ll unearth interesting material and underreported views from the BBC, on the world’s newspaper opinion pages, and in think tank reports, magazines, blog posts and scholarly journals. The venue isn’t important; the content is.

A condensed version of this is permanently in the upper right corner of the Echo Chambers page.

Unscrambling the noise of the global debate, from social media to scholarly journals, Kansas City to Kathmandu.

As has been pointed out many times, I’m not a professional journalist and so cannot understand the arcane arts, but to me, this means that the blog is meant to make some sense of the chatter on both sides of an issue. After all, we’ve been told countless times by journalists and defenders of the indefensible that this blog is just a Right-wing echo chamber, and we often complain that the BBC functions as a Left-wing echo chamber. We all know the drill about Fox News or the Guardian, each often described as an echo chamber for their own side of the political spectrum, and intellectually lazy people who want to stifle debate simply dismiss any point made or evidence offered from either as invalid, simply due to the source, relieving the accuser of the need to address the actual point itself. Media in both the US and UK have become highly politicized, from local newspapers and obscure blogs all the way up to national papers and network and cable news. There’s far more opinion-mongering going on everywhere these days than actual objective newsgathering and reporting. In fact, even the top outlets like the Washington Post and the BBC are moving more and more towards opinion journalism.

One would think it’s a good idea to try and sort through the noise and attempt to distill it down to some semblance of reality, to point out merits or flaws in arguments coming from each side of an issue. The question for the BBC’s Echo Chambers feature, then, is does it meet its remit?

Zurcher’s opening mission statement was that he intends to “find value amid the noise”, and the permanent mission statement is to “unscramble the noise”. In practice, it seems that, with the exception of a weekly list of links about various topics, the installments are  mostly an exercise in Left-wing editorializing. Much of the time, Zurcher is basically presenting stuff from the mainstream Left-wing echo chamber as value in reaction to an issue which seemed to be momentarily gaining traction from the Right. His choices of who writes quality opinion is revealing. One has to give him credit for being one of the more industrious BBC journalists. He sure cranks out a lot of these in a short space of time. A list of links to my analyses of several of his pieces can be found in the comments section of this post about it by Daniel Pycock. Personally, I’m sick to death of opinion journalism, and I think it’s done far more damage to public discourse than help crystalize any ideas. But again, I’m not a professional journalist, so not qualified to judge the priest caste.

With this in mind, I’m going to try a little experiment. For the next five Echo Chambers installments (not including the next simple list of links), rather than do my usual long-winded parsing and complaining, I’m going to attempt an alternative version of what I think it says on the tin. That is to say, I’ll try to actually present a few opinion pieces on whatever topic catches Zurcher’s fancy. I won’t read his piece, just check the title and the opening lines to see what the issue is. I’ll even use his title. Then I’ll curate my own collection of “value”, adding my own brief (I promise) comments so the reader gets the idea of what I think is going on. Each one will include a link to the BBC Echo Chambers piece, and everyone can view them side-by-side and judge for themselves not so much if I’m doing a great job, but whether or not Zurcher is really doing his properly, and just how much of a Left-wing echo chamber he lives in. I may or may not link to the same things he does. Without reading it in advance, I’ll have no idea. If I do, it’s purely coincidental. This whole thing is nothing more than opinion journalism on that level anyway, and anyone who has read two or three of these things will know in which bubble Zurcher lives.

So, below is my first installment. Four more will follow as and when.

*********************

Senator Ted Cruz, still Canadian

One of the most prominent politicians on the Right these days is Ted Cruz, the Republican junior Senator from Texas. He was elected on the strength of Tea Party backing, and in these days of desperation for a fresh face is already being touted as a possible presidential candidate in 2016. Many on the Left see him as a possible threat because he is Hispanic, and identity politics is a very important tool for them. So he’ll most likely get more attention early on than a junior Senator with no experience would otherwise. Sounds familiar, somehow. Cruz is also hated on the Left because of his support for last year’s government shutdown. In other words, there’s a big target on his back.

So it was inevitable that people would start looking for something on Cruz. As it happens, he was born in Canada. His mother was a US citizen at the time of birth, so US law says he’s a citizen at birth, regardless of where he was born, even though his Cuban father was not. Cruz claims he didn’t know because he was told in his youth that he had to make some official affirmation to finalize his Canadian citizenship, and since he never bothered, he forgot all about it. It’s actually automatic, no need for him to do anything. Of course, it’s impossible to prove he’s lying.

The noise first started, really, back in March 2013, after he introduced Sarah Palin as keynote speaker at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC). One of her main topics was gun control and the Obama* Administration’s press for more and stricter background checks in the aftermath of the mass murder of children at a school in Newtown, CT. At one point, she made quip about maybe we should have started checking his background first.

You can guess what happened next. Rick Ungar in Forbes saw support for Cruz as “Birther Hypocrisy”.

While Palin’s return to birtherism accomplished the intended laugh from the appreciative crowd, there was someone in the room who was likely not laughing.

That would be Senator Ted Cruz—the man who so glowingly introduced Ms. Palin and a man who clearly views himself as being on a populist track to the White House. He’s not alone in that regard as four percent of the votes registered in the CPAC straw poll were cast in support of Mr. Cruz, the man often referred to as the Republican Barack Obama.

Ironically, there can be little doubt that among those who expressed their support for a Cruz presidency at CPAC were attendees who continue to question the current president’s constitutional right to hold the office.

While there is no legal question about Cruz’s eligibility, it was quickly revealed that he was also a Canadian citizen, which is what happens when one is born there. So there was a call for him to renounce his Canadian citizenship, partially to make a point, and partially because many would consider it a little odd for a President to be a citizen of another country. As Wayne Slater of the Dallas Morning News explained in August:

What’s a birther to do? After years of haranguing Barack Obama as a non-citizen, what about Ted Cruz, who acknowledges he was born in Canada? He isn’t just a U.S. citizen. He has dual citizenship as both an American and a Canadian. Cruz says he’ll renounce his Canadian citizenship, but it’s not clear whether that’s enough to satisfy the birthers in his party who have long claimed at President Obama was born in Africa and therefore ineligible to be president. Obama was born in Hawaii. But most constitutional scholars agree that even if he had been born in a foreign country, he’s still a natural-born citizen under the terms of the Constitution because he is the child of an American parent.

Slater goes on to say that true Birthers claim – erroneously, of course – that nobody even born in a foreign country can be President. Cruz quickly promised to renounce his Canadian citizenship by the end of the year.

Steven Lubet in the Left-leaning Salon snarkily pointed out that there might be some complications in the process:

Only one of Ted’s parents was a citizen when he was born (his father is a Cuban émigré who did not take U.S. citizenship until 2005), and he therefore falls under a special section of the Immigration and Nationality Act that applies to “Birth Abroad to One Citizen and One Alien Parent.” Under that provision, Cruz only qualifies for American citizenship if his mother was “physically present” in the United States for 10 years prior to his birth, five of which had to be after she reached the age of 14. The only definitive way to prove Eleanor Cruz’s 10 years of physical presence would be with documents such as leases, school registration, utility bills or tax records.

Of course, we don’t know how rigorous the Canadians are about evidence of citizenship, but we do know that they will not be willing simply to take Ted’s word for it. Their form is very specific about requiring documentary proof, and that might be hard for Ted to come by. Could that be the reason for Cruz’s delayed renunciation? It would be pretty embarrassing to have his Application to Renounce Canadian Citizenship denied on a technicality.

In other words, in order to renounce Canadian citizenship, Cruz first has to go through a laborious record-collecting  process to prove his US citizenship. This was picked up in the Left-wing blogosphere and other outlets, and the Left thought they smelled ironic birther blood.  It’s now the new year, so naturally those who seek to undermine him are going to check up on it. It turns out he hasn’t officially done it yet, hence the noise this week. Why hasn’t he followed up on his promise? It should be a straightforward process. So are the Left-wing birthers on to something? Kelly McPartland from Canada’s National Post seems to think so.

Some immigration experts are wondering why it’s taken Mr. Cruz so long to complete the paperwork for his renunciation. “It’s not complicated at all,” said Stephen Green, an immigration lawyer in Toronto, according to the Associated Press.

Richard Kurland, a Vancouver-based immigration attorney, agreed: “Unless there’s a security issue that hasn’t been disclosed, unless there’s a mental health issue that hasn’t been disclosed, there’s no reason for anything other than a lickety-split process to occur.”

Hmmm. Well, something must be holding up the works, which is why Mr. Alexander should seize this opportunity to get involved. Ted Cruz is an American caught in the talons of Canadian citizenship. We need to set him free.

Yes, the Left-wing echo chambers like the Daily Kos are getting excited over this, but I’m having a hard time finding actual opinion pieces on it. Rather than seeing a lot of noise in the echo chambers which must be unscrambled, I’m seeing that almost everyone is pretty much reprinting the same Canadian Press/AP piece over and over, or quoting the relevant bits like McPartland has done. Wayne Slater in the Dallas Morning News is doing the same thing in his opinion piece. Is there anything in the Right-wing echo chamber about this? Not that I can find. I haven’t spent hours searching, and at this point it’s pretty clear that anything will be more speculation or a simple dismissal, repeating what’s already been said.

I suppose one way to look at this is that if the Right is silent, that means they’re afraid of the truth. Alternatively, they could simply feel that it’s already been proven that Cruz meets the definition of a natural born US citizen, especially since nobody is doubting that his mother didn’t live in the US for ten years before he was born, and don’t care about this. In other words, it’s exciting for the Left, who have only speculation to go on, and that’s about it. There’s nothing edifying either way other than the one supposition quoted by the AP. We’ll have to wait and see.

* I’m refraining from my usual formulation of “The Obamessiah” and the quasi-religious capital H in “Him”, etc., because I do that to make fun of the BBC’s reflexive worship and near religious devotion, and it’s not appropriate for what I’m trying to do here.

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Mark Mardell Lies About Health Care

Mark Mardell, the BBC’s US President editor, has published his first post of the new year, and it’s as awful as we’ve come to expect. Doesn’t anyone read this stuff for him before he published it? (H/T George R in the open thread)

A big year for Obama and the Democrats

First he says that making everyone purchase health insurance is the President’s greatest achievement.

The plan to make all Americans take out health insurance is Mr Obama’s main achievement in office, and it is the biggest change he has made to American society.

Actually, the President’s main achievement has been to divide the country and fan the flames of political and ideological hatred. But Mardell and the BBC have always blamed the Tea Party movement and anyone he can think of on the Right for that, so never mind.

He sets up his explanation with this bit of ideological and class war talking points:

At the end of last year I saw the Obamacare sign-up in action in two very different states, Mississippi and Kentucky.

They are both in the South and both of a conservative disposition. But in Mississippi the Republican governor will have nothing to do with the plan, whereas the Democratic governor in Kentucky has embraced its possibilities.

I hope I will get the chance this year to look at other examples but these trips have left me with the strong feeling the healthcare changes will play very differently in different states – and within social classes.

He went to Mississippi, of course, to hoe his usual race row. Helping poor black people is the legacy of ObamaCare, and anyone who objects to the plan is racist. He doesn’t say it out loud, but that’s been his theme since 2009: those who object to ObamaCare as wealth redistribution are really objecting to redistributing wealth to people not like them. He’s said that over and over again.

Then Mardell explains how ObamaCare is playing out in different States. The Democrats, he says, believe all will be mostly well once the website is fixed.

That may well be true in some places – those states which have chosen to embrace expanding Medicaid, a US healthcare programme for the poor, and run their own exchange websites.

Er, if the State is running its own exchange website, that has nothing to do with the ObamaCare national website being fixed. Hello? Ideology has clearly muddled his thinking here.

Note to Mardell and the BBC: Going on Medicaid IS NOT purchasing health insurance.

Like all intellectually honest people have been saying from the very beginning, the goal of ObamaCare is to pave the way towards Socialist, government-provided health care for all. I’ve only been saying it for more than three years. If a political junkie like Mardell can’t tell the difference between buying health insurance and being a ward of the State, he has no business being a journalist.

And then he blames evil Republicans for the reason why insurance premiums are much higher in the ObamaCare exchanges.

But in Republican states where they do neither (and so people have to rely on the glitchy federal website), it could end up being very expensive for individuals and firms, and have a very low take-up.

This is, of course, a total lie. Okay, a partial lie. Yes, expenses for the insurance companies will go up if they don’t get enough young people and middle class and wealthy people to pay into the system. That’s why some insurance companies are already preparing to line up for a bailout. Actually, a bailout was sneakily written into the damn law in the first place, and a bill has been introduced to stop it. They knew all along that this wouldn’t be sustainable, and wrote themselves some taxpayer cash handouts. Did the BBC ever tell you that?

However – and here’s where the lie comes in – the premiums are higher for people who are paying for it because the whole purpose is to get them to subsidize and cover costs of insurance companies being forced to cover everyone with pre-existing conditions who would otherwise be paying a lot more, as well as being forced to pay for birth control pills and maternity care for everyone, men included. Plus taxes are being stuck on top of it. In short, the premiums will in general be higher anyway, regardless of how many people sign up in a world where the website was launched without a hitch. In fact, premiums are already higher. Insurance companies didn’t start out with high prices and will lower them once more people sign up. They’re higher because that’s what it’s going to cost even if everybody signs up, and they will remain so. What he’s saying simply isn’t true.

Here’s a good explanation from Forbes (not Fox News, not Breitbart, not the Right-wing echo chamber), which was written 10 months before we found out that the website was screwed up. No blame on a glitchy website preventing it from working was possible. The actual premium figures still remain to be seen, but there’s no denying the underlying mess. Well, Mardell is denying it, but he’s wrong, and has to be dishonest in order to do it.

Even when people in the US are trying to defend against this charge, it’s framed as “Why the premiums are lower than expected”, which is clever way to say they’re higher but it’s not as bad as the doomsayers said. Not much of a defense. And this is from California, one of those Democrat States running its own exchange that Mardell claims would work out well. The reason the premiums aren’t as high as expected? Some of the biggest insurance companies are staying out. They know keeping costs down isn’t going to happen, and they’ll be screwed. There’s a whole other [email protected]#$% waiting to happen there with limited provider networks and limited options for care, but that’s for another time. In any case, notice that even someone defending against the charge that ObamaCare is making premiums higher isn’t actually showing that they’re lower than they would have been if it didn’t happen.

The system is mathematically unsustainable, and was never intended to be otherwise. Think it’s just me? Think I’m simply echoing red meat falsehoods tossed to me by Fox News and Rush Limbaugh? Think again. Even Mardell’s fellow far-Left Progressives are admitting it.

How Obamacare Actually Paves the Way Toward Single Payer

Last week the liberal documentary-maker Michael Moore prompted indigestion across the progressive wonk community by pronouncing Obamacare “awful.” In a New York Times op-ed, he bemoaned the way the president’s law preserved the health insurance industry rather than replacing it with a Medicare-for-all style single-payer system. The good news, Moore conceded, is that the previously uninsured (and often previously uninsurable) can get finally get coverage. The bad news is that their coverage will often be lousy and pose an enormous financial burden. He ended by calling for activists to lean on state politicians in an effort to beef the law up.

********

And yet I’m still much more sympathetic to Obamacare than Moore. He thinks it’s awful. I consider it a deceptively sneaky way to get the health care system both of us really want.

Mark Mardell is a liar, for purely ideological purposes. He’s made it very clear in the past that he thinks government-provided health care is analogous to the government providing police and fire departments. At the same time he made it obvious that he sees no difference between the government requiring people to buy health insurance and requiring people to buy car insurance. His personal ideology colors his thinking and his reporting, in this case to the point of dishonesty and misleading his readers.

My opinion of ObamaCare is irrelevant here. I’m not demanding that Mardell reflect my opinion instead of the one that ObamaCare is correct. These are facts. It’s not ideology to say that going on Medicaid is not the same thing as buying insurance. It’s not ideology to point out the actual reasons why premiums are high. Mardell is not impartial: he is biased. That’s the whole point of his job as a titled BBC “editor”, and I think it’s wrong.

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Voyage Of The Damned Fools

The BBC reports today that a US ice-breaker, the Polar Star, has now been called in to rescue not only the trapped Akademik Shokalskiy, but also the Chinese rescue ship, the  Xue Long, which transferred those passengers from one to the other, and is now itself trapped. In other words, the ship which rescued the passengers from the trapped ship by flying them in a helicopter to another ship, which nearly got trapped, is trapped. There’s a Monty Python sketch in there somewhere.

The reality is that two ships, along with their crew (22 on the Russian ship, and 111 on the Chinese vessel), have gotten trapped in the ice due – allegedly – to the negligence of Prof. Chris Turney, who was out there to prove that the ice was, er, melting. I say “allegedly” because it’s pretty obvious that there will be legal repercussions from all this, and I’ll let all our lurking lawyers and journalists and non-lurking journalists go threaten Anthony Watts and others for prejudicing court proceedings instead of wasting our time. This post is about the BBC’s coverage (and cover-up in process) of the whole fiasco.

Yes, I know the ice melting was only one part of the official research reasons for the trip, which included studies of various wildlife and marine habitats. But the focus was on how Climate Change – which they all believe is caused by human activity – is affecting those things, just like the supposedly melting ice. Curiously, as some here have noticed, that purpose came and went throughout the BBC’s coverage of the story.

The Aurora Australis has finally been told it can head home with its new passengers, and will eventually be allowed to go back and finish what it was supposed to be doing: resupplying Australia’s research base, Casey Station. Hopefully nobody else in the area will need rescuing by an icebreaker, because the Xue Long won’t be able to help. The US Coast Guard icebreaker is similarly abandoning its own proper mission, as even the BBC reports, to resupply the US research station on Ross Island. 133 people are stuck, and who knows how many more actual scientists and their research have been severely inconvenienced by this tourist trip. Or was it a research trip? We’ll see.

The BBC is currently describing the Akademik Shokalskiy as a “Russian research vessel”. If and when it gets freed eventually (there’s still the possibility that the ice will crush the hull), its next scheduled task is to take a group of tourists around the Antarctic Peninsula. See, it originally was an actual research vessel, so the BBC is being “accurate” as usual. Only it’s retired from that and has been refitted as a tourist ship. The Expeditions Online website lists it as an “Expedition Ship”, and the amenities look appealing.

The Akademik Shokalskiy is a fully ice-strengthened expedition vessel built in 1984 for polar and oceanographic research. This class of vessel is world renowned for polar exploration, because of its strength, maneuverability and small passenger numbers. The Shokalskiy provides comfortable accommodation in double and twin cabins with private facilities. All cabins have outside windows and ample storage space. On board there is a combined bar/library lounge area and a dedicated lecture room, where the science team and expedition staff will present a programme of talks.

Check out the website and you’ll see its “NOTICE TO REPORTERS” that they’re not the operators of the ship and are merely a booking agent. They know there will be legal ramifications and want to make sure nobody includes them as a defendant in any lawsuit.

Before we get to the inevitable legal repercussions, let’s examine just how cavalier with the truth the BBC has been during this whole saga. Aside from who is at fault here, there’s the question of the overall purpose of this little adventure. The official reason we’ve been fed by the BBC is that it was to retrace the footsteps of Douglas Mawson’s original tremendous scientific expedition to the region. We’re meant to ignore Turney’s own “Science Case” for the trip is all about the melting ice, and how Climate Change (and we all know there’s only one kind and one cause for these people) affects the wildlife and ocean habitats. All the other stuff is a sideshow, an aegis under which to do this.

Turney has written a book about Mawson (a free signed copy goes to anyone who sends him $400. A measly $200 will only get you the t-shirt. Hopefully all “expedition members” who paid $8000 minimum will at least get one of those for their trouble.). Mawson, of course, deserves all the respect in the world for his achievements. His truly scientific exploration essentially opened the world’s mind up to Antarctica. There’s certainly nothing wrong with wanting to retrace his steps and sort of duplicate his tests in celebration of the 100th anniversary of his pretty amazing expedition. When one considers that he barely survived the ordeal but through his own strength and initiative lived to tell about it, and compares his experience to the whining from certain members of today’s expedition, there’s much to discuss about what’s become of us as a species.

Unfortunately, Turney, who has done some proper science and is an experienced expedition leader, he set off expecting to find less ice. In addition to the terrific and often amusing coverage from Anthony Watts, Paul Homewood has been following this silly saga, and he too notices some BBC dishonesty. In this case, he’s calling out both Turney and the BBC:

BBC In Warmist Fantasyland

There have been various attempts to blame the debacle on global warming, but this one really is nonsensical.

According to the expedition report, filed by the Guardian:

“Direct access from the sea has been impossible for the past four years, however, ever since a 75-mile-long iceberg called B09B grounded itself in the entrance to Commonwealth Bay. A thick band of sea ice has since built up around the iceberg, sticking fast to the land and blocking ships from getting to Boat Harbour, where Mawson moored the Aurora in January 1912.”

And Chris Turney, leader of the expedition states that:

“The thick chaotic surface we see around the Shokalskiy is consistent with the idea that this ice is several years old and is considerably more difficult to break through by icebreaker than single year ice.”

NSIDC are quite clear just what sea ice is:

Sea ice is frozen seawater that floats on the ocean surface. Blanketing millions of square kilometers, sea ice forms and melts with the polar seasons, affecting both human activity and biological habitat. In the Arctic, some sea ice persists year after year, whereas almost all Southern Ocean or Antarctic sea ice is “seasonal ice,” meaning it melts away and reforms annually.

A scientist ignored other scientists, because of his own religious beliefs. And the BBC is enabling him to cover it up.

On Dec. 26, BBC journalist Andrew (Bad) Luck-Baker reported on how the science was continuing while they were stuck in the ice. In a moment of honesty, he admitted the Warmist intent of the expedition:

The goal of the modern day Australasian Antarctic Expedition is to repeat many of the original measurements and studies, to see how facets of the environment have changed over the past century. This passage of time coincides with warming and climate change in Antarctica.

Then we get to another level of spin. There’s also the question about who are all those other passengers who were not crew or scientists or PhD students or Guardinistas or Beeboids (or Google marketing mavens or Turney’s own family). Further down there’s this:

In addition to the Russian crew of 22, the expedition team consists of 18 professional scientists from Australia and New Zealand, and 22 volunteer science assistants. They are members of the public, ranging in age from their 20s to their 70s. They paid to join the scientific adventure.

So not eco-tourists, but “volunteer science assistants”.

A report on Jan. 2 stated that one of the goals of the expedition was “to track how quickly the Antarctic’s sea ice was disappearing”. So let’s not have any more denial that this wasn’t a Warmist expedition with a goal of “proving” their theory, rather than a simple historical retracing of Mawson’s journey.

On Dec. 28, it was a “scientific mission ship”. No mention of tourists, although they quoted one of them as a “science volunteer”. Actually, it was the same guy and the same quote (Bad) Luck-Baker included in the previous report. Didn’t he have time to speak to anyone else? Or were they all too busy with the yoga and knot-tying and songwriting?

Two days later, either he or the other BBC contributor (pulling double duty for the Guardian as well, naturally), Alok Jha, filmed “Expedition Member” Terry Gostlow telling the folks back home that they it was all “good fun” and they were hoping to get back home soon. Gostlow is not listed as either a Science Leader or a PhD student on the Spirit of Mawson website, so one assumes he’s another one of those paying volunteers.

On the same day, either (Bad) Luck-Baker, Jha, or a desk-bound editor filed a report when they learned that the Xue Long was on its way with the helicopter.

The Russian-flagged research vessel Akademik Shokalskiy has been stuck in ice for nearly a week. It is carrying 74 scientists, tourists and crew.

Oops. On the same page, there’s an inset extra commentary from (Bad) Luck-Baker, where he refers to “research volunteers”. A different BBC report from the same day also refers to tourists.

On rescue day Jan. 2, though, the BBC reported that “the scientists and tourists were now all aboard the ship Aurora Australis.”

Oops again. So we’ve gone from “science volunteers” to “expedition member” to “research volunteers” to “tourists”, all in the space of a week.

I’m sounding sarcastic about this because the BBC’s inconsistency is rather telling. If they were true paying field assistants, actually involved somehow in helping the scientific work, nobody would dream of calling them tourists. I’m saying the BBC seems uninterested in letting you know much these paying customers were contributing in between attending lectures and praying to Gaia, not because there’s no such thing as science volunteers, paying or otherwise. In fact, I’m well aware that this is a very common thing in a number of scientific disciplines. Many archaeology and palaeontology projects simply wouldn’t be possible without lots of people paying their own way to help sort artifacts, spend hours in the heat painstakingly brushing away dirt, and even make the tea. These things are advertised regularly things in science and history magazines.

The fact that the BBC – an organization known to have the promotion of Warmism as a directive from the top – sometimes refers to the paying customers as tourists tells us that it’s not quite the same thing as people paying their way to help excavate some dinosaur bones or catalog a mind-numbing amount of 5000 year-old ostracons.

The reason I’m looking at these paying passengers is because this appears to be the deciding factor in what happened. Now that people are becoming aware that hell and lots of money will be paid, and the lawyers are sharpening their pencils, blame is being placed on Turney not only for an apparent lack of preparation (it seems that he didn’t make sure they had adequate weather reports), but for indulging his paying eco-tourist customers instead of heeding the ship captain’s warnings and getting out of harm’s way while there was still time, the BBC has rushed in to help with his defense.

Meanwhile Prof Chris Turney, co-leader of the AAE 2013, has defended the scientific value of the expedition and rejected claims it was a “tourist trip” hampered by poor preparation.

Writing in the UK’s Observer newspaper, he said the trip had been struck by bad luck as opposed to human error. He said it was an important scientific expedition and its success would ultimately be measured by peer-reviewed studies.

I’m sure Turney is very eager to reject those claims. Whatever he publishes from this expedition will only be reviewed by peers who already agree with his conclusions, but that’s neither here nor there. The problem for him is that it’s not just people the BBC will claim have a vested interest in damaging the reputation of Warmists saying it was due to human error: one of his own passengers has said it. The Australian Green politician, Janet Rice, said this on her own blog (h/t WUWT):

The third drama of the day is the one which is still unfolding. Because of the Argo mishap we got off late, and had one less vehicle to ferry people to and fro. I’m told the Captain was becoming rather definite late in the afternoon that we needed to get everyone back on board ASAP because of the coming weather and the ice closing in. As I write we are continuing to make extremely slow progress through what looks like a winter alpine snow field – it’s yet another surreal part of this journey that we are in a ship trying to barge our way through here! I’m sure the Captain would have been much happier if we had got away a few hours earlier.

In other words, Turney ignored the advice of his captain – someone who is an experienced  professional and knows the area and its conditions very, very well – in favor of indulging his science volunteers/research volunteers/expedition members/tourists. Read the whole blog and you’ll see that, while at least one actual scientist was taking seal tissue samples, the paying customers were there to commune with the penguins and have nice day out. Turney also wrote at a few days before this that he was surprised to see some ice move in so quickly. A pretty cavalier approach from start to finish is in evidence in other blog posts collected by one of Watt’s readers here.

The Argo to which she refers is one of three amphibious all-terrain research vehicles, which they damaged by towing it back in haste. Who’s going to pay for that? And who do you think paid the way for a Green politician? She sure wasn’t there to help constituents. She’s a Warmist and was there to support the cause.

There were others there not for science but to support the cause. Google did one of their Google Doodle competitions, and awarded two free trips to teachers whose students sent in the winning entries. They were there to do lesson plans and video chats to promote Warmism to children. No lesson plans have been published yet. Google also sent along their Australia/New Zealand branding and marketing manager (listed as part of the Science Team!). For Warmism.

To sum up, we have evidence that the expedition leader had a pre-conceived notion to expect less ice, wasn’t completely prepared for everything, and had a lot of tourists on board to complicate matters and placed an apparently undue burden on the expedition itself. Allegedly, of course. Notice, though, that the BBC has reported precisely none of this. They have, however, reported Turney’s surprise and excuses for the ice trapping them.

The BBC has been misleading about the reasons for the trip, the nature of many of the passengers, and the underlying as well as overt cause of their predicament. All in the name of supporting their Warmist agenda. They assigned two journalists, including World Service senior science editor (Bad) Luck-Baker, to follow the scientists around to tell you how the wildlife and environment was responding to climate change. Period. They say so  right here.

Alok Jha and Andrew Luck-Baker continue to follow the scientists on the ongoing Australasian Antarctic Expedition 2013. They go out on fieldwork trips with the researchers studying how the wildlife that lives in this inhospitable environment is responding to climate change.

All the history stuff and retracing of Mawson’s footstep was window dressing for the Warmist agenda. In case there are any lingering doubts, the top listing on the Supporters page of the expedition website is Turney’s own Climate Change Research Center at the University of New South Wales. I imagine not a few Australian citizens are going to question their government’s handing out taxpayer money for this as well.

You know what the BBC isn’t reporting? That the ice is, in fact, not melting the way they claim, and Global Warming isn’t ruining it. It turns out that the models predicting the horror show were not based on proper data, and so overestimated everything. You know that iceberg that Turney blames for trapping them? The one which AGW was supposedly causing to calve? In reality, actual scientists have discovered that it’s been ground away on an underwater ridge. Even what he blames for what he wrongly blames is wrong. BBC Science editor Jonathan Amos wrote about that underwater ridge once, but I think he got away with it. I can’t even find it now.

More recently, just as the whole expedition coverage was kicking off, Amos managed to report that satellite data showed ice loss in West Antarctica, nowhere near Mawson’s Hut, in order to reinforce the dogma that we were all going to be doomed by rising sea levels. He wisely refrained from openly blaming AGW there. He’s done more reports on the new satellite data showing a microscopic rise in sea levels due to a little melting Antarctic ice, but doesn’t remind everyone that it’s not due to AGW, which he ought to be doing at every opportunity so that people don’t get the wrong idea. Of course, that wrong idea is the correct one the BBC wants their audience to have.

The entire thing was expected to give a boost to the whole Warmist agenda, so the BBC eagerly assigned two people to go along, and spent who knows how much of your license fee to do it. Once the whole thing went wrong and everyone started to find out it was half science, half eco-tourism, all with a dedicated agenda, they played around with the truth in order to keep the image of historical reenactment going. I fear that information will not be available via FOI requests, because journalism. In any case, it’s your license fee hard at work.

I suspect Prof. Turney might get thrown under the bus by people who see this foolish voyage as damaging to the cause. Let’s see how the BBC covers it.

 

 

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The BBC, Guns, and Mental Illness

There were two tragic shootings in the US this past week or so, and the BBC was keen to use them to promote their anti-gun agenda. Not only did they seek to exploit both events to further that agenda, but stooped to dishonesty, and in one case censorship, in the process. The fact that these occurred around the time the media was acknowledging the one-year anniversary of the sad Newtown massacre, what many of them felt certain was going to be the turning point for the anti-gun movement, only added to their urgency.

In honor of the one-year anniversary of the media seeking to exploit a tragedy to further a political agenda, Mark Mardell flew back from honoring his “secular saint” in Johannesburg to interview a mother of one of the little victims in Newtown.

(NB: Before I continue, let me warn you that this will be a very long post, the length of a magazine feature, as this is a complex issue and there’s a lot of ground – a lot of BBC coverage – to cover. If you’re one of those TL/DR types who believes all blog posts should be short and sweet, 500 words maximum, then please click away now. Also, it’s important to point out that my opinion and your opinion of gun control and of gun culture and gun laws in the US is irrelevant. This is about the BBC’s biased reporting on the issue. Whether or not one agrees with a given ideological perspective should neither deny the BBC’s right to report on something, nor give it carte blanche when it’s an issue with which one agrees. I’m going to repeat this more than once, because I don’t want discussion in the comments to degenerate into moaning about guns in the US. We should be able to discuss the bias on its face, with the evidence I’ve provided, whether we agree with the specifics of an ideological position or not.)

After painting the picture of a heartbroken town, using the tools of a professional wordsmith to evoke emotion and gently guide the reader towards the desired conclusion, Mardell presents the words of Nicole Hockley, mother of Dylon, one of the little victims of a mentally ill teenager who killed his own mother and stole her guns to use in a mass murder. It’s impossible not to be moved at least a little by her pain, the loss of love and the unimaginable potential of a young life. Her expression of the loss of the physical sensation of holding her child touches deeply. It’s why the media engages in this kind of reporting. They know it’s moving, they know people will feel deeply. Unfortunately, they know it can sometimes be used to manipulate, and in some cases it strays into exploitation. It’s also impossible not to detect Mardell’s disappointment that the woman seems to him not to have learned the correct lesson from the tragedy.

Mrs. Hockley knows something must change to prevent this kind of thing  from happening again, or at least make it so rare that nobody can make the case that, as Mardell has, it’s becoming as American as baseball. We’ll return to that highly biased bit of journalism later. Contrary to BBC reporting on the topic, nobody believes that nothing should change. Nobody wants these things to continue just so a few of us can keep our crazy arsenals. One of the lowest rhetorical tricks is to demonize one’s ideological opponent simply for disagreeing, denying the possibility that there might be a reasoned opinion on the other side worth discussing. With this trick, the debate is stifled before it begins, as Mardell demonstrates expertly:

President Barack Obama called for new gun laws after this act of mass murder. Congress has rebuffed every single one.

This makes it seems as if Congress (as usual with the BBC, it’s presented as a single, united body, which is dishonest), and by extension, the public who voted for them, opposed to any change, any improvement which might prevent further tragedies like this. For which laws did the President call? We aren’t told. Which laws doesn’t Congress want? We aren’t told. Does anyone in Congress have an alternative solution, or do they just want things to remain exactly as they are? We aren’t told. Informing you properly is not Mardell’s goal, of course. His purpose here is to make you believe that the US culture of gun ownership – in all its myriad forms, not the monolith nutter-with-an-arsenal portrait the BBC likes to present – is wrong, must be changed, and all right-thinking people seek a new momentum.

Nichole Hockley is disappointed but says she doesn’t back “gun control” and she doesn’t want, as some do, a ban on military-style rifles.

“Its not just about the gun at the end of the day. The gun is the weapon that was chosen to kill my son and others at Sandy Hook Elementary,” she said. “Certainly there are lots of common sense solutions required around gun safety – keep you guns locked up, make sure only people capable of having guns have them, report it if your gun is stolen.”

This reflects more of the consensus in the US than Mardell and his BBC colleagues are comfortable with. Contrary to the general BBC coverage of the issue, there are already plenty of laws controlling guns in the country. They vary from State to State (anathema to the BBC), yet we’re always given the impression that most of the country is one heated argument short of becoming the Wild West. (NB: Your opinion of whether or not people should own guns is irrelevant. The BBC’s reporting is biased, whether you agree with their ideology on the issue or not. Don’t appear to take the position that it’s okay for the BBC to be biased when you agree with them.) Fortunately, as the woman is being presented as an absolute moral authority, he must let her speak. No BBC censorship at this point.

But she says issues about mental health are just as important. There should be early intervention and programmes to stop people feeling isolated.

Now we get to the key element of this tragedy: mental illness. We aren’t properly reminded here, as the BBC expects we all know the details but anyone who remembers the story will know that a mentally ill young man killed his mother, stole her legally-owned weapons, and went on to commit mass murder against small children and their teachers. Here’s where the BBC begins to discuss the reality behind the tragedy, and to address the issues behind it.

Oh, hang on, no it isn’t. We’re back to gun control laws.

But she doesn’t see why Congress couldn’t have banned large ammunition magazines that can hold many bullets.

Connecticut has enacted such a ban on magazines of more than 10 rounds.

“The most lethal feature of a gun is the high-capacity magazine clips,” she said. “When you look at a lot of states there, hunters don’t have more than three or seven per clip because it is about being fair to the animals.

“I would like to see that same fairness given to humans,” she added.

That’s a great line, actually, better than just about anything put out by all the world-class, highly-trained, professional wordsmiths at the BBC. It’s so good it almost made me forget that she said the issue of mental illness was “just as important”. Mardell seems to have forgotten about it, because that’s the last we hear of it. The rest of the piece is about working to enforce more gun control laws. He even wheels out the traditional appeal to authority, this time in the form of the owner of a gun shop who denigrates some of the people who rushed to buy up certain unapproved weapons before laws banning them came into effect. Even the owner of a gun shop, you’re expected to feel, says that people who want to own these guns are idiots, and that it’s very dangerous. What more is there to say, right?

Wrong. There’s more – much, much more – to say about mental illness and the culture and laws surrounding it. Yet Mardell and the BBC swept it under the rug. Mardell simply doesn’t care that the woman – presented here as a voice you must listen to due to her absolute moral authority, remember – said that the issue of mental illness is of equal importance. That won’t do anything to push his or the BBC’s anti-gun agenda, so he ignored it entirely.

It’s likely that the journalist excuse for not spelling out the details of the mass murderer is that most people knew enough that it was unnecessary, and would have impeded the flow of the piece. I believe that one solitary sentence, not unlike the one I wrote above, would have sufficed, and would not have put a damper on the prose. It would, however, have detracted from the agenda. The victim’s mother said that it was just as important as what the BBC made into the main – and only – point of the story, so it’s hard to accept any excuse for leaving it out, practically denying the importance of the issue altogether.

Near the end of the article, after we hear the gun shop owner seemingly disparage many gun owners, Mardell amazing allows through one of the man’s sentiments, and perhaps the most important one of all on the issue of gun control:

He strongly believes that guns are not only a part of America’s constitution, they are also a part of its history and a bulwark against dictatorship – a frequently heard argument.

A frequently heard argument? Not from the BBC it isn’t. When was the last time you heard anyone from the BBC say this was part of the debate? It must be like racism and the Tea Party for Mardell. He’s admitted that he frequently hears people claiming legitimate opposition to Democrats’ and the President’s various Big-Government, redistributionist policies, and that he’s seen no overt evidence that it’s all due to racism, yet he remains convinced that it’s actually all due to racism – or crypto-racism – and pretty much all BBC reporting on opposition to any of the President’s policies is inspired by racism.

In the case of gun control laws, something that is apparently something Mardell hears frequently is never evident in his or his colleagues’ reporting on the issue. Right here, this tells us that he and the BBC just ignore a large portion of what they hear, because it doesn’t suit their agenda.

Getting back to the gun shop owner’s opinion, we get one more little mention of mental health issues, but it’s again subsumed by “common sense” gun control laws.

But he does insist that mental health is an issue and that people should be properly trained in using firearms.

Leaving it like this is sickening, as anyone who paid attention to the actual story will know that the mentally ill mass murderer was properly trained in using firearms, taken to training by his own mother. One can learn all sorts of hypothetical tactics from video games, but that doesn’t teach one how to actually hold, fire, and reload a weapon in meatspace. To claim, as many in the media did, that he learned it all from video games, is a lie, and is actually evidence of the naïvité endemic in the industry’s expert practitioners. So much for that point about proper training preventing this kind of tragedy, and so much for BBC honesty on the matter. Mardell should have pointed that out, but he didn’t, because he doesn’t give a damn. His real agenda is to promote the idea that the US needs to change.

There’s no doubt guns are one of the issues that are central to the wide political gulf in America.

Compromise seems unlikely but Ms Hockley insists what she calls “a conversation” is possible with the focus on the safety of children.

It’s not possible with anyone at the BBC, as their minds are already made up to take what for the majority of people in the US would be an extremist position. The BBC has never, and will never, discuss the fact that, due to the police taking twenty minutes to arrive on the scene, never mind getting in their and stopping a killer, Lanza could have used one of those hunting rifles with clips of only five rounds to kill just as many children and teachers. These were just about the most defenseless victims imaginable, and couldn’t have stopped him if they tried. Hell, he could almost have used a muzzle-loaded musket from the 1830s and done the same thing. Even an amateur can manage one round a minute, and it’s not like any of the little children or their young teachers would have known the difference or dared move when a lunatic with a gun was stalking them. In essence, none of the stricter gun control laws Mrs. Hockley nor most other not as extremist as BBC journalists are talking about would have prevented the tragedy. Only addressing the national culture on mental health issues will be able to even begin to deal with this. Yet Mardell swept it aside.

The second shooting tragedy this week was also covered by the BBC, and they had a difficult time using this one to push their agenda. Not that it stopped them from trying. And in this case, they stooped to censorship in order to aid it.

Gunman dead after Centennial, Colorado, school shooting

A student at a Colorado school shot and wounded two students, one seriously, before dying of an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound, police say.

If this hadn’t happened one day before the Newtown anniversary, would the BBC have even bother with it? Possibly, as it still would have been a good opportunity to send Jonny Dymond over to tell you that this occurred just a few miles away from the infamous Colombine mass murders.

“In the cold, outside their classrooms, waiting to be frisked, the students of another terrorized school,” Dymond intoned ominously, describing the scene with his voice carefully measured and modulated, placing emotive stress on “frisked”, in order to give the proper dark impression, like an actor giving a dramatic reading of a Gothic horror. Professional, world-class BBC journalism in action.

And thus begins the Narrative, one of too many schools cowering in fear of gun massacres. Whatever shall be done? More gun laws needed? Yes, of course. After all, this is the BBC, and that is their agenda.

Just like with , though, all the stricter gun control laws currently being revisited wouldn’t have prevented this tragedy.

The gunman brought a shotgun to the school and was looking for a specific teacher when confronted by a classmate, the Arapahoe County sheriff said.

Nobody in the gun control crowd is talking about banning shotguns. In fact, Vice President Biden recommends owning one for home defense. Even some people in Britain, such as farmers, are allowed to own shotguns. No way are shotguns going to be part of the national debate the BBC dreams of, nor are they going to be restricted or limited in any way. So this isn’t at all a useful tragedy to exploit to further the gun control agenda. Yet the BBC wanted to do it anyway, and so we get Dymond’s dramatic performance.

In addition, the BBC assigned David Botti (just how many Beeboids are working in the US these days? It’s getting ridiculous.) to do a “bespoke” video magazine piece on how US schools are so scared of these mass murders that they’re locking down. The point of his piece is actually not whether or not schools are over-reacting to an existential threat. In reality, the agenda is to stoke emotions against gun ownership and encourage approved thoughts about stricter gun control laws. Think of the children!

As for the Arapahoe shooting, since the BBC had little success in finding a way to push their agenda with that story, they engaged in censorship so it wouldn’t detract from another Narrative: who engages in gun violence.

It’s a behavior we’ve heard all too often from the BBC. I’ve lost count of how many times a shooting gets reported, and BBC journalists and on-air talent start speculating that it must be a Right-winger or white supremacist (to most BBC journalists they’re one and the same), before the facts come out. For example, we heard it with the Toulouse shootings (eventually Gavin Hewitt had enough evidence shoved in his face to make him wonder if it was something else), we heard it with Norwegian shootings, we heard it with the Tucson shootings (some Beeboids tweeted that bias and even blood libel of Sarah Palin as well: see Mark Blank-Settle Jim Hawkins, Katty Kay, and Rachel Kennedy, on our “In Their Own Tweets” page), and we heard it with the Boston bombings. There’s no need for an editorial directive for this biased agenda to be institutional if they all think the same way already. In only one of those cases – Anders Breivik in Norway – did the perpetrator turn out to be driven by some sort of Right-wing ideology. And he was clearly mentally ill. The Tucson murderer, Jared Loughner, also turned out be mentally ill. Yet the BBC reflexively leapt to assume that all of them must have been, before waiting for facts. And in Loughner’s case, tried to sweep the mental illness issue under the rug in favor of pushing their gun control agenda.

In the Arapahoe case, we do know the ideology of the shooter, and we know why the BBC decided to censor it.

Arapahoe High gunman held strong political beliefs, classmates said

The teenage gunman who entered Arapahoe High School on Friday afternoon and shot two fellow students with a shotgun was outspoken about politics, was a gifted debater and might have been bullied for his beliefs, according to students who knew him.

Arapahoe County Sheriff Grayson Robinson identified the gunman as Karl Pierson, an 18-year-old student.

“He had very strong beliefs about gun laws and stuff,” said junior Abbey Skoda, who was in a class with Pierson during her freshman year. “I also heard he was bullied a lot.”

The part about being bullied has a parallel in the Columbine tragedy, actually. In addition to the easy connection for the lazy journalist of the geographical proximity, somebody decided to tack on a gratuitous mention of the Adam Lanza’s obsession with mass murder stories like Columbine. It’s completely irrelevant to the story itself. The Arapahoe shooter didn’t seem to keep a scrapbook like Lanza did, nor are we hearing about any other shared obsessions. The BBC included that for Narrative purposes only.

As for the Arapahoe shooters beliefs:

In one Facebook post, Pierson attacks the philosophies of economist Adam Smith, who through his invisible-hand theory pushed the notion that the free market was self-regulating. In another post, he describes himself as “Keynesian.”

“I was wondering to all the neoclassicals and neoliberals, why isn’t the market correcting itself?” he wrote. “If the invisible hand is so strong, shouldn’t it be able to overpower regulations?”

Pierson also appears to mock Republicans on another Facebook post, writing “you republicans are so cute” and posting an image that reads: “The Republican Party: Health Care: Let ’em Die, Climate Change: Let ’em Die, Gun Violence: Let ’em Die, Women’s Rights: Let ’em Die, More War: Let ’em Die. Is this really the side you want to be on?”

Carl Schmidt and Brendon Mendelson, both seniors at Arapahoe High, knew Pierson. They said he had political views that were “outside the mainstream,” but they did not elaborate.

And there you have it. He held similar political beliefs to most BBC journalists. This would have detracted from the anti-gun agenda, so they left it out. Unlike with other shootings where political motivations came from the other side, or at least when they assumed as much. Perhaps the cognitive dissonance was just too much for them.

(UPDATE Dec. 16: More info on the political beliefs of the Arapahoe shooter. This CNN report gives conflicting anecdotes from his fellow students:

Stutz, an offensive tackle on the football team, had known Pierson since the two shared a human behavior class when Stutz was a freshman and Pierson a sophomore. They worked on a class experiment together in which they went into the community and tried breaking unwritten rules, Stutz said.

“I did think he was a little weird, but I didn’t think he was, like, bad weird,” Stutz added. “He always kind of talked about how America was a communist country, how the government was, like, trying to take us over and stuff. I don’t know, just some weird stuff that I didn’t really pay close attention to, but nothing that alarmed me.

But then there’s this:

Senior Chris Davis, 18, was among many students Saturday trying to make sense of Pierson’s shooting rampage.

“He was a weird kid,” Davis said. “He’s a self-proclaimed communist, just wears Soviet shirts all the time.”

Pierson became easily aggravated, “always liked to be right” and didn’t like losing, Davis said.

“It seems realistic, now, that he did it,” Davis added.

It can’t be both. Either the football player misunderstood what Pierson was saying, or the other kid was hallucinating and imagined the Communist t-shirts. Of course we also get the usual “He seemed so nice, can’t imagine him doing this” statements, which never illuminate any of these stories. Two minutes of an internet search ignoring non-Left sites which seized on only one of those quotes found this from the Left-leaning LA Times:

Joe Redmond, an 18-year-old senior who was good friends with Pierson and was also on the debate team, praised his former teammate’s debating prowess, saying Pierson was the best on the team.

“He and I talked politics and economics a lot. He was very good when he was on the team, and he knew what he was talking about,” Redmond said.

Pierson, he said, was a self-proclaimed socialist. “But he also wore a Communist Party T-shirt to confuse people,” Redmond said. Pierson also sometimes wore an Air Force Academy hoodie and apparently wanted to attend the school, Redmond said. His political leanings, friends say, were more antiauthoritarian than communist.

Antiauthoriatarian. So not so much like your typical Beeboid. Although reading further about his arrogance and viciousness against people who disagreed with him politically, he’s sounding more and more like one. Actually, if he’s a self-proclaimed socialist but doesn’t trust the government, he’s like the Occupiers I’ve talked to. And one with emotional problems at least. This just makes it even more curious that the BBC didn’t bother following up on his political beliefs, seeing as how they usually aren’t shy about doing so. Perhaps it just added nothing to the Narrative, so never mind.)

The BBC, in fact, has a long history of pushing a gun-control agenda. And we have proof that it’s not mere supposition, something I’m only inferring, reading something that isn’t there. Mark Mardell himself admitted it. Near the beginning of this piece, I mentioned his quip that mass shootings were becoming “as American as baseball”. It came from this report on that shooting on a Naval base a couple months back.

In his online report about the incident, he admitted the agenda.

I’m standing in front of a yellow police cordon, the flashing lights of emergency vehicles in the background. The locations change, but the question from the presenters in London is as predictable as it is understandable.

“Will this tragedy make a difference to the debate on gun control?” The short and blunt answer: “No.”

Certainly the murders at the Navy Yard will give fresh impetus to a very old debate.

That’s what they were looking for, and came up empty-handed. Mardell’s disappointment was palpable (I wrote about that incident here). In fact, just like with the recent shooting at that Arapahoe school, the murderer brought only a shotgun to the party. As I said earlier, that’s not going to add one iota of support to the gun control agenda. VP Biden says we can have one, British farmers can have one, banning large-capacity magazines will change nothing. Funny how no Beeboids were tweeting that Biden had blood on his hands for encouraging people to get themselves a shotgun. Oh, and that killer was….wait for it….mentally ill. So was at least one of the Columbine murderers, come to think of it. And the BBC quickly abandoned the story once they realized it. Mardell swept the mental illness issue aside after paying lip service to its existence.

Actually, I have to admit that’s not quite true. BBC journalist Debbie Siegelbaum (I repeat: just how many BBC journalists are there in the US?) reported that one possible reason the man was able to kill so many people is that the SWAT team was ordered to stand down. The BBC got the scoop (I don’t know which one of them got it), and the US media picked up on it immediately. Why or how a BBC journalist got this scoop, I have no idea. Right place, right time, perhaps. However it happened, this was – or should have been – an example of good investigative journalism, placing the facts of the story over any ideology or preconceived notions about the surrounding issues. It was then that the BBC quickly abandoned it. Why? This should have been major, worthy of following up.

Instead, the BBC chose ideology over journalism. No aspect of this incident was useful for the anti-gun agenda, so they simply moved on to bloodier pastures. They thought they found them this week. Because the BBC has so many journalists in the US, including BBC News America, a daily news broadcast produced in and targeted at the US audience, it’s deserving of scrutiny and concern. This is one of the ways that the BBC tries, as Jeremy Paxman put it, to “spread influence”. So let’s not pretend any longer that the BBC doesn’t try to do this, or that they don’t believe the BBC doesn’t have some sort of Divine Right to do it.

The BBC should be doing stories about how we need a national debate on mental health issues, rather than constantly seeking to push gun control buttons. Perhaps they’re simply intellectually incapable of making the leap. They’re certainly ideologically incapable of dealing with the entire issue reasonably or impartially. Or honestly.

More evidence of the BBC’s history of an anti-gun agenda can be found here, here, and here.

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The BBC Ignores Pearl Harbor Anniversary

December 7, 1941: a day that will live in infamy. And completely ignored by the BBC’s US & Canada page.

Not even a quick, here’s one we made earlier, news brief on it? Can’t Mardell or Katty tweet something? I realize the BBC journalists and editors are too busy sitting shiva for their secular saint to bother sending someone to notice that the President has made an official “Presidential Proclamation” that today is National Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day or, heaven forbid, take a photo at the memorial in Washington, DC, but come on. Come to think of it, as the memorial is open again, the BBC missed a good opportunity there to sneer at the Republicans for the government shutdown. After all, if the President hadn’t saved the day from the evil intransigent “party of ‘no'”, that memorial would have been closed and veterans wouldn’t be able to honor their fallen brothers in arms, right, BBC?

Coincidentally, there’s actually one of those “bespoke” video magazine pieces on the main US & Canada page done by a BBC journalist sent to Japan to visit a US warship at our base there. This was posted two days ago, and surely the amazing contrast between what happened 72 years ago and the current close relationship between the US and Japan is worth a comment today, no? Particularly since the BBC report was prompted by the military noise from China and the US and Japan working together in response.

Get off your biased ass, Daniel Nasaw. You all knew this day was coming up, and something could easily have been prepared in advance for the weekend crew to post for you. No need for someone to work during the seven days of mourning. Is the BBC staff working in the US that detached from the nation’s history? Their fellow travelers at the HuffPo had something ready, and the rest of the US media spent two seconds to mention it as well. Salon even tried to make the case that Pearl Harbor was all about oil. Surely that’s a cause the BBC can get behind.

Sometimes, it’s the little things that get you. This was an easy one, and the BBC blew it.

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Socialist Venezuela Crumbles Along With The BBC’s Vision For It

Pity poor Wyre Davies. Having spent a few years as a BBC Heroic Palestinians vs. Jew-Nazis Middle East correspondent, where he must have felt like he was walking on eggshells stacked precariously on top of eggshells, he’s now back to his area of university study, Latin America. Except now he’s clearly having to, as they say, file with his editor in mind and give Venezuela’s descent into Pol Pot territory the soft touch.

The inspiration for his report is the coming local and regional elections in Venezuela. Davies does lay out the basics that the election will be viewed as a referendum on President Maduro’s extremist policies. We get a statement from one of the opposition candidates and are told that critics feel Maduro’s policies will harm the country. He dutifully balances the critics with a pro-Government voice, and lays blame for the heated environment evenly on both sides. Fortunately, this isn’t Israel vs. Palestinians, so Davies can be a bit more forthcoming about how bad the Left’s favored side really is.

In more ways than one these are difficult days in Venezuela as the government and the opposition accuse each other of trying to systematically undermine the country’s economy.

It is quite common these days to see queues outside shops where there has been a fresh delivery of milk or toilet paper – basic goods that many Venezuelans no longer take for granted.

The left-wing popularist government tries to offset the notion of a crisis by running heavily discounted food and produce markets – counteracting, it says, the actions of profit-hungry private companies.

Good enough so far. Davies then goes on to mention that Maduro’s extremist economic noise is more than just “rehtoric”:

Two weeks ago, President Maduro ordered a chain of electronic stores called Daka to slash their prices, accusing it of defrauding ordinary people.

The allegation was that businesses were taking advantage of the huge discrepancy between the official, controlled rate for US dollars and what it is possible to get on the black market.

What Davies doesn’t mention in this report is that Maduro has gone much further than this. Presumably that’s because Maduro made the announcement the day after Davies filed his report, so he wouldn’t know about it. Except this plan was already known, and the President was asking for support for it two weeks ago. There have apparently been a lot of protests against the policy from ordinary people, so it’s not just political rhetoric from the opposition party. It’s a real shame Davies doesn’t read the news in his new beat. It’s either that or he and his editor simply didn’t want you to know how bad it was getting. Surely it can’t be that, can it?

In any case, Maduro’s claimed that 99% of businesses his crew has investigated are gouging customers in pursuit of evil profits (sounds familiar, doesn’t it?), and that yesterday (Saturday, Nov. 30), he launched a new round of even stricter inspections to root out the “capitalist parasites”. It’s not just a few electronics stores now: it’s going to be thousands of businesses. And there will be an election on top of it, which should be fun.

Even Davies, still reality-based for the moment, is allowed by his editor to gently, softly admit that “it is difficult to see what such policies do for business confidence.” Only without knowing that Maduro has just taken it up a couple of notches, you don’t get the full picture of what’s going on. After this, we stray into the realm of Left-wing fantasy.

It’s now the point in these BBC reports where they wheel out a vox pops for that local human touch. And so Davies finds one. The topic is whether or not Hugo Chavez’s legacy of heroic wealth redistribution helped the poorest and most vulnerable. You already know the answer to that, so I’ll just let Davies set up the background story:

Critics say Venezuela is now becoming ungovernable. One stark example is the Tower of David.

This oil-rich country once had plans to build Wall Street in the heart of Caracas.

But in 2007, homeless squatters invaded an unfinished financial centre and more than 1,000 families now live in the Tower of David.

The residents pay a basic form of rent to keep the building running.

So the government owned it, and allowed a bunch of squatters to take over. No rent is charged, just some maintenance fee, which means the building itself is a gift. Which is why the building is unfinished. No evil profits means no completing the stairs or fixing anything if it breaks. But you’re not meant to think about that. I suppose it’s irrelevant since no other contractors wanted to take it over many years ago when the government was trying to auction it off, and Chavez apparently had better things to do with his oil wealth in the end. The BBC even sent a camera crew to do a nice video report on the wonders of this communal adventure.

To be fair, Davies doesn’t present it as any kind of paradise. Indeed he introduces it as a sign of dashed hopes and dreams. But without blame, of course, and the real ugliness is somewhat sanitized. If this existed under a nominally Right-wing government, you can bet the BBC would have some ominous music playing in the background. We can’t blame Socialism. However, he goes on to say that the squatters moved in due to “pressures on social housing elsewhere”. Sounds familiar, no? In other words, no matter how many people you drive into poverty because you’ve run your country into the ground, you must still magically provide housing for them all. Davies uses the language of the Left to describe the circumstances. That’s probably in the BBC style guide.

One has to respect the residents, though, as they’ve somehow managed to set up a church and school on the premises. There a bunch of shops, and there’s even a motorbike taxi service to take people around the complex. Hey, free market capitalism helping people get along! Don’t worry, Davies doesn’t describe it like that. It’s probably banned in the BBC style guide. Instead, it’s presented as one element of the quasi-normal lifestyle they’ve magically set up for themselves. (In case anyone is wondering how motorcycles carry people upstairs, here’s a good set of photos of the interior. You can get a real sense of the communal paradise the BBC isn’t quite showing you. It’s a tale of the success of the socialist communal lifestyle, remember.)

The reality of the building is somewhat uglier. It was originally started by the usual sort of wealthy financier back in the early 90s. Then Venezuela’s banking crisis hit, and the money ran out. It wasn’t recent, part of the global financial crisis the rest of the world has been dealing with, nor is it even Chavez’s fault, as this happened before his time. But we’re not told that. All we hear from the BBC is that this is the result of some vaguely-known crisis, once upon a time. Which dream was dashed, exactly? The one where an oil-rich, productive country with a thriving middle class was going to continue to build great things, or the extreme Socialist dream of Chavez and the BBC? And who dashed which one, eh? You don’t need to worry about that. All you need to know is that the government must look after the poor, no matter how many of them it creates.

Chavez got elected riding the wave of populist resentment about that 90s crash, so this Tower of David can actually be viewed as a symbol of his utter failure to truly help the poor. Note to Leftoids: “maintain at the lowest level in perpetuity” isn’t really “help”. All the tales of heroic redistribution and reducing income inequality we’ve been fed over the years are a load of nonsense. Instead of finishing this building when his government took it over and providing marvelous social housing for the poorest among them, Chavez funded FARC, set up that publicity stunt of an orchestra music program, and died a billionaire. A billionaire, for heaven’s sake. And Davies can’t even mention that.

But to the BBC, this is all just a sign of dreams dashed by fate, or something. You’re given only the vaguest background, and at no time are you told who or what really failed here. The BBC will have to be dragged into the horrible reality of their beloved Socialism kicking and screaming. As usual with Venezuela fail stories, the BBC doesn’t think it’s worth quoting an actual independent economist like they do with certain other countries’ economic policies. The only voices you hear can be dismissed as partisan.

Now for the vox pops. One of the residents tells his tale.

Among the residents is Wilmer Angel. He runs a small business, making metal moulds, from the room in which he lives with his wife and four children.

Wilmer’s outlook is positive and he is certainly not looking to anyone else for help.

“No government has ever done anything for us,” he tells me with an ironic laugh. “Yes, I’m a Chavista because at least under that government no-one stopped us taking over this place, but what we’ve got here we built for ourselves.”

And there you have it. He lives in a building the government let him have because it didn’t actually give a damn, is allowed to run his private, free market business without government interference, and has a US-style attitude towards personal improvement and industry. Again, BBC journalists wouldn’t dream of presenting it that way. But the cult of personality is strong, and he’s a Chavista in spite of reality. So he’s the perfect voice for the BBC. They’re probably all Chavistas there, not knowing any better (at the Torre David, I mean. Draw your own conclusions about the BBC). Magical thinking is hard to change.

Davies concludes his piece by mentioning the endemic corruption and the delusional Chavista voice is balanced out by another opponent of the government. Then he says this:

Nicolas Maduro says he is governing for all Venezuelans and for the national good, but as each day progresses the country feels even more divided.

You can tell this isn’t a story about the US because the BBC journalist isn’t blaming racism or an evil opposition for it. He’s actually blaming this President for divisive rhetoric. If only this honesty could be transported to the BBC’s US bureau.

Pity poor Wyre Davies. He knows what’s going on, but has to tread on eggshells when it comes to blaming the policies which has created the nightmare he’s witnessing, and to play down just how bad it’s become. Why? He must feel very foolish for what his editor has ordered him to do.

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BBC World News America Boss: Fear And Loathe The Tea Party And Republicans

Dick Meyer, executive producer of BBC World News America, has written another heavily biased viewpoint article for the BBC website. This time it’s published under the hilariously ironic rubric, “Echo Chambers”. Meyer’s purpose here is to frighten you in the way parents used to scare children with tales of monsters in the woods and gypsies come to steal them away in the night. His essay is about as rational and respectable as any folk myth.

Reports of Tea Party demise are greatly exaggerated

Who said the Tea Party was dead again? The Left-wing media echo chamber, that’s who. Meyer thinks differently, so perhaps that’s the blurb about this BBC “Echo Chamber” section (upper right corner of the page) is referring to here:

Unscrambling the noise of the global debate, from social media to scholarly journals, Kansas City to Kathmandu.

Unfortunately, Meyer’s diatribe is proof that he and the BBC are still caught squarely in the middle of an echo chamber, with no escape possible.

Meyer’s basing his tale on the results of a few results in the recent elections around the country. Just like his anchor, Katty Kay, Meyer perpetuates the lie that Mike Bloomberg is considered a Republican. Bloomberg is in fact a life-long Democrat who switched parties specifically to ease his run for mayor of New York City. After being certain of re-election, he dropped the “R” and has pretended to be an Independent ever since, all while pushing Left-wing, Nanny State policies. Even this bio piece about him refers to NYC as “Democrat-leaning”, and explains why Bloomberg was elected and re-elected. For Meyer to present the election victory of ex-Marxist De Blasio as some sort of sign of a magic shift to the Left in NYC is a joke. The city is Left-wing by and large, save for the Upper East Side and a few small enclaves in Queens and the like. Rudy Giuliani was an anomaly, elected to clean up the streets and make the city safe again. He stayed in office largely on the strength of his behavior after 9/11. Bloomberg was then elected not because the city had shifted to the Right, but because Bloomberg was thought to be the right guy to fix the city’s economic troubles. The “R” next to his name was a mere convenience, nothing more. Meyer displays either intellectual dishonesty or simple ignorance. My bet is on a combination of both.

The Virginia result is another example of Meyer’s dishonesty. The Democrat victor, Terry McAuliffe, is a well-known Democrat money-man and former Clinton crony. He had huge support from the national Democrat organizations, including a stump appearance from the President Himself. His Republican opponent, on the other hand, got precious little support from the national party, partly because of the internal struggle between the Republican Establishment and the Tea Party movement. The national Republican Party gave plenty of support to Christie, who didn’t really need it, and plenty of support elsewhere. But not for Cuccinelli. Even so, McAuliffe’s victory was a narrow one, about 2.5%. As it happened, a fake Libertarian candidate also ran in Virginia, quietly funded by one of the President’s old money-bundlers. He got more than twice that number of foolish Virginians to vote for him, thus handing McAuliffe the victory.

Meyer is either unaware of this, or thinks it doesn’t matter. Either way, his own personal political bias leads him to misinterpret the result, and misinform you as a consequence. This is the kind of man the BBC puts in charge of an entire daily news program made under the BBC banner. They and he don’t care, though, as they have an agenda to push: Fear and loathing.

Meyer’s casual relationship with the truth is also evident even his mention of the local Alabama race. He describes it with emotive language:

Further south in Alabama, the national business lobby coalesced behind a standard issue Republican running against a fire-breathing Tea Party man in a special House election – and won, reasserting the power of the Regular Republican Party.

“Fire-breathing”. Cute. It was actually so close they had to have a run-off election. And it was more cash from the business lobby – who backed The Obamessiah and are now moving firmly behind Hillary Clinton (where Goldman Sachs goes, so generally does the rest of Wall St. and the banking industry) so not at all a sign of Republican Establishment power – that really gave Bradley Byrne the win. The NY Times describes this as a sign of things to come, a warning that the Tea Party is still a strong force fighting for control of the Republican Party. Meyer understands this, hence this fearmongering article.

Now for the loathing. First, it’s clear that Meyer has no more idea what the recent mixed election results mean than anyone else does. All he knows is that the Tea Party movement is still out there working on elections. But then we come to the point of the piece. Since it’s an article by a BBC producer about the Tea Party movement, you can guess where this is going.

The difference in the black/white vote in all three of the big elections was as stark as can be.

In the exit polls of the Virginia governor’s race, blacks picked the Democrat 90% to 8%; whites voted for the Republican, 56%-36%. In New Jersey, blacks voted for the Democrat 78%-21%; whites for the Republican by the reverse margin, 79%-21%. In the New York mayor’s race, blacks voted for de Blasio (whose wife is black) 96%-3%.

My suspicion is that black voters feel a growing threat or hostility from the Republican Party, or at least from its Tea Party wing.

This would be laughable if it wasn’t so dangerous and offensive. All of a sudden blacks are trending more Democrat, eh? A “growing threat”? Not even remotely. As nearly everyone here knows, the black voters have backed Democrats for the last several decades. It’s been a monolithic voting bloc for so long that Dem leaders take it for granted. Every time somebody here made a comment that the blacks were voting for skin color in 2008, somebody else points out that previously blacks voted for Al Gore in almost equal numbers. How can this world-class journalist, with decades of experience producing national news broadcasts, get this so horribly, tragically wrong?

Let’s examine just how wrong and dishonest Meyer is being here. Here’s a link to a couple of charts which show that blacks overwhelmingly have voted Democrat for decades. Note that the percentages in many years pretty much matches the new results Meyer claims as proof of a new trend. Here’s another set of data from an academic paper out of Columbia University (NB: pdf file) showing the same very high percentages – the high 80s and low 90s – again disproving Meyer’s claim. Why would African Americans believe that the Tea Party movement is a threat to them? Because partisan fearmongers like Meyer keep telling them so, over and over, in spite of all the evidence before them.

It isn’t at all surprising the racial dimensions of politics have been exacerbated during the administration of America’s first black president. The reverse would be far more surprising.

Especially considering just how much people like Meyer in the mainstream US media kept telling us that we were too racist to elect a black man, and that not voting for Him was proof of racism.

The Tea Party movement from the start has had to defend itself from accusations of racism. They are increasing in volume, however – allegations that can be heard on MSNBC most days.

Yes indeed, because people like Meyer in the mainstream US media and the Left-wing blogosphere kept saying it was a racist movement. That theme has been perpetuated quite happily by the BBC ever since they finally admitted its existence in April 2009 (even then Kevin Connolly insulted hundreds of thousands of participants with a sexual innuendo on air, and it still remains in print on the website).The BBC’s North America editor, Mark Mardell, has been telling that tale over and over ever since he set foot in the country with a preconceived notion. I’ve written at length about this as well, and evidence of Mardell’s vicious and dishonest attacks can be seen here, here, and here, just for starters. Then there’s the evidence of his claim at the BBC College of Journalism that, even though he’s never seen over racism at a Tea Party rally, all opposition to the President’s domestic economic policies is racist. The Tea Partiers aren’t racist, he says, “at least not in a straightforward sense.” It’s not a legitimate policy opposition, he believes, but a racist opposition to redistributing wealth “to people not like them”. Mardell will believe in this crypto-racism to his dying day, that there can be no legitimate opposition to anything the President does. All of it must have some more sinister motivation. His BBC colleagues have pushed this for years as well. In addition to the BBC’s top journalist in the US, correspondents like Jonny Dymond engage in fearmongering as well, with false claims that hate groups are on the rise after the election of the black man, and that the Republican Party is doomed to be the party of old, white males. Meyer clearly agrees.

And certainly the antipathy of a slice of white America to Obama is rabid. But polling, focus groups and anecdotal reporting can’t get at the role of race in the Tea Party ethos very precisely or effectively. It is clear, however, black voters feel it.

Well, the evidence Meyer cites clearly doesn’t back up his assertion at all. Yet he sticks to the Narrative like a child to his security blanket. It’s no wonder that blacks feel a threat when people in charge of national news broadcasts keep telling them to be afraid, very afraid. That’s the power of the media.

Meyer winds up his piece with more blind guesses about what may or may not happen. Naturally we get the “Washington is so toxic these days” Narrative thrown in (mercifully he doesn’t follow other BBC journalists and throw in the obligatory exclusive blame on Republicans), it’s all a mess, we’re in dangerous waters here. In other words, be afraid, very afraid, that the evil, racist Tea Party movement is still out there, waiting to wreak havoc and do harm. In other words, a typical BBC article on the topic.

This isn’t the first time the BBC website has given Meyer a platform for his partisan antics. He’s previously defended the President against critics, dismissing “so-called scandals” that we now know to be very real, and – what a shock – placing blame for the recent government shutdown exclusively on Republicans.

Fortunately, Meyer is no longer in charge of a news broadcast on a major US network, so the damage he can do is fairly minimal. He used to be, and it was during his tenure at CBS that Dan Rather destroyed his own reputation over those fake Bush memos. So there’s form on partisan hackery subverting journalistic integrity. Where was he before taking the reins at BBC WNA? The Left-wing NPR, which cultivates an audience of elite, white liberals. Perhaps not coincidentally, anchor Katty Kay is the regular guest host on NPR’s Diane Rehm show. What was that about echo chambers again? However, Meyer’s BBC World News America is still broadcast every day on a few PBS stations around the country. Worse is the fact that BBC News has been increasing its investment in the US section of the website, hiring more and more staff, producing more and more output, and attracting more and more US eyeballs.

Is this beyond the BBC’s remit? It’s a discussion that needs to be had. Either way, it’s important that people are aware of the hyper-partisan, dishonest journalism at the top.

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