Invasive Species

Every now and then, someone will sneer at me, demanding to know why I, a United Statesian, am so concerned about the BBC, a foreign broadcasting organization. I usually bang out a quick diatribe about various issues, but now there’s a very clear example of why I see the BBC as a problem for people in the US to be concerned about.

Last year, the BBC hired a young German immigrant, Franz Strasser, to produce various “bespoke” video magazine pieces about, mostly, racial issues in the US. First he did a dishonest series about immigration. The US division head also had several Beeboids produce a series of videos about – again, mostly racial – issues in the US in the year leading up to the 2012 election entitled, “Altered States”. One of the installments by Strasser found him making a dishonest race-baiting story about a “racial divide” in St. Louis, MO.

I discussed it at the time here.  Please read the whole thing before returning to this post. In summary, my point was that Strasser and his editor deliberately left out the real key to the situation in St. Louis: absolute control of the city for decades by Democrats. Furthermore, nearly half the Aldermen (the equivalent of a city council, the real decision makers on city policy) are African-American. It was 13 out of 28 last year when Strasser did his initial race-baiting report, and there are 12 now. All but one of the 28 people who essentially run the daily business of the city of St. Louis are Democrats.

Why do I care? Because apparently Stasser’s story went viral, and got the attention of racial justice activists and politicians who knew a good angle when they saw it. Strasser’s report became a big hit, got lots of attention, and now there’s a renewed racial dialogue of some kind. What will this change? Not a damn thing. As I explained in my initial post, it’s the Democrat policies which have caused the situation. I submit that it’s simply not possible for a truly racially divided city where the rich white man is keeping the black man down to have 12 Aldermen. Additionally, I say that, if we’re to take the story seriously that white politicians in St. Louis have kept the black man down, this also puts the lie to Jonny Dymond’s and the BBC’s contention that the Republican Party is the racist one, because the city has been ruled by white (and black) Democrats for decades.

This new racial dialogue which will ignore the elephant donkey in the room will only worsen racial animosity in the city. It will increase the anger, the sense of victimization among the African-American community. One only has to listen to the locals in this latest video report to see the obvious. What’s most appalling is that the African-American community really has been victimized for decades: by the Democrat Party and the African-American leaders who have willingly contributed to the destruction of their own people’s futures.

Yet the BBC doesn’t care about that. They see only race, and refuse to admit that Democrat – Left wing – policies might be part of the problem. Now the city of St. Louis is going to be come more polarized, all thanks to the intrusion of a foreign broadcasting organization, one which is actually the official state broadcaster of the UK. And the BBC is clearly proud of what they accomplished here. After all, their report garnered lots of attention, and started a “dialogue” on the very issue they were pushing. Never mind that it’s dishonest and biased. The BBC will tell me that it’s no such thing, of course, and that they got it about right.

Imagine the outcry if Fox News set up shop in Britain and started sending reporters around to try to achieve change, to engage in a bit of social engineering, to highlight issues US natives who work for Fox News thought were important, and reported it all from a right-wing perspective. Yet defenders of the indefensible and worshipers of the BBC have no problem with the reverse situation. The BBC is spending more and more money, and doing more and more to increase their footprint in the US, in pursuit of both filthy profits in the form of advertizing revenue and – more importantly – as Jeremy Paxman put it, to “spread influence”. This is beyond their remit as laid out in the Charter, yet the BBC continues to grow and spread influence unchecked. Everybody’s worried about some silly management culture when the real problem is the attitude of the people making the broadcasts.

The BBC is now having a real effect on US politics. It is an invasive species, a malignant foreign body invading my country. Next time somebody tries to ridicule me for caring what a foreign media outlet gets up to, I’ll point them to this story and leave it at that.

Evil Republicans Want To Harm The Elderly And The Poor

Or so says the BBC’s US President editor (the title “North America editor” bears no resemblance to the job he actually does: at best, his job title should be something like “political editor”, which he was for Newsnight a few years ago) when giving you White House propaganda disguised as analysis.

Fiscal cliff: What would Mrs Lincoln say to John Boehner?

You can already guess where this is going, no?

The Republicans’ rather huffy letter to US President Barack Obama made me think of a glorious moment in Stephen Spielberg’s Lincoln.

The letter, signed by House of Representatives Speaker John Boehner and House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, among others, says there has been a “status quo” election “in which both you and the Republican majority in the House were re-elected”.

They are claiming that this means the American people expect both the victors of the recent election to “come together on a fair middle ground”.

What a curious concept, eh? The House of Representatives and representational voting actually mean something? LOL.

It is reasonable to assume the White House see things rather more like Mrs Lincoln.

Her moment occurs at a White House reception when the president’s wife holds up a long reception line to give Thaddeus Stephens, a Republican leader in the House of Representatives, an almighty ear-bashing.

I cannot remember the exact words, but the gist of it is: “My husband is loved by the people, known to the people, he’s just been re-elected, and you are nobody – now just back off.”

Yes, just like our defenders of the indefensible implied after the election, l’état, c’est Lui. Votes for anyone but the President are worthless, and anyone who voted for their Representative to Congress should simply ignore the meaning of the term “representative”. In other words, screw you if you did not vote for Him and still think you voted for anything that matters. This is no longer a Constitutional Republic but is now a kingdom. I make no comment on how Mardell’s behavior resembles that of a wife defending her husband.

Mr Obama is betting that most Americans will feel the re-election of the president carries more moral weight than the re-election of the House.

Most, or just the small majority He won? Semantics mavens can parse this to the end of time, but the fact remains that the President won with less votes than in 2008.

He has been on Twitter repeating his demand for tax rises for the rich, opposition to deep cuts in education budgets, and so on.

Everything he has done has been about political positioning, not serious negotiating.

I’m glad Mardell has admitted this. The question is, why doesn’t He have to negotiate? Bill Clinton had to reach across the aisle after winning his second term. Why is this President exempt? What happened to all that desire for bi-partisanship and working together he’s been telling us for the last two years that the country really wants? I know, I know: we should work together so He gets His way. That’s why Mardell views the first two years of The Obamessiah Administration with its Democrat super-majority where they rammed legislation through without a single Republican vote as “a golden age”.

That has further outraged the prickly Republicans, who write of their shock that when Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner went to see them he proposed a plan that was in their view “neither balanced nor realistic”.

“Huffy”. “Prickly”. The Republicans earn Mardell’s scorn, but the equally stubborn and angry President doesn’t get labeled. Even though Mardell knows exactly what He’s doing, as he will reveal later on.

So, they have countered by backing a plan – already passed by the House – to cut healthcare for the future elderly and food stamps for the poor.

Oh, no! Hurting grannies and the sainted poor! Is that it, though? Is that really all there is to the evil Republicans’ plans? Mardell seems to think that’s a fair summation. Of course, it’s pure spin and not fair at all, but that’s irrelevant to the foreign bureau of the White House press office.

Here’s some reality. By the way, the President’s Plan For Us also cuts $400 billion in Medicare – “healthcare for the future elderly” – over 10 years, and the President’s refusal to address trimming entitlements of any kind – Social Security, “food stamps for the poor”, etc. – is really just kicking the can down the road. Again. The Republicans plan (an earlier incarnation of which Mardell described as “hardline”) is not so far off from proposals from the Simpson-Bowles Commission, which was ordered by the President Himself. Which He then blew off because He really had no intention of doing anything other than continue to spend. The Republicans’ plan, on the other hand, intends to cut $600 billion from Medicare, but partly by raising the age at which people enroll. Not exactly how Mardell portrays it. Cutting other entitlements will actually amount to linking it to a metric which will keep costs from rising so much. Once again, the BBC defines a freeze or a lower increase as a “cut”. It’s dishonest, partisan language, but that’s the BBC’s US President editor for you.

There’s a lot more to it than simply cutting support for the poorest and most vulnerable Yet that’s all Mardell sees, all he wants you to know.

And never mind the $700+ billion that ObamaCare is going to take from Medicare and Medicaid to pay for all the new bureaucracy, exchanges, new anti-depression programs, and the like. Forbes has analyzed it as having a 15 -1 cuts to new benefits ratio, which shows just how dishonest Mardell is being here. That’s already a done deal, so we can actually say that the President Himself is going to take $1.1 billion and more away from the poorest and most vulnerable, whereas if Romney had won, thus assuming ObamaCare gets repealed (or watered way down), and the Republicans’ budget more or less gets passed, the damage done to the poorest and most vulnerable would be reduced by two thirds. But never mind all that, as you’re meant to think that only nasty Republicans want to harm the poorest and most vulnerable for the ideological reason that the government shouldn’t do anything for anyone (see here and here).

I’m not here to debate which side is right or wrong. I’m illustrating how dishonest and partisan Mardell is being.

 They demand a response and serious negotiation. Mr Obama, a more aggressive president than in his first term, is manoeuvring them where he wants them, by getting under their skin.

This is nothing short of an outright lie. In fact, the President Himself said He would not release a plan until the Republicans did first. Which is rather bizarre considering that they passed a budget in the House twice in the last two years, whereas He’s never gotten one out of the gate (the Stimulus spending spree doesn’t count). Now that they’ve done so, it’s the height of dishonesty to claim that they “demand a response”. They’re only asking for what He promised. Mardell is simply presenting a false representation of the facts. It’s also very curious that the man the BBC expects you to trust most on US issues doesn’t see anything odd in the President refusing to offer a budget when we’ve all know for two years what the Republicans want.

He is claiming the public label of the man who wants tax cuts for everybody, forcing them to champion deep spending cuts. This is not yet about doing a deal – it is about defining how a deal is seen, when it is done.

In other words, the President’s true goal is not to fix the economy but to destroy the Republican Party. And Mardell has no criticism to offer, not even the slightest frown in His direction. All his scorn is reserved for his beloved Obamessiah’s enemies.

Don’t trust the BBC on US issues.

By Their Tweets Shall Ye Know Them: The Tweets

Following on my post explaining the situation, here are the tweets. Some will be screenshots or some other form of publishing because the actual tweets have been deleted after the BBC staff member responsible was caught. With one exception, there are no retweets here, as that’s a separate debate. A comprehensive research project if far beyond my means, but just scanning through so many of them tells me that for many BBC employees, this is just the tip of the iceberg. Note the trends on certain issues.

Because some people seem to keep missing the point, let me repeat: This is not meant to prove that all tweets are biased, nor is it meant to prove that all BBC staff are 100% of the Left. Many BBC employees are fairly responsible with Twitter, and do not tweet their political opinions at all. This is meant to prove that those who do freely tweet their personal political and ideological opinions are nearly all of the Left. Nearly every department of the BBC is represented here, both on air talent and editors and producers behind the scenes. This also demonstrates that in many cases the line between official and personal accounts has been blurred so much as to be essentially non-existent, contrary to BBC guidelines. The whole thing needs to be trashed and re-examined.

This is mostly all thanks to the keen eye of DB, without whose vigilance this would not have been possible. I just kept a list as the sheer volume of them began to reveal certain patterns, before starting to search the feeds myself. Other contributors are: Craig, Reed, Jeff W, Guest Who, Laban, Notasheep, BBC Waste, David Vance, ChrisH, and yours truly. (Apologies if I missed anyone.)

Kaye Adams, BBC Scotland radio presenter

KAYE Adams, the BBC broadcaster, has been accused of being unfit to present a top current affairs programmes after she tweeted that Boris Johnson “should p*** off back to boarding school”.

The former presenter of Loose Women, the ITV talk show, who presents a popular Radio Scotland show, was on holiday in Tuscany when she made a series of expletive-filled Tweets about London’s mayor. She has now apologised and deleted the comments from her Twitter site.

Paul Adams, BBC Washington correspondent

Also, when reporting from the Republican National Convention, Adams made 10 tweets, all negative, and for only one day, Aug. 30. From the Democrat’s convention, he made 30 tweets over three days, Sept. 4-6, all positive, including the #DNC2012 hashtag. The RNC hashtag was absent from all of his tweets.

Sarah Afshar, Senior producer for Newsnight

 

Anita Anand, BBC Radio and TV presenter

In case anyone isn’t sure who Anand is, a charming photo of her can be seen here. The other person in that photo is the star of his own R5 Live show, Richard Bacon.

Here’s a screenshot of Bacon telling his followers to check out a vicious anti-Palin article by her personal womb inspector, Andrew Sullivan.

Wendy Bailey, former BBC Radio broadcaster, producer Children in Need, and lots more.

 

 Ros Ball, BBC Parliament correspondent (with an activist statement photo on her Twitter page)

 

 


Bob Ballard, BBC Radio commentator on swimming and diving

 

 

 

Mark Barlex, BBC On Demand editor, tweeted from the BBC College of Journalism account(!)

The “gift” is the video hosted on the BBC website of that Iraqi reporter throwing a shoe at George Bush.

He’s talking about the Newsnight report on the inauguration speech which the BBC edited to make the President sound more Green-friendly.

Mark Blank-Settle, BBC College of Journalism social media maven

Claire Bolderson, BBC presenter

Peter Bowes, BBC correspondent in the US

Jane Bradley, BBC Midlands Current Affairs producer

 

 

Toby Brown, BBC News Channel producer

Am reading an essay on American capitalism and it’s effect on women. 50% jealous of academia. 50% glad to be out of it…

— Toby Brown (@browntoby) April 19, 2012

Mario Cacciottolo, BBC journalist

 

  Jenny Clarke, BBC Radio Manchester

Shut up going on about how great Manchester is George Osborne. We know it is and flattery will not buy our votes. Now kindly fuck off.

She soon got caught out, tweet and entire account deleted before we could get the embed code. Original tweet url was: http://twitter.com/#!/jenrclarke/status/120849989885902848. She then set up a new account @jennyfleur88. Tweets protected now.

Katie Connolly, ex-BBC US correspondent. From Newsweek to the BBC, now works at a Democrat strategy group, worked on the campaign to re-elect the President. Go figure. Lots of tweets, too much to post here, but Craig’s list and full analysis can be read here. Highlights:

this palin speech is more like a stand up routine, esp with the redneck jokes 1,273,863,138,000.00 via TweetDeck ouch. sarah palin calls us the lamestream media. #palin #nra RT @chucktodd: FOIA-requested Todd Palin related emails involving Palin’s time in office in Alaska now up on MSNBC.com. http://ping.fm/YGnCF 1,265,387,931,000.00 via TweetDeck My boss Jon Meacham responds to critics of our Sarah Palin cover photo http://bit.ly/G5iCz 1,258,492,120,000.00 via TweetDeck

She regularly corresponded with a number of JournoListas, and RTed their groupthink as often as possible.

Matt Danzico, BBC News reporter in the US, and former Obama campaigner. His Twitter page has both the disclaimer and the BBC logo wallpaper

 

(UPDATE: Forgot to mention this last one is from before Danzico worked for the BBC. This was from back when he was working for the 2008 campaign. Usually people go work for a political party or campaign after a stint at the BBC. I included this to demonstrate both his consistency and as an example of what is not an obstacle to being hired as an impartial journalist.)   Several more can be seen here. Tom Donkin, journalist for BBC News Online Magazine

 

  Gavin Esler, newsreader, presenter for Newsnight and Dateline

  Stephanie Flanders, BBC Economics editor

  Matt Frei, ex-BBC, now with C4, former anchor of BBC World News America

  Leah Gooding, newsreader for BBC Newsround (Screenshot because Jude Machin changed the avatar after complaints, relevant tweet deleted.) Leah Gooding approves of Jude Machin's Obama Avatar Jim Hawkins, BBC Radio Shropshire (One of many presenters who uses his “unofficial, personal” account as the official one for a BBC show)

 

 

Rhys Hughes, BBC Radio 1 producer

Here’s what his avatar was until DB posted it last week and somebody told Hughes to clean up his act.

Katty Kay, anchor, BBC World News America and pundit in official BBC capacity on MSNBC and other show

 

 

 Rachel Kennedy, BBC News editor Screenshot because Kennedy deleted the tweets after Guido Fawkes linked to DB’s post on them and it gained wider attention. Same goes for this one: Dominic Laurie, Business presenter for Radio 5 Live

 

 

  Brian Limond, “controversial” BBC Scotland comedian

“Would Prince William write to FIFA on behalf of the Scotland team wearing poppies? No. Cos he thinks ENGLAND won the war.” This message was quickly followed by; “I’d love to slide a samurai sword up Prince William’s arse to the hilt, then yank it towards me like a door that won’t [email protected]*king open.” This was eventually followed by another anti-Royal family message: “Absolutely [email protected]*k England and its royal wee family living it up while pensioners freeze to death.”

Tweets deleted after complaints. More here. Sue Llewellyn, BBC social media expert This is the only Retweet in this collection, included here as evidence of the groupthink regarding Sarah Palin, and particularly the blood libel so many BBC journalists and other staff tried to push. Even one of the BBC’s experts in social media felt free to retweet such a thing. Now for an original tweet:

Jude Machin, BBC journalist, formerly US-based, now in UK (See Leah Gooding above) Screenshots because it’s all been sent down the memory hold after she got caught, then got caught again, then got caught again.


Jude Machin Twitter Screenshot Obama avatar

Leah Gooding approves of Jude Machin's Obama Avatar

James Macintyre, former BBC Question Time producer, now political editor for Prospect magazine and Ed Miliband’s biographer

 

Chris Mason, BBC political correspondent
Screenshot because his Twitter feed archive wouldn’t go back far enough

Paul Mason Newsnight economics editor

 

 

 

John Mervin, BBC News New York business editor

 

Link goes to Time magazine article about how “Conservatives have lost touch with reality”

  Claudia Milne, editor BBC News Online US edition


Fallows was Jimmy Carter’s speechwriter and is a popular Left-wing pundit

Daniel Nasaw, US-based feature writer for BBC News Online Magazine

 

 

 

Matt Prodger, BBC Home Affairs correspondent

 

 

 

Mark Sandell, editor World Have Your Say, BBC World TV and World Radio

 

 

Joan Soley, BBC News Pentagon correspondent (note BBC News wallpaper despite “my views” disclaimer)

 

Regarding one of the Republican presidential candidate debates:

Brett Spencer, Radio 5 Live Interactive editor Screenshot because he deleted the tweets after being caught. Allegra Stratton, Newsnight political editor

 Jeremy Vine, Radio 2 host, Eggheads presenter, former Newsnight journalist (and another one who uses his “personal” account as the official one for his BBC show)

  Sarah Walton, journalist for BBC Look North

  Tim Weber, ex-BBC business & technology editor for BBC Interactive, now Director at Edelman

 

 

  Lucy Williamson, BBC Seoul correspondent


Screenshots because Twitter feed archive doesn’t go back far enough:


Plenty more here.

And there you have it. Come see the bias inherent in the system. I’ve actually lost count of how many tweets there are and how many Beeboids are represented. Someone else will have to do it now since my eyes are all bleary from laying this out.

For balance, here’s one which appears to be from the Right by James Landale, BBC News political correspondent (h/t Jim Dandy)

Oh, and apparently Andrew Neil is on the Right, and Nick Robinson used to be in his youth. Balanced or what?

The Simpson-Bowles (C)Omission

Jonny Dymond has a piece out pretending to analyze the recent joint-statement from Erskine Bowles and Alan Simpson. They’re understandably “gloomy” about Congress’s chances of making any kind of useful deal to avoid the US heading over the fiscal cliff after the ill-begotten debt agreement from last year expires. I say Dymond is pretending to analyze it because what he’s really doing is laying out a few White House talking points.

Fiscal cliff: Simpson and Bowles gloomy on deal chances

Dymond explains that everyone is really worried about what might happen if the intransigent Republicans don’t cooperate. Okay, he doesn’t say it exactly like that, but that’s the main point of his article. The worst problem with this piece is where he mentions that these guys were the head of the President’s Simpson-Bowles Commission in 2010, which came up with a plan (actually more like one with a set of options) to reduce the deficit and avoid having to go to the wall on the debt ceiling, as it were.

It wasn’t a bad plan, plenty of good things in there but, as Dymond says, it was never adopted. Except he doesn’t say why not. If it was so great that everyone is now hanging on their every word, why wasn’t it adopted? All you really learn from the Beeboid is that “disagreement” is bad, m’kay. So long as Congress (read: nasty Republicans, even though the Democrats controlled both houses for two years and the Senate for all four) doesn’t come to some agreement, we know whom to blame. In case anyone misses the point, Dymond closes with a quote from Bowles (Bill Clinton’s former chief of staff):

But from Mr Bowles comes a cold dose of Washington realism, and what seems to be the prime driver of his pessimism.

“There’s been no punishment,” he says, “for intransigence in this town.”

If I had a nickel for every time I saw that word used in this context…..

So why was this plan never passed? Because the President blew them off for purely ideological reasons. Dymond either doesn’t know that, or doesn’t think it’s important enough to mention. This is very curious as it’s the entire reason the two men made the press conference, and the entire reason Dymond was sent to do the report. But because mentioning that would make The Obamessiah look bad, or even remotely responsible for any problem, Dymond doesn’t mention it.

By Their Tweets Shall Ye Know Them

As many people here will be aware, I’ve been collecting a list of biased Beeboid tweets, compiled largely from DB’s fantastic work on catching them, as well as contributions from several others. It’s now over 100, from around 50 different BBC employees from many departments, across the spectrum of BBC broadcasting. What follows is my attempt to explain what I see as the problem with BBC Twitter policy, and why all these biased tweets add up to a serious problem which needs to be addressed. This is ultimately intended to be read with and accompanying display of 100 tweets revealing bias from BBC staff. I have the list ready, but I want to get feedback on this first before making the full publication.

Once the content of this essay is finalized, I’m going to either make it a separate page on this blog with all the embedded tweets on full display, or make it some kind of epub for distribution. For now, please read this with the idea in mind that there are loads of examples to follow.

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

The use of Twitter as a news tool has for many become ubiquitous. Media pros use it for both newsgathering and for pushing a story. Journalists use Twitter to track trending memes as well as to reach out to people to set up interviews and gather information on a story. Tim Weber from BBC News Interactive put it this way:

Audience engagement and interaction are equally important. Broadcasters know all about talk radio, and social media let us extend this expertise into the digital space. However, the size of our audience and the cost of curating their contributions – bearing in mind the UK’s stringent libel laws – present tough choices.

But arguably the most important use of social media, from a journalist’s perspective, is newsgathering.

Yes, we subscribe to text, picture and video feeds from news agencies, but selecting the right mix of sources for my Twitter stream provides me with a customised and curated news feed that complements, but does not replace, traditional sources.

Monitoring social media lets us gauge public mood, find case studies, and spot trends and breaking stories.

At times it can seem like Twitter is the first place people go to follow breaking news stories. Indeed, some have remarked that during the recent US presidential debates, they spent more time watching Twitter commentary than they did the actual broadcast. One might begin to suspect that many opinions people formed might have been more informed by what they read on Twitter than what they saw and heard themselves. Because users choose whom to follow, circles of like-minded people form naturally, self-selecting as with any social group. It’s quite easy to get caught up in an echo chamber. This raises the question of what opinions are expressed there.

The Twitter output of BBC staff reveals a significant contingent of Left-wingers. On their own, the tweets aren’t necessarily proof of biased reporting. However, there are enough examples of personal opinions that one can make a case that there is, in Andrew Marr’s words, a “cultural liberal bias”.

The official policy on employee use of Twitter is the part of the problem. Staff are encouraged / required to use Twitter as a way not only to promote BBC news stories, but to connect with their audience. They preach this at the BBC College of Journalism.

The courses offer guidance on how to use social media as a newsgathering tool. Services like Facebook and Twitter provide quick and convenient avenues of communication with both subjects of and sources for news stories. One often sees a BBC producer reaching out to someone on Twitter to discuss a story or arrange an interview.

This by definition turns their Twitter feeds into an extension of BBC broadcasting. The directive to then communicate directly with their audience enhances this. Which is, of course, the point. The BBC has specific guidelines on all of this, which can be read here (NB: pdf file). It’s for staff use of social media in general, including things like Facebook, although our focus here is on how it applies to Twitter. These guidelines break staff and their accounts and usage into three basic categories:

1. Your own personal activity, done for your friends and contacts,
but not under or in the name of BBC News
2. Activity for core news (eg breaking news), programmes or genres
carried out officially in the name of BBC News
3. Activity of editors, presenters, correspondents or reporters
carried out as part of official BBC News output.

“Personal activity” accounts seem to make up the bulk of the Twitter accounts. The guidelines for these accounts include the following:

a. You are not discouraged from doing any of this, but as a BBC member of staff – and especially as someone who works in News – there are particular considerations to bear in mind. They can all be summarised as: ‘Don’t do anything stupid’.
b. Remember that even though you are acting in your own personal capacity, you are on show to your friends and anyone else who sees what you write, as a representative of the BBC. If you are editorial staff, it doesn’t make much difference whether or not you identify yourself as someone who works for the BBC.
c. You are allowed to say that you work for the BBC, and you can discuss the BBC and your work publicly. But your name/title should not contain BBC in any form. And you should make clear that the views expressed are personal, and not those of the BBC.
d. You shouldn’t state your political preferences or say anything that compromises your impartiality. Don’t sound off about things in an openly partisan way. Don’t be seduced by the informality of social media into bringing the BBC into disrepute. Don’t criticise your colleagues. Don’t reveal confidential BBC information. Don’t surreptitiously sanitise Wikipedia pages about the BBC.

It couldn’t be more clear, really. As we’ll see, staff seem to have problems casually ignoring the instructions in Section “b”, and often violate “d”. This is very important, as former BBC radio head of future media and technology, James Cridland has said, “‘There are some people out to ‘get you’ on the web, so it’s important not to give them too much ammunition.’

Guilty as charged, I suppose, but it is a target-rich environment. It’s also important to examine staff output in order to hold them accountable for their actions, as the BBC doesn’t unless prompted by a complaint.

North America editor Mark Mardell admitted during an appearance at the BBC College of Journalism (@36:45 in) that he and staff in general believe that the BBC considers Twitter to be a free-for-all, and “doesn’t follow BBC guidelines”. This is clearly not true, but is illustrative of the attitude held by staff. It’s pretty obvious that the “personal” Twittter accounts are barely monitored at all, allowing staff to freely express personal political opinions until one of those people “out to get” them successfully registers a complaint. Morale and compliance is probably harmed by this hands-off approach, as staff do what they like for ages until getting a reprimand for something they thought they were allowed to do. The complaint must then seem petty, or just noise from haters. Lessons are most likely not learned in this atmosphere.

In fact, so easily and freely do BBC staff feel able to express personal opinion that the BBC recently had to issue a directive to stop them tweeting their grumbles about the Newsnight scandals and management problems.

This brings us to consider just how official or unofficial these Twitter accounts are. Officially, most of them aren’t.

Some BBC Twitter accounts are officially sanctioned, as understood in the above rules. The staff member gets approval to use the BBC logo, and it becomes an official outlet, required to abide by all the usual rules of professional integrity and impartiality. However, the majority of staff accounts do not have the logo and are not officially sanctioned. These accounts will necessarily have some form of disclaimer, generally some variation on “Views my own”. This makes it officially unofficial, a kind of “get-out-of-bias-free” card. However, as Section “c” shows, they are allowed to use these personal accounts to promote BBC reporting, which complicates matters.

The problem is, interacting with the audience and getting personal is built into the official policy.

The tweets by themselves aren’t necessarily proof of bias in the BBC’s output. Certainly the majority are the usual assortment of mundane personal activity, notices of their latest piece for the BBC, comments on sport or pop culture, brief conversations on a topic of interest, and casual exchanges with both friend and stranger alike. They are, however evidence of a shared worldview, an overwhelming tilt to the Left – at times further Left than others – among staff. It’s also evidence that the behavior is spread throughout the organization.

There doesn’t need to be an editorial directive sent from the top for there to be a form of institutional bias in the Corporation. There’s  no need for a conspiracy or a memo passed around or a secret cabal planning the day’s editorial slant. If they all think the same way, share the relevant perspective, the biased reporting happens naturally. Their tweets are evidence of this shared mindset.

This reflexive behavior can be reinforced when nearly all one’s colleagues approve, or one is rewarded for it. People feel quite free to express their personal political opinions without concern.

While the occasional expression of partisan opinion can be overlooked, when there are a lot of them over time, it adds up.  Contrary to conventional wisdom, sometimes the plural of anecdote really is “data”‘.

Some BBC staff are worse than others with the regularity of personal opinion or the enthusiasm with which it’s expressed. Others are more circumspect, only rarely letting their opinion on an issue slip through. The problem, however, is that nearly all those opinions are on the Left of the political spectrum, some much further Left than others.

It would be one thing, of course, if it was just a handful of people, say, regional pop music radio personnel, lightly passing on their liberal thoughts on an issue of the day every once in a while. Only it’s much more than that: BBC staff from many departments, both in Britain and internationally are tweeting Left-wing opinion.

A reader of staff Twitter feeds often sees a preponderance of Left-leaning voices. A person’s Follow list can also be revealing. While nearly all the News & Current Affairs people will be following political figures and media outlets on both sides of the political spectrum – as they should, in order to do their jobs properly – there are also plenty of things which betray personal opinion.

Tweets about favorite bands or football clubs, or outbursts about an X factor result are all about sharing personal opinion. It’s not a stretch at all to read tweets about politics or public figures the same way.

When one tweets only Left-wing opinions, it’s equally as telling as  tweeting about rock concerts one has just seen. Patterns emerge. Just as musical taste can be gleaned from the latter, political opinion can be from the former.

With this in mind, the public figures outside of politics – that is to say, aside from politicians, party officials, and the like – the commentators, pundits, and special interest advocates on a Follow list and in a Twitter feed can be can be telling. For example, BBC staff are more likely to be following Left-wing pundits and writers than voices from the Right.

Similarly, they’re more likely to be following something from Occupy Wall St than from any Tea Party group, and are far more likely to retweet something from a Left-wing perspective in a complimentary fashion than one from the Right. A number of BBC staff openly mocked even the most minor of slip-up of Sarah Palin and Mitt Romney, but not a single one of them has ever laughed at or even lightly mentioned any error made by Barack Obama, either as candidate or President.

The Twitter activity of BBC staff is very revealing of their personal political and ideological leanings. When viewed as a whole, over a period of time, it’s clear evidence of a shared mindset, a kind of groupthink. There’s certainly a lack of intellectual diversity. If it was just a few of them, or was a more or less isolated phenomenon among light-entertainment on-air talent, it wouldn’t be an issue. But clearly it’s a problem in many areas of the BBC, across the spectrum of broadcasting as well as on the website.

BBC to Twitter: Ban the IDF and Hamas

From Breitbart:

The BBC took to Twitter to let the world know that it thinks that there is no difference between terrorists and victims.
If you are unaware of what is going on in Israel lately, Hamas and the Palestinians have been launching rockets into the Jewish State killing women and children in a renewed and sustained attack. Today, the Israeli government and her Defense Force (IDF) have at last had enough. The IDF even took to Twitter to warn the Palestinians that retaliation is immanent.

The BBC’s tweet:


In other words, the BBC is so obsessed with seeing Israel as a warmongering rogue State, they cannot distinguish between the purpose of the IDF’s tweets and those of Hamas. And they’re trying influence Twitter in the process. Yes, the IDF tweets real-time updates of their war efforts to inform the population and news outlets, but also warns people to get out of harm’s way. Because Israel is the superior force and is tweeting results and warnings to Hamas leaders, and all Hamas can do is reply with threats, the BBC naturally sees only David vs Goliath. But the BBC is not supposed to try to influence other media outlets are they? Is this a violation of their Charter?

Your license fee hard at work.

Mardell’s Mandate Muddle

As the US Congress and the President head into negotiations over the looming never-ending budget crisis to figure out how to avert hitting the debt ceiling again, the BBC’s US President editor (a more accurate description than his actual job title) is on the case to give you his muddled view of how US government should work.

America’s fiscal suicide pact

He starts right in with the violent imagery, just to set the proper tone in which you should understand the scene.

America might be forgiven for thinking they suffered a concussion, instead of holding an election, on Tuesday night. The country now has double vision.

The violent imagery is supported by the now-obiligatory context of a deeply divided country, most-polarized-ever-ever-omg. And you’ll never guess whose fault that is.

Republicans in Congress have other ideas. House Speaker John Boehner is insisting tax rises for the wealthy can’t be allowed to happen.

Typical dishonest, class-war rhetoric, straight out of the White House propaganda machine. Actually, this comes naturally to Mardell, no prompting necessary. Boehner is insisting that no tax rises for anyone should be allowed. But since that includes the evil rich, it’s “accurate” to say that he doesn’t want tax increases for them. It’s not a particularly honest description of the proceedings, but I suppose it fits the BBC requirement for “accuracy”. Impartial it is not. Here’s what Boehner actually said:

Boehner today maintained that Republicans want to avert the fiscal cliff without raising any taxes and “in a manner that ensures that 2013 is finally the year that our government comes to grips with the major problems that are facing us.” Next year, he said, “should be the year we begin to solve our debt through tax reform and entitlement reform.”

The speaker added that he had a “cordial,” short conversation with Mr. Obama earlier this week and is hopeful that “productive conversations” can begin soon on the fiscal cliff. As he has for more than a year, Boehner said that he’s open to creating more tax revenue, by closing tax loopholes and eliminating some deductions, just not raising tax rates.

That last line sure looks to me like someone talking about increasing tax payments for the wealthy. Only a highly partisan, disingenuous person would describe Boehner’s position as refusing tax rises for the wealthy. Unless we’re playing semantic games about an increase in income tax rates as opposed to just increasing the taxes actually paid. Mardell cleverly left all that out and quoted this instead:

Speaking before the president did so this afternoon, he said: “Everyone wants to get our economy moving again. Everyone wants to get more Americans back to work again. Raising tax rates will slow down our ability to create the jobs that everyone says they want.”

He called on the president to lead.

So you really aren’t told at all the reality of what Boehner is thinking. Mardell continues:

Mr Obama did, but not in a direction that will delight Republicans. He is using the moral authority of his re-election to push his case. There is nothing new in his call for Congress to extend “middle-class tax cuts” at once. He’s said it repeatedly before the election.

But it’s different now. He has a renewed mandate and his demand has a fresh moral weight behind it. He pointed out even people who didn’t vote for him told opinion pollsters that taxes should go up for the richest.

And here’s where Mardell really starts to get it wrong. The President got fewer votes this time than in 2008. Almost 10 million fewer. Sure, Romney didn’t get as many as McCain did, but the difference wasn’t as great. So who actually did worse? Remember, we’re not talking about simply winning or losing: Mardell said “renewed mandate”, which requires much more than simply winning. Voter turnout was also substantially lower (except for places Philadelphia, which had a turnout that even Sadaam Hussein would have envied) The President may have dominated the Electoral College, but won the popular vote by only 2.5%.  Boris Johnson won his race for mayor of London by a slightly larger amount – 3% – but the BBC described that as a “tight margin”. Go figure. Anyone here expect Mardell to declare that Boris has a renewed mandate? Some projected counts (they’re still counting actual votes in places like Ohio and Florida) expect the President to crack that 3% mark, but that’s it. Still no mandate when it’s a non-Left politician.

When journalists make value judgments like this, it leaves the door wide open to personal opinions influencing their reporting. This is a classic example. In 2004, George Bush defeated John Kerry by just over 3 million votes. The President’s popular vote victory over Romney was – you guessed it – just over 3 million votes. You will not find a BBC report saying that Bush had a renewed mandate in 2004. You’ll find analyses stating that Bush supporters and Christians were saying that, but you will not find a BBC editor or reporter stating it.

Now that he’s established that the President is supposed to get His way, Mardell lays out the doom and gloom if Republicans don’t let Him.

There has to be an agreement. If the two sides can’t get behind a plan to cut the deficit there will be pretty horrible consequences.

The ugly phrase “fiscal cliff” has stuck, but it is more like a ticking economic timebomb. The two sides agreed to a suicide pact if they couldn’t reach agreement – tax rises and defence spending cuts the Republicans loathe – as well as other spending cuts that are offensive to Democrats.

The trouble is if the bomb goes off, it is not just the politicians who will be hurt. It is American economy that would explode, probably taking what’s left of the world economy with it.

This is more or less true, and nobody’s denying that we’re looking at trouble here. We then get a bit of “balance”, where the President says this, and the Republicans say that. He even allows that some Republicans might think they, too, have a mandate.

President Obama said that people had voted for action but he would refuse to accept any approach that wasn’t balanced and made the middle class suffer alone. He said there shouldn’t be a long, drawn-out drama.

The Republicans won’t play along, and he will presumably portray them as churlish bad losers who won’t accept the people’s verdict. They will doubtless point out they too (or some of them) also have a fresh mandate.

Note the qualifier. You’re meant to understand that they really don’t have one. So Mardell wraps up with this:

While both Mr Obama and Mr Boehner sounded consensual they were in fact restating their mutually exclusive positions.

They are heading for confrontation, but this is only the first act – they are both stating a hard line, before the give and take of negotiations. They do have to get a move on. The drama can’t run for long before it turns into tragedy for all of us.

Except we already know whom to blame, don’t we? Mardell has already told us: Republicans who want to protect the wealthy. (I remember back when this budget agreement was passed. The US President editor was singing a slightly different tune then.)

But spot the missing upper house of Congress. This happens over and over again with both Mardell’s “reporting” and other BBC coverage: they leave out the Democrat-controlled Senate. Again and again we hear about how it’s all Republicans blocking Him. What about the Senate? And you’re expected to ignore Democrats who side with Republicans on certain issues.

While actual spending is really allocated by the House of Representatives, the Senate also has to pass an agreed version of the budget for the country to actually have one. Yet, unbeknownst to BBC audiences because you were never told, the Democrat-controlled Senate never passed one. In fact, even the Democrat-controlled Senate (it’s worth repeating) unanimously voted against the joke budget proposed by the President Himself. Oh, and let’s not forget either – no matter how much biased Beeboids like Daniel Nasaw would like you to – that the Democrats controlled both houses of Congress for His first two years in office. No budget then, either. And Mardell once actually referred to that as a Golden Age, because the President was able to ram some things through without a single Republican vote. Who’s really to blame here?

But that’s just the bias part. Now here’s where Mardell really gets muddled.  The real problem with Mardell declaring the President has a mandate is that he’s presenting the whole thing as if the President is king. He does not appear to understand – or perhaps just doesn’t approve – of the way the US government is set up.

There are two issues here. First, is the way the government is split into three separate branches: the Executive (the President and Administration), the Legislative (Congress – both Houses), and the Judicial (the Supreme Court and the lower Federal system). This is what’s known as “Checks and Balances”, the idea being that no one branch has too much power. Never mind that one of the Democrat operatives the BBC had on the panel of their election night coverage didn’t understand that, and thought it meant Republicans weren’t allowed to vote for what they wanted, and the Beeboids were too ignorant to correct her. Mardell certainly doesn’t understand it, and thinks if the President wins – even by a “tight” Boris Johnson-style margin – He has a “mandate”, and the Republicans should bow to it.

The House of Representatives is what is says on the tin: a group of legislators who are there to represent their individual constituencies. They’re not State-wide representatives, like Senators are: they represent a single collection of 500,000 voters in their State. Same as the Electoral College. Representatives are not elected to do the President’s bidding: they’re there to represent their own constituency. If a Republican gets elected on whatever issues, that’s his or her mandate, not a directive to obey the President. Because different States have dramatically different population totals, some have a much greater presence in the House than others. When a State loses population, they lose representation in the House. If more people move there, they get more Reps. The total number of Reps. in the House can change with each election if the national population does. If it seems a bit unfair, it’s meant to be. Sort of.

But New York and California do not run the country, even if the popular vote makes it appear that they might. Nor should they. The House of Representatives is not a mirror of the Electoral College vote, even though their numbers are the same. The House – ideally – represents the wishes of their individual constituencies. Representatives are not meant to be a reflection of some national conscience. This is all connected to another US concept the BBC neither likes nor fully understands: States’ rights. I use the upper case “S” here and always to emphasize the point that most Founding Fathers considered their State to be their country, and wanted that independence preserved. Some of us still understand that. The individuality inherent in the House of Representatives is part and parcel of that concept.

This is also why the Senate, the upper house, exists. Each State gets two Senators, and that’s it. In this way, each State has equal representation. But that’s also why real spending is decided in the House. The Senate is much more than a rubber stamp, though, as they have their own agenda and powers. But that’s all for another time.

What I’m talking about here is the idea that – contrary to how Mardell presents it – an election victory for a President does not actually translate into carte blanche. To really be successful, a President must also bring his political party along for the ride to victory as well. Failing that, he must compromise, triangulate, as, for example, Bill Clinton did. Funny how you don’t see much comparison of The Obamessiah to Clinton these days. That would make Him look petty and partisan and incompetent, though, so the astute BBC analysts tend to refrain from doing it.

The Republicans in the House are there to do the job they were sent to do, not merely the President’s bidding. If they were voted in to avoid taxing us all into oblivion, that’s what they need to focus on. They’re also not required to bend over backwards to compromise if it means doing something they believe will damage the country. Politicians get voted out when they do too much their constituents don’t like. Just ask all the Dems and Big-Government Republicans who got kicked out in 2010 for voting for ObamaCare.

The other party must try to compromise as well. But you never hear the BBC complaining about President “I won”, or that the President is the one drawing a line in the sand with His tax rises for the wealthy. Mardell may write a sentence saying both sides must work together – and he even admits that the President only sounds like He wants to compromise, but doesn’t appear to be just yet – but only after he’s already set you up to assign blame for who won’t. And again: what about the Senate? And why has neither Mardell nor anyone else at the BBC examined why the President never got a budget passed while He had both houses under Democrat control? Could it be because that might force them to learn that Congress isn’t simply a vehicle for a President’s policies? Or perhaps because they might be forced to admit that the President’s own fiscal policies are so ludicrously extreme that even the Democrats won’t vote for it?

Mardell either doesn’t understand how the US government is meant to work, or simply doesn’t care. He pays lip service to the notion that both sides must compromise, but he’s already framed it in the context of Republicans being in the wrong. Yet he’s the man the BBC wants you to trust most on US issues. Don’t.

 

Six Impossible Things

As the US at last gets to vote on the most important election in human history (it must be, to judge from the legion of BBC staff running around over here to cover it), the BBC’s coverage of the whole scene has been making me think of the following from Through the Looking Glass:

‘I can’t believe that!’ said Alice.

‘Can’t you?’ the Queen said in a pitying tone. ‘Try again: draw a long breath, and shut your eyes.’

Alice laughed. ‘There’s no use trying,’ she said ‘one can’t believe impossible things.’

‘I daresay you haven’t had much practice,’ said the Queen. ‘When I was your age, I always did it for half-an-hour a day. Why, sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.’

The BBC definitely wants you to believe some impossible things when it comes to the President and the current situation in the US. You’ll most likely hear some of these at some point today during the BBC’s wall-to-wall coverage.

(NOW UPDATED TO INCLUDE LINKS, because defenders of the indefensible have decided to be intellectually dishonest today and pretend they’ve never read anything on this blog. I’ll add more later today and this evening when I have more time. Everyone is welcome to post examples in the comments.)

1. Tea Party-led Republican intransigence has blocked His every move for the last two years, but the President has saved the economy, and we’re on the road to recovery.

2. The country is more divided and polarized than it has ever been before due to Tea Party and Right-wing media rhetoric, while at the same time you’re expected to believe that the President did not begin His term in office by sitting down to the negotiating table and telling Republicans, “I won”, and that He has not said or done anything divisive, ever.

3. The Democrat super-majority in Congress – absolute control of both houses – for His first two years which let Him do whatever He liked (except pass a budget, which even the Dems in the Senate weren’t stupid enough to vote for) without bothering to get a single Republican vote, was a Golden Age of Congress getting things done.

4. The only real reason people are voting against the President is racism, or crypto-racism, even though nobody complained when George Bush had a black man and then a black woman as the second-most powerful person in his Administration, and the Tea Party movement was ready to support Herman Cain. All those people who voted for The Obamessiah in 2008 and are not voting for Him today have suddenly reverted to being racist.

5. It’s perfectly natural for Hispanics to vote for their own kind, and want more of their own kind to come to the US. Any laws which impede that are immoral, and the only reason to oppose this kind of racialist thinking is racism.

6. Romney, like George Bush, is a walking gaffe machine, and the President has made only two minor missteps in five years (including the 2008 campaign).

No, thank you. I’m off to vote as soon as I finish my breakfast.

Don’t Blame Him

As if all the other BBC reporting isn’t enough, they got their (freelance) World Service economics correspondent to ask, in the usual manner of journalists posing a question to which they’ve already decided the answer, if the poor US economy is the President’s fault.

US economy: Who to blame for poor economic performance?

Short answer: No.

Long answer: The economy really isn’t that bad if you consider it in historical context, and no, only some people say it’s His fault for not doing enough to fix it.

The opening section is devoted to telling you how the economy really isn’t as all that bad from an historical perspective. Moreover, the US doesn’t look so bad at all compared to the current European situation, as well as Japan. In fact, the latest quarterly figures show the US has made up all lost ground, and is now doing better than before the recession! Never mind the massive debt, or the continuously rising deficit, or the fact that the latest GDP bump is mostly due to the Fed printing more money we don’t have. So before we even get to assigning blame, we’ve softened the blow considerably, and in fact might even cause some people to wonder what’s the point of assigning blame at all.

This follows on Walker’s report from the other day defending the President on unemployment, where he dutifully regurgitated the latest jobs report without mentioning that previous jobs figures keep getting revised down. So when he then tells you that Romney will be lying if he now claims that the President has presided over a net jobs loss, you don’t actually know the whole truth. Interestingly, the last two lines of that piece are actually a set-up for this one.

In any case, now that Walker has established his premise that the economy really isn’t so bad if you think about it, he sets about pretending to ask if the President is to blame.

For the “It’s not His fault, you see” side, he links to a Bloomberg opinion piece by two economic academics explaining the historical context, and declaring that the current doldrums are nothing unusual. In fact, they say, history tells us this was always going to be the case after such a bad financial crisis. It’s not His fault, you see.

For the racist side blaming the President’s policies, Walker mentions two other economic academics, but links only to a PDF file of the “Romney Plan” on the Romney campaign website. It’s written by the people he mentions, but this is obviously going to raise a red flag with readers. It’s a partisan campaign manifesto, so not to be taken as seriously as the view Walker offers from the other side. Even though he allows as how the other economics experts are sympathetic to the President, an independently researched and published book and opinion piece isn’t even remotely the same thing as an actual party platform. It’s rather disingenuous to present these as apples-to-apples.

I suppose it would be churlish to compare word counts here, like they did for the debates. This is just one more piece to support the BBC’s overall Narrative that there is no legitimate opposition to the President’s policies, and that those who express the desire to vote against Him are motivated by something else.

For a hint at Walker’s personal political views, see this old piece where he sanitizes the political views and writings of that well-known eugenics fan and Stalinist, Bernard Shaw.

Mardell Stares Into The Abyss

Mark Mardell seems to be preparing himself for a Romney win. Of course, it won’t be the President’s fault. From the BBC’s in-house magazine:

Mark Mardell… Our man in Washington

Millions more will turn out for the general election, but Mardell senses a great disillusionment in America and believes that this could be crucial to President Obama’s chances for reelection. Asked for a prediction, he replies that it will come down to turnout. ‘I think if he’s defeated he will be defeated by people who quite like him, don’t like Romney that much, but decide to stay at home [on election day].’

“Will you really lay down your life for me? Very truly I tell you, before the rooster crows, you will disown me three times!  (John XIII:38)

What’s this disillusionment about? Why would these people who like Him decline to vote for Him? They’re not racist all of a sudden, are they?

He admits that problems with the economy perhaps stem from American policies rather than presidential decisions….

What then shall we say? That the Gentiles, who did not pursue righteousness, have obtained it, a righteousness that is by faith; but the people of Israel, who pursued the law as the way of righteousness, have not attained their goal. Why not? Because they pursued it not by faith but as if it were by works. They stumbled over the stumbling stone.  (Romans IX:30-32)

It’s not His fault, you see. Congress failed Him. The people failed Him. Nothing to do with His policies. However, by blaming the faithful for failing Him, the awkward question of why all those people are voting against Him can be avoided.

Plus a nice delusional dig at Romney:

…but believes that foreign policy will certainly take a different ‘tone’ under a Romney term, with ‘implications’ for the UK.

It’s hard to imagine Romney racking up a bigger body count than the Nobel Peace Prize Laureate-in-Chief. How many new countries has the President taken war into again?

Actually, Mardell has always been firmly against the UK helping the US in Iraq and Afghanistan (he mentions them specifically), and for some reason thinks Romney will be George Bush all over again and drag you into new wars. Hasn’t the President been very clear, for example, that He won’t allow Iran to have nuclear weapons, and that there were “no options off the table”? This is a White House talking point, nothing more. Of course, it could also be a tacit admission that in a second term, the President will let Iran, China, and Russia do whatever they like. Which makes Mardell’s focus on Bush’s wars and the (economic) “It all started in America” meme all the more curious. After all, the President did tell Medvedev to sit tight on the European missile situation for now because He’ll have more flexibility then. But Mardell’s worried about what Romney will do.

Read the rest of it for laughs. His continued bewilderment by us United Statesians would be amusing if it wasn’t so sad and a little tiresome. My favorite line, though, is this:

While Mardell is cautious with his language at times, worried about how it might be interpreted, there are hints that he is a passionate man with strong beliefs.

Understatement of the year. They know it, and Mardell knows it. They just don’t care. But by all means, they expect you to continue to trust them on US issues.

Katty Kay Tweets Political Endorsement

The latest tweet from Katty Kay, BBC Washington correspondent and anchor of what’s left of BBC World News America, and the highest-profile Beeboid in the US:

First of all, Bloomberg is no longer a Republican, hasn’t been for years. He quit that Party and has been calling himself an independent since 2007 – which Katty knows for a fact – so the whole “bi-partisan” thing is false right away. Not only that, but as Katty also well knows, Bloomberg is a life-long Democrat who switched to Republican only so he could run for New York City mayor without having to bribe the Democrat machine in certain outer boroughs because he felt he’d stand out better among the Republican candidates. Quite frankly, Katty Kay is being dishonest when she calls this a bi-partisan ticket.

_______________

UPDATE: Katty’s partisan ticket isn’t even an original thought. She’s merely regurgitating partisan opinion from her friends within the Beltway Bubble:

 

 

 

That’s the Washington Post’s Kathleen Parker, btw.

_______________

Just another biased display from perhaps the most hyper-partisan Beeboid in the US. Here’s Katty displaying her advocacy for Climate Change legislation with Mayor Bloomberg himself. And here she is just the other day on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” (where she’s a regular panelist in her official BBC capacity) expressing her frustration with the lackluster message coming out of the President’s campaign. Why trust this woman on anything anymore? A complaint has been sent to the BBC, and since she does work in the US and report on US issues, they can’t give me the brush-off right away.

Note that this is an officially sanctioned BBC twitter account. The logo is featured prominently and there is no “views my own” get-out-of-bias-free disclaimer.

Over to you, professional journalists and media experts who defend the indefensible.

Nature or Nurture? Justin Webb Opens His Diary

Apologies for being two weeks late getting to this, but it’s not time-sensitive, and so here it is now. Justin Webb wrote a “Diary” installment for the Spectator issue published on Oct. 13. They’ve turned off the pay wall for a few weeks since launching the new online format, so for the time being you can read the whole thing here.

I’m interested in observing Webb’s personal opinions, so we can judge if this influences his broadcasting in any way. With this in mind, check out the obvious enthusiasm with which he remarks that Miami is controlled by non-white, non-English speaking people. It’s one thing to make the impartial observation that the region has become this way, and to point out the geographical and political reasons behind it. It’s quite another to express approval.

I am still buzzing with the sheer un-American hedonism of Florida’s finest city. The really good thing about Miami, they say, is how close it is to the USA. Quite right: it is close but separate. It is more than ever the capital of Latin America, home to a Spanish-language media market that extends — carelessly skipping over political borders and anti-immigration fences — through Mexico and Honduras and Nicaragua, down as far as Colombia and Venezuela.

Because he’s judging the entire situation in Miami based on the color of the protagonists’ skin, he approves. Why? Why is it a good thing? By his own admission, ol’ Justin is not a fan of the US. Oh, sure, he likes many of the inhabitants individually, as people. He even thinks his youngest daughter’s flat vowels were so cute that he regrets that she’s lost her US accent now.

But don’t take my word for his biased reporting. Take his, as broadcast in January 2006, while he was still working the US beat. While talking with Stephen Sakur on air, he criticized what he considered to be an anti-American tendency at the BBC and other media outlets, specifically about the false moral equivalency of saying the US was just as bad or worse than any brutal dictatorship. Listeners complained to the BBC about such pro-US bias, and ol’ Justin was compelled to defend himself a few days later. I’ve bolded what I think are the key bits.

Roger Bolton: I spoke to our correspondent this week, and asked if he had gone native

Justin Webb: No, I haven’t, and what I would say to those who complained about me is that I genuinely do apologize to them. It’s not my business to upset and annoy people and its not my business to be seen to be partial or indeed to be partial. And, to the extent that I was in this broadcast, then I think I do owe them an apology.

RB: You agree you were a little partial. You expressed yourself perhaps a little too warmly?

JW: Possibly a little too warmly. But what I was trying to do – and I would say this in mitigation – is puncture an atmosphere which developed, I thought, during this broadcast and which I think does occasionally develop on the BBC, and on other broadcasting outlets, where there is a kind of cosy feeling that somehow if only America would behave differently, then everything in the world would be fine. I think that is a view which does annoy and upset Americans, as I said it did. And it’s not just the White House – it is a broader thing than that – and also a view which is, to put it mildly, open to challenge, and that’s what I hoped to do, so to the extent that I upset people, I do apologize for that and I would ask them to listen to the range of work that I do, because America is such an important place I am on the radio pretty much every day, and I don’t think they could generally accuse me of being someone who is pro-American. In fact, most of the work that I do, frankly, is sceptical, certainly about the Bush administration and, to a wider extent, about American policies and motives. But I do think occasionally, and I would reserve this, in the context of a discussion that is an open, free discussion, not a news program, I do think it is important that we keep an eye on this tendency that I think we do sometimes have just to throw up our hands and take the easy road, which is to suggest that everything would be fine if only the Americans behaved better.

In other words, it’s okay for him to be biased against the US and various factions within but it’s not okay for him to show even a hint of bias in support of the US. It’s amusing also due to the fact that ol’ Justin has also admitted to some culpability for the anti-US reporting from the BBC.

America is often portrayed as an ignorant, unsophisticated sort of place, full of bible bashers and ruled to a dangerous extent by trashy television, superstition and religious bigotry, a place lacking in respect for evidence based knowledge.
I know that is how it is portrayed because I have done my bit to paint that picture, and that picture is in many respects a true one.

He’s also admitted another aspect of his bias, for which he has never been brought on air to apologize.

“I’m rude about quite a lot of people, I was very rude about Sarah Palin which upset some people.”

This charming behavior was a prime factor in his getting that Today presenter job. Here’s another example of Webb freely expressing his opinion in way that he simply wouldn’t be allowed to if the subject matter were different:

Stone-Age superstitions

Eleven-year-old Kara Neumann was suffering from type one diabetes, an auto-immune condition my son was recently diagnosed with.

Her family, for religious reasons, decided not to take her to hospital. They prayed by her bedside and the little girl died.

The night before she died – and she would have been in intense discomfort – her parents called the founder of a religious website and prayed with him on the telephone. But they did not call a doctor.

If Kara had been taken to hospital, even at that late stage, insulin could have saved her. She could have been home in a few days and chirpy by the end of the week, as my son was.

It was an entirely preventable death caused, let’s be frank, by some of the Stone Age superstition that stalks the richest and most technologically advanced nation on earth.

Show me one example of any BBC employee who is allowed to say this on air about Islam. Kilroy Silk mentioned it once, but he didn’t get away with it. Yet ol’ Justin can not only openly “deplore” non-Mohammedan religious belief, but gets promoted for it.

This leads us to the conclusion that Justin Webb loathes much of what he sees as the White United States. This in turn makes him celebrate the scene in Miami simply because they’re not white. There’s no other basis for it, and his own words in the Diary piece make that clear.

Getting back to the Spectator Diary, then, Webb gives us prime fodder to consider what I put in my post title: Nature or Nurture? Lots of energy has been spent both here and around the blogosphere and even in the mainstream press about the nature of the internal culture at the BBC. Lord Tebbitt has gone so far as to suggest that their self-selecting method of hiring like-minded people has created this hive-mind which permits the kind of bias I’ve highlighted here, while simultaneously squashing unapproved thoughts and demanding apologies for bias in the other direction.

This brings us to the question: Is it then the innate nature of the people hired, or does the BBC’s internal culture nurture such biased behavior, to the point where people who otherwise wouldn’t be so far to the Left have, as many have suggested about Nick Robinson, gone native? With ol’ Justin, I’d say it’s a bit of both.

Six years ago my mother died and that change came to me that comes to us all when the parents are gone; we are grown up, fully, whether we like it or not, or are ready to cope with it or not. My mother’s birthday was this month and I have rather shamefully failed — yet again — to gather her remaining friends and relations together for some kind of memorial event. But it occurs to me that she, as a socialist, pacifist Quaker, with an admiration for punitive income taxes and Chinese communism, would still have appreciated a birthday mention in the pages of The Spectator. She had a sense of humour, you see: so Happy Birthday, Mum. And although history has yet to smile on all your political programmes, I note, as a dutiful son, that a crisis of capitalism has indeed occurred and that admiration for China, or at least a desire to fly there, animates Conservatives as much as it did you.

We see here that Webb was raised not only Quaker (which, contrary to a certain defender of the indefensible’s assertion, clearly hasn’t made him tolerant of minority religions other than Mohammedanism), but Socialist. This and his LSE education seems to have blinded him to reality, and made him stupidly say that the financial crisis of 2008 was a “crisis of capitalism”, when in fact it was a crisis of capitalists and not-so-capitalist politicians. He would never suggest that Stalin’s mass starvations and purges, or Mao’s devastating Cultural Revolution, or Pol Pot’s killing fields, or what Mugabe has done to Zimbabwe, were crises of Communism or Socialism. He’d say the same thing the rest of the apologists do: these were acts of men, a beautiful ideology ruined by some bad apples. Never mind the clear unawareness that China’s economy, built on smoke and mirrors, is not very far away from its own disaster.

So Webb was born and raised (and then educated) to be a Socialist. Was he similarly prepped to be a Beeboid? He wasn’t raised to be one, but it’s certainly, to borrow from Helen “Hugs” Boaden, in his DNA:

BBC’s Justin Webb reveals his real father was newsreader Peter Woods

Woods was married with two young children when he had an affair with Webb’s mother, Gloria Crocombe. Webb had no contact with his father except for a brief encounter at the age of six months but always knew his true parentage.

It will come as a shock to no one here that this was during the period when there was a very free sexual attitude at the BBC and, as Mark Thompson admitted, had a “massive Left-wing bias”. As for Beeboids having affairs and fathering children out of wedlock, well, plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose.

(Side note: Interestingly, Webb’s trajectory seems to be mirrored by his successor, Mark Mardell. Like Mardell, ol’ Justin was the BBC’s Brussels-based Europe editor before taking up his US position.)

Is his BBC journalism biased? Yes. It’s been documented here over and over again. Here are just a few examples:

A TANGLED WEBB?

Justin Webb Reveals His Bias And Dishonesty

A TANGLED WEBB

This and That

Justin Webb Reports

This blog has been observing Webb’s bias since at least 2005.

Ol’ Justin was born and bred to be a biased Beeboid. He sought out the BBC like a salmon instinctively returning to its spawning ground. And his biased journalism got him elevated to one of the most coveted spots in BBC broadcasting.

There’s something wrong with the corporate culture which creates this. The left-leaning culture has been there for decades now, and they continue to hire like-minded people, and crack down on unapproved thoughts. That’s what needs to be investigated if the BBC is ever to learn the proper lessons about not only how Jimmy Savile was allowed to get away with what he did, but how the BBC has become such a biased broadcasting organization.

PS: Justin Webb isn’t the only genetic Beeboid. Aside from the Dimbleby dynasty, BBC technology correspondent Rory Cellan-Jones was not only similarly sired by a Beeboid, but is married to the Co-Chair of the Trust. One has to wonder if, like at certain universities, there’s a legacy admission clause.

Presidential Debate LiveBlog

Why not? For those staying up real late or are in a more convenient timezone, I’m going to attempt to make some real-time comments on the most important debate in human history (unless the President loses, in which case debates don’t really matter). Regional ale will be involved. Then we can look at the BBC’s own live text coverage and compare.

(NB: Page is set to refresh automatically every two minutes. Apologies in advance if that screws up anyone in the middle of a comment.) (Yeah, like anyone’s even paying attention. Get over yourself. -ed)

03.36

I’m calling this one for the President. He didn’t say much that worked, or much that was even really true. But he made contact on pitches and Romney missed a lot.

03.35

Oh God, bad ending from Romney there. Too pleading.

03.34

Hmm, decent dig at the most partisan President in ages. We’ll see if that sticks with anyone.

03.34

Romney missed so many opportunities here. He’s like A-Rod sitting on fastballs and getting called out on strikes, waiting for something gift-wrapped that will never come.

03.32

Plus a class war meme. The rich must pay their fair share. Who defines that?

03.32

What spending don’t you think we need, Mr. President? How are you going to maintain the strongest military in the world when you just told us you were going to cut it way back?

03.31

Back to Bush again. Who buys this besides the Beltway dopes and the HuffPo?

03.31

Wow, no Benghazi. Right there it’s a big victory for the President.

03.29

Someday the Left will stop thinking they’re running against George Bush. Then again, Labour and the BBC still think they’re running against a return to the Thatcher era. If only, eh?

03.29

Romney = Bush! ZZZzzzzzzzzzz.

03.28

Where did trillion come from? He’s just making stuff up now. Nobody bought His trillion claim last time.

03.28

Mr. President: What you define as Government assistance isn’t the same thing as managing a bankruptcy.

03.27

Romney finally got around to mentioning Solyndra, but he didn’t do it right.

03.26

The President better not pin His hopes on people checking the record on this one. He thought GM didn’t go bankrupt.

03.25

Wait, we’re going to rehash the GM bankruptcy error and not Benghazi?

03.25

Interesting riposte from Romney there about how attacking him isn’t a real policy.

03.24

Lame attempt to connect Afghanistan/Iraq to trade focus on Asia-Pacific. That makes no sense.

03.23

Clean energy technology? The bankrupt ones?

03.23

I feel like I’m watching Question Time and waiting for someone to blame Thatcher. No mention of Benghazi? Moderator bias?

03.22

The only reason Romney just pulled that one out of the fire is because he’s finally citing real ugly details about China gets up to.

03.21

Romney’s right about China’s massive malware problem with the hardware they sell us.

03.18

Tariffs on steel, eh? China isn’t even buying right now. Their demand is dropping like a stone.

03.17

Yes we have seen jobs shipped to China. We’ve also seen China dumping cheap solar panels here. All thanks to you.

03.16

China? Running out of time for Benghazi. Is Romney seriously going to let this happen?

03.15

We stood on the side of Democracy? Hell no. You stood on the sidelines of Democracy.

03.14

Platitudes about treating women with respect from the Pres. Like He’s done anything of the sort.

03.14

Romney’s really not doing a great job of portraying the absolute mess in the world as it actually is. Who prepped him here?

03.13

Yes, we sure do know the President’s position on drones. He’s got the highest body count of any Nobel Laureate, probably including Begin and Arafat.

03.12

The President is winning so far mostly because Romney is letting Him.

03.11

We’re already an hour into this, and no mention of Benghazi. Romney’s running out of time.

03.11

Tenuous connection between draw-down in Afghanistan and hiring veterans back home, but I get what He means. I don’t know enough to say how right or wrong that is.

 

03.09

Building bridges and schools. FDR and Ron Paul fans take a drink.

03.09

The President is dodging the question about Afghans being clueless as well. Waffle, waffle, come on, man. Whoops, nation-building at home again. What was the question?

03.08

Um, no it wasn’t. The surge in Afghanistan was not that connected to a withdrawal from Iraq.

03.07

We’re still giving aid to Pakistan? Where’s it going?

03.07

Two gimmes for the President from Romney right there: The Surge, and he’s dodging the question about what if the Afghans are still useless. Can He make contact on either one?

03.05

Good moderation again. They can’t just keep rebutting endlessly every time.

03.04

When that woman’s husband was killed on 9/11, the President was still attending “God Damn America” Church. Just sayin’.

03.04

Oops, the President just pretty much said Pakistan was working against us. He’s right, of course. But they get upset when He says that.

03.03

The President going back to the flip-flopper changeup. Good idea.

03.00

What if Bibi made that 3am phone call? If Benghazi is anything to judge by, the President would call-forward it to Hillary.

03.00

Supporting Democracy? I don’t know which is worse: the President’s support for it overseas, or at home.

02.59

Missiles on Sderot from Hamas? BBC audiences will be shocked to learn that it’s a problem.

02.58

Meh, skipping Israel isn’t relevant when the President was trying to reach out to Muslims. Swing and a miss.

02.57

Uh, oh, the President just screwed up big time. When He came into office, Iran was resurgent but at its weakest point? Where’s that teleprompter?

 

02.56

Um, no. You did make a very apologetic speech. Why do you think they loved you in Cairo?

02.55

Good dig about the Green (almost) Revolution. Can Romney bring it home, though?

02.54

Here we go. Calling the President out on what He really said. He hates that.

02.54

President doing well so far, better than Romney, because He has the advantage of being in office and having specific incidents He can point to. Not, as Mardell said, because of experience vs. a neophyte. So far, anyway. Wait until we get to Benghazi.

02.52

Nice challenge to Romney about having the same ideas there.

02.51

Okay I guess they both have to do this “last resort” dance. Yawn.

02.50

Don’t either of these guys think it’s important to talk about how all the Sunni Arab countries don’t want the Shiite Persians to go nuclear? Is Israel the only reason to do anything?

02.49

Good moderation so far. Best of the lot.

02.48

So why does Iran think the President is going to let them slide?

02.48

Iran won’t get nukes, eh? Your mouth says “no”, but Iran says your eyes told them “yes”.

02.47

Dumb question, I think. Maybe it was just an excuse for both candidates to pander to the Jewish Lobby. This benefits nobody.

02.46

Really bad condescending attitude there from the President. “We have these things called aircraft carriers…” Doesn’t look good. I guess he forgot to mention that one newfangled technology He likes most: drones.

02.45

Heh, Romney’s obviously been reading the Hertiage.org stuff on defense spending. He almost quoted this word for word.

02.44

Did Romney mention SeaQuest? I never liked that show.

02.43

The President doesn’t actually understand the math here on defense spending.

02.41

Medicaid is an open goal for the President there, if He’s on the ball.

02.40

Getting rid of ObamaCare? A cheer just went up across the land. Not at BBC HQ, though.

02.40

President jumped in too early there on Romney’s term and Mass. education. He should have waited.

02.38

The President has the gall to make fun of someone’s budget proposal? Rejecting His budget proposals is the most bi-partisan act Congress has made in the last four years.

02.37

When the President says “teachers”, read: “teachers’ union”. Hello, Wisconsin!

02.37

Education is worse.

02.36

Here come the President’s platitudes again. Take a drink if He says solar power. No wait, it would be more appropriate if you poured your drink down the drain.

02.35

How did a foreign policy question turn into domestic energy policy?

02.35

12 million jobs is fantasy. Don’t waste my time.

02.34

The President just made that up about Romney complimenting Cheney.

02.34

You’re going to raise spending and debt every year for the next four years. What responsible plan?

02.33

What plan? Manufacturing back to our shores? BS! GE is sending jobs over there left and right. Guess which company’s CEO is the President’s jobs czar.

02.32

What? How are we stronger? We’ve lost ground on nearly every single foreign policy goal.

02.32

Hey, Romney: deep military cuts are part of the silly debt agreement we made last year. It will happen because no other plans have been made.

02.31

It must be weird for the two candidates to sit there and feel like they’re talking to the moderator. It’s gotta be hard to feel like you’re connecting to anyone like that.

02.30

This debate thing works better when the President isn’t calling on teacher to shut Romney up.

02.29

Romney missed a chance there to remind everyone that Candidate Obamessiah said in 2008 that massive debt is unpatriotic.

02.28

Decent line from Romney about why the US leads. Not sure how it will sell with Mardell.

02.27

Ron Paul fans are loving the President right now.

02.27

The Egyptian youth want unicorns and rainbows. And He’s the President to give it to them!

02.25

No you haven’t. The Egyptian President is calling for Shariah.

02.25

Yeah, Syria works for the President, doesn’t work for Romney here.

02.23

What gall for Capt. Dithering to talk about why we shouldn’t have pulled out of Libya. He didn’t even want to go in. Steady thoughtful leadership, my arse!

02.22

Nice handover to the Pres. there by the moderator. Maybe it’s easier for him than it was for Jim Lehrer to quickly do it low key because he’s so close to them in this format.

02.21

If I take a drink every time somebody mentions Israel, this is going to be a really difficult evening.

02.20

Oh boy, both of them pandering on Israel now. Do they have to outdo each other on this?

02.19

Dude, we are arming the Syrian opposition already. You know that.

02.19

Good mention of Turkey by the Pres. there. Needs to expand from the “Israel is our friend” reasoning.

 

02.18

Um, Syria is far from isolated……

02.17

Nation-building here at home? What does that even mean? He stumbled over trying to say what it means, which means that was a phrase He memorized with no substance.

02.16

Jooooish Lobby alert.

02.16

Oops, stupid remark from the Pres. about why keeping troops in Iraq is a bad idea.

02.15

President is rebutting better now. So far this format is working okay.

02.15

Nice riposte from Romney about that open-mic remark to Medved. That’s preparation.

02.14

The Pres. has been reading the Left-wig blogs about how the best angle to attack Romney is the flip-flopper thing. Take a drink if He says “Romnesia”.

02.13

Um, we do have troops in Iraq to this day.

02.12

WTF? Russia is cool now? How’s the reset button workin’ out for ya now, Mr. President?

02.12

BBC audiences will be shocked to learn some of what Romney’s saying about Mali and those other countries.

02.11

Foreign aid? Translation: handing money to kleptocrats.

02.10

The President is showing some angry face. He needs to relax that, doesn’t look good.

02.10

Um, less and less countries are standing with us. Which is part of the problem.

02.09

Good opening from the President as well, esp. the bit about making us safer and getting rid of the AQ brass. Since it’s Him, the Beeboids won’t be complaining about exactly how He “went after” those trying to kill us.

02.07

Damn, Romney spiked the Bin Laden football already! Do I take a drink?

02.07

Decent opening by Romney on what many of us hoped to happen with the Arab Spring. Let’s see if he can make connections that will make any sense.

02.05

Take a drink every time the President spikes the Bin Laden football.

02.04

Two minutes, but how many words?????

02.03

Was Bob’s remark about not sharing the questions a little swipe at Madame Crowley?

02.03

Here we go. Ah, Bob Shieffer (sp?). He should be better than the last two, hopefully not quite as permissive as Lehrer.

01.56

I haven’t even noticed who the moderator will be tonight. Can’t be any worse than the last two.

01.36

Ah, that’s better. Back in ten.

01.34

Did I turn off the stupid social media stuff?

01.32

Seems to be working. Tune back in at 9:00pm EDT (-5hrs GMT) or 1:00am UK time. Anyone still up please feel free to contribute in the comments.

01.30

Test?