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.

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.

The US, the BBC, and Guns: Bias? What Bias? Agenda? What Agenda?

Mardell just can’t help himself. He made a video report from just outside the Washington Navy Yard yesterday, featuring interviews BBC freelancers collected from a couple of the mass murderer’s friends, as well as his own analysis.

Mardell said that mass murder of this kind is now “as American as baseball.” Isn’t that charming? He wouldn’t dare say that child rape or honor killings or beheadings were as Islamic as a prayer rug. The BBC’s editorial double standards are clear.

Most people here will recall the not-so-prescient words of the BBC’s top man in the US the last time there was a mass shooting on a US military base:

The truth is of course cloudy. The alleged murderer was clearly a Muslim, but there is very little to suggest that he adhered to a hard-line interpretation of his religion or that he had political or religious motives.

And he closed with this classic:

Still, searching for patterns and for answers is part of what it is to be human. I loathe cliche, but perhaps, for once, this is a “senseless tragedy”, devoid of deeper meaning.

Mardell wrote these words even after it was known that Maj. Hassan shouted what the BBC has watered down to “an Islamic benediction”, and news of his jihadi leanings was coming out. In other words, his personal belief system – and an agenda to stamp down any possible unapproved thoughts – caused him not only to ignore facts, but to push what he must have known was a questionable Narrative.

This time around, because there’s a different agenda – the anti-gun movement – no way is he suggesting this was a senseless tragedy – even though it clearly was – because he and the BBC want to push it. He admitted he was asked to do this in his previous piece, so we know it’s not just him, and is acceptable practice in the BBC newsroom. It’s almost as if Mardell’s saying, “Don’t blame me for this sickening display: I’m only doing what London asked.” I’m not generous enough to give him the benefit of the doubt, I’m afraid, as he has form. This time around, the tragedy can be used to push an agenda of which he approves, so off he goes.

That’s fine, some may say, because it’s only natural that people will question what some see as the US free-for-all when it comes to weapons of mass murder when this kind of thing keeps happening with the regularity of the phases of the moon. Well, in this case, the leap to push that agenda was based on false reports, even though world-class, experienced professional journalists know all too well that all kinds of crazy stuff gets reported in the early hours of these tragedies. It’s human to speculate wildly, and opinion writers and pundits – as well as titled BBC editors and silly bloggers on obscure websites which nobody reads – can do so as much as they like, since opinion is their job, not reporting of facts. Yet the line is blurred at the BBC. People whose job includes giving opinion also do reporting, and it’s sometimes hard to tell where one ends and the other begins. In this case, facts were already decided upon, and the agenda was ordered. (My own local paper, the NY Daily News, is equally guilty of this sickness, and the writer I think I dislike most wrote the idiotic cover article. The steep decline of this paper since a News of the World/NY Post guy took over is a topic for another rant. And it’s not even owned by evil Uncle Rupert. But at least it’s not my official state broadcaster with a legacy of trust and deep cultural connection spanning generations, and I don’t have to pay for it if I don’t want to.)

Now once again Mardell is talking out of his own agenda even after facts are known to render it baseless. By the time this video was finished, news was already coming out that there was no AR-15 involved. It’s pretty hard to shrug this off as the understandable result of the fog of confusion common in the first few hours after this kind of incident. Not only that, but the murderer’s primary weapon was not the shotgun he brought, but guns he took from within the premises. The gun-control argument was rendered irrelevant, yet Mardell pushes it anyway.

Even here he closes with a sigh (my inference, yeah) that this tragedy won’t push the gun-control debate in the desired direction. If he didn’t think it needed changing in a stricter direction, why ask the question he asked? If he was impartial – or the BBC actually cared about impartiality on pet issues – he would have stopped asking about gun control laws once it was known to him that banning assault weapons wouldn’t have prevented this. All Alexis had on him when he walked in the door was a shotgun. Even British subjects are allowed to own shotguns, so nobody can claim cultural superiority here. Anyone insisting that stricter US gun laws would have prevented this must by definition be demanding even more draconian laws than the UK has. Any takers?

Mardell reports the killer had a checkered past that should have raised red flags. How many times have we heard this now? Sandy Hook, Colorado, Ft. Hood, the DC sniper of some years back. One could make the case that most or all the newsworthy multiple murders by AR-15 last year were done by people who would qualify as mentally ill in some way. It’s becoming, as the sage said, as American as baseball.

In spite of this, Mardell is worried about gun control laws which have absolutely nothing to do with this tragedy instead of what he knows is a systemic failure to keep seriously mentally ill people out of trouble. He knows this is the real problem. He brings it up himself in both the published article and this video report. It’s a big, big problem. I dare say it’s hard not to have developed even a tiny bit of pity or sympathy for the poor bastard who seems to have been a decent sort who just went mad. And now yet more families are hurt and diminished, lives cut short, hearts broken, because of a broken system. But not the one with which the BBC is obsessed.

Yet in his text piece he blamed lax gun control laws for the police deciding not to prosecute Alexis for shooting somebody’s tires and for firing a gun into a ceiling. Gun control laws aren’t relevant to those incidents either, but Mardell either doesn’t understand that or doesn’t care to.

The Ft. Hood murders were not a “senseless tragedy”, yet Mardell speculated that they were, because he had an agenda on his mind. This time it really was a senseless tragedy, but he’s not speculating that it was one and instead is finding a reason for it, because he has an agenda on his mind. Gosh, it’s a shame this tragedy can’t be exploited to change the debate, isn’t it? If that’s not on Mardell’s mind when he wrote and said this stuff, why did he keep saying it? Who other than anti-gun people have this perspective?

Mardell says that this tragedy will not change the debate about stricter gun laws, but gives the wrong reason for it. He said in his printed piece that US culture needs to change first. In fact – and he knew this by the time he made this video report – the reason it won’t change the debate is because it’s irrelevant. No assault weapon was involved, and the only weapon the killer brought to the party was one even BBC employees in Salford could own.

There is no other explanation for what he’s done. His judgment is clouded. And it’s not just Mardell.

Syria Crisis Raises Question of Mark Mardell’s Bias And Accuracy

As the President of the United States continues to fail in drumming up international support for bombing Syria, and the failure to win now-vital Congressional approval looms on the horizon, the BBC’s Mark Mardell is having a crisis of faith in which he reveals personal bias on the US, war, and the President. He also makes serious factual errors which reveal either his incompetence as a journalist or that a deep personal bias has clouded his judgment.

Syria crisis raises question of US role in the world

Right away, Mardell spells out his dilemma.

The president is clearing his desk, going all-out to persuade for a vote that he has said is vital for America’s credibility.

It is also a critical moment for American perception of itself as a power in the world. But in the details of the debate over Syria, the biggest questions and the larger picture are in danger of being lost.

In essence, it’s whether the world needs a super cop. And whether the US should simply assume that role.

I laughed out loud at this point. A little more than two years ago, back when the President was dithering deliberating over whether or not to send some humanitarian missiles at Libya, Mardell was engaged in contemplation of what he believed was the President’s internal personal struggle:

  • The tug between not wanting to be the world’s policeman and being the only guy with the gun and the muscle to stop a murder.

  • The whole-hearted desire to act in concert with other countries, and the realisation that implies going along with stuff they want to do and you don’t. (Being dragged into a war by the French, imagine.)

  • Not wanting to be out front when many world structures are designed in the expectation that like it or not, America will lead.

  • Intellectual appreciation that the ghost of Western colonialism is a powerful spirit never exorcised, and frustration that an untainted liberal interventionism hasn’t grown in other countries.

It took a long time for Mr Obama to decide to take action, and the route he has taken, a genuine commitment to acting with other nations with the US in the lead, has made for the appearance of more muddle. Now it is time for clarity.

How’s that working out now, Mark? Guess who demanded action first, and who’s our only ally now. Remember when Mardell was worried that the President had accidentally painted Himself into a corner with that “red line” business”? Just the other day, the President, like a child being asked who scribbled with crayons on the wall, told the world, “I didn’t didn’t set a red line: the world set a red line.”  Now Mardell seems to have happily forgotten about his original concern and dutifully shifted blame away from Him. Trapped In A World He Never Made.

The BBC’s top analyst of US affairs has been consistent in his anti-war stance, his defense of the President, and in placing blame anywhere except on Him. Most recently, we saw Mardell in Ohio, reporting about a couple of town hall meetings held by a Congressman, where he found a way to blame George Bush, sort of. Hyper-partisan, intransigent Republicans currently in Washington also shared the blame. Any lack of trust in the President Himself seemed non-existent.

Notice that Mardell portrays Rep. Johnson as having been “unimpressed” by the Administration’s secret intelligence briefing simply because neither the President nor Vice President were there. He says that Johnson merely “had to wait a while to find out” about what the situation was with the chemical weapons, and solid evidence of an actual war plan. Mardell plays his skepticism as personal pettiness, not as a perhaps sincere objection based on legitimately reached opinion. In fact, here’s what Johnson actually said in a public statement, which Mardell would have been given:

“Given how important this Congressional briefing was for the President to make his case for taking military action in Syria, I was surprised that neither he, nor the Vice President, nor any cabinet level official was in attendance.  The decision on whether or not to commit American troops and risk American lives when the United States is not directly threatened is a difficult one, and the President has the heavy burden of convincing the Congress and the American people of its merits. I left this afternoon’s briefing with more questions and concerns than I had when I arrived.”

Sure, he was surprised that nobody of any importance was there. But this appears to be a case where the President and His Administration demonstrated the contempt in which they hold Congress. This wasn’t a snub just at Johnson, it was a snub at all of them. And the bit I’ve bolded is rather important, don’t you think? And it’s not just Johnson who came away skeptical. Congress didn’t actually get satisfactory answers, and even top Democrats say so. Why would Mardell censor that piece of information? No wonder the President is now “clearing His desk”, as Mardell put it today.

Back to the Top Cop thing. Mardell goes on to explain what he sees as the two justifications being used for dropping a few bombs on Syria.

The first is national interest. Mr Obama says Syria does not pose an immediate threat to the US, but its willingness to use chemical weapons threatens its allies and bases in the region.

Less frequently his administration has suggested such weapons could fall into the hands of terrorists who could use them against America.

It is pretty obvious, the bigger the world power the more its vital interests may be harmed by something happening a long way away. If the whole Middle East is in uproar, it might not make a whole heap of difference to Paraguay or Latvia.

The argument for national interest is pretty clear. The desire to intervene for what you might call ‘moral reasons’, is far more murky.

Much of this is fair enough. It doesn’t take a genius to grasp the concepts. But why are moral reasons more murky? Because China and Russia don’t agree. No, really.

Mr Obama and even more forcefully Secretary of State John Kerry have said that the world can’t stand aside and witness such suffering. Particularly not when it breaches, if not international law, then international norms.

It is noticeable that it is senior politicians in the US, France and the UK who are keen on this argument of liberal interventionism. It is not just Russia that won’t go along with it. China won’t either.

On a recent trip there, I became convinced that this is fairly genuine. Academics and ordinary people find it baffling that America wants to impose its values on the rest of the world.

China forcefully repeats that it wants the denuclearisation of its ally North Korea. But it is reluctant to force the issue.

So we’re supposed to question Western moral values in this case because China is baffled by US imperialism? Oh, my goodness. On what other issues are we now supposed to back off now, Mark? Looks like he’s suffering from a little going native syndrome having spent a few weeks in China working on that documentary of his on how deeply entwined our national interests are and how China’s awesomeness may very well rescue the US economy (coming next Tuedsay on Radio 4 – can’t wait!).

Pardon me as I wipe the tears of laughter and dismay out of my eye. Mardell’s also saying that we could be wrong because we haven’t heard particularly loud demands to stop Assad from Brazil, Nigeria, or Japan, either. Well, Mugabe has been pretty silent, too. That’s me convinced. Are we in the world of adult, serious political discussion, or in the proverbial university bar? Hold that thought for later, actually.

So, we’ve gone from the President “accidentally” boxing Himself into a corner and being forced to act to save face, to Him blaming the world for boxing Him into a corner and being forced to act because of our high moral values, to questioning those moral values because they don’t come from Sweden. No, seriously:

I once put it to Tony Blair that the Iraq war might have been more credible if the call for action had come from Sweden. He made the obvious point: “Well, they couldn’t do it, could they?”

Now here’s where Mardell reveals his true bias on the larger issue:

Which makes me wonder about that old saying, “to a hammer, every problem is a nail”. In this case, you have to wonder why the hammer was forged in the first place.

Mardell’s not really old enough to be a child of the ’60s, but he sure is acting like the dippiest of hippies here. Why is there war, mommy? For heaven’s sake, Mark, why not quit the BBC and go to the nearest military base and start putting flowers in rifle barrels. How can anyone take this man seriously at this point?

Speaking of the ’60s, some people here may remember this little journey down the rabbit hole when Mardell was holding session at the BBC College of Journalism. His first reaction on landing in the US after being assigned to replace Justin Webb was, “What happened to the ’60s”? His real bias is on display here. In an attempt to explain himself, he continues:

The British developed their military to defend a globe-spanning empire. The US developed its military might to intervene in Europe and then to challenge the USSR.

The absence of the original purpose has not eliminated an instinct to intervene.

Maybe the word “imperialism” makes you think of arguments “that it is all about oil” or crude land grabs.

But those Victorian imperialists really did think they were bringing civilisation and Christianity, order and the rule of law to people who couldn’t climb to such dizzying heights on their own.

America’s belief in its own mission is more universal and not driven by racism, but there is a similar zealous enthusiasm to remake the rest of the world in its image.

No, there isn’t. This is pure anti-American drivel. And notice how this is suddenly about “America” again. Seems like every time the President does something Mardell or the BBC doesn’t like, He’s not mentioned, and it’s all about “America” as a whole acting unseemly. Is the President not involved? Wasn’t He elected to cure us of this demon? Nobody ‘s making Him do this. In any case, is that what we were doing when Clinton bombed the Serbs? How about when we removed Manuel Noriega from power? Grenada? Nobody in their right mind thought we were going to make Afghanistan into a modern, Western society. Dumbing down such complex situations and issues is silly, and betrays an ideological bias. Disagreeing with policy isn’t the same thing as demonizing it, but that’s what he’s doing here. Having Mark Mardell report on the US is like having St. Mark report on the Pharisees.

Of course, stopping the horror of chemical weapons is not the same as introducing democracy at the point of a gun.

But it raises the same question of who has the authority to make the judgment that norms have been violated, and who deals out the punishment.

Oh, does it now? I don’t know about people here, but I question the wisdom of listening to Russia and China and Nigeria on the issues of human rights. So, who has the authority?

The UN is meant to be the body that can order global cops into action. But the US says the Security Council is broken, because of the Russian veto.

You mean the Security Council which includes such moral heavyweights as Azerbaijan and Pakistan?  The UN which for a while had Libya as the Chair of their Human Rights Council? With Venezuela and Qatar as members? These people are supposed to set moral standards for us all?

While the Russian action does look cynical, it is a bit like a prosecutor saying the jury system doesn’t work because he didn’t get a conviction.

You mean like so many Beeboids said after the Zimmerman verdict?

Or indeed, if David Cameron said parliament didn’t work because of the “no” vote.

Or indeed, if Mark Mardell said Congress didn’t work because they wouldn’t vote for something the President wanted.

President Obama understands how it looks to the rest of the world if the US goes it alone.

But, I thought…..

Mardell again:

It is why he was so reluctant to take the lead over Libya, why he was so slow to develop a Syria strategy.

No, it isn’t. This is where Mardell reveals not only his bias about the President, but even more of his own personal political beliefs. The President took so long to develop a strategy, and has been flailing around ever since He got caught up in His own smart-ass rhetoric, because He and His advisers actually had one all along – only it turned out to be completely, tragically, absurdly wrong.

Remarks by Ambassador Samantha Power, U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations, on Syria at the Center for American Progress, Washington D.C.

You all remember Samantha Power, right? She’s the President’s former foreign policy adviser who blamed the Jewish Lobby for criticism about His policies, then had to resign when she called Hillary Clinton “a monster” in an interview. After working for George Soros for a while, she was brought back into the fold and is now our voice at Mardell’s voice of morality, the UN. Here’s what she had to say to the far-Left Center for American Progress recently:

We worked with the UN to create a group of inspectors and then worked for more than six months to get them access to the country, on the logic that perhaps the presence of an investigative team in the country might deter future attacks. Or if not, at a minimum, we thought perhaps a shared evidentiary base could convince Russia or Iran – itself a victim of Saddam Hussein’s monstrous chemical weapons attacks in 1987-1988 – to cast loose a regime that was gassing its people. We expanded and accelerated our assistance to the Syrian opposition.

In other words, the President and his super-smart advisers are, just like Mardell, as naive as your average angry student debating world affairs in the university bar. This is just about the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard. And remember that last line about stepping up the help for the rebels for later.

Now we see that Mardell has been accidentally right, but wrong all along. The President wasn’t taking so long to develop a military strategy because He was worried about what the world would think. He was taking so long because He was working on another scheme entirely and never expected to need one. And then He thought He could get away with it, because He usually faces no consequences for anything. Just like He thought He could get away with that “red line” statement. How can Mardell not know this? He’s supposed to have been following the President’s every move closely, considering it all deeply and dutifully, researching, talking with experts, getting insider info. How can he have blown this so badly? Especially since this kind of naive negotiation is exactly the kind of thing he supports.

His bias has been driving his analysis. As I’ve maintained from the beginning, the President doesn’t have much interest or deep understanding of realpolitik and international affairs at this level. His ambitions and concerns have always been about domestic policies, domestic transformation. All these foreign issues are nuisances, distractions, things which should be delegated to various minions and apparatchiks. Where He does have opinions, they don’t seem to be very profound. And so we see here that the people doing it for Him share the most naive, ignorant views possible, and have accomplished precious little.

Why do you think we have less allies now after four years of Hillary Clinton as Sec. of State? And here’s another unasked, never mind unanswered question: If so much of the opposition to this war is due to Iraq fatigue, what about Libya? Why was Libya okay and now suddenly everyone is tired of war? That was even (illegal) regime change, he didn’t use unapproved weapons, and this is supposed to be some “proportional” limited bombing campaign.

What does “proportional” mean, anyway? Mardell isn’t interested. All he cares about is how the President looks now, and how He’ll look next week. It seems that the BBC’s North America editor’s job is not to really inform you properly about US issues, or about how the country works or what’s really going on, but how things affect the President. That’s why I often refer to him as the BBC’s US President editor.

Mardell’s journalism over the last five years has shown that his personal political ideology is very close to that of the President. This war campaign – as well as the one against Libya – is the only issue on which Mardell doesn’t approve. So he works to shift blame away from the President at every opportunity. And now he’s not only trying to analyze the situation around Him, he’s trying to figure out what the President can do to be successful. Is that really what the BBC is paying him to do?

Now about what Amb. Power said about accelerating assistance to the Syrian rebels. It’s really starting to look like this is all smoke and mirrors. As is obvious to everyone except Mardell by now, it’s impossible to think that a limited strike on a few military facilities will be the end of it. The President claims He’s not taking sides in the Syrian civil war here. He’s been very clear that this is about sending a message about killing lots of people in an unapproved method. I bet Ghaddafi’s ghost is wondering why the hell all this Iraq fatigue didn’t set in when it was his turn in the spotlight. But I digress.

Doing any real damage to Assad’s military capability is a de facto game changer in the civil war. It’s simply not credible to say that the military installations supposedly used to launch a rocket with a chemical warhead have no other purpose. I don’t mean specifically the rockets themselves which may already be armed with them, I’m talking about the larger picture. It’s impossible to believe that there can be some sort of surgical strikes so accurate that only the chemical weapons and a couple of rocket launchers will be hit. Any attack will limit Assad’s military capability, period, and it’s outrageous that we’re expected to believe that it won’t, and that any military action the US takes won’t affect – or isn’t meant to affect – the civil war. Of course it will.

Where’s Mardell’s astute analysis about that? He’s still caught up in the emotional world of teenage existential angst to notice. I’m trying not to take a position here about the rights or wrongs about taking sides or stopping Assad or regime change or what we should do next. I have opinions, obviously, but that’s not what this is about. This is about Mardell’s personal opinions coloring all his reporting and analysis in a way that makes his journalism unworthy of trusting or given much credence at all.

He’s not wondering about any of what I’ve just mentioned because he’s still stuck in his belief that The Obamessiah really is concerned only about chemical weapons, and truly doesn’t want to force regime change. We can see from Power’s speech that this simply isn’t true, that the US really is working to increase the chances of his downfall. So the President is essentially lying, Sec. of State Kerry is lying, and any BBC journalist who says the President doesn’t want to is either lying or just seriously deluded.

It’s either that, or the President and His entire Administration are a bunch of idiots and shouldn’t be trusted to run a nursery. Take your pick. In the end, this is a massive failure of BBC journalism. At your expense.

PS: Still no mention of His Nobel Prize for Peace. Come on, Mark, even Sweden has called Him on it.

That “Conservative” Supreme Court

In the Monday open thread, I called attention to the BBC’s misrepresentation of the US Supreme Court’s vote to overrule an Appeals Court ruling upholding racial preferences in university admissions. The BBC claimed that the Supreme Court has gotten more conservative since 2003, when the Court originally voted to uphold racial preferences, and on which the present case was based. This was a BBC suggestion as to the cause of the ruling.

I called that assessment into question, not only because the vote was 7-1 (with the very Left-wing Kagan recusing herself, as she supported the case in a previous job), with two liberal Justices joining the majority, but because the Court had in 2003 and still has now a liberal majority, 5-4.

The Justices in 2003:

Chief Justice Rehnquist – conservative
Stevens – liberal
O’Connor – conservative
Scalia – conservative
Kennedy – liberal
Souter – liberal
Thomas – conservative
Ginsburg – liberal
Breyer – liberal

5 liberal – 4 conservative

Today’s Court:

Chief Justice Roberts – conservative
Alito – conservative
Kennedy – liberal
Thomas – conservative
Sotomayor – liberal
Ginsburg – liberal
Scalia – conservative
Breyer – liberal
Kagan – liberal

5 liberal – 4 conservative

Today, the Supreme Court voted to overturn the Defense of Marriage Act, which barred homosexual couples from having certain benefits and rights that heterosexual couples have. Spot the missing President who originally signed the bill into law. Can you guess which political party he was? Can you guess which leading Presidential candidate for 2016 with a close personal connection to him? Blatant bias by omission there. I do hope they add this relevant bit of information as the story “evolves” (i.e. an editor tells them to stop hiding what they already know). (UPDATE: The story has evolved. The BBC now mentions Clinton, although not his party. But they get points for admitting that it had bi-partisan support in Congress. Mark Mardell would have been pleased with their determination to reach across the aisle to get things done.)

This uncomfortable fact was also censored from the BBC’s Q&A on the issue of homosexual marriage. All you’re told is that the law was “passed by Congress” in 1996. Of course, when The Obamessiah signs a bill into law, it’s all about Him doing it. When it’s a law they don’t like, particularly when it’s one signed by a darling Democrat, there’s no President to be seen.

Also, check out how the Justices voted. Exactly along the labels I gave them above. More conservative still?

What’s funny is that this is now the third major ruling in the last year in which the Supreme Court ruled on the liberal side of an issue. They upheld the key portions of ObamaCare, and struck down the key part of Arizona’s “controversial” law about dealing with illegal immigration. Now with this decision, the Left-wing/Progressive faction has victories in the three biggest issues. Yet the BBC describes the Court as becoming more conservative when it returns a decision to the lower court. Note that no law was struck down or upheld specifically by the racial preferences ruling, but rather rejected a lower court’s decision. The law is still in place, yet the BBC decided to plant the notion that the Court had become more conservative, in spite of the evidence.

Now that there’s yet another Left-wing victory, the BBC is not pointing out the liberal majority on the Court, or even daring to remind you of the political party which originally signed the DoMA into law. Is the Court still trending conservative, BBC?

The BBC should simply shut down the entire US division and replace them all with a shaved orangutan managing a news aggregator. You’d be more and better informed, and tens of millions of pounds would be saved.

Mark Mardell and the Crypto-Racism of the US

This post was inspired by a recent comment from Jim Dandy, one of our defenders of the indefensible. He said that he wanted opinion in his journalism. I expressed my disappointment that he wanted “opinionated” journalism, and he objected to what he thought was my deliberate twisting of his words.

You do know what opinionated means don’t you? It does not mean the condition of having an opinion. Or perhaps you are deliberately twisting my words.

Impartiality allows for opinion to be expressed.

I was confused by this, and asked for an explanation, which I got:

Opinionated is a perjorative term suggesting the person unduly, aggressively and dogmatically holds by their opinions.

It might be different in the US.

Still confused, I tried a different tack, and asked Jim if he felt that the BBC’s North America editor, Mark Mardell was the embodiment of his definition, to which he said, simply, “No.”

This led me to compile this collection of Mardell’s journalism to provide evidence that he does, in fact, unduly, aggressively and dogmatically hold by his opinion. Specifically his opinion that the Tea Party movement and, essentially, all opposition to the President is based on racism.

Read the following, and decide for yourselves whether or not Mardell allows his personal opinion to inform his reporting, and whether or not he has dogmatically stuck to his guns in spite of the evidence before him.

September 15, 2009, when Mardell was barely a month into his new job:

Is race a factor in Obama protests?

So I am describing and inviting debate, not passing comment. The relationship between black and white has been such an important driving factor in American political history that it would be strange if it now mattered not a jot. The allegation is that many of those who are calling their president “un-American” mean he is not white.

Democratic propaganda, over-sensitivity or truth? Tell me…

He says he’s not passing comment, then gives his opinion anyway. This is after he gives you a link to only one point of view from the vaunted NY Times: yes, opposition to the President is based on racism. Mardell came to the US knowing for a fact that this is a racist country. Let’s see if he learns anything in the coming years.

Just a couple of weeks later, Mardell eagerly reported that Jimmy Carter said that opposition to the President was due to racism. He then went out to try and find people to support that, but came away with only the suggestion that the African-American community thinks it’s all down to racism. To Mardell, this is proof enough. The President Himself said that He doesn’t think that’s the case, but Mardell believes He’s lying.

Just outside his restaurant, I chat to some African-American women and mention what we are doing.

“Woah woah for Carter,” one says, raising her hands above her head. “He tells it like it is.”

She cannot peer into the soul of the protesters, any more than President Carter can.

But many African-Americans may feel as though a subterranean stream has burst above ground, even if the president would rather not get caught in the spray.

This woman may not be able to peer into people’s souls, but obviously Mardell can. And he does, over and over.

January 26, 2010:

Tea Party seek purity and victory

Mardell and the sub editor who wrote the title are actually referring to what they see as ideological purity regarding taxation and small government, but nobody with any intellectual honesty can claim that they don’t realize the not-so-subtle reference to the idea of racial purity espoused by actual white supremacists. Mardell chose the word very carefully. After talking about policy stuff, he said this near the end of the post:

There is no display of the visceral hatred that dripped from the cable networks last summer, and little of the sense that Obama’s government is some how illegitimate, rather than just plain wrong. There is a feeling that the president promised to govern from the centre and he hasn’t. But I have to ask, is this movement really of the people, or of largely white, largely well-off people?

They’re white, so there must be an underlying reason behind their objection to expanding government and raising taxes and increasing our debt and leading us to government-provided health care. Never mind what they say out loud: Mardell is looking into their souls. This is journalism?

Curiously, when reports came out about Sen. Harry Reid’s unfortunate statements about The Obamessiah back in 2008, Mardell defended him against charges of racism.

Indeed is what he said racist, or in any other way reprehensible? Liz Cheney thinks it is racist. The Kansas Star calls the remarks “stinking racist comments”. A left wing blogger Field Negro says it is “ignorant stereotyping”. Mr Reid himself refers to the comments as “improper”.

But what has irritated me about the flood of articles is that there has been a lot of nudging and winking but few have come out and said what they find offensive.

Imagine that. The man who has no trouble declaring racism without pointing to specifics which he finds offensive is irritated by what he sees as vague hints by other people.

So let’s have a look at what he actually said. The comments come from a book out this week, Game Changes .The authors say Reid “was wowed by Obama’s oratorical gifts and believed that the country was ready to embrace a black presidential candidate, especially one such as Obama – a ‘light-skinned’ African American ‘with no Negro dialect, unless he wanted to have one,’ as he later put it privately.”

Mardell then actually defends Reid by saying he’s just “old-fashioned”. Nothing to see here, move along. Why is this not racist, but someone who objects to wealth re-distribution, full stop, without a word about anyone’s dialect or skin color, is racist? Of course, Harry Reid is a Democrat. He holds approved thoughts, so cannot be racist. However, if one holds an unapproved thought about an economic or political issue, there must be something inherently wrong with one’s character, an underlying reason for disapproving of, say, the NHS. Reid gets a pass, but as we all saw recently with Mardell’s and the BBC’s coverage of Mitt Romney, a Republican is by definition flawed for making a much less dangerous gaffe (e.g. “binders of women”).

In closing, Mardell’s defense of Reid reached new heights of hilarity:

But the guts of what Reid was saying was that many American voters were still pretty racist but some wouldn’t see Obama as “really” black. He thought Obama was acceptable to the electorate because he was light-skinned and didn’t have a voice that identified him as black. That seems to be Reid’s attempt to describe a state of affairs that may be unpleasant, but may be true. He was explaining the lie of the land as he saw it, not endorsing the views he outlined. If you can’t do that you are no good as a strategist.

You read that right: Reid was making a racist statement to highlight the racism of other people. How clever of him. Mardell really does have a magical gift for peering into people’s souls, doesn’t he? Naturally, this supports his opinion that opposition to the President is based on racism.

Later that year, October 9, 2010:

Why is the Tea Party boiling?

So here there is a great paradox: a movement that boasts its theoretical love of America and democracy but which hates its real life institutions. It’s not their fairly mainstream economic theories I strain to understand, but the passion; a passion which means that political discourse has become increasingly uncivil, filled with vitriol and abuse.

It’s nice that Mardell admits his condescension, but this is where we depart the realm of journalism and enter the land of opinion. That’s the whole point of BBC editors, of course, which causes endless problems. Notice how remarkably different his reaction to the Tea Party movement was to his opinion of the Occupiers. He loved their passion. I wonder what the key difference is?

So why is the Tea Party boiling?

Some say it’s racism. Those I’ve met are not racist but I do wonder if for some there’s a sense of lost superiority. For all their lives there’s been a white man in the White House. It’s not just that Obama isn’t in this image, he does not fit any stereotype of a black person that they know. Cool, cosmopolitan, calm and aloof. There is a sense of disconnect for what ought to be their view of the natural order.

“Some say…” He says straight out he hasn’t met any racists yet, but refuses to let go of his suspicions. He’d been in the US for over a year by that point, gone to several Tea Party gatherings, spoken with lots of politicians. Yet it hadn’t changed his opinion one iota. Is he lying that he didn’t meet any racists? Or does he just think he hasn’t worked hard enough to find them under the bed? You can almost feel Mardell straining to justify his opinion in spite of what he sees in front of him.

A woman who told me that Obama was a socialist and her country was sliding into Marxism said when he was elected president she drew the curtains for three weeks and couldn’t answer the telephone. Only the Tea Party saved her.

America is changing fast and some in the Tea Party people don’t like the loss of the assumption that white, European, 1950s America is the norm, the benchmark.

He hasn’t met any racists, but is still confident enough to tell you that some in the Tea Party are concerned about race. Not only is no evidence provided to back this up, but he even says he’s never met any actual racists. How can he get away with this?

Just a couple weeks later, October 30, 2010:

Tea Party not so mad

The main speaker said: “Our name is being dragged through the mud, that we’re violent racists.” The all-white crowd cheer or just nod. I have never seen any overt racism at a Tea Party rally and don’t today.

No “overt racism”, eh? Then why bother pointing out the “all-white crowd”? A rhetorical question, I know. When people don’t hold approved thoughts, there must be something wrong with them. Having given up the struggle to justify his opinion that it’s based on racism in the face of no evidence, he’s moved on to qualifying his statements that he hasn’t found any evidence. He doesn’t have to provide any now.

Over the past year I have spoken to many supporters of the Tea Party and been to lots of rallies. I have spoken to people whose characterisation of Mr Obama and his aims seems to me way off beam, a cartoon enemy conjured from some 1950s nightmare. Some believe the constitution tightly constrains the sort of economy America must have, and that only they can define what is properly American.

Now he’s giving his opinion on Constitutional law and economics. This isn’t journalism at all. This is an op-ed piece. Like I said, this the inherent problem in the very concept of BBC (titled) editors.

There is a wide-eyed enthusiasm that is easy to mock.

Yes, very easy to mock. In fact, it’s so easy, that Mardell happily mocked one of them during an appearance at the BBC College of Journalism. First, of course, he has to give the disclaimer that he’s never seen any overt racism. The relevant bit begins at around 54:45 in, where a young Beeboid asks Mardell about the “visceral hatred” of the President.

We’re not racist, he says, “At least not in a straight-forward sense”. Oh, really? He says that underlying the concern about government spending our money, it’s really about not wanting the government to “spend money on people not like them”. No real evidence, but he remains as convinced of it as he was the day he arrived. Even if we don’t come out and wear the pointy white hoods and carry our lynchin’ ropes around, we’re still racist under the skin. And he happily mocks a woman with a Southern accent. “You knew exactly what it was.”  Oh, how they all laughed, eh? To Mardell, the Tea Party is driven by crypto-racism. This is what they really think of us, and it informs all BBC reporting on US issues.

(Full analysis of the BBC’s CoJ audience with Mardell can be read here.)

Right before the election last November, Mardell laid it all out:

A lot of time in my first two years was spent trying to understand what lay behind the anger that I had seen on TV.

As we’ve seen, he had a pre-conceived notion of what lay behind that anger: racism. So what has he learned in the intervening years?

Beyond a fairly conventional conservative concern about taxation and debt, there is an inchoate angst that their country is going in the wrong direction, that they need to “take it back”.

Some think this is code for “take it back from the black man in the White House”.

After all the evidence of his reporting on the subject, it’s quite clear that Mardell is using the standard hack trick of “Some say…” to present his own opinion. We know he’s being disingenuous here. He’s said quite openly a number of times that he thinks it’s all about race. Using this dodge is a big phony act.

It is not that simple. Nearly all of the people I met were white and most middle-aged or older. But few were racist in the conventional sense.

The only time I have seen that in the raw, I was off duty, at a dinner party. A woman growing increasingly passionate as the wine flowed called Obama a “monkey” and said “he’s trying to give OUR money to THEM”.

Not the poor, not the shiftless, “them”.

Since the woman Mardell mocked earlier was a crypto-racist and didn’t openly make any racist statements, we have to assume that this is now two clear incidents – to him – of racism, out of the hundreds of thousands or people Mardell’s seen at Tea Party rallies and whatever political gatherings he visits. Yet on the strength of this he still demonizes the entire movement, still convinced that tens of millions of people are driven by racism and not legitimate policy concerns.

“They” are part of a different America, with a different history who want a different path for their country.

A millionaire in a designer chair in his plush Chicago home, surrounded by modern art, makes the same point as the broken-toothed men perched on smashed-up office furniture outside a beat-up shotgun house in Texas.

Next to me in the pew of a Florida church, the man with a trim grey beard and a “veterans for Obama badge” tells me the same thing.

These very different people all had one thing in common. They’re black. And that means they share a history and often they also share a perception of the present.

Black Americans up and down this huge country tell me Mr Obama didn’t create this mess, and he needs time to clear it up.

They know all about patience. They know all about clearing up other people’s mess. They know about being shut out of this country’s narrative.

There’s a black history month. It rather implies that for the other 11 months, it is white history that will have its way. With Mr Obama they feel that has changed, just a little.

And with that, Mardell moves from demonizing the opposition for caring only about the color of a man’s skin to declaring that we must re-elect a President simply because of the color of the man’s skin. It means a lot to black people to see one of their own as President, so we must dismiss all other concerns. He was only recently pushing that Narrative, in September 2012. (Even then he was still declaring that opposition to the President’s  policies is really only objecting to redistributing wealth “to people not like us.”) This is racialist thinking at its finest. Anyone who watched the full video of Mardell’s appearance at the BBC CoJ will also have seen him admit that the President actually isn’t quite up to the job. In other words, we must keep a poor performer on simply because of the color of his skin. He’s not that competent, but it’s okay cos He is black. The soft racism of lowered expectations lives on at the BBC.

In the end, Mardell has learned nothing. He came here with a pre-conceived opinion, and steadfastly refused to let the evidence before him change his mind. His personal opinion remains unchanged, and informs all of his reporting. Since he’s the “North America editor”, his opinion also informs other aspects of BBC reporting on US issues.

Next, we can have a debate about what it means to have opinion in journalism, and how impartiality allows for it.

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.

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?

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.

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.

“I’m Not Very Impartial When It Comes To US Politics! x” said the BBC journalist.

(UPDATED, see below the fold) On Wednesday’s open thread, DB posted a tweet from BBC journalist, Jude Machin, expressing her hope to wake up in the middle of the night to watch her beloved Obamessiah debate His enemy for the first time. The point DB was making is best expressed visually, so I’ll reproduce it here:

UPDATE: As you can see above, someone has forced a little impartiality on Jude after all. Awww. I’m currently having difficulty uploading the screenshot I took at the time, but fortunately DB took one and posted it in the comments below.

(UPDATE to above UPDATE: The above update was written after Machin changed the pic to one of herself holding what appeared to be an Olympic torch, but before the entire Twitter account was killed. I was referring here to the new profile avatar.)

Jude has gone all out in her devotion, it seems. So much for not doing anything stupid, eh, Ms. Boaden? Naturally, a fellow worshiper chimed in with an “Amen, sister!”


…prompting a response from the erstwhile “Obamamama”:


The sister worshiper is Leah Gooding, BBC Newsround presenter.

They’re all at it, and they don’t care about showing it in public. Ms. Gooding doesn’t have the requisite “views my own” get-out-of-bias free card that most of them do, but neither does she have the BBC logo. So she’s probably beyond the reach of the BBC guidelines.

Are these tweets proof of biased reporting/presenting on their own? No. But added all up, they create a profile of the very kind of echo chamber fellow Left-leaning BBC journalist, Kate Dailey, was warning against only yesterday. It has to affect BBC reporting on some level. If they all share the same approved thoughts anyway, it will happen naturally, without conspiracy or awareness.

Time for some more social media training courses, I think. Somebody should ask Helen Boaden if this is the kind of thing she was talking about when she asked staff to engage the brain before “rushing to communicate.

UPDATE AGAIN: Below are the screenshots. I’ve left the above embeds as is, in order to show that Machin’s Twitter account has been sent down the memory hole. That’s why there’s no more profile pic. It’s possible she killed it once I told them I had screenshots. Another round of training is in order, I should think. At your expense.

Jude Machin Twitter Screenshot Obama avatar

Leah Gooding approves of Jude Machin's Obama Avatar

Muslim Brotherhood Calls For Violence – Jeremy Bowen Unavailable For Comment

Thank goodness somebody at the US Embassy in Cairo has a pair:

It was in reply to this, as pointed out by Douglas Murray in the Spectator:

(Screengrab of the US tweet can be seen here. I’ll get to why this is necessary in a minute.)

Isn’t that sweet? One of the Muslim Brotherhood’s Arabic tweets, to which the US Embassy tweet was referring said:

Egyptians rising up in support of the Prophet in front of the American embassy

That’s the caption to the photo of a raging mob from this article on the MB’s official website, Ikwhanonline.  The article itself is a description of the incident, not really an incitement to violence or anything, but it’s revealing of the MB’s real attitude towards the violence nonetheless. I’m sure defenders of the indefensible who are media professional can explain to me how this casual description of violence jibes with their official declaration of sympathy with the US. There was no condemnation until somebody called them on it.

Any offending tweets have been deleted, of course, just like certain Beeboid tweets after they got caught. Notice that, while the MB’s social media staff seem to beavering away most days, sending out tweets practically every hour, sometimes even more often than that, there’s a huge gap of silence between 1:28pm and 11:23pm. Curious. Similarly, there’s an anomalous twelve hour gap of silence on Sept. 12 in the Twitter feed of the MB’s official website. According to Bloomberg, the MB cheekily played innocent when responding to the US Embassy.

CBS News seems to be taking the MB’s side on this one, claiming that, while the US Embassy deleted their tweet, the MB’s own tweets can still be found on their feed. This is obviously not true. But it’s pretty uncool that the US Embassy staff was forced to delete their tweets. This is the same US Embassy which tweeted an apology for the film before the attacks. What a disaster. There’s groveling dhimmitude at the highest levels of the US Government, it seems. The Leftosphere, naturally, is criticizing the US Embassy staff for being childish. I have no idea why nobody else seems to be wondering why there’s a huge gap in the MB’s twitter feed, since the US Embassy in Cairo must have been responding to something a little stronger.

However, MEMRI highlights this article from Aug. 27 by an MB member directly calling for jihad against the usual stock villains, descendents of pigs and dogs, and the US:

Praising The Traits Of The Jihad Fighter

“Fasting [during Ramadan] is one of the most powerful means to educate the human spirit for jihad. Fasting involves a spiritual effort to act in a way contrary to what is accepted, and to completely abandon desires… It also schools the Muslim in patience, resilience, endurance, and sacrifice, which are all traits of the jihad fighter…

Plus there’s a call to liberate Jerusalem. They’re not so innocent as Jeremy Bowen, award-winning BBC Middle East editor, once claimed. Bowen described the Muslim Brotherhood as being “conservative, moderate and non-violent”. Until, that is, he got caught and quickly deleted the word “moderate”. Unfortunately, though, the “non-violent” modifier is still there. This should be enough to cause his removal, but the BBC still views him as their most trusted go-to man on Middle East issues. And they expect you to trust someone who describes the Muslim Brotherhood as moderate and non-violent.

Bowen’s colleague, John Leyne, suggests that this violence could lead to better relations between the US and Egypt. No, seriously.

The filmmaker was removed from his home yesterday – voluntarily, yeah, surrounded by police – for “questioning”. Whatever his real name is, the guy is apparently on probation for a conviction for bank fraud. One requirement of his probation is that he can’t use the internet, or get someone to do something on the internet for him. That’s why the FBI had him brought in. In other words, somebody uploading that trailer to YouTube on his behalf is enough for the President of the US to have somebody investigated and brought in. The man has since been released, which pretty much tells you all you need to know about the people who run US law enforcement right now.

The BBC, which spent a huge amount of energy recently trying to figure out who made this film, has for some bizarre reason censored both the news about this incident, and the news about the twitter stuff. I wonder why?

Again, I fully expect our defenders of the indefensible who are media professional to explain this all to me in detail.

Paul Mason On Paul Ryan

Newsnight economics editor Paul Mason has put together a little hit piece on Paul Ryan. Under the pretext of examining whether or not Ryan’s budget proposals will help the US in fiscal crisis, Mason attacks and demonizes.

Could Paul Ryan’s plans fix US debt?

Hands up all those who think we’re going to get an honest examination of those plans. Nobody?

Mason’s opening salvo tells you it’s an attack. Right away he claims that in a matter of days Ryan has “polarized US politics”. What? Haven’t Mardell and the rest of them been telling us that the country’s politics have been polarized and more divided than ever before since the nasty Tea Party got busy? All of a sudden we’re polarized?

The video clip of Ryan is cut short before we get to actual policy points, allowing through just a statement about cutting spending in general. So far, you’re not informed at all about the actual plans.

First expert commentator: this benefits the President. How does this help examine whether or not Ryan’s plans will benefit or harm the country? Don’t be silly: that’s not what Mason’s goal is at all. His real goal is show that Ryan is bad for the country, and a bad choice for Romney. Whether or not Ryan’s policies help the President in campaign rhetoric is irrelevant to a discussion about Ryan’s plans fixing the debt. But that’s what Mason gives you.

Then Mason plays an excerpt of Ryan giving the President a hard time over budget issues. This video has been making the rounds of the Rightosphere lately, as evidence of why Romney chose him. So the Beeboids do pay attention after all. But listen to what Mason says next. Ryan wants to cut Welfare and Food Stamps, apparently. And, “says, Ryan, growth would follow.” So that’s it, is it? Crushing the poorest and most vulnerable is Ryan’s recipe for success, eh?

It’s the simplest trick in the world: use the most general terms possible, no details, and claim “accuracy”. In fact, even the mandarins at the government program themselves admit that it’s more about putting back some means-testing as a way to get spending back to 2008 levels. Sure, they describe it as the cruel wresting of vital support for “low-income families”, but that’s their job. They’re not about fixing the debt problem. Mason is giving you a talking point more than he’s giving you a useful fact. Of course, the BBC can claim “accuracy” here, because Ryan’s plan would, in fact, cut expenditure on these programs. The hows and whys are apparently irrelevant.

But that’s not even the real point, is it? This is supposed to be about whether or not Ryan’s budget ideas will save the country. Mason, it seems, has no interest in giving you any information with which to decide for yourselves. Instead, he’s giving you partisan attack points. Then the biased reporting really kicks in.

Mason next shows a clip from Ryan’s recent stump appearance in Iowa. He got heckled, and Mason uses this as proof that “the Democrat half of the country” doesn’t like him. Again, we get no policy statement from him, just the bit where he gets heckled.

I’d like to pause for a moment and ask defenders of the indefensible to show me examples of the BBC showing the President getting heckled and reporting it as proof that a portion of the country has a legitimate objection to His policies.

As for the Ryan clip, all we see is him criticizing the hecklers, which is followed immediately by footage of the President having a great old time meeting some other Iowans. He’s at ease, smiling and pressing the flesh, complimenting the local prowess in sno-cone making, and nearly kissing a baby. No hecklers, no negatives, no hint that part of the country might object to any of His policies.

However, I have to ask if this footage was included in the interests of “balance”? If so, why? This is supposed to be about Ryan and his budget ideas. Actually, Mason cleverly uses this as a segue to support his rather fatuous statement that this election is suddenly about “where you’re from”. It’s bogus because Ryan was teasing. Anybody who doesn’t rely on or trust the BBC for their news on US issues will know very well about just how ugly and violent the Democrats in Wisconsin can get when they don’t like a politician. Ryan wasn’t seriously saying those hecklers could never be from Iowa or Wisconsin. He was just making a weak crack about them being rude. For Mason to take that and spin it into a larger issue of some kind of regional divide is even weaker. Now, one could make a case for the South not being so supportive of the President, but that’s all racism, according to the Left and the BBC, and not because they think Ryan’s budget ideas are sound. But that’s another argument altogether, and won’t help Mason’s agenda.

Then we get a liar from the Washington Post. She plays the class war game, much beloved by Mason and the BBC. The WaPo hack claims that choosing Ryan is proof that Romney wants to cut taxes on the rich, full stop. Once again the BBC can claim the vaguest definition of “accuracy” here, because a tax cut across the board – for everyone – will by definition include tax cuts for the rich. This is, in fact, Romney’s plan, something the BBC leaves out in order to seriously mislead you and grossly misrepresent the facts. Mason gets away with it this time because it’s some US mouthpiece saying it and not him. So where’s the balance, the explanation of even one single relevant detail of Ryan’s or Romney’s plan never mind whether or not it will help fix the debt crisis? Don’t make me laugh.

After this, Mason gives us another White House talking point: it’s Congress’s fault. No mention that the Republican-led House has passed a budget – twice – while the Democrat-led Senate has blocked it and failed to pass one in three years and counting. No mention that the President’s own offerings have been such a joke that the CBO couldn’t even score it and His Plan For Us never passed the laugh test enough for anyone in Congress to even consider it.

Mason gives us one last generality, that Ryan wants to cut spending in order to promote growth. “But that is one major throw of the dice.” Yes, that’s one opinion: Paul Mason’s. Which is the whole reason the BBC has these titled “editor” positions. It gives them an excuse to allow opinion-mongering in place of real reporting. Not a single second of actual reporting is in evidence here. Instead, it’s carefully selected and edited footage to support Mason’s opinion of Ryan’s fiscal conservatism.

Now that I’ve spent time playing the ball, it’s time to play the man. We know for a fact that Mason is a Marxist, and supports the Occupy movement. We know his political opinions from his tweets and his books and his support for and participation in far-Left organizations and conferences. All that on its own would be enough to cause concern over his capability for impartial reporting, except the BBC doesn’t accept that. Yet now we see his opinion being offered on air, and it’s the same one we see from his extracurricular activities. His personal political bias informs his “reporting”. It’s as plain as day.

Your license fee hard at work, promoting the domestic agenda of the leader of a foreign country.

Mark Mardell – Anti-War Correspondent

Sometimes Mark Mardell just can’t help but express his opinion on world affairs. This time he’s expressing his disdain for the way US troops will continue to engage in military action in Afghanistan even though a decision has been made by the President to hand full military control over to the Afghan Government in 2014. The fact that he simply doesn’t understand what this means shows just how naive and ideological the man is.

Mission, sort of, accomplished

After the obligatory dig at George Bush, Mardell gives us an analogy to show us what he thinks about the whole state of affairs. He likens the troop draw-down and continued military policing of the country to the pointless butchery in the last few hours of World War I after the armistice had been signed. No, this highly-paid, world-traveled, expert journalist actually doesn’t know the difference between a cease-fire and the gradual handing over of power to a new government after military reconstruction.

I have been asking some of those involved whether the end in Afghanistan amounts to a prolonged version of much the same thing.

For the next two years British and American soldiers will be risking their lives for a war that we know will end in 2014, no matter what.

See what I mean? He really doesn’t get it. And he’s not done expressing his opinion. Of course, being a clever, trained journalist, he uses the rhetorical device of asking a question behind which to hide his opinion.

Has Nato masterfully spun an acceptance of defeat and subsequent retreat into something that looks a bit like victory?

Defeat? Al Qaeda has long been broken into the tiniest of pieces, really no longer existing, the Taliban we’re fighting bears little resemblance to those who ran much of the country 12 years ago. This is obviously a definition of “defeat” I wasn’t previously aware of. It’s not a perfect, obvious victory in that we haven’t created a stable environment like we did in Germany or Japan after WWII. But Mardell doesn’t see any of that. He sees only continued fighting, ergo it’s a defeat.

So outraged and confused is he by the fact that young men will continue to die for what he sees as someone merely hitting the “off” switch, that he goes to Ft. Bragg to question the last batch of US troops preparing for their tour of engagement. Fortunately, most of the soldiers seem to understand what they’re up against, and can grasp the larger picture better than the man the BBC expects not only you to trust about US issues, but expects their own young journalists to trust for lessons on how to be a correspondent.

The soldiers seem to understand that there are larger issues at play in the long term, but also realize that doesn’t discount everything that’s gone on the whole time. To Mardell, though, the fact that there are larger issues at play is proof that this war never should have happened, and needs to be shut down. Of course, it wouldn’t be a Mark Mardell report without the reflexive praising of the President, and he doesn’t disappoint:

It seems obvious to me that Obama has been pretty hard-headed, deciding to end a war when it was clear to him that it couldn’t be “won” in a conventional sense.

This view is supported by an important article by David Sanger in the New York Times.

Here we see the appeal to authority. Because he realizes most of his readers won’t know who Sanger is, he even explains that authority for us.

Sanger’s record is impressive. He gets the inside story more often than any other Washington journalist.

People who do know who Sanger is, though, will know that he mostly just likes hands-on, authoritative Presidential behavior in this matters. He like Clinton’s quasi-personal approach, mocked Bush as “Incurious George”, and expressed his disappointment when the current President dithered on Libya and then led from behind. Funny how Mardell wasn’t appealing to Sanger’s authority then, eh? So now when the President has acted decisively, Sanger is pleased. Mardell is especially pleased because on this occasion his beloved Obamessiah has done something with which he agrees.

Next comes the required “balance”. Mardell quotes John McCain’s disapproval of setting a date for withdrawal. Never mind how so far this piece is really two against one – Mardell and Sanger in support of the President’s decision to withdraw, and McCain against. And it’s about to get much worse. Where does Mardell go for the final say on the matter? Does he seek out a foreign policy expert? A military historian? A seasoned diplomat? No, becaue none of them with any credibility would call this a defeat, which is what Mardell thinks. To find somebody who agrees with him, he asks an Occupier:

The many anti-war protesters who gathered on the streets of Chicago believe the real problem is the exact opposite.
Riot police and protesters clash in Chicago The Nato summit has attracted many anti-war campaigners to Chicago

Among them is Occupy Washington’s Kevin Zeese. He says soldiers are going on fighting their way towards a deadline for one reason.

“That’s what happens when you lose a war. It is like Iraq. This is how you get out when you lose.

Mark Mardell: BBC anti-war correspondent, and dishonest Beeboid. Why am I calling him dishonest this time? Because Kevin Zeese isn’t just an Occupier or merely one of a number of anti-war protesters: he’s also executive director of the anti-war activist group, “Come Home America“, and co-founder of “Voters for Peace”. The man the BBC expects you to trust most on US issues doesn’t want you to know that, because it would detract from the credibility of his piece, so he left that out. Neither he nor his editor want you to know the truth, because it’s with Zeese that Mardell agrees most of all.