BBC Censorship: WikiHacks Edition

Last week, as the BBC ramped up its mission to downplay the potential consequences of the stolen documents published by hacker and alleged rapist Julian Assange, JournoList groupie and partisan Katie Connolly produced the following article:

Has release of Wikileaks documents cost lives?

Following the open angry statements by various US officials is a series of foot-shuffling and “can’t say, guv”s. In short, the message here is there’s no way to be sure or prove that there is blood on this innocent lamb’s hands.

Except here’s what Connolly and the BBC don’t want you to know: Assange has form.

Back in 2007, WikiHacks released documents about corruption in Kenya.

The leak exposed massive corruption by Daniel Arap Moi, and the Kenyan people sat up and took notice. In the ensuing elections, in which corruption became a major issue, violence swept the country. “1,300 people were eventually killed, and 350,000 were displaced. That was a result of our leak,” says Assange. It’s a chilling statistic, but then he states: “On the other hand, the Kenyan people had a right to that information and 40,000 children a year die of malaria in Kenya. And many more die of money being pulled out of Kenya, and as a result of the Kenyan shilling being debased.”

A responsible, honest news organization would mention this little fact in an article asking in its headline if WikiHacks cost lives. Yet the BBC chose to censor this information. In fact, unless it was covered in some broadcast or other now lost to the ether (and/or BBC archives inaccessible to the public without an FOI request), they only mentioned what WikiHacks did in Kenya once, and – what a shock – chose to play down any consequences.

The BBC’s Censoring of News on the Gulf Oil Spill – Part 2

Last month, I wrote a post about how the BBC censored news of the US Government editing an independent report so that it showed scientists backing the offshore drilling ban. It turned out that the President who was supposed to be superior to George Bush in that He would now put science before ideology has in fact put ideology – in this case, Watermelon-style anti-oil ideology – above science. Yet the BBC has remained silent about it.

Now that the US Government is extending the offshore drilling ban, the BBC put up a news brief about it. The ban was supposedly going to be for six months, as a response to the big oil spill in the Gulf. When the President put the ban into place, we were told that this was vital so we could learn from the disaster. We were further told that we must wait until the Government experts learned more about the dangers of offshore drilling before any more could begin. Now it seems that the ban will remain in place until 2017. Why?

When the ban was postponed, the BBC’s news brief helpfully linked directly to the US Government’s own explanation of how the “revised strategy” will still help the US meet its energy requirements while placing further regulation and restrictions on the oil industry. Naturally, the BBC tells us that the oil companies are upset, as are the President’s Republican enemies. This is dog bites man stuff, unremarkable and unenlightening. All we get from this is the White House talking point that offshore drilling is still being considered by the Government, but nothing is going to happen without further restrictions put into place for everyone’s safety, and for the safety of the environment.

On top of this, BBC man in Washington, Paul Adams, has done a “From Our Own Correspondent” piece about how the oil spill disaster may have permanently damaged the oyster beds of Louisiana, destroying the livelihoods of poor fishermen still reeling from the devastation of Katrina. It’s all very depressing, with no hope in sight. Adams does mention that the damage seems to have been done when the coastal area was flooded with fresh water as a bulwark against the incoming oil. There is no blame placed on the strategy, only on BP for causing the spill. Whether or not the fresh water strategy was necessary, or if it was done wrong or at the wrong time is left unexamined. Oddly, the BBC has missed a chance to blame Republican Governor Bobby Jindal for it, as the New York Times did back in July.

I suppose some may think I’d be glad that the BBC chose to censor news which makes an opponent of the President look bad, as this provides a small step towards balancing out the fact that they censored all news of the President’s mishandling of the cleanup effort and collusion with BP to block media access to key areas.

But I’m not glad, because I don’t like it when the BBC censors things which get in the way of the story they’re trying to tell.

The reason why who is responsible for the fresh water damage gets in the way here is that it would distract from focusing on the hardship suffered by fishermen due to the oil spill. If we got bogged down in placing blame on someone other than nasty old Big Oil, we’d lose the Narrative. Not only that, but the Narrative would be further damaged by leaving the door open to wondering if the oysters would have been better off if Jindal hadn’t ordered the flooding, maybe the disaster wasn’t as bad as we were made to believe and maybe the ban on offshore drilling is unnecessary. We can’t have that, so Adams carefully makes sure our focus remains where it belongs.

But if the first setback was an act of God, the second was an act of industry – an industry that is much bigger and more commercially important to Louisiana than Nick’s delicious oysters, an industry that sits off this fragile, mysterious landscape of channels and marshes, and produces the stuff that Americans really cannot get enough off.

I like the Freudian typo there: “the stuff that Americans cannot get enough off”. Agenda slipping into view momentarily.

So we’ve established that the ban is necessary, look at the all the damage it does, we need to regroup and rethink and re-regulate if we’re going to allow any new developments. Thank Gaia for The Obamessiah, He’s going to do it properly and carefully, and only nasty Big Oil and Republicans object.

Here’s what the BBC doesn’t want you to know about the ban:

Interior Secretary Ken Salazar is well known for his anti-Big Oil leanings. It’s becoming increasingly clear that he and the President never meant to lift the ban at all, and were merely maneuvering into position for a more permanent ban. He promised that offshore drilling would end and that more would start up now that risks have been “significantly reduced”, but now – what a shock! – the ban will continue for seven years. All thanks to the President putting ideology before science. Wasn’t that supposed to be a big problem of George Bush? The masses don’t need to know about it. It’s no surprise that Salazar was favored by anti-oil activists even back in 2009.

But it’s worse than that. While Paul Adams is wringing his hands over a few oystermen in Louisiana, the BBC is censoring news that the drilling ban itself is actually beginning to cause economic damage.

Less than a year ago, struggling states and coastal towns saw crude exploration off the Gulf Coast and Atlantic seaboard as economic salvation.

Yet the backlash from the BP oil spill — most recently the Obama administration’s decision this week not to open up some of that area to new drilling — has residents wondering if the industry will ever thrive again in U.S. waters.

Some fear an exodus of oil rigs in search of friendlier waters overseas. And with each passing day, folks that rely on deepwater drilling say the damage is multiplying, creating a ripple affect from blue-collar Main Street to beachside drives. They warn it will only get worse.

“Deepwater was the future,” said Lori Davis, owner of Rig-Chem, a Houma, La., business that sells chemicals to oil companies. If there’s less new exploratory drilling, everyone from industry suppliers to doctor’s offices who treat oil field workers will have less business.

Davis has already cut a consultant, reduced a profit-sharing plan for workers and left a recent job vacancy unfilled. “Today, we have to rethink that because we have an administration that’s clueless, with no interest in supporting oil and gas,” she said.

Sure, the Government previously stated that predicted job losses during the initial six month ban weren’t so bad (well, they would do), but that was when everyone thought it was only temporary. What about now that it’s more or less permanent? Well, oil prices are already up because of it, hitting a two-year high. That doesn’t help those struggling businessmen at all, nor does it help anyone else except nasty old Big Oil.

Unfortunately, the BBC doesn’t feel like examining any of this. All they care about is supporting the President’s ideology-based ban, and ignoring details which interfere with the Narrative.

The BBC’s Censoring of News on the Gulf Oil Spill

I’m sure everyone remembers the BBC’s tireless, seemingly non-stop coverage of the Gulf Oil Spill a few months ago. It was declared the greatest natural disaster in the history of the US, with unfathomably dire environmental consequences. We all saw the footage of the soiled pelicans and turtles, and worried about shrimp and scallops. The occasional tear was also shed for what this disaster would do to the local economy, specifically the Louisiana coast and New Orleans, which had previously been devastated by George Bush’s failure to…er…by Hurricane Katrina.

As time went on, the various failures of the Obamessiah Administration kept cropping up in the news. The Administration’s inept handling of the clean-up effort, including being even less competent than Bush when it came to getting around the Jones Act and allowing foreign countries to send in ships to help out, started gaining attention. Then there was the fact that He ignored a pre-approved, pre-existing plan to burn off some of it, and then waited too long to react in general. Even we noticed here that He took nine days to even make a real public appearance about it, forcing himself to cut short yet another vacation. The BBC never said a word.

In fact, it got so bad that the people of Louisiana thought the President handling things worse than Bush did with Katrina. Meanwhile, the BBC was telling you about some silly anti-British sentiment because the President kept saying “British Petroleum” and one or two locals said something in anger in front of a BBC camera.

Naturally, once the media started carping about the President’s handling of the problem (even JournoListas were unhappy), Mark Mardell was there to support Him. At first, of course, Mardell declared that the real reason that people were upset was because the President wasn’t acting dramatically enough for the stupid proles. Then, when He gave a more ponderous performance, Mardell eagerly lapped it up:

It was a measured, sober speech of quiet power, the speech of a president projecting absolute command, if not empathy. But the last quotation says much: a strong, very American invocation of the country’s might and optimism, its ability to muster its strength and overcome.

It was intended to rally a people who were rather feeling he’d not gripped this crisis.

A less sycophantic view would be that it was an empty series of platitudes, with more fluff than substance. But not to a believer like Mardell. Soon enough, word got out that the Obamessiah Administration was colluding with BP to block media access to certain areas of the clean-up. Nobody was sure why, although the most obvious reason was to make sure nobody found out just how screwed up the whole situation was. The BBC, of course, censored that news, as they did for just about any problems the Administration was having. The only thing the BBC audience was allowed to know was that the President wasn’t making enough great speeches to please the unwashed masses, but He sure was taking responsibility and would make BP pay.

At one point, the President appointed a commission to study the spill, to find out what went wrong and recommend a course of action. Unsurprisingly, it was full of environmentals and policy wonks, with nearly all of them already having set opinions against the oil industry. Some of the commissioners were expressing their opinions on the matter – all anti-oil – even before the proceedings began. It was rigged from the start, but instead the BBC dutifully reported the White House talking points about it.

In between vacations and photo-op luncheons, the President found time to place a six-month moratorium on off-shore drilling. At the time, this was hailed by Greenpeace and the BBC as a much-needed action, necessary until we learned more about the dangers of off-shore drilling, put more safety measures in place, etc. The message was that off-shore drilling is bad, m’kay, and the President did the right thing for the environment and to save us all.

This ban cost thousands of jobs, and killed plenty of business and tax revenue for the region the President was supposed to be saving and protecting. As it was supposedly based on science and real danger, nobody objected too much, and the Gulf Coast, already devastated by Bush…er…Katrina, would suffer further hardship.

However, it turns out that this ban was done for ideological reasons and not based on science or technical expertise. In fact, we’ve since learned that the spill wasn’t all that bad. Even though it was visually very sexy, it seems that the damage was exaggerated. The media played a large role in this, including the BBC, and one has to wonder if this is in part due to the Obamessiah Administration’s collusion in blocking media access to key areas.

And what a shock: an independent investigation has found that the White House altered part of an Interior Department’s report to make it appear that a group of scientists and engineers approved of the drilling ban:

“The White House edit of the original DOI draft executive summary led to the implication that the moratorium recommendation had been peer-reviewed by the experts,” the IG report states, without judgment on whether the change was an intentional attempt to mislead the public.

So the ban, which cost thousands of jobs, and harmed the already precarious economy of the Gulf Coast region, was done for purely ideological reasons, and not based on science. Justin Webb told us that this President would bring science back and wouldn’t deny it based on ideology. Turns out this, just like so many of Webb’s other pronouncements on the President back when he was the BBC’s North America editor, simply isn’t true. Utter silence from the BBC, as usual.

The BBC aided and abetted the White House Narrative, in part by censoring key information. This was all done for purely ideological reasons, and not based on science or the facts.