A LITTLE BIAS HERE, A LITTLE BIAS THERE.

The BBC’s showcase political TV programme in Northern Ireland is called “Hearts and Minds” and it is broadcast on a Thursday night. As has been mentioned before here, I am on occasional contributor being the token right-winger and anti peace-processor. Last night it ran an item on the US election and both points of view were represented – Hillary and Obama’s!! Disgracefully, the programme could only find US students living in NI who were democrats, and so the entire discussion was about the Dem fortunes. The presenter, Noel Thompson, also approvingly quoted Dan Rather, in evident admiration. (Given Rather’s ignoble exit from his job, I would have thought it might be better to keep quiet about him) GOP candidate John McCain got one sentence. This is all part of the co-ordinated cheer-leading for the Democrats on behalf of the BBC and it without doubt unfair and unbalanced.

Meanwhile back in National BBC land, did you see the “Shami Chakrabarti show” aka Question Time? What a dismal spectacle this was – with a panel that was yet again loaded! We had the gormless Labour MP and Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport Andy Burhham. (Left) We had the ubiquitous Shami Chakrabarti (Left), we had Lib-Dem Julia Goldsworthy (Left), we had Glaswegian entrepreneur (Left) and to balance, Chris Grayling, a Conservative MP and former BBC producer. The audience came from Liverpool (hard left). As ever, it was well chaired by Dimbleby – but the left wing view prevails on every issue. This programme is institutionally dysfunctional I’m afraid. The selection of panelists is bias incarnate. Can you imagine a QT programme where four of the five panelists were from a conservative background? Of course not – it would not happen. But having four out of five from a Leftist background seems so very reasonable, right?

Then to finish, Five Live – and the morning programme hosted by Nicky Campbell. I caught it just after 8am and it covered the Sharia Law news story by getting… the view of some Muslims on it. Anyone who tuned in would have heard some classic Islamic dissembling and some very meek and mild questioning from Nicky Campbell who was obviously reluctant to pursue exactly what the Muslim spokemen were claiming. Listening to the gentlemen from Peterborough mosque speak, why one would conclude Sharia law is a wise and kindly form of judgement. And naturally, he added that NO-ONE is suggesting that the criminal aspect of Sharia be implemented in the UK. Heaven forbid.

Just three snap shots of the BBC in 24 hours pumping out unbalanced opinion. And we pay a mandatory tax to facilitate this?

Missing, presumed dead – the line between BBC “reporting” and Labour Party editorial

I won’t attempt to take issue here with the morality or practicality of Labour AM Christine Chapman’s campaign to abolish prostitution by criminalising the evil customers and ignoring the poor victim-of-society dealers – except to point out a marked contrast with a drugs policy which ignores the poor victim-of-society customers and focuses on the evil dealers. She’s perfectly entitled to her views.

The Guardian’s Nick Davies, a brilliant reporter (although IMHO a lousy analyst of what he reports) has recently published Flat Earth News, in which he suggests that news stories increasingly consist of regurgitated stuff provided by third parties. I think even he’d be gobsmacked by the platform Ms Chapman’s been given – a BBC “news” article which is a straight political piece by the Labour AM.

Only last week a Scottish assembly member, the SNP Justice Minister no less, was given a similar platform to explain how the public would be protected by a tough new policy of not sending criminals to prison. Somehow I missed the “balancing” pieces – which I’m sure the BBC published.

SAVE A PRAYER

Whenever the Church of England gets a favourable headline on the BBC, you can be sure that it will relate to it embracing leftist causes. Global warming hysteria is one of the Left’s favourite causes – in fact I would suggest it has taken on quasi-religious importance to those who worship at the church of the Rev Al Gore. So maybe it’s no big surprise to see the prominence the BBC gives to the story that two senior bishops are urging people to cut back on carbon for Lent instead of the conventional chocolate or alcohol.

The Bishops of London and Liverpool, Dr Richard Chartres and James Jones, are launching the Carbon Fast at Trafalgar Square with aid agency Tearfund. They hope to encourage people to reduce their carbon footprint for 40 days. Bishop Jones, who is vice president of Tearfund, said: “It is the poor who are already suffering the effects of climate change. To carry on regardless of their plight is to fly in the face of Christian teaching.” One Tearfund employee will camp outside the charity’s offices in Teddington for a week in an attempt to reduce his emissions to that of an average Malawian farmer. God preserve us from liberal angst. Dr Chartres called for “individual and collective action”.

OK, so these two Bishops buy into the global warming alarmism so assiduously cultivated by the BBC. But why is that EVERY person who the BBC allows to comment on this story all share the one viewpoint? Whatever happened to plurality of opinion? Is there no-one that the BBC can find to oppose the AGW hysteria? There are MANY in the scientific community who do not buy into the carbon emission obsession, there are many within the religious community who also do not see it the same way as these two Bishops do. But time after time, when it comes to this topic, the BBC ONLY allows one view. That is neither fair nor balanced and it’s high time that the high priests of global warming hysteria in the BBC were held to account. We need less hot air from them.

A RARE KILLING

I was struck by this BBC headline “Rare suicide bombing hits Israel” prominently displayed on its Middle-Eastern news page. Consider the details and then ask yourself if “Rare” is the word you would choose to describe what has happened.

“A suicide bomber has killed a woman in the southern Israeli town of Dimona, the first such attack in over a year. Police said a second suicide attacker was shot dead before he was able to detonate his explosives belt. “We heard a large explosion and people started to run. I saw pieces of flesh flying in the air,” a witness told army radio.

Several point here. Despite what the BBC alleges, the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigade terror group is an integral part of the Fatah organisation, led by Mahmoud Abbas. So why does the BBC try to distance it from their favourite “man of peace”, the holocaust denier Abbas, by claiming it is some sort of “violent off-shoot”? Next, this is a SAVAGE terrorist attack. The frequency of it is neither here nor there. By suggesting this is a rare event (which it isn’t since Palestinians have carried out many homicide bomber attacks over the years) it is in danger of being seen to try and somehow ameliorate the barbarism and naked hatred that lay behind this outrage. Finally, I note that both Hamas and Fatah get to comment on this, both of them predictably explaining that the bad Jews brought it upon themselves. Curiously, comment from the Israeli government is missing. Fair and balanced????

p.s I also note that the BBC initial report makes no mention of those other people who were injured and traumatised by this vicious act of terrorism. More amelioration?

Update by Natalie:The word “rare” has now been stealth-edited out.

What more could they get wrong?


(this post in large part thanks to commenter “cheesed off”)

In a short article about a woman called Zoobia Hussein, the BBC get just about everything wrong that could be got wrong. What were they trying to do with this report?

For a start, Zoobia Hussein is described appearing in court in her niqab (or “full veil” as the BBC report it). In fact she finally submitted to showing her face to the judge she was facing, behind a screen to protect her from the rest of the court. The judge in this case was a woman. Point one of misrepresentation.

Point two, Zoobia Hussein and her five children were not “thrown out” of their accommodation, but subject to eviction according to due process. At least one of the local tabloids managed to represent this clearly, unlike the BBC.

Third, in her latest appearance in court Ms Hussein was found guilty as charged of causing £1,500 worth of criminal damage. The BBC say only that “Ms Hussain denies the charge and her case was adjourned until 24 July.”. In fact she will return to court for sentencing.

Fourth… well, enough- how much more can they get wrong? It’s difficult not to suspect that this misreporting was intended to foment wrong impressions and bias in the minds of readers. The focus of the BBC report is the “aggrieved” woman; the person under scrutiny the man who took charge of her original trial. It is not news but selective interpretative trendsetting.

Update: the BBC have corrected their erroneous report on the point of the conviction. Maybe John Reith alerted them.

Nb- John Reith. I do not accept your argument. The PA is a organisation not without its own bias and political persuasion- see here, for example, an analysis. Its report was rambling and in no way adequate to sustain an effective news update on the Z. Hussein case. The BBC reporter found it quite adequate, however, with its ignorance of the actual case in question and its focus on the man who originally handled the trial where the refusal to show her face became a cause of controversy. Still, the distillation would have taken some time. The BBC’s simplification enhanced rather than decreased the bias in the AP report. The local journalists did far better, and were a couple of clicks away at most- really, probably staring at the operative in question from a newsfeed. I never suggested that the BBC sat in some darkened room shaping a biased article, merely that the misreporting was not without reason. I stand by that.

I would add that I know that BBC journalists are not idiots who go out on a limb to lie to the public. Most of the time, anyway.

The moral murk

From the pathetic (see below post) to the poignant. Joseph Loconte notes the frenzied way in which the BBC is campaigning for the release of its journalist Alan Johnston.

Naturally one feels a little of their desperation; we’ve seen far too many atrocities and needless deaths over recent years in the name of Islam and the Palestinians.

Quite whether almost daily Johnston-centred updates, pleas and reports from the BBC is a good use of telly-taxpayers money is a question almost indecent to mention, yet inevitable because the BBC is a state-sponsored organisation. One wouldn’t wish to be brought into it, but where one’s wallet is compelled, one is drawn afterwards.

There is also the question of the BBC’s closeness to Government, as HMG seeks to draw near and reason with Abu Qatada, a radical (terror enabler) believed to have close links to Al Qaeda, believed to have influence in the group holding Johnston. To what extent the BBC is using its influence to manoeuvre the Foreign Office- which funds the BBC world service – is as unclear as ever.

Loconte zeroes in on the words of Mark Thompson, BBC DG:

“Alan…is a brave, dedicated and humane journalist who was deeply committed to reporting events in Gaza to the wider world,”…“The people of Gaza are ill-served by kidnappings of this nature.” (highlight mine)

Loconte points out the strangeness of saying “kidnappings of this nature”, which implies that some kidnappings might be justified. Certainly such a distinction is in keeping with BBC moral equivocations over terrorism. Sometimes it is, sometimes it isn’t, just as any of your nuanced imams might say.

What they cover, and why

When the US lower House votes on a military funding deadline (a long acknowledged and anticipated event), the BBC has no need, and I would argue, no right, to make that its headline. Yet it does.

It is internal US politicking, and given the primacy of both President and Congress, of little moment.

Meanwhile, to the right on the BBC front page is a totally pointless video entitled “Dubya Dances”. Notwithstanding the inappropriateness of using Bush’s ill-intentioned nickname, it’s simply a clip of Bush dancing at an African anti-malarial meeting. Not only does this have no purpose save to make Bush look ridiculous excerpted from context, it also demeans the seriousness of his program to help Africa with malaria (which, I should add, they do cover, in routine fashion), and would no doubt irritate many US conservatives at a time when the lefty politicians are rooting for US defeat in Iraq.

It tallies quite well with the BBC’s general desire to caricature Bush though, after the fashion of the BushHitler posterthey gave such pride of place to.

Ps. I wonder where they get their “Dubya dancing” fancies from? Not things like this, I hope?