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.

A TANGLED WEBB…

Biased BBC’s Alan reports  “Always a good morning to hear Justin Webb making a hash of things and getting the wrong end of the stick….that’ll be most mornings then.

He was chortling and enjoying the ‘Shareholder Spring’ and which he suggested was all about a movement against the greed of the Bosses who were being paid for failure….and refuting that old ‘myth’ that the companies couldn’t recruit the best staff if they didn’t pay the best money.

However Peston slapped him down and said no, don’t jump to conclusions, its about performance….or lack of….the bosses haven’t performed and so don’t deserve the high pay…..if they had performed they would get the pay….the big money was still on the table if you jumped through the right hoops. Of course I have some sympathy for Webb because he was only following the argument of his own Boss, Mark Thompson who claimed he was only paid so much because it was necessary to pay the market rate to get the best….presumably he is the best then.

Mr Thompson, who was paid £834,000 last year, insisted that in real terms his pay had decreased since he joined the corporation more than five years ago.
He added that the BBC has to offer competitive salaries to attract top talent if it wants to be the best broadcaster.

Mr Thompson said: “Suppose we want to get the head of HR from a private company, we couldn’t get them because [what we offer is] hundreds of thousands of pounds less than people can get in the private sector. We are so far behind the market.”  ‘

The BBC’s director general has claimed the corporation is finding it ‘extremely hard’ to fill senior roles because of the low wages it pays for management jobs.

Mark Thompson, said it was ‘not true to say there is a long queue of people’ hoping for high-level jobs at the corporation……‘It’s extremely hard now to fill senior jobs in the BBC and increasingly remuneration is a factor.’

He claimed bosses at the BBC are paid substantially less – said to be between 50 per cent and 80 per cent – than they would be elsewhere in the industry.’

I agree, personally I wouldn’t crawl out of bed, especially if it’s raining, and wander down to the job centre for less than a million a year, plus free tickets to ‘The Voice’.

A TANGLED WEBB?

But a few days ago, BBC presenter Justin Webb was engaging in wild speculation concerning the motivations that lay behind the killings in Toulouse. Here, B-BBC contributor Alan captures his thoughts.

20th march 

Justin Webb

‘There are some who wonder that some politicians,including perhaps Mr Sarkozy must bear some responsibility, not necessarilyfor what happened, but for the context in which it happened. They are accused of creating a climate of suspicionabout, possibly even hatred, of minority groups.’

Agnes Poirier:

‘We couldn’t make a link between the killing of thesoldiers and little kids…what is emerging is that these are the faces ofdiverse France and obviously it becomes then extremely apparent that the killershould want to assassinate diverse France.’

Webb:

‘That is the point…do we accept it is possible at leastthat this killer seemed to be motivated by wanting to attack the way thatmodern France looks and that of course has been part of the presidentialcampaign. French Interior Minister Claude Gueant became a verycontroversial figure a few weeks ago when he said ‘For us not all civilisationsare of equal value.’ Do you think these kind of remarks should not havehappened? Is it acceptable for people to talk about subjects ofpolitical controversy?’

Agnes Poirier;

‘The constant stirring of stereotypes is unhelpful and isan unhealthy debate in France.’

Interesting that Webb thinks any talk of immigration andintegration makes for ‘controversial politics’….and perhaps should not bespoken of….but that has always been BBC policy and look where such lack ofmoral fibre and backbone and failure to challenge cultural beliefs andactivities leads us:
‘The British public have not got their teeth into any ofthis, not least because it is so hard for the full facts to be put tothem…..vested interests discourage too close a scrutiny of the evidence.
It is a matter of the gravest concern that Westerndemocracies are not only failing to monitor properly the activities of radicalimams but allowing the Islamic studies centres to mushroom, totally out ofcontrol. They are making radicalisation and ideological transfer easier, notharder, and increasing the security risk rather than containing it. In Britain, it is actually official government policy toexpand the teaching of Islamic studies so that every single Muslim student inthe UK will be able to take this subject. Wherever Islamists go on the attack, all are driven bythe same malign and violent hatred of the West and its current foreign securityinterests.’

Justin Webb Reveals His Bias And Dishonesty

Justin Webb (Mark Mardell’s predecessor as BBC North America editor) has written a little piece about the current state of the Republican Party. He’s not pleased, of course, which is no surprise to those of us who remember him looking down from on high and declaring that the US had “moved on” from social conservatism. Now that there’s a struggle for control of the Party between – I generalize a bit – the recently ascending Tea Party-inspired small government/fiscal conservatives, and the Santorumite, Republican establishment, who love big government and spending out their ears, and see nothing wrong with legislating personal behavior, ol’ Justin simply does not know where to turn.

And so he sticks his head further up the ivory tower. His goal here is to show you how the Republican Party is simply not ready to lead the country, because they’ve become too extremist.

Right up front, we can see Webb trying to frame the Narrative, eliding facts to create the context he needs. When Henry Olson from the American Enterprise Institute says that the Republican Party is united in its opposition to “government”. He means the current Government’s far-Left policies, as in those of The Obamessiah. Spend a few minutes at AEI.org and decide for yourselves exactly what’s being opposed.

Rick Santorum is still close behind Romney because of all the social conservative/big-government types left trying to take control of the Party back from the Tea Party movement, who gained the momentum in 2010. Santorum is not a fan of personal freedom, yet he’s still getting quite a bit of support from Republicans anyway. Anybody trying to tell you that the whole Party is united against “government” is either lying, or is actually saying something else.

What really angers ol’ Justin is what he perceives to be how the Republican Party is being driven to the extreme right by the “deep south”. And – what a shock – he dishonestly describes the authority to whom he appeals for this.

Political writer Michael Lind left the party because he sees its modern unity as toxic. Too much based on the values of the deep south of the USA – and in particular a visceral and unquenchable dislike of any government by anyone, of anyone.

“The thing that holds together the modern Republican party is opposition to the government,” says Mr Lind.

Lind indeed left the Republican Party: in 1996.  The following year, he published a book entitled, “Up From Conservatism: Why The Right Is Wrong For America”.  In 2002, he published a book about George Bush and the “Southern Takeover of American Politics”. Does this sound like someone who’s talking about “modern unity”?  Yet ol’ Justin is using Lind’s decade-old song to prove that this is a new problem.

Of course, this also denies the fact that Texas is not part of the “deep south”, nor are Arizona and Utah. But I guess that’s beside the point, as he’s probably sort of referring to the fact that the agrarian southern Colonies were concerned about too much government power back when the US was founded, and that legacy continues to this day. Perhaps I’m giving him too much credit for having a clue about US history.

Even so, Bush’s Republican Party was big-government to the max. That’s why the Tea Party movement went after the incumbents in 2010. They were, and those still left are, social conservatives and not much else. But ol’ Justin hated them for that, and was happy about the “strange death” of that movement in the US. Except, of course, it that movement is very much alive, which is why Rick Santorum is still going.

To further support his argument, ol’ Justin points to Sen. Olympia Snow (R-ME) who has decided not to seek another term. He describes her as “moderate”, which means big-government, Republican establishment, exactly the kind of pol the Tea Party has been trying to get rid of for the last couple years. To those of us who get our news from outside the bubble, it’s no surprise that she’s decided not to accept a challenge for her seat from within her own Party, not because she’s unhappy that the Party has moved too far to the Right for her taste (which is a stupid reason to quit anyway), but because her husband is facing a major corruption lawsuit. Even the far-Left FireDogLake blog knows that Justin’s story is complete and utter BS. Snowe isn’t really facing a serious challenger yet, but has decided to drop out anyway.

So this is pretty much a total lie from Justin Webb.

Next he speaks with Matt Kibbe of Freedom Works, a major organization supporting the Tea Party movement. He really does talk about shutting down a few enormous, bloated government agencies, some of which have nearly the sacred cow status that the NHS has in Britain. Naturally, this frightens Webb, as his visceral inclination is that the State is All.

This is supposed to be the final proof that there’s something seriously wrong with the Republican Party. The thing is, the Party’s move to the right on this issue is a bad thing only if one is on the Left, and views small government as some sort of extremist position. Ol’ Justin is definitely making a value judgment here, and his personal political bias is on full display.

SALAMI SLICING THE COALITION?

Been a busy day, which started with me debating the Bishop of Hulme, Stephen Lowe, on the BBC this morning here. Go to 30 minutes in here and listen for half an hour, if you dare! Meanwhile, back on the Today programme, Justin Webb was on the attack against the very well spoken (if a tad dripping wet) Andrew Lansley. Yesterday it was IDS who got the treatment and today it was Lansley – same tired BBC meme, namely that reform of any part of the Public Sector is just, well, impossible. I though the hectoring and interruption by Webb did him no favours and I liked the way the parroting of Stephen Dorrell’s comments by Webb were nicely countered by Lansley. Don’t get me wrong – there is nothing wrong with a Government Minister being robustly challenged on the BBC – that is fine by me – BUT during the long hard Labour years, there was a stunning silence from the BBC when Brown and co went about building up a bloated and inefficient NHS. Now, they go on the attack when the Coalition try to do something about it! The pro-Statism meme is always in play and it just surfaces in al kinds of places!

ON LEVESON…

I suggest you might give this interview concerning the Leveson Inquiry on Today a whirl if you get a moment. Contrast the treatment of Roy Greenslade with that of Trevor Kavanagh. I was pleased when Kavanagh actually kicked back at the tangled Webb but it is a scandal that an interviewer takes such a blatantly biased position in the first instance. I’ve done a few debates with Greenslade myself on the BBC and he is treated as a real hero by them, no interruptions allowed.

JUSTIN-IT FOR THE AGGRO!

It’s been a busy morning for the thoroughly impartial Justin Webb. Just after 7.18am he was “breaking the traditional “mood of the conference” at the Liberal Democrat Party Conference in Birmingham, by taking in A4 sized close-up photos of some senior Conservative cabinet ministers and seeing what reaction it would cause”. Nice one. Then @7.55, he was back to interview the “great” Vince Cable. Justin has evidently decided that Vince is back again and is prepared to cut him some slack but ONLY if he keeps serving up BBC-approved policies such as “limiting” what “executives” can earn. Vince wiggled his way around the totalitarianism implicit in his policy, trotting out his dodgy statistics to support it, without retort from Justin. It’s clear that so long as Cable seeks to bash the Private Sector, he will get a largely favourable response from the BBC and obviously a Lib-Dem conference is not exactly a friendly environment for those who create the wealth that keeps the bloated State sector afloat. Webb makes little effort to disguise his anti-Coalition impulses and if this is what it is like for the Lib-Dems conference, just WAIT until Labour host their conference. Will the BBC play the Red Flag?  (Sorry there are no links to the items quoted but despite their £££billions the BBC cannot apparently provide something so simple as of time of writing @ 9.23am)

U.S. News The BBC Thinks You Don’t Need To Know

While they’re eager to tell you the latest updates from the White House spokesman, celebrity gossip, irrelevant death tattle, a human interest story about a US Communist who moved to the paradise of China, every new detail on a celebrity rape case, and a non-story about how a manufacturing increase really isn’t one (but it made for a good opportunity for a headline to mislead the lazy reader into thinking that The Obamessiah’s economy is on the mend), there are quite a few things going on in the US that might be of more interest and import.

The BBC’s North America editor has been rather silent since his last dismissal of a newly-declared Republican candidate for an election that’s 18 months away. One would think there are a number of issues on which he could comment. For example:

Public sector unions versus the Government is the biggest story in Britain right now (in between live coverage of Kate & Wils’ Canadapalooza, I mean). One would think that the exact same issue coming to a boil in a few US states would be worth your attention. Only the BBC has been silent about the events in Wisconsin and Ohio.

Many people here probably remember a few months back when the BBC actually did report on public sector union protests against the evil Republicans who (insert NUT/PCS talking point about attacking the poorest and most vulnerable here). As was pointed out here at the time, the BBC’s coverage was biased in favor of the unions and censored news of violence and unlawful behavior by union supporters which might harm the cause in the public eye. The point is, though, that the BBC though you should be informed about the union’s cause, all the way until they lost. Then….silence.

The problem for the BBC is that it turns out that at least part of Republican Gov. Scott Walker’s victory has, contrary to the protests at the time, in fact been good for schools. One school district even went from a $400k budget deficit to a $1.5 million surplus. Sure, there are about to be 354 teachers and a number of desk-jockeys laid off because of budget cuts, but there is also going to be a big increase in school vouchers. More independent schools equals more choice for students and parents, and more jobs for teachers: if they’re worth it.

Seeing as how this is directly relevant to what’s going on in Britain right now, this ought to be of interest to you. Except it’s on the wrong side of the Narrative.

In Ohio, another Republican Governor who defeated the incumbent Democrat in November just passed a major state budget in which he cut a lot of stuff and practically made up for a $6 billion+ deficit over the next two years – all without raising taxes. This is the exact opposite of what the President just recommended (and about which the BBC made sure to inform you), and the kind of plan which Justin Webb told you doesn’t exist.

If that’s not enough to make this story relevant, then consider that Ohio is considered by most pundits to be the poster child of “swing states”. Where Ohio goes in mid-term elections, so goes the rest of the country in the next general election. You can bet that Beeboids assigned to the US know all about this concept. They have no problem covering the early fits and starts of the election campaign itself (we’ve already had plenty of coverage of the Republican debate, speeches, appearances, Sarah Palin, etc.), but the BBC is going to be shy about mentioning this because Ohio made a major turn towards Republicans last November, taking the Governor’s seat, as well as winning most of the state’s Congressional seats, and a bunch of other top offices. And yes, the state legislature is majority Republican now. This budget is the exact kind of thing the Tea Party movement has been pushing for over the last two years and more, in a state which is often looked to as a weather vane for the country, and the BBC remains silent.

California has such severe budget problems that they’re practically bankrupt (when did you last hear about this from the BBC?), and need every last dime they can scrape up. So what did the State Legislature do? They passed a law requiring sales tax on online sales from Amazon.com. Sounds simple enough: install a new tax where none existed before, raise loads of revenue. Except Amazon told them beforehand that if the tax was enacted, they’d shut down the accounts of all the Amazon Affiliates in the state because it would Amazon’s profit (this was really about big brick-and-mortar retailers fighting their online competition). So when the tax went into effect the other day, about 25,000 people logged on to find out their accounts were shut down.

Result: The $151 million in income tax these people pay every year just vanished into thin air, in exchange for….um….no sales tax revenue for the state. California, by the way, is run by a far-Left Governor and a Democrat-controlled State Legislature. Whether one agrees with Amazon or California, this is a pretty major deal that has more informative news value than a special feature comparing Michelle Bachmann with Sarah Palin. Although that depends on what one’s newsgathering priorities are.

While Justin Webb can tell you that the Republicans don’t have a plan to reduce the debt, and only raising taxes on the rich is the way forward, nobody at the BBC is going to tell you that The Obamessiah’s plan to bail out Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac – the failed institutions which fueled the mortgage crash that led to the economic crisis we’re all still dealing with – will cost 2.5 times more than He said it would. $317 billion down the toilet, to prop up two failed government-funded organizations, which will only continue the damage they’re doing to the housing market.

His big stimulus package? All that “quantitative easing” Stephanie ‘Two Ed’s Flanders was sure would work? Didn’t do a thing. $2 trillion (!) down the tubes, all thanks to ideology. Not a word from the BBC. Again, this is exactly the kind of thing that fueled the growth of the Tea Party movement, and you can bet will be relevant in the coming election.

The BBC did find time today to mention that corn prices have dropped due to a bumper crop, suggesting that this is a sign that food prices will finally start to drop as well. Except they don’t tell you that ethanol subsidies have screwed things up so badly that both political parties voted at last to drop the massive tax breaks for ethanol farmers. These subsidies mean less people grow the corn we (and beef cattle) eat in favor of “dirty corn” for fuel, so food prices go up. The In this case, the Tea Party-inspired Republicans actually voted to raise taxes. One would think this kind of flip-flop is something the BBC would be eager to report with cries of “hypocrisy!”, never mind how it’s totally relevant to the story of a temporary drop in corn prices. Only they don’t think it’s worth your interest. Why?

Remember last week when the President announced he’d release 30 million barrels from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve in order to help reduce skyrocketing fuel prices? It turns out that He learned a lesson from last year’s Gulf Oil Spill and waved the Jones Act to allow foreign ships to come in and deliver it. One would have thought this is the kind of smart move the BBC would tell you about. Only they’d have to remind you of one of His errors they censored before, so never mind.

That’s enough US news for now, so I’d like to ask everyone here two questions:

1. Does the BBC, with all the staff assigned to the scene, keep you informed on US issues you think are important?

2. What kind of stories does the BBC ignore which you think they ought to report?

The Dishonesty And Political Advocacy Of Justin Webb

The latest BBC article about the US economic situation is by that well-known economics and business expert, Justin Webb. Yes, he went to the LSE, so must surely be qualified to prescribe a cure for what ails the US.

But first, his dishonesty:

I should make it clear that my reporting of the United States, in the years I was based there for the BBC, was governed by a sense that too much foreign media coverage of America is negative and jaundiced.

Too much foreign media coverage, eh, Justin? You mean like this?

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.

Who said that? Justin Webb in a ‘From Our Own Correspondent’ piece for the BBC. So who said this:

Some Tea Party folk hate Obama, but the movement is a symptom of something much deeper and more worrying for all Americans: they kinda hate themselves.

Justin Webb, in the Mirror (h/t David Vance of this parish). That was back when Webb and the BBC were pushing the lie that the mass murderer who attempted to kill Rep. Giffords in Tucson was a right-winger whose actions were inspired by the Tea Party.

And then there’s this gem:

Washington correspondent Justin Webb said that the BBC is so biased against America that deputy director general Mark Byford had secretly agreed to help him to ‘correct’, it in his reports. Webb added that the BBC treated America with scorn and derision and gave it ‘no moral weight’.

Foreign media, indeed.

Now on to the main point, ol’ Justin’s political advocacy masquerading as expert analysis.

This is a story of debt, delusion and – potentially – disaster. For America and, if you happen to think that American influence is broadly a good thing, for the world.

The debt and the delusion are both all-American: $14 trillion (£8.75tn) of debt has been amassed and there is no cogent plan to reduce it.

Denial? No cogent plan? He’s talking about the Democrats, most especially the President, who initially refused to cut any spending at all. Only that’s not what ol’ Justin wants you think. No, so long as he can convince you that it’s a bi-partisan denial, he can get away with the dishonesty.

In fact, Paul Ryan has had a cogent plan out for a while now. It’s only that Justin doesn’t like it because his personal political beliefs lead him elsewhere. To claim that nobody has one is simply a lie.

Webb’s first expert source is Jeffrey Sachs of Columbia’s Earth Institute. Even without guessing the political leanings of an organization with such a name, we can figure it out because Sachs himself says that Keynes was the “greatest political economist of the 20th century”. How convenient that it matches up with Webb’s LSE schooling.

Sachs says that the debt simply must be brought under control. Seriously, that’s it. No cogent plans offered. It’s as if Webb thinks that many people don’t realize this and need experts to tell us. What the hell does he think the Tea Party movement has been about? Oh, that’s right, I forgot: racism.

Next expert up is someone whom Webb describes only as an “author and economist”, Diane Coyle. What ol’ Justin doesn’t want you to know is that she’s also the Vice Chair of the BBC Trust and is married to BBC technology maven Rory Cellan-Jones (who was it here that coined the phrase “incest interview”?). Sure, she was an adviser to the Treasury during Thatcher’s Government, but did mostly foreign policy analyses and predictions, so not much of a Conservative. Her own website shows her involvement in Left-leaning philosophies. Her new book, “The Economics of Enough”, is all about countries living above their means and how over-spending and too much entitlement expense is not a good recipe for a secure future. Obviously ol’ Justin knows all about her book and its viewpoint, or he wouldn’t have brought her into the discussion. Coyle also offers no answers, only an explanation of one part of the problem and an emphasis that it’s really, really scary. Again, nothing new here, nothing added to the discussion of what to do, and certainly no proof that we’re all in denial, as Webb claims.

The third expert voice is just someone from the Council on Foreign Relations quoted to reinforce Webb’s contention that what happens to the US affects the whole world. Again, this assumes that the reader has no idea and Webb thinks you need an expert opinion to convince you that he’s right. Talk about underestimating the intelligence of the audience.

The only person identified by his political association is….wait for it….Republican David Frum. He’s a favorite of the BBC because he has shifted Leftwards and criticized George Bush. Webb quotes him as an example of stupid Republicans (read: Tea Party denialists and other enemies of the President) who are in denial of the problem.

This is, of course, a lie. Everyone knows there is a problem, which is why there’s such a huge budget battle on Capitol Hill right now. Who does Webb think he’s kidding here? Frum, in fact, is the only one of the voices Webb brings in who actually offers some kind of solution. Only he doesn’t like it, so dismisses it as denial. If there’s a simple solution, it must be no good because the problem is so complex and horrible. According to Justin, anyway.

So what’s this all about? A bit of scare-mongering. But before Webb gives us the answer, he first has a little attack on Alaska. What he says about the state being over-subsidized is true, even if Sarah Palin never existed, so I won’t say he’s focusing on Alaska only as a dig at her. What he is doing, though, is trying to use Alaska as a cudgel with which to beat the non-Left citizens and politicians of the US. He calls us hypocrites because Alaska exists as it does, and is mostly politically conservative. This is not a logical argument, but that’s what he’s saying. At no point does Webb show a Republican or Tea Party voice saying that we must keep federal subsidies at all cost while cutting spending on the poor. It’s just something he made up. Oh, and of course because he can’t resist it, he gets in a little ad hominem at the Tea Party:

The Tea Party movement talks of cuts in spending but when it comes to it, Americans always seem to be talking about cuts in spending that affect someone else, not them – and taxes that are levied on others too.

Yet another lie. The Tea Party movement is made up of people from all walks of life (except public sector unions and far-Left ideologues), many of whom will be affected by spending cuts no matter what Webb claims. He’s really parroting the union talking points you’ve been hearing from Bob Crow and Ed Miliband. No surprise, really.

Finally, ol’ Justin’s solution: more taxes, especially on the rich. He says that it’s Sach’s view the politicians are too scared to raise taxes because the evil rich don’t like it.

America’s two main political parties are so desperate to raise money for the nation’s constant elections – remember the House of Representatives is elected every two years – that they can do nothing that upsets wealthy people and wealthy companies.

So they cannot touch taxes.

Actually, they can: they can cut them. But that’s not part of ol’ Justin’s agenda here. So he closes with a little more dishonesty.

In all honesty, I am torn about the conclusions to be drawn. I find it difficult to believe that a nation historically so nimble and clever and open could succumb to disaster in this way.

Yeah, right. He has an opinion, which is why he’s trying to push the lie that nobody has a budget plan. The Democrats don’t have one that will fix the deficit, but the Republicans do. He just doesn’t like it so wants you to think nobody has one.

But America, as well as being a place of hard work and ingenuity, is also no stranger to eating competitions in which gluttony is celebrated, and wilful ignorance, for instance regarding (as many Americans do) evolution as controversial.

Ah, yes, the classic Justin Webb attack on the religious beliefs of non-Muslims. Except one’s views on evolution have nothing whatsoever to do with economics. It’s just something ol’ Justin threw in to belittle us, a non sequitur, as if he thinks one negative plus another negative equals more negatives, and that’s all there is to proving a point.

The debt crisis is a fascinating crisis because it is about so much more than money. It is a test of a culture.

Yes it is. But I don’t think it’s what Justin wants it to be. But his last line reveals his ignorance in a major way, and pretty much discredits his entire missive.

It is about waking up, as the Americans say, and smelling the coffee. And – I am thinking Texas here – saddling up too, and riding out with purpose.

Careful, Justin, you might just get what you wish for. Texas, you see, is the one state where they’re adding jobs and the economy is growing. In fact, 45% of jobs created in the last two years (i.e. during The Obamessiah Administration) have been in Texas. Because they’re doing it from a low-tax, help business, clean out draconian regulation, fiscally conservative position. Oops.

I think ol’ Justin has no idea about this at all, and was just trying to sound folksy, using an Americanism to add authenticity to his viewpoint. Fail.

Tangled Webb

Reverend Nadim Nassar, a Syrian-born Anglican priest living in Britain, keeps in touch with contacts in Syria. He also listens to various media reports of the crisis. In an interesting interview on Today with Justin Webb he remarked on how extreme the differences are between what he’s hearing on Arabic stations, Al Jazeera etc. etc. – and the BBC. I would have liked to hear exactly what he meant, but no luck.

Justin didn’t pick that up, but he did go up in my estimation when he gave William Hague a chance to advertise the hypocrisy of the government’s floundering foreign policy. Our intervention in Libya was on humanitarian grounds. Our non-intervention in Syria is on none-of-our-business grounds. Glad he cleared that up.

A TANGLED WEBB

Justin Webb (Pic:BBC)
I was sent this link by one of our regulars. It concerns Justin Webb – he who is a key presenter on the BBC’s political flagship “Today” programme. Here is Justin writing in The Mirror (natch!) today…

America is a nation of white picket fences, neat flags and have-a-nice-day smiles.

 

So why do they appear to hate each other so much?


Shortly before Barack Obama was elected, I spoke to a woman outside a Republican rally.

“Why do you dislike Obama?” I asked. “Because he’s a baby killer!” she replied.

The woman’s hatred was bizarre, chilling – and a sign of what was to come.

The right-wing Tea Party Movement is a symptom of this crisis but I do not believe it is necessarily the cause.

Some Tea Party folk hate Obama, but the movement is a symptom of something much deeper and more worrying for all Americans: they kinda hate themselves.

Well, not as much as we hate your rancid bias, Justin. I suggest that with this overt antipathy towards the Tea Party movement, Webb is entirely unfit to be presenting news. His lack of professionalism, combined with his quest for cash (How much did the Mirror pay him for this gibberish?) once more evidences just how removed from reality Helen “Impartiality is In our Genes” Boaden is. Or perhaps it proves how arrogant she, Justin and the rest of the crew really are.

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.

Justice From Justin

I know this isn’t saying much, but Justin Webb on Today is a great improvement on Ed Stourton whom he replaced much to some people’s dismay. I thought he gave Gita Sahgal a fair hearing this morning, and it’s certainly encouraging that for once the BBC allowed someone to dislodge the halo surrounding Amnesty International.

If you haven’t been following the story, Ms Sahgal, a senior official at AI, became uneasy about Amnesty’s association with Moazzam Begg who heads the organization Cageprisoners that “ actively promotes Islamic Right ideas and individuals.”
So she wrote about her concerns to the Times.
Within a few hours of the article being published Amnesty had suspended me from my job.”
The Today interview gave her the opportunity to express her point without the usual innuendos and interruptions. In My Humble Opinion. *And not a word from Widney Brown.
* H/T Hippiepooter
Update.
As you were!
I may have to take it all back.
Who had an exclusive platform for her rebuttal today? Why, Widney Brown.
But then… but then… did I detect a whiff of hostility in Justin’s tone?

Today R4. 8:46. (Link not up yet.)

Post match analysis

With the election finally over, let’s take a moment to review the Beeb’s coverage before we move on. This is possibly one for the train spotters, but it’s important not least because of the Beeb’s claim that individual examples of bias aren’t persuasive as they are trying to achieve balance over time. How the Beeb does so is anyone’s guess, as there’s no evidence they monitor it. However, let’s be radical: let’s assume they’re not lying. So let’s look at the coverage of the election (okay, from the moment Palin was selected) on Justin Webb’s blog. And let’s take with the treatment of Palin. To anticipate a few preliminary objections:

  • Why Webb? Well, he’s the North American Editor, so it seems reasonable.
  • Why the blog? I don’t think the Beeb’s going to let me have all the tapes of Webb’s broadcast coverage. And, frankly, I don’t want them. But not to worry: we know that the same rules regarding impartiality apply, so the blog entries should, if Webb’s doing his job, present a balanced and impartial view.
  • Why Palin? Webb’s blogged on her a lot, which means there’s a decent sample. And she’s someone on which there are significantly differing views, which we should therefore expect to see reflected in the coverage. As Webb puts it, she is immensely grating on those who do not like her, but immensely pleasing to those who do.

So let’s look at the balance:

As for Sarah Palin! Her creationist views are bound to become an issue (can you really have a president who denies basic truths about the world?)

So Webb’s coverage of Palin begins, and with characteristic style – ignoring the fact that, as the Beeb’s admitted, she’s not a creationist, and that she’s not running for president. I’m going to chalk that one up as a negative comment.

However, I’m going to exclude those comments that are neutral – and I’m using the term loosely. Comments such as these:

As well as these posts: on the pregnancy; agreeing she is not the new Eagleton; and his entry about lipstickgate.

So what’s that leave us with? Well, here are the postive comments, such as they are:

  • Palins Punches: I liked the parliamentary-style jabs at Obama and they have peppered the news coverage, though I still think she is skating on thin ice.
  • America’s Answer to Thatcher: with that quote about being grating or pleasing (I’m trying to be generous)
  • Two posts about Palin getting more cheers than McCain: Disappointment? and Regan, Clinton, W and Obama. These really seem like digs at McCain, but let’s give him the benefit of the doubt.
  • And an admission that She is not the harbinger of some dark witch-burning retreat into superstition and irrationality.

And on the negative side:

So, on balance, and over time, do you reckon that Webb thinks Palin would have: made a brilliant VP; been an awful one; or do those rules on impartiality and his professionalism make it just impossible to tell?