The BBC and U2, eh? Hand in glove, they go. I can’t say I was surprised to find a pretty meaningless article on the BBC frontpage all day which described how the frontman of Talking Heads had bitched a little about U2’s lavishly funded world tour. The article can’t decide if it’s the obscene costs of the tour, or its obscene carbon footprint that’s the problem. But it gives the Edge the chance to say “We’re spending the money on our fans”. Awww. The biscuit, however, is taken by the video that accompanies the article. Though cynical, I was expecting it to show some interview of a sort regarding the criticisms. Not a bit of it; it was instead a more or less promotional music video.
They say that there’s no such thing as bad publicity. In this case, even the title emphasised Bono’s boys as victims rather than culprits: “U2 brand green criticism ‘unfair'”. I’m tempted to call it free publicity on our national broadcaster, but I rather think that it’s a question of backscratching after U2’s “impromtu” concert at BBC headquarters earlier this year. In any case, most irritating.
When the BBC claim impartiality, it follows that they claim to be a timeless, apolitical entity reflective of truth. I couldn’t help thinking about that when I looked at the BBC website this morning and saw the lead stories on the World and UK webpages. On the former, France and Italy were being taken to task for falling off the Bono Africa charity bandwagon. On the latter, a young woman accused of child indecency was being paraded before the public eye.
It seems to me this is activist journalism and trial by media. I don’t know why a person simply accused of a crime is pictured, named, aged and specified in this way by our national broadcaster. I do not think it would have happened in the past. As for Bono’s media bonanza, the BBC loves to talk about aid but it is less keen to scrutinize trade, especially of agricultural produce. Protectionism is rife in Europe, and not absent in the US. “Naming and shaming” “guilty” aid reneging countries is in my view just a circus of smug sentiment. How about scrutinising the manifest inefficiencies and incapabilities of our bureaucratic EU in spreading and growing wealth?
Interesting that the BBC uses all its publicity power to promote the fact that U2 have a new album out, even arranging it for U2 to play a “surprise” rooftop gig at the BBC, then push this out across the world media. By way of contrast, the BBC seems less keen to inform us of St Bono’s tax avodiance plans.