This latest “bespoke” video magazine feature in the BBC’s “Altered States”* series really appears on the surface to be not only a balanced presentation on gun rights and laws, but could actually be interpreted by people not paying attention as being biased in favor of gun advocates. It isn’t, but it’s very cleverly disguised.
Remember the choice of “more” and “more” in this title for later. First, let me point out that this video piece was put together without BBC influence or prompting. It was made by Charles Ledford, who recently became Associate Professor of Journalism at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He seems to be a recent hire, as he only finished his MA less than two years ago. From what I’ve been able to find online, Ledford is into exactly the kind of new digital media journalism that the BBC has been pushing for the last couple of years, and which many see as the future of journalism, full stop. No problem there, I’m just pointing out why the BBC looked to him for content. It makes perfect sense from a newsgathering standpoint.
(UPDATE: John Boch, from Guns Save Life has posted a comment below.)
Now for the bias. If we judge this piece simply on the basis of how much time is given to each side of the debate, then gun advocates win handily. More time is definitely given to their side. However, Ledford very cleverly undermines all of it.
Ledford was, for reasons unknown (not necessarily devious, just literally unknown to me, and the BBC doesn’t reveal any), doing some video journalism on the issue of gun rights for some time before the Newtown mass murder happened. So this piece was clearly not created with that particular agenda in mind. Was there an agenda anyway? I think so.
The first segment features gun advocates from the Guns Save Life group in Illinois. One of the Directors, John Naese, who seems to be acting as spokesman here, is given uninterrupted air time to explain the group’s positions on gun ownership laws.
The blurb accompanying the video on the BBC website says that Guns Save Life “are arguing for more permissive gun laws”. But are they? Considering that politicians in Illinois and in other parts of the country are always trying to enact ever more restrictive gun laws, one could just as easily say that the group is arguing to protect existing gun rights. But that would be speaking from their side of the argument. The opposite side of the argument is that they want more permissive gun laws. This bias is inherent in Ledford’s production and in the headline provided by the BBC sub editor. “More guns”. Gun advocates don’t necessarily want more guns, they just want to be allowed to keep what they own, and for citizens to keep the rights they already have. That’s not “more”.
The blurb also claims that Ledford’s video provides “an insight into the strongly held beliefs that influence discussion on this topic”. It doesn’t. What it really does is show you one perspective on the people who strongly hold certain beliefs about gun rights. Which is actually the goal of the piece. Naese pretty much just spells out the position on gun rights. There is no insight offered into the beliefs themselves. Nothing new is offered. But to people like Leford and the BBC editor who thought this was great stuff, the key is that they look down on the people who hold those beliefs.
The clever bit, though, comes after the segment featuring the Guns Save Life meeting. At the meeting, we’re treated to a scene of members reading out humorous rhymes about self defense. We then segue to the mother of a victim of some mass murder. Naturally, she is going to hold absolute moral authority, and actually claims it herself.
The first words out of the mother’s mouth are: “I don’t have a sense of humor about deadly force”.
Ooh, cuts you right to the quick, doesn’t it? Just look at those fat, hirsute, rednecks laughin’ about killin’. Pretty much destroys their argument, no? Well, no. The light-hearted scene has nothing whatsoever to do with the real attitude about gun rights, the right to bear arms, the right to self-defense. But that’s the “insight” Ledford wants to show you, and the brilliant point the BBC editor who selected this for publication saw and felt you needed to see. It’s fairly obvious that Ledford (or a student he sent over to do the interview) showed the woman footage of the fat old rednecks reading their little jokes, and asked something like, “So, what do you think of these assholes?”
Then the mother claims absolute moral authority by stating that the joking gun owners don’t know what it’s like to to lose a loved one.
If one goes by the stopwatch or word count, sure, the gun advocates get the lion’s share of the piece. But it’s very obvious where the weight of the feature lies: with the absolute moral authority of the mother who lost her only child. It doesn’t get more tear-jerking than that. The gun advocates are even given the last word, but it’s just more boilerplate, more simple spelling out of their position: banning guns doesn’t help. There’s no insight, no actual argument being made.
This, to the BBC, is the entire argument about gun rights in a nutshell: stupid rednecks who have no clue love their guns, while the reality is that innocents are killed and it hurts all of us. At no point are we given any actual insight into the gun owners’ beliefs, but we are given insight into why some people are against gun ownership. One side is portrayed as serious, based on morality and compassion, while the other side is portrayed as a figure of fun. It’s a biased piece, intended to denigrate gun rights advocates while elevating those on the other side of the argument.
Again, Ledford did this on his own. Or, at least, did part of it on his own and then got a follow-up quote or two from the Guns Save Life folks after the Newtown tragedy at the BBC’s behest. Either way, the goal is clear, which is why the BBC selected it for publication.
*I hate the BBC’s title “Altered States”. It has negative connotations, implies things have changed, and not necessarily for the better. It’s been a running theme in BBC reporting since we elected a black man as President that the country has become more divisive, more messed up, more racist. This title emphasizes that perspective. Yes, I know it’s a reference to the rather entertaining little sci-fi movie starring William Hurt about a scientist who manages to regress himself back to a primitive state of evolution. It just supports my point.
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:
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.
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.
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?
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.)
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.
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.
As the US Congress and the President head into negotiations over the looming never-ending budget crisis to figure out how to avert hitting the debt ceiling again, the BBC’s US President editor (a more accurate description than his actual job title) is on the case to give you his muddled view of how US government should work.
He starts right in with the violent imagery, just to set the proper tone in which you should understand the scene.
America might be forgiven for thinking they suffered a concussion, instead of holding an election, on Tuesday night. The country now has double vision.
The violent imagery is supported by the now-obiligatory context of a deeply divided country, most-polarized-ever-ever-omg. And you’ll never guess whose fault that is.
Republicans in Congress have other ideas. House Speaker John Boehner is insisting tax rises for the wealthy can’t be allowed to happen.
Typical dishonest, class-war rhetoric, straight out of the White House propaganda machine. Actually, this comes naturally to Mardell, no prompting necessary. Boehner is insisting that no tax rises for anyone should be allowed. But since that includes the evil rich, it’s “accurate” to say that he doesn’t want tax increases for them. It’s not a particularly honest description of the proceedings, but I suppose it fits the BBC requirement for “accuracy”. Impartial it is not. Here’s what Boehner actually said:
Boehner today maintained that Republicans want to avert the fiscal cliff without raising any taxes and “in a manner that ensures that 2013 is finally the year that our government comes to grips with the major problems that are facing us.” Next year, he said, “should be the year we begin to solve our debt through tax reform and entitlement reform.”
The speaker added that he had a “cordial,” short conversation with Mr. Obama earlier this week and is hopeful that “productive conversations” can begin soon on the fiscal cliff. As he has for more than a year, Boehner said that he’s open to creating more tax revenue, by closing tax loopholes and eliminating some deductions, just not raising tax rates.
That last line sure looks to me like someone talking about increasing tax payments for the wealthy. Only a highly partisan, disingenuous person would describe Boehner’s position as refusing tax rises for the wealthy. Unless we’re playing semantic games about an increase in income tax rates as opposed to just increasing the taxes actually paid. Mardell cleverly left all that out and quoted this instead:
Speaking before the president did so this afternoon, he said: “Everyone wants to get our economy moving again. Everyone wants to get more Americans back to work again. Raising tax rates will slow down our ability to create the jobs that everyone says they want.”
He called on the president to lead.
So you really aren’t told at all the reality of what Boehner is thinking. Mardell continues:
Mr Obama did, but not in a direction that will delight Republicans. He is using the moral authority of his re-election to push his case. There is nothing new in his call for Congress to extend “middle-class tax cuts” at once. He’s said it repeatedly before the election.
But it’s different now. He has a renewed mandate and his demand has a fresh moral weight behind it. He pointed out even people who didn’t vote for him told opinion pollsters that taxes should go up for the richest.
And here’s where Mardell really starts to get it wrong. The President got fewer votes this time than in 2008. Almost 10 million fewer. Sure, Romney didn’t get as many as McCain did, but the difference wasn’t as great. So who actually did worse? Remember, we’re not talking about simply winning or losing: Mardell said “renewed mandate”, which requires much more than simply winning. Voter turnout was also substantially lower (except for places Philadelphia, which had a turnout that even Sadaam Hussein would have envied) The President may have dominated the Electoral College, but won the popular vote by only 2.5%. Boris Johnson won his race for mayor of London by a slightly larger amount – 3% – but the BBC described that as a “tight margin”. Go figure. Anyone here expect Mardell to declare that Boris has a renewed mandate? Some projected counts (they’re still counting actual votes in places like Ohio and Florida) expect the President to crack that 3% mark, but that’s it. Still no mandate when it’s a non-Left politician.
When journalists make value judgments like this, it leaves the door wide open to personal opinions influencing their reporting. This is a classic example. In 2004, George Bush defeated John Kerry by just over 3 million votes. The President’s popular vote victory over Romney was – you guessed it – just over 3 million votes. You will not find a BBC report saying that Bush had a renewed mandate in 2004. You’ll find analyses stating that Bush supporters and Christians were saying that, but you will not find a BBC editor or reporter stating it.
Now that he’s established that the President is supposed to get His way, Mardell lays out the doom and gloom if Republicans don’t let Him.
There has to be an agreement. If the two sides can’t get behind a plan to cut the deficit there will be pretty horrible consequences.
The ugly phrase “fiscal cliff” has stuck, but it is more like a ticking economic timebomb. The two sides agreed to a suicide pact if they couldn’t reach agreement – tax rises and defence spending cuts the Republicans loathe – as well as other spending cuts that are offensive to Democrats.
The trouble is if the bomb goes off, it is not just the politicians who will be hurt. It is American economy that would explode, probably taking what’s left of the world economy with it.
This is more or less true, and nobody’s denying that we’re looking at trouble here. We then get a bit of “balance”, where the President says this, and the Republicans say that. He even allows that some Republicans might think they, too, have a mandate.
President Obama said that people had voted for action but he would refuse to accept any approach that wasn’t balanced and made the middle class suffer alone. He said there shouldn’t be a long, drawn-out drama.
The Republicans won’t play along, and he will presumably portray them as churlish bad losers who won’t accept the people’s verdict. They will doubtless point out they too (or some of them) also have a fresh mandate.
Note the qualifier. You’re meant to understand that they really don’t have one. So Mardell wraps up with this:
While both Mr Obama and Mr Boehner sounded consensual they were in fact restating their mutually exclusive positions.
They are heading for confrontation, but this is only the first act – they are both stating a hard line, before the give and take of negotiations. They do have to get a move on. The drama can’t run for long before it turns into tragedy for all of us.
Except we already know whom to blame, don’t we? Mardell has already told us: Republicans who want to protect the wealthy. (I remember back when this budget agreement was passed. The US President editor was singing a slightly different tune then.)
But spot the missing upper house of Congress. This happens over and over again with both Mardell’s “reporting” and other BBC coverage: they leave out the Democrat-controlled Senate. Again and again we hear about how it’s all Republicans blocking Him. What about the Senate? And you’re expected to ignore Democrats who side with Republicans on certain issues.
While actual spending is really allocated by the House of Representatives, the Senate also has to pass an agreed version of the budget for the country to actually have one. Yet, unbeknownst to BBC audiences because you were never told, the Democrat-controlled Senate never passed one. In fact, even the Democrat-controlled Senate (it’s worth repeating) unanimously voted against the joke budget proposed by the President Himself. Oh, and let’s not forget either – no matter how much biased Beeboids like Daniel Nasaw would like you to – that the Democrats controlled both houses of Congress for His first two years in office. No budget then, either. And Mardell once actually referred to that as a Golden Age, because the President was able to ram some things through without a single Republican vote. Who’s really to blame here?
But that’s just the bias part. Now here’s where Mardell really gets muddled. The real problem with Mardell declaring the President has a mandate is that he’s presenting the whole thing as if the President is king. He does not appear to understand – or perhaps just doesn’t approve – of the way the US government is set up.
There are two issues here. First, is the way the government is split into three separate branches: the Executive (the President and Administration), the Legislative (Congress – both Houses), and the Judicial (the Supreme Court and the lower Federal system). This is what’s known as “Checks and Balances”, the idea being that no one branch has too much power. Never mind that one of the Democrat operatives the BBC had on the panel of their election night coverage didn’t understand that, and thought it meant Republicans weren’t allowed to vote for what they wanted, and the Beeboids were too ignorant to correct her. Mardell certainly doesn’t understand it, and thinks if the President wins – even by a “tight” Boris Johnson-style margin – He has a “mandate”, and the Republicans should bow to it.
The House of Representatives is what is says on the tin: a group of legislators who are there to represent their individual constituencies. They’re not State-wide representatives, like Senators are: they represent a single collection of 500,000 voters in their State. Same as the Electoral College. Representatives are not elected to do the President’s bidding: they’re there to represent their own constituency. If a Republican gets elected on whatever issues, that’s his or her mandate, not a directive to obey the President. Because different States have dramatically different population totals, some have a much greater presence in the House than others. When a State loses population, they lose representation in the House. If more people move there, they get more Reps. The total number of Reps. in the House can change with each election if the national population does. If it seems a bit unfair, it’s meant to be. Sort of.
But New York and California do not run the country, even if the popular vote makes it appear that they might. Nor should they. The House of Representatives is not a mirror of the Electoral College vote, even though their numbers are the same. The House – ideally – represents the wishes of their individual constituencies. Representatives are not meant to be a reflection of some national conscience. This is all connected to another US concept the BBC neither likes nor fully understands: States’ rights. I use the upper case “S” here and always to emphasize the point that most Founding Fathers considered their State to be their country, and wanted that independence preserved. Some of us still understand that. The individuality inherent in the House of Representatives is part and parcel of that concept.
This is also why the Senate, the upper house, exists. Each State gets two Senators, and that’s it. In this way, each State has equal representation. But that’s also why real spending is decided in the House. The Senate is much more than a rubber stamp, though, as they have their own agenda and powers. But that’s all for another time.
What I’m talking about here is the idea that – contrary to how Mardell presents it – an election victory for a President does not actually translate into carte blanche. To really be successful, a President must also bring his political party along for the ride to victory as well. Failing that, he must compromise, triangulate, as, for example, Bill Clinton did. Funny how you don’t see much comparison of The Obamessiah to Clinton these days. That would make Him look petty and partisan and incompetent, though, so the astute BBC analysts tend to refrain from doing it.
The Republicans in the House are there to do the job they were sent to do, not merely the President’s bidding. If they were voted in to avoid taxing us all into oblivion, that’s what they need to focus on. They’re also not required to bend over backwards to compromise if it means doing something they believe will damage the country. Politicians get voted out when they do too much their constituents don’t like. Just ask all the Dems and Big-Government Republicans who got kicked out in 2010 for voting for ObamaCare.
The other party must try to compromise as well. But you never hear the BBC complaining about President “I won”, or that the President is the one drawing a line in the sand with His tax rises for the wealthy. Mardell may write a sentence saying both sides must work together – and he even admits that the President only sounds like He wants to compromise, but doesn’t appear to be just yet – but only after he’s already set you up to assign blame for who won’t. And again: what about the Senate? And why has neither Mardell nor anyone else at the BBC examined why the President never got a budget passed while He had both houses under Democrat control? Could it be because that might force them to learn that Congress isn’t simply a vehicle for a President’s policies? Or perhaps because they might be forced to admit that the President’s own fiscal policies are so ludicrously extreme that even the Democrats won’t vote for it?
Mardell either doesn’t understand how the US government is meant to work, or simply doesn’t care. He pays lip service to the notion that both sides must compromise, but he’s already framed it in the context of Republicans being in the wrong. Yet he’s the man the BBC wants you to trust most on US issues. Don’t.
As if all the other BBC reporting isn’t enough, they got their (freelance) World Service economics correspondent to ask, in the usual manner of journalists posing a question to which they’ve already decided the answer, if the poor US economy is the President’s fault.
Long answer: The economy really isn’t that bad if you consider it in historical context, and no, only some people say it’s His fault for not doing enough to fix it.
The opening section is devoted to telling you how the economy really isn’t as all that bad from an historical perspective. Moreover, the US doesn’t look so bad at all compared to the current European situation, as well as Japan. In fact, the latest quarterly figures show the US has made up all lost ground, and is now doing better than before the recession! Never mind the massive debt, or the continuously rising deficit, or the fact that the latest GDP bump is mostly due to the Fed printing more money we don’t have. So before we even get to assigning blame, we’ve softened the blow considerably, and in fact might even cause some people to wonder what’s the point of assigning blame at all.
This follows on Walker’s report from the other day defending the President on unemployment, where he dutifully regurgitated the latest jobs report without mentioning that previous jobs figures keep getting revised down. So when he then tells you that Romney will be lying if he now claims that the President has presided over a net jobs loss, you don’t actually know the whole truth. Interestingly, the last two lines of that piece are actually a set-up for this one.
In any case, now that Walker has established his premise that the economy really isn’t so bad if you think about it, he sets about pretending to ask if the President is to blame.
For the “It’s not His fault, you see” side, he links to a Bloomberg opinion piece by two economic academics explaining the historical context, and declaring that the current doldrums are nothing unusual. In fact, they say, history tells us this was always going to be the case after such a bad financial crisis. It’s not His fault, you see.
For the racist side blaming the President’s policies, Walker mentions two other economic academics, but links only to a PDF file of the “Romney Plan” on the Romney campaign website. It’s written by the people he mentions, but this is obviously going to raise a red flag with readers. It’s a partisan campaign manifesto, so not to be taken as seriously as the view Walker offers from the other side. Even though he allows as how the other economics experts are sympathetic to the President, an independently researched and published book and opinion piece isn’t even remotely the same thing as an actual party platform. It’s rather disingenuous to present these as apples-to-apples.
I suppose it would be churlish to compare word counts here, like they did for the debates. This is just one more piece to support the BBC’s overall Narrative that there is no legitimate opposition to the President’s policies, and that those who express the desire to vote against Him are motivated by something else.
For a hint at Walker’s personal political views, see this old piece where he sanitizes the political views and writings of that well-known eugenics fan and Stalinist, Bernard Shaw.
Millions more will turn out for the general election, but Mardell senses a great disillusionment in America and believes that this could be crucial to President Obama’s chances for reelection. Asked for a prediction, he replies that it will come down to turnout. ‘I think if he’s defeated he will be defeated by people who quite like him, don’t like Romney that much, but decide to stay at home [on election day].’
“Will you really lay down your life for me? Very truly I tell you, before the rooster crows, you will disown me three times! (John XIII:38)
What’s this disillusionment about? Why would these people who like Him decline to vote for Him? They’re not racist all of a sudden, are they?
He admits that problems with the economy perhaps stem from American policies rather than presidential decisions….
What then shall we say? That the Gentiles, who did not pursue righteousness, have obtained it, a righteousness that is by faith; but the people of Israel, who pursued the law as the way of righteousness, have not attained their goal. Why not? Because they pursued it not by faith but as if it were by works. They stumbled over the stumbling stone. (Romans IX:30-32)
It’s not His fault, you see. Congress failed Him. The people failed Him. Nothing to do with His policies. However, by blaming the faithful for failing Him, the awkward question of why all those people are voting against Him can be avoided.
Plus a nice delusional dig at Romney:
…but believes that foreign policy will certainly take a different ‘tone’ under a Romney term, with ‘implications’ for the UK.
It’s hard to imagine Romney racking up a bigger body count than the Nobel Peace Prize Laureate-in-Chief. How many new countries has the President taken war into again?
Actually, Mardell has always been firmly against the UK helping the US in Iraq and Afghanistan (he mentions them specifically), and for some reason thinks Romney will be George Bush all over again and drag you into new wars. Hasn’t the President been very clear, for example, that He won’t allow Iran to have nuclear weapons, and that there were “no options off the table”? This is a White House talking point, nothing more. Of course, it could also be a tacit admission that in a second term, the President will let Iran, China, and Russia do whatever they like. Which makes Mardell’s focus on Bush’s wars and the (economic) “It all started in America” meme all the more curious. After all, the President did tell Medvedev to sit tight on the European missile situation for now because He’ll have more flexibility then. But Mardell’s worried about what Romney will do.
Read the rest of it for laughs. His continued bewilderment by us United Statesians would be amusing if it wasn’t so sad and a little tiresome. My favorite line, though, is this:
While Mardell is cautious with his language at times, worried about how it might be interpreted, there are hints that he is a passionate man with strong beliefs.
Understatement of the year. They know it, and Mardell knows it. They just don’t care. But by all means, they expect you to continue to trust them on US issues.
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:
Forget Romney/Obama. I’m betting lots are thinking President Bloomberg this morning. — kathleenparker (@kathleenparker) October 30, 2012
Bloomberg/Booker ticket, anyone?
— kathleenparker (@kathleenparker) October 30, 2012
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.
That line from Isaiah, 42:13, just about sums up the BBC’s breathless anticipation of tonight’s debate rematch between the President and His enemy political opponent. Jude Sheerin in Washington (another one? how many Beeboids are there in the US now? -ed) is here to reassure the faithful that the President will come out fighting.
We get assurances from both the President’s mouthpiece as well as from Romney’s camp that the President will do better. Not a single word is given to the viewpoint that the President’s previous failure was due to a lack of substance, not just a problem with style. Tonight’s debate is supposed to focus on foreign policy, the President’s number one Achilles heel at the moment, but since it’s town-hall style with audience questions, I’m not sure how much anyone can guarantee that this will be the case.
Oh, wait, yes there is a way to guarantee how the audience will behave: let CNN pick them and put in a few Democrat operatives like they did last time. The moderator has already said that she’s looking to break some rules and take control of the agenda anyway. It fills one with such confidence…..
Sheerin’s piece is full of bits about what the President will do better tonight, and nothing about Romney. Is there another article about his side of things that I’ve missed somewhere?
The most recent poll figures the BBC has on offer shows the President up by two points, but it’s from October 7. Missing is an entire week of Romney improvement, to the point where he’s now virtually tied with or leading the President in some areas. But the BBC doesn’t want you to know that, so they leave things as they are.
Amazingly, one big, massive, ginormous issue gets tacked on at the very end of this: Hillary Clinton falls on her sword over Benghazi. This is buck-passing at it’s finest. I guess she’s just decided that her presidential aspirations are dead now. She’ll never be able to run with this on her record. Of course we’re meant to understand here that it’s not His fault, and so any accusations about it coming from Romney will be “fact-checked” under the bus along with her.
Meanwhile, the BBC’s US President editor has had to swallow hard and admit that Romney’s performance last time really did help a lot, and polls do show him in the lead. It only took Mardell two weeks to get with reality. So why does that key information have to stay relegated to a blog post and isn’t updated on the official election page?
But Mardell still can’t quite accept it.
On the surface it is just odd that a single debate would have produced such a big shift.
No, it isn’t odd at all, if one has been paying attention to reality. The BBC, on the other hand, has kept it from you. I don’t think there’s a single person here who is surprised by this at all, yet the BBC’s top man in the US just doesn’t get it.
Mardell is also stuck on the superficial, still providing excuses for his Obamessiah.
But perhaps it was simply that he wanted to appear presidential and above petty argument, but missed the mark by enough to seem disengaged and aloof.
This is idiotic. What does he mean by “petty”? Engaging with Romney is beneath Him? Such a statement actually makes the President look even worse, but to Mardell this is acceptable. “The Emperor didn’t want to soil his new clothes, so stayed back from the field. A wise move, but made him look hesitant to some.”
This next bit is interesting to me.
…but I’ve heard an intriguing explanation from Republican strategists. They argue that people who voted for Mr Obama last time in a spirit of hope are looking for permission not to do so again.
His lack of engagement, lack of answers, and lack of enthusiasm in the debate was so different from the mood he inspired in 2008, that it allows them to justify a switch without suggesting they made a mistake.
In other words, nothing He’s done in the last four years has any bearing at all on whether or not someone might be disappointed and not vote for Him this time. Unbelievable.
Amusingly, Mardell is also pre-emptively criticizing Romney about Benghazi. He says that Romney will have to be more clear, do a better job explaining what lessons we need to learn from it. Wrong. Romney needs to show that the Administration is a shambles more than how he’d do it differently next time.
They just don’t get it, can’t accept it. Everything they’ve been investing their emotions and energy in for the last five years is all coming crashing down around them, and they simply don’t know how to deal with it. Maybe the President can turn things around and His team has come up with some real substance to lay out tonight. Maybe there will be some smart audience questions that will put Romney on the back foot. I don’t know, but I have my doubts.
Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.
(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:
I’m going to set my alarm for 2am to watch the Presidential #debate on BBC News. I am. Honestly.
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!”
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.
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.
I chose the word “lie” with great care, after long consideration. But I can come to no other conclusion. If one has wrong information and then makes a statement based on that faulty info, it’s not telling a lie. If one has the correct information but knowingly makes a statement contradicting that, it’s a lie. I think that’s what Mardell is doing here.
The short blog post is mainly about trying to push the idea that Romney’s campaign is in disarray, and that triangulating on a perceived foreign policy stumble regarding the Benghazi fiasco might help his chances. The BBC’s US President editor – a lifelong political junkie who should know better – actually wants you to believe that taking advantage of a new opportunity is the same thing as completely overhauling a campaign because the other ideas aren’t working.
Naturally, Mardell’s conclusion is the one you probably guessed: no, it won’t help Romney in the end anyway, because the people actually care more about the economy than anything else. Why this brilliant bit of obviousness took him 434 words to say instead of two short paragraphs, I have no idea. Since this is Mardell, though, there’s usually a gem amongst the paste. He sets up the notion that Romney’s campaign is desperately spinning wheels trying to find some traction by saying this:
Some in Mitt Romney’s camp are tempted to switch focus to foreign affairs.
As if they never had any plans to mention it, and as if events, dear boy, didn’t provide an opportunity. To back it up, he then says this:
No-one doubts now that the opinion polls show Mr Romney in a whole heap of trouble.
He didn’t say, “most” or “the conventional wisdom” or “expert analysts” or even “no-one with half a brain”. He said “no-one”. This is a lie, because by October 1 Mardell knew all about the following, but chooses to tell you they don’t exist:
The presidential race remains competitive even though voters still trust Mitt Romney slightly more than President Obama when it comes to handling economic matters. Will Wednesday night’s first presidential debate make a difference?
With a race this close, possibly but not likely, Scott Rasmussen argues in his latest weekly syndicated column. “Events in the real world matter more than debates,” Scott writes. “Only in the absence of other news could a slight change in the race coming out of the debates be decisive.”
Basically, there’s a big discussion going on right now about the polls being skewed or otherwise unrepresentative of reality. And Mardell knew it. He just decided none of this was worth a damn and that you should think “no-one” doubts that Romney is in desperate straits.
Before any itchy fingers start trying to tell me that Mardell is right that Romney is in trouble, let me remind you that it’s irrelevant. I’m talking specifically about the fact that he said “no-one doubts”, which is patently false. A lie. At best, dismissing Rasmussen and Gallup and the Wall Street Journal as well as the local stuff, and saying that none of what I’ve linked to is worthy of respect, which just means he’s as biased as we say he is. Only fools and partisans, indeed.
Do I think a lot of this noise can be put down to sour grapes? Sure. Every time I hear someone complaining about skewed polls, that’s what I’m wondering. But that’s not the point. The point is that a lot of otherwise reasonable, respectable people think things are a lot closer than they really are. Also, let’s remember that in 2008 when Candidate Obamessiah had a similar lead over Sen. McCain, the Beeboids were fretting that the polls were skewed due to lying racists and the Bradley Effect. Ah, good times….good times. Funny how we’re not so racist now. Any bets that we will be racists again if Romney wins?
Now about tonight’s debate. The new Narrative in the US mainstream media (whom Mardell has admitted are mostly liberal) is that the debates don’t mean anything. It’s a clever pre-emptive strike at the bounce Romney will most likely get. There’s also been an attempt to revive the myth surrounding that Nixon-JFK debate where supposedly people who watched it on TV thought Kennedy won, while those who listened on the radio thought Nixon did. In other words, since most everyone is going to be watching it, don’t believe your lying eyes if you think Romney won.
Mardell dutifully follows suit. A draw will be a successful result for the President. He also throws in an appeal to authority and has some academic say that the debates don’t usually change anyone’s mind, but at least leave the voters better informed. I’d like some maple syrup on that waffle, please.
At least Adam Blenford’s full-length piece on the debate issues and candidates is pretty well balanced and not obviously biased. I even think that the weaknesses listed for both men can be considered different versions of the same thing. He didn’t mention the President’s whining about having to rehearse and study for it, but never mind.
Mardell will be tweeting during the debate and then blogging his pearls of wisdom afterwards. Joy.
Daniel Nasaw is one of the handful of Beeboids working the US beat who was actually born and raised here. In his latest feature for the BBC online Magazine, a “From Our Own Correspondent” segment, he visits a Civil War battle reenactment to use as a metaphor for a primary Narrative about the current state of US politics we hear across the spectrum of BBC broadcasting: an historic, extreme polarization.
Nasaw doesn’t so much get the basic relevant history bits of the Civil War wrong as he does the lesson which he’s trying to invent from it.
(Audio “From Our Own Correspondent” version is here, beginning @17:18)
In addition to the morale-boosting effect for the North (it was a strategic draw, really but ended Gen. Lee’s push into Union territory), the Battle of Antietam is pretty legendary because of the carnage, so it’s a good choice for Nasaw to hold up as a symbol of how horrible the splitting of the nation was. Which becomes the problem, as we’ll soon see. First, a bit about the whole reenactment thing, which seems to baffle our not-so-humble correspondent as well as amuse him much in the way natives in exotic locations reenacting colorful tribal rituals amuse the tourists.
It really is a pretty big hobby, as Nasaw says. Lots of groups all around the country – even in places that weren’t remotely involved in the conflict – many with the same kind of enthusiasm and attention to detail as any historical hobbyist group. They can be as hardcore as any bunch of enthusiasts, and relaxed about it at the same time. They’re there mostly to have fun rather than declare their allegiance to any political ideology. Not that the history behind the game isn’t on some people’s minds in many cases.
Unlike Nasaw, who seems to have approached this event from another culture entirely, I’ve actually participated in one of these battle reenactments. As these things happen, a friend of a friend knew someone involved with the local historical society who was putting on one of these battles. They needed bodies, so I jumped at the chance. Also unlike Nasaw, I had no ancestors involved in the Civil War, as mine didn’t even get to the US until more than almost 40 years after it was over. I ended up dressing for the Confederate (“Rebel”) side, simply because that’s where they needed bodies. I was supplied with a period costume of civilian clothing, not a uniform, as the South couldn’t always afford everything for their troops. This also struck home the fact that – as Nasaw points out but apparently doesn’t accept – many really did come out to fight for their homes and safety of their families more than for any political ideal, or to keep their right to own slaves.
We did a few minutes of actual drills from some period military book, and learned to load and fire the percussion muskets (all replicas, not rifled IIRC) used at the time. Having to stand there furiously attempting to reload after one shot while a wall of guns fired at me from the other side, and the next rank of my team running forwards into the volley to their next spot before taking their next shot, told me in about thirty seconds a whole lot more about why these battles were so bloody and not always conclusive than anything I’d ever read on the subject. It’s all a bit of a joke to Nasaw, but it can be a real lesson. As for who decides who dies when, naturally I asked the same thing he did, but didn’t take offense like he seemed to at being told that was a rookie question. As it turned out, there were a few veterans in charge of each side who would just occasionally say, “You’re dead….now you can die….we need a couple people to die on this next volley,” and so on. Not a big deal.
Now for why Nasaw is wrong to use the Civil War for the message he wants to get across. First of all, the concern about States’ Rights goes back long before the Civil War, right back to the founding of the United States of America. It was a vital issue debated by the founders for years before and after independence. In fact, the Civil War wasn’t even the first time secession came into the picture. Of course, what’s going on here is that Nasaw is trying cast light on the polarized political situation we’re in today. We keep hearing from our media elites that the country is more divided, political discourse is more polarized than ever before. Mark Mardell likes to cite claims of grizzled veterans that we all used to get along so well, politicians were never so partisan, etc., as part of his proof that it’s never been this bad before. They’re all at it, really, because that’s the same Narrative we hear from the mainstream Left-leaning media in the US. And they’ve been doing it for some time, not just recently. It all started, we’re supposed to believe, when the US elected a black man as President. All those anti-Bush protests and the ChimpyMcBushitler posters and celebrities crying about Bush hating black people after Katrina, that wasn’t polarization, you see. It’s only when a Democrat President – particularly this One – doesn’t get His way that we’ve suddenly gone horribly wrong. For example:
October 2011, Mardell: US ‘divided society’ protests spread (Oh, hang on, that was about their darling Occupiers’ class-war rhetoric, and no Beeboid was fretting about how they were polarizing politics)
Andrew Marr’s upcoming special film about the four years of The Obamessiah’s reign will see him push the same Narrative.
I’m sure everyone has seen or heard other examples as well. So what’s the most obvious historical example of the US being divided? Exactly. Because subtlety isn’t a quality trait with media types bent on getting convincing you about their world view, Nasaw needs to spell out just how relevant this is to today’s situation. It’s where he delves into the issue of States’ Rights and slavery that he gets it wrong.
Long before Lincoln was elected, slavery was a known problem. In fact, while quite a few founders were slave owners, quite a few more were not, and even the top figures who owned slaves at the time knew it was a bad idea. However, there’s a significant economic dimension to the problem as well. Slavery was actually kind of dying out because the trade became less economically viable, but the arrival of the cotton gin kept it going long after its sell-by date, to the point where it was becoming massively difficult to shift the South’s economic engine away from it. The South would have had to diversify economically eventually, but it wasn’t going to happen any time soon. Nasaw, like so many who don’t actually understand the history, sees the Civil War as being exclusively about protecting slavery and the concept of States’ Rights as a smokescreen behind which to hide it. Although it’s watered down in the printed version, in the audio version Nasaw is more explicit about this (beginning @19:18:)
“That’s the familiar slogan wielded by Americans who want to whitewash the stain of slavery from the War’s glory.”
Well, yes and no. While it’s true that slavery was the key right which led to the secession, it’s not something that’s been a major issue from the start. There’s also the fact that many in the South have a particular cultural heritage they want to defend (this feeling might just be familiar to some of you, no?) which has precious little to do with slavery. That gets suppressed every time someone whacks them with the slavery cudgel, which leads to no small amount of resentment. Plus we mustn’t forget the trials of the Reconstruction, when much of the South was occupied militarily and politically by the North. In some places they tend to teach that era of history as if Gen. Sherman left only last week and the remains of buildings are still smoldering in the streets. That’s caused a scar on the regional psyche which goes far beyond a single issue. In short, there’s much, much more to the whole thing than slavery alone. But that muddles the issue, and gets in the way of the metaphor you’re meant to have jammed into your brains. It’s possible that Nasaw is simply unaware of all this, didn’t learn anything other than the standard liberal tropes (history being not only written by the victors but updated by future elites), and really does see it in the simplistic terms he lays out here due to ignorance and not just pure ideology. In “reporting” from this biased perspective, he’s denigrating millions of United Statesians.
Nasaw gets a Civil War expert to tell us that today’s debate goes all the way back to the War, it actually goes back much further. Of course a Civil War expert is going to focus on his area, and of course this makes it a nice red herring. It’s here where Nasaw starts to make some offensive parallels. His goal is to make a direct tie from today’s Tea Party protests and critics of ObamaCare to those desirous of keeping slavery going. He wants to show that it’s the same mentality, the same people, the same belief system. That’s how he sees it, and that’s the story he set out to tell.
I probably don’t need to point out how this also ties right in with the overall BBC Narrative that there is really no legitimate opposition to the President’s policies and that all those complaints are really driven by crypt0-racism, but reminders can be found here, here, here, and here.
While many of the Founding Fathers were slave owners, many equally felt that it was wrong, and that it was something that would eventually have to go away. But more important than that specific issue is that, besides the North-South divide we know about today, there was also originally a kind of chasm between the wealthy Eastern States – industrial and mercantile Northeast, coastal trade cities, etc. – and the poorer, rural West. When I say “West”, however, I’m using it as defined at the end of the 18th Century. Back then, the western parts of Kentucky and Tennessee were a largely unexplored frontier. In other words, very rural, and not wealthy. Even in the country’s early years there was a kind of resentment from those States.
Added to this strain is the more obvious cultural division between the more industrial, mercantile North and the largely agrarian South. Different European heritages also played a part. A further cultural difference was that many in the Southern region looked to Republican Rome for an example of how things should work. This was fine for a largely agrarian nation, not so much for an increasingly urban and commerce-driven one. So there was an innate suspicion of too much central government power from the very start, and for a variety of reasons. Slavery was not the only causus belli.
In fact, the State of New York under Governor Clinton (not the guy from Parliament-Funkadelic, and no relation to the former President) threatened to secede back in 1788 because he felt the ratification of the very Constitution we’re talking about today actually went too far in curtailing his own State’s autonomy. That was all about finalizing borders and maintaining the independence of a country – a State with a capital “S”, which is why I tend to write it that way – which he had been enjoying until then. Like several other key figures, he accepted it once they added the Bill of Rights. Even more important was Clinton’s objection to the new Federal Government imposing a national tariff on foreign commerce, New York’s cash cow. In other words, very much like the kind of objection involving States’ Rights and the Federal Government’s ability to tax commerce we heard about ObamaCare in front of the Supreme Court. More secessionist noise was going on under President Jefferson a few years later for other reasons, which is partly why Clinton was brought in as his Vice President (Somebody ask Paul Mason about a VP pick polarizing the country, right?). Yet Nasaw wants you to focus exclusively on slavery when discussing the concept.
Basically, the Civil War was the culmination of all this stuff, which had been brewing for more than 75 years. The right of secession had long been accepted. The irony of the early instigators of the Revolution’s feelings of being slaves to the British Crown while owning slaves themselves wasn’t lost on them. They knew, but were for reasons best left to people much more intelligent and informed than I, ultimately incapable of sorting it out early on. Lessons hadn’t been learned well enough, the South became too economically dependent on free labor, a lot of people in power didn’t want to suddenly have hundreds of thousands of opposition voters appear on the scene all at once (like in Mississippi, for example, where blacks would have instantly outnumbered whites) and the rest is…well, you know.
But Nasaw doesn’t seem to know any of this. All he sees is a chance to equate slavery enthusiasts with people who oppose a Federal Government wanting to “reform healthcare systems”. The very term “reform” is loaded with positive connotations, a biased perspective on its own, although that’s a discussion for another time, and one we’ve had before anyway. Any opposition, then, to new powers of the Federal Government are similarly tainted. This stifles debate even before it begins. When a couple of the people he meets object, Nasaw sneers. He gives the game away when he asks those playing the Union side if they feel “morally superior” to the Rebels. It’s all black and white to him (no pun intended, although it’s pretty unavoidable).
If one is going to have an honest discussion about the origins of the States’ Rights debate, one has to go way past the Civil War, all the way back to the years before the founding of the country. The concept is entrenched in the US Constitution for a reason: it was vitally important to the founders, who had been debating the topic for years already. It’s about something far beyond a single issue, even one as culturally and morally important as slavery. To simply dismiss the whole thing by tainting it with support for slavery, full stop (subtext: You’re A Racist!), does a disservice to the audience, to the debate itself, and to the nation’s history.
I understand that no humble correspondent can be an expert on every subject, and it’s impossible to do in-depth research for every story. But this is a clear example of a reporter having a preconceived story he wants to tell, one that is exactly in line with the perspective put forth by nearly every other report on the subject, and really screwing with history to get his point across.
PS: Amusingly, Justin Rowlatt’s preceding segment about Las Vegas’ economic struggles gives you in a few seconds more information about the looming economic catastrophe in China than pretty much all other BBC reporting in the last few months put together. Unfortunately, though, he’s yet another Beeboid who see that the money has run out but is unable to grasp why that is.
Monday was the one year anniversary of the beginning of the Occupy Wall St. movement. It was on this day last year that the first activists camped out in Zuccotti Park in New York City, and the media love-fest began. No broadcast organization supported and lauded the Occupiers more than the BBC. So, while I actually expected a little more noise about it from them, the special video reports make their bias evident enough. I guess Mitt Romney’s series of “gaffes” (no word from the BBC yet on whether or not Romney has actually eaten any babies) have taken up all the space and air time.
I love how this is in the Business section, as if it’s a legitimate economics issue as opposed to a purely political extremist one. But where’s the “What did the Tea Party movement achieve” video?
Not only do we hear excuses from various Occupiers about why they haven’t actually achieved anything (“It takes years for a movement to do anything”), but the BBC found a Columbia University professor to tell you that they actually altered the national consciousness, changed the way we all think. What he really means is that the supportive media latched onto a bit of their lingo and promoted it to the ends of the earth.
In essence, the BBC is still presenting a hopeful picture of the Occupy movement.
This headline of another BBC report accidentally tells you the Occupiers’ real achievements:
Getting arrested: that’s pretty much all they have achieved, outside of inspiring hundreds of Left-wing journalists around the country and in Britain and Europe.
The BBC will never dwell like this on what the Tea Party movement has achieved. They have to admit the real achievements in the House of Representatives occasionally in reports, but they do it begrudgingly, and it’s presented as a negative affect. There was no special feature one year after the movement started, never mind one a year after the BBC actually started reporting on its existence. But their darling Occupiers deserve special treatment, because the BBC staff supports their ideology.
For those new to this blog, here’s a trip down memory lane, a reminder of how the BBC gushed over the Occupiers (comments on older posts have yet to be retrieved from our former Blogspot home).
(okay, that one’s not reporting, just blatant evidence of their support.)
Just do a search for Occupy stories on the BBC website. The enthusiasm is evident. And I won’t even get into all the negative Occupier stories and facts that the BBC censored.
For those who have an hour or so to spare, please compare and contrast what Katty Kay and Mark Mardell said about the Occupiers, along with any other impressions you may have gotten from the BBC, with my own report after spending a few hours at Zuccotti Park. Who got it right? Who was more accurate about who the Occupiers were, what they really wanted, and what they were going to accomplish? Who had a better idea of where this was all headed?
(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.
Yesterday, the President of the United States made a campaign appearance in Florida (the same day He got hugged at a pizza joint, video of which the BBC dutifully has up, and will have for days). He made yet another classic gaffe, but this is a video you will not see on the BBC:
“Three proud words: Made In The USA”
Yeah, it’s an easy mistake. We all know what He meant to say. But that’s not the point. The point here is that there are no Beeboid tweets at all. Not from any of them who laughed at Sarah Palin for “refudiate”. When the President of the United States – who has a history of eye-watering errors, if you get your news from somewhere other than the BBC – makes yet another dopey slip, the BBC is silent, and BBC staff see nothing worth tweeting or even retweeting. Probably none of the Left-wing media outlets or pundits or bloggers or activists they all follow mentioned it, so nothing to retweet.
But when someone who holds no public office, is not running for office, runs no major organization, and holds no position in any political party tweets an accidentally made-up word, the BBC is all over it. Several Beeboids tweeted their laughter (can’t provide links as old Biased-BBC comments are unavailable, and I can’t seem to search for tweets by date – if I find them I’ll add them). Worse, the BBC’s top journalist in the US, Mark Mardell made a snide reference to it in one of his blogposts.
Most ridiculous is that the BBC World Service did a full segment on it. A tweet. Not a speech, not an interview, not a press conference. A tweet.
The thing is, the President really does have a history of silly gaffes like this, yet the BBC remains silent every time (with one exception, which I’ll get to later). No Beeboid thinks it’s worth tweeting, or even feels someone else’s comment is worth retweeting. Why is that?
At the risk of creating a straw man, I’d have to suggest that one line of defense would be that Sarah Palin had a media reputation for gaffes, while the President does not. So media people report in that context. Another Palin goof, haha. But the President? We all know what He meant, He’s the smartest man in the room, etc., nothing to see here. It’s as if they don’t see any of His mistakes.
In order to counter this and demonstrate that there really is a history of bad slip-ups which create the historical context of a gaffe-prone politician, here’s a partial list of Obamessiah gaffes which the BBC has censored (in no particular order):
When the President was negotiating that awful debt ceiling deal with the Republicans, He said this: “Don’t call my bluff,” the president said. “I am not afraid to veto and I will take it to the American people.” The BBC mentioned the heated negotiations, but censored that bit out.
I’m sure others can come up with more, since there’s plenty. The BBC did report two gaffes that I’m aware of. One was when He accidentally said it was great to back in Kansas, when He was actually in Texas. The other was more of an unfortunate joke rather than a real goof like the rest of these.
Basically, the President really does make a lot of stupid errors like this, at least as many as George Bush or Sarah Palin. It’s only partisan blinkers which keep certain people from seeing it. One can complain that He may be smarter and whatever else than either Bush or Palin, but that’s irrelevant to the count of the gaffe-o-meter. He makes these errors, and the BBC not only refuses to report them, but the Beeboids themselves betray their bias by not laughing at Him on twitter or on air the way they do with Republicans, even those who hold no public office and are not running for any. The Obamessiah does have a history of gaffes, and each new one is just as worthy of reporting as a single tweet by a popular civilian.
Defenders of the indefensible are invited to find tweets of a BBC employee laughing at the President for any of these mistakes. Daniel Nasaw’s concerned tweets about Biden’s repeated misuse of “literally” don’t count, but I’ll give them an honorable mention. I’m talking about the President Himself.
Now come on, do what you’re good for. Prove me wrong.
(SEE UPDATE BELOW) With all that website space taken up with Mark Mardell’s encomium to Bill Clinton, a dishonest attack piece on Govs. Jindal and Haley, and Kate Dailey’s furrowed-brow musings over Elizabeth Warren’s mewling about horrors of “income inequality” (making sure not to mention Warren’s fake Cherokee ancestor controversy), the BBC News Online editors had no more room to report that the convention bosses had to force an acknowledgment of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital back into the Party platform. That must be the reason why the BBC seems to have censored the controversy from all news outlets.
Along with putting back the term “God-given” talent, it took three votes from the delegates to get the language restored to the platform. Party bosses who were not under the thumb of the Israel Lobby had removed the acknowledgment of Jerusalem, and what must be either public, media, or Israel Lobby pressure made them want to put it back. All censored by the BBC.
UPDATE: The BBC has now posted an article on it. Jonathan Marcus must have been filing this while I was writing my post.
How to describe the city of Jerusalem has caused controversy at this week’s Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, North Carolina, with confusing scenes on the convention floor as a vote was held on the issue. BBC Diplomatic Correspondent Jonathan Marcus explains why.
“Confusing scenes”, eh? Well, that’s “accurate”, alright. Some people were confused by what happened. But that’s all the BBC will allow you to know. They decided to keep censoring what actually happened: the majority of the crowd voted No, but the Party bosses decided to go ahead anyway. This is what democracy looks like?
Marcus reports claims that the President Himself personally intervened to get Jerusalem put back in. He also admits at last that the President said when running for election in 2008 that Jerusalem is Israel’s capital. But then we get doublethink: the President’s personal position is not the same as the US Government’s position. Can He be in two places at once as well?
Who decides the Government’s position on issues, then? Hillary? She’s already said Jerusalem is Israel’s capital, so it’s not her. So who? Valerie Jarrett? Michelle Obama? Nancy Pelosi? Harry Reid? The family dog? Marcus doesn’t explain.
No mention whatsoever, though, that this controversy has been ongoing for months. It’s just a political football, Romney was going to use it as an attack angle, etc.
Having said that, I’m very glad to see the BBC busting the dual loyalty myth about Jews. I applaud them for being brave enough to say that, because I expect they’ll get swamped with complaints about them being controlled by the Zionist Entity. They get complaints from both sides, you know.
As anyone can see from the video, at least half the delegates didn’t want this to happen. There’s no way to know if most of the objection was about the “God-given” bit or about Jerusalem, but only one of the issues has been an ongoing controversy. And there’s no way the BBC doesn’t know about this.
Useful Jew and Party chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz told the press that this was done “to maintain consistency with the personal views expressed by the President and in the Democratic Party platform in 2008”. In other words, there have been enough complaints about the fact that the White House position says the fate of Jerusalem should be left up to the Palestinians and Israelis to fight it out (I paraphrase slightly, of course) which directly contradicts what Candidate Obamessiah said in 2008. White House mouthpiece (and personal friend of Katty Kay) refused to say what the Adminstration’s official position was when pressed on it. Worse, The Obamessiah Administration decided last year to remove “Jerusalem, Israel” from passports of US citizens born in Israel, because that defines the city as the capital. The White House also redacted all references to Jerusalem from photos of a Biden trip there, replacing it with “Israel”. So they had to force it back in there.
CNN’s video, with the text in question visible on the big screen, can be seen here.
So the Israel Lobby got to the Dems, and the BBC is silent. I’m not surprised, really, because reporting this now means they would have to admit there has been a controversy at all about the President and Jerusalem’s status. They’ve been censoring news of that all along, so can’t really start talking about it now. Too messy, and it makes Him look bad.
I find this silence interesting. In May of this year, HardTalk brought in anti-Israel activist Norman Finklestein to declare that most United Statesians were fed up with Presidents being controlled by the Israel Lobby. In October 2009, the BBC discovered a Jewish Lobbying group of which they can approve: J-Street, whose goal is to fight against the influence of the pro-Israel Lobby. This was actually the second time the BBC discovered this “new” group. They made a similar report in April 2008. Sometimes, the BBC does approve of Jews trying to influence US foreign policy. In 2007, the BBC reported on the controversy over a book about how bad the Jewish Lobby is. The article opened with this:
The power of America’s “Jewish lobby” is said to be legendary.
So why the silence now, when this has been in the mainstream news? Because it makes the President look bad, and makes the Democrats look anti-Israel. I’m not sure why the BBC cares about the latter, but they definitely care about the former. So you’re not informed about real controversy and are instead treated to manufactured ones about “income inequality” and fake Christians.
Your license fee hard at work, supporting the leader of a foreign country.