Tonight at nine o’clock BBC2 will show a “If… things don’t get any better, a docu-drama set a decade from now in which Andrew Kirk, Britain’s first black Prime Minister (played by Colin McFarlane) confronts rising inequality and crime.

As it happens I have a small but definite reason for wishing the show well. Colin McFarlane’s brother is Kevin McFarlane, who like me is a member of the Libertarian Alliance and has written for it on political theory and scientific issues. I’ve exchanged the odd cordial email with him.

OK, OK, the admirable political opinions of the brother of the lead actor of a show are a teeny bit off topic. You are here for BBC bias and you’ll get some, don’t worry. Let’s not judge the show itself till we’ve seen it, but the website pages telling us about it are firmly in the BBC bubble. The assumptions that run through these pages are the most innocent type of bias – but are all the more pervasive for that. The writers mean no harm. They’ve just never seriously considered alternative intepretations. All the more reason to offer some.

For example, in the link above it says:

Kirk – played by Colin McFarlane – is determined to narrow a rich-poor divide through welfare spending and higher taxes. It’s political science fiction, of course, but the issues are 100% real.

His is an idealism unpopular with middle-class taxpayers, many of whom live in gated communities – a physical divide between the haves and the have-nots with whom they share a postcode.

It is assumed that narrowing the rich-poor divide through welfare spending and higher taxes constitutes “idealism”. It is assumed that the opposition of the middle-class taxpayers is anything but idealistic. One day before I’m old I’d like to read of a BBC drama about how a brave band of middle-class taxpayers idealistically oppose the force-based politics of a prime minister determined to keep power in elite hands by the creation of a welfare-dependent client class.

The assumption that inequality causes crime is also ever-present. For instance, here’s a page with factoids about inequality and crime. Never mentioned: a hundred years ago inequality was much greater and yet crime was much less. Never mentioned: total crime may have fallen but violent crime has steeply increased. Never remotely considered: welfare causes crime and perpetuates poverty.

I’m not saying that this particular programme or any particular programme is obliged to go by my assumptions. But let’s put it this way: “If… things don’t get any better” is the first of a series of similar docu-dramas. It will be interesting to see if any of them look at things from outside the BBC worldview.

On the same subject

of “professional journalists” you might be interested to visit the website of one Greg Palast, producer of documentaries for the BBC. Don’t fail to notice the fair, evenhanded approach Mr Palast takes. No axes to grind here, I’m sure. Tomorrow the BBC will broadcast the latest version of its ‘Bush lied’ mantra on Newsnight, a production Greg Palast unabashedly flogs on his site. Feel free to visit PowerLine too, to have their take on continuing BBC decline.

Nigeria polio vaccine scare: update

. In what looks like a hopeful development, the BBC reports that Kano State is now going to vaccinate, but using Asian-made vaccines – the idea being that Asian vaccines are safe from CIA and Mossad contaminants. This sounds like a face-saver to me, but sheesh, whatever works. Since it is now the case as the story says that “half of the world’s new polio cases originate in northern Nigeria” anything that puts the lid on the epidemic is good.

I’m still deeply disappointed by the fact that the BBC still has up the conspiracy-mongering story I posted about here. I found out something new about that story today, hence this post. When I did a search for “polio” I got this page. At the moment the relevant story is second entry down. Look at the describer line below the heading. It says: Kano state governor gains fame among Muslims for his firm stand against the polio vaccine.

That makes the governor’s policy against vaccination sound brave and admirable, particularly to a Muslim audience. Even the word “stand” subtly points the reader into seeing the issue as one where Muslim pride is at stake.

The BBC’s audience in Africa is large. There is no doubt that Africans do, just as the BBC claims they do, turn to the BBC for an impartial voice. And this is what they got. It can be fairly certain that the fact that the BBC gave some credence to the vaccine conspiracy theory has, in giving the supporters of Governor Shekarau the opportunity to say, “look, even the BBC thinks there might be something in it”, prolonged the vaccine boycott and crippled and killed some Nigerian children.

Shoulder to Shoulder.

There is an interesting article in American Thinker magazine. The writer, Michael Morris, contrasts the British media response to the September 11 attacks in the US with the British media response to the March 11 attacks in Spain, concentrating on the left wing outlets. Morris matter-of-factly places the BBC in this category.

(Thanks to Not even on the BBC.

I’m angry

Convulsed even. I’ve been watching Channel 4’s “News”. I know, it’s not the BBC but it’s all part of the same thing: the cancer of bent and twisted journalism. Bastards. I want these people to feel pain. I mean real pain. The sort of thing only a professional torturer can dole out. It’s the only thing I think that will ever wake them up to reality and the responsibilities of their offices.

Because it’s not going to be reality itself. Having watched the coverage of the Madrid Atrocity I realise that there is no outrage so great, no atrocity so appalling that they will ever be shaken out of the “blame capitalism” “blame whitey” “blame the government” “blame the victim” “sympathise with the terrorist” mentality.

It is one of the great ironies that it is precisely those who are most involved in news who are the most cocooned from it.

The BBC looks at the life and death of Mohammed Abbas.

If I were asked to indicate the single most damning evidence of BBC bias and moral cowardice in recent years, I think I might pick the way the BBC reported the capture of Mohammed Abbas last April. In the course of the report they had to mention the murder of Leon Klinghoffer, that being the crime for which the Palestine Liberation Front, which Abbas led, was most well known. Watching the successive stealthy alterations to the BBC story was a bit like watching the movie Groundhog Day. Even under pressure from a wave of outraged emails prompted by links from Andrew Sullivan and Instapundit, it took the Beeb four tries to bring themselves to describe the crime in plain words. This post runs through the different versions:

From “died during” to “led to the death of” to “was killed” to “An elderly American tourist in a wheelchair, Leon Klinghoffer, was killed during the hijacking of the Achille Lauro, and his body thrown into the sea.”

Instapundit tracks the evolution of a BBC story on the murder of Leon Klinghoffer.

How much has the BBC learned since that apogee of the stealth edit? We had a chance to find out yesterday when Abbas died in US custody.

In this report, “Cruise ship hijacker dies in Iraq” it says, “He was convicted in absentia by an Italian court for the attack, in which wheelchair-bound American tourist Leon Klinghoffer was killed.” Well, let us be thankful for small mercies. True, with typical delicacy the BBC prefers the blandly passive “was killed” (which suggests a near-random combat death) to stating what actually happened, which is that Mr Klinghoffer was cold-bloodedly selected, shot in the head and then his corpse pitched overboard, wheelchair and all. But at least this time the BBC managed to avoid saying that he had “died” during the hijack as if he had had a heart attack or something.

Next up we have Abbas: Palestinian throwback by Paul Reynolds. On the good side it does say clearly that Klinghoffer was murdered. It also sneaks in the word “terrorist” (as part of the package “militant or terrorist”). In other places it is standard BBC-speak, carefully explaining that “Abu Abbas was from a time when the West Bank and Gaza were wholly under Israeli control and Palestinians could not carry out attacks inside Israel very easily” (the poor lambs) and bending over backwards to say that finding him in Iraq was no big deal. Heavens, he could have ended up anywhere. We also hear that Abbas’s faction was “quite daring.”

Finally, I do not know what Reynolds is talking about in this bit:

The Italians had let him go when US fighter planes forced down an Egyptian aircraft in which he was travelling after the hijack ended.

They were forced to make amends after widespread protests.

I know the outline of the crisis in relations between the US and Italy that followed the forcing down of the Egyptian aircraft. But what amends did the US make, to whom did it make them and who did the forcing?

Attack ads.

A reader writes:

I found this article as I was surfing the BBC website. The BBC tells its readers that the right wing group Citizens United has started to launch attack ads portraying John Kerry as a liberal elitist from massachusetts. These attack ads started to run throughout the United States only on Monday. Clearly the BBC wants to give its readers the impression that poor little John Kerry, from good old liberal New England, is being attacked by vicious right-wing ideologues backed by Bush. I found it rather odd that the BBC never ran a story about the left leaning group and their vicious attacks on Bush. Their ads have been running for quite sometome throughout the United States and have proven to be much more provocative. I remember one ad a few months ago in which they compared Bush to Hitler and the invasion of Iraq to Hitler’s conquest of Europe. The ad caused so much outrage that it was yanked pretty quickly. There are also many other attack ads that have been created by and are running throughout the country. My point is that the BBC would happily mention an attack ad created by right leaning group Citizens United, but struggles to mention the ridiculous attack ads by that are far worse. What’s even funnier is that CNN talked about the new ads by Citizens United as well, but they also mentioned!