BBC Bias part 391

is a most amusing BBC related post on Laban Tall’s blog just now – do read it. In passing, Laban also links to another excellent Guardian bashorama by Scott Burgess on his excellent Daily Ablution blog. Bashing the Guardian might be like shooting fish in a barrel – but Scott pulls off a seemingly endless variety of witty fish skewering trick shots time after time.

Meanwhile, back at the ever reliable and carefully fact-checked BBC News Online, we are informed that the removal of the wreck of the Tricolor, which sank in the English Channel in December 2002, has been completed. According to News Online, at least for the best part of the last 12 hours since the article was last updated at 17:21 on Wednesday:

Since the accident, Dover Coastguard had been broadcasting regular warnings to passing ships alerting them to the Tricolor.

“We have been broadcasting every 40 minutes for the last 20 years, so it’s one less thing to worry about,” a Dover coastguard said.

How prescient of the coastguard!

Trash your race and live

. Ok, he was describing the BBC as ‘hideously white’, which is intended to be unflattering to a corporation I hate seeing flattered, but somehow I think Gregory and I have different universes in mind when we criticise the BBC. (thanks to Max for the link)

Try rolling round your mouth that commonly heard phrase, ‘hideously black’, or ‘hideously brown’, and you’ll get an idea of the kind of man who is still a regular in the BBC pages, a ‘Hutton celebrity’ for BBC hacks- and of course you’ll get an idea about that famous BBC impartiality, too.

Sambrook: Be more like us!

Trash your country and live. Now I get it…the BBC is only trying to survive.

NEW YORK — BBC World Service and Global News director Richard Sambrook on Tuesday took the U.S. news nets to task on their own turf for “wrapping themselves in the flag” and not asking the tough questions about the Bush administration’s reasons for going to war in Iraq.

Sambrook, speaking at Columbia U.’s Graduate School of Journalism, warned that such perceived partisanship of the news media may be playing a part in exposing journalists covering Iraq and other trouble spots around the globe to danger. “Journalists are now at a greater risk than they have ever been before. Where once their neutrality was widely recognized and respected, today they are targeted and sought out, seen as high-profile representatives of their countries or cultures,” Sambrook said.

Question for Richard: Why, then, didn’t it go well for your reporter in Saudi?

(via Drudge)

World class “documentarian” Michael Moore

will provide election commentary for BBC World with a special Question Time. What a shock. (via OpinionJournal)

UPDATE: The panel will have (from left to right by my reckoning) Michael Moore, Sidney Blumenthal, Lida Rodriguez-Taseff, David Frum, Richard Littlejohn. As an ACLU official in one of the most disputed pieces of elctoral real estate in Florida, Rodriguez-Taseff can probably be trusted to keep to the ‘Bush-stole-the-election’ script.

UPDATE post-Question Time: I managed to watch it via the web and found it to be fairly moderated. This is where the Beeb had a less obliging audience for fielding its questions. If anything, the audience was more supportive of Bush than Kerry and quite ready to give Moore the jeers he richly deserves. For his part, Moore did not disappoint with his usual joker persona, his unserious demeanor, his unsubstantiated and baseless allegations combined with a thinly disguised contempt for his fellow countrymen (Brits are much more intelligent,etc.). He really was an easy target for Frum, Littlejohn and the audience. Blumenthal had to be challenged to stick to the question and came off (in my biased opinion) looking a bit off balance. He was roundly booed at least once. Rodriguez-Taseff was pretty even-handed in pronouncing ‘a plague on [the politicians] houses’ for failing to reform the voting system. Littlejohn did a decent job of bringing a British Conservative perspective to the debate. My concerns about the BBC’s use of Moore were unfounded. He has become a self-discrediting propagandist if ever there was one, good for the villain’s role, hissing and dissing.

Now we can’t even call them insurgents.

The EU Serf writes:

As an overseas Brit, I watch BBC World from time to time. On Sunday I was watching the programme Dateline London, which invites journalists, usually foreigners, to give their views on events in the news. The line up for Sunday was as follows

  • Lauren Booth, Mail on Sunday
  • Patrick Tyler, New York Times
  • Jean Pierre Langellier, Le Monde
  • Tererai Karimakwenda, SW Radio Africa

With the exception of Tererai, their positions on the war in Iraq were obvious before they opened their mouths. Funnily enough, he was the only one with anything worthwhile to say, though he turned out to be against the war as well, his arguments were at least grown up, unlike the name calling that the majority of the media has descended to.

So far though nothing too distressing to report until this:

One of the group, I think it was Lauren Booth suddenly challenged the word insurgent, was it too condemning a word. Now I understand why a person may dislike the word terrorist in some circumstances, it is after all a political word, whichever side of the argument it may be. But insurgent, I couldn’t believe my ears. I had been thinking that it was an acceptable term for everyone, far better than militant and non condemning unlike terrorist. The word is totally neutral, a technical military term. According to the dictionary:


1) One who rebels against established authority.

2) A member of a political party who rebels against the policies and decisions of the party.

Absolutely nothing to discuss, but discuss they did, without any interference from the host.

I should have known better, I gave up watching this programme because of the obsession with Iraq and the opportunity the story gives to condemn the USA, GW Bush and the west in general. When there is so much else happening in the world, you would think they could give it a rest now and again.

BBC at leisure

It’s been up for a long time, that report about the missing explosives in Iraq. Almost as if, to quote Roger Simon, ‘the New York Times’… progandistic drivel timed to encourage the defeat of a sitting president in favor of a candidate’ appealed so much to the BBC it had to be a fixture at BBConline for as long as it entertained the anti-Bush brigade.

Once again, as with the Bush documents story, a meme damaging the incumbent has found a semi-permanent place of repose on the BBC’s frontpage. I wonder when, or if, and if, then in what manner, the other side of the story that is being uncovered by the likes of NBC and our own Wretchard, will find its way into the BBC’s cosy little narrative of Bush incompetence?

The Power of BBC Misrepresentation.

My fellow-poster on Samizdata, Paul Marks, is a fairly anti-war libertarian who opposes neocon views. (He knows what he is opposing and does not use “neocon” as a catch-all term of abuse.) Despite his own opposition this is some of what he had to say about yesterday’s BBC documentary “The Power of Nightmares”:

The program claimed that Soviet support for terrorist groups was another ‘myth’ indeed that the wise CIA rejected this ‘myth’ because they know it was originally based on CIA lies about the the Soviet Union. The trouble is that the Soviet Union DID support terrorist groups. The Marxist ones (including some in the Middle East as well as east Asia, Europe, and Latin America) were natural targets for Soviet support, and support them it did. The basic point of the Soviet Union was to spread Marxism all over the world – oh sorry this is another ‘neocon myth’.

On the basis of the above if The Power of Nightmares claims that ‘neocons’ have made up a ‘myth’ about an international network of Islamic terrorist network, I will take it as an indication that such a network does indeed exist. Do not laugh. The program was already laying the ground work for claiming that no such network exists – just a few isolated individuals. And that these individuals are the way they are because of the wicked United States. For example the United States corrupted Egypt – under President Sadat the economy was controlled by a “handful of millionaires”. The basic fact that Egypt was (and is) a state dominated economy and that Sadat only allowed a bit of private enterprise round the edge was utterly ignored.

“But” the defenders of the program will cry “The Power of Nightmares contained lots of interviews with neocons and other people who would defend all of what you say above”. So it did, but it did not allow any of these people to present the evidence for what they said – it allowed them to say something and then (at once) treated what they said as utterly absurd. The program (and I suspect the whole series) has an agenda – and that agenda is to spread lies. Many of them (although not the one about Sadat) may be nice lies for libertarians and traditional American Conservatives to hear, but they remain lies. And the people who were interviewed by the program, in order to be held up to contempt, would have better advised to say “no I will not be interviewed by you, because you are from the BBC and will leave out any facts you do not like”.

Boldface type added by me because I noticed exactly the same pattern. A thirty-second interview would immediately be followed by the commentator saying, often without evidence but with a tone implying that this was undisputed fact, that whatever the interviewee had said was rubbish. Read the whole post, including the comments by John Thacker.

A Marriage made in Liberal Heaven

Melanie Phillips criticises Simon Hughes (Jenkins) defending the BBC’s risible attempt to bring ‘dissenting’ voices to their coverage of what they have often called the ‘so-called’ War on Terror. Kind of like giving alcohol to a drunk man. If you do get to read the Hughes (Jenkins) column, note how he shrouds his purple patch of anti-WOT feeling with his concern for ‘our boys’ in Iraq. I appreciate his concern, as I have concerns too, but in the circumstances it’s thanks but no thanks- and the same goes for the BBC.

Update: Apologies to Simon Hughes, although I’m fairly sure he wouldn’t dissent much from the views of Simon Jenkins. An illustration, perhaps, of how easy it is to get confused between the various members of the liberal family.

The BBC’s Holiday 2005 series returned for its annual jaunt on our screens last night

– complete with the usual BBC celebs partaking of their own paid jaunts, at licence payers expense, natch (but “it’s such hard work”, as they never fail to point out when interviewed!).

Yesterday’s programme featured the various attractions of holidaying in Muscat, the capital of Oman – enticing and fascinating it was indeed – “fabled home of Sinbad the sailor and the Queen of Sheba, and a place where bottled water costs more than petrol”. Apart from the fact that the UK, in common with Oman (and many other lands), is also “a place where bottled water costs more than petrol”, the BBC omitted to mention that, whilst safer than the likes of Iraq or neighbouring Saudi Arabia, Oman is nonetheless a country where the UK Foreign Office advises caution on the part of British and western visitors, including:

  • “There is a high threat from terrorism against western, including British, interests. Attacks could be indiscriminate and against civilian targets, as they have been elsewhere in the region”;

  • “You should review your security arrangements carefully. You should remain vigilant, particularly in public places”;

  • “Small-scale demonstrations took place in April 2003, but were carefully controlled by the authorities, and there was no damage to people or property. You should take sensible precautions for your personal safety and avoid public gatherings and demonstrations”;

  • “In public, general modesty of behaviour and dress is expected. Women who wear shorts or tight-fitting clothes, in particular in downtown areas, are likely to attract unwelcome attention. There have been some reported cases of sexual harassment”;

This last one in particular wasn’t much heeded by the programme’s winsome presenter. Come on BBC, it wouldn’t have taken much to suggest that your customers at least check out the FCO’s advice before visiting a potentially volatile area would it? Even the BBC web page about the Oman jaunt, whilst helpfully asking “If you liked Oman, why not try Dubai?”, omits to mention the FCO or even provide a link to their Oman page!

Whilst we’re on the subject of the Holiday programme, the show also featured northern Cyprus – which, we are informed, “has been a divided island since 1974”. Time is spared for a ‘two-way’ with a ‘political analyst’ who informs us about the ‘green line’ and ‘UN troops’ and how “the military presence is more of a relic and has no real effect on its growing tourism”.

That’s as may be, and northern Cyprus does appear enchanting, but, amidst all this ‘political analysis’, would it have taken much to mention what the historical event that divided the island in 1974 actually was? Or would that be outwith the BBC’s mission to entertain, educate and inform?

And hey, let’s be careful out there folks!