The BBC and the UN’s problem with morality

It was only a couple of days ago, and it was a story about Africa- but the UN’s renewed choice of Zimbabwe to sit on their human rights commission cannot be found in the Beeb’s Africa section. In fact it is difficult to find anywhere- and the relevant article is filed as an ‘Americas’ news item. Bizarre.

It is considered an ‘Americas’ story because the US has been one of the complainants against this action.

Surely this is another case of protecting Annan from the consequences of what happens on his ‘watch’?

But meanwhile, by contrast, this story about a Burundian woman being honoured by the UN for humanitarian actions has been prominent everywhere, including where it belongs, in the ‘Africa’ section.

This just sums up the wrongheadedness of the Beeb and the UN, who often these days seem partners in crime. The cause of suffering, ie. the tolerance of foul and callous leadership in Africa, is demoted to a footnote, while the sticking plaster of what amounts compassionate gesturing (whatever the great good that this hard-pressed woman has done) is foregrounded- and thus we get warm and fuzzies about the UN and totally misled about our failures to confront the evils that plague Africa.

Interestingly, this article, about the UK cutting aid to Uganda in a political gesture, is considered relevant to Africa. Somehow the US (and others unnamed) complaining about Zimbabwe being given a human rights podium at the UN is not.

(p.s.- also check out the articles for UN apologism eg. making Annan seem in tune with UN critics- rather than out of touch as he is; not mentioning the UN’s failure in Rwanda and Burundi as they proceed to honour a woman who didn’t fail.)

Well, didn’t the BBC do a good job of selecting a representative audience of normal citizens to ask questions of Blair, Howard and Kennedy?

Well, didn’t the BBC do a good job of selecting a representative audience of normal citizens to ask questions of Blair, Howard and Kennedy? And there I was thinking that the audience would be full of the BBC’s usual partisan, grimly self-righteous, ranting loons, shaking with rage and shouting out abuse. How wrong could I have been?

And didn’t that man with the funny-coloured (NHS?) teeth who was in charge manage to restrain himself manfully from constantly interrupting with inane Paxmanian-style comments?


Slugger O’Toole notes that the BBC World Service describe the Ulster Unionists as ‘loyalist’ and the Democratic Unionists as ‘hardline loyalist’.

The SDLP are ‘moderate nationalist’.

Then there’s ‘republican Sinn Fein’.

Good to see that the BBC know who the real hardliners are. A year ago the Today programme was describing the ‘gulf between republicans and unionist hard-liners’. By republicans they meant, of course, Sinn Fein/IRA.

The BBC advises the electorate.

I am rebuilding from memory an email I accidentally deleted. It doesn’t matter that I can’t remember the author’s name as he did not want it used. He pointed out this entry from the ‘Election Monitor’, the BBC’s campaign weblog:

PM Tips

By Mark Mardell

Chief Political Correspondent

POSTED: Thursday 21 April, 1610BST

A tip from a colleague for getting rid of Labour canvassers. Just tell them: “I will give you my vote because I so admire Tony Blair’s stand on Iraq.” Evidently they back away in confusion, unwilling to offend the nutter.

Neat trick on the part of the BBC – because if anyone does say they are offended, then ho, ho, they must be a nutter.

Remember, due to the unique way it is funded, it’s your BBC.

UPDATE: My original correspondent added, speaking on his own account, “- or a supporter of freedom and democracy” after the word “nutter”.

Admin notes.

I’m afraid I might not have time to post for the rest of the week. So any emails you send me pointing out examples of BBC bias might be even slower than usual to appear.

I have a bleg. I would like to be able to do screenshots on this blog. I know how to do a screenshot on Windows XP: press CTRL + PRT SCR or ALT + PRT SCR, then save the thing to a document. I also know how to make a picture called whatever.gif appear on the blog: you go <IMG ALIGN=”LEFT” then a space then SRC=”whatever.gif”> …

What I don’t understand is

1) How you make your screenshot into a gif, or even if it matters.

2) How do you find out what the “full path name” of the source file is.

3) How do you just save the window you are on rather than the whole screen.

I would be grateful if readers could either direct me to a good explanation online or just tell me, if it’s quick.

UPDATE: Thank you one and all. Please don’t send any more advice for now as I am going off to experiment with what you have said. This, for me, is sometimes a slow process. To avoid mixing up how-to computer comments with BBC-related comments I have fiddled with the timestamp of this post to make it no longer the topmost one.

The EU Serf writes:

The EU Serf writes:

An important way to understand what someone thinks is the way in which they use certain words. The BBC’s insistence on words like Militant is the best known example.

Yesterday evening on the BBC World News bulletin at 18:00 GMT I came across another misuse of phrase which surprised me even for the BBC.

Yesterday Bulgaria and Romania signed EU accession treaties. The story was about the difficulties faced by both countries in meeting EU requirements and was shot in Bucharest the Romanian capital.

Corruption is the biggest issue and they had a discussion with school teachers who were trying to teach their pupils about the EU and anti corruption issues. But I quote:

“It is ironic that teachers, who are themselves accused of corruption, should be at the front line of the anti corruption drive.”

What could this corruption be? Allowing cheating on exams? Taking money to allow pupils to jump queues for popular schools?

Apparently what the BBC means nowadays by corruption is, get this:

Teachers giving private lessons in their spare time.

That may be illegal in Romania, I have no idea and they are probably working cash in hand, which is tax evasion, but neither of these could ever be called corruption.

Has the BBC re designated the word corruption to mean breaking the law? Not paying tax? The despots of the world would love such a definition. Or was it just bad journalism?

Private lessons in exchange for a guaranteed exam pass would be corruption. Working part time after hours is just coping with socialism. Given the fact that such moonlighting was common among BBC journalists until recently you would think they would be a little more understanding.

Ghana is growing.

Alex Singleton sent me this link from his Globalisation Institute Blog. In this BBC article by Peter Day, Day says that the Ghanaian economy has shrunk for much of the last twenty years. No it hasn’t. This case study on Ghana by Andrew McKay and Ernest Aryeetey takes a long time to load but has a great deal of info. What I noticed most about the graph Alex cited, the greeny-yellow one on page 11, is how much steadier Ghana’s economy has been in the last twenty years.

That said Peter Day’s article is informative and, rightly, upbeat. It is positive about the good that businesses, both locally owned and foreign, can do in Africa – and that is something we haven’t always seen. This was pure BBC-think though:

You might also say, if you pushed it, that mobile phone access is fast becoming a basic human right, like clean water and access to affordable healthcare, two other things which many Ghanaians do not yet have.

Africa has had a great deal of things being defined as basic human rights, the provision of which was too important to be left to the profit motive. It has not worked well. Since it did not pay people to produce them, those very things have been in the shortest supply.