Brave, Bold Hugo.

Had to get back into the special ‘Biased BBC’ posting seat to keep up with the excellent output of Scott the Expatriate.

The latest thing that caught my eye- though this is a fascinating issue-related post called ‘A molehill’– was this thing about Chavez. The Chavez- you know, that ‘colourful’ fellow with all that oil in South America- who has said that ‘“If anything happens to me then the man responsible will be George W Bush. He will be the assassin, This is pure terrorism.”

Anyhow, Scott said he was uneasy about the BBC’s branding of ”assassin’ Bush’ in their headline for an article about this Chavez pronouncement. I think he’s right, and then some. For those who have been following l’affaire Reynolds-Expatriate it will come as little surprise to find that Paul Reynolds swung by the expatriate’s to tell him he was wrong (Mr Reynolds has a fairly good record in informing posters of their errors)- and when I piped up he came back and said the same to me. He said that Scott was wrong- that Chavez did call Bush an assassin, and so the headline was right.

Wrong, unfortunately. Chavez said that if he was assassinated, Bush would be the assassin. Bush, therefore, has been labelled an assassin in the present tense by no-one but the BBC (and maybe the inmates of the Democrat Underground etc.)- even if they clearly attributed it as Chavez’s view. What he said doesn’t equal the headline’s meaning- which it vitally should at some level. As it happens, Chavez also accused Bush of being a terrorist- but the Beeb eschewed that epithet for their headlinewriting somehow. On such small points though hangs a great deal.

Of course we all know why Chavez called Bush a terrorist. It was a crude populist jibe of the sort that is popular among the sons and daughters of Mother Sheehan. See, Dumbya can’t tell that though he thinks he’s fighting a war on terrorism, he’s actually the terrorist! (incidentally, a second thought might be that Chavez is giving the headline writers an easy option present tense accusation, rather than a problematic predictive term- but the BBC headline writer at any rate didn’t see the need for that option, perhaps seeking a juicier option.)

Why did Chavez go out of his way to talk about who to blame if he was assassinated? Obvious, isn’t it. The paranoid ideologue is trying to boost his image as the opponent of so-called ‘American imperialism’ and at the same time win more than a scintilla of US protection by making it clear that if ‘anything happens to him’ (as the BBC puts it) it will be Bush’s responsiblity. I’m tempted to call that terrorism by soundbyte.

It’s a strongly political message, a cynical one, and one which the BBC not only promote through reportage but amplify through misrepresentation.

With the great numbers of visitors from all around the world that Paul boasts about, should they be doing that for Hugo?

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92 Responses to Brave, Bold Hugo.

  1. marc says:

    It’s revealing that Paul choose to cherry pick that post of Scott’s and ignore Scott’s earlier post about the BBC’s use of “conservative militants” in a Cindy Sheehan piece.

    Scott even addressed the post to Paul.

    The BBC

    Her arguments against the war have sparked a heated controversy, and conservative militants from California are on their way to Crawford to launch a tour called “You don’t speak for me, Cindy!”.


    Conservative militants. Cindy Sheehan is an “anti-war protestor”, but those who would protest against her are “conservative militants”. Unbelievable.

    Paul ignored the post.


  2. marc says:

    There is an interesting poll out on journalists use of blogs. Even though the survey says only 1% of journalists believe blogs are credible, the majority of journalists are using blogs to do their work.

    Hmmm. So either they are lying about blogs or they are intentionally using sources they deem not credible.

    I like this bit:

    “Indeed, the growth in reporters who are excruciatingly careful in fact-checking their stories is startling • 93% of journalists reporting being so in 2005, compared with just 59% in 2003.”

    And look how bad their fact checking is today. One can only imagine how bad it was in 2003.

    It has a lot of good things to say about blogs.


  3. simo says:

    Ed. Re front page intro. Your thread starters tend to go on and on. Try to summarise in two pars or less. Words like crisp, succint and pithy are your friends.
    Sorry to be curt (another good word) but my attention span is short, especially when the cricket is on.


  4. dave t says:

    Cricket? You’re watching Channel 4???? Get back to BBC now!

    Signed: J Birt

    (who gets well slagged off by the BBC at:

    Shocking – no loyalty to the Dalek Director General…)


  5. JohninLondon says:

    I reckon Channel 4’s cricket coverage is just as good as the BBC’s ever was. Especially informative nd interesting in the intervals.

    Just another sign that we don’t really need the BBC. Especially when it pushes up the cost/pricing of all UK programming.

    The BBC News Division has 4 thousand staff ! This is a LUDICROUS empire. They could do plenty fine with 2000. Or probably 1000.


  6. Tom says:

    Marc, Good observations and succinctly put
    Simo, Criticizing constructively and sufficiently self-deprecating. How can B BBC ignore your demands?
    Dave T, Encyclopaedic knowledge and sarcastic master of the one line put down.
    JoL, My hero.
    Gentlemen, when Seamus returns, as I’m sure he will, be gentle with him. He is young, naïve and ignorant of the world but that does not mean his views are any less valid. Resist the temptation to ridicule his namby pamby ways, after all, we were all teenagers once.


  7. dave t says:

    Some of us HAVE teenagers or young adults still at home…tell me, do they EVER get better? (*adopts haunted and fearful look as youngest daughter enters room and heads for my wallet left lying on side*)

    I think most of us here are quite happy to debate the issues and so far it hasn’t been too bad. But when one gets personal insults or refusal to answer the question it becomes difficult to engage with them, easier to ignore any valid points they may actually make.

    This past week has been so much fuuuuuunnnn!


  8. JohninLondon says:

    The way a broadcaster or newspaper reports on Cindy Sheehan is a good current test of its seriousness and also of its possible bias.

    Leaving aside the sheer unpleasantness of the way Sheehan is dishonouring the valour of her son, who volunteered for Iraq and deliberately went into combat to be with his comrades, no competent and unbiased reporter should omit the facts of the matter :

    1 she has already met the President, at his request, and praised his warmth and sympathy

    2 she has made seriously loony anti-American remarks, traducing her country’s history, has described the insurgents in Iraq who killed her son as freedom fighters, has always been a peacenik, has a vein of antisemitism and is as off-the-wall as CodePink, MoveOn and the other far-left appeasement merchants with whom she is associated

    3 there are a miniscule number of families in the “GoldStar Families for Peace” outfit – and very many families of servicemen who loathe and are actively opposing what she stands for

    4 the Democratic Party is seriously split on her – the extreme activists support her, but the more serious and senior politicians are steering well clear of her, of Crawford, and of any expression of public support. Only two Senators out of 100 are calling for withdrawal from Iraq, and neither is senior

    5 the whole Sheehan phenomenon could blow up in the Dems face in the mid-term elections next year. Kerry lost because he was felt to be wobbly on Iraq. Lots of Dem Senators could lose next year if they are seen to be soft. That is why they are waiting to see how Iraq transpires, and are NOT rushing to judgment like Sheehan. They are steering well clear of her

    6 there have been opinion polls eg in Florida showing 2 to 1 opposition to Sheehan, far wider than the usual Repub/Dem split, and polls do NOT suggest tht most Americns wnt ot of Iraq right now, as Sheehan does.

    So how does our very own Justin Webb score on these acid tests ?

    Need I ask ?

    His shallow and stupid piece was broadcast on “”From our Own Correspondent” this morning on Radio 4, and will now be beamed globally on the World Service. The audio link is not yet up on the Kate Adie programme, but here is the text of what he was saying :

    Here is the home page for the programme :

    The new US Ambassador ought to invite the BBC Chairmn and Director General in for lunch. And he should use this Justin Webb piece as one of the worst-ever examples of ignorant and biased BBC reporting from America.

    Alstair Cooke would be spinning in his grave to hear trite and biased nonsense like Webb produces.


  9. Tom says:

    Dave T

    “do they EVER get better?”

    My son starts Uni in September; as yet no signs of improvement…..! but the financial demands have increased significantly. Sod the loose change; he now goes straight for the chequebook.

    Agree entirely with your 2nd para and third one too. He he he.


  10. dan says:

    I would imagine that Webb would consider that these poll numbers chime with his piece.

    A solid majority of those who did not know anyone in Iraq said they thought the war was a mistake, 61 percent, compared to 36 percent who thought it was the right decision. Those who had a relative or friend there were almost evenly split, 49 percent right decision, 47 percent mistake.

    via instapundit


  11. dave t says:

    But note that some commentators (including ex military) are saying that this 61% who think the war is being mishandled includes people who think that the US is not going in after the terrorists HARD enough. Makes a different tale then does it not?

    Other facts from another poll the same day:

    Just 12% of Americans believe that withdrawing U.S. troops from Iraq will stop terror attacks like the summer bombings in London. A Rasmussen Reports survey found that 71% disagree and say that troop withdrawal will not lead to an end of terrorist attacks.

    The survey also found that 54% of Americans believe the situation will get worse in Iraq if U.S. troops are withdrawn. Twenty percent (20%) believe the situation will get better in Iraq if American troops leave, while 15% believe that bringing home the troops will have no impact.

    So much for Sheenan’s claims to speak for a majority.

    Also note who is financing her and the interesting PR setup they have…


  12. Shearer's Raised Hand says:

    By implying that someone would be responsible, as an assassin, for your death, you are also saying that you believe this person IS an assassin.

    To put it another way. If the ten pound note on my dresser is stolen, I say it will be my brother’s fault. He will be the thief.

    Therefore I am saying that I believe he IS a thief.

    I know Reynolds exposed your mistakes Ed, but this is an incredibly feeble attempt at revenge.


  13. dave t says:

    Hmm some lacking logic in the Vulcan sense here….

    “Reynolds exposed your mistakes”. Not to the general satisfaction of the jury he didn’t!

    “My brother is a thief.” He might well be. We don’t know him as well as you. We cannot believe he is a thief unless we see him nick the dosh or you provide evidence to prove such.

    So: logically, if Chavez dies tonight then it will still be Bush’s fault coz he gave the idea (via Karl Rove’s mental control of Pat Robertson) to a mad ex-CIA double agent in downtown Caracas.

    Quite possible if you believe in that sort of thing.

    “America is a large, friendly dog in a very small room. Every time it wags its tail, it knocks over a chair.” Arnold Toynbee

    “Fascinating” Captain Spock


  14. Joerg says:

    Anyone who equates countries like Iran or Iraq with the US need their head examined. I’d personally go one step further and send these “peace activists” to either Iran or Iraq so they can see how far their “freedom of speech” will be tolerated there. I say it again: The war in Iraq was a mistake because the Iraqis got what they deserved (Saddam Hussein). Jesus Christ, they’re muslims after all. Why would the leader of a free, democratic Western country send troops to “liberate” a fascist muslims state but hence create a muslim state that’s equally fascist. Bush hasn’t got a clue. Rice hasn’t got a clue. You can’t develop democracy in a state with a muslim population. Islam and democracy aren’t compatible.


  15. JohninLondon says:


    I wasn’t saying that a majority approved of the war. I was saying that there is no majority, indeed far from it, for the immediate withdrawal that Sheehan, the lefties and the peaceniks and just 2 Senators want.

    THAT is why the senior Dems are keeping well clear of Sheehan.

    Sheehan has the potential to be so damaging to the Dems that she is as good as a Karl Rove plant. The Republicans are totally united on this. The Dems are in a state of schism. THAT is the political story of the week, the story that Justin Webb should be telling.


  16. JohninLondon says:

    Sharp criticism of the BBC and its Iraq-is-a-quagmire monotony, and slap for James Naughtie, in a leader in the Sunday Telegraph :


  17. Joerg says:

    One more thing in regards to Ms. Sheehan: Why, if she’s always been so anti-war, did she not try and stop her son from going to Iraq? Why didn’t she raise him as a child of peace by telling him to make love, not war? Why did he volunteer in the first place?

    OTT: Saudi dissident shuts down site

    Lovely to see that the Beeb still quotes yet another militant. Note the Winston Churchill pose in the picture. Are they trying to sell him to us as another Sir Winston?????


  18. Joerg says:

    Make that “OT”, not “OTT”!

    Quote: But Dr al-Massari, who has lived in London since he sought asylum in the UK in 1994, said he was “not concerned” about possible deportation, which he said he would contest in court.

    “London is not God’s heaven on earth, it’s just like any other place,” he told the Associated Press.

    “We will search for another place where we can speak freely.”

    An internet “obituary” on his site said it had been a victim of the “murder of freedom of opinion and expression by the oppressive regime led by Tony Blair, the liar and well known war criminal”.

    “Unfortunately we had to suspend big parts of our electronic site until this inquisition blows over or until I move to a country that allows an acceptable degree of free speech,” the website message read.

    If you’re looking for a place to speak freely go to Iran or Saudi Arabia, scumbag!


  19. Joerg says:

    TV happy to offend, group claims

    “Mr Green said the BBC ignored 47,000 viewer complaints before it screened Jerry Springer: The Opera in January.

    The opera’s writer, Stewart Lee, said he was determined the show’s national tour would go ahead, despite protests from Christian groups.”

    Who cares about Christians anyway (right, BBC?)

    “BBC director of television Jana Bennett said the opera was shown after winning “all the plaudits it could” on its West End theatrical release.”

    Whose plaudits were they and were they representative?

    “”We judged it was very good and worth offering up to the public who could choose to watch it or not,” she said.”

    Yes, they could choose to watch it or not but they had to pay for it nonetheless!

    “Mr Lee said his opera had received “a lot of support” from other religious organisations, including the Catholic Voice and Catholic Herald.

    “I have to be careful not to accuse all Christians of ignorance and bigotry,” he said. “Some Christian groups are fine.”

    I haven’t had the time to check out who’s behind Catholic Voice and Catholic Herald but I’ve got an idea.

    “”What has happened to the tour so far upsets and offends me,” said Lee.”

    Now that’s rich. You cause as much offense as you like but once you get upset the world stops… Why does that sound to the typical left wing atheist to me? Put a similar play about the “prophet Mohammed” on stage, Mr. Lee, then we can talk again.


  20. Shearer's Raised Hand says:

    Dave t said:

    So: logically, if Chavez dies tonight then it will still be Bush’s fault coz he gave the idea (via Karl Rove’s mental control of Pat Robertson) to a mad ex-CIA double agent in downtown Caracas.

    I didn’t say that. I don’t even remotely believe that.

    I pointed out that Chavez DID accuse Bush of being an assassin by saying that if he died, Bush would be the assassin.

    You said: “My brother is a thief.” He might well be. We don’t know him as well as you. We cannot believe he is a thief unless we see him nick the dosh or you provide evidence to prove such.”

    The proof of my brother’s guilt is not the issue. Ditto with the proof of President Bush’s guilt.

    The issue is that I ACCUSE my brother of being guilty of being a thief. Just as the BBC reported how President Chavez ACCUSES President Bush of being guilty of acting as an assassin if Chavez is murdered, since he therefore believes Bush is an assassin, just as I believe my brother is a thief when my ten pound note vanishes.

    Therefore, the BBC were correct to report it that way.

    Really simple.

    Dave t: “Reynolds exposed your mistakes”. Not to the general satisfaction of the jury he didn’t!

    Uh, check Ed’s 24th August update where he admits how Mr Reynolds exposed his mistake.

    It’s all really really simple.

    To a person with half a brain.


  21. Angie Schultz says:

    Why, if she’s always been so anti-war, did she not try and stop her son from going to Iraq?

    Not you too. One of the stupider memes of Cindy Sheehan’s crusade is the infantilization of her son and others in the military. He was a grown man, and went of his own free will. There wasn’t a damned thing she could do about it.

    But she did try. He entered the military in 2000. When the Iraq war was gearing up, she begged him to desert, told him she would drive him to Canada. Some say she threatened to run him over with the car, but I think she offered to run him over with the car.

    She says he told her that he had to go because all his buddies were going, that he had to go and protect them. Now that’s embarrassing. I prefer to believe that he gave her a nice little speech about commitment, honor, and duty, and she chose to interpret it as, “But MoOom! All my friends are doing it!”


  22. Ken Kautsky says:

    Scott on paul Reynolds: “I sincerely hope he returns and becomes a regular reader and contributor to the comments. Sites such as this run the danger of becoming little more than echo chambers of agreement.”

    Scott, you shall surely get what you desire.

    No doubt, Paul will happily contribute, and aggresively obfuscate regarding all matters of importance, when visiting this relatively marginalised (but fantastic) blogging platform; and at the same time, he will aggressively suppress all non-agreed viewpoints when working deep inside the unregulated State-funded BBC bunker.

    You can get the best of both worlds.

    Just ask Paul.


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  24. JohninLondon says:


    I don’t think BBC bias is a result of aggressive suppression of alternative viewpoints. There are no Galeiters controlling individal views and punishing any traansgressors. I think it is more subtle than that – too many people thinking more or less alike, a pattern of thinking that itself mostly omits viewpoints that are outside the norm.

    The current discussion has focussed quite a bit on Iraq. I very much doubt whether there were many at the BBC who supported the coalition invasion without UN support. That is just the way they think, given the recruitment pattern. Like recruits like normally, and groupthink kicks in. The “canteen culture” at the BBC would frown on anyone arguing the Bush/Blair case, and the same would apply in editorial discussions about what to cover and what NOT to cover, who to interview and NOT to interview. Hence the prevalence of the Alibhai Browns, the endless appearances by Robin Cook, the hostility shown to Ministers being interviewed. The invsion ws supported by Hose of Commons vote, by the most Labour and Tory MPs, and opposed officially only by the LibDems – and organs like the Indy nd Guardian which are echoed by groupthink at the BBC.

    I find it amazing that Paul Reynolds should deny that this is possible – that the BBC could be institutionally biased on any matter. Yet the same BBC accepts without question and indeed trumpets the concept of institutional racism at the Met Police and in its canteen culture.


  25. Pete_London says:


    Good post.

    Taking up Paul Reynold’s twin themes of 1) a headline should label parties for what they are and 2) those using the written word should not remain anonymous, we have this:


    It’s an anonymous article which fails to tell us that the perpetrators are Palestinian terrorists. Of course, most people should be able to deduce that someone dying whilst trying to kill civilians in Israel is probably a Palestinian (or occasionally a British) terrorist but but I smell a lack of consistency.


  26. dan says:

    I’ve just watched a half hour of prime BBC political policy pushing on News24 Sunday on BBC1.

    Liam Fox is questioned on 2 of the BBC’s obsessions – Iraq caused London bombs, Clarke for leader of Conservatives.

    Blix is given the opportunity to run thru the A-Z of anti-Americanism (“well the oil for food programme fed millions of Iraqis)

    Mandelson is questioned with the BBC man seeming to be armed only with information lifted from a Oxfam/Independent joint production.

    Sad stuff.


  27. Rob Read Fanclub says:

    from the Sunday Telegraph

    Prince Harry to snub the BBC by giving 21st birthday interview to Sky
    By Tim Walker, Mandrake Editor
    (Filed: 28/08/2005)

    Prince Harry is to give a wide-ranging television interview to mark his 21st birthday next month to the Sky satellite channel in a move seen as a calculated snub to the BBC.

    The interview is expected to attract record viewers, particularly if the prince proves willing to discuss his relationship with his 19-year-old girlfriend Chelsy Davy and the furore over a Nazi uniform that he wore to a friend’s fancy dress party.

    Prince Harry is keen to
    ‘put the record straight’
    The decision to give Sky such a landmark interview is a break with tradition. Clarence House has previously permitted the BBC and ITN to take turns at big interviews with the young princes and to pool the resulting film among all the broadcasting organisations.

    “The decision to allow Sky in on the act marks a significant change of policy which will inevitably be attributed in some quarters to the Prince of Wales’s increasingly obvious sense of frustration with the BBC,” a courtier told The Sunday Telegraph yesterday.

    “Sky has been lobbying for a long time to do these interviews but the staunchly republican views of Sky’s owner Rupert Murdoch scarcely endeared anyone here to their cause.

    “This should be seen therefore chiefly as a recognition by Clarence House that Sky is now a significant player that we treat on equal terms to the BBC and ITN.”

    Prince Charles’s frustration with the BBC became startlingly apparent earlier this year when, unaware that a microphone was turned on during a press conference at Klosters, he described the BBC’s royal correspondent Nicholas Witchell as “that awful man”.

    The corporation’s current affairs programme Panorama had also been a source of annoyance to Prince Charles when it suggested, before his wedding to Camilla Parker Bowles, that the union would not be legal.

    In 2002, Prince Charles let it be known he had been unhappy with the lack of respect he felt that the corporation had accorded to his grandmother when it reported her death, in particular the fact that the presenter Peter Sissons had announced it wearing a burgundy – rather than a black – tie.

    Sky’s royal correspondent Katherine Witty – recently appointed in succession to the veteran reporter Geoff Meade – is likely to conduct the interview with Prince Harry, who turns 21 on September 15.

    The Clarence House courtier suggested that, far from having to be coaxed into talking about Miss Davy, Prince Harry may well prove keen to “put the record straight” about her.

    “The official line of Clarence House has always been that it does not comment about Prince Harry’s private life, but in fact the prince wants to talk about it after the huge amount of mostly scurrilous nonsense that there has been about him and Miss Davy in the tabloid press,” the courtier added.

    “He wants to do it more for Miss Davy than for himself as he hopes that once people know the true situation the journalists who have been trailing her – and often upsetting her – will let her be.”

    One Sunday tabloid newspaper stated just before Christmas that Prince Harry was about to marry Miss Davy and, a few months later, the same newspaper reported that their relationship was over. The reality of Prince Harry’s year-and-a-half long friendship with Miss Davy is, the courtier suggested, rather more prosaic.

    “They are just two young people who happen to enjoy each other’s company,” he said. “Young men and young women tend often to get into those sort of situations without any dramatic developments for some time.”

    Prince Harry has yet to have “detailed discussions” about the interview with Paddy Harverson, his father’s communications secretary, but it is unlikely that Mr Harverson will insist on seeing the questions in advance as no such request was made of the BBC royal correspondent Peter Hunt when he interviewed Prince William last year.

    When British Sky Broadcasting announced its full year results earlier this month, it emerged that Europe’s largest satellite television company, which is headed by Mr Murdoch’s son James, was on course to have eight million subscribers by the end of the year.

    While Sky will undoubtedly be delighted to have won such a prestigious interview it should not, perhaps, consider that it now has a “special relationship” with Clarence House. Mark Bolland, Mr Harverson’s predecessor, revealed earlier this year that the royal family regards all sections of the media as “the enemy” and that the problem with Prince Charles was that he never read newspapers or watched any television news programmes.

    Sky’s interview with his youngest son may be the exception to that rule.

    Next story: Euan Blair books work experience with leading US critic of Iraq war intelligence

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  28. dave t says:

    How come it always ends up with some people defending Paul R having to resort to the usual personal insults? ‘The person with half a brain’ came from Shearer….thus immediately ensuring that even if he/she/it actually came out with something I might have agreed with, I will ignore it having lumped he/she/it in with the loonies who always insult people rather than discuss the issue.

    Anyway back to the subject at hand:

    How come the BBC never seem to come out with this sort of thing just to you know, balance the argument;

    “It took the United States from 1776 to 1789 to compose and ratify a Constitution and form a new government. There were intense debates over the role of religion, federalism, states’ rights and many other issues. These were not unlike some of the subjects being debated now among Iraqis.

    The president has repeatedly stated his objective in Iraq and in the wider war against terrorists. What is the objective of his critics and what is their forecast of what would occur following a precipitous U.S. withdrawal? They have an obligation to tell us, unless they are just blowing in the wind.”

    Discuss. Without silly insults please.


  29. JohninLondon says:


    Who but the BBC would still be interviewing Hans Blix with n open slate ? Taking his views not just on WMD (dead issue for most people) but on the world in general. And the blnce of the panels for discussions.

    This is almost a parody.

    One test of bias at the BBC is the list of who they interview and who they don’t.

    Someday there is going to be a proper review of all this. And that list of interviewees/panel members and how often will be telling.

    As would any listing of the Rolodex contacts the BBC hacks use. Or a lost of their lunch engagements.

    They all smooze with each other. “Lunch, sweetie ?” “I really can’t do anything this week, I’m off on nother course at a hotel ot of town — but I’ll see you at the drinks party Polly is giving next week ?”

    An Andrew Neil would go through that place like a dose of salts.


  30. Pete says:

    ‘From Our Own Correspondent’ mixes mediocre journalism with the kind of creative writing done at evening classes at the local FE college. It’d be quite good coming from such a source, but from a government funded broadcaster it is a joke and a disgrace.


  31. Rob Read Fanclub says:

    more from the Sunday Telegraph

    The real news from Iraq
    (Filed: 28/08/2005)

    To listen to the BBC’s coverage of Iraq’s tentative steps towards a constitution is to become deeply depressed. The BBC creates the impression that the talks about the constitution are bound to fail. The country is heading towards civil war between the Shias, the Sunnis, and the Kurds: three irredeemably opposed groups itching to kill each other.

    The reality is, in fact, considerably more hopeful than that. Iraq, a country with no tradition of democratic values and institutions, is emerging from decades of totalitarianism under Saddam. The murderous violence that has blighted the country since coalition forces freed Iraq from his tyranny is almost wholly the consequence of the activities of imported fanatics, whose blind and bitter dedication to the massacre of innocent people is equalled only by the nihilistic futility of their cause. Iraq’s native, democratic politicians are in fact making significant progress towards agreeing a document that will provide a framework for a peaceful and democratic future.

    It is not an easy task. It is also not one which the arbitrary deadlines that have been imposed on the talks about the constitution have helped. As President Bush has noted, it took the Americans 13 years to get from the Declaration of Independence to an agreed constitution. The Iraqis have been asked to do the same in a few months.

    No one should underestimate the depth of the disagreements that separate the fundamentalist Shias from the broadly secular Sunnis and Kurds. Yet the basic fissure between them – the role of Islam in the country’s future – has in fact already been resolved and agreed. The constitution states that Islam should be “a basic source of legislation”: it is not to be the basic source – a compromise that makes possible a legal framework that will be acceptable to Iraq’s many non-believing citizens. Ayotallah Ali Sistani, one of the Shia population’s most influential leaders, has pointedly refrained from demanding that his country’s laws be shaped exclusively by the Koran.

    The BBC, however, appears to have hardly noticed that achievement. Most of its coverage emphasises the divisions between Iraqis. “May I ask you to describe me as an Iraqi, not as a Sunni,” Doon al Zubaydi asked James Naughtie on the BBC’s Today programme after he had been introduced simply as “a Sunni” – as if that designation and loyalty took precedence over every other.

    The Iraqis have a long way to go before their blueprint for a democratic future becomes a reality. But they are on their way to that goal. Hatred of President Bush, and scepticism about justifications for the presence of coalition troops in Iraq, seems to be blinding too many observers in Britain to the possibility that the US-led “occupation” may yet turn out to be Iraq’s salvation. It has made democracy possible in a situation where the only other options are the nightmares of tyranny and civil war. The overwhelming majority of Iraqis are desperately eager to make democracy in their country real. We should applaud them for their zeal.


  32. JohninLondon says:

    BBC News 24’s Dateline today has a panel 3 to 1 in favour of pulling out of Iraq. Totally out of step withACTUAL US opinion.

    Gavin Esler in the chair fails to give any balance. Lots of mocking of Bush.



  33. marc says:

    Joerg said: “One more thing in regards to Ms. Sheehan: Why, if she’s always been so anti-war, did she not try and stop her son from going to Iraq?”

    She says she did.

    Note how the AP lie for Sheehand and the rest of the media keep spreading the lie.

    AP: Sheehan and other grieving families met with Bush about two months after her son died last year, before reports of faulty prewar intelligence surfaced and caused her to become a vocal opponent of the war.

    Powerline: As anyone who has followed this story knows, this claim is utterly false. Sheehan has always been a “vocal opponent of the war;” her opposition had nothing to do with “reports of faulty prewar intelligence.” By her own account, as we noted here, Sheehan was bitterly opposed to the war before her son Casey re-enlisted in August 2003:

    Sheehan: I begged Casey not to go. I told him I would take him to Canada. I told him I would run over him with a car, anything to get him not to go to that immoral war. *** The U.N. weapon inspectors were saying there were no weapons of mass destruction. So I believed all along that this invasion was unnecessary and that there was some other agenda behind it besides keeping America safe.

    Powerline: So, far from having been turned into a “vocal opponent” some time after her son’s death, Ms. Sheehan already considered the war “immoral” before he re-enlisted in 2003, and she never did believe the intelligence about WMDs.

    Note that Sheehan’s son re-enlisted knowing full well he might be sent to Iraq.

    Inconvient facts for the BBC.


  34. Rob Read Fanclub says:

    AA Gill writing in The Sunday Times about the BBCs NHS doc

    But public service is not the same as servicing the public. I don’t want Tristrams telling me what I should eat, how much exercise I should take, where is an ethical place to go on holiday or what is the ecologically sound way to heat my Jacuzzi or plant my garden. There is a line beyond which television begins to be an arm of social services, and therefore the state. It pushes policies, highlights pet projects and, most dangerously, assumes that there is a common good.


  35. JohninLondon says:

    More on Today’s Dateline on BBC News 24. Panel members point out that the Sunday Times carries a story that BBC staff as well as public officials will get immunisation against bird flue. With qotes from several BBC presenters.

    Esler was surprised, could hardly believe it. He clearly had not read the Times today. And obviously no-one on the staff of the programme had told him.

    Amazing – they are what they read. How a senior BBC journalist chairing a topical discussion can fail to have scanned the premier UK Sunday newspaper is aanother example of the BBC blinkers, the bubble in which they all live.

    But Esler enjoyed his line about “What is the Tory party for these days”. Time was, that sort of remark would have earned a serious reprimand. Repeat performances of such remarks would get the guy canned.

    And they would never dream of asking “What is the Dem party for these days ?” Just as valid a cheeky question.


  36. Simon says:

    Wilkpedia’s article on the BBC seems to be automatically protected from editing. My changes last a minute or two at least. Is some of my licence fee cash being used by the BBC to protect its entry on Wilkpedia? If so, why? Many people, youngsters especially, regard Wilkpedia as a good source of impartial information. Is this a healthy situation?


  37. dan says:

    Blix – to amplify JiL’s comment. There is no topical reason why Blix should have been called for interview. The BBC just needed a 10 minute hate, supplied by one of their stock characters.

    Sunday Telegraph editorial – shame their sister DT had a headline “Iraq meltdown” a couple of days ago.

    Powerline on Sheehan – they pointed out that Sheehan claimed that her son had re-enlisted before it became apparent that “Bush lied”. Whereas the failure to find WMD was already being widely scorned in the media by that time (Aug 2003).


  38. dan says:

    This is petty, but is typical of the drip, drip from the BBC.

    R5Live “Upallnight” – a report from Budapest on the mayor of one of the Budapest boroughs issuing stupid edicts on dress requirements of council staff (mini-skirts should only be worn by women with pretty legs). The reporter points out that this mayor is “conservative” in contrast to mayors in most other boroughs. The BBC female presenter laughs & says something along the lines of “typical”.


  39. JohninLondon says:

    Scott Callghan at The American Expat takes apart that awful article by Justin Webb :

    One of the foremost essayists in favour of the invasion of Iraq and of staying the course is the British journo in NYC, Christopher Hitchens. Why does the BBC never seek his comments eg on Newsnight ?


  40. Allan@Aberdeen says:

    It is noticeable that many of the most lucid commentators on issues such as the war in Iraq and the broader war on terrorism are not present to air their views on current affairs programs such as Question Time. Those in mind are Christopher Hitchens and Mark Steyn, to name but two. Obviously I don’t know whether or not they have ever received invitations to appear, but it just seems a little odd.


  41. Rob Read Fanclub says:

    Excellent Hitchens piece johninlondon.


  42. dave t says:

    Rob Read Fanclub:

    I say young fella me lad! Love the articles but can you just stick a link with a few lines or comment as it now takes me 1.4 minutes to scroll down to the bottom thanks to your cut and paste from the Telegraph. Cheers me dear!

    PS I hope Rob Read isn’t charging you to be members of his fanclub..if so then demand at least a full length nekkid photo as well as the badge and stick said photo on your den door to keep kids and other family members out.


  43. JohninLondon says:


    The BBC prefers to have kneeejerk rabblerousers like Galloway and Alabhai-Brown unopposed by anyone who actally knows whereof they speak.

    There is a forthcoming debate between Galloway and Hitchens in the US, as part of Galloway’s speaking tour. Could be interesting. They clshed jst before the Senate hearing earlier this year. Why shouldn’t the BBC film it instead of Justin Webb’s vacuous nonsense ?

    But then of course the BBC won’t even know this debate is going to tke place. Frankly, their knowledge of the US political scene is pathetic.


  44. neil says:

    “Government ‘wastes’ African aid.
    BBC Radio Five Live found £712,000 was spent on hotel bills and meals for US workers on a four-year-long project.”

    Anyone found any examples of UN waste?


  45. dave t says:

    More “news” leaving out the important bits…

    “BBC Radio Five Live found £712,000 was spent on hotel bills and meals for US workers on a four-year-long project.”

    What they neglect to mention is the overall costs of these projects was shared between USAID, the Danish Aid Agency DANIDA as well as the UK DFOD out of a budget of some £75 million.

    More interesting is the fact that they neglect to mention the “US aid workers” are in fact from NDI allied to the US Democrat Party – merely putting a weblink to the side – so we have a left wing party which keeps losing elections telling Africans how to do it properly…and strange that the Beeb are pointing fingers at them.

    And in the same article:

    “Mr Watt (Action Aid) said the large amounts of money spent of administration and overseas staff meant “there are large areas of the aid system that are in urgent need of reform”.

    Perhaps the BBC should look at the huge costs of UN etc agencies in Afghanistan etc but then that wouldn’t enable them to take a dig at the US would it? Why are the US in Malawi in the first place? Because the UK couldn’t find enough people to go there despite advertising via the Guardian and CIVITAS. And I’m not in the habit of defending the likes of the Democrat Party and their sub-agencies but given that it is dangerous to live in Malawi anyway, hotels are probably the only place they can stay and survive without dying of disease.

    Disease:degree of risk: very high
    food or waterborne diseases: bacterial and protozoal diarrhea, hepatitis A, and typhoid fever
    vectorborne diseases: malaria and plague are high risks in some locations
    water contact disease: schistosomiasis (2004) (CIA Factbook)

    Will we now see the BBC move into a nice cheap villa rather than the luxury hotels they inhabit in Baghdad, the nice posh apartments in Rome, villas in Israel etc? They can claim security grounds in Baghdad but so too could the workers in Malawi given the high crime rate.

    Another case of give the US a slagging but don’t provide the other sides of the story – that might just lessen the impact….?


  46. Bob Coates says:

    Speaking of Mark Steyn, his pieces in the Telegraph and Spectator have virtually disappeared in recent weeks. Is he being frozen out by the Barclays?


  47. Roxana Cooper says:

    Poor Prince Harry, all that ridiculous furor about his masquerade costume. Yes it was a tactless choice but how many other people have rented that costume? A simple ‘sorry, I won’t do it again.’ should have been quite sufficient.

    I say this as a Jew and a remote relative of some Holocaust victims (I mention this so nobody will call me an anti-semite).

    As for taking the heat off his girlfriend – some hope, Harry. The tabloid press hounded your mother to death and would be more than happy to do the same to you, your brother and any girls you associate with – not to mention the ones you marry! – and there’s nothing to be done about it short of a sudden revolution of good taste among the readership.


  48. JohninLondon says:

    A short piece on Cindy Sheehan filling all the gaps in the Justin Webb article and other BBC coverage about her :,1299,DRMN_86_4030668,00.html

    Trust Webb to talk up a moonbat.


  49. Rob Read Fanclub says:

    who gives you the full story?,,30000-13424251,00.html


  50. dave t says:

    BBC going to start on this anytime soon? Afghanistan today….

    “Of the $5.2 billion in promised aid—including a pledged U.S. increase from $928 million in 2002 to $1.2 billion in 2004—as little as 20 to 30 percent of it reaches villages, observers say. The rest is absorbed by administration and personnel.

    Rory Stewart (Ex British Foreign Office) —now serving for the Coalition Provisional Authority in Iraq as deputy governor of Maysan province—returned to Kabul this year and was shocked to find that friends of his were earning $800 a day working for the UN. “The cost of keeping a single expat on the ground is between 300,000 and half a million U.S. dollars a year,” he says of the UN staff, “if you take into account the cost of salary, all the allowances, the per diems, the white Land Cruisers they ride around in, the equipment in their offices.”

    “An Afghan with ten years’ experience in aid work told me that USAID, a State Department agency, is the most efficient foreign program; next best was the European Union; the worst was the UN, where urgent requests for development assistance were met with the meticulous scheduling of meetings, usually in Paris. One high-ranking diplomat insisted that more than 75 cents of every UN dollar targeted for Afghanistan was being spent outside the country. ”

    Back in Africa, the News of the World one paragraph story says ‘corrupt officials spend 712K on hotels’…hmm wonder if the Yanks want to sue the buggers! THESE are the stories that the BBC should be chasing as we pay for the UN as well as the Yanks. In fact of the 190 members more than half do not actually pay anything towards the UN or have defaulted on their payments for years. Come on Panorama!