Just the facts, ma’am, just the facts.

It is said of many a failing company that it was not just the occasional faults in their products that trashed their reputation but the arrogant and evasive way they dealt with complaints.

This BBC article says, twice, that terminations were made legal in the US by the 1973 court decision Roe v Wade. In other words it is factually wrong in a typical BBC way.

The American Expatriate spotted the mistake and complained. The response made by the BBC’s Louise O’Doherty was far more astonishing – and revealing – than the initial error.

I can assure you that factual accuracy is the essence of news reporting and the BBC aspires to the very highest standards of journalism but in many cases, particularly with breaking news stories, facts can be scarce or conflicting.

Nevertheless I do realise the frustration this supposed error must have caused.

Read the Expatriate’s response.

UPDATE: The BBC have now corrected the article in question, and state that the initial response to the question “will be raised as a training issue.”

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160 Responses to Just the facts, ma’am, just the facts.

  1. dumbcisco says:


    The BBC has crowed long and often that WMDs were not found in Iraq. They have always skated over the possibility that Saddam had ample time after the first UN resolution to secrete them over the border with his Ba’athist allies in Syria.

    Over the past weeks a lot more evidence has been emerging that this is exactly what Saddam had been planning. I have seen lots of references to this on US blogs. Why has the BBC not brought any of this to us ? And how much longer will they evade this ? Surely this is meat for an article on Today or Newsnight ? (Except they’d be bound to dredge up that creepy lawyer Hans Blix !)



  2. Rob says:

    For a morbidly obese public organisation 33 years is barely enough time to react. Personally, I think the entire organisation had been dispatched to Oldham to deal with the “Cartoon Horror” so there was no-one around. It was the weekend, see?


  3. Rick says:

    This is a book for a BBC Book Programme on Radio 4

    Won by Love: Norma McCorvey, Jane Roe of Roe V. Wade, Speaks Out for the Unborn As She Shares Her New Conviction for Life (Hardcover)


  4. D Burbage says:


    The difficulty with the BBC is that it is not a failing ‘company’ – [see, anyone can use scare quotes] – it is a public sector monolith funded by ‘licence’ (ie threat of jail). Even if it were to get two or three times worse in its bias and low grade celebrity pop lefty euro minority culture, we’d still be paying an increasing amount in tv tax. Hooray!


  5. Pete_London says:


    There’s an ever growing mountain of evidence of the Baathist Stalinist regime’s WMD program. It’s all been ignored by the BBC and the rest of the pro-enemy Left. I don’t believe they would publish any evidence showing that they were wrong, no matter how strong. There is only one goal to be pursued by them and that is ignominious defeat for us. Constant repetition of the WMD lie by the left is wholly designed to dicredit the very idea of war in the West. It is part all a long campaign of spreading weak, pacifist ideas.


  6. Don says:

    BBC truth is different to the real truth when the BBC decides the real truth can be improved.


  7. Ian Barnes says:

    What i cannot accept is that the one time BBC Question Time comes to London its on the day of the local elections May 4th?

    What a joke? They know the South East can’t stand labour, so they run all over the north avoiding the SE until last minute.

    That show should be in London the week before and labour would get a hammering….

    Convenient yet again from the BBC…AND they try to say they’re unbiased?

    It makes me sick. Just privatise it.


  8. Lee Moore says:

    You will also note that throughout the article the “pro-choice” / “pro-abortion” side are described in their preferred way – “pro-choice”, while the “pro-life” / “anti-abortion” side are described in their opponents’ preferred way – “anti-abortion.” There are obviously any number of arguments for using the euphemisms claimed by the contending groups (pro-choice/pro-life), or for rejecting their euphemisms and being accurately descriptive about their views (pro-abortion, anti-abortion.) But there are no plausible arguments for using one’s side’s euphemism, but not the other’s.

    I remember that the same reporter did the same thing before :

    Her choice of words marks her unmistakeably on the “pro-choice” side (where I also happen to be.) But unbiased it ain’t.


  9. gordon-bennett says:

    The beeb “response” is indicative of what appears to be a recent attempt to castrate the complaints procedure.

    I complain a lot on 08700 100 222 and always insist on a written response.

    What I have noticed recently is that it is harder to persuade the Information Officer to order a written response and that when you do get a letter it appears to consist of a few cagily synthesised and standardised paragraphs which could be the reply to any complaint of any kind.

    I imagine that they will eventually refine this down to a single letter consisting of a single all-purpose paragraph of turgid non-speak.

    Perhaps their ultimate aim is to answer all complaints by sending out a picture of a hand giving a V sign.


  10. Eamonn. says:

    Looking for BBC bias on Israel is like shooting fish in a barrel.

    “Cash crisis ‘risks Palestinian collapse'”


    Here the BBC discusses an important issue – should Western aid be given to a terrorist organisation, even though Hamas were democratically elected?

    But look at the two photographs chosen:-

    One depicts serious hard working Palestinians undertaking important medical work. The caption reads “The Palestinian Authority may have no money to pay state salaries”.

    The other depicts an Israeli soldier at a checkpoint watching an Arab and his donkey and cart drive past. The caption reads “Israel is tightening economic screws on the Palestinian Authority”.

    So one photograph shows Palestinians in a good light, and the other shows sraelis in a bad light. Classic BBC “balance”.

    Wonder what happened to these photograph which could have been included:-




  11. Steve_Mac says:

    Her choice of words marks her unmistakeably on the “pro-choice” side (where I also happen to be.) But unbiased it ain’t.
    Lee Moore | 27.02.06 – 12:39 pm | #

    Speaking of interesting word choices “abortion tourism” is a loaded combination.


  12. archduke says:

    “They know the South East can’t stand labour, so they run all over the north avoiding the SE until last minute.”

    question time was in harlow, essex on feb 9th

    however your point has some merit, as the upcoming southern locations are aren’t in the “south east”:

    march 9th : salisbury
    march 23rd : ipswich
    april 20th: cambridge


    you have to wait 2 weeks after the local elections to get to a SE location: Canterbury, May 18th


  13. archduke says:

    “So one photograph shows Palestinians in a good light, and the other shows israelis in a bad light. Classic BBC “balance”.”

    thats as bad as the anti-Irish police bias i pointed out in another thread.

    photo – midway down:


  14. Rob White says:

    OT – After his classic Radio 4 interview that Mr Tutu is given some more publicity on the front page.


    Are they obsessed?


  15. archduke says:

    “Perpetrators don’t have horns, don’t have tails, they are as ordinary looking as you and I. The people who supported Hitler were not demons, they were often very respectable people.”

    I think the Simon Wiesenthal Center and the Israeli state (and myself) would beg to differ on that one.

    Tutu again:
    “I would never say this is an ‘evil person’, but this is a person who committed evil deeds.

    Describe it in the most sharp terms, but never give up on the essential humanity on the perpetrator.”


    what a tosser.


  16. Rick says:

    The people who supported Hitler were not demons, they were often very respectable people.”

    So tell us about Heydrich Mr Tutu…..tell us at which point he was respectable – he had even been cashiered from the German Navy. Or Goering, which part of the morphine addict was “repectable”; or Himmler…….was he the kind of dinner guest Mr Tutu would have found most charming ?

    Tutu has lived in the ivory tower of the Anglican Aristocracy too long…..down on the street the dirt piles up where the bishop cannot see


  17. Rick says:

    They know the South East can’t stand labour, so they run all over the north avoiding the SE

    Oh and the North can stand Labour ? You are dreaming. The North just can’t stand the Tories either


  18. Ian Barnes says:

    rick, there are more sympathetic labour types up there than tory…everyone knows that…point still is, the BBC and govt know that a question time in London would kill the government just before the elections, hence why its all over the shop…

    very convenient little ploy there. it has been noted.

    besides on the point of the South East, more people live in that ‘zone’ than any other part of the country, so as far as i;m concerned it should receive most coverage…

    we shall see. i still think May 5th will be the day New Labour ends and the catalyst for change at No.10…

    question is how desperate will the govt get as it is pushed further and further into a corner, like wounded animal, i am worried about its sanity and judgement..(of particular individuals)


  19. gordon-bennett says:

    “Perpetrators don’t have horns, don’t have tails, they are as ordinary looking as you and I. The people who supported Hitler were not demons, they were often very respectable people.”

    But look at the picture of Stone. Are you sure that he doesn’t have horns and tails since that is what the picture is intended to convey.


    And of course he’s not an IRA man. The beeb wouldn’t dare to print a picture like that for an IRA man any more that they would print a certain type of cartoon.


  20. Ian Barnes says:


    Britain: ‘the country where the government stops the people from choosing their own destiny’:


    Wicks, had better start off with Tony Blair, and ask him to get rid of his 2 armoured Range Rovers, and the 3 Jags..each one probably around 4 litre engine each..

    Then stop at 2 jags Prescott, getting rid of those cars alone will make a huge difference to Whitehall air pollution levels…

    So before he starts criticising the public, maybe they should look at themselves first? Hey Maclolm?


  21. Henry says:


    WARNING.. Take blood pressure tablets before viewing:


    Plumbers and Market Traders in action


  22. disillusioned_german says:

    If you thought the Beeb had already reached a low with the “Oldham cartoons” check this out:

    Bin Laden ‘likes hugs not kisses’

    “…Bin Laden was “very polite and humble and shy. He didn’t like too many kisses… he didn’t mind being hugged but kisses he didn’t like and he just seemed to float… across the floor,” Thomas told ABC…”


    I’m getting sick again!


  23. Ian Barnes says:


    this really is bad news:


    ps. If the MoD are considering purchasing further Boeing C17 transport aircraft they have until 2006 as the production line will be closed.

    It looks as if Australia and others will be taking up the options for aircraft.


  24. Ian Barnes says:

    The Govt have a lot of questions to answer, yet again tough on Terror Blair and Brown?

    Why not put your money where your mouth is? You go on about it enough?

    Give the MoD an increase in budget?

    Have a heart? or should i say, a brain?


  25. the_camp_commandant says:


    Goering was the second man to command the Flying Circus, the first being the Red Baron, and was credited with many kills of Allied aircraft. He weaned himself off morphine addiction through willpower. He was quite an impressive figure ad a major propoaganda catch for the Nazis.

    He was deeply flawed of course. But it would be inaccurate to suggest that the German people in 1932 elected a uniformly squalid, sleazy bunch of lying, murderous, totalitarian creeps.

    If you said the British people did that in 1997, 2001 and 2005 you’d be right on the money.


  26. archduke says:

    disillusioned german : to be fair, thats all in quotes and its reporting what the Aussie who is on trial said. its just a very odd and strange story, that *is* worth reporting on.


  27. disillusioned_german says:

    Agreed, Archduke… but they still managed to put the picture of a very friendly looking Osama on the webpage. I’m not a fan of conspiracy theories but with the Beeb you have to wonder…


  28. archduke says:

    “Political system faces meltdown”

    this thing is – if the political system in the UK actually does melt down, would vast majority of the population even notice ?

    choice quote from the above bbc link:

    “When the Electoral Commission looked at this, they found no overwhelming support among young people for it if you poll them properly… they found 80% of the public didn’t think 16 was the right age; they thought it was too low.”

    “So you’ve got a report here that’s all about listening to the public, doing what the public want, and on this particular issue, where 80% of the public think 16 is too low an age, they simply are ignored.”

    ha ha.. good point!


  29. Susan says:

    but they still managed to put the picture of a very friendly looking Osama on the webpage. I’m not a fan of conspiracy theories but with the Beeb you have to wonder…

    One wonders why they didn’t photoshop a halo around his head. . .


  30. Rob says:

    Letting 16 year olds vote. Great idea. All the girls in my school that got preggers at 16 could have voted themselves a nice ‘pay rise’. If this happens then Gordon will have even more voters on benefits (do parents still get child support for 16 year olds?)


  31. Rick says:

    Germany lets 16 year olds vote in local elections but i think this was done to dilute the EU voters who are also allowed to vote in local elections.


  32. Mike says:

    Am I alone in finding the “supposed” in that response incredibly patronising? “Supposed error” implies to me that they don’t think it’s an error at all. Still, it’s good to know they’re listening.


  33. Rick says:

    PM on Radio 4…….just hearing Carolyn Quinn’s voice makes you feel like throwing up…..and it is so repetitive….the same news items as at 6am.


  34. Sarge uncensored says:

    BBC News 24- The intro – the one that counts down 10-9-8- Lots of African content, gambolling African children etc., precious little UK content.
    The News .and..the Securitas depot..
    After the Kent Old Bill did his little speech we went over to the BBC female Home Affairs correspondent who endorsed the the caper as “Categorically the biggest bank robbery ever”
    Sorry Missus, it is an armed robbery, i.e. robbery with violence. No one has gone across the pavement and knocked off a cuddly little bank. Violence has been used a against a family man, we know you want to talk this up as genius criminals outwitted the thick plods, I am still waiting for “planned like a military operation”. No its hot because its big, they don’t even have to exaggerate the amount stolen. For the BBC it appears that violence is not an issue.


  35. Pete_London says:

    The proposal to let 16 years olds vote is precisely to gerrymander the electorate even more. Let’s face it, most 16 year olds are lucky to get through the night without suffocating themselves on the pillow. Who are they most likely to vote for? What do most dipsrticks vote for? It ain’t life, liberty and the pursuit of foxes, I can tell you.

    What was the name of this Inquiry? “The Power to the People Inquiry”. Yuck.

    Who paid for it? The Rowntree Trust, a bunch of knicker-wearing liberals if ever there was one.

    Who was the Chairman? Comrade Helena Kennedy QC, spiritual sister of Her Cherieness at No. 10 and of thoroughly impeccable Leftist leanings.

    I predict that the recommendation to allow 16 year old children the vote isn’t even the half of it. The small print will hide even greater horrors.


  36. Rob Read says:

    The shape of things to come: “well since we let 16 year olds vote, why don’t we let those in jail vote as well?”…


  37. gordon-bennett says:

    Votes at 16 – presumably because NuLab believes that most children of that age would vote socialist, This is because of idealism untainted by experience of life.

    Votes for prisoners – presumably because NuLab believes that most prisoners would vote socialist. In this case it is because most criminals are thick.


  38. archduke says:

    “PM urges progress on UK pay gap”

    my wife gets paid less than me.


    because she took time out to have the kids and bring them up. then she re-entered the workforce (“sorry dear, you need 5 years experience , blah blah”).

    its not rocket science. thats the market.

    a mate of mine did the opposite – he decided to stay at home (house husband), and the wife went back to work as soon as possible. kids reared, he decides to re-enter the workforce.

    and guess what? his wife gets paid twice as much as he does.

    wowww… amazing isnt it? how market forces work.


  39. archduke says:

    from the same report above:

    “The CBI’s John Cridland, a commission member, said women were paid less because the UK’s education system “completely fails” to alert schoolgirls to the fact that their choices will determine what they earn.”

    errr… i thought that job was down to the parents?

    so Mr Cridland thinks that the school system knows your kid better than you do?

    god – there is some seriously woolly thinking in the UK today.


  40. Allan@Aberdeen says:

    Who decided that the ‘report’ from the Rowntree Foundations is news?


  41. archduke says:

    allan-> gordon brown.
    Mr Brown, who will speak at the report’s launch today and at a follow-up London conference on 25 March, believes it is a “vital contribution” to the debate on how to empower the British people

    according to eureferendum.blogspot the report cost 800k for stating the bloody obvious. no change there – typical nu-labour.

    EUReferendum’s report on the report is entitled:

    “stand by for more alienation”:

    couldnt have said it better myself.


  42. Allan@Aberdeen says:

    I really am getting a bit annoyed about the way the MSM reports that “XYZ will say such-and-such ….”. WILL SAY?!? They are reporting something which is yet to happen therefore if that event which they are reporting has not happened, how can it be news?


  43. dumbcisco says:

    USS Neverdock as posted some of this important article from the Sunday Times :


    Who is in charge of the clattering train…..?


  44. Lou says:

    So why can’t the bbc be overthrown? Do they have some sort of political shield that precludes any reasonable limitation of their proclivity for bias?


  45. archduke says:

    lou -> you have to be a “militant” muslim “protester” and wave banners around outside the bbc studios threatening to cut off Paxman’s head.then they’ll listen to you.

    sad isnt it?


  46. Mike says:

    Anyone here seen George Galloway’s latest comments? Only reference I’ve found to it is here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/dna/mbfivelive/F2148565?thread=2367330 off the bbc’s messageboard. Apparently he said that the cartoons were worse than 9/11 or 7/7. Every time I think that Galloway can’t get any worse he succeeds. Deaths of 3000 people versus a cartoon. Oh yes, clearly a cartoon is worse.


  47. Susan says:

    Well Mike,

    Imran Khan has gone Galloway one better: He’s described the cartoons as the equivalent of the Holocaust:


    (posted in the other thread as well, sorry for the repeat.)