Two stories :

Gerard Baker in the Times :

You really do have to leave the country to appreciate fully how pernicious the BBC’s grasp of the nation’s cultural and political soul has become. The groupthink and assumptions implicit in almost everything broadcast by BBC News, and even less explicitly by much else of the corporation’s output, lie like a suffocating blanket over the national consciousness.

This is the mindset that sees the effortless superiority, at every turn, of benign collectivism over selfish individualism, exploited worker over unscrupulous capitalist, enlightened European over brutish American, thoughtful atheist over dumb believer, persecuted Arab over callous Israeli; and that believes the West is the perpetrator of just about every ill that has ever befallen the world — from colonialism to global warming.

And Frank Stewart in the New York Times fears the kind of output the BBC’s Arabic TV service is likely to feature. I’m not qualified to judge this, as I don’t listen to the BBCs Arabic output. Let’s just say it wouldn’t be much of a shock if it’s true.

” … the authoritarian regimes and armed militants of the Arab world get sympathetic treatment on BBC Arabic. When Saddam Hussein was in power, he was a great favorite of the service, which reported as straight news his re-election to a seven-year term in 2002, when he got 100 percent of the vote. President Bashar al-Assad of Syria enjoys similar favor. When a State Department representative referred to Syria as a dictatorship, his BBC interviewer immediately interrupted and reprimanded him.

The Arabic Service not only shields Arab leaders from criticism but also tends to avoid topics they might find embarrassing: human rights, the role of military and security forces, corruption, discrimination against minorities, censorship, poverty and unemployment. When, from time to time, such topics do arise, they are usually dealt with in the most general terms: there may, for instance, be guarded references to “certain Arab countries.”

By contrast, the words and deeds of Western leaders, particularly the American president and the British prime minister, are subject to minute analysis, generally on the assumption that behind them lies a hidden and disreputable agenda. Last summer, when the British arrested two dozen people alleged to have been plotting to blow up airplanes crossing the Atlantic, a BBC presenter centered a discussion on the theory that these arrests had taken place because Tony Blair, embarrassed by opposition to Britain’s role in the conflict between Hezbollah and Israel, wanted to distract the public while at the same time associating Muslims with terrorism.”

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70 Responses to Two stories :

  1. GCcooper says:

    Baker seems to have perfectly encapsulated the problem here. From just these assumptions, more or less everything we complain about on this site, flows like water down a mountain.


  2. Anonanon says:

    From Tuesday’s New York Sun:

    This apartment’s tiny and there are DVDs everywhere. The BBC alone sends about 40 a week. I don’t know what to do with the damn things, and I’ve reviewed far too many BBC shows already. My wife says I should mail them to our soldiers in Iraq, but I never get around to it. Anyway, I don’t know if they’d like the BBC stuff very much. I sort of think the BBC is a bit partial to the other side, if you know what I mean.


  3. Alan says:

    BBC Arabic was the only ‘tentacle’ of Al Beeb’s octopus which broadcast a version of the Pipes-Livingstone debate on ‘civilisation/barbarism’.
    (What was the ‘slant’ of the BBC Arabic report, I wonder.)

    In contrast, BBC licence-payers are treated as inferior dhimmis.


  4. Infection says:

    As of this moment we’ve yet to hear anywhere on the terrorist-hugging al-beeb anything about a certain Palestinian making threatening noises against us all. He’s called Shakir al-Abssi and he’s formed a new group called Fatah al Islam, basically a front for Al Qaeda. Read all about here because the clowns at our state-funded station won’t tell the full story:


  5. IngSoc is doublethink says:

    Here Here GCooper


  6. Dong says:

    Baker wrote a good article except where he describes how brilliant indivial beeboids are – what’s so brilliant about GW-hysterical foaming people unable to grasp the essence of scientific enquiry


  7. Greg says:

    Slightly OT:

    Interesting post pointing out the biased reporting by the Beeb on the recent UN report into Israeli digs at Temple Mount.


  8. IngSoc is doublethink says:


    I think there are some good journalists in Al Beeb.

    IMHO Paul Mason when doing his “cyber” spots is quite interesting and I did enjoy the poisoned vodka story. Mark Urban is an exceptional defence and diplomatic correspondent and even old Paxo (who looks more and more puzzled by the day) can be engaging.

    Wark; Robinson; Naughtie; Humphries; Kaplinsky; Gardner,et al, the “Ray Mears” school of embedded journalism in Iraq (there isn’t) and the hideous “analysis” of Simpson and Abu Bowen which now underpin journalistic standards in the BBC are the staple diet of your nightly news in the UK.

    I watch every evening the CNN having reporters all over Baghdad (including regular reports from the insurgents and Iraqi Police), I get the impression that Al Beeb can’t get out of the hotel bar in the Green Zone.


  9. BaggieJonathan says:

    Even then among the awfulness some are more awful than others. Abu Bowen has the head and shoulders ‘lead’ in this regard and shows no signs of giving it up!


  10. Dong says:

    IngSoc is doublethink –

    I agree but working in a “naughtie” environment (for lack of a better word) has blunted even the best of them.


  11. Anonymous says:

    IngSoc is doublethink | 16.03.07 – 2:10 pm |

    I get the impression that Al Beeb can’t get out of the hotel bar in the Green Zone.

    The BBC isn’t based in the Green Zone.

    John Simpson explains –,,1784925,00.html


  12. Ralph says:

    Alan: ‘What was the ‘slant’ of the BBC Arabic’

    To the left.

    Seriously I’ve never understood why the BBC can’t just report what’s going on in the whole Middle East rather than obsessing about what happens in Israel. If they are looking for oppression, dicators, religious intolerance, and torture they just have to go to Syria but they seem to miss all of that.


  13. IngSoc is doublethink says:


    Errr…..come again Mr Simpson?


  14. Rob says:

    Classic left-wing interpretation of the causes of crime in this article:

    A boy is stabbed to death by a gang of feral youths who persue him, chanting “Kill him! Kill him!”. Naturally, most people would think that they were murderous amoral scum. Not so; apparently it is all the fault of “poverty” and “deprivation”. Depraved, more like.

    Strange how in former times of vastly harsher poverty and deprivation (REAL poverty) people didn’t rampage through the streets in gangs knifing people to death.


  15. Bryan says:


    Exactly. When Italian thugs killed a policeman recently during a riot at a soccer match, a World Service presenter was trying, with her pre-programmed thought processes, to make sense of the issue.

    Sport doesn’t make hooligans out of people, society does, she said.

    I have a different take on the matter. People make thugs out of themselves. But according to BBC-think, an external cause must always be sought since the individual is never responsible for his or her own actions.

    Unless of course that individual happens to be an American or an Israeli or a conventional white heterosexual British Christian uninterested in stopping the war in Iraq or fighting ‘Global Warming’.


  16. IngSoc is doublethink says:

    Bang on the money Rob.

    But spot this piece of non thinking by Al Beeb

    Ibrahim replied: “To protest against the plight of Muslims everywhere, especially in Iraq.”

    Oh yes my little Beeboids all against Uncle George and Uncle Tony.

    But wait:

    “He met his co-accused Yassin Omar in 2000, he said.

    He travelled to Sudan in January 2003, where he stayed for two months visiting relatives, the court heard.

    Asked if he engaged in anything in Sudan that could be described as jihad or military training, he answered “no”.

    He denied telling anyone he had learned to fire or had ever used a rocket-propelled grenade”.

    I understand the BBC can’t comment on what has been said, but it appears the narration that so dominates Current Affairs output in the UK provides the perfect excuse for our neo-Salafist friends.

    Unless I’m mistaken we invaded in March 2003, but his journey appears to have started along time before that.

    I wonder if the Judge in summing up will direct the jury to disregard news reports in providing an alibi……


  17. JohnBosworth says:

    But isn’t this section of Gerard Baker’s article priceless?

    “Dame Helen (Mirren) was asked how difficult it had been to play such an “unsympathetic character” as the Queen, the eponymous heroine of her recent film. She replied, quite tartly, that she didn’t find the Queen unsympathetic at all and launched into her now familiar riff about how she thought Elizabeth II really, surprisingly, quite agreeable.”
    There it is! Group think quietly slipping out. But look deeper. Dame Helen admits the Queen is SUPRISINGLY quite agreeable. Why “suprisingly”?


  18. Bryan says:


    Yes, I also noticed that. Mirren probably suffers from the same kind of group-think as the BBC.

    After all, it’s a widespread virus.

    But I suppose there could have been a touch of sarcasm to the “surprisingly”.


  19. Jon says:

    Gerard Baker sums up the BBC in a nutshell. Just listen to R4 Today programme to hear how nasty we all are, how uncaring, how racist etc.If there is no bad news from Iraq – what do we get – “A new survey/report suggests that” Britain does not care for the elderly, throws out more rubbish then any country in the universe, leaves thier television on stanby for 300 hours a week, has the fattest and most unhealthy children this side of Pluto etc etc.

    Just imagine what that does to the countries psyche.


  20. kingchillout says:


    I agree totally.

    We have stopped listening to Radio 2 at lunchtimes because the Jeremy Vine show has become nothing but nanny state propaganda.

    We have even started compiling a chart as to who we think the BBC ordaines to be this weeks lowest of the low in British society.

    3) 4X4 owners.

    2) parents with fat children

    and straight in at number one…..

    people who throw away out of date food !!!!


  21. Jon says:

    It would be interesting to know if any other state owned TV and radio spew out the same rubbish about there respective countries.


  22. Trumpeter Lanfried says:

    rob 6.53 PM. The depressing thing about the piece you noticed is the BBBC’unthinking, autopilot response to a wicked, wicked crime.

    It seems to go like this: crime > youth > deprivation > social ills > blah, blah, blah.

    Can’t they, just for once, leave out the essay on sociology and just tell us who murdered whom?


  23. Sarah says:

    “It would be interesting to know if any other state owned TV and radio spew out the same rubbish about there respective countries.
    Jon | 16.03.07 – 9:43 pm | # ”

    It’s a very Stalinist idea. There aren’t that many of them left.


  24. Fabio P.Barbieri says:

    Everyone, I have a different take on Dame Helen. The Queen was probably the first performance in her life where she did not take her clothes off. She got her knighthood by being the thinking man’s crumpet. I would say she was probably surprised at how pleasant it was to play someone who had one husband all her life and did not need to seduce anyone.


  25. Dave says:

    Around the world the BBC’s agenda is becoming a news story in itself.Is there the faintest chance the BBC will mention this in any bulletin or comment programme?Perhaps somebody in the BBC will let us all know if this might happen.


  26. anon says:

    Dave: a couple of weeks ago Newsnight reported on the “ridiculous” claims that the BBC is pro this and anti that, of course it was quickly dismissed, I think they spent maybe 3 minutes on the subject


  27. Richy says:

    Having left the uk three years ago, I can agree with Baker and can frequently see the stances taken by the BBC being adopted by friends back home or my parents.

    We get the bbc news on cable and i find it infuriating rather than informative. It’s maybe not as bad as it was three of four years ago, but there seem to be a lot of implicit assumptions; angles on particular stories that really aren’t necessary.

    The recent coverage of the Trident programme was rather poorly constructed. It mentioned the price but did not place this in perspective as a proportion of national spending. It mentioned the pros and cons of renewal; but seemed more interesting in the political implications of the battle between Labour and the Conservatives than anything else. How it was an afront to Tony Blair and showed his weaknesses etc.


  28. terry johnson says:

    Meanwhile , a classic example of Al-BBC’s adoration of the Stalinist EU…

    This vomit-inducing article features a typical Beeb leftoid hack singing the praises of Javier Solana (EU Foreign Policy chief) and of EU Foreign Policy itself. We learn that the EU Foreign Policy is nothing to do with Europe and is all about “human rights” especially in the Middle East. In other words another piece of the Eurabia policy to extend the Arab World right across Europe.


  29. deegee says:

    Why “suprisingly”?

    I haven’t met the Queen (or the Duke), Paul McCartney (or Helen Mills-McCartney), David Beckham (or Posh Spice), Helen Mirren (or Illiana Lydia Vasilievna Mironova*). In fact I have ‘met’ very few celebrities and ‘know’ even less.

    As most of us, I see these people almost exclusively through the filter of the media, not just or even primarily the BBC.

    Why “suprisingly”? That is the way the media has presented her.

    *Apologies to husband Hackford Taylor. Illiana Lydia Vasilievna Mironova is her birth name. A little trivia illustrating how preconception guides our perceptions. 🙂


  30. anchor says:

    The BBC is a state-funded organization. It does not have to please, interest or entertain its audience, because it gets its money anyway.The BBC can therefore devote its domestic coverage to lecturing or frightening its audience.

    And the answer to all of the problems that the BBC selectively promotes? More state-funding.


  31. BJ says:

    Anchor – the Daily Mail is a privately funded organisation. It should, in theory, have to please, interest or entertain its audience. It devotes much of its domestic coverage to lecturing or frightening its audience.

    And it’s one of the most successful newspapers in the UK. Maybe people just like being lectured or frightened?


  32. Rob says:

    Trumpeter Lanfried:

    crime > youth > deprivation > social ills > huge sums of public money > dependency > crime > youth > deprivation > etc


  33. Rob says:

    terry johnson:

    That article is unbelievable. To say that one of the most corrupt organisations on the planet is some sort of crusading organisation for human rights is laughable. Do the Beeboids REALLY believe what is written here, or is this article one of the most cynical I can recall appearing in our media?

    It is a difficult choice – I really believe that the BBC is so blinded by its hatred of America and its love of supra-national organisations like the EU and the UN that it may well believe it.

    The BBC is not a rational organisation.


  34. Jim Miller says:

    Jon – I can give you a partial answer to you question.

    In the US, public radio (NPR) is quite similar to the BBC in its attitudes — and uses lots of material from the BBC. (Though NPR is a little less likely to be laughably inaccurate on American politics.)

    Public television (PBS) is less like the BBC and much less important here. (For reasons that escape me, the public television station here in the Seattle area devotes much of its schedule to cooking programs and old pop music.)

    From what I can tell from reading Canadian blogs, the CBC is quite similar to the BBC.


  35. Jon says:

    @Jim Miller:

    Thanks for that – but I find it hard to believe that any other nation would stand by and see them attacked constantly by their own media. They do not just attack politians but the general public by inference. I definately don’t want “every thing is rosy in Britain” – but I do want the BBC to question these partial surveys/reports without taking them as gospel. As every one knows statistics can be bent to fit your own agenda.


  36. Ultraviolence says:

    You can see how deprived the youth of today are by watching the youtube ‘gangsta’ videos.


  37. Thaddeus says:


    You quote Gerard Baker as saying that the BBC –

    believes the West is the perpetrator of just about every ill……from colonialism to global warming.

    Silly BBC.

    Didn’t anyone tell them that global warming is down to sunspots and that colonialism was all the fault of the Africans…..or was it the Indians?


  38. Anonymous says:

    Baker also says the beeb prefers

    benign collectivism to selfish individualism

    An example of ‘benign collectivism’ would be the gallant efforts of our armed forces in Afghanistan.

    An example of ‘selfish individualism’ would be sleeping with your best friend’s wife

    I know which I think is the more morally superior.


  39. Ultraviolence says:

    “and that colonialism was all the fault of the Africans”

    No that isn’t at all true and you ought to know it.

    But the role of Africans and Muslims in slavery has been very much downplayed, because it’s much more politically useful to have monolithic blocks of aggressors and victims.

    On the subject of yoof crime, go here.

    And then go here.


  40. amimissingsomething says:


    ah, yes, which bbc presenters continually tell us we must not judge muslims to be…

    apparently they are the only ones who are not…except and unless they are the offended victims of, say, cartoons or such like…


  41. Robin says:

    Tony Blair appeared in a comedy sketch for the BBCs Red Nose Day.
    The newscasters this morning were praising him,what a sport etc, and then compared him to Mrs Thatcher- a kill joy.

    It didn`t occur to them that Mrs Thatcher would think the office of Prime minister was too important to demean itself by trying to be funny on television. She would be too busy looking at all problems that governments should attend to,not just faddish celebrity charityfests.


  42. OJ says:

    Note the BBC’s use of “already”…


  43. Jon says:

    Robin: I quite agree – Mrs T was a poitician – Tony Blair is just an embarrassment. This does nothing for his image it just shows how shallow the man realy is.


  44. amimissingsomething says:

    Ultraviolence | 17.03.07 – 5:03 pm |

    indeed…i was comparatively old when i learned that not all africans had been unwitting victims – or even unwilling participants – in the atlantic slave trade

    i was even older – much older – when i discoveren that millions of blacks -many fewer millions, but millions none the less – had been victims of arab slavers

    how many blacks enslaved by “asians” does it take to inspire the moral outrage and indignation engendered by the enslavement of one black by europeans?


  45. The Fat Contractor says:

    Robin | 17.03.07 – 7:49 pm |
    It didn`t occur to them that Mrs Thatcher would think the office of Prime minister was too important to demean itself by trying to be funny on television

    I agree with the sentiment but Mrs T did do a scene from ‘Yes Prime Minister’ with the cast and on TV.


  46. anon says:

    the Tony Blair “thing” on RND was incredibly cheap however, a really cheap gag with that woman who is not at all funny (apart from Cheri I mean). According to the BBC the best way to appeal for money is to parade homosexuals around a stage for 8 hours (although I did have to turn off after 10 minutes)


  47. Fran says:

    Here’s a Muslim voice I haven’t heard often enough on BBC. Step forward, Ali Miraj, a Muslim Conservative Party candidate writing in the Jewish Chronicle this week. (How many people saw him on Newsnight last August supporting the right of israel to defend herself against Hezbollah last August?)

    “I have always shirked the simplistic knee-jerk anti-Israel sentiment of many of my co-religionists. It was this balanced approach that got up the noses of many Muslims when I appeared on Newsnight last August and dared to suggest that Israel had a right to defend itself against Hizbollah katyusha rockets reigning down on its cities.”

    So it’s true, then. Dislike of Israel IS reflexive amongst British Muslims!

    “Security, I soon discovered, was at the forefront of every Israeli’s mind. The threat of suicide bombers may have been largely contained by the erection of the security fence dividing the West Bank from Israel, but having dinner at Mike’s Place, the beach-front restaurant in Tel Aviv where a British-born suicide bomber killed three people four years ago, underlined, to me, the perpetual vulnerability of ordinary Israelis. ”

    What! A Muslim who’s able to see the reason for the Security fence? Oh yes. And there’s more.

    “I was impressed by the robust and open nature of the debate over dinner with members of the coalition government on the key issues facing ordinary Israelis. It was refreshing to witness democracy in action in a region where it has all too often been suppressed.”

    Sadly, Ali Miraj does not even believe himself that he is representative of moderate British Muslim opinion.

    But his IS a moderate voice in that it not only eschews violence but also refuses to join in the “knee-jerk anti Israel sentiment” of his community.


  48. argus says:

    Yesterday’s PM programme on BBC radio included coverage of the Tory Party conference. The BBC interviewer’s whole line of questioning was based on his opening assertion that “people still don’t trust the Tories on public services.”

    As a public service broadcaster, the BBC is of course entirely to be trusted on this issue.


  49. Ralph says:

    ‘But the role of Africans and Muslims in slavery has been very much downplayed, because it’s much more politically useful to have monolithic blocks of aggressors and victims.’

    ‘Downplayed’? Don’t you mean more or less ignored?

    The Europeans just took a pre-existing system and expanded on it.


  50. Fabio P.Barbieri says:

    Exactly. There was no slavery in Europe for centuries, until the Portuguese started horning in on the Arab trade in African slaves in the fifteenth century. And incidentally, the African kingdoms of West Africa were all too happy to sell enemy prisoners from wars and raids to Arabs and later to Europeans. However, one Arabic subtlety never made it to Western traders: they never got the habit of castrating their slaves before they sold them. That is why the Americas are full of black people, whereas there are very few in the Muslim world north of the Sahara.