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.”

Bookmark the permalink.

70 Responses to Two stories :

  1. Robin says:

    The Politics Show at noon had a small bit to say on the EU and the constitution. Actually it wasn`t that interesting. The EU is deliberately boring to make us sleep through its creeping federalism ,and the BBC is no longer portraying it with a Red teenagers thrill (perhaps due to theinternet ).
    There is still, though, that underlying trend they use of If Only People Understood The Virtues Of It More And Didn`t Let Little Things get In The Way.The Italian bint who presented it (Paula Buann..?)showed some infrastructure the EU had “paid for” and thought this could show people a good point about the EU. No mention of our taxes going to Brussels,and other countries earning well out of it.That`s why most people there see the virtue in it.


  2. Ralph says:

    ‘There was no slavery in Europe for centuries’

    Actually there was but the transatlantic slave trade was just an expansion of an existing system that had existed for thousands of years in part to service the demand from Arab North Africa.

    We Brits got into it very late, yet seem to get most of the blame.


  3. Chuffer says:

    Very OT, but the general topic thread is now 72,382,695 comments long…


    and relish some classic weather muppette nonsense. Enjoy what may be perhaps the worst ever use of ‘literally’ – in the introduction.

    And then look out for the summary for the week about to start: “No major deviation in temperatures is forecast.”

    I thought we’re about to have our nuts frozen off.

    Useless journalism, useless weather forecasting.


  4. Jon says:

    Chuffer: from your link

    The weather beyond about a week ahead stretches even the most experienced weather forecaster. Complex numerical weather forecast models from the Met Office and the European Centre for Medium Range Weather Forecasting (ECMWF) are run many times for the month (and season) ahead to build up a picture of the likelihood of different weather types affecting the UK.”

    Yet they can tell us we are all doomed by 2050


  5. Scott says:

    This is off topic but I cannot get into the open thread – too many posts. I do apologize.

    BBC has gone over the top in their attempt to play down good news from the surge in Iraq. See


  6. Chuffer says:

    Radio 2 news, 6am today, Monday, reporting on that Iraqi poll.
    “26% say they are very happy, which means, of course, that nearly three-quarters aren’t very happy…”

    Clever-dick use of ‘not very happy.’


  7. IngSoc Is Doublethink says:

    Ahhh…..Chuffer you know its coming up to “anniversary” time (which strangely always around elections and key votes in the Commons) because you get the full works in the Simpo rant:


    See what Simpson says regarding reporting in Iraq-and my he is very twitchy with Omaar.,,1784925,00.html

    “Of course, for a team of Westerners to drive around Baghdad or film out in the open can be tricky, and it needs careful planning with our security advisers. But things at present seem to be marginally easier than they have been. In Baghdad last month, I went out filming in the streets almost every day, and felt pretty relaxed about it. Andrew North and Kate Peters, the bureau chief who has just left Baghdad after a six-week stint, have been doing the same. Driving out of Baghdad is too dangerous at present, but the intrepid agency cameramen (the real heroes, I would say, of the entire war) give us a remarkably accurate picture of what is going on elsewhere in Iraq”.

    So Simpo realise on third hand news for his expert understanding.

    And for a country that is in the grip of something “worse” than a civil war-he can go round filming and carrying out Gallup polls and feel “pretty relaxed” about the affair.

    Top quality analysis from a guy that pops in and out every six weeks……?

    What does he do with the other five,bitch about his former mates?

    But I suspect that the real reason that the report is front page news is this:


  8. Michael Taylor says:

    What bugs me about the BBC is that they’re so obsessed with promoting their agenda that they’ve all but abandonned the hard graft of news reporting. It’s all just meta-news.

    I honestly think that they don’t need actual reporters anymore, because, particularly if it happens outside London, they’re simply not interested. Unless it promotes their agenda, of course.

    Just to take a single example at random: a couple of weeks ago, a major gas leak in NE England kept 10,000+ without power for about three days. In the real world, this is a story. In the BBC world – not a mention. After all, what “angle” can you take on it? Nothing, so no BBC interest. Pathetic, absolutely pathetic.


  9. Englander says:

    During an extended sequence of sound and video clips on the history of the Tube, I was surprised to hear clips of Bush and Blair from around the time of the invasion of Iraq. What the hell has that got to do with the London Underground, I thought?

    Except that it was immediately followed with the coverage of the 7th July terrorist tube bombings, thereby implicitly blaming the atrocity not on the murdering bastards who carried it out, but on Bush/Blair instead.


  10. John Reith says:

    Michael Taylor | 19.03.07 – 9:44 am

    You wrote this. Is it true or false?

    Just to take a single example at random: a couple of weeks ago, a major gas leak in NE England kept 10,000+ without power for about three days. In the real world, this is a story. In the BBC world – not a mention. After all, what “angle” can you take on it? Nothing, so no BBC interest. Pathetic, absolutely pathetic.

    There was loads of BBC coverage of this on radio and TV. A quick search also finds these stories on the web:

    About 10,000 people are without gas after a digger fractured a pipe in County Durham.

    Homes are without gas after leak

    Help after gas and electricity problems

    Why do you make these false allegations up?


  11. John Reith says:

    Another quick search reveals even more gas leak coverage:

    ‘End in sight’ after gas crisis

    Hey, this one’s even got an angle:

    Community spirit in gas leak area
    A gas leak affecting thousands of homes in County Durham has also resulted in an upsurge in community spirit.

    Power warning for gas leak homes

    Your pants are on fire Mr Taylor.


  12. Bryan says:

    Well, I must applaud you, John Reith, for your energetic research to prove Michael Taylor wrong.

    Pity you couldn’t employ the same enthusiasm to respond to Englander’s example of the BBC’s gross anti-Bush and Blair agenda and its cuddling up to Islamic terror.

    Now ain’t that just typical.


  13. Dave says:

    I don’t know whether anyone else has mentioned this but I can find no reference on the BBC’s website to the serious rioting in Utrecht last week that led to a fatal shooting.Is there a news blackout on this for any reason?Perhaps John Reith can enlighten us


  14. Bryan says:

    John Reith will only “enlighten” us when he feels that his obfuscation will have a chance of success.

    He tends to steer well clear of the core issues of implacable BBC bias.


  15. Michael Taylor says:

    My pants may or may not be on fire, but how I choose to entertain myself in private is none of your concern.

    Frankly, I don’t consider the BBC website as a central part of its “news” coverage – I consider the “news” coverage of the British Broadcasting Corp to be news that is broadcast. You can indeed use it as a figleaf if you wish, but underneath, you’re still naked.

    Indeed, if you wanted to take the website news agglomeration as an indicator of your news coverage, then I think that I single-handedly would give your news organisation a real run for its money – I have “broadcast” by email to my clients no less than 888 “news items” about my area of concern (Asia) this year. I clip from other news sources, so do you.

    No, the standard by which your news agenda should be judged is the news you’ve broadcast. And – to be fair – it was covered on the “local” news ( I am absolutely prepared to except the lowly regional broadcasters from my criticism – I think they try and often succeed). But national broadcast news coverage of this: no.

    And I repeat the accusation: the reason the BBC’s national broadcast news coverage doesn’t cover stuff like this is because it bears almost no relationship to the developing meta-news agenda of the BBC as an institution. Or to put it in simple terms: it doesn’t mean anything to you. It has no meaning: it’s just some people without gas.

    Yet, of course, if day in day out you aren’t interested in these things, these “meaningless” fact, you end up with just the meta-news – an endlessly regurgitation of your own Greatest Hits. In fact, you end up with the Today programme.

    So here’s an exercise for you, Mr Reith. Go an have a look at the Today programme’s running-order for this morning, and ask yourself, honestly, if the majority of the content couldn’t have been produced at any time over the last few years. Iraq, genetic modification, violent crime among the young, Iraq again, Iraq again (Harriet Harman supermix), Thatcher, Iraq again, Ranulph Fiennes, BP safety record (hey, this is almost news!), health scare, Jeffrey Archer.

    Finally, you ask why I do it. My motivation is pretty clear: I think the journalistic standards of the BBC are very poor, and evidence of institutionalised “groupthink” abundant. I think there’s no doubt that this poverty of imagination has a deleterious effect on Britain. Since I am forced to pay for it, I’d very much like it if you could get your collective head out of your collective arse.

    So I ask you this: why do you do it? Why do you work for them? Are you honestly proud of what it has become? No, that’s not a productive line of enquiry. Let me ask you this, then: what would you take as evidence that the BBC’s broadcast news output wasn’t driven primarily by a meta-agenda?


  16. Bryan says:

    Let me ask you this, then: what would you take as evidence that the BBC’s broadcast news output wasn’t driven primarily by a meta-agenda?
    Michael Taylor | 20.03.07 – 4:53 pm |

    He’ll grope around in the BBC attic for a musty old article or two from around 2003 that contradicts the current overwhelmingly downward trend and wave it triumphantly at you.


  17. jb says:

    i think i’ve just read the biggest load of nonsense ever to appear on this blog.

    michael taylor, what on earth are you on about?? you made a criticism which was TOTALLY unfounded. your riposte was an embarrassing load of waffle. i can sum it up as follows:

    oh yeah, but, like, i wasn’t talking about that bit, no, i was talking about another bit, and, like, you’re crap, because, like, err, why do you say this and that when you actually mean that and this and on and on…

    really, you sounded like a 12-year-old. maybe you are a 12-year-old. i hope you are – at least then there’s some hope for you.


  18. Michael Taylor says:

    Sorry to have bored you.


  19. Michael Taylor says:

    I admit that my immediate response to your abuse and derision is to go away and lick my wounds. After all, you’re pretty good at this abuse stuff – maybe a talent you’ve nourished for some time?

    However, the possibility that you are employed by the BBC – and I notice that you hide behind a pseudonym, Big Man – persuades me to risk your condescension once more. Because if you are in any way connected with the BBC, then your abuse is a mighty convenient way of ignoring an issue which is increasingly recognized.

    I admit freely that I don’t regard the BBC news website as a significant expression of your news output, because a) it’s not broadcast and b) most of the content are unsigned and look/read like lightly-edited wire stories.

    The nationally broadcast news, however, is quite another thing, unavoidably reflecting both the standards of on-the-ground reporting, and editorial policy. And on that, I’d be interested in your expert and mature thoughts on:
    a) whether “stuff that happens” which doesn’t “mean anything” actually gets adequately reported, and;
    b) whether you have an alternative theory for the extremely tedious and repetitious news selections of, in this case, the Today programme. My theory is that the reporting is more meta-news rather than news. What’s your theory?
    c) and perhaps you might have a view on the final question: what would you take as evidence that the BBC’s national broadcast news agenda wasn’t substantially BBC-agenda driven?

    You may imagine me reading the Beano as I await your response, if you wish.


  20. IngSoc is doublethink says:

    Well JB?

    I see Minitruth has gone silient?

    Please also explain the apparent paradox of “bringing news first” and “fair and accurate reporting”?