Propaganda Victory, Propaganda Defeat

: the BBC 10 o’clock news report (Wednesday May 16th) on the MOD decision not to let Prince Harry go to Iraq was an interestingly pure example of a kind of bias the beeb has acquired in the years between WWII and now. It was (I’m most pleased to be able to say) virtually unmixed with any of the other kinds of bias we often blog about here (what I talk about below could therefore be studied in its pure state).

Back in 1986, when three kidnapped Britons were murdered in Lebanon after the U.S. bombed Libya from UK bases, the BBC fell over itself in eagerness to give the terrorists the propaganda advantage they sought by the murders. (This was so obvious that pointed contrasts were drawn at the time between the beeb’s, “Britain is paying the price for its support of the U.S. … “, and ITV’s ,“Three kidnapped Britons were killed today … A spokesman for the group said it was in retaliation for the U.S. bombing …”.) This unwholesome enthusiasm has often been seen since but was pleasantly absent from last night’s report, which did not yet again wheel out Reg Keys or similar for predictable negative comment. The framing remark that opened their summary of Warminster views, about Prince Harry and others of the royal family being “… usually popular here but now …” was hardly necessary, but that’s a very minor point. Showing yet another cameo of April’s British casualties in Iraq was also somewhat irrelevant since it is fairly clear that it was the Iranian-backed threat to kidnap and torture the prince, not the long-known-and-accepted threat of death or injury, that caused the MOD’s reversal, but this fact did emerge strongly from the overall report so that too is a very minor (perhaps even carping) point.

What was lacking was any counterpoint to the report’s closing line about the propaganda victory we have given to Iran. The whole report simply led naturally to this line. Yes, indeed, we have given them a propaganda victory. In WWII, Germany sent films of its army and airforce in action to neutral countries. Their message was clear: see our tanks blasting your neighbours, our planes bombing them – this can be you if you don’t cooperate with us. Thus Germany gained a propaganda victory from its acts. These films were re-shown in British newsreels; you can hear the disdain in the voice of the British announcer saying, “This is what Germany is proud of.” Thus the Nazis’ propaganda victory was also their propaganda defeat: they got respect from their ruthlessness and military skill, and they got a lack of respect from the same thing. In those days, British media coverage hid neither the one nor the other.

The Iranian government (it would seem from the BBC’s report, and I can very well believe it for many other reasons as well) are extremely ready, nay eager, that their agents in Iraq arrange the kidnap and torture of the prince (or presumably, of anyone else suitably prominent whom they can hope to capture) and have made such effective and convincing preparations to support this that the MOD are no longer willing to take the risk. That we are so unsure we can protect him in Iraq is a propaganda victory for them, and would have been in WWII. That they are so very ready to do such a thing would have been a propaganda defeat for them in WWII. Will we hear a BBC announcer say that, “This is what the Iranian government is proud of.” ? One may hope.

[All quotations from memory after the programme.]

Bookmark the permalink.

20 Responses to Propaganda Victory, Propaganda Defeat

  1. Ultraviolets says:

    Photo competition:

    What does 3 kilos of pure bias look like?

    Demoralising communist propaganda offal.


  2. D Burbage says:

    can you fix your punctuation fonts in the post? It looks pretty messy from here.

    [It looks fine to me. I know sometimes what looks fine to one browser can display all the wrong characters to another, but to be honest both ignorance of computers and lack of time make it unlikely that I can solve your problem. Apologies. NS]


  3. Ralph says:

    The BBC seems to have confused being impartial with repeating terrorist propaganda or they are so biased and deluded they have missed the fact that the material they broadcast is propaganda.


  4. paulc says:

    “…This unwholesome enthusiasm has often been seen since but was pleasantly absent from last night’s report, which did not yet again wheel out Reg Keys or similar for predictable negative comment….”

    Not on R5, which seemed to be exulting in what they saw as a both a military and propaganda ‘defeat’.
    I also note that R5 did find Reg Keyes for a quote (I did not stop to listen). If it did not feature on other reports, perhaps the content was not what the BBC wished.
    If somebody else heard the item, maybe they could elucidate….?


  5. MarkA says:

    The charming Hamas and Fatah are at each others throats and from all the ‘Have your say’ quotes related to this story that the BBC hosts, the one they choose to display is the one blaming Israel. I never saw THAT coming.


  6. Natalie Solent says:

    I’ve deleted pounce’s offensive comment and subsequent comments relating to it (althought they were not in themselves offensive.)

    And only the facts that pounce has made many valuable comments in the past, and that his offensive comment this time contained some hint that it was self-consciously “over the top” stopped me from banning him. Note: this is not an invitation to discuss the merits of his comments.


  7. Archonix says:

    No discussion of merit, but it seems clear to me that pounce was driven to it by, ahh, a certain other ‘peaceful’ poster who seems keen on making himself a laughing stock. I won’t dare to speak for pounce – I expect he’s off calming down anyway – but I’m sure he didn’t intend to sound that precise way.


  8. BaggieJonathan says:

    No comment on the merit of pounce’s comments, but in mitigation I understand somewhat due to the nature of pathetic childish wummer that may have driven him to write in haste what he did not mean to be understood in the way it came out.


  9. Natalie Solent says:

    Two subsequent comments by “hillhunt” have also been deleted.


  10. Gordon_Broon_Eats_Hez_Bawgies says:

    Let’s calm this discussion down a bit.

    Change of subject. Does being green matter?

    I don’t know. But “green matter” is what Gordon Broon can be seen clawing out of his nose and eating, in this clip:-

    Say et lood. Say et prood. Gordon Broon eats hez bawgies!!


  11. Peter says:

    So was the gist of Pounce’s argument that some terrorist bombs are worse than others? That Irish bombs are better, whiter, more Western and so don’t really count?


  12. Ultraviolets says:

    Ban peter


  13. bob says:

    Ho-ho-ho Peter! What devastating sarcasm. I’ll bet you’ve got Pounce feeling really remorseful. The Irish bombs were indeed “more western” in the sense that they related to a localised terrorist conflict. The islamic bombs relate to a terrorist (oops! Sorry – I meant to say ‘extremist’; since they’re “less western” they must be friendlier mustn’t they?) assault on a global scale. But don’t worry, so long as you abase yourself, you might just escape


  14. Hillhunt says:


    That put Peter in his place and no mistake.

    When they scraped the dead of Enniskillen off the floor, I just know they were thanking God that the bomb “related to a localised terrorist conflict”.

    How’s the Tinkywinky doll?


  15. Tristan Murphy says:

    It is a great pitty that the Beeb has come to this.

    It is time to scrap the licence and let the BBC pay its own way


  16. archonix says:

    Peter, you obviously speak from ignorance. ‘Whiter’? Pounce is asian, I believe from pakistan. Bringing race in to this is somewhat self-defeating.

    I believe the gist of his argument was that the denizens of the BBC are setting up their own gallows.


  17. Ultraviolets says:

    You shouldn’t have answered him at all.


  18. Hillhunt says:


    What a man! Not just an expert in the creative uses of libel and disinformation, but the strong, silent type, too.

    Looks like you’re going to be the lucky winner of today’s Tinkywinky Doll of Truth.


  19. Biodegradable says:


    What does it take to ban “Hillhunt”?


  20. Ultraviolets says: