Open thread – for comments of general Biased BBC interest:

Please use this thread for off-topic, but preferably BBC related, comments. Please keep comments on other threads to the topic at hand. N.B. this is not an invitation for general off-topic comments – our aim is to maintain order and clarity on the topic-specific threads. This post will remain at or near the top of the blog. Please scroll down to find new topic-specific posts.

Absolutely disgraceful that the Daily Politics today was cut off sharp,

thus missing the last two or three minutes of Blair’s last session of Prime Minister’s Questions. History, happening live before our eyes, cut-off for the sake of five minutes worth of Wimbledon coverage. I hope someone at the BBC will have an imprint of Andrew Neil’s brogues on their posterior afore long!

Just to add insult to injury, having cut off PMQs, the BBC still had the temerity to show its usual package of tedious self-advertising in the gap between programmes – a trailer for ‘Rome’, a trailer for ‘Jekyll’, a BBC2 ident, and then on to Wimbledon, with a lengthy preamble from Sue Barker and then a non-entity tennis match (this is only the first week of Wimbledon, after all, before it was rained off!) – so BBC2 can’t have been that desperate for time.

Either they have no sense of history and public service, or perhaps they do, and this was the BBC’s way, post-Hutton, of showing Blair and everyone else who’s really in charge, at least as far as the BBC Monster is concerned.

Update: Helen Boaden, Director of BBC News has blogged that:

After looking into this, I can at least reassure you that this was cock up rather than conspiracy. A wrong scheduling decision was taken for which the BBC can only apologise. Believe me, no one involved would have wanted you to miss any part of this important event.

Well, never mind Helen, we at Biased BBC know what it’s like to run a quality service as a bunch of amateurs with zero funding – it’s not like you’re professional broadcasters with a £3-billion per annum budget, is it?

Iain Dale has more coverage of this, the latest, monumental BBC News cock-up. We await to see whose career prospects reflect this dreadful stupidity – but we won’t be holding our breath…

Open thread – for comments of general Biased BBC interest:

Please use this thread for off-topic, but preferably BBC related, comments. Please keep comments on other threads to the topic at hand. N.B. this is not an invitation for general off-topic comments – our aim is to maintain order and clarity on the topic-specific threads. This post will remain at or near the top of the blog. Please scroll down to find new topic-specific posts.

Blunting the Impact

The Guardian reports on how “The Labour MP Mohammed Sarwar is to leave parliament after receiving death threats from people linked to a gang of racist murderers”

The Guardian also reports:

“The multimillionaire MP used connections in Pakistan to help arrange the extradition of Imran Shahid, Zeeshan Shahid and Mohammed Faisal Mushtaq to the UK, where they were jailed for life for their part in the kidnap, torture and murder of the teenager Kriss Donald in 2004.

The trio, part of a violent Glasgow gang, fled to Pakistan after the crime but were returned after 18 months of negotiations between the Pakistani and British governments, assisted by Mr Sarwar.

“Life is not the same, to be honest with you, since I brought them back. I was subjected to threats,” Mr Sarwar told the newspaper.

“I was told they wanted to punish my family and make a horrible example of my son – they would do to him what they did to Kriss Donald.

“I received threats to my life, to murder my sons, to murder my grandchildren.”

The BBC reports:

“The toll of political office appears to have been a high one. His family have faced a flurry of threats over the years from every hue of far-right group.”

Mmmm. Over the years… every hue… far right…. What makes me think the BBC are trying to deflect from the reality of the situation? The report linked above is a terrible example of BBC journalism actually- badly written, rambling, and evasive, combining some spurious hard news value with the feel of a political obituary.

The writer, Stephen Stewart, announces “Mohammed Sarwar may be bowing out of the murky world of public service…”

Excuse me? The murky world of public service? Maybe in Glasgow. Maybe in Pakistani “welfare activities”, but as a general comment?

One final snarky point, Mr Stephens seems to think that Govan is “dusty”. Ah yes, the dry and dusty NW of Scotland, I remember it well!

The BBC also reports: “The father-of-four, Britain’s first Muslim MP, said he had received death threats over the Kriss Donald murder.

But he denied the threats or his son’s conviction for money laundering had anything to do with his decision to move on.”

This is rather different to the Guardian account, which draws much more substantially on Sarwar’s actual words. Strikes me Aunty’s pulling her usual knitted woolen jumper over the eyes, for whatever reasons.

Freudian typo :-)

: at 19:30 tonight on BBC 1, you can watch a ‘Saving Planet Earth’ programme from Cameroon about

”how young gorillas are being orphaned by the Bush meat trade” (BBC CEEFAX)

Despite the capital B, I suspect the programme is not going to expose the appalling consequences of a hitherto-concealed taste for exotic tucker on the part of the U.S. president. We all hit the wrong key at times.

Radical impartiality for young minds.

You may recall that this post discussed the pandering to conspiracy theorists in a linked series of Childrens’ BBC “guides” to the attacks of September 11 2001. They were brought to our attention by commenter “Holiday in Hamastan”. The guides talked as if it were only the US who believed that Al Qaeda was behind the attacks. Both this CBBC article and others in the series have now been significantly changed.

David Preiser was among those who complained. He writes:

Looks like a few people besides myself complained about the brainwashing attempt by the BBC. They made significant alterations to both this page and the “Who did it” page. Most significantly, I think, they mention Bin Laden’s celebratory video, which was a main point in my complaint.

I’m glad they made these changes. They are no longer attempting to indoctrinate British children into believing sick conspiracy theories about a mass murder, one in which 30 people from my street were killed in a pretty horrible way. I’m not even going to ask about the beliefs of whoever wrote/edit the original piece. One has to assume they were at least partial to the sick conspiracy theories in order to write something like that. One hopes at least that particular BBC employee got some enlightenment on the matter.

Trolls take note – some people actually do other things besides whinging about BBC bias. And it didn’t take all that long. I – and many others, I’m sure – made a logical argument, and a significant improvement was made.

So far as I can see, however, a similar formulation (“The US is sure that Bin Laden caused the terror attacks”) is still to be read on this page on Osama bin Laden. This page also contains a particularly offensive sentence that was discussed here by Not A Sheep, namely:

He [Osama bin Laden] also dislikes America because he thinks the US helped enemies of his religion – the Israeli Jews – during wars in the Middle East.

I seem to recall reading this sentence in one of the 9/11 CBBC pages as well, and it was discussed in comments to the earlier post, but I can’t see it there now. It should be deleted wherever it occurs. It implicitly accepts that Israeli Jews are enemies of the Islamic religion.

UPDATE 28 JUNE: David Preiser has reported that his and other complaints have borne fruit: the wording of this story has now been improved.

“Are you in Iraq ? Have you seen any troop movements ?”

We all know the BBC’s corporate view of the Great Satan America, but I think this is going beyond rhetoric.

“Politicians reacted in disbelief to the revelation that for over two hours yesterday, the BBC News website carried a request for people in Iraq to report on troop movements. The request was removed from the website after it sparked furious protests that the corporation was endangering the lives of British servicemen and women.

But according to accounts last night, a story on a major operation by US and Iraqi troops against al-Qa’eda somewhere north of Baghdad contained an extraordinary request for information about the movement of troops. Last night the BBC confirmed the wording of the request was: “Are you in Iraq? Have you seen any troop movements? If you have any information you would like to share with the BBC, you can do so using the form below.”

The BBC confirmed last night that this form of words had appeared on the website from “late morning” until early afternoon.”

The request was more likely to endanger the lives of US and Iraqi forces, being appended to this piece on the Diyala province offensive north of Baghdad.

Thanks to the glories of Revisionista, we can see that the request for troop information was there from revision 3 at 09.30 GMT up to revision 10 at 13.40 GMT – more than four hours.

The squaddies at ARRSE aren’t best pleased.

“Did you realise the BBC are now helping insurgents in northern Iraq with their intel ??”

I do hope if the BBC are going to request this sort of info that all their staff are security cleared. One wouldn’t like to think of such information falling into the wrong hands. Alternatively, could they try a radical new departure and request information on the movements of “militants” and “insurgents” ? And what would they say if Al-Jazeera asked their viewers to report on the movements of BBC staff in Gaza, Iraq or Afghanistan ?

Hat-tips to Max, Heron and David in the comments (via Tim Blair).

UPDATE – I think this is what’s called disingenuous.

“However, yesterday we used the phrase “have you seen any troop movements” in this request for information. The Telegraph and some others wrongly interpreted this as an attempt on our part to seek out military detail.”

What on earth could give that impression ? How could anyone think that asking about troop movements is an attempt to seek out military detail ?

“We phrased it badly, and as soon as we realised what we had done – a couple of hours – we removed the form.”

Four hours and 10 minutes according to Revisionista. Is Vicky Taylor not even capable of putting the corporate hand up honestly over the timing, is Revisionista wrong, or has she been inaccurately briefed ? Alas, I can’t ask her, because I’m banned from commenting – at least that’s how I translate “you are not allowed to comment”.

And off topic, but kudos to Nick Reynolds for his continuing ‘mission to explain’ and David Gregory for his contributions to an interesting discussion on the reporting of climate change in the comments to this post.


– several links about BBC coverage of terrorism and related issues.

  • Dr William McIlhagga writes,

    Not exactly bias, but pretty funny. John Simpson today (18th) has an article about Afghanistan headlined “Resurgent Taleban. John Simpson asks if the war with the Taleban can be won.” (link.) If you do a
    search for “resurgent taliban” on the bbc website, you’ll find a preview of Newsnight, 20th July 2006, in which John Simpson talks about a “resurgent taliban”.

    It’s John Simpson’s yearly resurge.

  • Melanie Phillips on the interconnections between all the BBC’s Hamas “experts”.
  • Hat tip to commenter “holiday in hamastan” for pointing out this guide for children on the events of September 11 2001. In a page entitled What happened? it says that:

    On 11 September 2001 armed people took control of four planes that were flying above the US.

    Following the links to another page called Why did they do it?, here is the BBC explanation:

    No-one can say exactly why the attacks were carried out.
    But, the way America has got involved in conflicts in regions like the Middle East has made some people very angry, and the hijackers are likely to have been from this group.

    The US thinks a group called al-Qaeda is behind the attacks. Al-Qaeda leaders have in the past declared a holy war – called a Jihad – against the US. As part of this Jihad al-Qaeda members believe attacking US targets is something they should do.

    When the attacks happened in 2001 there were a number of US troops in a country called Saudi Arabia, and al-Qaeda chief Osama Bin Laden said he wanted them to leave.

  • Commenter “pounce” writes:

    On this day when the BBC informs the world it has to be just a little more impartial, they report on a story from Afghanistan where a suicide bomber murders 3 people as well as himself. So on that note what do you think the headline for said article should be?

    Suicide bomber kills 3.

    3 people killed in suicide bomb attack

    Suicide bomber strikes Kabul.

    Well that is how any impartial news agency would report such a story . So just how do the BBC report on the above in light of its quest to report impartially?

    Nato troops kill Afghan civilian

  • The blogging equivalent of a slow full-toss outside leg stump …

    Times – “Bias at the Beeb – Official

    There are some things you do not need an official report to tell you – that John Prescott thinks he is a babe magnet, that President Mugabe is not entirely in favour of white farmers and that Al-Qaeda takes a pretty dim view of the West. The report commissioned by the BBC into itself concluded with something equally blindingly obvious. It said that the organisation is institutionally biased and especially gullible to the blandishments of politically driven celebrities, such as Bono and Bob Geldof. Almost anyone in Britain could have told the BBC that for free, but maybe it’s better to have it in an official report.

    Even taking into account the small but insistent internal voice pointing out that the Times is part of the Great Satan Murdoch’s media empire, there’s not much to disagree with there.

    ” … what emerges from the report is a picture of an organisation with a liberal, anti-American bias and an almost teenage fascination with fashionable causes … the BBC is a self-perpetuating liberal arts club.”

    Telegraph – “BBC report finds bias within corporation

    The BBC has failed to promote proper debate on major political issues because of the inherent liberal culture of its staff, a report commissioned by the corporation has concluded. The report claims that coverage of single-issue political causes, such as climate change and poverty, can be biased – and is particularly critical of Live 8 coverage, which it says amounted to endorsement.

    After a year-long investigation the report, published today, maintains that the corporation’s coverage of day-to-day politics is fair and impartial. But it says coverage of Live 8, the 2005 anti-poverty concerts organised by rock star campaigners Bob Geldof and Bono and writer Richard Curtis, failed to properly debate the issues raised. Instead, at a time when the corporation was renegotiating its charter with the government, it allowed itself to effectively become a promotional tool for Live 8, which was strongly supported by Tony Blair and Gordon Brown. Geldof, Bono and Curtis were attempting to pressure world leaders at the G8 Summit in Gleneagles, which was taking place at the same time, to help reduce poverty in developing countries under the banner ‘Make Poverty History’.

    Mr Blair said the campaign was a “mighty achievement”. The huge Live 8 concerts across the world were its culmination and the BBC cleared its schedules to show them, with coverage on BBC One, Two and Three and Radio One and Two. Around the same time it also screened a specially-written episode of Curtis’s popular sitcom The Vicar of Dibley that featured a minute long Make Poverty History video and saw characters urged to support it. And it aired another Curtis drama, The Girl in the Café, in which Bill Nighy falls in love with an anti-poverty campaigner – even giving Gordon Brown an advance copy. The BBC also ran a week long Africa special featuring a series of documentaries by Geldof and a day celebrating the National Health Service, prompting Sky News political editor Adam Boulton to tell a House of Lords select committee it was in danger of peddling government propaganda.

    The report concludes BBC staff must be more willing to challenge their own beliefs.

    (En passant, the BBCs uncritical coverage of the millionaires Geldof, Bono and Curtis illustrates neatly a feature of modern philanthropy. In Victorian times a rich man with a conscience would put his hands in his own pockets to fund a worthy cause – a tradition which continues in America (Bill Gates, Warren Buffett) to this day. Across the water the favoured option of a charitably inclined multimillionaire is to get poorer people to fund your favourite causes via higher taxation – while in some cases avoiding such taxes yourself.)

    Strangely the Observer headlines its report “Vicar of Dibley accused of breaking BBC guidelines“. Can’t imagine why. But they also have BBC insider Richard Tait’s view of the report.

    UPDATE 18/06 – Commenter Richy is clairvoyant !

    “If overly critical then surely the it’ll be placed in the “england” section or the “entertainment” section.”

    “Entertainment” it is !

    You can find the report here. Plenty of pdfs to get through. The “impartiality monitoring group” doesn’t look like a diverse cross-section of British political opinion to me – you do wonder what political perspectives the man who “co-founded the Democracy Coalition for Children and Young
    People” or Kat Fletcher bring to the party.

    More coverage at Times (also under Entertainment), Telegraph, Mail, more Sunday Times. Oh, and apologies for calling a BBC Trustee a BBC ‘insider’. Cultural misunderstanding … via commenter JBH, the Michael Crick anecdote about BBC execs all being Guardian readers. Sounds too good to be true – Mr Crick seems to have a puckish sense of humour. But I’m sure it “illustrates a wider truth”, as Dan Rather and Piers Morgan would say.

    The murder of Banaz Mahmod.

    Ritter comments:

    Something missing here?

    ‘Honour killing’ relatives guilty [BBC story on the murder of Banaz Mahmod]

    Context maybe? What was the killer(s) motive? The BBC know, but are unable to tell us.

    Anyway, what’s missing? Oh, here it is:

    Father guilty of daughter’s “honour killing” [Reuters story on the same murder]

    “Her family decided to kill her because they believed the relationship had brought the dishonour as Suleimani was an Iranian Kurd and not a strict Muslim”

    BBC News. Half the story.