Campaign or Sham Pain

We get plenty of campaigning on the BBC. As opposed to journalism, as Bryan has pointed out. Interviewers on BBC World service sometimes employ questioning techniques that stray far from ‘drawing out’ the interviewee, and seamlessly slide into clumsy hectoring.

On Wednesday’s Outlook, we heard from the notoriousLynndie England of Abu Ghraib fame. The interview was marred by Lucy Ash’s attitude which openly oozed with contempt.

We may have views on the Lynndie England affair, and are capable of listening to her answers for ourselves. We don’t need to hear Lucy Ash’s personal view, or to hear accusations that Lynndie England did not even feel sorry for the prisoners. This crude method of questioning is counterproductive anyway. When Ms. England refused to answer the question, all I thought was ‘Good for you!’ – not quite what Lucy Ash wanted me to think, I imagine.

Another similarly unprofessional display of open hostility was shown by the host of WHYS, Rebecca Kesby whose handling of the hour long phone-in with guest ex terrorist apostate Waleed Shoebat appeared to favour the callers defending Islam. She displayed her obvious disapproval of Mr. Shoebat, who I thought spoke throughout with the voice of reason.

A couple of callers with impenetrable accents phoned in, speaking unintelligibly at length. Far too PC to admit she couldn’t make head or tail of what they were saying, she pretended the line was bad. Funny, though.

Approaching Mark Regev with questions such as “Aren’t you sorry?”…… “ Do you ever stop to think, just for one moment?……” “Are you proud of yourself?” “Don’t you feel sorry?” as both Gavin Esler and Sarah Montague did recently, is unprofessional and a complete departure from good journalism.

(Hope font size is okay)

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22 Responses to Campaign or Sham Pain

  1. Pat says:

    ‘impenetrable accents’ – this phrase caught my eye as we have just watched the 6 o’clock news with a sports report from Mihir Bose. Listening to him requires a great deal of concentration. Enunciation is way down the Beeb list of priorities now.


  2. Millie Tant says:

    Heh heh… the font is too small!


  3. public teat says:

    heh yeah…
    Sue’s hitting the rumble strips with the font sizes.
    eventually she’ll stop weaving from lane to lane.
    can someone at bBBC not assist?

    otherwise, good points Sue 🙂


  4. d says:

    I can not stand to listen to Dotun Adebayo on radio 5 . I find him really difficuilt to listen to. I just switch off or to another channel. Why does the BBC continue with presenters who can not talk? As usual, like most other people, I do not complain to the BBC becasue Aunty always knows what is best for us.


  5. archduke says:

    “British Middle East expert – Fuck the Jews”—_the_Jews

    worked in the foreign office.

    obama’s coolness towards the british is turning into something of a premonition.


  6. Anonymous says:

    I stopped listening to the BBC World Service a few years ago after becoming increasingly upset with the apparent anti-American bias.

    The clincher was a report one night by then Washington correspondent Justin Webb whose news “report” led off with a gratuitous insult to the country and then was little more than simply his opinions which mirrored those of the left side of the Democratic party at the time.

    It is a disgrace that UK residents have to pay a tax to fund the Beeb, a tax that is very, very aggressively enforced too.


  7. GCooper says:

    Good points, Sue. As for the ‘impenetrable accents’ I find these most irritating when they are possessed by actual BBC presenters themselves!

    Other than wishing to show ‘international’ it is, I cannot think of a single reason why the BBC has inflicted us with either Lyse Doucet or Barbara Plett. I have nothing against Canadian accents, but both of these harpies have really irritating radio voices.

    Of course, if I started on their ‘journalism’, I’d be here all night.

    As for the general lack of objectivity, the problem stems from the post-Woodward/Bernstein generation of hacks, who see themselves as part of the ‘narrative’.

    It used to be a cardinal sin to ‘editorialise’ within a straight news story. The BBC appears to have made it mandatory – particularly among its ‘star’ reporters.


  8. JohnA says:

    G Cooper

    CP Scott when editing the old Manchester Guardian had a dictum “Comment is free, but facts are sacred”

    At the BBC (1000 journalists) the dictum these days is “Comment is what we will remorselessly shove at you, facts you need to find out for yourselves unless they fit our comments”


  9. Bryan says:


    Agreed. She seemed to be working against Walid Shoebat the entire programme. And I had exactly the same impression of the PC-ness of telling people the line is bad when their enunciation is at fault. I was losing every third word some of those callers uttered. But I guess that’s the fault of whoever accepts the calls.

    Last night’s WHYS was interesting. Ros Atkins was sitting in Tel Aviv with a bunch of people supporting various parties:

    [audio src="" /]


  10. onebadapple says:

    Thanks for pointing out exactly what I said to myself while listening to Lynndie’s responses “good for you”! I have never listened to this reporter before, but one could hear the contempt in her voice and the way she tried to lead responses from Lynndie. Has this reporter done her homework? Has she read the Senate Armed Services Committee report? Did she ever go beyond the “cartoon” figure of Lynndie? Lynndie tortured no one, touched no one – but she did step into those photographs for Graner. She was 20 years old – was stepping into those photos worth a court martial, a three year sentence, and a dishonorable discharge? Should she apologize for something she didn’t do? Should the Bush White House be charged with war crimes and for even putting these reservists in this position to begin with?

    When will Lynndie be listend to? When will she be allowed to tell her TRUE story??


  11. mailman says:

    Mate, Lynndie has absolutely no chance what so ever of being listened to simply because the left has declared her public enemy number one (as the personification of everything evil that is GW).

    Mind you, the dumbass should never have got herself involved in the first place (other than to report what was going on).



  12. pounce says:

    Feedback on font size.
    Could do with been a tadge larger. But on the whole OK.


  13. Tom says:


    I didn’t hear the interview with Lynddie England, but I think we should remember that Ms England is a convicted criminal.

    What she did was wrong and it brought a shed load of trouble for her country and her commander in chief.

    I don’t think we should give the impression that we approve of what she did.

    As for Lucy Ash and the BBC – I’m not sure I want BBC reporters to be impartial between criminality and good behaviour. Wasn’t Ash right to press England to be contrite?


  14. Sue says:

    I didn’t hear the interview with Lynddie England
    Tom | 10.02.09 – 1:52

    Tom, maybe you should have.


  15. Tom says:

    Sue | 10.02.09 – 2:30 pm

    Fact is I didn’t.

    But I’d be interested to know why you thought it was wrong for the interviewer to press a released criminal to say she was sorry for something she pleaded guilty to at her trial.


  16. Sue says:

    Not only didn’t you listen to the interview, you didn’t read what I said properly.
    “We may have views on the Lynndie England affair, and are capable of listening to her answers for ourselves.
    In other words, whatever your views on Lynndie England, I was complaining about the interviewer’s heavy handed artless questioning.

    If you had listened, you would know that Lynndie England set out her case which was more or less that had been made a scapegoat. Because:
    1. She was young.
    2. She was under the influence of her boyfriend.
    3. She walked into a pre-existing situation.
    4. She knew no better than to assume it was a ‘normal’ situation.
    5. She was ‘told’ to get in the photographs.

    You may accept or reject these excuses. That’s up to you. You may well say ‘She would say that, wouldn’t she?’

    I did not forget that she had been convicted and had served three years in prison. I understand how she came to do what she did, which is not the same as approving of it.

    She was complicit in the humiliation of prisoners, perhaps amounting to psychological torture, bearing in mind that they were Muslims. She has been behind bars, it seems rather harshly punished for her stupidity, gullibility, naivety.

    Even if Lucy Ash thought that she herself would have been confident enough at 20 years old to refuse to do what her bully of a boyfriend told her to, she is still supposed to be interviewing her, not acting as judge and jury and dishing out her own add-on admonishment. So, is Lucy Ash really in any position to press her to be contrite? I think not.
    And one thing you might be forgetting, something that certainly did not occur to Lucy Ash is, should we be feeling so very sorry about the hurt sensibilities of prisoners at Abu Ghraib?

    I know, I know. Innocent until proven guilty.


  17. David Preiser (USA) says:

    onebadapple is a windup.


  18. gordon-bennett says:

    I never considered the Abu Ghraib nonsense as torture, mistreatment is a more accurate term. Those who did were sufferers of BDS, ie “journalists” who wanted to give Bush a kicking and were prepared to exaggerate to do so.

    If you want to know what torture is then read up about what saddams’ men did and the terrorists do to their prisoners.

    Despite lucy ash’s best efforts at sabotage, Ms England(!) remained calm and collected and I was more impressed than I had expected to be, given the trailer park look of the girl in the photos at the time.


  19. AndrewSouthLondon says:

    Bankers apologise, Clarkson apologises, Ross and Brand apologise, Thatcher-bird refuses to read the apology in the form of words demanded, no doubt Smith will at sometime apologise. What gives journalists the authority to go around demanding apologies? Its a form of news creation and news management.

    .WTF gives with this apology bollox? Its what passes for journalism


  20. onebadapple says:

    Interesting to read comments about Lynndie. I will say this again – those picture were something Lynndie stepped into for about 5 minutes of her life. I’m not saying what she did was right, but it sure wasn’t worth the sentence she received. She was not involved in psychologically abusing anyone – other than to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. Sexual humiliation, forced nudity were acceptable under the slipshod standard operating procedures in place.


  21. mailman says:

    Not to forget O, that Lynndie has paid for her “crimes”. She did the crime, she did the time.

    Now that she is out, in the best traditions of New Labour, she should have a clean slate and a fresh start 🙂