Craig in the comments has already noted how Mark Mardell has posted a BBC online diary entry which is biased against Sarah Palin.
I am having a go at analysing why it’s so unfair, because it has some elements of straight reporting combined with deeply suggestive comments which slant the whole thing. No one could accuse Mardell of being stupid, so let’s look at what he does. It’s the kind of sly character assassination and snide socio-political bias which telly taxpayers pay for, after all. Let’s look at what they get for their money…
First Mardell sets up his supposed „angle“, that Sarah Palin is on the rise and may be a Republican Presidential candidate. He immediately then states that Palin dismissed as „idiot reporters“ journalists who suggested that she had sought to speak at a function in key swing and early primary state Iowa. Maybe, Mark, that’s because she stated clearly that she’d had previous invites and hadn’t had time to respond to them (and this is blatantly likely to be the case). The journalists ignored the facts, as usual, and in this case especially obvious ones. However it’s a useful introduction to Mardell’s underlying theme: the appallingness of Palin.
It frames the news that Mardell heralds of a „long, hostile“ Vanity Fair piece which paints her as „extravagant, vindictive, and rather more bad tempered in private than in public“. Mardell finds this thrust „unsurprising“, but, contra-appearances, this adjective suggests agreement with Vanity Fair rather than cynicism about the source. Why? Don’t forget that this is a „Palin on the rise, seeking power“ piece, rather than a „journos out to get Palin“ piece. The previous factoid about Palin dismissing „idiot journalists“ attempts to present as hors d’ oeuvre a character of prickly nastiness to which the Vanity Fair article will be a plat principal. There are certainly journos out to get Palin, and Mardell is one of them.
Lest we be confused (between grammar and context) about Mardell’s real position, consider Mardell’s own snark comments on Glenn Beck and Sarah Palin that „The dynamic duo are becoming something of an item. Talk about a balanced ticket.“ The „dynamic duo“ is a phrase straight from comic book America- something tells me we aren’t supposed to find it respectful. As for the „balanced ticket“, Mardell clearly shows his political balance in determining for the reader what balance is with his intentioned irony.
According to Mardell, whose tone is completely consistent with the Vanity Fair hit piece, Palin „drips political ambition“. Furthermore according to Marr, she generates „fascinated revulsion or slavering worship“ ie. She’s a kook.
In the end, Mardell would doubtless claim the theme was favourable to Palin- except that he never for a second examines the reasons why Palin is rising: successful interventions from Facebook over Obamacare (the masterstroke of the „death panels“ comment), successful nomination of candidates, the endorsement (mutual) of the Tea Party, the judicious selections of who to support- Mccain and Fiorina for instance illustrating pragmatism, her skilful use of Fox News… etc.
Helloooo Mardell- you overpaid tax-funded smarmbucket- I may not be a Palin fan but I certainly recognise that positive qualities are necessary for an outsider like Palin to make the impact she’s had. Time BBC journalists as well as MSM Journolisterswoke up and smelt the license payers’ coffee.
For BBC-NUJ’s Mardell:
‘Big Journalism’ –
The Truth about That Dishonest Vanity Fair Palin Story, from One Who Was There
Mardell must know the Vanity Fair article has been contradicted by people Gross claims to have spoken to. I did – within one day.
So WHY hasn’t Mardell altered his blog piece – or why did he even post it ?
Well said, ed.
And, of course, Mardell refers to Ms Palin re-Ground Zero Mosque, and puts himself in opposition to her, but in support of Muslims who support GZM.
He avoids arguments of opponents of GZM, such as:
“Geller: Why There Shouldn’t Be a Mosque at Ground Zero”
Whenever Mardell ops his fat face on TV or gets his litlte fat fingers to type out more crap, I only have one thing to say
Mardell, you’re a twat.
Ed, Thank you for highlighting this shocker.
The BBC’s coverage of the US is abysmal, but as David P says, this marks a new low even for Mardell’s low standards.
I read Mardell’s blog on the BBC website earlier, and just struggle to see how anyone can construe it as balanced and fair.
Like much of the BBC’s US content, it’s a shallow and poorly researched piece, derived from the pathetically narrow range of sources the BBC’s US correspondents feel comfortable with (Huffington Post etc).
The baseline assumption and default position of Mardell’s piece is that there is something `wrong’ or that needs to be explained if Sarah Palin is gaining in popularity — whatever her strengths and weaknesses, it seems unfathomable to Mardell that many Americans might just happen to prefer her message to the mess Obama is presiding over.
And it’s precisely the aspects of the US that Mardell and his narrow clique of colleagues never talk about, or if referred to are given plenty of distance from their beloved Obama and Democratic Party — the US national debt, potential debasement of the currency, the threat to small business owners and job creation from the unsustainable Medicare legislation, bailouts of zombie industries, increasing Govt interference in the economy, a real rate of unemployment arguably double the official figure, 40mn-plus Americans living off food stamps — which explain why people are willing to listen to Palin and Beck.
Mardell’s snide choice of words throughout (Palin and Beck become the `dynamic duo’ for example) reveals him for the shabby provider of one side of a story that he is. Just pathetic.
Having read the article, and I’m sure this applies to many BBC reports, it seems to read like a “musical form”.
So we have a statement:
She could have tried to counter this by spending the last year….
Then we have the (negative) answer:
But she hasn’t.
Is this how they train these leftie journalists?
So for, say, Obama:
President Obama likes apples……Apples are really good for you.
And the equivalent for Palin:
Sarah Palin likes apples…..But as we all know one bad apple can spoil the batch.
Rule: Give a positive answer to a statement for the left, and give a negative answer to a statement for the right.
On another note, it’s strange that they give a promotional link to her new book!
This is why I don’t often read BBC articles!
I’ve just posted this comment on Mardell’s blog (and thanks to David P. for the information!!). I think it’s fair:
That ‘Vanity Fair’ hit-piece, which Mark uses as his main source, is being rubbished by many responsible bloggers/journalists on the American Left as a severe case of shoddy journalism – being, they say, little more than a piece of inaccuracy-filled character assassination. (Others have called it sexist.)
Ben Smith of ‘Politico’, ‘Mother Jones’ editor Monika Bauerlein, Dave Weigal at ‘Slate’, former John Edwards aide and feminist/progressive blogger Melissa McEwan & Jay Newton-Small of ‘Time’ have all laid into ‘Vanity Fair’ in recent days for this piece (and its online companion) – and they are all known critics of Sarah Palin.
Mark, who says he reads every comment, ought to be aware of this & perhaps amend his post. Perhaps he should be more careful about his sources too. Just because an article is linked to by the Huffington Post doesn’t necessarily make it solid-gold journalism.
It’s still there so far, 20 minutes later. I hope Mardell’s readers realize that you’ve listed two JournoListas as well as people from two other publications which are heavily infected by the JournoList.
It will be referred to the moderators and deleted eventually.
Excellent comment. A veritable fisking.
Craig, send him this comment by email. He gets it on his Blackberry.
Good idea, HP. Have done so now.
When I hear “gossip” from Mardell in the US about anyone, I ask myself what possible interest is this for the people who pay his salary. What has Palin to do with me? Of course nothing. But the BBC seem to think that their venom should have no boundaries. Funny how you find the most ardent anti-imperialists poking their unwanted noses into other countries affairs. This is not even news, its opinion. Opinion of some half baked idiot who thinks this is what he is paid for by the taxpayers of Britain. Palin could be a fanatical nutcase or not, I really do not care and I expect most people in this EU province don’t.
I have to dissent from this viewpoint. I want to know what’s happening in the world. I very much want to know about a potential US Presidential candidate. I very much do not want the BBC to employ someone without a shred of professional integrity to ‘inform’ me.
I too want to know lots about US politics. But for every hit-piece on Palin, where is the BBC’s hitpieces on some of the truly venal Dem politicians ? When is Pelosi taken apart, or Reid, or Chris Dodd, or Barney Frank etc etc etc ? Let alone the two idiots Obama and Biden ?
Spot on Hippipooter!
All we have ever wanted of the BBC is a cool impartial,knowledgeable and full analysis in the round of every candidate and politician.
What we desire is the truth, the unvarnished truth without it being preverted through the prism of someones ideological prejudice, no innuendo and no personal views, just news.
This is impossible for the BBC to do of course, they are leftist progressive socialist elite who view everything through their own eyes and report what they see and hear as it engages with their ideological prejudice.
Well sorry but I do not agree. The BBC spends far too much time gossiping about people who have no say in how we live our lives here in Britain. I notice in a post by Robin above he mentions how an editor had propaganda posters for the US democrats. Why? We have no say who is elected in the US (and nor should we).
Gossip is one thing news is another. If an elected congress or senate passes laws which may effect some other country, then fine report it otherwise it is irrelavant to Britain and not newsworhty.
Laws and directives are being doled out like conffetti in Brussels. These dicktats do directly effect us all but are not mentioned. This is the bias.
“All we have ever wanted of the BBC is a cool impartial,knowledgeable and full analysis in the round of every candidate and politician. “
Why do we need this? Do we also want to know every candidiate and politician in Russia? What about Austaralia or maybe Italy?
We have no say who is elected in these countries just as we have no say in who is elected to rule us here?
Is your thirst for the democtratic process in the US a substitute for the lack of one here?
The extensive “reporting” of all the gossip in US politics is a smoke screen for the lack of democratic prosesses here at home.
Very interesting points. I’m a bit biased on this issue, obviously. All I can say is that, if the BBC thinks US issues are important enough to devote so much time and effort (assuming that anything which affects the US affects the rest of the world in some way), they should at least inform you properly and not try – as Matt Frei admitted – to act as gatekeepers between you and the US.
I think all the comments here have shown that the BBC certainly does not inform you properly, failing at its task because of the editorial approach. I wonder how many people in the UK realize how woefully uninformed they really are because of it?
If the BBC news department was halved in size, they would have far less time for all the aimless gossip and sniping.
And there is NIL public-interest case for BBC talk radio. Shut Radio 5 for a start, we more or less manage with Radio 4 and using longwave for sports. If people want MORE sport – they should pay for it separately. Radio 5 has choked off any chance of a commercial radio station concentrating on sports – the effect the “free” BBC has in so many market sectors.
And at least in London – LBC has lots better coverage of politics – with a reasonable balance. They have presenters who DECLARE their own interest, their own poltical leaning. If Radio 5 was shut down – if there is a market need for such a channel, the market can provide it. That is what markets are about.
I just despise the way the BBC abuses the airwaves with notionally “impartial” politics when it has an overwhelming leftie PC slant. While screwing the market for anyone else.
“Just the facts, Ma’am” as Joe Friday would say. That is all the BBC should be providing.
John – I agree. It is because the BBC are staffed to the rafters with people who have to do something. News is fine gossip rumour or incinuation is another. I don’t mean to imply that news from the US should not be reported. It should but news that has some interest not wide eyed left wing gossip.
The one thing the left fears above all else is a right wing populist leader, a figure that can galvanize the conservative/right wing. The BBC-NUJ and all the other leftist outlets have made it their business to destroy anyone who might fit the bill.
The right must not be allowed to rally behind one popular leader and the axis will use its resources to attack and smear and poison any possible candidate as and when they appear. The left had Obama and the leftist media pulled out all the stops to promote him but any leader of the right that this axis sees as a threat is pulled to pieces ASAP and without mercy.
The left have been using this tactic for years now, the dark art of poison politics where the left wing media play a vital role, they poison the well of the enemies of the left an Palin has become that enemy, she cannot be allowed to become another Reagan.
The left have poisoned democratic politics for years, they would rather smear and lie and poison than engage.
And spot on back ‘atcha!
I think Palin would do herself a great favour if she admits that she lacked the foreign policy knowledge needed to be a Vice Presidential candidate, and maybe to go with it, that in hindsight it may have been best for her not to have accepted the VP nomination because of this. One legitimate criticism the left – heck, people in general! – have of her in my view is the very inadequate grasp of foreign affairs that emerged in her interview with Katie Couric (?).
One great foreign policy asset she does have – then and now – is she 100% backing of America’s support of democracy in the world and the valour and decency of American servicemen in serving that cause. Something Katie Couric and a lot of her detractors couldn’t hope to lay claim to.
When the left and its media attack dogs get such a bee in their bonnet about a leader on the right that they set out to destroy her by all means, you just know that person’s got something good going for them that the left fears. Things are going to get a lot uglier and dirtier as 2012 approaches. I hope she teams up with David Horowitz too to get good advice on how to deal with the left.
and Obama had foreign affairs expertise ? ???
There’s also the sub-text which reveals that, during Obama’s honeymoon, the Republican establishment was convinced that he would be a strong candidate and the only way to beat him would be by adopting a safety-first, “secure the middle ground” strategy.
It’s finally dawning on everyone (except the BBC) that Obama’s a busted flush and, if he’s the Democrat candidate in 2012, any Republican candidate should be able to beat him. The political establishment is now horrified to see that this could easily be Palin.
Btw, BBC Breakfast TV this morning reported on one of Obama’s speeches, showing him having to deal with the apparent failure of a microphone. However, given that the sound wasn’t ever interrupted, am I alone in thinking that it was his autocue that failed, and he was absolutely stymied without it?
I’ve been out all day, but Mark Mardell must have replied to my e-mail at the crack of dawn! All credit to him for replying, though his reponse (which I will copy and paste) is extremely feeble:
Thanks for you e mail. The VF piece was a peg : an excuse to talk about the continued fascination with SP. I thought I was fairly sniffy about its contents but perhaps i was too subtle. No matter, as you point out there are plenty of journalist in the USA who’s main preoccupation is criticising other people’s work. If I was to reflect every later twist and turn of American bloggers I would, how shall I put it ? never get a sunday to my self. I haven’t yet read the comments on my piece but that seems a good place to continue the debate and add such reflections as yours. all the best, Mark
I just now nearly spit my beer onto the keyboard.
“an excuse to talk about the continued fascination with SP.” He admits his bias on so many levels!!! An excuse because he thinks it’s a problem? Mardell’s choice of the word “fascination” implies that he’s still mystified by it, which reveals what we already know to be his opinion. At least he hasn’t said she’s unfit for public office like ol’ Justin did. Yet.
“who’s”? Oh, dear. If the BBC can force their employees to do online courses about not lying to the public or stealing money from children, why not do one about basic English? Perhaps as an adjunct session to their Twitter and Social Media training course?
“criticizing other people’s work”? Alinsky 101. He’s just completely dismissed the concept of debunking and proving something to be a blatant lie. He obviously doesn’t think that’s what happened. Not only that, but he doesn’t even get what you busted him on. Stunning.
Brilliant job, Craig! Haydn, well known for tweaking the nose of authority, and having the personal integrity to be respected for it by that authority, would be proud. (If I got your icon right, that is.)
Thanks David. Yes, he truly didn’t get it at all. Any of it.
The one thing that did made me smile though was the arrogance and delusion contained in “I thought I was fairly sniffy about its contents but perhaps i was too subtle.” He wasn’t sniffy about any of VF‘s malicious gossip, merely casting doubt (in a non-sniffy way) on a suggestion in the article about Mrs Palin’s future plans. As for his being “too subtle”, all that calls for is lots of exclamation marks: !!!!!!
(You’re right David about my icon, chosen for no other reason than that I like Haydn! 😀 )
Martin’s icon is much funnier though!
I suppose Mardell thinks he maintained complete impartiality because he defined the Vanity Fair piece as “hostile”. But if he knows it’s an attack piece, why bother relating certain highlights at all? A rhetorical question, I know. It’s just becoming more and more obvious how far away from reason he is.