The Dishonesty And Political Advocacy Of Justin Webb

The latest BBC article about the US economic situation is by that well-known economics and business expert, Justin Webb. Yes, he went to the LSE, so must surely be qualified to prescribe a cure for what ails the US.

But first, his dishonesty:

I should make it clear that my reporting of the United States, in the years I was based there for the BBC, was governed by a sense that too much foreign media coverage of America is negative and jaundiced.

Too much foreign media coverage, eh, Justin? You mean like this?

America is often portrayed as an ignorant, unsophisticated sort of place, full of bible bashers and ruled to a dangerous extent by trashy television, superstition and religious bigotry, a place lacking in respect for evidence based knowledge.
I know that is how it is portrayed because I have done my bit to paint that picture, and that picture is in many respects a true one.

Who said that? Justin Webb in a ‘From Our Own Correspondent’ piece for the BBC. So who said this:

Some Tea Party folk hate Obama, but the movement is a symptom of something much deeper and more worrying for all Americans: they kinda hate themselves.

Justin Webb, in the Mirror (h/t David Vance of this parish). That was back when Webb and the BBC were pushing the lie that the mass murderer who attempted to kill Rep. Giffords in Tucson was a right-winger whose actions were inspired by the Tea Party.

And then there’s this gem:

Washington correspondent Justin Webb said that the BBC is so biased against America that deputy director general Mark Byford had secretly agreed to help him to ‘correct’, it in his reports. Webb added that the BBC treated America with scorn and derision and gave it ‘no moral weight’.

Foreign media, indeed.

Now on to the main point, ol’ Justin’s political advocacy masquerading as expert analysis.

This is a story of debt, delusion and – potentially – disaster. For America and, if you happen to think that American influence is broadly a good thing, for the world.

The debt and the delusion are both all-American: $14 trillion (£8.75tn) of debt has been amassed and there is no cogent plan to reduce it.

Denial? No cogent plan? He’s talking about the Democrats, most especially the President, who initially refused to cut any spending at all. Only that’s not what ol’ Justin wants you think. No, so long as he can convince you that it’s a bi-partisan denial, he can get away with the dishonesty.

In fact, Paul Ryan has had a cogent plan out for a while now. It’s only that Justin doesn’t like it because his personal political beliefs lead him elsewhere. To claim that nobody has one is simply a lie.

Webb’s first expert source is Jeffrey Sachs of Columbia’s Earth Institute. Even without guessing the political leanings of an organization with such a name, we can figure it out because Sachs himself says that Keynes was the “greatest political economist of the 20th century”. How convenient that it matches up with Webb’s LSE schooling.

Sachs says that the debt simply must be brought under control. Seriously, that’s it. No cogent plans offered. It’s as if Webb thinks that many people don’t realize this and need experts to tell us. What the hell does he think the Tea Party movement has been about? Oh, that’s right, I forgot: racism.

Next expert up is someone whom Webb describes only as an “author and economist”, Diane Coyle. What ol’ Justin doesn’t want you to know is that she’s also the Vice Chair of the BBC Trust and is married to BBC technology maven Rory Cellan-Jones (who was it here that coined the phrase “incest interview”?). Sure, she was an adviser to the Treasury during Thatcher’s Government, but did mostly foreign policy analyses and predictions, so not much of a Conservative. Her own website shows her involvement in Left-leaning philosophies. Her new book, “The Economics of Enough”, is all about countries living above their means and how over-spending and too much entitlement expense is not a good recipe for a secure future. Obviously ol’ Justin knows all about her book and its viewpoint, or he wouldn’t have brought her into the discussion. Coyle also offers no answers, only an explanation of one part of the problem and an emphasis that it’s really, really scary. Again, nothing new here, nothing added to the discussion of what to do, and certainly no proof that we’re all in denial, as Webb claims.

The third expert voice is just someone from the Council on Foreign Relations quoted to reinforce Webb’s contention that what happens to the US affects the whole world. Again, this assumes that the reader has no idea and Webb thinks you need an expert opinion to convince you that he’s right. Talk about underestimating the intelligence of the audience.

The only person identified by his political association is….wait for it….Republican David Frum. He’s a favorite of the BBC because he has shifted Leftwards and criticized George Bush. Webb quotes him as an example of stupid Republicans (read: Tea Party denialists and other enemies of the President) who are in denial of the problem.

This is, of course, a lie. Everyone knows there is a problem, which is why there’s such a huge budget battle on Capitol Hill right now. Who does Webb think he’s kidding here? Frum, in fact, is the only one of the voices Webb brings in who actually offers some kind of solution. Only he doesn’t like it, so dismisses it as denial. If there’s a simple solution, it must be no good because the problem is so complex and horrible. According to Justin, anyway.

So what’s this all about? A bit of scare-mongering. But before Webb gives us the answer, he first has a little attack on Alaska. What he says about the state being over-subsidized is true, even if Sarah Palin never existed, so I won’t say he’s focusing on Alaska only as a dig at her. What he is doing, though, is trying to use Alaska as a cudgel with which to beat the non-Left citizens and politicians of the US. He calls us hypocrites because Alaska exists as it does, and is mostly politically conservative. This is not a logical argument, but that’s what he’s saying. At no point does Webb show a Republican or Tea Party voice saying that we must keep federal subsidies at all cost while cutting spending on the poor. It’s just something he made up. Oh, and of course because he can’t resist it, he gets in a little ad hominem at the Tea Party:

The Tea Party movement talks of cuts in spending but when it comes to it, Americans always seem to be talking about cuts in spending that affect someone else, not them – and taxes that are levied on others too.

Yet another lie. The Tea Party movement is made up of people from all walks of life (except public sector unions and far-Left ideologues), many of whom will be affected by spending cuts no matter what Webb claims. He’s really parroting the union talking points you’ve been hearing from Bob Crow and Ed Miliband. No surprise, really.

Finally, ol’ Justin’s solution: more taxes, especially on the rich. He says that it’s Sach’s view the politicians are too scared to raise taxes because the evil rich don’t like it.

America’s two main political parties are so desperate to raise money for the nation’s constant elections – remember the House of Representatives is elected every two years – that they can do nothing that upsets wealthy people and wealthy companies.

So they cannot touch taxes.

Actually, they can: they can cut them. But that’s not part of ol’ Justin’s agenda here. So he closes with a little more dishonesty.

In all honesty, I am torn about the conclusions to be drawn. I find it difficult to believe that a nation historically so nimble and clever and open could succumb to disaster in this way.

Yeah, right. He has an opinion, which is why he’s trying to push the lie that nobody has a budget plan. The Democrats don’t have one that will fix the deficit, but the Republicans do. He just doesn’t like it so wants you to think nobody has one.

But America, as well as being a place of hard work and ingenuity, is also no stranger to eating competitions in which gluttony is celebrated, and wilful ignorance, for instance regarding (as many Americans do) evolution as controversial.

Ah, yes, the classic Justin Webb attack on the religious beliefs of non-Muslims. Except one’s views on evolution have nothing whatsoever to do with economics. It’s just something ol’ Justin threw in to belittle us, a non sequitur, as if he thinks one negative plus another negative equals more negatives, and that’s all there is to proving a point.

The debt crisis is a fascinating crisis because it is about so much more than money. It is a test of a culture.

Yes it is. But I don’t think it’s what Justin wants it to be. But his last line reveals his ignorance in a major way, and pretty much discredits his entire missive.

It is about waking up, as the Americans say, and smelling the coffee. And – I am thinking Texas here – saddling up too, and riding out with purpose.

Careful, Justin, you might just get what you wish for. Texas, you see, is the one state where they’re adding jobs and the economy is growing. In fact, 45% of jobs created in the last two years (i.e. during The Obamessiah Administration) have been in Texas. Because they’re doing it from a low-tax, help business, clean out draconian regulation, fiscally conservative position. Oops.

I think ol’ Justin has no idea about this at all, and was just trying to sound folksy, using an Americanism to add authenticity to his viewpoint. Fail.

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14 Responses to The Dishonesty And Political Advocacy Of Justin Webb

  1. Umbongo says:


    Don’t bother to apply for that job at the BBC in New York – you won’t get it: first because you know far too much about the US (being an American helps, I guess) and second you, unlike Justin (and Mardell) are not stuck in the lefty bubble of Obama-love which passes for economic and political wisdom at the state broadcaster.

    Be that as it may – and setting aside your personal grief at not being a suitable candidate for a position at the BBC – your posting is a masterpiece of fisking and exposes Webb for the biased (and, worse, ignorant) propagandist that he is.  As I – and many other commenters have remarked – it’s not just the bias at the BBC, it’s the wholesale incompetence and rank journalistic dishonesty which is difficult to stomach.  Moreover, these guys are apparently at the top of their “profession” and, I’m sure, are paid accordingly.

    You – and the other posters and many of the commenters on B-BBC – have demonstrated that BBC journalists – particularly those mouthing off on Today or toiling in the mines of AGW – would have been comfortably at home at Rundfunk der DDR or, more likely, Deutscher Freiheitssender 904, the clandestine East German propaganda station .  The BBC has, like RdD, become a transmission belt for partiality, subtle and not so subtle propaganda and the concealment and/or deliberate misinterpretaion of inconvenient facts.  Postings like this expose those employed by the BBC as the true inheritors of the “journalism” of Emil Carlebach .


    • Lloyd says:

      It’s not subtle, they KNOW it’s not subtle, but they don’t care, because they know that they can get away with it. Under Labour it was a given, and now the fake Conservatives are frightened to death of doing anything about it!


  2. john in cheshire says:

    Good synopsis of Mr Webb and his prejudices.


  3. John Anderson says:

    Well done,  David.

    The two key political facts of the matter are that the Dems have failed for over 2 years to do their statutory duty and produce a budget – and Obama is skulking in the background,  has not produced his own budget,  and is trying to leave thinghs to Joe Biden (Joe who ?).

    As you say – the Republican side DOES have a plan.  But Obama and the Dems are refusing to negotiate properly.   They are trying to cast the Repubs as a vicious lot who want low taxes on the rich while penalising the old and poor by cuts in Medicare and Medicaid.

    Even Obama’s own officials have repeatedly said that his policy is ruinous.   But he is being as slippery as ever,  and failing to provide any sort of lead.

    I think much of the American public have rumbled the game being played by Obama and the Dems.

    But not dumb Justin.  He is either blinkered, ignorant and ill-informed – or seriously biased.

    Or both.


  4. NotaSheep says:

    Excellent piece of analysis of BBC bias, a must read. In fact I will read it again…


  5. jarwill101 says:

    Webb’s just another sneering, smug, effete, Beeboid intellectual snob. Another programmed mouth, another ‘gated’ mind, looking down contemptuously on the masses that have to deal with reality, from his lofty, morally vacuous, insulated tower. A groteque monument to all that stinks about the well-heeled cultural Marxists, the BBC parasites so deep in the public trough their eyes have gummed over with rainbow treacle. His posturing superiority, his ‘nuanced’, threadbare opinions wouldn’t last a minute in the harsh air of Detroit, or Tower Hamlets.
    Tea Party ‘folk’ don’t hate themselves, Justin (again, the Leftist implication that conservatives are mentally ill), they despise the mainstream media for its corruption, its refusal to broadcast the truth that would explode the neo liberal fantasies destroying the USA & Europe. A bent media, in which you play your designated role. And if you regard the USA as a ‘place lacking in respect for evidence based knowledge’, what are you doing at the BBC? A citadel of cut ‘n’ paste, lazy, irredeemably biased ‘journalism’. I only wish the word ‘hypocrite’ would bounce around your brain like a pinball.


  6. Craig says:

    Probably an online beeboid rather than Justin Webb himself, but the picture chosen to represent the Tea Party in the article is about as unflattering as it gets.

    It also feeds the old BBC narrative about the Tea Party being angry and agressive. The caption below, Many so-called “Tea Party” supporters fiercely oppose tax raises“, reinforces that message, using the word “fiercely”. It also uses the sneery “so-called” and, to pick a very low-hanging fruit, also says “raises” when it should say “rises!”  I think it’s safe to say that the beeboid responsible has a very negative view of the Tea Party and is letting his feelings show.


  7. Louis Robinson says:

    Mr. Webb is a graduate of the arched eyebrow school of broadcasting, the holier than thou British public school superiority clearly shining through. We all know (I know through personal contact with Beeboids past and present) that the attitude towards the USA is “The Yanks? Who the hell do they think they are?”
    A recent conversation went thus:
    Me: “I’m thinking about become a US citizen”
    Them: “Good God, how could you? Most people are amazed that you actually LIVE there?”


  8. David Preiser (USA) says:

    The President just gave a press conference speech in which He said that He was very well aware of the crisis, and laid out His plan.  What a shock: He said He would tax the rich, just like Justin Webb suggests.

    There was a nice bit of class war, along with a couple of nasty partisan attacks on Republicans.  Anyone who doesn’t want tax increases is just angling for a highlight on “cable news”, He says, and when push comes to shove He expects “leaders to lead”.  He said that the Democrats have already demonstrated their willingness to do things that will anger some of their base, acting “in good faith”, while the Republicans have been intrasigent.  Funny how this matches EXACTLY with what Mark Mardell and other Beeboids have been telling you who should be blamed if nothing gets fixed.


  9. Louis Robinson says:

    As you said, David, there are only a few steps from Jay Carney to the BBC. They get their alerts early.


  10. D B says:

    Good stuff once again, DP.


  11. La Cumparsita says:

    Justin Webb interviewing Paul Simon a couple of weeks ago, quite unnecessarily, noting that Simon’s tour is to include (gasp, horror) Israel said “some people won’t go to Israel at the moment”.( about two minutes 30 seconds into the interview) Such ignorance. Webb is clearly unaware that many many artistes ARE visiting Israel e.g. on the same night that Paul Simon plays Ramat Gajn stadium, Ziggy Marley, son of the late great Bob, is the main attraction at the Road to Zion festival in Jerusalem & George Benson plays in Caesarea. And I personally attended a wonderful production of Aida at Masada earlier this month, part of the Israel Opera Festival, starring an international cast.  Webb needs some education.


  12. cjhartnett says:

    Justin Webb personifies so much that is wrong at the BBC.
    Peter Woods “love child” simply has liberal reflexes instead of a working mind.
    His interview of some EU grandee this morning was typical.
    He only wanted her to say that the Tories were the sole cause of us getting “the impression” that the EU wanted more money and more influence on national policy. 
    The EU talking head blamed the media for all of us thinking that all Brussels wanted was one currency, one political union and all its taxpayers unrepresented…perish the thought!
    Yet all Webb saw was a chance to pin the blame for us all hating the EU on the Tories…as ever!
    Toady is just a toxic dump of lazy liberal prejudices and reflexes, masquerding as news…where`s that hole in the ozone layer to blow it through?