Well, didn’t the BBC do a good job of selecting a representative audience of normal citizens to ask questions of Blair, Howard and Kennedy?

Well, didn’t the BBC do a good job of selecting a representative audience of normal citizens to ask questions of Blair, Howard and Kennedy? And there I was thinking that the audience would be full of the BBC’s usual partisan, grimly self-righteous, ranting loons, shaking with rage and shouting out abuse. How wrong could I have been?

And didn’t that man with the funny-coloured (NHS?) teeth who was in charge manage to restrain himself manfully from constantly interrupting with inane Paxmanian-style comments?

This you have to see…

Rich Hall, the ranting left-wing American comedian the BBC is always having on, has stumbled across Tim Blair’s site, and noticed that Tim has made fun of Hall (and Philip Adams, the ABC radio host who’s had Hall on his show) on a more than a few occasions, so he’s sent Blair a bizarre, hostile e-mail.

Stumbled across your site while I was reading about the Melbourne International Comedy Festival. Lo and behold there’s my name plastered all over it. Seems you’ve got a hard-on for a guy named Phillip Adams. He’s a decent, informed fellow. Reads a lot of books. Have you ever heard of books? You can read them without logging on!I was a guest on his radio show and apparently stirred up quite a few of your ass licking sycophant following. Do me a favor. Write me and tell me who you are and just what it is you do. In fact, tell what you did before weblogs made it possible for every five and dime gasbag with an axe to grind could spout their bile into the ether. Let’s meet up and have a chat, you dumb cunt.

And don’t try to dissect comedy when you don’t have a sense of humor.

Click the link to see Blair’s response.

BBC 4 is at this moment running a cosy little mutual back-scratching show about the London Review of Books

BBC 4 is at this moment running a cosy little mutual back-scratching show about the London Review of Books, starting off with some quotes from left-wing BBC-oids such as Tom Paulin and Tariq Ali. Ali said it was zany (yes, zany). Paulin said it was great at stirring up trouble (the right sort of trouble though, right Tom?).

A list of mostly left-wing or radical writers such as Edward Said who have written for it was quoted as evidence of the LRB’s importance. It was said that there’s nothing like it. Really? Not even the New York Review of Books? Not even the Times Literary Supplement?

It was said that the LRB is theplace where the cultural and social questions of the day are debated. Well, it was certainly true that the LRB used to be one key player in such debates (and don’t get me wrong – it still publishes some wonderful pieces), but it’s certainly lost ground in recent years to journals that publish on the internet, not to mention the blogs and Arts & Letters Daily.

The famous Mary Beard LRB piece after 9/11 where America was said to have had it comingwas raised in the gentlest of ways, and no-one seemed to show much concern. An eyebrow was raised, and everyone went back to sleep. Seems a fairly standard view, even a mild one these days, was the response. I suppose in the BBC-LRB world this is true.

Don’t get me wrong. I mostly like the LRB. And I think a show on the LRB is a great idea. But there’s no doubt that this show is far easier on it than it would be on a right-wing mag like, say, The Spectator.

Times article by Tim Luckhurst, who used to work for the Today programme

Those readers of Biased BBC who are determined to maintain the line that the BBC is objective and impartial and not at all left-wing should have a look at this Times article by Tim Luckhurst, who used to work for the Today programme. An extract:

To someone like Mr Davies, with his experience of the private sector, it is painfully obvious that the corporation is saturated with left-wing values. It disparages competition and worships consensus. Views prevalent in liberal universities percolate through every aspect of policy. Political correctness and cultural relativism are holy writ. Democracy is usually good, but not in America where it produces the wrong result.

This progressive orthodoxy did not incense me when I joined the Today programme. I had started my career as an adviser to Labour’s Shadow Cabinet. I believed Conservatives were morally deficient and was delighted that most of my colleagues agreed. Those who thought otherwise were considered oddballs to be pitied. But as I climbed the BBC ladder the atmosphere began to grate. Producers argued when asked to consider private schools in a report on educational standards and complained when instructed to interview a French opponent of the euro.


BBC journalists are aware of their duty to be impartial but they understand it intellectually not instinctively. While the BBC would never endorse one political party, its dominant attitudes are rigidly social democratic. Those values are so dominant that they are treated as virtues not opinions. It is why a BBC correspondent cried when Yassir Arafat died and a Today presenter referred to the Labour Party as “we”.

These political prejudices are innate because too few BBC employees have ever experienced life in the free market and those who have are often refugees from it. The corporation grows its own managers in preference to recruiting from outside and advertises for staff in left-wing newspapers.

Two thirds of Earth’s resources already used, claims the BBC.

I just heard a BBC reporter say this, without much qualification, and giving the impression that this was a very credible claim.

This claim was apparently based on a report by the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment team (who were funded by – who else? the UN), although the BBC simply reported this as “a team of hundreds of scientists”, without even saying who they were (had to go to the BBC website for that), or reporting on the strongly political nature of the report

I haven’t yet found any such claim in the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment’s report, although it may be in there somewhere. But I’ve no doubt that the reporter was given this figure by someone connected with the report, though whether this was one of the scientists involved (and some distinguished scientists like Robert May are involved), or just a secretary or PR person, I don’t know.

Anyway, it’s grossly irresponsible. Two-thirds? Whatever some green-leaning biologists may think, any economist could tell you that this is rubbish. After all, the great proportion of our consumption of resources has occured in the last 100 years. If we’ve used up most of the two-thirds in that time, that means they’ll all run out in about 30-50 years. In fact, given the increased prosperity of the developing world, and the increasing consumption in the developed world, we should run out well before that, if this claim is correct.

So in about twenty years time, we can expect there to be no steel, no sugar, no water, no rice, no wood, no plastic, no farmable land, no cotton, no oil, no energy, no fruit-bearing trees, no aluminium, no wheat, no copper, no rubber, no nothing’. Now, you don’t have to be Julian Simon to think this is a scare story. (In fact, the very opposite is more likely – in 20-50 years time, these resources will more cheaper and more plentiful than ever.)

Update 30-3: The Guardian also has a Two-thirds of world’s resources ‘used up’ headline.

Tim Worstall, meanwhile, has noticed that the report is calling for solutions that sound decidely, well, free market-ish.

The BBC, like many other MSM outfits

The BBC, like many other MSM outfits, has reported very uncritically Giuliana Sgrena’s version of the shooting by American soldiers of the car she was travelling in, in which an Italian secret service agent lost his life, and her claims that the Americans did (or may have done) this deliberately.

(BBC stories: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13; claims that the shooting was deliberate here, interview here. Original BBC stories of the kidnapping: 1, 2, 3).

First of all, along with many other media outfits, the BBC virtually never mention the fact that she works for a Communist newspaper Il Manifesto. The BBC merely says in some of its stories that it is left-wing. (The only exception is this story, although it’s otherwise a hagiography).

The BBC has failed to report that in all likelihood her release was paid for by the Italian government – to the tune of £3-4 million, according to The Times, which reports that Giovanni Alemanno, the Italian government’s agriculture minister, saying this was very probable (not that this stopped him saying, according to The Telegraph, that “Italy must defend its honour. We may be trusted allies, but we cannot give the impression of being subordinate”).

This money, of course, will go directly to funding terrorism.

(It hasn’t, of course, been provedthat a payment was made, but then the BBC saw fit to report on Sgrena’s speculations about the motives of the American soldiers without the slightest bit of supporting evidence).

The BBC has never said anything at all about some of suspicions surrounding the kidnapping of various hard-left reporters who were later released. Perhaps there was never anything in these suspicions, but why give Sgrena’s speculations a free run? For example, the BBC says:

Italian journalist Giuliana Sgrena has said she cannot accept US troops
accidentally fired on her car after her kidnappers freed her in Baghdad.

Ms Sgrena told the BBC Americans guarding Baghdad airport might not have been
informed about her arrival, but their actions could not be excused.

Earlier, she suggested US troops might have deliberately tried to kill her.

A lot of analysis has appeared on Little Green Footballs (LGF posts: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10). LGF points out that:

She doesn’t have any explanation for the fact that she is still alive — because if the soldiers at that checkpoint had really been trying to kill her and her companions, there would be nothing left of her car. Or her.

The BBC reports on the claim that 300-400 rounds had been fired at the car:

Ms Sgrena’s editor, Gabriele Polo, said he was told by Italian officials that
300 to 400 rounds were fired at the car.

(The Guardianalso reports on this claim, although they have Sgrena as saying it).

So we’re supposed to believe that the US were deliberately trying to kill her, and that they fired 300-400 rounds at the car, yet few bullets entered the car, and only one person was killed (by the same bullet that injured Sgrena)? How can the BBC take this seriously? Either this many rounds were not shot, or that they were, but into the engine block in order to stop the car. (The Telegraph reportsthat the Americans say they did fire into the engine block).

(There have been some claims made since that the “300-400 rounds” claim was a mistranslation).

Sgrena’s own story is a little hazy. She initially claimed that the car was not going particularly fast, a claim that was widely reported. Yet now in an interview with her own newspaper Il Manifesto, translated by CNN, she gives the impression that the car was going fast enough they were almost losing control as they swerved to avoid puddles:

The car kept on the road, going under an underpass full of puddles and almost losing control to avoid them. We all incredibly laughed. It was liberating. Losing control of the car in a street full of water in Baghdad and maybe wind up in a bad car accident after all I had been through would really be a tale I would not be able to tell.

As LGF say, this was an area they knew to be swarming with American troops, and which Calipari, the dead SS agent, regarded (says the LA Times) as the most dangerous place in Baghdad. Yet it doesn’t sound like they were going at an average speed to me.

The original claimthat they weren’t going “particularly fast” sounds a little fudgy to me anyway – sounds like it means “We were going fast, but not absolutely flat-out top-speed, but I don’t want to admit to that in so many words”.

In fact, the LA Times has her saying that the car “was not going especially fast for a situation of that type”. (The Australian has her saying: “We weren’t going very fast, given the circumstances”). A situation of that type? What type? Getting away from kidnappers? In other words, “We weren’t driving as fast as you might expect given that we getting away from kidnappers, a situation in which most people would drive like a bat out of hell, but we were still going fast by ordinary standards“.

Elsewhere, though, CNN report her saying that “Our car was driving slowly”, and The Australian saysthe claim was that they were going about 40mph. So which is it? Driving slowly, at 40 mph, or not especially fast for a situation of that type, or going fast enough that when swerving to avoid puddles they were almost losing control?

House of Wheels says there are other things in her story that seem inconsistent. It’s hard to know whether this is due to bad reporting and translating, but there’s been no hint from the BBC of these concerns. For example, The Guardian reports that Sgrena said that her car had been through several checkpoints already. Yet here she is reported as saying:

We hadn’t previously encountered any checkpoint and we didn’t understand where the shots came from.

And in some places she says there was absolutely no warning before the shots, and that no lights had been flashed at them, but in other places she says that they was a light flashed into the car beforehand.

For example, she told the BBC

We had no signal. We were just on the way to the airport. They started to shoot at us without any light or signal. There was no block, there was nothing.

And CNN say



in an interview with Italy’s La 7 Television, the 56-year-old journalist said ‘there was no bright light, no signal’.

But in the same CNN report, we get this:

Italian magistrate Franco Ionta said Sgrena reported the incident was not at a checkpoint, but rather that the shots came from ‘a patrol that shot as soon as they lit us up with a spotlight’.

And The Australian reports her as saying:

It wasn’t a checkpoint, but a patrol that opened fire straight after it shone a beacon on us.

Sounds to me like contrary to the impression created originally by Sgrena, and perpetuated by the likes of the BBC (and AP), the Americans did shine a warning beacon. Perhaps they didn’t give enough of a warning, but that’s a different matter to not shining any light at all. (Although given that the area was an incredibly dangerous one where many soldiers have been killed, I wouldn’t blame them for that – in fact, that they left survivors at all is rather extraordinary).

So the communist reporter can’t be said to be a particularly reliable witness. And the BBC has chosen to present a rather one-sided account (just as it did when reporting so credulously on claims that insurgent groups had shot down that Hercules in January, which they’ve admitted todaywas probably not what happened).

Cross-posted at Blithering Bunny.

Update:I thought BBC News 24 had stopped reporting on this story, but they’ve just had another report on the funeral where all the same claims are again made.

Update 2: More from Instapundit, Powerline, Washington Times, The Washington Post (which says this sort of thing is common), Joe Gandleman (who has a lot of links), and The Christian Science Monitor, which reports on the confusion that often surrounds the checkpoints.

the BBC will continue to have the power for another decade to extort money out of people who don’t even watch it

Despite the fact that hundreds of TV channels now exist, and the fact that subscriptions to channels can be easily managed these days, the government decides that the BBC will continue to have the power for another decade to extort money out of people who don’t even watch it, in order to make whatever programs they feel like making.

Tessa Jowell’s statement is here.

While she’s aware that digital TV is going to shake up TV, she shows no awareness that the internet will probably revolutionize broadcasting within a few years, and certainly before 2016.

She also says:

Alongside the NHS, the BBC is one of the two great institutions of British national life.

Not that bad, surely? It doesn’t kill people, after all (well, not directly).

Perhaps surprisingly, the licence fee retains a high degree of public support.

If it has such a high degree of public support, then why is there the need to force people to fund it? If it’s so popular, people will pay for it out of their own pockets. Unless, that is, it turns out that it isn’t really so popular after all.

And although not perfect, we believe it remains the fairest way to fund the BBC.

But why wouldn’t this sort of reasoning (or lack of it) apply to other services? Reading newspapers has a high degree of public support – so would it be ‘fair’ that a state-backed license fee be used to fund The Guardian? Drinking milk is popular, so would it be fair that a state-enforced license fee be used to fund a milk company?

P.S. As for the story about the scrapping of the governers, as Kelvin McKenzie says, it’s merely putting another bunch of “establishment dimwits” in charge. Michael Grade has dismissed McKenzie’s comments with “I’m not sure that Kelvin speaks for the nation. He speaks for Kelvin”. But who says Grade speaks for the nation? Who voted for him? Who would win a vote between Grade and McKenzie? At least I don’t have to watch or listen to anything McKenzie puts out, whereas I am forced (as a TV owner) by law and the subsequent threat of jail to pay over £100 a year towards whatever Grade puts out (even if I don’t watch it).

(Wonder if BBC News will start getting worse now that this decision is over and done with. After all, this might be the last ever charter.)

P.P.S. And check out this vague blather:

A BBC that promotes citizenship and builds our civil society.

A BBC that promotes education and learning.

A BBC dedicated to creativity and cultural excellence

A BBC that celebrates our nations, regions and communities.

A BBC that brings the world to the UK and the UK to the world.

A BBC which is strong, independent and securely at the heart of British broadcasting for ten more years.

Cross-posted at Blithering Bunny.

And now, the social conscience of us all, Vanessa Redgrave

Stephen Pollard reports hearing Sir David Frost on ‘Breakfast With Frost’ introduce Vanessa Redgrave with:

And now, the social conscience of us all, Vanessa Redgrave.

Pollard has his own preferred introduction.

This seems to me to be another case where you suspect the BBC presenter must have their tongue in their cheek at first, but it appears not.