"That’s the BBC way"

Or how the lefty media clique perpetuates its dominance of the BBC.

A candid little insight into the workings of the BBC from its new Chief Creative Officer of Vision Pat Younge, in avuncular mood at a diversity forum:

“What I didn’t know, and a lot of people don’t know, is the subtle stuff about the BBC that you only learn when you’ve been around. So it’s quite normal … when I did actually get into the BBC, the BBC were looking for onscreen correspondents for the London region. And I saw how much Trevor was making, and the other Trevor (*), and I thought being on screen – yeah, this is where it’s at. But in applying for the job my now ex-wife said to me, ‘You do realise you’ve got to find out all the people who are going to interview you and you’ve got to go and see them.’

And I said, ‘Don’t be silly. You can’t go and tap up all the people that are meant to be interviewing you.’

She said, ‘That’s the BBC way.’

And if you’re outside the BBC you don’t know this. But when the job is advertised in the BBC it is quite legitimate to find the person who’s doing the interview and go and have a conversation with them. And all the internal candidates know that, and all the friends on the outside who know people on the inside know that. And so I went and met all these five people and by the time I came to the interview I knew what each of them wanted because I’d spent half an hour with each of them with them telling me what they were looking for.”

(* Trevors McDonald and Phillips, I presume.)

Update. At the same forum (organised by the TV Collective – Facebook motto: “YES WE CAN”) more from Pat Younge:

“We are definitely a minority within the broadcasting industry but we’re nowhere like the minority in terms of white working class people in our industry.”

Can the Daily Mail headline be far behind? “Too Few White Working Class at BBC Says Black BBC Boss”

Dowd’s Political Quotes

New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd claimed that when Joe Wilson shouted “You lie” during Barack Obama’s speech to Congress, what he really meant was “You lie, boy”. This made quite an impression on BBC correspondents Kevin Connolly and Mark Mardell who both quoted it approvingly. They therefore might be interested in the Ace Of Spades Top Ten American Political Quotations (As Recollected by Pulitzer Prize Winning NYT Columnist Maureen Dowd). The number one quote is particulalry interesting, and unlikely to be repeated by a BBC correspondent for the usual partisan reasons.

Update. BBC correspondents were very keen to highlight Joe Wilson’s past as an aide to one-time segregationist Storm Thurmond. In 2005 one-time segregationist and ex-Klansman Robert Byrd opposed the confirmation of the first female black secretary of state Condoleezza Rice. If you can find that mentioned in the BBC’s news reports you will have done better than me. Byrd is of course a Democrat and Rice a Republican, so naturally racism can’t have been an issue.

"Democracy Kills"

On Wednesday’s Up All Night, presenter Rhod Sharp spoke to BBC foreign correspondent Humphrey Hawksley about his new book “Democracy Kills”. It opens, he explained, with a puzzle:

HH: Basically I’m trying to paint a scenario whereby a catastrophe is sweeping the world and you’re sitting in your house moments before you’re gonna be destroyed with your partner and your two children. One’s very bright and is a musician and wants to be a biologist – your daughter, about 13 – and your 11 year old son who’s a little lippy, gets into trouble at school but again very intelligent. And an elderly relative – mother, with diabetes, perhaps a little frail on the legs resting in the corner. And you’re very privileged because you have two choices of countries that you can actually flee to and you’ve been given sanctuary there. One of them has got pretty good health, pretty good education, you’re thinking of building a future for your family, your grandchildren, but not a lot of political freedom. The other one has got a great cell phone system, internet connection’s fine if you can pay for it, but you live 20 years less than the other country and people are fairly illiterate and it’s a fairly violent place. One of those countries is called Cuba, and the other is 90 miles away and it’s called Haiti. Which one would you take your family to to go and set a new life for yourselves.

RS: That’s a great question! That’s a great question!

The point Hawksley is trying to make of course, in his far from subtle way, is that the nascent democracy in Haiti compares badly with the communist regime of Cuba. Rhod Sharp chose to take his version of Hawksley’s family of overachievers to Cuba, naturally. I think I might have enough faith in my family’s resilience and resourcefulness to take our chances in Haiti and forego the wonders of the communist idyll. What would happen to my intelligent children when they question the Communist Party line in the classroom, for example? Not so much of a worry where Hawksley’s kids are concerned, I would imagine.

It’s interesting that Hawksley chose Cuba and Haiti as the basis for his argument and not, say, North and South Korea, or Israel and Syria.

Perhaps we could chip in and buy Hawksley and his BBC colleague Matt Frei one-way plane tickets to the communist dictatorships of their choice?

[If any Firefox users are having problems using the new comment system (as I was) try ticking “Accept third party cookies” in Options]


Earlier this month the BBC’s Director of Global News Richard Sambrook admitted that the BBC should have given more coverage to the story about Obama’s wacky green jobs czar Van Jones.

Since then, another scandal embarrassing to the president – this time concerning the Obama-supporting community activist group ACORN – has registered little more than a tiny blip on the BBC news radar.

Today revelations have emerged about the National Endowment for the Arts, a publicly funded agency which is supposed to be politically independent. Andrew Breitbart’s Big Hollywood has evidence that arts groups funded by the NEA have been co-opted into promoting Obama’s political agenda. As with Van Jones and ACORN, if something similar had happened under Bush BBC journalists would have wet themselves with excitement. I don’t expect headline coverage for these stories, just recognition that they are important in the context of American politics and that they help explain more fully the increasing disaffection with Obama’s administration. The BBC’s simplistic approach to the US political scene (old, nasty, befuddled, racist whites standing in the way of enlightened progress) reflects the prejudices of correspondents and promotes those prejudices to the world. I for one do not recognise the picture of the American right portrayed by the BBC and would like to see more balanced analysis.


“Sometimes you look at countries like China and you think, ‘Wouldn’t it be nice to be an autocracy in times like these?'” Matt Frei, Americana, September 20, 2009

Three weeks after Obama’s election victory, Matt Frei was filled with the spirit of hope’n’change and was looking forward to the prospect of “America’s brightest people” once again having the chance to put the country on the correct path:

Thanks to the multiple distractions of Bill Clinton and his administration, some of America’s brightest people were too busy ducking subpoenas or grappling with indecision at the top to perform their best work.
The Obama administration is a chance for them to prove their critics wrong and to live up to past expectations.

Things haven’t really gone to plan since then, and it’s all been the fault of those pesky “distractions” again. On this week’s Americana Frei interviewed New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman in the hope of finding a solution. And boy, what a doozy they came up with:

Matt Frei: Why all these distractions?

Thomas Friedman: There’s a lot of reasons. One, the end of the Cold War. The end of the Cold War made us really unserious because we lost our main competitor. Where would the New York Times be without the Wall St Journal? Everybody needs a competitor, right? All right, we lost ours so we got a little fat, dumb and lazy, and then we had money and politics out the wazoo. We now have a 24 hour news cycle. We have a blogosphere – I can start a rumour about you Matt that will tie you up for the rest of the week, OK, and by the time you catch it it will be half way to New Zealand. And we have a permanent presidential campaign. All of those have created an echo chamber where any bozo can come along and distract even the president.

Matt Frei: Sometimes you look at countries like China and you think, ‘Wouldn’t it be nice to be an autocracy in times like these?’

Thomas Friedman: Well you know I wrote the other day that you know there’s only one thing worse really than one party autocracy and that’s one party democracy – what we have right now, where only one party is playing.

What Friedman “wrote the other day” received this response from Mark Steyn:

The New York Times’s Thomas Friedman finally gets to where he’s been wanting to go all these years. Everything would be so much better if we could just submit to the benign rule of an enlightened elite.

Jonah Goldberg expanded that thought:

If only America could drop its inefficient and antiquated system, designed in the age before globalization and modernity and, most damning of all, before the lantern of Thomas Friedman’s intellect illuminated the land. If only enlightened experts could do the hard and necessary things that the new age requires, if only we could rely on these planners to set the ship of state right. Now, of course, there are “drawbacks” to such a system: crushing of dissidents with tanks, state control of reproduction, government control of the press and the internet.

Still, it’s a small price to pay for the autocratic rule of an enlightened elite, and far better than letting all those bozos and their distractions frustrate the wishes of intellectual superiors such as Friedman and Frei.


Current BBC North America editor Mark Mardell on Obama:

His conclusion was that “the easiest way of getting 15 minutes of fame is to be rude”.

Previous BBC North America editor Justin Webb on himself:

“I’m rude about quite a lot of people, I was very rude about Sarah Palin which upset some people.”


Further to my earlier post about the BBC’s obsession with racism in America, Radio 4’s From Our Own Correspondent (13.20 in) has served up yet another piece on the subject which goes over much of the same ground already covered this week by Mardell, Connolly and Esler. For this one the BBC invited Guardian columnist Gary Younge, the tiresome left-wing race obsessive, to do the honours. (You may recall that Younge’s brother Pat, the new chief creative officer of BBC Vision, recently demanded that TV bosses be sacked if they fail to meet diversity targets. Perhaps they should follow Radio 4’s example and employ members of the Younge family to help tick the boxes.)
Younge went over the Wilson/Thurmond connection for anybody who missed it when Mardell, Connolly, and Esler brought it up. He also took aim at Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck and Fox News. Pretty much what one would expect from a left-wing commentator like Younge, in fact. In a recent column for The Nation he described the tea party protestors thus:

Annoying, bizarre, incoherent, divisive, intolerant, small-minded, misinformed, ill informed and disinformed… the proportion of the country with whom there is no real means of engagement. These are the birthers, Swiftboaters, climate change skeptics, Obamaphobes and Palin-tologists–the base. They live in a politically parallel world where everyone they know believes the same as they do.

Savour the irony of that last sentence, coming as it does from a left-wing Guardian columnist who has just been employed by the BBC to echo the same views on “racist America” that numerous other BBC correspondents have already expressed. He continues (emphasis added):

They don’t like established facts, so they come armed with their own. The left has such people too, but they are marginal. With no news channels to promote them or Congressmen prepared to advocate for them, their views rarely reach the mainstream.

How about that Bush/Hitler poster in the BBC newsroom? How about MSNBC?

Would a right-wing columnist who made similar observations about loony left supporters of Obama ever be invited to do a piece for From Our Own Correspondent? Has a right-wing columnist ever be asked to do anything on From Our Own Correspondent, full stop?

Another point about Younge’s article in the Nation. He discussed the case of Kenneth Gladney, a tea party protester who was hospitalised after “a fight broke out”. Younge conveniently failed to mention that Gladney was beaten up by pro-Obama thugs from the SEIU. And in an unusual departure for Younge, he also neglected to mention that Kenneth Gladney is black. A left-wing journalist who smears conservatives and plays the race card when it suits but leaves it in the pack when it doesn’t fit his agenda. Just the kind of guy the BBC likes.