Kudos to the BBC

Kudos to the BBC for making several programmes in the last few weeks that covered areas that had previously been neglected or avoided.

  • This story, based on an issue of Radio 4’s Crossing Continents, is about how a young Malaysian woman who has converted from Islam to Christianity is threatened with violence by Muslim fanatics.
  • This BBC investigation looked into sexual abuse of children by UN peacekeepers.
  • Almost from the day that the BBC did a hidden camera exposé of the BNP, commenters to the BBC website asked why the BBC did not do a hidden camera exposé of radical Muslim groups. The joint Newsnight / File On 4 documentary in November did just that. (Full transcript here.)
  • I also approved of this story: Study backs Libya HIV case medics.When plague struck medieval Europe, an uneducated and fearful populace, unable to believe that the catastrophe could have a natural origin, would frequently blame the plague on the deliberate action of foreigners or infidels and launch a pogrom against the Jews. This pattern of behaviour has been followed in many other times and places. A modern example occured in Libya in 1999. In this case the victims were five Bulgarian nurses and a Palestinian doctor. They were accused of deliberately infecting 400 Libyan children with AIDS and, after confessions were extorted by torture, condemned to death in 2004.I approved of this BBC story because, although it maintained the editorially distant style proper to the BBC, it did not imperil the lives of these victims of hysteria by hedging or showing “balance” between the firemen and the fire. That is how you deal with irrational conspiracy theories. Contrast it with the pandering to the Nigerian conspiracy theory alleging that Westerners had contaminated polio vaccine displayed by the BBC here. Contrast it with the active assistance the BBC gave to spreading an anti-American conspiracy theory about tsunami of December 26, 2004. (More about that here.)I bring the polio and tsunami stories up fairly often, because I think they are the two most harmful examples of BBC bias I have ever come across. There are certainly Nigerian children dead or crippled by polio because the BBC was reluctant to offend some of its Muslim readers. As for the tsunami story, our regular pro-BBC commenter, “John Reith” has said that the BBC’s asking its readers “Is America a power for good or ill in the world? Was there a malign hand at work, or has America’s role in the crisis in fact been a model of humanitarian leadership.” …was actually the BBC squelching the conspiracy theory.

    No. That is what the BBC squelching a conspiracy theory looks like.

    There has been mounting international pressure on Libya to hear independent scientific evidence.

    International experts say the scientific report used in the trial was nothing but ‘conjecture’ and ‘supposition’.

    Note the absence of a “Have Your Say” forum asking readers whether these Bulgarians and this Palestinian might reallyhave been agents of enemy intelligence services seeking to undermine the Libyan nation by killing its children after all.

    As I’ve said before, never mind the name of this blog, there are times when the BBC has a duty to come down on one side and not the other.


Coupla posts

  • Who-whom? Heard during the course of a segment on Hugo Chavez during The World This Weekend, at about 1.25pm:

    “The US depends on Venezuela for nearly a fifth of its oil imports.”

As Lenin was wont to ask about any political relationship, “Who – whom?” Meaning, who has power over whom? A quick Google is giving me that Venezuela depend son the US to buy between 60 and 80% of its oil exports. But of course the BBC wouldn’t put it that way.

In fact, as I understand it, there is a world oil market, so talk of either buyers or sellers boycotting specific countries is all a bit of a joke. You can either sell the stuff or leave it in the ground: those are the only real choices. About all a boycott of a single nation could do is impose extra costs by making some oil take the long way round, or by obliging refineries to cope with unaccustomed types of oil, or through increased fees to middlemen – but basically trying to control what happens to your oil once you’ve sold it is as futile as trying to control what happens to your dollars once you’ve used them to buy oil.

Be that as it may, the “dependency” of a customer on the guy who supplies him with a fifth of what he needs is much less than than the dependency of a supplier on the customer who buys three to four-fifths of what he supplies.

Hat tip to whoever made this point last time the alleged dependency of the US on Venezuelan oil came up on the BBC.


  • “Not bias, just unbelievably shoddy,” writes a correspondent, pointing out this report of a tragedy in Glasgow. The age of the man killed is given as 21 at the beginning of the story, then as 28 half way through. His name is given – but at the end it says that he has not yet been named. UPDATE / CORRECTION: D. Burbage says it’s twoaccidents. Re-reading, he’s right. Archonix says it could have been clearer.