I don’t recall the BBC giving much attention to the banning of Facebook by the Iranian regime. However, all today they have been supposedly reporting on a supposed string of murders committed by a woman in Iran, supposedly inspired by Agatha Christie books.

No context is given for this story- it’s seen as a curiosity and also a news story as “She has been described as Iran’s first female serial killer”. She has? By whom exactly we don’t know. To me this seems all too convenient for Mr Ahmadinejad as he approaches an election. “See what those dogs have done to us again”, you can imagine his media whispering in the public ear (or Ahmadinejad declaring in public). An excuse for censorship. A means to blame the West for their society’s ills. A symbol of the encroachment of western ‘diseases’.

Yet the BBC’s man in Tehran, Jon Leyne, sees fit to report it deadpan, “Just like Agatha Christie’s villains, she made careful plans to conceal her crimes”. Yeah, that’s right Jon, only Agatha Christie villains ever plan their crimes carefully. It must be her fault (I mean Christie’s, obviously). Oh, and notice the absence of the word “allegedly”. Perhaps in Iran that’s not necessary.

Economical with the news

I see on several sites- likes Alice’s for example, or the Times– that UK manufacturing output is falling at the fastest rate since 1981. I can’t find a story about it on the BBC UK page, and no-one has mentioned any coverage of it in the comments. On the other hand, I have seen repeatedly that the EU is to support UK car manufacturing. Can it be the BBC doesn’t like to remind us too much of where Labour’s economic genius has led us again? Why on earth would they prefer me to notice EU funding for UK jobs? Why don’t I notice BBC stories about personal hardship in the slump such as I remember from the days of Major? Questions. Questions (maybe I am trying to fathom why 30% might still support the incumbent troughers). I can remember when more moderate manufacturing declines and weakness in the early nineties were essential topline stories for the BBC.

News they feel you just ought to hear

No, not that some parent has fed his fourteen year old heroin, but that an evil Devonian has been riding his motorbike at 122 mph with his son on the back. This is featured among the top news stories in the UK tonight.

Riding a motorcyle in this way is of course irresponsible and wrong, but the selection of this 50 something white male to be made an example of is pure BBC preachiness. They love to tweak the nose of middle Britain, they probably consider it part of their job of (ahem) educating and informing. In fact it is attempting to add a trial-by-media system to our court system. It’s an endemic attitude at the BBC and it’s one of the things that shows how it acts out what Andrew Marr (see right) called the BBC’s ‘cultural liberal bias‘.

BBC’s currency fading

An interesting couple of links for you: Iain Dale doesn’t mention the BBC but says
“The value of the Pound is about to become the big story in town. And if not, why not?”

John Redwood meanwhile
, names and shames the BBC as the culprit behind the non-story. He says the BBC are misrepresenting the credit-crunch to present the situation in Britain as having nothing to do with domestic factors (aka the lengthy incumbency in Downing Street of one Gordon Brown).

It’s the double standards that get you.

Obama’s set-piece press conference debut contained three nice little nuggets- Obama referred to former First Lady Nancy Reagan as being into a “seances thing”. He referred to himself as a “mulatto” “mutt”, and he said that people were more interested in his new dog than in his policies. All this was there, accompanied by the anxious looks from the assembled Obama team members, yet the BBC headlined their story “impressive debut” and excerpted for video the deliberate joke that Obama planted about the “serious news” of the family’s planned dog. Have you noticed how quite a few of Obama’s joke moments don’t seem intentional? Just saying. If George Bush had said that his dogs were more interesting than his policies…

But actually the double standards I had in mind wasn’t a comparison with the coverage that has been habitually afforded to GWB’s “gaffes”. It was with the treatment of Sarah Palin whose brisk on the fly conference with the press in Alaska was reduced by the Beeb to comments about the “jerks” who were criticising her. You can get much more video here than the BBC offers. In fact the comments were contextualised in a fairly substantial response to a precise question about anonymous allegations against her. These were not criticsms but allegations which she refuted. The Beeb’s treatment made her look intemperate and peremptory where actually she was thorough and open in her response. But by cut, cut, cutting away at that response, and tacking on another, the BBC shaped and ran with the story about Sarah hitting back at “‘jerk’ critics”.

Update: you might like to check out this audio interview with Palin giving her point of view most completely.

Consistent double standards

She was fooled. She was duped. Sarah Palin gets the full unquotemarked treatment after listening politely to an imposter’s ramblings. I don’t know when it’s right to switch off a call in disgust, myself. Perhaps if the caller had made remarks about having sex with Palin’s daughter, eh? In the end Palin recognised instantly that she was talking to a radio DJ, and asked too quickly for the DJ’s own mind about their station’s listener call back facility (full audio, not on the BBC, here). The BBC meanwhile should know this only cheapens politics and public life, and that listening politely is a virtue not a vice. I can’t say I can fully defend Palin in this instance, but actually I don’t know what it must be like in her position with all the demands on her time, to be patient and polite and diplomatic in all manner of circumstances. What I do believe is that the BBC is selling this story with intemperate unqualified demeaning language which they would certainly not use of The One.

Another note about these consistent double standards- Martha Kearney rejoices herein a gotcha interview with George Osborne. She says, with a BBC hack’s usual mental rigour:

“What took me by surprise was George Osborne’s immediate admission that he had made a mistake.

I cannot recall the last time a politician did that (without being on the verge of resigning).”

Well let me help the dismal memory of this hackette out a bit- let me take you all the way back to, well, April, and to an obscure and unknown politician called Gordon Brown. I am sure he must have resigned after admitting mistakes? Otherwise we’d know that Martha Kearney’s memory was worth about as much as the BBC’s broadcasting standards and indeed their commitment to impartiality.

Who Controls The Present Controls The Past

“Who controls the present controls the past ….”

Dominic Casciani has been briefed by the Home Office, or Justice Ministry, or whatever they’re called this week, on the underreporting of violent crime. Decent of him to pass the briefing on to us verbatim.

But does this serious error in one particularly crime affect all the figures? No, insist the statisticians and ministers.

What’s more, police chiefs say it’s purely a technical problem with how some forces have recorded violence, rather than how they have investigated incidents and pursued attackers.

They say that all recorded crime is still going down and overall violence in April to June 2008 was down 7% on the same period of last year.

The British Crime Survey, the authoritative rolling study of experiences rather than police records, says your chance of being a victim is at a historically low level.

You’d never know that there were any serious criticisms of the BCS, but let that pass.

It’s the regurgitation of the government spin that’s so misleading. Strange, but “history” doesn’t go back very far when it comes to BBC crime reporting. Not so for all crimes committed in the past, eh ?

For New Labour, statistics tend to start in 1997, when they gained power. A longer time perspective is rare, especially regarding crime. The claim that ‘the risk of being a victim of crime remains historically low’ relates specifically to a comparison of the British Crime Survey of 1981 with the figures for 2003 – as if the nation enjoyed a low crime rate in 1981.

I think this graph, taken from this parliamentary report, may give us more perspective than Dominic Casciani can as to whether crime is “historically low“.

Refreshing new BBC reporting style:

It’s not often I praise the BBC, but can I say how refreshing it was to read the comment made by the BBC’s Matthew Price about the following events from Barack Obama’s campaigning?

Here’s the vid, followed by the text (I have made some minor adaptions for this site’s purposes). The original item is here.

“This has now happened too many times not to mention it.

Barack Obama lost it again today.

Today, the autocue went down.

Now yes, Barack Obama doesn’t like the autocue, he’s not particularly good at reading from it.

And yes, it is hard to speak flawlessly for 20 minutes or so to a crowd of thousands.

And yes, the campaign trail is grueling, he must be tired, I don’t know how he does it.

And yes, he’s up against one of the best orators the modern world has seen.

BUT, surely he should be able to busk the emotional appeal about a young boy in need of healthcare, the part that he should speak from the heart if the teleprompter goes down?

As the Republican pollster Frank Luntz put it in an interview recently (less charitably than me): “Stevie Wonder reads the teleprompter better than Barack Obama.”

Today Barack Obama stumbled, repeated phrases, read from the page, then looked up to the screen and re-read them.

Maybe I’m being unfair, but this is a man who is running for the top job in the country, one of the most important jobs in the world.

Does his inability to think on his feet, to go off the page, count against him?

This is his pitch to the US electorate about why they should vote for him. Surely he should be able to deliver it without notes?

Frankly today, I cringed when he stumbled, and felt embarrassed for him.”

Weight coverage not broad enough…

This concerns one of the most mind-numbing BBC coverage areas of recent times: the fat issue. The BBC just loves an opportunity to wax on about swollen numbers of fatties. The mass of stories are contradictory, tendentious, and depressing. There are stories like this from the deterministic point of view- and stories like this from the social conditioning point of view. All the time the BBC infuriatingly racking their brains about how to rid themselves of the offending fatties, without ever considering that eating and lifestyle need balancing.

And then a completely different sort of story comes along. A heartwarming story (heart-burning story?) of an eater that would have made my Grandmother proud who also happens to be a world-beating athlete. What’s that I hear from the BBC? A chirping of crickets? A blanket of absent coverage?


As has been pointed out, Russia has just invaded Georgia with 150 tanks rolling across the border. Sky has it as the lead story – the BBC has the Olympic opening ceremony as its lead story. World class broadcasting, eh? If you want news, best avoid the Olympic broadcaster. Clearly given the HUGE investment that the BBC has made with OUR money, viewers are going to have the Olympics shoved down their throat, like it or not, invasions or otherwise.