Obama Death Poll

The most viewed story on the BBC Americas site on Tuesday was “US probes Obama ‘death’ web poll” about a sick Facebook page asking if Obama should be killed. The story was given prominence on the main pages of the BBC’s News, World and Americas sections. Sky News also covered the story online, albeit with added alarmist undertones about racist protesters which the BBC, to its credit, avoided. However, unlike the BBC, Sky has done a follow up:

US Secret Service agents have revealed a teenager was behind a Facebook survey asking whether President Barack Obama should be assassinated.
The agency says it has spoken to the juvenile and his parents and determined there is no intent to harm the president.

This turn of events can’t be unknown to the BBC, and given the evident interest in the story it seems a strange editorial decision not to provide an update explaining that it was just a stupid kid doing a very stupid thing. Why would the BBC not be keen to allay the fears of its readers? Was the bland denouement such a disappointment to BBC journos that not one of them can be bothered reporting on it?

If the BBC does decide to update the story, the following information from Michael Deacon might be worth including:

But try typing “George Bush” and “die” into Facebook’s search engine.
You’ll be hit by a Niagara of groups with titles such as “George W Bush should die”, “I vote that George Bush can die”, “If this group reaches 1,000 [members] then George Bush will die”, “I want George Bush to die”, “Die Bush die”, “George Walker Bush should be killed”, “Will someone please kill George W Bush”…
These groups were there while George W Bush was in office. Eight months after he left, they’re still there.

Also possibly worthy of mention could be this plea for the assassination of George Bush, written in 2004:

The world will endure four more years of idiocy, arrogance and unwarranted bloodshed, with no benevolent deity to watch over and save us. John Wilkes Booth, Lee Harvey Oswald, John Hinckley Jr. — where are you now that we need you?

That was Charlie Brooker, Guardian columnist and now, er, BBC TV presenter.

Everything in the garden is lovely.

Apologies if someone has already posted or commented on this outpouring of Obamalove from Matt Frei. It’s a month old now but still astonishing.

Turning one corner of the White House lawn into a vegetable allotment was an inspired move. And like just about everything else the First Family has turned its attention to, it seemed to come naturally.

The Obamas do not look awkward doing normal things.

Considering the combination of limelight and expectations weighing on the White House, this is quite an achievement.

George W Bush smirked too much, displaying the unbearable lightness of his being at inappropriate times. His father was accused of not knowing what a supermarket checkout scanner was.

I love that “was accused of”. Was it too much trouble for the BBC (aim: to be the world’s most trusted provider of international news) to check out this rumour on Snopes and establish whether the accusation was – what was that word again? – oh, yes, true?

As a candidate, Barack Obama showed that he can harness the power of the Internet and reach out to millions of eager foot-soldiers while keeping the decisions that matter confined to a tiny kitchen cabinet.

Apart from a few slip-ups, he has maintained that mixture of outer charm and inner discipline, of outreach and exclusivity

But what I do remember is that they hit the right note and touched the right nerve at the right time.

On the economy, he was sober without being too pessimistic. On bankers’ bonuses, he shared our outrage without inciting the masses to put heads on stakes. On life in the White House, he combined humility, pride and fun at being the boss with bemusement at life in the armoured bubble.

He told Europe that America had been too arrogant and then chastised Europeans for being prone to a knee-jerk anti-Americanism.

On swine flu, he said there was reason to be concerned but no cause for alarm.

Fear the flu. But flu is not to be feared. When you understand this koan, said the Master, then you will have enlightenment.

He is both bold and measured. It is called nuance – and America and the world have been yearning for it.

America and the World: Yearning for Nuance Since November 3rd 2004.

The marriage of reassuring language and bold policy has been his true victory in the first 100 days.

And there I was thinking his true victory was something to do with General Motors.

Meanwhile, back at the batcave …

… Peter Rippon, editor of Newsnight, has responded to the complaints about how an audio clip of President Obama’s inaugural speech was spliced, had its order altered, and then was rejoined to make a new sentence never actually spoken by Obama.

The original post in Harmless Sky can be read here. My B-BBC post on the subject is here.

Mr Rippon writes,

We did edit sections of the speech to reflect the elements in it that referred to Science. The aim was to give people an impression or montage of what Obama said about science in his inauguration speech. This was signposted to audiences with fades between each point. It in no way altered the meaning or misrepresented what the President was saying.

I don’t think Mr Rippon’s response answers the objections raised.

Point one: fades, what fades? Listening to the audio clip there is a change in the quality of the background sound at the first splice point, which I initially heard as a faint sound but now think is just a discontinuity. No one who was not listening specifically for the break point would ever think it was anything other than a continuous flow of speech. Fades are meant to, you know, fade.

Point two: there is not even that at the second break point – it runs smoothly on.

Point three: what about the alteration of the order? Someone just offering up a montage of phrases doesn’t mess with the order such that a new, coherent (but never actually spoken) sentence is created.

Point four: the meaning was altered and TonyN’s original post in Harmless Sky explained very clearly why. He wrote, “Paragraph 16 does not refer to climate change in any way, but to economic and infrastructure problems. The reference to harnessing the sun, wind and soil could as easily refer to energy security as global warming.” But in the BBC version it does appear to refer to global warming.

I would add that in the original sentence as spoken by Obama, “We will restore science to its rightful place, and wield technology’s wonders to raise health care’s quality and lower its cost”, the fact that science being restored to its rightful place is immediately followed by a reference to healthcare gives me the strong impression that it was meant to refer to lifting restrictions on the federal funding of research into embryonic stem cells. The BBC version, “We will restore science to its rightful place – roll back the spectre of a warming planet”, makes it sound as if the restoration of science to its rightful place refers to President Bush’s alleged scepticism over global warming. This interpretation is reinforced by the whole tone of Susan Watts’ blog post and video essay: “But in climate change and other key challenges of science, Bush wouldn’t listen to the scientists. He didn’t like their view of the world, and he didn’t like what they were saying.”

Blimey, that sounds like something aimed at ten-year olds. I am not Obama’s biggest fan, but at least when speaking in his own words he sounds like he is addressing adults.

BBC spliced and joined separate parts of President Obama’s speech in order to make it appear to take a stronger line on global warming.

Steve T in comments pointed out this post by TonyN of “Harmless Sky”.

TonyN links to an audio clip of Obama apparently saying, “We will restore science to its rightful place, [and] roll back the spectre of a warming planet. We will harness the sun and the winds and the soil to fuel our cars and run our factories.”

But, as TonyN writes:

I didn’t seem to remember him saying that at all.

When the program [i.e. Newsnight – NS] was over, I went back to the text and this is what I found.

It would seem that someone at the BBC had taken the trouble to splice the tape so that half a sentence from paragraph 16 of the inauguration speech was joined on to half a sentence from paragraph 22, and this apparently continuous sound bite was completed by returning to paragraph 16 again to lift another complete sentence.

Read the rest of his detailed analysis. Incidentally, I couldn’t hear an “and” at the first splice-point of the audio clip, just an unidentifiable noise.

(Added later.) To make one sentence out of two widely separated half-sentences would be shabby and manipulative enough for a broadcaster. To then interfere with the order in which things were said, so that the sentence fragment about “a warming planet” has been falsely interposed between other phrases to which it had no real link, is yet worse. The BBC has gone beyond “dowdification” into something else. “Beebification”, perhaps.

(Another update.) You can hear the spliced audio clip directly from the BBC in the “video essay” at the base of this blog post by Susan Watts, Newsnight‘s science editor. Quite apart from the splicing, the Susan Watts post itself would provide material enough for another B-BBC post (“Scientists have grown used to attempts to silence them”) – but I have to be gone.

UPDATE 24 JAN.: There is a further post discussing the response of the editor of Newsnight to complaints about this here.


Interesting to consider the treatment afforded to the great orator Obama when he a/Firstly fluffed his inauguration oath and then b/Had to take it again, but this time without a Bible. The BBC coverage plays it up with gentle humour but can you imagine the treatment Bush would have got had he made such a gaffe? I wonder, for example, what the left-wing BBC chorus of “comedians” will have to say about this? In the age of Obama, the media whores comply with the narrative.



Well, there’s no escaping the fact that Obama is to be sworn in today as 44th President of the United States and as you can see here, the BBC are worshipping at his feet. What a contrast with those occasions when a Republican was sworn into office! It appears in BBC parlance that only a Democrat can “unite” the nation (and planet) whereas Republicans only divide. I caught Justin Webb on Today earlier – revolting Obama sycophancy. I caught an item alleging how the US was literally falling apart because of lack of “investment” in infra-structure. It seems that no other President has considered these issues and so it will take The One to make it all right. Let us be be clear; today is one vast left wing love-in, with the BBC spending vast amounts of our money to ensure that they push the virtues of their man now in the White House. The smiling media faces, the sanitised coverage – get used to it – this is how it will be. Objectivity and critical analysis are out the window – fall at his feet and worship.



Yes, I know it has not happened but judging from the tone of the BBC coverage today, it may as well have. I caught Justin Webb (Who else?0 on Today just before 7am declaring that the only factors that can stop The One winning are 1. If his huge army of cultists don’t actually turn out to vote on the day and 2. If Americans are really prepared to vote for a black man. So, the defence is already in from Justin- if America does NOT elect Obama it is because too many Americans are RACIST. Got that? When he was at it, Justin managed his obligatory swipe at Sarah Palin, suggesting that whilst she was the darling of “the base” (aka redneck scum in the sophisticated Justin’s deluded mind) she was a real problem for many other voters (Democrats) There is no doubt that Sarah Palin has induced real irrational hatred from the political left and Justin is a prime example of PDS.

Next up, the polls. The BBC runs an interview with Bob Worcester in which he concludes Obama has a 95.7% chance of winning. The polls have been playing a major part in the Democrat campaign and as has been reported here the intent is to demoralise McCain supporters and imply that the outcome is already predetermined so there is no real point in republican supporters voting . I believe the BBC will play along with this “It’s a landslide” riff as Obamania fever mounts over the next week. The BBC thinks that in just over seven days the end of the wicked Bush regime is in sight and that a socialising appeasing liberal will be elected as President. Nothing will stop it doing everything possible to project this and this week’s Question Time from the States should be a guaranteed Halloween horror show (I won’t be around to blog it).

Phew, that’s a relief:

“McCain team ‘cynical, not racist'”

Says who? Says Obama. And the BBC considers this news? That the chosen one would pardon his nasty opponent from the unforgivable sin by substituting a lesser criticism. Sorry BBC, this is not balance- it’s reverence for your man. It’s bias.

They go on to report “The latest row began when the McCain campaign claimed that Mr Obama had “played the race card” by warning that the Republican would try to scare voters about how Mr Obama looked unlike “all those other presidents on the dollar bills” – all white men.”

Notice how the row began- not with the Obama accusation but… McCain, of course.


I was reading the BBC’s coverage of the Rev Jesse Jackon’s gaffe concerning Democrat Presidential nominee Obama. Clearly the shakedown merchant par excellence was caught out and his bumbling apologetic “My support for Senator Obama’s campaign is wide, deep and unequivocal” was hilarious. Once again Fox News provides us with something interesting. But if you wade through the BBC report towards the end you can virtually hear the violins start up when it states “Mr Obama has had a number of problems with clergymen during his election campaign.” Odd way of putting it, don’t you think? I mean it’s not that Obama has been some sort of hapless victim of these unscrupulous clerics. He CHOSE the Rev Wright as his spiritual guru, for example. If Obama has problem, they emanate from his very poor judgement, something the BBC will twist in the breeze before analysing.


I was watching the BBC News last evening as it was in full Obama cheer-leading mode. One of the things that struck me was that the BBC instantly played the race card, showing images going back to the 1950’s of the discrimination faced by coloured people then. This was followed by images showing the rise of the Civil Rights movement. In the BBC mind, if Martin Luther King was John the Baptist, a President Obama would be Jesus Christ. It’s all about race and the enlightenment of (at least some) American people, or so the BBC would have you believe . However when the hated George W Bush promoted both Colin Powell and then Condi Rice to the very senior position of Secretary of State, I don’t seem to recall similar BBC euphoria. Then the skin colour did not matter so much. I read somewhere that people should not vote for Obama because of his skin. I fully agree. Not because it is black (which is neither here nor there for any civilised person) but because it is too thin. Obama reacts badly to any criticism and between now and November you can be certain that the BBC will flay those who point out his many defects. If only Obama was gay then I suspect the BBC would be in 7th heaven. Instead , when he is beaten byMcCain to the horror of the BBC, they will be in hell. Can’t wait.