In the Monday open thread, I called attention to the BBC’s misrepresentation of the US Supreme Court’s vote to overrule an Appeals Court ruling upholding racial preferences in university admissions. The BBC claimed that the Supreme Court has gotten more conservative since 2003, when the Court originally voted to uphold racial preferences, and on which the present case was based. This was a BBC suggestion as to the cause of the ruling.
I called that assessment into question, not only because the vote was 7-1 (with the very Left-wing Kagan recusing herself, as she supported the case in a previous job), with two liberal Justices joining the majority, but because the Court had in 2003 and still has now a liberal majority, 5-4.
The Justices in 2003:
Chief Justice Rehnquist – conservative
Stevens – liberal
O’Connor – conservative
Scalia – conservative
Kennedy – liberal
Souter – liberal
Thomas – conservative
Ginsburg – liberal
Breyer – liberal
5 liberal – 4 conservative
Chief Justice Roberts – conservative
Alito – conservative
Kennedy – liberal
Thomas – conservative
Sotomayor – liberal
Ginsburg – liberal
Scalia – conservative
Breyer – liberal
Kagan – liberal
5 liberal – 4 conservative
Today, the Supreme Court voted to overturn the Defense of Marriage Act, which barred homosexual couples from having certain benefits and rights that heterosexual couples have. Spot the missing President who originally signed the bill into law. Can you guess which political party he was? Can you guess which leading Presidential candidate for 2016 with a close personal connection to him? Blatant bias by omission there. I do hope they add this relevant bit of information as the story “evolves” (i.e. an editor tells them to stop hiding what they already know). (UPDATE: The story has evolved. The BBC now mentions Clinton, although not his party. But they get points for admitting that it had bi-partisan support in Congress. Mark Mardell would have been pleased with their determination to reach across the aisle to get things done.)
This uncomfortable fact was also censored from the BBC’s Q&A on the issue of homosexual marriage. All you’re told is that the law was “passed by Congress” in 1996. Of course, when The Obamessiah signs a bill into law, it’s all about Him doing it. When it’s a law they don’t like, particularly when it’s one signed by a darling Democrat, there’s no President to be seen.
Also, check out how the Justices voted. Exactly along the labels I gave them above. More conservative still?
What’s funny is that this is now the third major ruling in the last year in which the Supreme Court ruled on the liberal side of an issue. They upheld the key portions of ObamaCare, and struck down the key part of Arizona’s “controversial” law about dealing with illegal immigration. Now with this decision, the Left-wing/Progressive faction has victories in the three biggest issues. Yet the BBC describes the Court as becoming more conservative when it returns a decision to the lower court. Note that no law was struck down or upheld specifically by the racial preferences ruling, but rather rejected a lower court’s decision. The law is still in place, yet the BBC decided to plant the notion that the Court had become more conservative, in spite of the evidence.
Now that there’s yet another Left-wing victory, the BBC is not pointing out the liberal majority on the Court, or even daring to remind you of the political party which originally signed the DoMA into law. Is the Court still trending conservative, BBC?
The BBC should simply shut down the entire US division and replace them all with a shaved orangutan managing a news aggregator. You’d be more and better informed, and tens of millions of pounds would be saved.
Everyone knows by now how the BBC got it wrong on Benghazi. I made a post about how the BBC was censoring news of what really happened on Sept. 13, 2012, two days after the attack. Plenty of people here from then on posted links to stories about it, and we all wondered why the BBC kept ignoring it or simply followed the White House talking points and dismissed those complaining. Now we know why they did this. As Mark Mardell has admitted (h/t DB), he thought it was all just partisan attack nonsense to which he needn’t pay attention.
In the interests of full disclosure I have to say I have not in the past been persuaded that allegations of a cover-up were a big deal. It seemed to me a partisan attack based on very little.
His very next sentence suggests that he was more convinced by a different spin on the incident, because it came from sources he was more likely to trust.
I remember listening to reports from the BBC and others at the time that did suggest the attack in Benghazi was a spontaneous reaction to a rather puerile anti-Islamic video.
Even though I’m not a journalist, I’ve heard enough from actual Beeboids who used to comment here, as well as from self-proclaimed journalists who’ve made attempts to explain it, not to mention the statements made by Mardell himself and the head of the BBC bureau in the US about how they decide what gets published/broadcast, to know that, no matter how hard everyone tries to be impartial, personal opinion is going to inform decisions on some level, at some point in time. The BBC’s top man in the US has now admitted that his personal opinion of both the sources of the complaints and what he understood of their merits prevented him from taking it seriously. It can’t be much of a stretch to conclude that the BBC in general took the same position. After all, they do tend to follow the lead of their fellow Left-wing journalists in the US.
One has to wonder just how much he knew about the complaints of mistakes regarding embassy security and the cover-up of what the Administration knew and the consequential lies to the victims’ families and the public about it, including lies told by someone at least one Beeboid sees as a global inspiration. Did Mardell simply dismiss it all because it was coming from Republicans, people he’s described on more than one occasion as “enemies” of the President? Not to mention the fact that everyone knew this was going to be a major issue in the campaign to re-elect Him. The BBC doesn’t like to report things which make Him look bad, and are more interested in demonizing opponents than investigating what’s going on. Mardell certainly has form on dismissing any criticism of Him as partisan attacks with little merit.
The day after the attacks, people were posting other news items on the open thread here about what actually happened, and showing what the BBC kept leaving out. It was clear even then that the President and His Administration was not being truthful, pushing the phony story about that video causing it. At the time, Mardell bought it hook, line, and sinker, and even seized on it to take a swipe at Mitt Romney (then the Republican nominee contesting His re-election). The BBC wasn’t interested in reality then, and continued to cover their eyes and ears for months. Defenders of the indefensible love to dismiss things because of the source (Fox News! Fox News!), refusing to even go into the merits of any of it. Yet who’s getting the last laugh now? One has to wonder if Mardell and the BBC similarly dismissed the merits of the stories simply because they didn’t like the source.
The fact that the BBC is only now getting around to admitting all of this and reporting it is revealing of how they prioritize news stories. It was only after the latest round of hearings started and the revelations were spread across the front pages of their preferred news outlets for more than a day that they decided is was newsworthy. The revelations had been out for days before that, and in some cases, weeks and months. Yet the BBC couldn’t be bothered. A simple news aggregator would have kept you better informed, and you could all decide for yourself what had merit and what didn’t. The gatekeepers failed you here.
The BBC has form on censoring deciding stories simply aren’t worth your time, only to be forced by reality to report it much later on, long after everyone here knows all about it. For example:
“Fast & Furious”, where the Administration oversaw guns being sold illegally to people who they knew would sell to Mexican drug cartels, without tracking them, in the hopes of creating a body count on which they could exploit to push for stricter gun laws, and then tried to cover it up.
They censored almost all news about the billions sent down the Green Toilet to failed green energy businesses run mostly by Democrat money-bundlers.
They’ve also censored news of all but two gaffes by the President, as it conflicts with the “He’s so suave and cool and far more intelligent than the inarticulate Bush” groupthink. Bush got no such protection, as even the slightest misstep was ridiculed for your benefit.
There’s plenty of other stuff the BBC thought you didn’t need to know. Have a look at this list and judge for yourselves if any of it was newsworthy or not.
The latest major story the BBC has so far kept from you is the admission by the IRS that they’ve been illegally targeting and harassing Tea Party groups and other non-Left organizations. This has apparently been going on for some times, as a top Administration official (at the time) inadvertently mentioned over two years ago that the President’s inner circle had illegal access to tax information of their political opponents. It’s a big deal, but in the interests of keeping this from being yet another of my tediously lengthy posts, I’ll just link to an op-ed from the national newspaper perhaps respected most by the BBC: the Washington Post. Not Fox News, not Breitbart, not Jihadwatch, not Glen Beck. It’s simply not possible for defenders of the indefensible to dismiss this because of the source.
A BEDROCK principle of U.S. democracy is that the coercive powers of government are never used for partisan purpose. The law is blind to political viewpoint, and so are its enforcers, most especially the FBI and the Internal Revenue Service. Any violation of this principle threatens the trust and the voluntary cooperation of citizens upon which this democracy depends.
So it was appalling to learn Friday that the IRS had improperly targeted conservative groups for scrutiny. It was almost as disturbing that President Obama and Treasury Secretary Jack Lew have not personally apologized to the American people and promised a full investigation.
With all this in mind, I say again that the BBC has given up being as serious news organization when it comes to US issues. They may have a titled editor on the scene, and at least 100 employees beavering away at the website and producing those “bespoke” video magazine pieces, but it’s little more than a lightweight content producer these days, with an eye to attracting the MOR and low-information crowd, along with the ad and subscription revenue that comes with their eyeballs. Your license fee hard at work. Sure, most of this is technically paid for by the commercial arm, BBC Worldwide, but there’s plenty of sharing of resources and funding. And after all, this is your official state broadcaster expanding far beyond its original remit.
UPDATE, 5/13: The BBC has now reported it. Because the President spoke out about it, it’s new. He has condemned the actions and promised to deal with it, so all is well.
“I’ve got no patience with it, I will not tolerate it and I will make sure that we find out exactly what happened.”
Yes, I say “lie”. Mark Mardell is lying. I say he’s lying and not merely reporting something when he’s misinformed, or making a claim based on false information for which he’s not responsible. I’m saying Mardell is lying because he knows what he’s saying is not true.
The BBC’s US President editor continues pushing the White House talking points about the “Sequester” budget cuts on Today, and here’s a link to the printed version.
It’s more or less the same biased stuff he produced the other day, which I wrote about here. This time, though, instead of avoiding telling you who really came up with the Sequester plan, Mardell just openly lies about it.
Many Republicans say the idea for the “sequester” budget cuts was President Obama’s in the first place. The White House rejects that.
Whoever came up with the idea, the 2011 law meant failure to agree would cut both cherished Democratic programmes that helped the poor and defence spending beloved of Republicans.
There’s even a bit of bias in the last line there, which I’ll get to in a moment. First, to expose the lie.
It’s not just Republicans saying it. By phrasing it that way, Mardell leads you to believe that it’s a matter of opinion. In fact, as I showed in my previous post on Mardell’s spin, the White House has admitted that it was the President’s offer. I’ll just reprint the quote from CNBC (not Fox News, not Breitbart) about it, to save defenders of the indefensible the pain of having to read another post of mine:
Woodward documents in his 2012 book The Price of Politics that team Obama first proposed the idea of the sequester. Expanding on his work in a Sunday Washington Post op-ed, he noted—as he has before—that both President Obama and his would-be Treasury Secretary Jack Lew lied on the campaign trail by saying the sequester originated with House Republicans. The White House has now ceded that fact.
“Fact”. Not good enough for you? Forbes says it was His idea. The Washington Post, which Mardell reads regularly, gives His claim Four Pinocchios, and provides evidence to back up the fact that it was His idea. Even Politifact rates the President’s claim that the cuts was Congress’s idea as “mostly false”. Politico, which Mardell reads regularly, almost admitted it, but they couldn’t quite bring themselves to hurt Him and so framed it in an amusingly contorted bit of spin that would make Helen Boaden proud:
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) agreed to give Obama the authority…
Last year, the House passed two bills that would have stopped the sequester and replaced some of the spending cuts with others. But the White House said the magnitude of the cuts was unacceptable and would imperil critical government programs.
Anyone who gets their information on US issues from the BBC will be very aware of which Party runs the House. The President could have prevented this, but chose not to. Curiously, Mardell chose not to tell you about it.
If none of this is good enough for you, here’s White House spokesman Jay Carney, personal friend of BBC Washington correspondent and anchor of BBC World News America Katty Kay, saying, “the sequester was one of the ideas yes put forward, yes, by the president’s team.”
In other words, Mardell knows exactly who started this, exactly whose idea the sequestered cuts are, and exactly what he’s doing when he misleads you. Blame must always be shifted from The Obamessiah. Trapped in a world He never made, it’s not His fault, you see.
Almost forgot about the bias in that sentence about which cuts supposedly hurt whom. Consider the pantomime caricatures Mardell uses: the Democrats want to help the poor, while it’s the war machine that’s so beloved by the Republicans. Can you tell where you’re meant to boo and hiss, and where you’re meant to cheer? I guess that makes Mardell the pantomime dame, although that’s probably an insult to the integrity of pantomime dames everywhere.
In case you didn’t come away from all this “journalism” with the idea that the cuts supposedly forced on Him by evil Republicans would be a catastrophe for the country (another White House talking point which is going to turn out not so true) and, by extension, the UK and the world (which is why it gets promoted on Today), the BBC’s US President editor ends with this bit of dramatic prose:
There is seemingly no end to this toxic tale of cruel dismemberment and government by crisis.
Emotive terms, value judgment, full stop. Notice whom he’s criticizing, and who gets a free pass. This is an editorial, an opinion piece, not journalism. Don’t trust him or the BBC on US issues.This is your license fee hard at work.
PS: I realize most people here don’t really care much about the US or much foreign stuff at all, and are mostly – and quite rightly – concerned with the BBC’s bias on domestic issues. All I can say is that you should be concerned that the BBC spreads poison elsewhere at your expense, and that they’ve clearly gone far beyond their remit of providing public service broadcasting and are actually dedicated to expanding the BBC’s tentacles across the globe purely because they can. The BBC exists now for itself, and not for you. It’s also a relentless drive for more revenue, something else that’s not supposed to be part of the BBC’s reason for existence. The BBC does this stuff in your name, and the BBC bias is everywhere, across the spectrum of broadcasting, all over the world.
I’m sure by now everyone knows about the looming swinging budget cuts that will happen automatically if no new budget deal is reached between the Republicans and the President. This is known as the “sequester”, and is the result of them kicking the can down the road a while back.
The BBC reports that the President doesn’t want this to happen, thinks it’s a bad idea, and has called on Democrat Governors to try and influence the elected Representatives and/or Senators in their States to cave compromise.
He warned the $85bn (£56bn) cuts would put thousands of teachers out of work and bring economic uncertainty.
The president has called on Congress to pass revenue rises and narrow budget cuts to avoid the automatic reductions.
The Democratic president will travel to Virginia on Tuesday to discuss the cuts’ impact on the defence industry.
“These cuts do not have to happen,” Mr Obama told a bipartisan assembly of governors at the White House on Monday. “Congress can turn them off any time with just a little bit of compromise.”
“Revenue rises”. Typical partisan language there. The Republicans refer to it as “tax rises”, of course, and the BBC uses instead the Left-wing terminology. Is the President offering to compromise as well? Don’t be silly. He doesn’t, and shouldn’t have to. According to Mark Mardell, when Congress is controlled by Democrats who don’t need to negotiate with Republicans to pass His plans, it’s a Golden Age.
Unsurprisingly, there’s another point of view that these cuts won’t really do much damage at all. In fact, spending will actually continue to rise and rise. The “cuts” just mean that the spending will rise slightly less than it would have otherwise. Does that sound familiar? Even Forbes admits this. Equally unsurprising is the fact that, not only does the BBC refuse to acknowledge this, but they even manage to quote a cuddly Republican, Sen. McCain, who says he doesn’t totally blame the President and is hoping for a compromise to protect the defense industry.
The BBC dutifully informs you that both sides of the aisle will try to blame each other. So, whose fault is this, really? The BBC reports it this way:
The budget cuts, known in Washington DC as the sequester, were devised in 2011 as an intentionally painful cudgel to encourage Democrats and Republicans in Congress to strike a deal to reduce the US budget deficit.
Note the passive voice, as if the cuts materialized out of thin air during some bi-partisan discussions. In actual fact, it was the President’s idea. He and the White House have been lying about it, and the BBC plays along like the good little propaganda organ it is.
Woodward documents in his 2012 book The Price of Politics that team Obama first proposed the idea of the sequester. Expanding on his work in a Sunday Washington Post op-ed, he noted—as he has before—that both President Obama and his would-be Treasury Secretary Jack Lew lied on the campaign trail by saying the sequester originated with House Republicans. The White House has now ceded that fact.
The BBC doesn’t want you to know this, so they spin for the White House and deliberately mislead you. Defenders of the indefensible cannot impugn Woodward here. After all, not only is the above not from Fox News or Breitbart, but a previous book on the President by Woodward was lauded by the former BBC Washington correspondent and anchor of BBC World News America, Matt Frei. A diehard Obamessiah worshiper himself, Frei’s only concern then was that all the fascinating issues in the book might get in the way of the reader appreciating “the nuance of his finely-tuned brain”.
The cuts probably won’t be a big deal at all, and in fact will be considered a good start in some circles. The possibility of this is so great that Democrats and their lobbyists are worried about what might happen if there is no disaster. That’s in the Washington Post, not Fox News, not Breitbart. So the President has to do as much fear-mongering as possible, and work behind the scenes (i.e. get the Democrat Governors to do political cuts in the manner of Labour councils in Britain) to ensure as bad an outcome as possible. Is the BBC providing any analysis from this angle? Of course not. He can do no wrong. It’s not His fault, you see. And in any case, cutting government spending is a sin.
Your license fee hard at work, providing a propaganda outlet for the leader of a foreign country.
This is too good to pass up. In the open thread, I called attention to a tweet from the anchor of BBC World News America, Katty Kay, where she actually criticized the President for having too many white men in His cabinet.
How depressing is the photo accompanying this piece? NYTimes: Obama’s Remade Inner Circle Has an All-Male Look, So Far nyti.ms/UGK1Y8
That was yesterday. Today, Katty was on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe”, co-hosted by former Republican Congressman Joe Scarborough (who went native after a while, sort of like Nick Robinson, but has been straying off the reservation for some time now) and Leftoid hack Mika Brzezinski. Now that she’s on national television, the highest- profile Beeboid in the US is dutifully defending the President against charges of sexism. Her contribution is right at the start of this video clip, then she rejoins the discussion after about 5:30 in. Notice the anger she displays. (Here’s a link in case the embedded clip doesn’t work for you.) Impartial or what?
Sure, the Morning Joe producers obviously asked Katty to speak up for the President in the debate, just like any producer would be trying to get a guest to take a stance on the issue of the day. That’s why she was brought in: to give an opinion. But what a joke. Yesterday, she was criticizing the President, today she defends Him. And what a defense: Last term, the President had women in high places, so it doesn’t matter if it’s back to an old boys’ network now. Classic.
Katty Kay: hypocrite, partisan hack, your national broadcaster’s representative in the US. Is she in violation of the BBC guidelines? Judge for yourselves (NB: Katty is technically one of those pay-my-corporation “freelancers”):
Public Speaking and Other Public Appearances
It is important that no public speaking commitments or other public appearances are seen to undermine the objectivity or integrity of the BBC or its content, or suggest BBC endorsement of a third party organisation, product, service or campaign.
Although freelance presenters of BBC programmes may gain a proportion of their non-BBC income from off-air public appearances, they must guard against appearances which undermine their on-air role. They should not allow the use of the BBC’s name or brands in connection with advertising for a public appearance. There should be no suggestion of a BBC connection or endorsement of the third party event or organisation, unless it is editorially appropriate and has been approved by the relevant head of department.
News and Current Affairs Staff, Global News and News Staff in the Nations
BBC News and Current affairs staff, BBC correspondents on non-staff contracts and freelances known primarily as presenters or reporters on BBC news and current affairs programmes, must remain impartial when speaking publicly or taking part in similar events, such as a public discussion or debate. They must not promote any political party, campaigning organisation or lobby group. They should not chair conferences which are a promotional exercise for a commercial company, that supports any political parties, or is one-sided on a matter of public policy, political or industrial controversy or any other ‘controversial subject’.
This latest “bespoke” video magazine feature in the BBC’s “Altered States”* series really appears on the surface to be not only a balanced presentation on gun rights and laws, but could actually be interpreted by people not paying attention as being biased in favor of gun advocates. It isn’t, but it’s very cleverly disguised.
Remember the choice of “more” and “more” in this title for later. First, let me point out that this video piece was put together without BBC influence or prompting. It was made by Charles Ledford, who recently became Associate Professor of Journalism at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He seems to be a recent hire, as he only finished his MA less than two years ago. From what I’ve been able to find online, Ledford is into exactly the kind of new digital media journalism that the BBC has been pushing for the last couple of years, and which many see as the future of journalism, full stop. No problem there, I’m just pointing out why the BBC looked to him for content. It makes perfect sense from a newsgathering standpoint.
(UPDATE: John Boch, from Guns Save Life has posted a comment below.)
Now for the bias. If we judge this piece simply on the basis of how much time is given to each side of the debate, then gun advocates win handily. More time is definitely given to their side. However, Ledford very cleverly undermines all of it.
Ledford was, for reasons unknown (not necessarily devious, just literally unknown to me, and the BBC doesn’t reveal any), doing some video journalism on the issue of gun rights for some time before the Newtown mass murder happened. So this piece was clearly not created with that particular agenda in mind. Was there an agenda anyway? I think so.
The first segment features gun advocates from the Guns Save Life group in Illinois. One of the Directors, John Naese, who seems to be acting as spokesman here, is given uninterrupted air time to explain the group’s positions on gun ownership laws.
The blurb accompanying the video on the BBC website says that Guns Save Life “are arguing for more permissive gun laws”. But are they? Considering that politicians in Illinois and in other parts of the country are always trying to enact ever more restrictive gun laws, one could just as easily say that the group is arguing to protect existing gun rights. But that would be speaking from their side of the argument. The opposite side of the argument is that they want more permissive gun laws. This bias is inherent in Ledford’s production and in the headline provided by the BBC sub editor. “More guns”. Gun advocates don’t necessarily want more guns, they just want to be allowed to keep what they own, and for citizens to keep the rights they already have. That’s not “more”.
The blurb also claims that Ledford’s video provides “an insight into the strongly held beliefs that influence discussion on this topic”. It doesn’t. What it really does is show you one perspective on the people who strongly hold certain beliefs about gun rights. Which is actually the goal of the piece. Naese pretty much just spells out the position on gun rights. There is no insight offered into the beliefs themselves. Nothing new is offered. But to people like Leford and the BBC editor who thought this was great stuff, the key is that they look down on the people who hold those beliefs.
The clever bit, though, comes after the segment featuring the Guns Save Life meeting. At the meeting, we’re treated to a scene of members reading out humorous rhymes about self defense. We then segue to the mother of a victim of some mass murder. Naturally, she is going to hold absolute moral authority, and actually claims it herself.
The first words out of the mother’s mouth are: “I don’t have a sense of humor about deadly force”.
Ooh, cuts you right to the quick, doesn’t it? Just look at those fat, hirsute, rednecks laughin’ about killin’. Pretty much destroys their argument, no? Well, no. The light-hearted scene has nothing whatsoever to do with the real attitude about gun rights, the right to bear arms, the right to self-defense. But that’s the “insight” Ledford wants to show you, and the brilliant point the BBC editor who selected this for publication saw and felt you needed to see. It’s fairly obvious that Ledford (or a student he sent over to do the interview) showed the woman footage of the fat old rednecks reading their little jokes, and asked something like, “So, what do you think of these assholes?”
Then the mother claims absolute moral authority by stating that the joking gun owners don’t know what it’s like to to lose a loved one.
If one goes by the stopwatch or word count, sure, the gun advocates get the lion’s share of the piece. But it’s very obvious where the weight of the feature lies: with the absolute moral authority of the mother who lost her only child. It doesn’t get more tear-jerking than that. The gun advocates are even given the last word, but it’s just more boilerplate, more simple spelling out of their position: banning guns doesn’t help. There’s no insight, no actual argument being made.
This, to the BBC, is the entire argument about gun rights in a nutshell: stupid rednecks who have no clue love their guns, while the reality is that innocents are killed and it hurts all of us. At no point are we given any actual insight into the gun owners’ beliefs, but we are given insight into why some people are against gun ownership. One side is portrayed as serious, based on morality and compassion, while the other side is portrayed as a figure of fun. It’s a biased piece, intended to denigrate gun rights advocates while elevating those on the other side of the argument.
Again, Ledford did this on his own. Or, at least, did part of it on his own and then got a follow-up quote or two from the Guns Save Life folks after the Newtown tragedy at the BBC’s behest. Either way, the goal is clear, which is why the BBC selected it for publication.
*I hate the BBC’s title “Altered States”. It has negative connotations, implies things have changed, and not necessarily for the better. It’s been a running theme in BBC reporting since we elected a black man as President that the country has become more divisive, more messed up, more racist. This title emphasizes that perspective. Yes, I know it’s a reference to the rather entertaining little sci-fi movie starring William Hurt about a scientist who manages to regress himself back to a primitive state of evolution. It just supports my point.
This post was inspired by a recent comment from Jim Dandy, one of our defenders of the indefensible. He said that he wanted opinion in his journalism. I expressed my disappointment that he wanted “opinionated” journalism, and he objected to what he thought was my deliberate twisting of his words.
You do know what opinionated means don’t you? It does not mean the condition of having an opinion. Or perhaps you are deliberately twisting my words.
Impartiality allows for opinion to be expressed.
I was confused by this, and asked for an explanation, which I got:
Opinionated is a perjorative term suggesting the person unduly, aggressively and dogmatically holds by their opinions.
It might be different in the US.
Still confused, I tried a different tack, and asked Jim if he felt that the BBC’s North America editor, Mark Mardell was the embodiment of his definition, to which he said, simply, “No.”
This led me to compile this collection of Mardell’s journalism to provide evidence that he does, in fact, unduly, aggressively and dogmatically hold by his opinion. Specifically his opinion that the Tea Party movement and, essentially, all opposition to the President is based on racism.
Read the following, and decide for yourselves whether or not Mardell allows his personal opinion to inform his reporting, and whether or not he has dogmatically stuck to his guns in spite of the evidence before him.
September 15, 2009, when Mardell was barely a month into his new job:
So I am describing and inviting debate, not passing comment. The relationship between black and white has been such an important driving factor in American political history that it would be strange if it now mattered not a jot. The allegation is that many of those who are calling their president “un-American” mean he is not white.
Democratic propaganda, over-sensitivity or truth? Tell me…
He says he’s not passing comment, then gives his opinion anyway. This is after he gives you a link to only one point of view from the vaunted NY Times: yes, opposition to the President is based on racism. Mardell came to the US knowing for a fact that this is a racist country. Let’s see if he learns anything in the coming years.
Just a couple of weeks later, Mardell eagerly reported that Jimmy Carter said that opposition to the President was due to racism. He then went out to try and find people to support that, but came away with only the suggestion that the African-American community thinks it’s all down to racism. To Mardell, this is proof enough. The President Himself said that He doesn’t think that’s the case, but Mardell believes He’s lying.
Just outside his restaurant, I chat to some African-American women and mention what we are doing.
“Woah woah for Carter,” one says, raising her hands above her head. “He tells it like it is.”
She cannot peer into the soul of the protesters, any more than President Carter can.
But many African-Americans may feel as though a subterranean stream has burst above ground, even if the president would rather not get caught in the spray.
This woman may not be able to peer into people’s souls, but obviously Mardell can. And he does, over and over.
Mardell and the sub editor who wrote the title are actually referring to what they see as ideological purity regarding taxation and small government, but nobody with any intellectual honesty can claim that they don’t realize the not-so-subtle reference to the idea of racial purity espoused by actual white supremacists. Mardell chose the word very carefully. After talking about policy stuff, he said this near the end of the post:
There is no display of the visceral hatred that dripped from the cable networks last summer, and little of the sense that Obama’s government is some how illegitimate, rather than just plain wrong. There is a feeling that the president promised to govern from the centre and he hasn’t. But I have to ask, is this movement really of the people, or of largely white, largely well-off people?
They’re white, so there must be an underlying reason behind their objection to expanding government and raising taxes and increasing our debt and leading us to government-provided health care. Never mind what they say out loud: Mardell is looking into their souls. This is journalism?
Curiously, when reports came out about Sen. Harry Reid’s unfortunate statements about The Obamessiah back in 2008, Mardell defended him against charges of racism.
Indeed is what he said racist, or in any other way reprehensible? Liz Cheney thinks it is racist. The Kansas Star calls the remarks “stinking racist comments”. A left wing blogger Field Negro says it is “ignorant stereotyping”. Mr Reid himself refers to the comments as “improper”.
But what has irritated me about the flood of articles is that there has been a lot of nudging and winking but few have come out and said what they find offensive.
Imagine that. The man who has no trouble declaring racism without pointing to specifics which he finds offensive is irritated by what he sees as vague hints by other people.
So let’s have a look at what he actually said. The comments come from a book out this week, Game Changes .The authors say Reid “was wowed by Obama’s oratorical gifts and believed that the country was ready to embrace a black presidential candidate, especially one such as Obama – a ‘light-skinned’ African American ‘with no Negro dialect, unless he wanted to have one,’ as he later put it privately.”
Mardell then actually defends Reid by saying he’s just “old-fashioned”. Nothing to see here, move along. Why is this not racist, but someone who objects to wealth re-distribution, full stop, without a word about anyone’s dialect or skin color, is racist? Of course, Harry Reid is a Democrat. He holds approved thoughts, so cannot be racist. However, if one holds an unapproved thought about an economic or political issue, there must be something inherently wrong with one’s character, an underlying reason for disapproving of, say, the NHS. Reid gets a pass, but as we all saw recently with Mardell’s and the BBC’s coverage of Mitt Romney, a Republican is by definition flawed for making a much less dangerous gaffe (e.g. “binders of women”).
In closing, Mardell’s defense of Reid reached new heights of hilarity:
But the guts of what Reid was saying was that many American voters were still pretty racist but some wouldn’t see Obama as “really” black. He thought Obama was acceptable to the electorate because he was light-skinned and didn’t have a voice that identified him as black. That seems to be Reid’s attempt to describe a state of affairs that may be unpleasant, but may be true. He was explaining the lie of the land as he saw it, not endorsing the views he outlined. If you can’t do that you are no good as a strategist.
You read that right: Reid was making a racist statement to highlight the racism of other people. How clever of him. Mardell really does have a magical gift for peering into people’s souls, doesn’t he? Naturally, this supports his opinion that opposition to the President is based on racism.
So here there is a great paradox: a movement that boasts its theoretical love of America and democracy but which hates its real life institutions. It’s not their fairly mainstream economic theories I strain to understand, but the passion; a passion which means that political discourse has become increasingly uncivil, filled with vitriol and abuse.
It’s nice that Mardell admits his condescension, but this is where we depart the realm of journalism and enter the land of opinion. That’s the whole point of BBC editors, of course, which causes endless problems. Notice how remarkably different his reaction to the Tea Party movement was to his opinion of the Occupiers. He loved their passion. I wonder what the key difference is?
So why is the Tea Party boiling?
Some say it’s racism. Those I’ve met are not racist but I do wonder if for some there’s a sense of lost superiority. For all their lives there’s been a white man in the White House. It’s not just that Obama isn’t in this image, he does not fit any stereotype of a black person that they know. Cool, cosmopolitan, calm and aloof. There is a sense of disconnect for what ought to be their view of the natural order.
“Some say…” He says straight out he hasn’t met any racists yet, but refuses to let go of his suspicions. He’d been in the US for over a year by that point, gone to several Tea Party gatherings, spoken with lots of politicians. Yet it hadn’t changed his opinion one iota. Is he lying that he didn’t meet any racists? Or does he just think he hasn’t worked hard enough to find them under the bed? You can almost feel Mardell straining to justify his opinion in spite of what he sees in front of him.
A woman who told me that Obama was a socialist and her country was sliding into Marxism said when he was elected president she drew the curtains for three weeks and couldn’t answer the telephone. Only the Tea Party saved her.
America is changing fast and some in the Tea Party people don’t like the loss of the assumption that white, European, 1950s America is the norm, the benchmark.
He hasn’t met any racists, but is still confident enough to tell you that some in the Tea Party are concerned about race. Not only is no evidence provided to back this up, but he even says he’s never met any actual racists. How can he get away with this?
The main speaker said: “Our name is being dragged through the mud, that we’re violent racists.” The all-white crowd cheer or just nod. I have never seen any overt racism at a Tea Party rally and don’t today.
No “overt racism”, eh? Then why bother pointing out the “all-white crowd”? A rhetorical question, I know. When people don’t hold approved thoughts, there must be something wrong with them. Having given up the struggle to justify his opinion that it’s based on racism in the face of no evidence, he’s moved on to qualifying his statements that he hasn’t found any evidence. He doesn’t have to provide any now.
Over the past year I have spoken to many supporters of the Tea Party and been to lots of rallies. I have spoken to people whose characterisation of Mr Obama and his aims seems to me way off beam, a cartoon enemy conjured from some 1950s nightmare. Some believe the constitution tightly constrains the sort of economy America must have, and that only they can define what is properly American.
Now he’s giving his opinion on Constitutional law and economics. This isn’t journalism at all. This is an op-ed piece. Like I said, this the inherent problem in the very concept of BBC (titled) editors.
There is a wide-eyed enthusiasm that is easy to mock.
Yes, very easy to mock. In fact, it’s so easy, that Mardell happily mocked one of them during an appearance at the BBC College of Journalism. First, of course, he has to give the disclaimer that he’s never seen any overt racism. The relevant bit begins at around 54:45 in, where a young Beeboid asks Mardell about the “visceral hatred” of the President.
We’re not racist, he says, “At least not in a straight-forward sense”. Oh, really? He says that underlying the concern about government spending our money, it’s really about not wanting the government to “spend money on people not like them”. No real evidence, but he remains as convinced of it as he was the day he arrived. Even if we don’t come out and wear the pointy white hoods and carry our lynchin’ ropes around, we’re still racist under the skin. And he happily mocks a woman with a Southern accent. “You knew exactly what it was.” Oh, how they all laughed, eh? To Mardell, the Tea Party is driven by crypto-racism. This is what they really think of us, and it informs all BBC reporting on US issues.
(Full analysis of the BBC’s CoJ audience with Mardell can be read here.)
A lot of time in my first two years was spent trying to understand what lay behind the anger that I had seen on TV.
As we’ve seen, he had a pre-conceived notion of what lay behind that anger: racism. So what has he learned in the intervening years?
Beyond a fairly conventional conservative concern about taxation and debt, there is an inchoate angst that their country is going in the wrong direction, that they need to “take it back”.
Some think this is code for “take it back from the black man in the White House”.
After all the evidence of his reporting on the subject, it’s quite clear that Mardell is using the standard hack trick of “Some say…” to present his own opinion. We know he’s being disingenuous here. He’s said quite openly a number of times that he thinks it’s all about race. Using this dodge is a big phony act.
It is not that simple. Nearly all of the people I met were white and most middle-aged or older. But few were racist in the conventional sense.
The only time I have seen that in the raw, I was off duty, at a dinner party. A woman growing increasingly passionate as the wine flowed called Obama a “monkey” and said “he’s trying to give OUR money to THEM”.
Not the poor, not the shiftless, “them”.
Since the woman Mardell mocked earlier was a crypto-racist and didn’t openly make any racist statements, we have to assume that this is now two clear incidents – to him – of racism, out of the hundreds of thousands or people Mardell’s seen at Tea Party rallies and whatever political gatherings he visits. Yet on the strength of this he still demonizes the entire movement, still convinced that tens of millions of people are driven by racism and not legitimate policy concerns.
“They” are part of a different America, with a different history who want a different path for their country.
A millionaire in a designer chair in his plush Chicago home, surrounded by modern art, makes the same point as the broken-toothed men perched on smashed-up office furniture outside a beat-up shotgun house in Texas.
Next to me in the pew of a Florida church, the man with a trim grey beard and a “veterans for Obama badge” tells me the same thing.
These very different people all had one thing in common. They’re black. And that means they share a history and often they also share a perception of the present.
Black Americans up and down this huge country tell me Mr Obama didn’t create this mess, and he needs time to clear it up.
They know all about patience. They know all about clearing up other people’s mess. They know about being shut out of this country’s narrative.
There’s a black history month. It rather implies that for the other 11 months, it is white history that will have its way. With Mr Obama they feel that has changed, just a little.
And with that, Mardell moves from demonizing the opposition for caring only about the color of a man’s skin to declaring that we must re-elect a President simply because of the color of the man’s skin. It means a lot to black people to see one of their own as President, so we must dismiss all other concerns. He was only recently pushing that Narrative, in September 2012. (Even then he was still declaring that opposition to the President’s policies is really only objecting to redistributing wealth “to people not like us.”) This is racialist thinking at its finest. Anyone who watched the full video of Mardell’s appearance at the BBC CoJ will also have seen him admit that the President actually isn’t quite up to the job. In other words, we must keep a poor performer on simply because of the color of his skin. He’s not that competent, but it’s okay cos He is black. The soft racism of lowered expectations lives on at the BBC.
In the end, Mardell has learned nothing. He came here with a pre-conceived opinion, and steadfastly refused to let the evidence before him change his mind. His personal opinion remains unchanged, and informs all of his reporting. Since he’s the “North America editor”, his opinion also informs other aspects of BBC reporting on US issues.
Next, we can have a debate about what it means to have opinion in journalism, and how impartiality allows for it.
Every now and then, someone will sneer at me, demanding to know why I, a United Statesian, am so concerned about the BBC, a foreign broadcasting organization. I usually bang out a quick diatribe about various issues, but now there’s a very clear example of why I see the BBC as a problem for people in the US to be concerned about.
Last year, the BBC hired a young German immigrant, Franz Strasser, to produce various “bespoke” video magazine pieces about, mostly, racial issues in the US. First he did a dishonest series about immigration. The US division head also had several Beeboids produce a series of videos about – again, mostly racial – issues in the US in the year leading up to the 2012 election entitled, “Altered States”. One of the installments by Strasser found him making a dishonest race-baiting story about a “racial divide” in St. Louis, MO.
I discussed it at the time here. Please read the whole thing before returning to this post. In summary, my point was that Strasser and his editor deliberately left out the real key to the situation in St. Louis: absolute control of the city for decades by Democrats. Furthermore, nearly half the Aldermen (the equivalent of a city council, the real decision makers on city policy) are African-American. It was 13 out of 28 last year when Strasser did his initial race-baiting report, and there are 12 now. All but one of the 28 people who essentially run the daily business of the city of St. Louis are Democrats.
Why do I care? Because apparently Stasser’s story went viral, and got the attention of racial justice activists and politicians who knew a good angle when they saw it. Strasser’s report became a big hit, got lots of attention, and now there’s a renewed racial dialogue of some kind. What will this change? Not a damn thing. As I explained in my initial post, it’s the Democrat policies which have caused the situation. I submit that it’s simply not possible for a truly racially divided city where the rich white man is keeping the black man down to have 12 Aldermen. Additionally, I say that, if we’re to take the story seriously that white politicians in St. Louis have kept the black man down, this also puts the lie to Jonny Dymond’s and the BBC’s contention that the Republican Party is the racist one, because the city has been ruled by white (and black) Democrats for decades.
This new racial dialogue which will ignore the elephant donkey in the room will only worsen racial animosity in the city. It will increase the anger, the sense of victimization among the African-American community. One only has to listen to the locals in this latest video report to see the obvious. What’s most appalling is that the African-American community really has been victimized for decades: by the Democrat Party and the African-American leaders who have willingly contributed to the destruction of their own people’s futures.
Yet the BBC doesn’t care about that. They see only race, and refuse to admit that Democrat – Left wing – policies might be part of the problem. Now the city of St. Louis is going to be come more polarized, all thanks to the intrusion of a foreign broadcasting organization, one which is actually the official state broadcaster of the UK. And the BBC is clearly proud of what they accomplished here. After all, their report garnered lots of attention, and started a “dialogue” on the very issue they were pushing. Never mind that it’s dishonest and biased. The BBC will tell me that it’s no such thing, of course, and that they got it about right.
Imagine the outcry if Fox News set up shop in Britain and started sending reporters around to try to achieve change, to engage in a bit of social engineering, to highlight issues US natives who work for Fox News thought were important, and reported it all from a right-wing perspective. Yet defenders of the indefensible and worshipers of the BBC have no problem with the reverse situation. The BBC is spending more and more money, and doing more and more to increase their footprint in the US, in pursuit of both filthy profits in the form of advertizing revenue and – more importantly – as Jeremy Paxman put it, to “spread influence”. This is beyond their remit as laid out in the Charter, yet the BBC continues to grow and spread influence unchecked. Everybody’s worried about some silly management culture when the real problem is the attitude of the people making the broadcasts.
The BBC is now having a real effect on US politics. It is an invasive species, a malignant foreign body invading my country. Next time somebody tries to ridicule me for caring what a foreign media outlet gets up to, I’ll point them to this story and leave it at that.
As the US Congress and the President head into negotiations over the looming never-ending budget crisis to figure out how to avert hitting the debt ceiling again, the BBC’s US President editor (a more accurate description than his actual job title) is on the case to give you his muddled view of how US government should work.
He starts right in with the violent imagery, just to set the proper tone in which you should understand the scene.
America might be forgiven for thinking they suffered a concussion, instead of holding an election, on Tuesday night. The country now has double vision.
The violent imagery is supported by the now-obiligatory context of a deeply divided country, most-polarized-ever-ever-omg. And you’ll never guess whose fault that is.
Republicans in Congress have other ideas. House Speaker John Boehner is insisting tax rises for the wealthy can’t be allowed to happen.
Typical dishonest, class-war rhetoric, straight out of the White House propaganda machine. Actually, this comes naturally to Mardell, no prompting necessary. Boehner is insisting that no tax rises for anyone should be allowed. But since that includes the evil rich, it’s “accurate” to say that he doesn’t want tax increases for them. It’s not a particularly honest description of the proceedings, but I suppose it fits the BBC requirement for “accuracy”. Impartial it is not. Here’s what Boehner actually said:
Boehner today maintained that Republicans want to avert the fiscal cliff without raising any taxes and “in a manner that ensures that 2013 is finally the year that our government comes to grips with the major problems that are facing us.” Next year, he said, “should be the year we begin to solve our debt through tax reform and entitlement reform.”
The speaker added that he had a “cordial,” short conversation with Mr. Obama earlier this week and is hopeful that “productive conversations” can begin soon on the fiscal cliff. As he has for more than a year, Boehner said that he’s open to creating more tax revenue, by closing tax loopholes and eliminating some deductions, just not raising tax rates.
That last line sure looks to me like someone talking about increasing tax payments for the wealthy. Only a highly partisan, disingenuous person would describe Boehner’s position as refusing tax rises for the wealthy. Unless we’re playing semantic games about an increase in income tax rates as opposed to just increasing the taxes actually paid. Mardell cleverly left all that out and quoted this instead:
Speaking before the president did so this afternoon, he said: “Everyone wants to get our economy moving again. Everyone wants to get more Americans back to work again. Raising tax rates will slow down our ability to create the jobs that everyone says they want.”
He called on the president to lead.
So you really aren’t told at all the reality of what Boehner is thinking. Mardell continues:
Mr Obama did, but not in a direction that will delight Republicans. He is using the moral authority of his re-election to push his case. There is nothing new in his call for Congress to extend “middle-class tax cuts” at once. He’s said it repeatedly before the election.
But it’s different now. He has a renewed mandate and his demand has a fresh moral weight behind it. He pointed out even people who didn’t vote for him told opinion pollsters that taxes should go up for the richest.
And here’s where Mardell really starts to get it wrong. The President got fewer votes this time than in 2008. Almost 10 million fewer. Sure, Romney didn’t get as many as McCain did, but the difference wasn’t as great. So who actually did worse? Remember, we’re not talking about simply winning or losing: Mardell said “renewed mandate”, which requires much more than simply winning. Voter turnout was also substantially lower (except for places Philadelphia, which had a turnout that even Sadaam Hussein would have envied) The President may have dominated the Electoral College, but won the popular vote by only 2.5%. Boris Johnson won his race for mayor of London by a slightly larger amount – 3% – but the BBC described that as a “tight margin”. Go figure. Anyone here expect Mardell to declare that Boris has a renewed mandate? Some projected counts (they’re still counting actual votes in places like Ohio and Florida) expect the President to crack that 3% mark, but that’s it. Still no mandate when it’s a non-Left politician.
When journalists make value judgments like this, it leaves the door wide open to personal opinions influencing their reporting. This is a classic example. In 2004, George Bush defeated John Kerry by just over 3 million votes. The President’s popular vote victory over Romney was – you guessed it – just over 3 million votes. You will not find a BBC report saying that Bush had a renewed mandate in 2004. You’ll find analyses stating that Bush supporters and Christians were saying that, but you will not find a BBC editor or reporter stating it.
Now that he’s established that the President is supposed to get His way, Mardell lays out the doom and gloom if Republicans don’t let Him.
There has to be an agreement. If the two sides can’t get behind a plan to cut the deficit there will be pretty horrible consequences.
The ugly phrase “fiscal cliff” has stuck, but it is more like a ticking economic timebomb. The two sides agreed to a suicide pact if they couldn’t reach agreement – tax rises and defence spending cuts the Republicans loathe – as well as other spending cuts that are offensive to Democrats.
The trouble is if the bomb goes off, it is not just the politicians who will be hurt. It is American economy that would explode, probably taking what’s left of the world economy with it.
This is more or less true, and nobody’s denying that we’re looking at trouble here. We then get a bit of “balance”, where the President says this, and the Republicans say that. He even allows that some Republicans might think they, too, have a mandate.
President Obama said that people had voted for action but he would refuse to accept any approach that wasn’t balanced and made the middle class suffer alone. He said there shouldn’t be a long, drawn-out drama.
The Republicans won’t play along, and he will presumably portray them as churlish bad losers who won’t accept the people’s verdict. They will doubtless point out they too (or some of them) also have a fresh mandate.
Note the qualifier. You’re meant to understand that they really don’t have one. So Mardell wraps up with this:
While both Mr Obama and Mr Boehner sounded consensual they were in fact restating their mutually exclusive positions.
They are heading for confrontation, but this is only the first act – they are both stating a hard line, before the give and take of negotiations. They do have to get a move on. The drama can’t run for long before it turns into tragedy for all of us.
Except we already know whom to blame, don’t we? Mardell has already told us: Republicans who want to protect the wealthy. (I remember back when this budget agreement was passed. The US President editor was singing a slightly different tune then.)
But spot the missing upper house of Congress. This happens over and over again with both Mardell’s “reporting” and other BBC coverage: they leave out the Democrat-controlled Senate. Again and again we hear about how it’s all Republicans blocking Him. What about the Senate? And you’re expected to ignore Democrats who side with Republicans on certain issues.
While actual spending is really allocated by the House of Representatives, the Senate also has to pass an agreed version of the budget for the country to actually have one. Yet, unbeknownst to BBC audiences because you were never told, the Democrat-controlled Senate never passed one. In fact, even the Democrat-controlled Senate (it’s worth repeating) unanimously voted against the joke budget proposed by the President Himself. Oh, and let’s not forget either – no matter how much biased Beeboids like Daniel Nasaw would like you to – that the Democrats controlled both houses of Congress for His first two years in office. No budget then, either. And Mardell once actually referred to that as a Golden Age, because the President was able to ram some things through without a single Republican vote. Who’s really to blame here?
But that’s just the bias part. Now here’s where Mardell really gets muddled. The real problem with Mardell declaring the President has a mandate is that he’s presenting the whole thing as if the President is king. He does not appear to understand – or perhaps just doesn’t approve – of the way the US government is set up.
There are two issues here. First, is the way the government is split into three separate branches: the Executive (the President and Administration), the Legislative (Congress – both Houses), and the Judicial (the Supreme Court and the lower Federal system). This is what’s known as “Checks and Balances”, the idea being that no one branch has too much power. Never mind that one of the Democrat operatives the BBC had on the panel of their election night coverage didn’t understand that, and thought it meant Republicans weren’t allowed to vote for what they wanted, and the Beeboids were too ignorant to correct her. Mardell certainly doesn’t understand it, and thinks if the President wins – even by a “tight” Boris Johnson-style margin – He has a “mandate”, and the Republicans should bow to it.
The House of Representatives is what is says on the tin: a group of legislators who are there to represent their individual constituencies. They’re not State-wide representatives, like Senators are: they represent a single collection of 500,000 voters in their State. Same as the Electoral College. Representatives are not elected to do the President’s bidding: they’re there to represent their own constituency. If a Republican gets elected on whatever issues, that’s his or her mandate, not a directive to obey the President. Because different States have dramatically different population totals, some have a much greater presence in the House than others. When a State loses population, they lose representation in the House. If more people move there, they get more Reps. The total number of Reps. in the House can change with each election if the national population does. If it seems a bit unfair, it’s meant to be. Sort of.
But New York and California do not run the country, even if the popular vote makes it appear that they might. Nor should they. The House of Representatives is not a mirror of the Electoral College vote, even though their numbers are the same. The House – ideally – represents the wishes of their individual constituencies. Representatives are not meant to be a reflection of some national conscience. This is all connected to another US concept the BBC neither likes nor fully understands: States’ rights. I use the upper case “S” here and always to emphasize the point that most Founding Fathers considered their State to be their country, and wanted that independence preserved. Some of us still understand that. The individuality inherent in the House of Representatives is part and parcel of that concept.
This is also why the Senate, the upper house, exists. Each State gets two Senators, and that’s it. In this way, each State has equal representation. But that’s also why real spending is decided in the House. The Senate is much more than a rubber stamp, though, as they have their own agenda and powers. But that’s all for another time.
What I’m talking about here is the idea that – contrary to how Mardell presents it – an election victory for a President does not actually translate into carte blanche. To really be successful, a President must also bring his political party along for the ride to victory as well. Failing that, he must compromise, triangulate, as, for example, Bill Clinton did. Funny how you don’t see much comparison of The Obamessiah to Clinton these days. That would make Him look petty and partisan and incompetent, though, so the astute BBC analysts tend to refrain from doing it.
The Republicans in the House are there to do the job they were sent to do, not merely the President’s bidding. If they were voted in to avoid taxing us all into oblivion, that’s what they need to focus on. They’re also not required to bend over backwards to compromise if it means doing something they believe will damage the country. Politicians get voted out when they do too much their constituents don’t like. Just ask all the Dems and Big-Government Republicans who got kicked out in 2010 for voting for ObamaCare.
The other party must try to compromise as well. But you never hear the BBC complaining about President “I won”, or that the President is the one drawing a line in the sand with His tax rises for the wealthy. Mardell may write a sentence saying both sides must work together – and he even admits that the President only sounds like He wants to compromise, but doesn’t appear to be just yet – but only after he’s already set you up to assign blame for who won’t. And again: what about the Senate? And why has neither Mardell nor anyone else at the BBC examined why the President never got a budget passed while He had both houses under Democrat control? Could it be because that might force them to learn that Congress isn’t simply a vehicle for a President’s policies? Or perhaps because they might be forced to admit that the President’s own fiscal policies are so ludicrously extreme that even the Democrats won’t vote for it?
Mardell either doesn’t understand how the US government is meant to work, or simply doesn’t care. He pays lip service to the notion that both sides must compromise, but he’s already framed it in the context of Republicans being in the wrong. Yet he’s the man the BBC wants you to trust most on US issues. Don’t.
As if all the other BBC reporting isn’t enough, they got their (freelance) World Service economics correspondent to ask, in the usual manner of journalists posing a question to which they’ve already decided the answer, if the poor US economy is the President’s fault.
Long answer: The economy really isn’t that bad if you consider it in historical context, and no, only some people say it’s His fault for not doing enough to fix it.
The opening section is devoted to telling you how the economy really isn’t as all that bad from an historical perspective. Moreover, the US doesn’t look so bad at all compared to the current European situation, as well as Japan. In fact, the latest quarterly figures show the US has made up all lost ground, and is now doing better than before the recession! Never mind the massive debt, or the continuously rising deficit, or the fact that the latest GDP bump is mostly due to the Fed printing more money we don’t have. So before we even get to assigning blame, we’ve softened the blow considerably, and in fact might even cause some people to wonder what’s the point of assigning blame at all.
This follows on Walker’s report from the other day defending the President on unemployment, where he dutifully regurgitated the latest jobs report without mentioning that previous jobs figures keep getting revised down. So when he then tells you that Romney will be lying if he now claims that the President has presided over a net jobs loss, you don’t actually know the whole truth. Interestingly, the last two lines of that piece are actually a set-up for this one.
In any case, now that Walker has established his premise that the economy really isn’t so bad if you think about it, he sets about pretending to ask if the President is to blame.
For the “It’s not His fault, you see” side, he links to a Bloomberg opinion piece by two economic academics explaining the historical context, and declaring that the current doldrums are nothing unusual. In fact, they say, history tells us this was always going to be the case after such a bad financial crisis. It’s not His fault, you see.
For the racist side blaming the President’s policies, Walker mentions two other economic academics, but links only to a PDF file of the “Romney Plan” on the Romney campaign website. It’s written by the people he mentions, but this is obviously going to raise a red flag with readers. It’s a partisan campaign manifesto, so not to be taken as seriously as the view Walker offers from the other side. Even though he allows as how the other economics experts are sympathetic to the President, an independently researched and published book and opinion piece isn’t even remotely the same thing as an actual party platform. It’s rather disingenuous to present these as apples-to-apples.
I suppose it would be churlish to compare word counts here, like they did for the debates. This is just one more piece to support the BBC’s overall Narrative that there is no legitimate opposition to the President’s policies, and that those who express the desire to vote against Him are motivated by something else.
For a hint at Walker’s personal political views, see this old piece where he sanitizes the political views and writings of that well-known eugenics fan and Stalinist, Bernard Shaw.