Sunday, June 17, 2007

The BBC Biased? Could It Be?

I grew up loving the BBC from across the pond. It always had the best programming as far as I was concerned. Thus it came as an utter shock to me when, later in life, it became apparent just how insidiously and dangerously biased the BBC's news division was - and had been for generations. It has become particulalry toxic to the functioning of a Western democracy since 9-11. I am reminded of the period prior to WWII when the BBC carried water for the world's most infamous appeaser, Neville Chamberlin, while refusing to give any coverage to Winston Churchill. Churchill would later label the BBC a "communist organization."

To be fair, the BBC does still on occaision come up with some amazing work. Undercover Mosque, by BBC 4, was as first rate and important a piece of investigative journalism as one will ever find. And the bulk of the BBC's work, when not on topics that lend themselves to left wing, avant garde causes or anti-americanism, is even handed and quite good. In what remains, which is a sizable portion of their reporting, there is a clear, if not at times over the top, anti-war, anti-american, anti-conservative bias and an embrace of suicidal multiculturalism - particularly a pro-Muslim bent - that pervades their work. Indeed, it sometimes pervades its work to a high degree of comedy. The BBC certainly seems to have a preference for political parties in its own country. And how many news rooms do you know contain a picture of Bush in Hitlerian garb? The Beeb's bias is both active and passive - it is evident in what the BBC chooses to report, and also in what the BBC chooses to simply omit from its coverage. And over the past few years, it has spent hundreds of thousands of taxpayer pounds to in a court battle to keep the "Balen Report" secret - an internal report on pro-arab, anti-semetic bias at the Beeb. The website Biased BBC does an excellent job of documenting BBC outrages, both active and passive on a daily basis.

The BBC has for years claimed the outrageous fiction that they are unbiased. Thus, it was good to hear today at least some small note of reality - that the BBC is at least acknowledging a portion of this bias in a report released but not yet up on the BBC website. The Times has the story:

There are some things you do not need an official report to tell you - that John Prescott thinks he is a babe magnet, that President Mugabe is not entirely in favour of white farmers and that Al-Qaeda takes a pretty dim view of the West. The report commissioned by the BBC into itself concluded with something equally blindingly obvious. It said that the organisation is institutionally biased and especially gullible to the blandishments of politically driven celebrities, such as Bono and Bob Geldof. Almost anyone in Britain could have told the BBC that for free, but maybe it’s better to have it in an official report.

All media organisations are biased and that applies especially to newspapers. But our bias is openly declared. If readers want different views they have no compulsion to pay and can go elsewhere. The BBC is in a different category; everyone has to pay for it and it is in the tricky position of being founded to be free from bias. It is meant to be a beacon of objective truth in a wildly polarised world. A tall order. In theory even rabid rightwingers and demented leftists can listen or watch (and increasingly read online) the BBC without discerning any tilt. But what emerges from the report is a picture of an organisation with a liberal, anti-American bias and an almost teenage fascination with fashionable causes. The report singles out the BBC’s overwhelming and uncritical backing for the campaign over Live Aid and now the Live Earth concerts on global warming.

That the BBC should investigate itself is perhaps admirable, but only if it acts on the conclusions. The likelihood is that it will lament its shortcomings, pledge to do something and carry on much as before. Changing its cosy culture will take more than a report; some who have worked there say it would require a small neutron bomb. The BBC is a self-perpetuating liberal arts club. Recruitment is the key. It needs to employ more nonconformist journalists whose paper of choice is not The Guardian.
Read the story here. And then there is this from the Telegraph:
The BBC has failed to promote proper debate on major political issues because of the inherent liberal culture of its staff, a report commissioned by the corporation has concluded.

The report claims that coverage of single-issue political causes, such as climate change and poverty, can be biased - and is particularly critical of Live 8 coverage, which it says amounted to endorsement.

It warns that celebrities must not be pandered to and allowed to hijack the BBC schedule.

After a year-long investigation the report, published today, maintains that the corporation’s coverage of day-to-day politics is fair and impartial.
That last statement is simply ridiculous and why I am incredibly cynical about this report doing anything but provide the BBC a whitewash. The BBC's day to day reporting is often its most objectionable. Just click on a few of the links I have included above to see for yourself. To continue:
. . . The report concludes BBC staff must be more willing to challenge their own beliefs.

It reads: “There is a tendency to 'group think’ with too many staff inhabiting a shared space and comfort zone.”

A staff impartiality seminar held last year is also documented in the report, at which executives admitted they would broadcast images of the Bible being thrown away but not the Koran, in case Muslims were offended.

During the seminar a senior BBC reporter criticised the corporation for being anti-American.

The report was jointly commissioned by BBC managers and the board of governors and will be published by the BBC Trust, which has since replaced the governors.
It has been approved by a committee headed by BBC trustee and former ITN editor-in-chief Richard Tait. Other members include BBC deputy director-general Mark Byford, head of BBC News Helen Boaden and creative director Alan Yentob.

Writing in The Observer yesterday, Mr Tait said that “the BBC cannot allow its output to be taken over by campaigning groups” and added: “At the BBC impartiality is and must remain non-negotiable because it is vital to safeguard the BBC’s independence.”

The report offers 12 new principles for the corporation to adopt to safeguard its impartiality.

These include: “Impartiality is no excuse for insipid programming. It allows room for fair-minded, evidence-based judgements by senior journalists and documentary-makers, and for controversial, passionate and polemical arguments by contributors and writers.”

A BBC spokeswoman said: “This report is about looking forward and how we are going to face the challenges of impartiality in the modern world.”
I apologize for being cynical, but the bias at the BBC news division is far too much for me to stomach, particularly since not only are its toxins infecting the UK, but it is also being pumped into the US. This internal BBC report seems more of a whitewash then anything else.

The BBC is, by law required to be objective in its reporting. The people of Britain are required by law to fund the BBC through a licensing fee on all television owners. Only half of the equation is being upheld at the moment.

There is no reason whatsoever for the BBC's news division to remain on the public tit, particularly when it is so clearly failing in its legal mandate. But even beyond that, there is no reason that the BBC news division should not compete in the marketplace as do nearly all other news divisions in the world outside of dictatorships and communist countries. The New York Times is watching its stock values plummet because of its one sided reporting. There is no reason the BBC should not enjoy the same opportunity.


ChairmanMao said...

Biased is a bit misleading. A better term is lying and manipulative. But, then again is there any news organization that isn't corrupt?

billm99uk said...

I wouldn't describe it as corrupt. It just has a very specific house "world view" that can get very annoying if you don't happen to share it (and I don't!).

scott said...

I do not think it corrupt either, just incredibly arrogant, one. And while I used to eschew what I thought were outrageous generalizations about the left, I think it now true that within everyone on the left there is a core belief that they are not merely of superior intelligence, but that they know best how things should be and how to get them there. There is precious little trust in the unwashed masses - or opposing world views. Given that the Beeb is paid off the public tit and charged explicitly with doing the opposite - i.e., not put forth the house "world view" - I think it a mortal and fatal sin.

The most recent classic example that I have seen is the interview with John Bolton. The questioning shows every bias of the interviewer and every attempt to shape the interview rather then mine the interviewee to determine his thoughts and assumptions. It was a classic of attempting to mold the news to fit the BBC's belief of what the world should be. And it is why their time on the public tit needs to end.


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