Friday, 20 October 2017

Even handed

I don’t know if I omitted the link to Karen Harradine’s piece about UNESCO in The Conservative Woman, but here it is.

Once again, if you haven’t already done so I urge you to read it. And here’s another good’un by Rod Liddle (£) more or less on the same topic, with a little more info on UNESCO’s outgoing director Irina Bokova. He speaks for many of us. (i.e., me)


A few days ago I wondered about something I heard Nick Robinson saying, which seemed dubious to me. Was I imagining it?  Craig gave him the benefit of the doubt, so I left it. Don’t wanna be too OTT with the paranoia, do we, nit pickers?

However, it concerns Ms. Bokova so I’ll stick it in here just for the hell of it:

“Did anyone hear Nick Robinson talking to the outgoing director general of Unesco, Irina Bokova?
He said to her:
"You use language for protecting a site in east Jerusalem which everybody knows - even (in) the BBC knows - that’s used by Palestinians and not used by Israelis, and therefore is designed to offend"
In other words, obviously the BBC is sympathetic to UNESCO’s relentless campaigning against Israel, but nevertheless “even the BBC knows" that referring to the Western Wall and Temple Mount only by their Muslim names will not go down too well. 
It might be Nick’s way of saying the ‘value-judgement-free’ BBC is conscious of its obligation to  appear even-handed over matters concerning Israel and the Palestinians, so when UNESCO decides to declare another “Palestinian” world heritage site it should choose its words more carefully.
Or, it might have been Nick inadvertently letting the BBC’s default anti-Israel agenda (a value judgement) slip out. It’s just that little word: “even” that gives the game away. In my humble opinion. 

Feel free to disagree.

Thursday, 19 October 2017

But Whatabout the BBC?


Afshin Rattansi was invited to defend “Putin’s mouthpiece” (RT) on Daily Politics with Jo Coburn and Andrew Adonis. Should politicians be allowed to appear on RT? Should they be paid for doing so? 
There used to be a playground saying: “It takes one to know one”.  

It was quite funny listening Jo Coburn complaining of RT’s bias, “ a propaganda arm of Putin’s government”,  and the oleaginous Afshin Rattansi firing back a few lethal barbs at the Beeb during his “whataboutery” defence. 

What fun.

“Just as people are sent to jail if they don’t pay Jo Coburn’s salary” 

Wednesday, 18 October 2017

Knickers in a twist

It seems to me that the entire blogosphere has cottoned on to the fact that the BBC is biased. The only entity that hasn’t noticed is of course the BBC itself. One might say the BBC is becoming increasingly isolated in this. 

It’s almost embarrassing, like they’ve come out of the washroom with their skirt tucked into their pants.  I say washroom to avoid committing a non-binary  gender offence. Perhaps I shouldn’t have used the word ‘skirt’.

We haven’t heard enough yet about Harvey Weinsteen or ”stine" as in Einstein, because we have also to discuss the ones who ‘knew but didn’t speak out’, rather like the BBC over Jim’llfixit, and we have to listen to endless stories from hashtag ‘me too’. However, if we just hang on a little longer, universal transgenderism will take care of all sexual bullying, organically. It’s only a matter of time.

 I’m thinking of self-expressive ideas to use as my own personal pronoun. You know, instead of ‘her’ and ‘she’. You have to choose your own. I was thinking in terms of vowels and consonants, like in Countdown.  I think, maybe no vowels. Make me sound Polish.

The BBC’s enthusiasm for diversity is coupled with its diktat  against using value-laden terms such as ‘terrorist’ or making discriminatory value judgements; rather, a dread of its staff being caught out making one, which throws up elephantine cognitive dissonance; the inconsistency that dare not speak its name. 

Having embraced cultural Islam, the default BBC position is institutionally hostile, if not to individual Jews, (Apart from Harvey W) then to Israel. But like the lady with the pants, they can’t actually see what has happened till it’s pointed out.

A glimpse into what things could be like - but for the BBC’s attitudinal negativity, was apparent  in this interview on Sky News Australia, posted on Daphne Anson’s blog.  As she frequently attests, ‘down under’, the negative influence of Islam and antisemitism is by no means absent. However. Put to one side those intrusive images of Dame Edna, possums - and the refreshing attitude of these two rather camp presenters is, to coin a phrase, like a breath of fresh air. They interview Melanie Phillips with sympathy, empathy and admiration.   
When would you ever get that on the BBC?


Of course the BBC can’t suppress all those pesky value-laden tweets and slips of the tongue by their employees, and any fule kno that Andrew Neil and Nick Robinson are closet Tories / Nazis, which would explain Andrew Neil’s invitation to address the Holocaust Educational Trust Dinner
The speech was nice, but flawed, as many commenters pointed out. His remarks about Trump, and Islamism  were copybook BBC. Typical curate’s egg, but the good parts were worth their weight in honesty.




There have been several excellent pieces in The Conservative Woman recently, back to Mr Wine-stain again,  but we all know, and have known for years, that Tinseltown is completely bonkers and doesn’t represent real life. I don’t know why everyone’s knickers are in such a twist about it. “Casting Couch” is normal currency isn’t it? Part of the furniture so to say, and has been for ever. 

The really, really excellent piece on The Conservative Woman was by Karen Harradine about UNESCO. That is one you really should read. It may not be quite so interesting to you as the antics of  Mr. Wankstain, but it  is to me.


Talking of TCW, I started reading “How To Write Stylishly” by Margaret Ashworth, which is on their sidebar. Forgetting for a moment that I am not a writer or reporter in all media, I thought it would help. There are lots of instructions, particularly on things never-to-do, and even though I am a bit anal about apostrophes, I felt totally intimidated by the lengthy list of crimes against literacy. Specially the one headed “Banned”. But then I remembered that as a blogger, the rules don’t necessarily apply. So, as I like to use outmoded phrases like ‘tuning in’ for their retro appeal, I will cherry pick. (That’s what we bloggers do) From the bottom of the page, this is what I picked:
terrorist: As we all know, one man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter. I don’t see much problem with ‘terrorist’ for anyone who uses violence to cause terror, but if you have a view on the aims of a particular group and are sympathetic to them, better words could be ‘rebel’ or ‘militant’.

 "If you have a view on the aims of a particular group and are sympathetic to them, better words could be ‘rebel’ or ‘militant’."  The BBC woz here!

The BBC’s commemoration of the Balfour declaration continues. “My Father’s Israel”.
 I didn’t tune in. Here’s what (not a very)Happy Goldfish had to say:
“BBC bias: Presented and also produced by his own son, this very one-sided programme avoided saying (and nobody was asked) why there was such opposition to Tazbar.
It failed to point out that Tzabar wanted the West Bank Golan Heights and Sinai to be returned without any peace treaty, and despite the loss of thousands of Israeli lives to attacks launched from those territories.
Tzabar is described only as playful, profound, just a little bit annoying, a star of Ha’aretz, artist, and writer of five popular children’s books. No mention of his Israel Communist Party membership, nor his holocaust comparison.”

G’day.


Tuesday, 17 October 2017

Open Thread



Here's a new Hillary-Clinton-approved open thread. Thank you in advance from me, Hillary and the team at Women's Hour for any comments you care to submit. Cheers!

When the BBC banned Vera Lynn


Stalin and Suzie Klein

Recommendation time: Tunes for Tyrants: Music and Power with Suzy Klein on BBC Four has been superb. 

It's a sweeping three-part series that looks at the uses and abuses of music by the Nazis and the Soviets, and its uses by their democratic opponents.

It raises some thought-provoking questions about music and morality.

One section from the final episode taught me something that I had absolutely no idea about: that some in authority thought that Vera Lynn and her songs weren't helping the war effort, especially following the loss of Singapore and the set-backs in North Africa in 1942. 

Questions were raised in Parliament to that effect and the BBC, in response, set up the Dance Music Policy Committee to police the Forces' Sweetheart and her sort of music. 

Their ruling was that performances by women singers would be controlled and an "insincere and over-sentimental style" would not be allowed. "No numbers will be accepted for broadcasting which are slushy in sentiment", the BBC said. 

So Vera Lynn's radio show Sincerely Yours got taken off the BBC's airwaves and jolly, upbeat music programmes which emphasised a collective spirit, such as Music While You Work and Workers' Playtime, became the order of the day instead. 

That policy failed, however, as Vera was far too popular and struck back in 1943 with a film called We'll Meet Again. whose roaring success convinced the authorities that she was actually a clear morale-booster after all and, in fact, just the ticket for civilians and soldiers alike. 

Weirder still, the Nazis created their own answer to Vera Lynn, Zarah Leander - except that (being Nazis) she was far from 'the girl next door' type. She was 'the statuesque Teutonic goddess next door' type instead.
 

Zarah Leander and the least-angelic angels ever

In the smash film The Great Love her sentimental songs wowed the German public, and she sang surrounded by angels who were SS guards in drag (with the cameras keeping them at a considerable distance).

Well, fancy that!

Norman Smith, sadly



Our Norm

This lunchtime's BBC One News at One featured the following exchange, with the BBC's assistant political editor Norman Smith letting slip a word he ought not to have let slip:
Sophie Raworth: Let's talk to Norman Smith, who is in Westminster. Well, we've got the OECD, the international think-tank, saying that a second referendum would have a positive, a significant effect on the UK economy if it reversed Brexit. That's not a realistic option though, is it?  
Norman Smith [shaking head]: Sadly not now. Mr Hammond has already said this lunchtime it's not happening and, to be honest, even the most optimistic of Remainer would probably concede it's about as likely as the Loch Ness Monster putting in a surprise appearance. At least for now. 
'Sadly', eh, Norman?

Monday, 16 October 2017

Weather report


Andy Marr's Thought for the Day


Here's another memorable quote from Andrew Marr to add to the collection, delivered on this morning's Start the Week. Andy was talking about the potential benefits of a Donald Trump-Kim Jong-un meeting:
However bizarre the thought of two fat, angry men with strange haircuts sitting in the same room together and trying to talk through translators - and this is a very, very strange thought - it's clearly better than the alternative.

Opinions on the Austrian election


In the News

Sometimes the quality of BBC reporting raises your eyebrows. Being up early this morning, I was watching BBC World News's pre-breakfast paper review and heard BBC business reporter Sally Bundock describe Susanne Thier, the girlfriend on the incoming Austrian chancellor Sebastian Kurz, as "his wife". Not a major error, of course, and I wouldn't have commented on it had Sally not gone on to interject her own opinions into the following discussion (and she wasn't the only one). Under discussion was the Austrian election result with guest Priya Lakhani of Century Tech.
Priya Lakhani: It is incredible. He [Sebastian Kurz] doesn't have enough of the votes to lead Austria by himself so he's looking to form a coalition, and politics in Austria has obviously shifted now to the right. There's been a rise...
Tim Willcox: Significantly so.
Priya Lakhani: Significantly to the right, yes, with the rise of this sort of anti-establishment, anti-immigration party, and so what Sebastian Kurz is looking at is to form a coalition with the Freedom Party...
Sally Bundock: Which is a real worry because they're a far-right party. 
Priya Lakhani: Absolutely. They're very anti-Islam. I think it's mentioned all over the papers. Quotes here about are anti-Islam...talking about fascism and Islam and Muslim symbols, and it is really worrying, and there's definitely a rise in these parties. So it will be interesting to see with the coalition and how it's formed and the type of weight that's given to the Freedom Party. 
Tim Willcox: A very similar campaign in tactics to what Donald Trump did and, as you mentioned, Macron as well. "Austria first" for example...Trump, you know, "America first"...and appealing to those instincts in a very populist way. Too much migration. 
Priya Lakhani: Absolutely. Absolutely. There has been a real focus on the country, who you are and what we should be doing for you, absolutely. And I think the problem is if that's a real precedent at to elections going forward and how the world really responds to this, so...

Sunday, 15 October 2017

The BBC and social conservatism?


Here's a little something from Rod Liddle's latest Sunday Times column. (I obviously can't vouch for how true it is): 
I often get asked by broadcasters to put a socially conservative view. When the BBC needs someone to advance these opinions, the producers refer to it as “dial-a-c***”.

Showing some bias?


Mark Mardell's preview of The World This Weekend on this morning's Broadcasting House began like this:
Well, as the rest of the West shows some backbone and stands up to President Trump after his Iran speech we'll be talking to the man who actually led the British negotiating team about what next and we'll be looking at reports from Washington that the President is unravelling. 
That phrase "shows some backbone" isn't exactly a neutral one, is it? It makes it sound as if Mark Mardell is praising 'the rest of the West' for standing up to President Trump. 

I was going to leave my question there as an 'Unanswered Question' but decided to answer it anyhow because, also during this preview, Mark Mardell told Paddy that he'd never heard of the American composer Charles Ives.

More recommended reading


There's a very interesting post at Biased BBC from VX which questions the impartiality of the man responsible for those hate-crime figures which the BBC cites so often in connection to the Brexit vote. 

It's well-sourced and worth a close read.

It's to be presumed that the BBC's home affairs/crime reporters are familiar with Superintendent Paul Giannasi. Should they be taking his figures on trust?

A Thank You Open Thread


A thumbs-up from Eric too

Thank you to all of you who have kept commenting during our Rip van Winkle tribute act these past couple of weeks or so. Much appreciated.


P.S. Time for a bit of celebrity name-dropping.

On the Wolverhampton to Stockport leg of my train journey home yesterday I had Radio 4 presenter Michael Rosen sitting across the aisle from me. It was nice to see that his Trotskyite principles didn't prevent him from opting to travel first-class with me instead of showing solidarity with the downtrodden proletarians in standard class.

It was the first time I've travelled first-class on a train. You get free cups of tea, fruitcake and crisps and a bit more leg room. If you're lucky you might also get a free breakfast bun. (We weren't, as the trolley service took two and a hour hours to get to us and it wasn't on offer by that stage. Mustn't grumble though.)

I wonder which Radio 4 presenter will be joining me next time? My money's on Laurie Taylor. 

Saturday, 14 October 2017

Gunpowder



A BBC radio programme I particularly enjoy is Radio 3's Free Thinking.

It's like a higher-quality version of Radio 4's Start the Week, and it's usually on for five nights a week. Its presenters are excellent and the range of topics is wide. It goes pleasingly deep too. And it's surprisingly broad-minded too on matters political.

Catching up with the more promising-looking editions of last week's offerings I came across an interview with Ronan Bennett, the writer of a new, three-part, prime-time BBC One historical drama about the Gunpowder Plot.

My ears pricked up as he talked about his intentions and reading the BBC's mission statement about the series confirms those intentions. 

Yes, this high-profile drama (which the Telegraph's Tim Stanley says is "edge-of-the-seat" stuff) will be about "showing the consequences of what can happen when a religious minority is persecuted". And it will have a "contemporary resonance”. 

The Catholic would-terrorists of 1605 will be cast as sympathetic human beings who had valid reasons to feel anger against the "relentlessly repressive" state, though there would be plenty of nuance and their violent intentions won't (it appears) be condoned.

Presenter Rana Mitter pointed out that James I began as a good deal less repressive towards Catholics than Elizabeth I, but Ronan was sticking to his guns (so to speak) and was clearly not allowing facts to get in the way of a good plot (so to speak). 

Rana also drew out of Ronan Bennett what those "contemporary resonances" would be. They would be (a) to suggest to English Brexit voters that they take a good long look back at history and realise that English nationalism isn't a good thing and (b) that Muslims today are in a similar situation to Catholics in Jacobean England and that the state shouldn't be repressive towards them.

Why do BBC dramas have to always be like this, pushing messages all the time (and almost always the same kind of messages to boot)?

Rana reminded us of Ronan's controversial past and asked if it led him to sympathise with the would-be terrorists of 1605. (That's why I like Free Thinking. It doesn't give its guests a free ride).

Now Rana said that, yes, the series does have plenty of nuance and Ronan said that he wasn't trying to be propagandist. So we'll have to see.

Alas I remember Ronan Bennett's last high-profile BBC drama - a much-promoted radio play for Radio 4 about the migrant crisis called 'Our Sea'. I wrote about it at the time, calling it "agitprop" and "shocking bias from the BBC".

If it's anything like that then the anti-Brexit, be-nice-to-the-Muslims stuff will be laid on with a Spanish Armada-sized trowel.

I do hope not (but I will not be holding my breath).

We have to talk about Iran


Times lead story

If British intelligence claimed that Russia had launched a cyber attack on the UK's parliament I suspect that it would be a lead story on the BBC, with much fulmination from studio guests. Today both the Times and the Guardian are reporting (after independently verifying the story) British intelligence's claims that Iran launched a cyber attack on the UK's parliament over the summer, hacking the emails of dozens of MPs (an event that was originally blamed on Russia), and yet - despite other media outlets also taking up the story - it looks as if the BBC is no rush to report it. The BBC reported on the cyber attack at the time. Why not follow it up now?

Update (15/10): And, yes, the BBC did eventually get round to reporting this too, sometime around 6 o'clock yesterday evening

Goodbye James Harding


What is there to say about the imminent departure of James Harding as BBC Head of News? Well, I've got nothing to say, so I'll refer you on to News-watch's David Keighley who provides a short audit of Mr Harding's 'achievements'

Apparently the names most likely to replace him are all BBC insiders. They include: Jonathan Munro, Gavin Allen, Fran Unsworth, Jay Hunt, Peter Barron, Ian Katz and Amol Rajan.

Priorities


It is striking how some stories get dropped like stones, for whatever reason. The third story on the Sky News website this morning is an update on yesterday's story of the release of a Canadian/American family from captivity at the hands of Taliban allies in Afghanistan. On arriving in Toronto, the father has now claimed that the Islamist faction raped his wife and murdered his baby girl. The BBC News website, however, has no updates on this story, and yesterday's original BBC report is now only to be found low down on the Asia page. Curious.

Update: The story is now on the BBC News home page.
Further update: It's now the lead story for the BBC.

Friday, 13 October 2017

Tendencies


Sima Kotecha at the gates

Today's BBC News at Six reported on the ruling by the Court of Appeal that an Islamic faith school, Al-Hijrah in Birmingham, had broken the law by segregating girls and boys. Sima Kotecha's report featured three voices critical of the ruling and only one supportive of it - or, to put it even more statistically, 43 seconds went to those disagreeing with the Court of Appeal and only 10 seconds went to those agreeing with it. I kind-of suspected their report on this story would tend in that direction. 

A dialogue about the Football Lads Alliance




Please put aside whose video this is, and who was asking the questions, and the crude editing of parts of the video (which may have made the BBC reporter sound more defensive than he actually was and which leaves open the troubling questions, 'Is this what he said in full?' and 'Is he being fairly presented?') and just focus on what the BBC reporter said in answer to the questions put to him (especially in the unedited later bit of the video):

YouTube interviewer: When you describe this crowd, how are you going to describe them in your news report?
BBC reporter: Er, well, we're going to call them...well, you've called...you've labelled yourself as an 'anti-extremist movement'...
YouTube interviewer: When your news report comes out on this will you mention the word 'far-right'?
BBC reporter: If people label it as such then we have to reflect that, yes.
YouTube interviewer: No, you should report and reflect what you've met and seen today. Have you seen far-right demonstrators?
BBC reporter: If people label it as such...
YouTube interviewer: If I label you as 'a nonce' would you report that you're a nonce? What you do is word-association - which is what all the media do against ordinary people. These are ordinary people who have come out to demonstrate. You will do word-association of 'racism' and 'far-right'. You've got ordinary people who are demonstrating against terrorism and you...every time the mainstream media...you brand them, and it's not fair. It's not right. And you know that because you're on this demonstration.
BBC reporter: I'm sure you know where those labels come from. You have calls for tighter immigration. That is a right-wing rhetoric.
YouTube interviewer: So calls for tighter immigration against Islamic terrorism is 'a right-wing rhetoric'? In fact the Labour Party talk about controls on immigration. Everyone does. What do you mean 'a right-wing rhetoric'? How it that 'right-wing rhetoric'?
BBC reporter: Well, but people would say that. That is by...
YouTube interviewer: So because this group talks about terrorism and talks about controlling borders that means they're 'far-right'?
BBC reporter: It's a far-right...yeah, they could be.
YouTube interviewer: This is what you're up against! This is what you're up against! This is the BBC. So if someone identifies as wanting to stop Islamic terrorism and controlling your borders it's 'far-right'.
BBC reporter: It would be labelled as such...
YouTube interviewer: By people like you!
BBC reporter: But my opinion is absolutely invalid. It's about getting...
YouTube interviewer: But you're reporting for the BBC. You're lying for the BBC. You are officially fake news. You are demonising so many innocent people...
BBC reporter: Right.
YouTube interviewer: You make it impossible for people to talk. And that's who you are. You're here to try and get bad footage. That's why you're here.
BBC reporter: Right.
YouTube interviewer: That's your agenda...
BBC reporter: You're frustrated with the media, from what I take from this?
YouTube interviewer: You have a complete agenda when you come to these demonstrations. And you don't usually report it. If you don't get any bad footage of today, if you can't get violence, you don't report.
BBC reporter: Do you think there will be violence today? I mean, it's been peaceful so far.
YouTube interviewer: No. Not unless far-left demonstrators are allowed to get up and throw things at people, which is what usually happens. So if the people want to stitch people up, which we see time and time again, then we'll see. But you are all part of the problem.

Isn't that revealing? The BBC reporter (or producer) is maintaining his - and the BBC's - impartiality but says that this protest by the Football Lads Alliance will be labelled as 'far-right' by the BBC because (unspecified) people label it as such. 

He also openly states his own opinion that calling for tighter immigration is "a right-wing rhetoric" - a particularly revealing insight into BBC groupthink. 

And when the YouTube interviewer states that the BBC's agenda will dictate that it won't report the protest unless there's "bad footage", the BBC reporter asks if the YouTube interviewer thinks there will be violence today....and, yes, the YouTube interviewer was correct in his prediction that because there was no 'bad footage', no violence, the BBC wouldn't report this demonstration, and they didn't.

I don't know who the BBC reporter/producer was. The YouTube interviewer, however, was Tommy Robinson.

Getting it wrong again



It's an old theme but the latest variation on it is well worth hearing: Stephen Glover's Daily Mail piece headlined 'How the Mail got it right on Romanian and Bulgarian migration and the BBC got it so wrong – and deceived Britain'. It's spot on and thoroughly damning.

The shocking thing about it, looking back, is that the BBC didn't just "get it so wrong" and "deceive Britain" for the first time here. They simply replayed almost note-for-note their earlier 'mistakes and deceptions' from the post-2004 mass influx from Eastern Europe. They clearly refuse to learn.

Back in the early 2000s we had reports such at that by the BBC's Dominic Casciani giving credence to claims that the influx from Eastern Europe after the borders opened in 2004 would be much smaller than the 'hype' suggested - and by 'hype' he specifically meant Migration Watch's claims. In the end Migration Watch proved right and the official UK projections proved wildly, spectacularly wrong. 

So you would have thought that the BBC would have learned its lesson by the time January 2014 came and the gates were opened to Romanians and Bulgarians, but no, no such lesson had been learned. 


They repeatedly and doggedly played down the likely numbers, with BBC reporters (such as Phil Mackie and Mark Lowen) not just reporting others saying that the numbers would be much less than Migration Watch and UKIP were predicting but stating themselves that they (as BBC reporters) didn't see any evidence that large numbers would be coming to the UK.

And when a small, unexpected dip in the numbers was reported in May 2014, the BBC splashed the story, with Eddie Mair talking of "all the hype" about the numbers, and Mark Easton saying of the "flood" that "if anything, the reverse" was happening, and Nick Robinson opining, "Well, well, well. So much for those predictions of a flood of immigrants coming from Romania and Bulgaria once the door to the UK was opened - ie after visa restrictions were removed on 1 January this year!" and crowing, "However, today the questions will be for UKIP who warned of a flood of new immigrants from the two countries". 

And what has happened ever since has been more and more data on the actual numbers and less and less BBC reporting of them. The OBS reported that there are now 413,000 Romanians and Bulgarians in the United Kingdom, equivalent to the population of Bristol, over whom some 263,000 or so came after January 2014. 

Yet again, the previous Labour government projection of 13,000 a year (the then Labour government's estimate) and he more recent NIESR's guess of 21,000 a year were shown to have been complete rubbish. Even Migration Watch's prediction of 50,000 a year now looks like an underestimate. UKIP looks likely to come closest with their much-derided prediction of 350,000-400,000 over five years. 

Why would the BBC get it so badly wrong not once but twice? 

To paraphrase Marx: History repeats itself, first time as terrible, biased reporting, second time also as terrible, biased reporting. 

Is there any other explanation for this?

And did they report the latest figures? Well, I've seen reports on the OBS's figures from everyone from the Guardian to the Daily Mail, from Sky News to Xinhua, from the Times to the Irish Times but I can find nothing on the BBC News website on the story. 

As far as I can see the BBC has studiously ignored the story, yet again.

Once again the BBC has betrayed its reporting responsibilities by failing to follow through on a story it massively hyped and got badly wrong. The BBC should be reporting these figures and pointing out who got it right and who got it wrong. 

There's no good reason why the Corporation isn't doing so, is there?

Unveiling the Past



Arabic for 'Odin is greatest'

On a similar theme, the BBC (along with the rest of the media) is reporting the claim from Uppsala University that the Arabic words for 'Allah' and 'Ali' have been found in Viking burial garments in Sweden (the one of 'Allah' being in mirror image, for some reason). 

According to the BBC's account, the Swedish researchers speculate that the graves' residents might have been Muslim or, more likely, that the Viking culture might have been influenced in their life-and-death beliefs by Islam. 

In Tharik Hussain's BBC piece, the possibility that these Vikings came into possession of these burial garments during their extensive interactions with Islamic states (by either trading or, even more likely, by plundering) isn't dwelt upon. In fact it isn't even mentioned.

Curiously, however, the very next account I turned to - National Geographic's - puts the Islamic influence speculations after pointing out the following:


Ms. Larsson clearly doesn't belief the 'plundering' option can account for her finds though.

Everybody's surely missing the important detail here though: 


Aha! The fact that this Viking burial site is called Birka and, on the principle that 2+2=5, because that sounds very much like the Arabic word 'burqa' that's all the proof I need that these professors from Sweden must be correct. Wonder if any Viking women in burqas will be found there soon? 

*******

Update (via Kaiser at Biased BBC): Spot what's missing from the Daily Mail image of the lettering and the BBC's slightly cropped version of the same image:

From Mail Online
From the BBC News website
Yes, the story-complicating pagan swastika has been cropped from the BBC's version of the image. Why?

Well might sceptical commentators wonder why these Muslim Vikings/Islam-influenced Vikings were using the Norse image of the sun in their burial garments. Perhaps we can discount the suggestion that they were simply Viking Muslims then?

Correction


St. Chad's Cathedral, Birmingham

Returning to a topic we looked at last month...


David has contacted me with an update (for which many thanks). Following his complaint to the BBC, BBC Bitesize have now updated their page to remove their grotesquely wrong claim that the Church banned dissection.  

Incidentally, it turns out that the Bitesize page I was looking at was an archive versionThe live page had exactly the same statements. So, yes, British pupils were still being fed this false claim by the BBC right up until a few days ago.

Click to enlarge to compare versions

It's excellent that the BBC corrected this mistake following David's complaint  (after some fifteen or so years) but - as you'll see if you read the latest version - the overall bias of the page remains, including the closing 'cultural cringe' towards Islam.

Apology


Talking of The Andrew Marr Show, Andrew Marr got into hot water with the Corbynistas during his press review last Sunday for saying (about the crisis in Catalonia):
It's really, really interesting. After we saw those hideous pictures of the Spanish police beating up women trying to exercise the vote, dragging people by their hair and destroying ballot boxes, there was almost no really pungent criticism from Britain from any of the parties.... 


A Twitter apology from AM producer Rob Burley duly followed: 


Many of the Corbynistas weren't happy. They want an on-air apology. We'll see if they get one.

The Sun Doesn't Always Shine on Sunday Morning TV


The Sun


(The UK Press Gazette has the background to the story here).

The Sun piece originally claimed that Ofcom found that programmes like The Andrew Marr Show and The Sunday Politics have problems with balance when it comes to guest selection. The BBC says that Ofcom never said any such thing. And now the Sun seems to have acknowledged that (on the sly, so to speak):

Here's the 'Before'...


....and here's the 'After':


Ouch!

(Warning: This next sentence may contain sarcasm.)

The BBC, of course, never carries out 'stealth edits' to any of its online articles to cover up mistakes or embarrassments. 

*******

Rob Burley, AM editor. Not impressed.

But what of the Sun's original claims of anti-Brexit guest selection? 

The Sun's analysis found that The Andrew Marr Show has had 129 Remainers since last year’s referendum, compared with just 33 Leavers (84.6% compared to 15.4%) while The Sunday Politics had 78 Remainers compared to 37 Leavers (73.3% compared to 26.7%). 

Those are striking disparities. 

The first thing that puzzled me about those figures and percentages, however, is that they don't match. (Has anyone else spotted that? Or am I missing something?). Surely the AM percentages are actually 79.6% compared to 20.4%? And surely the SP percentages are actually 67.8% compare to 32.2%?

Still, the differences are clearly huge. Are they significant though? 

The BBC's defence is that the figures are spurious. (Andrew Marr called them 'fake news'). They issued a statement saying, "Not considering a Cabinet Minister or even the Prime Minister to be accountable for delivering the Government’s stated policy of Brexit is bizarre, especially when the Sun is willing to count Benedict Cumberbatch who talked about his acting career" and that “Nor was every politician interviewed asked about Brexit.”

Of course, any robust set of figures would have to only include interviews/press reviews where Brexit was raised. Did the Sun confine its analysis to just those interviews, or did they include every interview regardless of what was discussed? If they didn't narrow it down then they are guilty of giving us merely impressionistic findings rather concrete ones, and the BBC has a point. I can't find the Sun's lists anywhere to check. (If you can, please let me know). 

Did the Sun include all those Remain-voting ministers who are now pushing for Brexit in their Remain figures? Where, for example, did they put Mrs May? Or Liz Truss? That was the BBC's first point and it is where things get tricky for such statistical studies post-referendum. Again, it would be interesting to see their lists. 

On the  Benedict Cumberbatch question, his inclusion would surely be relevant if and only if he was asked about/talked about Brexit as a known Remain supporter. The BBC says he only talked about his acting career during the Marr interview. Did he? Re-watching the interview today shows that the BBC is correct. Brexit never came up, so Benedict Cumberbatch should never have been included in the Sun's study. 

So yes, however much of a truth the Sun's analysis may point to its flaws appear fatal enough to me to render it pretty much dead in the water. You have to be fair-minded, ultra-precise and systematically show your workings for such a survey to hold water. (Not that the BBC's furious reaction suggests that they didn't take it seriously - or at least as a serious threat to their reputation!)

*******


P.S. The more I think about this and discuss it with others, and the more I see on Twitter about it, the more this half-baked Sun survey maddens me (in my usual mild way. Think of me as being like Droopy in that respect).

The BBC are correct about this one. The Sun's methodology was so sloppy and lacking in transparency that they've gifted the BBC an easy goal.

And, boy, from what I've seen on Twitter the BBC are certainly milking it!

Blogs like this one and sites like News-watch have made much of 'numbers' to demonstrate BBC bias - 'numbers' offered to their readers with total transparency, clear and (hopefully) watertight methodologies, a spirit of fairness and precision. When high-profile bunglers come along and botch their 'studies' then, alas, it risks giving the BBC all the justification in the world to slag off 'number-crunching' and 'clock-watching' - and I strongly suspect the BBC will be citing this rubbishy Sun 'study' for years to come. 

Wednesday, 4 October 2017

Not bashing Sir Alan


In contrast, the BBC's account of Boris's Remain-backing deputy Sir Alan Duncan claim that working class voters threw "a tantrum" during the Brexit vote is given the softest treatment by the BBC News website.

The article essentially just reports his pro-immigration speech without criticism for the first 12 paragraphs and then tags on 2 paragraphs of criticism from the new UKIP leader. 

Compare that to the Telegraphs's account, which gives 3 paragraphs of Sir Alan, followed by 1 paragraph about criticism of Sir Alan, followed by 5 more paragraphs of Sir Alan, followed by 5 paragraphs of criticism of Sir Alan from the new UKIP leader. 

Now which is the more balanced account? The Telegraph's one quite clearly. 

Bashing Boris


Boris has done it again - according to the media. 

The media is full of criticism of his statement that the Libyan city of Sirte could become the "next Dubai" if they "clear the dead bodies away".

Tellingly however, different media outlets report the story in different ways. 

Reading Sky's account, yes you get all the critics of Boris but you also get Boris's rejection of their criticism:
Shame people with no knowledge or understanding of Libya want to play politics with the appallingly dangerous reality in Sirte. 
The reality there is that the clearing of corpses of Daesh fighters has been made much more difficult by IEDs and booby traps. 
That's why Britain is playing a key role in reconstruction and why I have visited Libya twice this year in support.
Same with the Times's take and ITV's take

Bizarrely, the BBC's account doesn't give Boris's response to the criticism. 

(So far) this BBC take features only the flak directed at Boris but not Boris's rejection of that flak. 

What sort of media organisation would only report one side of the story? A biased one maybe?

Recommended Reading


For more on Nick Robinson's 'Ain't the BBC wonderful?' speech, delivered at the Nick Robinson Self-Appreciation Society, please take a read of News-watch's take on it (which ties in closely with this shrewd comment from our own latest open thread). 

Thursday, 28 September 2017

Open Thread



A New Kind of Open Thread:

Extremely random thoughts




It's actually sounds like quite an interesting speech. (Other takes can be found here and here).

Of course, Nick thinks the BBC is pretty much getting it about right and that the BBC is much 'greater' and much more 'super' (one for Reggie Perrin fans) than mean, dodgy old social media, but he also cites an old Steve Hewlett programme on Channel 4 that deliberately set out to shine the spotlight on voices that go against the liberal consensus and suggests that the BBC might pursue that route. It sounded excellent.

A much greater plurality of voices is certainly desperately needed on the BBC. 

Naturally Nick doesn't point out that it is entirely typical that it was Channel 4 rather than the BBC which broadcast such a consensus-defying programme and that the BBC has (or had) no such equivalent programme to boast of, though I suspect he must have thought it as that was my first thought on reading that bit of his speech. 

*******

BBC staff on Twitter (reporters, editors, presenters among them) have been in full tally-ho mode today against leading alt-left sites like The Canary and Evolve Politics after the former posted a falsehood about Tory Laura Kuenssberg. 

The Canary claimed she'd agreed to make a speech at the Tory Scum party conference. 

In fact Laura K had refused the invitation to make a speech (at a centre-right think tank fringe event). 

The alt-left, being caught red-handed, then rammed the brakes on but ended up skidding all over the place because they couldn't quite bring themselves to lose face by conceding that they'd cocked up, even though it was clear from their tweets that they knew they had cocked up. They wormed and wriggled and weaselled - as (alas) we bloggers too often do when we're caught out. 

I say 'we' but I'd like to think that whenever your actual we (meaning 'us' - me and Sue) get it wrong (as occasionally happens) we at least have the decency to admit it. 

*******

Godwin's Law only embraces mentioning the Nazis, doesn't it? It doesn't mean that bloggers aren't allowed to make comparisons to Weimar Germany, does it?

Reading my Twitter feed over the last couple of days has made me think that there are elements in the Labour Party that would be better suited to Weimar Germany. 

As Sue wrote, why aren't the BBC going crazy about this?

For years-gone-by (at least until the party collapsed) every fruitcake utterance by even the most obscure UKIP councillor would receive bags of unfavourable coverage from the BBC but today's Labour's fruitcakes are vastly more numerous, much much fruit(cake)ier and far, far, far nastier. They are coming out with outrages almost by the hour, and yet the BBC isn't splashing their every foul utterance or misdemeanour - or any of them really. 

Why not?

*******


The BBC certainly keeps them coming. 

Within the past couple of days alone we've had The Muslim cosplayer who uses the hijab in her outfits and Muslim woman 'touched' by anonymous gift (the gift was of 25 hijab-wearing dolls). The BBC also promoted the first of those stories on Twitter:
Oddly (as a Google search shows) there have been no such good-news stories about sari-wearing women from the BBC. 

Is the BBC guilty of hijabaphilia? (Answer: Yes). 

*******

Via Mice Height at Biased-BBC you can watch a fascinating interview between the famous Milo Yiannopoulos and BBC Trending guru Mike Wendling. 

At the beginning of the YouTube video Mike states that his interview with Milo will form part of a Radio 4 'special'. He wasn't any more specific than that but I'm guessing that it's going to be a Radio 4 'special' on the alt-right. 

Milo probably has a point that the violence of the far-Left and Muslims is seriously underplayed by people like BBC journalists while the much smaller threat posed by the far-Right is vastly overplayed - and, to be fair, Mike didn't exactly give Milo grounds for disbelieving that with his questions.

It will be interesting to hear that Radio 4 'special' and compare it to this YouTube interview posted (and, presumably, filmed) by Milo and his friends. 

Incidentally, Mike has a new book out in April 2018 called Alt-Right: From 4chan to the White House. Hopefully, a sequel called Alt-Left: From The Canary to BBC Trending will be out in April 2019.

*******

On tonight's BBC One News at Six George Aligiah posed the following question to a BBC reporter:  
Some people are going to say that the very fact Theresa May is defending the free market suggests Jeremy Corbyn has hit the spot?
The "Some people are going to say" is classic BBC of course, and it's a canny way of putting it. Call it 'degrees of separation' if you will. 

Some people doubtless will be saying that very thing (especially Corbynistas). 

George's question is an interesting choice of question though, isn't it? What do you make of it?

*******

Here's one for The Canary crowd. The last chairpersonage of the BBC Trust Rona Fairhead has been given a peerage and made a minister in the present Conservative government.

*******

Meanwhile for those getting ahead of themselves on Upstart Crow on the BBC iPlayer, there are some excellent jokes at the expense of Benedict Cumberbatch on the final episode of this excellent BBC comedy. (Their only decent BBC sitcom of recent years?)

Damned statistics


I knew I’d seen that image somewhere before.  Oh yes, here it is. (And here is a QT spreadsheet:)

Statistics are one thing; how they’re interpreted is another.  Julia H-B said she was fed up with being the only Brexiteer in the Q.T. village “most of the time”.

Guido says Julia H-B is right, and so does Craig, but not about “always being the sole Leaver on Q.T. panels”. 
Craig has found that she has been the sole Leaver only once, but she was correct in saying Remainers have dominated QT panels.

And Dimbles was wrong about Nigel Farage: “Every time you've been on this programme you've been with Nigel Farage as far as I can see.”  No. Julia H-B has never been on the panel with Nige.

I just thought I’d mention it.

Wednesday, 27 September 2017

"Never heard a single antisemitic word"

To reiterate a point I made in my earlier post, the following is from a piece in Tablet magazine by Yair Rosenberg, who probably doesn’t study the BBC as intently as some of us do….

“What he doesn't say - perhaps because he is genuinely unaware - is that the lack of acceptance that antisemitism is real and rife in the Labour Party is frequently shared by the BBC itself. “
…..he watched the interview between Jo Coburn and Ken Loach on the Daily Politics. 
I do hope it’s okay to reproduce a few large chunks of his article.
“Today, BBC anchor Jo Coburn interviewed noted filmmaker and Corbyn backer Ken Loach about this state of affairs, and he proceeded to unintentionally demonstrate just how dire matters have become. 
Loach began by forcefully denying the presence of anti-Semitism not just in the Labour party, but on the left in general. “I’ve been going to Labour party meeting for over 50 years,” Loach said. “I’ve gone to trade union meetings. I’ve gone to meetings of left groups and campaigns. I have never, in that whole time, heard a single anti-Semitic word or racist word. Now, I’m not saying it doesn’t exist in society.” 
Awkwardly, Loach then followed up this assertion of anti-Semitic innocence by rattling off a series of extremely anti-Semitic claims. First, he declared that progressive Jews, including Labour members of parliament, were inventing anti-Semitic incidents for political purposes, to tarnish Jeremy Corbyn. “It’s funny these stories suddenly appeared when Jeremy Corbyn became leader, isn’t it?” he mused. His BBC interviewer Coburn countered, “Well, they would explain that perhaps Jeremy Corbyn has allowed the oxygen for those sort of views.”

I don’t know how Andrew Neil would have conducted this interview.  If he was on form he might have made his interrogee squirm. To be generous, Jo Coburn rattled him a little; but not a lot.  We’ve heard it all before. This is the theme-tune that Len McCluskey and Diane Abbott are fond of.  It’s a catchy liddle tune that goes something like this: “Accusations of antisemitism in the Labour Party are mere smears, designed to delegitimise Jeremy Corbyn.”

If you didn’t follow the link in my earlier post, do it now. (Apologies if you haven’t got access to the Spectator) William Cook says of the socialist filmmaker and his political opinions :
“I guess the point I’m trying to make is that great artworks are diminished when you know the artist’s politics. Sure, we can draw our own conclusions from a work of art, but that’s quite another thing. The best way for an artist to preserve the quality of their creation is to keep shtum.”
Rosenberg continues:
“But Loach’s ugly insinuation that Jews fabricate their own oppression for personal gain—a staple of anti-Semitic invective for centuries—was just the beginning. When asked by Coburn about a fringe session at the Labour conference where a panelist called for open “yes or no” discussion of the Holocaust, the filmmaker point-blank refused to condemn Holocaust denial, demurring that “history is for all of us to discuss” before going off on an unrelated rant about Israeli evil. Here’s the exchange: 
COBURN: There was a fringe meeting yesterday that we talked about at the beginning of the show where there was a discussion about the Holocaust, did it happen or didn’t it… would you say that was unacceptable?
LOACH: I think history is for us all to discuss, wouldn’t you?
COBURN: Say that again, sorry, I missed that.
LOACH: History is for all of us to discuss. All history is our common heritage to discuss and analyze. The founding of the state of Israel, for example, based on ethnic cleansing is there for us all to discuss. The role of Israel now is there for us to discuss. So don’t try to subvert that by false stories of anti-Semitism.”

“Yet in the span of two minutes on public television, this leading leftist light managed to (a) deny clear and documented instances of anti-Jewish bigotry, (b) claim that Jews fabricate anti-Semitism to manipulate others, (c) refuse to condemn Holocaust denial, and (d) justify such bigotry against British Jews with wild hand-waving at completely different Jews in the Middle East. 
Such extraordinary prejudice coupled to extraordinary lack of self-awareness perfectly encapsulates Britain’s left-wing anti-Semitism problem. After all, the first step to dealing with a problem is admitting it exists. But like Loach, too many on the U.K. far-left are not only unable to acknowledge anti-Semitism in their midst, but are actively complicit in it. Change will only come when such individuals accept Jews as authorities on their own experiences of prejudice, and start listening to Jewish accounts of anti-Semitism rather than dismissing them as bad faith fables.