Saturday, 25 October 2014

David Aaronovitch, the EU and BBC bias


Despite the previous post finding pro-EU bias on this morning's Today programme, it was Friday's edition of the programme that sent pro-EU David Aaronovitch of the 'Times' off on one on today's Dateline London, claiming anti-EU bias

David complained that he'd woken up yesterday to hear a debate between a Conservative right-winger and a UKIP supporter without a pro-EU voice being present, and wondered, "Where was the European presence, or anybody to put a contrary view? Nowhere." 

He said it's been like that with the British media since Maastricht and declared himself "absolutely bloody fed up with it".


Unfortunately for him, he was doing that thing that people do when they shout 'Bias!' without having properly checked their facts first.

Had he stayed listening he would have found that the prestigious 8.10 spot was given over to an interview with Patrizio Fiorilli, spokesperson for the EU Budget. 

So let's re-visit David Aaronovitch's questions in that light:
"Where was the European presence?" 
Right there, David.
"Where was the anti-EU presence, or anybody to put a contrary view for Today listeners who'd woken up at 8.10?" 
On an hour earlier. You obviously missed them.
The great irony of David Aaronovitch's outburst is that it took place on Dateline London, a programme where pro-EU voices have been dominant, nay rampant, for years. 

Alongside David here was Die Welt's Thomas Kielinger, another strong pro-EU voice (and one of the programme's most regular guests), today denouncing the UK and defending the EU demands on us. That added up to two strong pro-EU guests on one programme.

There were no anti-EU guests.

Nahlah Ayed of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation cited the FT denouncing the UK government. Jeffrey Kofman of ABC News described David Cameron as sounding like "a kid in an Eton debating society" and said the "positives" of EU membership are getting lost.

And on it went, with barely a murmur of devil's advocacy from Gavin Esler. 

Right then, David. That's another instance of blatant pro-EU bias on Dateline London. Yet again. Where was the anti-EU presence? Where was anybody to put a contrary view? I'm absolutely bloody fed up with it.

*******


The other discussion on today's Dateline dealt with the attack on the Canadian parliament by a Muslim convert and conformed to (BBC) type.

Though Palestinian-Canadian Nahlah Ayed gave a BBC-like 'neutral' account, Jeffrey Kofman of ABC (another Canadian) said that THE threat in Canada comes from the "very conservative" security policies of the Harper government. There was a general consensus among the other gentlemen present that such tough measures would only serve to alienate Canada's Muslims.

And there was no less a consensus that the attack, and the other very recent attacks (in Canada and the U.S.), aren't Islam-related. They are just "disaffected" lone-wolves with mental issues, nothing more. And, for good measure, David Aaronovitch condemned those people who always try to associate such acts with Islam and "Islamic violence". 

Finding bias on 'Today'


What else is there to say about BBC bias and this morning's edition of Today

Why did the story of Scottish Labour leader Johann Lamont's resignation lead the Today news bulletins? Was it simply a case of the BBC showing all those angry anti-BBC Scots Nats that it takes Scottish politics seriously? Seriously enough indeed to make it its main UK-wide story? Or did it come about through some kind of political bias? And - if so - which kind of bias (pro-Labour or anti-Labour)?

Given the slating it got during the Scottish independence referendum debate for being 'too English-focused', the BBC really had no choice, did it, but to lead on this significant development in Scottish politics? Making it the second or third story (or worse) would probably have provoked a storm (or at least very strong winds) outside Pacific Quay.


As for bias, well, it depends on your starting point. 

Obviously, at first glance, it's clearly a 'bad news story' for Ed Miliband and his Westminster Labour Party colleagues as they were the targets of some very sharp criticism from a clearly bitter Mrs Lamont ("parting shots" indeed). It makes them look awful. The story's also 'big', therefore, because it has UK-wide implications and seems to say something important about Ed Miliband's leadership. Anti-Labour bias? 'Westminter Bubble bias' in disguise?

However, the news reports on Today certainly weren't unhelpful to Mrs Lamont and her Scottish Labour supporters. Far from it. It gave their grievances a great boost, and James Naughtie's staff room-style chat with former (Labour) first minister Henry McLeish (just before 8 o'clock) was just as helpful to their cause. Mr McLeish entirely shared Johann Lamont's negative feelings about the Labour Party at Westminster and James Naughtie didn't attempt to talk him out of them. [Mr McLeish also agreed entirely with Jim's pre-interview summary of the situation in Scotland]. 

If there was any bias there then it was a bias towards Scottish Labour.

*******

The main 'Westminster Bubble' angle though arose out of the programme's continuing coverage of the fall-out from the European Commission's demand for an extra £1.7 billion from UK taxpayers. This, when discussed on Friday's programme, tending to focus on the story from the 'What does this mean for David Cameron?' angle, and that angle still clung around today's two discussions of the story. 

[What do you make of that, Scots Nats? Only one segment about the Scottish Labour leader resigning, but two segments (with four people) about what that £1.7 billion demand means for David Cameron? Dusting your placards off again?]

Now, those discussion did broaden out somewhat. Were they biased though? 


Well, looking at the guess selection, the first interviewinvolved the granddaddy of Conservative Eurosceptics, Bill Cash MP, and one of the BBC's favourite go-to Europhiles, Alexander Graf Lambsdorff of Germany's Free Democratic Party (he's charming and speaks great English). The second interview involved Labour's strongly pro-EU Baron Roger Liddle and Sir Malcolm Rifkind, the former Conservative Foreign Secretary, who seems to be himself as a 'moderate Eurosceptic' but is considered by most Eurosceptics to be an out-and-out Europhile. 

So, there was a spread of opinion from the pro-EU centre-left (Roger Liddle) to the pro-EU centre (Count Lambsdorff) to the pro-EU/'moderately sceptical' centre-right (Sir Malcolm Rifkind) to partly anti-EU centre-right (Bill Cash). 

What was lacking there was a voice representing a significant proportion of UK opinion - that portion which favours withdrawal from the EU. (Bill Cash, to the puzzlement of many, wants us to remain in the EU).

So, yes, there was a pro-EU bias in the guest selection. There really should have been a 'withdrawalist' involved (perhaps in place of Bill Cash), shouldn't there?

*******

A couple of days ago Today reporting on the report of the future of the NHS by Simon Stevens and opened the issue up to listeners' questions.

As James Delingpole very fairly wrote on Thursday, the Today team failed to spot a concerted effort by a group of left-wing activists to hijack the programme's question-and-answer session and force the issue of 'privatisation of the NHS' to the top of the agenda. 

That's no conspiracy theory on Dellers' part. The group 38 Degrees really did try to do that by using a particular hashtag on Twitter  - and they succeeded too. No one at Today seemed to think it odd that so many listeners were worried about the 'privatisation of the NHS' above all else. [A sign of left-wing bias on their part?]

This morning's Today returned to the issue at around 7.20, asking if the claims of NHS privatisation are true and whether the private sector is really at the margins of the NHS, or not. The discussion took place between Nigel Edwards of the Nuffield Trust and Paul Evans of the NHS Support Federation campaign group. 

This turned into one of those discussions between someone reassuring us that the private sector has a very small role (so it's nothing to worry about) and someone else who thinks private involvement in the NHS is 'a very bad thing, full stop'. 


What was lacking was someone saying that, yes, the private sector does have a small role at the moment and that the problem with that isn't that it shouldn't have any role whatsoever but that it should in fact have a much bigger one - i.e. that the private sector is a good thing, that that it should be used a lot more to help improve the NHS, and that the ideological obsessions of anti-private sector campaigners are irrational and harmful. Such a point of view is usually lacking on BBC programmes like this [though that's not helped by the fact that most politicians, including the Conservatives and UKIP, are very shy about broaching the subject].

So shall we chalk that up as a case of anti-private sector bias from the BBC?

*******

Talking about anti-private sector bias from the BBC, the news bulletin featured a woodland charity denouncing a private quarrying company for planning to dig up some ancient woodland. The quote from the charity spokesman denounced the profit motif - i.e. couched the case against the company in classic left-wing terms.

Towards the close of today's programme we heard from that charity at greater length, namely from Austin Brady, Director of Conservation for the Woodland Trust. He's worried about an area of ancient woodland near Tamworth, Staffordshire, cited in the Domesday Book, threatened with destruction for the estimated 9 million tonnes of sand and gravel underneath it.

Now, I do turn green over ancient woodlands. I'd like to see them conserved and I don't like the sound of this one bit. We've too little ancient woodland as it is. But I was still hoping - and expecting - to hear the company's point of view. It didn't come.

*******
Making Scottish Labour's case, establishing a pro-EU bias in its guest selection and, twice, bashing the private sector - that's what Today appeared to be up to this morning, did it not?

Did it not?

Don't panic! Don't panic!



Listening to this morning's Today, I was struck by the programme's Ebola coverage. 

Today has been covering Ebola extensively over recent weeks but - despite all the worrying reports - has evidently been very much at the forefront of pushing the idea (government-sponsored?) that we in the UK (and those of you in the US) have very little to fear from the disease - i.e. promoting a 'Don't panic!' campaign - and urging that the focus be shifted back onto West Africa instead. 

This may be an entirely reasonable, responsible and correct policy for the the BBC to pursue, but it probably needs pointing out as it clearly shows a conscious agenda on the BBC's part in action.

At 7.09 this morning, John Humphrys and the BBC's Aleem Maqbool discussed the latest actions taken in the United States. 

John Humphrys described the U.S. authorities as "nervous...very nervous" and began the conversation by saying, "I suggested to him that all of this might be a bit of an over-reaction". Aleem Maqbool agreed and complained that the U.S. media is ignoring Africa. "Is this being led by genuine fear?", John H pursued, or is it politicians stoking things up? Aleem M replied by talking of the "generation of hysteria" by local politicians and the media. He absolved the federal authorities (i.e. the Obama administration) of any guilt here though, saying they were behaving responsibility.

At 8.10 Mishal Husain took over. She interviewed Dr Amash Adalja from the Infectious Disease Society of America, asking her "But are the authorities over-reacting?". Dr Adalja said yes to that, calling the U.S. actions an "over-reaction" and talking of "public hysteria" there. Her other guest, Yvonne Aki Sawyer from the Sierra Leone War Trust for Children. was also invited to comment on the U.S. situation and expressed her regret over the "hysteria" in the U.S.

What arose was a consensus - BBC presenters, reporters and guests all criticising the U.S. authorities and public, all talking of "over-reaction" and "hysteria". Stay Calm and Think about Africa.

And maybe we should.

Brand Promotion


Russell Brand in Newsnight's Danish studio (perhaps)

Newsnight's decision to hand over 17 minutes on Thursday night to Russell Brand hasn't gone down too well with some. 

The hirsute ex-Big Brother's Big Mouth presenter-turned-revolutionary hero (to Owen Jones and the like) outed himself on Newsnight as a 'truther' about 9/11..

I see that BBC defenders are putting it about that Ol' Russ was outed as such Evan Davis, and his new, understated kind of questioning. Others, however, think that Russell rang rings round the former Today man.

Here's a flavour of some of the criticism.

The Left-wing intellectuals at The Guardian and BBC, not least Newsnight’s Ian Katz, who have embraced Russell Brand or even given him house room, should hang their heads in shame. 
Time was when Newsnight was a serious programme – indispensable viewing for serious people and an important part of the national discourse. Today, obsessed with juvenilia and gimmickry it’s become a gravitas-free zone. How sad.
‘I’ve no idea what the BBC are up to. If they think that the general public want to see this kind of nonsense on a serious political news programme they need to get out more. It is bewildering why they have given Russell Brand a platform to display such ignorant views. One might wonder what expertise he brings to this subject. The answer is none. The BBC have taken leave of their senses.’
For Liberal Conspiracy's Sunny Hundal (not one of the usual suspects), 
The establishment humours Russell Brand because he poses little threat to the system. Newsnight has him on because he’s good for their ratings, not because they want to bring down the system too.
That short selection of views show a range of suggested reasons for why Newsnight invited him back for his second extended Newsnight interview in a year. 

For Stephen Glover, it shows left-wing bias - the left-wing BBC getting a buzz from interviewing a 'radical chic' celeb. For the Mail, it's more a case of dumbing down. For Sunny Hundal, it's all about ratings. For Philip Davies, it's simply inexplicable.

I'm going with the ratings option mainly. Newsnight editor Ian Katz has often cited Russell Brand's previous interview with Jeremy Paxman as his idea of what a Newsnight interview should be like or the sort of thing his new Newsnight should do more of. He's immensely proud of it and the interview itself was a huge hit on social media (of which Ian Katz is also a huge fan), and very widely discussed in the mainstream media too. For Ian Katz, it was a triumph. So why not repeat the trick and get the world talking about Newsnight again?

Well, if that was his intention it certainly seems to be working. Social media has exploded again and the mainstream media is up in arms again. Another triumph.

Of course, it probably does help that Russ is espousing half-baked radical chic politics. If he were a right-wing 'truther' (an Alex Jones), I'm doubting that Newsnight would have had him on twice within a year. Such views would fall well outside of their comfort zones - unlike their left-wing/Islamist counterparts, even though the latter sound very similar (about 9/11) as the former. (It's the US government, the Bushes, the Jews). 

Russ himself was there to plug his new book, which brings me to a joke I saw on Twitter. (Mysteriously, I won't quote the source though):
Russell Brand says the economy is an illusion. His new book contains the line, "The economy is just a metaphorical device, it's not real, that’s why it’s got the word con in it" - a bold call for a man whose name ends with "SELL BRAND".

Update from Sue:

I've been looking at the clips of Russell Brand and Evan, and I'm thinking "Katz - what was you thinking?" I mean Brand's over-long piece with Paxo was bad enough, but who thought Newsnight needed another performance by this repulsive narcissist? Talk about cringeworthy. Then I saw that the Guardian had hosted a live-stream even with Russell and Owen. Can you imagine anything more annoying?

I find Russell brand physically repulsive.  I can't understand why anyone of either gender could find him attractive. (Even if he didn't start making those preposterous remarks) The way he speaks reminds me of when little girls dress up in their mother's high heels. Sort of like an unconscious parody of a grown-up.


Update from Rod Liddle:

The issue is not that Russell Brand seems to believe that 9/11 was some sort of joint effort between George W Bush and the bin Laden family – that’s sort of a given, no? The man is a drug-addled idiot with the geopolitical knowledge and awareness of a tub of ‘I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter’. The issue is, given these facts, what he’s doing on Newsnight, again.
The BBC, defending the decision to interview the fool, said that he is representative of the ‘anti-politics’ movement with which Westminster is trying to engage. No. He’s. Not. But even so, what utter cant – he’s on there because he’s famous and Newsnight, with its plummeting ratings, is these days in thrall to celebrity. Mind you, if I was Russell I’d begin to catch the whiff of a conspiracy. Isn’t it collusion between the BBC and politicians to discredit the ‘anti-politics’ movements by allowing a halfwit to represent it?  [Spectator]
P.S. ('nother update from Sue)
Fanks for sandwiching me in between you and Rod Liddle. 

After some thought, Dr. Sue’s diagnosis falls within the ‘Histrionic personali’y Disorder’ paradigm. 

slouch

Throughout that interview, Russell showed a complete inability to listen. Russell repeatedly turned away, arranged his body into that non-receptive slouch, while emitting streams of blustering, histrionic dialogue, during which Evan was lamely failing to make himself heard. 

A couple of over-protective reviewers have praised Evan’s fortitude and patience, but I thought he looked like a wabbit in a panic.

Sometimes Russell invaded Evan’s personal space, touching his leg or patting his hand as if to say, “watch out, mate, I’m dangerous, I’m volatile, I’m a one-man reincarnation of the notorious sex pistols ‘whatever will they do next’ shock horror *live* on dark ages National Television”.
Now and then he got so excited that he forgot the glottal-stop. Some reviewers astounded me by describing him as ‘eloquent’. Others said ‘intelligent’. 
so excited

Not everyone though. Here’s the funniest one so far. Polly Toynbee and Jonny  Lydon didn’t think much of Russell and his antisocial call for people not to vote.
“I want to hug you for what you said about Russell Brand, You called him a Bum hole.” said Polly. 

Gales of laughter, mate.


I looked up ‘paradigm’, a word no-one but Russell Brand actually uses in conversation. Glad that’s cleared up.

 ˈparədʌɪm/noun
1. a typical example or pattern of something; a pattern or model."society's paradigm of the ‘ideal woman’"
2.LINGUISTICS a set of linguistic items that form mutually exclusive choices in particular syntactic roles."English determiners form a paradigm: we can say ‘a book’ or ‘his book’ but not ‘a his book’"


Is Russell Brand 1.) the idiot’s paradigm of ‘intelligent’? or 2) is ‘Revolution’ a book, his book, or a his book?. English determiners (that’s me) say it forms a paradigm and it is definitely a ‘his book’. 

The 'Guardian' attacks the BBC


The Guardian has accused the BBC of overstepping its public service remit in an attempt to dominate global news.
Andrew Miller, the chief executive of Guardian Media Group, said that the BBC’s plans to expand aggressively overseas is putting it in competition with British media groups that do not enjoy its public funding.
“In our fast-changing industry, the time has come to address and remedy the implications of BBC dominance,” he said in a speech at the London School of Economics last night.
Executives at other media companies said that Mr Miller’s comments were strong, particularly as The Guardian is usually a supporter of the BBC.
Well, yes, the BBC's dominance is overwhelming  and damaging. Local newspapers have been complaining about this for years. Now even the BBC's main supporter in the British press is aghast. 
The Guardian and other publishers are concerned about the BBC’s plan to double the international reach of its TV channel and websites to an audience of 500 million people by 2022. The BBC’s expansion is of special concern to The Guardian and MailOnline for which attracting foreign users and advertisers is crucial to their business.
Those concerns have been stoked by the BBC’s decision to increase its coverage in Australia, where it has hired local journalists and launched a dedicated section on the BBC.com website.
The Guardian has invested heavily in the highly competitive Australia market and Mr Miller thinks the BBC should be focusing its funds on countries where there are fewer alternative media outlets. 

He also thinks the BBC should open up its licence fee-funded content and archive to its British commercial rivals. 

Interesting times when the BBC and Guardian fall out.

Priorities


Looking at the various news websites this morning (6.30am), it's interesting to see their contrasting news priorities.

Sky News and ITV both lead with the latest school shootings in the U.S., a story BBC News doesn't feature in its top 10. The BBC leads with the resignation of Labour's Scottish leader.

Politically, the most striking difference is that both Sky and ITV make Tony Blairs alleged negative remarks about Ed Miliband [the lead in the Daily Telegraph] one of their top 3 stories, while the BBC website ignores the story - which will doubtless provoke a few knowing 'aha!'s from those who accuse the BBC of pro-Labour bias....

...though the fact that the BBC is leading with Johann Lamont's parting shots at her Labour colleagues rather counters that criticism.

Sky News
1. Student Dead After Shooting 'School Friends'
2. Automatic US Quarantine For Ebola Medics
3. Tony Blair Denies Saying Miliband Can't Win
4. Google Executive Sets New Parachute Record
5. Ukrainian Refugees Flee To Russian Arctic
6. Johann Lamont Quits As Scottish Labour Leader
7. Shocking Moment Blind Man Thrown On To Tracks
8. Human Remains Are Missing Student Hannah Graham
9. Axeman Who Hacked Cops Was 'Self-Radicalised'
10. Schools Urged To Teach Body Confidence

ITV
1. Two dead in US high school shooting
2. Two-year-old Mali Ebola girl 'could have infected hundreds'
3. Blair denies saying Miliband can't lead Labour to victory
4. Spider-Man joins Hong Kong protests
5. UK clocks could soon tick in time with central Europe
6. Egypt declares three-month state of emergency in Sinai
7. Human remains confirmed to be UK-born student Hannah Graham
8. David Cameron: I am not paying £1.7bn EU bill
9. Driving licence fees to be slashed by 32%
10. Canadian soldier's body taken to hometown

BBC 
1. Scottish Labour leader standing down
2. State of emergency imposed in Sinai
3. 'Many exposed' to Mali Ebola girl
4. Cost of driving licence to be cut
5. Man injured in west Belfast shooting
6. Cancer-killing cells made in the lab
7. Life terms for Argentina jail crimes
8. New HS2 station proposed for Crewe
9. Anger over ancient woods quarry plan
10. Used car buyers 'need more support'

Where the BBC website leads Radio 4's Today tends to follow. [UPDATE: And so it proves].

Friday, 24 October 2014

The playground bully and the Tory

Some are likening it to the rumble in the jungle, others are calling it a ‘heated exchange’ but it does seem that the incident between Tory Philip Davies and lefties Jon Snow and his sidekick Krishnan Guru-Murthy  caused quite a stir at the ITN newsroom where Channel 4 news is based. Or should that read ‘biased’. 




Anyway, Anita Singh has an article in the Telegraph about it, which is headlined “Jon Snow ‘acted like a playground bully’ says Tory MP”
 Philip Davies MP had previously expressed incredulity at Rona Fairhead’s faith in the BBC’s reputation for objectivity and impartiality,  so we can guess what he thinks of Channel 4. Well, we don’t need to guess, because he’s quite open about it. 

It seems that Mr Davies was invited to the ITN building in his capacity as a member of the Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee, but was ‘ambushed’ by Jon Snow to whom he had just been introduced by the deputy editor of Channel 4 news. 
she said, 'This is Jon Snow.' I said hello."He stood up out of his seat and at the top of his voice, so everyone in the newsroom could hear he said, 'You said I'm left-wing and biased - give me one example of an interview where I've been left-wing and biased.'"I said I had come to look around and hadn't come for an argy-bargy. He just kept repeating the same thing in a deliberately loud voice. It was like he was the playground bully and the newsroom was his playground. This carried on for at least five minutes.”
The exchange spiraled out of control till Mr. Guru-Murthy asked the MP to leave the building. 
During the heated exchange Jon Snow said to Philip Davies:
'You said I’m Left-wing and biased – give me one example of an interview where I’ve been Left-wing and biased.’”
Isn’t that annoying? Someone whose every word is Left-wing and biased asks for one example. You’re on the spot and there are so many to choose from you don’t know where to start. 
Stephen Pollard has an interesting piece about this in the Telegraph. As Pollard says:
“At the risk of provoking a further eruption from Mr Snow, who appears not so much to be thin-skinned as to possess a comical lack of self-awareness, I have to ask: is there any viewer of Channel 4 News who does not think Mr Snow is biased? Isn’t that the very point of him and his show?”
Pollard is arguing that he prefers his bias up-front and open, not all pretendy like the BBC. He thinks fans of Snow like it that way and they’re getting what they want, adding that the same thing could be said of Guardian readers, which I suppose is one way of looking at it.  Many people are less sanguine than Pollard about that. They are disturbed by the harmful influence of Channel 4 and the Guardian as well as the more slippery bias of the BBC. 
  It wouldn’t be so bad if  Jon Snow didn’t deliver his bias whilst wearing the cloak of authority that automatically graces the anchor of a flagship news programme.
“The BBC’s bias – or disposition, if you want a less pejorative word – isn’t conscious. But we all bring our own dispositions to the work we do, and that’s as true of BBC journalists as it is of lawyers and plumbers. The BBC’s news simply reflects the mindset of its urban, culturally liberal staff.”
Of course Jon Snow massively abused his position when he aired his appallingly biased film about Gaza. I’m sure many people must have had this in mind when they read about the dramatic ITN newsroom confrontation.  Stephen Pollard probably did too, despite making the following, rather cavalier assertion: 
 "I’m a lot less bothered by Mr Snow’s obvious, in your face, that’s-why-you’re-watching-me bias than I am by the BBC’s, which makes claims for its news as something altogether more elevated."
He ends his piece with: 
“This summer, (Jon Snow) recorded a video about Gaza that could have been straight out of the Hamas PR manual, entirely lacking in balance or context. The BBC’s deputy director of news and current affairs, Fran Unsworth, has said that no BBC presenter would have been allowed to make such a video.
Give me Jon Snow’s explicit bias any day, though, rather than the Beeb’s supposed but spurious objectivity. When it comes to Middle East coverage, at least Mr Snow’s heart is there on his sleeve for all to see. The BBC’s Middle East editor, Jeremy Bowen, is no less opinionated, but his views are couched in notional neutrality.But oh what fun it is to see the reaction of one of the great panjandrums of the liberal Left, when someone dares to utter a word of criticism. They can dish it out. But boy, they certainly can’t take it.

Thursday, 23 October 2014

Parallel worlds

Philip Davies, the MP who responded cynically to Rona Fairhead’s satisfaction with the BBC’s objectivity is in trouble with Channel 4.

Jon and Krish

This piece in The Guardian is about a bizarre row that occurred when Philip Davies visited ITN and was sent packing by Jon Snow’s colleague Krishnan Guru-Murthy
Davies visited ITN on Tuesday after quizzing new BBC Trust chair Rona Fairhead about the future of the corporation, in his role as a member of the Commons culture, media and sport select committee.The MP for Shipley, who had numerous tetchy exchanges with Fairhead’s predecessor Lord Patten during culture committee hearings, asked the BBC Trust chair: “Have you gone native in record time?” Fairhead replied: “Absolutely not”.
 The below the line comments are from a parallel world where they believe the BBC is right wing and think Channel 4 is  “the only regular news programme that does not seem to cower under the scrutiny of those in power.”
In the sidebar, more media (anti UKIP) stories provide additional platforms for aerated Guardian readers and conspiracy theorists.
Mike Reed has decided to apologise for the calypso. To date there are 2225 comments below the line; it looks like (approximately) a 50/50 split between hatred of Mike Reed, and hatred of UKIP. Everything about this topic is a waste of brain activity including mine for writing this and yours, if you’re doing so, for reading it.

However, I’ve just had a look at the Times where Deborah Ross has wasted half a page of newsprint and a modest amount of brain activity on a rebuttal, calypso style. 
Strangely enough, people’s polarised view of, and outright dismissal  of UKIP as racist is as simplistic as it gets. (Not that I haven’t misgivings of my own, but they’re different misgivings.) Here’s part of a verse of Ross’s ‘Jewish’ calypso:
Ukip you live in a remembered Britain, that’s for sure/A sentimentalised golden age with the border a closed door/We were white, Christian and happy, with trusty phone boxes too/But my family have been here for hundreds of years and we are Jews!
So the argument from Ross and people like David Aaronovich seems to be that if you’re Jewish it’s hypocritical to be concerned about immigration, because you and your ancestors were once immigrants. ....and evidently Muslims are the new Jews(?)  

However, if Ukip are more concerned about temporary economic migrants from Europe than they are  about permanent  ‘cultural’ migrants from the third world, then that’s where I part company with Nige. By the way, I suspect many of the worries that are being expressed about Poles - using our scant resources and hospitals and so on - are a front for unacceptable, politically incorrect but sincerely held worries that are sneered at by ‘the left’ for being “Islamophobic” and ‘racist’.

During the BBC’s baffled response to the breaking news of the Canadian shootings (talking to mother of Muslim convert recently killed in war against IS) Gavin Esler on News 24 suddenly came out with:
 ”I have many Muslim friends so I know that Islam is genuinely peaceful.......”

Talking of parallel worlds, last night's The Apprentice (episode 3)  highlighted the irrational basis of the whole concept of this programme. First of all, the prize isn’t even supposed to be an apprenticeship. It’s supposed to be a business partnership. 
How sustainable would a business be if it was wholly dependent on ripping people off? Come to think of it, there are a lot of companies who seem to do okay on that principle, but    it’s a very sad state of affairs when the girl whose unremitting appetite for ‘the margin’ overrode the principle of creating a quality product, which if they hadn’t made a balls-up of their sales technique, might have won the task for the team. At least that product stood a chance of growing into a sustainable business.

The much anticipated sensation of one candidate suddenly coming to her senses was somehow disappointing.  The firing of Nurun, the girl with the massive Muslim headdress was executed in a tidily non Islamophobic manner, and her appearance with Dara on the You’re Fired programme showed her to be a thoroughly nice lady with a sense of humour and the very model of a modern moderate Muslim. They do exist, as Gavin Esler will gladly attest.

On the other hand Nick Hewer the lefty capitalist is looking more unsustainable with every episode.

I wonder if there’s a parallel universe out there as well as here on earth? Where’s Brian Cox when you need such answers, and the parallel Brian Cox? 



Wednesday, 22 October 2014

Another day



Here are a selection of comments from under the latest post at Harry's Place:


[Recently, Canon Andrew White lamented that ISIS are beheading Christians, yet people tend not to even believe the horrifying and harrowing accounts that White shares with his readers.]
Thanks to our Blessed BBC and C4's obsession with Israel...

I can imagine the waves of distress that sweep the BBC News Room when rumours of alleged outrages come in. The spin priorities? Are there Muslim involved or not and, just as important, if Muslims are involved, are they true Muslim or not? 
Also, preventing an "Islamophobic" reaction is vital. Even if it is, as usual, Muslims killing people and justifying it by their religion, it absolutely, positively has nothing whatsoever to do with Islam. Now what about Gaza? Time to march on the Israeli embassy again...

An other not completely OT news: Rooger Cukierman, president of France’s largest Jewish group, was indicted for calling the comedian Dieudonne M’bala M’bala a “professional anti-Semite".

Jerusalem Terrorist attack: Baby killed, 8 injured. http://www.haaretz.com/news/di... A busy day for Islam. 

The BBC reports:Nine hurt as car hits pedestrians at Jerusalem station. Not a terrorist, not a Palestinian but an evil car...

Not entirely OT - shooter on the loose currently at Canadian National War Memorial and parliament..

I was listening to some Canadian Parliamentarians on BBC. They seem to be Liberals on steroids. Between Tony Livesy (BBC) and themselves they couldn't figure how it might be connected to Canada joining coalition on ISIS. Are they living in a goldfish bowl?! About three weeks ago several jihadis (12) were arrested in Australia for soldier beheading and shooting-up the Australian Parliament plots!!! They are still trying to work this one out.

The Missing Word Game from BBC:- BBC online showed a tweet from Canadian Homeland equivalent. Statement on the screen was read verbatim by presenter. It read "..raised threat level ..... due to chatter from radical Islamist terrorists". Only one word from the statement was left out. Guess which word. Was this BBC editorial policy meets the real World?


**********
UPDATE

Commentary's Seth Mandel takes up one of the points above in a piece called A Case Study in Media Bias: Today’s Jerusalem Terror Attack

The Times of Israel reported the story thus:
A three-month-old girl was killed Wednesday afternoon and eight others were injured when a car crashed into a crowd at a light rail station in Jerusalem in what officials said was a likely terrorist attack. A suspect, identified by an Israeli official as a member of terror group Hamas, attempted to flee the scene on foot and was shot by police, a police spokesperson said.
This is what Seth Mandel noted about the BBC's online coverage:
Scanning the BBC, I had noticed their initial headline (since changed as well): “Nine hurt as car hits pedestrians at Jerusalem station.” As the Jerusalem Post’s Seth Frantzman pointed out, the headline on the version he saw, and took a screenshot of, was “Car hits people at Jerusalem station.” Either the BBC was deliberately downplaying the story, or the editor in charge thought he was posting a story about an evil car magically becoming sentient only to lash out, like Black Sabbath’s Iron Man, at the humans around him.
Later in the day, after executives at the BBC located a shred of integrity hidden somewhere in the sofa cushions, that was changed as well. It now reads: “Jerusalem car ‘attack’ kills baby at rail station.” I say “a shred of integrity” because the BBC still saw fit to wrap “attack” in scare quotes. What are the options, here? Was it a car “love tap”? It was a terrorist attack, perpetrated by a member of a terrorist organization.

Oozing bias


BBC Watch spotted a few characteristically biased tweets from the BBC's Middle East editor Jeremy Bowen in anticipation of an upcoming Radio 4 programme he's doing about olives and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

He's kept the tweets coming, however, since Hadar's post and you'll find them all below (so far). 

They probably tell you all you need to know about the forthcoming programme (so you won't have to listen to it), and they certainly tell you more than enough about Jeremy Bowen's concept of impartiality - i.e. reporting that makes the Palestinians look much, much nicer than the nasty Israelis. Many of the tweets show the breadth and depth of Palestinian 'niceness', while there's just one that shows the 'nice' side of Israel and several more that try to show its 'nasty' side. 

My prediction? The programme itself will inevitably follow the same clearly biased path as these tweets. 

Tuesday, 21 October 2014

War of the words

What did you think of the video Craig posted the other day, Educating Rona (Rona being the new chair of the BBC Trust, Rona Fairhead.)  I expect she can look forward to one or two variations on that name. 

 The most frequent complaint from those exBBC staff and critics is that the BBC has an inherently “liberal” mindset, an accusation that implies that the BBC is guilty of something objectionable. As offensive as institutional racism, maybe? The first thing that struck me was how ‘our side’ has turned the word ‘liberal’ into a pejorative.
(How would it be if the BBC had an inherently illiberal  bias?)

Before I discuss the way that particular word has been snatched from its context and used as a weapon, I’ll just remind myself of some other words that have been stolen and used as instant pejoratives. Words like Zionist, and rrrright-wing. 

We do the same thing with ‘lefty’. Then there’s that other list of genuinely pejorative words, like genocide, massacre, Islamophobia and racist, which have been misappropriated and used maliciously, for pure mischief-making. 
Oh yes, and there’s the opposite, where words like ‘democratic’ and ‘rights’ sometimes serve as a one-size-fits all defence of the despicable, as in ‘democratically elected’ and of course ‘my/your/ human rights’.

So let’s go back to ‘liberal’ with a small ‘l’, as in mindset. Don’t let’s forget that after the post-war period liberalism was a positive; a force for good in austerity Britain.

Britain undoubtedly adopted reforming, liberal or libertarian ideals in the 60s, railing against the ‘thou shalt not’ tyranny that had such a negative impact on people’s lives. I’m thinking of the days when homosexuality was a crime, when illegitimacy was shameful and had appalling consequences  - come to think of it nearly everything ‘natural’ involved some sort of stigma. Corporal punishment was the norm in schools, and it was sometimes extremely brutal. Terrible things went on in the name of religion in those days too.

However, a ‘liberal’ society is not necessarily an ‘indiscriminately permissive’ unstructured, anarchic ‘free-for-all’, with no moral boundaries.  It’s up to society to use liberalism intelligently, and if it goes off the rails, it’s society’s duty to adjust it without turning the clock back and regressing, knee-jerk fashion, into pre-enlightenment times. Sleepwalking into, I don’t know  -  whatever.

Sadly we threw the Judeo/Christian baby out with the reactionary bathwater. We seem to be hide-bound in a culture that has become indiscriminately permissive, tolerant of the intolerant and the intolerable. When I say ‘we’ I think I primarily mean the BBC. I can’t pinpoint the exact time the scales tipped over from the sublime to the ridiculous, but we’ve ended up with a BBC that considers it morally wrong to make any kind of value judgement. 

Avoiding the ‘value judgement’ has been adopted as official BBC policy; it set off as ‘good intentions’ which inevitably paved the road to a cuckoo-land destination, where false moral equivalences were the only option. 

The BBC is supposed to be objective, but news reporting is frequently corrupted with spin, omissions and superficiality. Contrived outrage dominates the headlines. Documentaries are dumbed down; programmes like Question Time and Sunday Live inhabit a parallel universe, and as many online commenters have observed a weird self-hatred runs through much of the MSM,.

This morning we heard a peculiar discussion between John Humphrys  and two gents, whose names I’m now able to look up on the newly reinstated Today programme running order, (at one stage someone must have thought it was a good idea to remove it)  Musa Okwong, poet and broadcaster and Diran Adebyo, novelist and cultural critic. They were debating whether Mike Reed’s ‘UKIP calypso’ was ‘racist’. 
I don’t know where to start. Isn’t Calypso always sung in a Jamaican accent? Isn’t it part of the Calypso genre?  Singing in an accent associated with a particular race might be racist if it’s done in a malicious, mocking way I suppose.
The definition of racist is: “a person who believes that a particular race is superior to another” 
By that definition, how is singing a calypso racist? Of course what they really wanted to say was that UKIP is racist. The jury is still out on that, but Nigel Farage insists it isn’t racist, and these accusations seem to be predicated on the principle that anything at all nationalist must be racist, and anything that even defines a race in terms of ethnicity is taboo. 
Ethnicity:
shared cultural practices, perspectives, and distinctions that set apart one group of people from another. That is, ethnicity is a shared cultural heritage. The most common characteristics distinguishing various ethnic groups are ancestry, a sense of history, language, religion, and forms of dress.”
Oooh! Watch out! Mustn’t sing calypso in a Jamaican accent. Someone might assume you feel ethnically superior.  

Anyway, back to another point I was about to make before I was so rudely interrupted with thoughts about Mike Reed.
  
I was about to mention a topic tackled by BBC Watch on Monday  concerning a portion of the BBC’s response to a complaint, which I think illustrated how badly the BBC has been led astray by its own inability to see the wood for the trees.
“we feel it is worth noting that Hamas has both a political wing and a military wing and while its charter calls for Israel’s ‘nullification’ it is at the same time the democratically elected government in Gaza. Hamas’s strategy is certainly to end the occupation through armed resistance while its 1988 charter also calls for Israel’s destruction. It has, however, modified its position over time. Hamas also enjoys considerable popular support among Palestinians, particularly in the Gaza Strip where it is particularly strong.”
It is worth noting this is as much to do with its humanitarian wing, which provides schooling, health clinics and financial assistance, as its military wing which carries out attacks on Israelis.”

BBC Watch has analysed this statement, bit by bit, together with some clips from MEMRI clearly showing that Hamas has not altered their position one iota over time. It particularly concerns me that the BBC uses certain terms as shorthand for those ‘know what I mean’ assumptions. Terms which don’t stand up if you give them a small poke. The emphasised passages highlight the BBC’s copious use of buzz-words that save them doing any critical self examination. 
Take ‘democratically elected’. How democratic was that election? How valid is it now? These questions don’t bear close examination, so the BBC is wrong to use ‘democratically elected’ to excuse Hamas’s terrorism. 
Take ‘occupation.’ What occupation? Hamas rules Gaza, which is not under occupation - at least not by Israel. In any case, would a strategy of armed resistance ever be likely to end an occupation? 
Would the end of the ‘occupation’ also bring about the end of the armed resistance? Answers on a postcard.
  So, Hamas has not ‘modified’ its position, nor has it moderated it, if that’s what the BBC was implying. The only modification is on the part of the PA, which has hardened its position, by moving itself politically closer to Hamas.
They’re saying that Hamas has a humanitarian wing, which is a grossly misleading thing to say. If they’re defending Hamas on the tenuous grounds that  it’s a democratically elected government, what else should it do but provide schooling, health clinics and....financial assistance?  However, it’s absolutely not humanitarian. The schooling it does provide is severely political and religious, and its agenda is perpetuation of the hatred of Israel. Health clinics? Funding is mostly expropriated and diverted to .... financial assistance -  for its ‘military wing’. 
Then, finally we get to the nitty gritty:
“Our coverage follows the BBC editorial guidelines which state: “Terrorism is a difficult and emotive subject with significant political overtones and care is required in the use of language that carries value judgements. We try to avoid the use of the term “terrorist” without attribution. When we do use the term we should strive to do so with consistency in the stories we report across all our services and in a way that does not undermine our reputation for objectivity and accuracy.”
Our coverage strives to describe the nuanced nature of the organisation in an accurate and impartial manner, allowing our audience to make up their own minds.”

How can the audience make up their own minds when the nuanced nature of the BBC’s Hamas-friendly, disingenuous use of words made meaningless through over-use and mis-use give such a dishonest and unrealistic picture? The unwitting audience is bound to sympathise with Hamas as they mutter “one man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter” and wrap their keffiyehs round their necks in solidarity with the poor Palestinians. 
We don’t agree with your suggestion of bias and this goes some way in addressing your concerns.”
'We' don’t agree? Why would they agree? Who expected them to agree? Sorry, but this certainly goes no way at all to addressing any concerns.
What would Rona Fair head make of that? Would she agree with me, that the BBC has an inherently left-wing, illiberal bias? Or would she agree with the BBC, that Hamas has modified its position over time, that it’s not a terrorist organisation even though this country has designated it as such, and that the fact that Hamas appears to have considerable popular support among Palestinians, particularly in the Gaza Strip, must mean that it is a humanitarian, democratically elected government merely pursuing legitimate armed resistance?  
If so, how does that square with the BBC’s position over UKIP,  which the BBC appears to consider racist, despite the fact that it evidently has considerable popular support among the British public. 

 "When we take charge / And the new prime minister is Farage / We can trade with the world again / When Nigel is at number 10."






The Argentinian ambassador gets the full BBC Complaints treatment



Argentina’s ambassador to the UK has made a formal complaint to the BBC about Jeremy Clarkson’s “provocative behaviour” in the recent Top Gear special, and demanded a public apology.
Ambassador Alicia Castro visited the BBC on Monday afternoon.
The embassy released details of the ambassador's meeting with the BBC’s director of television, Danny Cohen, in which she condemned the presenter and his team.
Well, it's one rule for the Argentinian ambassador and another for us licence-fee-paying Brits, isn't it?! I'm appalled that the BBC has allowed its notoriously labyrinthine complaints process to be by-passed so easily. She should have been made to suffer, like the rest of us.

So this is what the Argentinian ambassador should have experienced at the hands of the BBC Complaints department, word for word:


21 October 2014 
Your Reference CAS-1982-FKL-KO
Dear Ambassador Castro
Thanks for recently contacting the BBC. This is to let you know that we have referred your complaint to the relevant staff but that it may take longer than 10 working days to reply. We therefore ask you not to contact us further in the meantime. In the meantime we’d like to thank you for contacting us with your concerns. We appreciate your patience in awaiting a response.
Kind regards,
BBC Complaints.
www.bbc.co.uk/complaints


23 December 2014
Your Reference CAS-1982-FKL-UK
Dear Ambassador Castro
Please accept our apologies for the delay in replying. We know our correspondents appreciate a quick response and we're sorry that you've had to wait on this occasion.
We have received a wide range of feedback about 'Top Gear'. Bearing in mind the pressure on licence fee resources, the following response strives to address the majority of concerns raised but we apologise in advance if not all of the specific points you have mentioned have been answered in the manner you prefer.
The BBC has very clear guidelines to ensure that any issues involving the British Falkland Islands are treated in line with our editorial guidelines on impartiality. We believe we followed those guidelines here.
However, we forwarded your complaint to Jay Clarkson, one of the output editors for 'Top Gear' who, explained in response:
"That old hag can go boil her head."
Therefore, let me assure you I've registered your comments on our audience log. This is a daily report of audience feedback that's circulated to many BBC staff, including members of the BBC Executive Board, channel controllers, cleaners and other senior managers. It ensures that your points, and all other comments we receive, are circulated and considered across the BBC. The audience logs are seen as important documents that can help shape decisions about future programming and content. All feedback we receive, whether positive or negative, is always appreciated.
Thanks again for taking the time to contact us with your views.
Regards
Jenna Galtieri
BBC Complaints


23 February 2015 
Your Reference CAS-1982-FKL-FCUK-OFF
Dear Ambassador Castro
We have been considering the various complaints you have submitted in recent weeks. 
In our view, this correspondence therefore now represents a disproportionate use of BBC staff time and consequently of our increasingly limited licence fee resources.
In accordance with the BBC’s framework for handling complaints, we must inform you that the BBC’s expedited complaints handling procedure will now be applied to any complaints you make citing further examples to allege pro-British bias on 'Top Gear'. 
For the period of two years from the receipt of this email, we will continue to read any complaints you submit, whether directly to production teams or via the central handling unit, but a 200 mile exclusion zone will be placed around them and they will not be investigated unless “they appear to raise a substantive issue or disclose a serious prima facie case of a breach of the Editorial Guidelines where there is a significant prospect that the complaint might be upheld”.
Should you wish, you may write to the BBC Trust within 20 working days to request an appeal against this decision. 
Best wishes
Dayglo Maradona, BBC Complaints 

Sunday, 19 October 2014

The pro-immigration BBC



From former BBC director of News Helen Boaden to John Humphrys and Nick Robinson, prominent BBC figures have recently been keen to 'fess up to the BBC having had a pro-immigration bias in the past.

For the present day BBC, of course, the words "in the past" give them the chance to put the issue behind them and move on, but what if the BBC is still pushing a pro-immigration message because of having (as Helen Boaden put it) a "deep liberal bias"?  

This morning's Sunday Morning Live asked the question, "Is the UK too hostile to immigration?"....which is a very particular way of framing the issue for starters. They could have asked, "Should the UK be tougher on immigration?", but they didn't. If you were marking the programme for impartiality, that would be a tick in the 'Pro-immigration' column. 

Then came the opening report showing two immigrant footballers playing for a local football club, making their case for why immigration is a good thing, recounting stories of racism and condemning the media for spreading negative messages about immigrants. If you were marking the programme for impartiality, that would be a second tick in the 'Pro-immigration' column.

Still, at least you can rely on SML to feature a lively discussion between its four studio guests, some speaking for the question, some speaking against it, can't you?

...except, astonishingly, all four guests - yes, all four guests (Dr Lez Henry, Charlie Wolf, Michelle Dewberry and my old hero Bill Oddie) - agreed with each other that we are too hostile to immigration and criticised politicians and the media for stirring up anti-immigration feelings. 

Lez Henry blamed "politicking" for creating a moral panic. Charlie Wolf said that immigration is economically beneficial and that immigrants blossom in their new countries (to that country's benefit). Michelle Dewberry blamed "punchy headlines" and "catchy stories" (about things like benefit tourism) for infuriating people, stories she didn't believe were entirely true. Bill Oddie said that people who think immigration should be reduced are "not terribly well-informed" and that Britain's culture has "burgeoned" because of immigration.  He also [in an extraordinary outburst of anti-British self-loathing that seemed to take even Sian Williams by surprise] expressed his complete and utter loathing for Britain and British "chauvinism". ("I'm not proud to be British. In fact I'm often ashamed to be British. We're a terrible race"). Lez Henry then talked about slavery, and his parents being "enticed" to Britain. 

Both Charlie and Michelle did (eventually) express reservations about uncontrolled immigration though and the need for a little more tightening-up, but none demurred from the programme's central thrust - that we're too hostile to immigration.

If you were marking the programme for impartiality, all of this would be a third obvious tick in the 'Pro-immigration' column. 


The debate paused at that point to go across to a second presenter, Amy Garcia, at the Leeds Museum for Black History Month. 

In the programme's introduction, Amy said this "fits in really well with one of today's debates. My Leeds, My Culture celebrates the positive contribution that people of African descent have brought to the city" which, if you were marking the programme for impartiality, would be a fourth tick in the 'Pro-immigration' column. 

Amy talked to a population geographer and an ethnic minority immigration officer. The professor said that immigrants make "an enormous contribution" to the NHS and in building industry, and that we'd be a lot worse off without them. He criticised, at Amy's invitation, the government's controls on student visas. The immigration officer said immigrants face "a very harsh" life in the UK. "Life is very hard for them", she said. If you were marking the programme for impartiality, would be a fifth tick in the 'Pro-immigration' column. 

The discussion then continued in the studio, much as before. [Lez wanted the "indigenous people" to be "educated" into seeing the benefits of immigration.] 

Now, if all of this isn't damning enough of BBC bias, then please read the list below of all the questions put by main presenter Sian Williams during this discussion. If they don't amount to absolute cast-iron proof of BBC pro-immigration bias here then I'm a Dutchman. (And I'm not a Dutchman, en ik vertel de waarheid over dat!).
- Lez, if I could start with you. We heard Reginald, who's from Zimbabwe there, saying he's got racist messages, his car tyres have been slashed. Is this something that you are hearing yourself? Do you think the rhetoric around immigration has become more hostile? 
- So, Charlie, it's the idea of 'the other' that people are suspicious of and that's why perhaps there's a more hostile reception...?
- That being said, and you both have parents who came here, why then do twice as many people in the UK say there are too many immigrants compared to places like Germany and the Netherlands, who have a lot more? Is it the case, do you think, Michelle that we are a less welcoming country and, if so, why?
- So it's the media's fault, is it?
- Is there a danger, Bill, that as soon as you start talking about immigration - and two-thirds of the public want immigration reduced, according to the British Social Attitudes survey - as soon as you start having an open discussion about it those who want to see immigration reduced are deemed racist?

- Why do you live here then? [to Bill Oddie]
- Well, you can leave Bill!
- But it's true, if you don't like where we are then go to somewhere where...
- So integration has worked?
- Integration has worked as far as you're concerned. Why then is...?
- It's a better life, Charlie?
- I heard, though, Michael Heseltine, the ex-Tory minister, saying on a programme yesterday that it feels like the same sort of febrile atmosphere around immigration as during Enoch Powell's day, when he was talking about the rivers of blood. Is that something you're feeling as well?
- There is a points system at the moment that works, isn't there? A points system...Therefore, if you're more skilled you're more likely to be able to find a place here. Michelle, do you think it should go further than that?
- [interrupting] Is there a drain on the NHS because of immigration? 
- So we should pick and choose who comes here is your view?
- Interesting, Charlie, it's not a soft and easy ride for immigrants was the theme that was coming out there [during Amy Garcia's segment]. There is talk as well about restricting their benefits. This isn't an easy place for them to live. So why is there this level of...Well, we're saying 'hostility', which is what some of you...
- So it's a lack of integration? Bill was saying earlier that there is quite a lot of integration. 
- Well, let's ask Charlie and Michelle. Why do you think...(two thirds of people think there's too much immigration)?
- Lez, there is a story in the papers today that there is one council - I think it's Newham - which is being offered some money to have street parties so that immigrants can feel like they are welcomed and part of the community. It sounds such a small thing - a couple of hundred quid. Is that something that might help? What do you think might change people's minds?
- Michelle, do you see anything changing in the next few years? I mean, if all the facts and figures are out there - and recent government social trends suggest that over the past decade immigration has actually given more to Britain than taken away - even when you have all those facts and figures do you think it's going to change people's minds?
- While we're still in the European Union, that's the free movement of people and it's a legal right for people to...
If you were marking the programme for impartiality, would be a clear sixth tick in the 'Pro-immigration' column. 


Except for her joky exchanges with Bill Oddie, those questions clearly bring out a strong pro-immigration bias on Sian's part (which many might well generalise to the BBC as a whole). She barely bothered to try to make even the most token effort to put the opposing point of view, did she?

Blatant bias. 

This being Sunday Morning Live though, the online vote came down heavily against the programme's (loaded) question: 73% said 'No, the UK isn't too hostile to immigration' while a mere 27% agreed with everyone who appeared on Sunday Morning Live that, yes, we are too hostile to immigration - despite all the overwhelming efforts of the 'Yes' campaign run by the SML team. 

Sian asked if Charlie was surprised. Charlie said UKIP ares being tactically astute in spotting this trend. "Well, they're all talking about immigration politically now...", began Sian. 

"We're friendlier than people give us credit for, Lucy?", asked Sian (in a forlorn tone of voice - and, no, I don't think I'm imagining that. Watch and see for yourselves) - the Lucy in question being Lucy Siegle of the Observer, who had joined the panel later on (along with George Moonbat of the Grauniad). Observerista Lucy felt that the public aren't  as "anti as they suggest". Add a seventh and final tick.

And that was that. 

Now, I do think I've become something of a 'BBC bias wet' over the past couple of years - a BBC bias Hezza! - but this Sunday Morning Live was about as shamelessly biased as anything I've seen on the BBC for a long time. I hesitate to use the words, but 'pure propaganda' springs to mind.

Maybe all BBC bias-related sites and campaigners should focus on this one programme and use it to prove that Helen, John and Nick are completely wrong in consigning this sort of pro-immigration BBC bias to the past. It remains alive and kicking very, very hard.