Monday, 25 May 2015

Roger and me

If you're a regular reader of this blog, you'll know that Morecambe is Britain's sunniest seaside resort. 

It has its own micro-climate, being bounded by the Lakeland Hills to the north and the Pennines to the east. This means that it's almost permanently sunny here - as I was saying only the other day to the head of Morecambe's Tourist Board.

(Even the Saudi ambassador, coming to see the Eric Morecambe statue - and demanding that it be pulled down - found it rather hot here.)

What possible reason have sensible, sun-loving people got, I added, for not booking a holiday here, say at Morecambe's magnificent Premier Inn (overlooking the back of Iceland - the shop, not the country - and a fabulous main road), or at any of our fine hotels and B&Bs?

Unfortunately even sunny Morecambe can't always avoid British bank holiday weather, and today was positively grotty here.

And flipping cold.

God knows why we went out in it. 

The BBC's Roger Harrabin - who we spotted on Morecambe's superb Stone Jetty, looking out lovingly towards the offshore wind turbines right at the end of Morecambe Bay, which (usually) glint away on the horizon like so many shiny barbed toothpicks - was clearly feeling a bit embarrassed at just how cold it was.

We reminisced about his former colleague Richard Black and my former colleague Robin at Biased-BBC, whilst shivering. Roger said he was jetting off to somewhere even sunnier than Morecambe soon - one of the perks of the job. 

Even the Eric Morecambe statue looked forlorn today. Yet as soon as we got back, mid-afternoon, the sun came out.

(If the Eric Morecambe statue starts pleading 'Bring Me Sunshine', the sun's hardly going to say 'no', is it? And this is Morecambe after all. It's not like Barrow-in-Furness, over the bay. It's always grey and rainy there). 

Roger - who we'd invited back for some environmentally-friendly coffee - asked me why I was writing a post that has absolutely nothing to do with BBC bias - except for a few quips at his expense. Shouldn't I be writing something serious about some devastating example of BBC bias instead? 

I agreed and asked him to tweet something biased for me to complain about - and, if he didn't mind, to copy in George Monbiot for good measure. He duly re-sent out two of his latest tweets:

"Cheers, Roger", I said. "But why do you always seem to @ George Moonbat? Doesn't that look a bit, well, strange?"

"I @ George all the time because I love him, and worship the ground he walks on," replied Roger. "And in my dreams I'd like to take him to Ireland to have Steph Hegarty marry us."

"Bless!", I said, pouring him a second cup of fair trade, organic coffee (which I'd had to rush out and buy, just for him).

"Don't you think though," Roger added, "that this post of yours is a bit trivial? I mean, it's not as if I really met you today or said what you're saying I said. Won't it all seem a bit superficial to your readers?"

"Not at all," I replied. "They know me too well by now."

"Should we drive out to Heysham Nuclear Power Station?" I asked. "You'll love it there. I heard your colleague in Japan, Rupert Wingfield-Hayes, being biased against nuclear power on this morning's Today. Did you hear his report?"

"Yes," replied Roger. "I thought it was excellent - not quite as anti-nuclear and pro-renewables as I'd have made it, but pretty damn good nonetheless. I taught him well."

Heysham's nuclear power stations look lovely in the evening sunshine, like a pair of huge, cuboid, concrete Salma Hayeks. Roger's not looking too happy though, so we walk down to the shore to gaze out towards the offshore windmills instead. He perks up.

"Drive safely", I said, as he got into his car and drove off, exhaust-fumes-a-flying, into the distance. I waved goodbye, like an inconsistent windmill, before mounting an organic Morecambe donkey and coming back to publish this GM-free post. 


And talking of BBC staff who don't seem unduly concerned about "compromising the BBC’s editorial guidelines and reputation for impartial, accurate and balanced reporting" when using social media...

Naziru's BBC World Service colleague Steph Hegarty is still cock-a-hoop about the result of the same-sex marriage referendum in Ireland, and she certainly isn't shy of using her "Journalist @BBCNews"-emblazoned Twitter feed to let the whole world know about it:
As they say, Bless!

"We apologise that this has occurred and risked our organisation being brought into disrepute"

Just an update on a post from last July:

A commenter at Biased-BBC has now posted a reply he received from the BBC World Service's complaints department to a complaint he put in about Naziru Mikailu's tweets (though it's unclear when it was received). It's worth sharing:

Thank you for your email in which highlight a tweet by a member of our staff, Naziru Mikailu, about the Israeli Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu in the context of the present escalation of the conflict in the Middle East.
Naziru has contravened the BBC’s Social Media guidelines, which require that our staff – even when using their personal social media accounts – do not compromise the BBC’s editorial guidelines and reputation for impartial, accurate and balanced reporting. While being encouraged to use social media, our staff members are expected to behave in a way that is consistent with the BBC’s editorial values and policies.
That was evidently not the case on this occasion. We apologise that this has occurred and risked our organisation being brought into disrepute. We have arranged for the tweet to be removed and are taking disciplinary action against Naziru Mikailu.
I hope the above goes some way in reassuring you just how seriously the BBC World Service takes its integrity and commitment to accuracy and impartiality at all times, and particularly in regards to conflicts as complex and emotive as the present violence in Israel and Gaza. In that context, and as you yourself claim that the BBC is in general biased against Israel, I’ve added a few links to our recent output and reports about the events in the Middle East, the wider background of the conflict and the profile of Israeli Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu… [not included in the original comment]

We have no way of knowing what that disciplinary action involved, of course - and another commenter quipped, 'They probably gave Mr Mikailu what we used to call “a damned good letting off”' - but looking at Naziru's still-busy Twitter feed it's clear that he's no longer tweeting anything remotely controversial. So he does appear to have learned his lesson after all.

Still, that re-statement of the BBC's Social Media Guidelines makes it clear that many of the tweets we've posted here - and that DB has posted at Biased-BBC - must surely be incompatible with the BBC's guidance. 

More complaints to the BBC are needed.

Sunday, 24 May 2015

Clear anti-Israel bias at the BBC

I mentioned the other day my concerns about a series of BBC World Service reports, which began this Tuesday:
And as for the BBC World Service's Business Matters and the opening episode of its "week of coverage from Israel and the Palestinian territories", entitled Live from Gaza: Business Behind the Blockade,...
...well, just allow me to quote you a bit from presenter Roger Hearing's introduction, which seems to me to achieve the status of being truly 'beyond parody':
"In this programme we're going to try and park the politics and look at how an economy under these circumstances functions at all.
"One of the reasons Gaza's often described as 'the largest open air prison in the world'..."
Well, trying to be a conscientious, fair-minded blogger I thought I ought to listen to the entire series of reports to see if it really was as biased as these few introductory words - and that headline - suggested it was likely to be. 

Here's what I found (and sorry in advance for this being a long post)....


Well, before I describe that, just let me post what the BBC posted on this episode's webpage:
How does the economy work in what some have described as the world's biggest prison? Presenter Roger Hearing is live from the seafront in the Gaza Strip at the start of a week of coverage from Israel and the Palestinian territories. He hears from the man who arguably makes Gaza's best ice-cream, the factory owner rebuilding from bombed out rubble and the singer of a band that can't tour because they can't leave. Joining him are Nasser Elhelo who has a business making steel doors and is also on the board of the Gaza Chamber of Commerce and Muhammed Al Alamy who runs the Future Tech IT company here in Gaza City and is on the board of the Pal Trade association. 
Roger began by describing how he entered the Gaza Strip from Israel - before actually doing so:
It is the closest thing I can imagine to an airport departure area. We'll probably get in, I imagine, a bit quicker than most of these people who seem to be Palestinians, Gaza residents, returning. People are let out for medical reasons and other things. Not many of them. (Long Sigh). And now we're going to get our stuff and see if we can get in...
...What this is is a barrier between an Israeli-controlled area, the Israeli border, and what they describe as "an entity", Gaza, run by a group they consider to be "terrorists". So it's somewhat unusual as an international border.
He meets his ice-cream maker, whose business works - despite everybody taxing him. He seems very pleasant and has friends in Israel. 

The Hamas checkpoint comes after the Palestinian Authority bit. He's "relieved" to arrive in Gaza City, and then discusses his crossing with his two guests, Nasser Elhelo and Muhammed Al Alamy, sitting on the seafront in Gaza City.

Nasser grumbled that he's been stopped by Israel from leaving Gaza. ("That's strange!", Roger said twice.). Muhammed said "you can't plan for anything" because of "the extraordinary [permit] situation here". Nasser says medical treatment has been stopped too. [Really?] Muhammed talks of cancer sufferers dying of cancer because of the Israelis. "So it's a difficult position", says Roger, concluding this section of the programme. 

Roger Hearing returned after the news headline, painting a scene of the seafront - well, actually, of beyond the seafront, focusing on the Israeli gunboats who occasionally fire warning shots at Gazan fishermen, "another part of the siege, as it's described here, of this enclave that is Gaza City."

Roger described the "deep pressure" to his guests - the poverty, the unemployment. "So how to ordinary Gazans make ends meet?"

BBC reporter Marie Keyworth talked to a Gazan blacksmith with a 15-strong family. His son says "it's very sad for him to be stuck in Gaza". His son, Mohammed, has no job security. The noisy market is full of local food, such as tomatoes, because it can't be exported. Some food, liked corned beef, is imported. A shop keeper describes his struggle to earn a living. A farmer says it's very hard. Back at Mohammed's house, Marie shares a lovely family meal, but the family say they can't enjoy a normal life.....

"A slice of life there in Gaza and how you try to make ends meet and try to feed your family", said Roger Hearing. "Israel for its part says...". 

A polite Israeli spokesman from COGAT follows, defending the Israeli position. He gets less than two minutes.

A Hamas spokesman, defending Hamas's position, follows.

One of Roger's guests calls for the "removing of the blockade". The other doesn't know what's going to happen next.

Roger next updates BBC World Service listeners on a story his programme reported on a few months back - the story of the factory owner whose factory has been "literally reduced to rubble" by bombing during the Israel-Gaza war last year. He doesn't think COGAT is working quickly enough. An Israeli observation balloon watches over his factory, 24 hours a day (for no apparent reason, apparently). He says his factory has nothing to do with tunnels. His business has lost millions because of the wars. "Are you feeling angry about what's happened?", asked Roger. "This is the third time they've destroyed us", the factory owner replied. "I wish you the very best of luck, sir", said Roger.

Then it was onto Mohammed, the singer of a band who - as the BBC's own blurb says - "can't tour because they can't leave". They can't afford their own instruments and have to borrow them from their fans. We heard a song about unemployment in Gaza.

There was nothing about Hamas's crackdown on music here and, in fact, very little about Hamas at all.

That factory owner, whose factory has been destroyed three times by Israel, was made to sound, unequivocally, like a victim of Israel. Unlike Roger Hearing, I wondered if there might be something more to his story. Roger simply accepted (without comment) the man's passing comment that his factory wasn't helping Hamas, but I'm sticking with wondering why Israel - with all its precise intelligence - would bomb the same factory three times without reason.

And who exactly were Roger's guests? Did either of them have links to Hamas? Would Nasser Elhelo be on the board of the Gaza Chamber of Commerce if he didn't have Hamas's approval? No one at the BBC World Service seemed unduly concerned about asking any of these questions.

This edition was something of a shocker.


The second episode, Doing Business In The West Bankis described in this way by the programme's website: 
In our second special report from Israel and the Palestinian Territories, we go to the West Bank to see how companies operate when investment and trade is inhibited by occupation. We hear from firms in Bethlehem and a tour guide in Jericho, as well as a representative from the Israeli authorities. 
Roger Hearing's introduction to this section of the programme inevitably mentioned the settlements, which he described as being "regarded as illegal under international law", without even adding, as the BBC's editorial guidance advises, "though Israel disputes this".

His introduction also included talk of... 
...roads linking settlements that Palestinians cannot use, plus an Israel security wall that sometimes cuts farmers off from their land.
...something that again goes against the BBC's own editorial guidance, which advises against "using terminology favoured by one side or another in any dispute", such as "wall". 

Though Roger then noted that attacks in Israel are "very low" now, because of the security barrier, the Palestinians are "paying an economic price".

BBC reporter Marie Keyworth then reported from Bethlehem saying that,
The whole area is under military occupation from Israel and the restrictions that country's imposed on the West Bank are having a huge effect on the economy.
We heard her 'vox pops' saying it's "very hard", "people are scared", "every day we have a struggle", and "we are living in a big prison". "Everybody seems to have a complaint about this occupation", said Marie. And more complaints (from Palestinian businessmen) followed, at length, about the "Israeli occupation". It's "a tricky climate" for business, Marie added, and more tells of Israeli-caused woe followed. "And the list goes on", she said. A laughing five-year old boy, son of a Palestinian Authority clerk, plays a game. His dad has had his pay cut, thanks to "punishment" from the Israelis for a PA action that doesn't sound (in Marie's description) very serious. He expects it will happen again. If his son is sick, it will be terrible. His big family is suffering too, and "it's very hard". Alas, he's the lucky one, according to Marie. The refugees who fled the creation of Israel, living south of Jerusalem, suffer high unemployment. Three "young men" ("all 25") are having a "tough time". 

Then, out of the blue, Marie says, "there are many good things happening on the West Bank", and we hear from one businessman who's doing well.

That entire section lasted 24 seconds. 

Roger Hearing then told us that Marie Keyworth had put some of those points to an Israeli spokesman, a colonel from COGAT, who we heard from next. He put the Israeli side. Marie challenged him, putting long questions to him from the Palestinian perspective. The interview lasted less than 4 minutes (and Marie talked for about one minute of it).

Roger returned straight away, beginning "One of the few resources the West Bank has in abundance is history". But "things are not good in West Bank tourism", he said, visiting the Jordan Valley and Jericho. Tourist numbers are low, according to Roger's first vox pop. Roger asked (somewhat leadingly), is that because of "restrictions", "the security checkpoints"?  Israel's "restrictions" are to blame, it seems. 

Roger then talked to a World Bank representative, Steen Lau Jorgensen. Mr Jorgensen agreed "the restrictions" are the problem and was very downbeat about the West Bank economy. Roger, playing devil's advocate, asked if the Israeli counter-arguments "ringed true"? Mr Jorgensen strongly criticised Israel in response to every one of his devil's advocate point. Roger then gave up his 'devil's advocacy' and noted that the World Bank are giving assistance here, asking him just what they could do, and then asking, 
But are you in a sense helping something that can't grow very far because of what we've been discussing? There's a kind of hopelessness, which we've certainly heard. Isn't what you're doing almost pointless?
If Owen Jones and the Electronic Intifada crowd fancy using this edition of Business Matters as proof of BBC pro-Palestinian bias then they must either be unscrupulous or certifiable.

This was very biased against Israel.


The third episode, Israel's Industry: Haifa the Economic Powerhouse, sounded, from its title, as if some balance might be about to be restored - a programme reporting some good news from Israel.

However, ominously, the website blurb ran as follows:
In our third special report from Israel and the Palestinian Territories we go to the city of Haifa in northern Israel. We hear about its reputation as an economic powerhouse of industrial development, which is great for the economy, but perhaps not so good for the air quality. Haifa also prides itself on being a place where Arabs and Jews get along well and there is little prejudice or exclusion. We ask the locals if that is really the case.
And, yes, Roger Hearing did 'find' that Haifa's pride in being "a place where Arabs and Jews get along well and there is little prejudice or exclusion" isn't "really the case". His Jewish vox pop said it was, but his Arab vox pops said it wasn't...

...and it was their point (that it 'wasn't') that Roger subsequently picked up and carried forward. 

After this 'bad news story' about Israel came another - the bit about how Haifa's economic success is bad for the environment. A female BBC reporter laid on the gloom with a not-so-finely-balanced trowel, and Roger carried that forward too. 

If, like me, you were expecting that the BBC might be trying to redress the balance and tell us some good news from Israel - something positive about Israel - then you would have been disappointed here. Yes, the Haifa-industrial-pollution-causing-cancer bit at least got us off the BBC's Arabist agenda for a few minutes, if only to focus on the BBC's green agenda, but still...

...this was yet more relentlessly negative BBC reporting about Israel.


For the fourth and final episode, 21st Century Israel - Modern Life and Modern Conflict, Roger Hearing went to Jerusalem. 

The first report, by BBC reporter Marie Keyworth,  did something I was hoping the programme would do - focus on the farmers of Israel who suffered during the Israel-Hamas conflict of last summer, but my jaw literally dropped as I listened to her report. 

Time and again the BBC reporter told listeners that it was Israel's military action that caused most disruption to kibbutz dwellers near the Israeli border with Gaza...:
The only sound in this peaceful area is that of birds singing, and the gentle hum of machinery in the background. It's worlds apart from how it sounded all those months ago when every 17 seconds a battery from the Israeli army firing into Gaza could be heard.
Last year's conflict is fresh in (Eddie's) memory, when the Israel army were firing shells 300 metres away, turning his home and business into the frontline of war.
For the BBC reporter it was "the constant threat of war" rather than the constant threat from Gaza-based terrorists that dominated her report. Those rockets and attempted terror attacks received barely a mention. 

One of her two kibbutz-dwelling vox pops [in any way representative of Israeli public opinion? I very much doubt it] complained about her kibbutz being made "a military area". The aforementioned Eddie works with Palestinians in Gaza and is friends with some of them. He notes "the stress they are under". 

If a Palestinian activist had taken Marie's place his report could hardly have sounded more like Palestinian propaganda than this remarkable piece of BBC reporting. What on earth did Marie Keyworth think she was doing here (safely away from most UK licence fee payers on the BBC World Service)?

If anyone thinks that's impartial reporting I'd like to hear their reasoning.

Roger's guests on this edition were  David Rosenberg of Haaretz and Nasr Abdelkarim from the Arab-American University on the West Bank. David Rosenberg said Israel suffered little economic damage from any of its four recent wars. Nasr Abdelkarim said the Palestinians have suffered more.

Next, however, came a report on "one of the key facts of life for observant Jews in Israel - the need to observe the Halacha - the Jewish religious laws that govern everyday life". Roger Hearing when to visit a non-profit business [naturally] which is trying to fuse modern technology with "ancient law".

This was certainly interesting - and noted Israel's record of technological innovations - but, perhaps, it was also an overly obvious drop-in-and-report subject for a passing BBC reporter. Lots of "God" talk. 

The following discussions, between David Rosenberg and Nasr Abdelkarim, focused mostly on the "barriers" (physical and otherwise) between Palestinian-Israeli business links and moved the focus back more towards the Palestinian territories. Nasr A brought up "the siege" and "occupation". ["Nothing can improve until it's changed?" Roger asked]. They also talked, briefly, about Israeli politics, and David R gave a critique of things from an evidently left-leaning perspective.

Another shocker.


As I said at the start, sorry for this being a long post...

...but it seems to me that this series of BBC World Service programmes provides very strong evidence that the BBC is biased against Israel. 

This was a shockingly biased series. Even I didn't expect it to be this biased.

The introductions were loaded. The narration was loaded. The reports were loaded. The guest selection was loaded. 

On Day One we heard tales of woe from Gaza - with all of the woe, apparently, caused by Israel. Hamas were barely mentioned - although one of their spokesmen appeared. The Israeli side got less than two minutes. 

On Day Two we heard tales of woe from the West Bank. There was plenty of loaded language from Roger Hearing (breaching the BBC's own guidance). Critics of Israel, whether Palestinian vox pops or outsiders, piled in. The Israeli side got about three minutes to counter this onslaught.

On Day Three we arrived in Israel and heard little but bad news - that Arabs feel discriminated against in Haifa, despite what Jewish Israelis say, and that Israel's northern industrial powerhouse is bad for the environment and people's health.

On Day Four we heard a quite extraordinary report from Southern Israel which somehow managed to place the blame on the Israeli military for the suffering there. A Palestinian critic of Israel and a Haaretz journalist commented throughout.

How any fair-minded person could consider this impartial broadcasting I can't begin to imagine. But if any Electronic Intifada types, or BBC reporters, are passing then please feel free to defend this astonishing display of BBC anti-Israel bias.


For consistency's sake I really ought to do a post about today's Sunday on Radio 4.

The programme certainly lived up to its reputation (well, at least its reputation here) for showing a liberal Catholic bias.

That bias is suggested by Sunday's opting for the following subjects:
  • (1) the beatification of a Latin American Catholic archbishop linked to (Marxist-inspired) liberation theology.
  • (2) a piece advocating acceptance, in Church rituals, for transgender people.
  • (3) the story of a Jewish left-wing anti-Iraq war activist who may (or may not) have been murdered by far-right-wingers in Germany some ten or so years ago (though no one seemed very sure).
  • (4) a plug on the BBC for an upcoming BBC programme.
  • (5) an interview with the new President of the Board of Deputies of British Jews, involving Gaza, leading off with a question about interfaith relations, especially with Muslims, and... 
  • (6) the same-sex-marriage-backing Irish referendum and its implications for the Catholic Church...

Another Paper Review

There was much to enjoy on this morning's Broadcasting House...

...Douglas Carswell v Steve Richards on the value of referendums, guest presenter Jonny Dymond correcting Mark Mardell's pronunciation of 'doyenne' (something I'm not sure MM entirely appreciated), Lionel Blair ruling himself out of the Labour leadership contest, an engaging piece on people with a penchant for pylons, a very interesting section on how people feel when they return to the place where their loved-one died, and Basil Brush on his romantic dalliance with Joanna Lumley...

...but, my goodness, that paper review panel could certainly have been one heck of a lot better balanced!

We had former Met chief Ian Blair (now Baron Blair), comedienne and Guardian and New Statesman columnist Shazia Mirza and veteran left-winger activist Denis Goldberg.

Let's just dip into their conversation at various points:
Shazia Mirza (on jihadi brides):...young, impressionable, vulnerable children...because I think these young girls are just excited by what they see on TV and they have no understanding at all, and I don't think this has anything to do with Islam.
Ian Blair (on jihadi brides): One has to accept that young people have always done this. I mean The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie was right up there with the girl at the end going off to the Civil War and joining the wrong side. So there's always been a level of excitement...
Denis Goldberg (on the Tories and UKIP): What puzzles me truly in Great the fact that the leading political party, the governing party, instead of opposing UKIP's intolerance, kind of adopted it as a policy...I find this intolerable, quite honestly. And I'm quite a tolerant person, except of intolerance. And we have a leading party kind of promoting intolerance...
Shazia Mirza (on police discrimination against black and Asian people: We have the same argument trotted out over and over again about the police and black people and the police and Asian people, why we don't trust the police. Well, when we have a history of people not being held accountable, of course we're not going to have faith in the police. 
Ian Blair (on diversity, the police and the Tory government): The Metropolitan Police resisted dealing with Lawrence properly and then spent years trying to make handling diversity the top of its agenda. I think that under the recent government that has faded slightly...
Denis Goldberg (on the SNP's complaints about HS2 and the Tories): It seems like a petty revenge of English nationalism...and the sole Tory represented in Scotland is going to be the Scottish Secretary in the cabinet. I mean this is representative government gone crazy for its unrepresentativeness.
Denis Goldberg (on the British constitution): It's a crazy constitution, but Britain seems to make it work after a fashion...after a fashion that favours the rich in general, it favours intolerance.
Denis Goldberg (on labeling Muslims): I want to come back to intolerance. I have no support for ISIS but I have a problem of the profiling of people who are Muslims and saying that because they're Muslims therefore they are therefore impossible people and this is a kind of libeling of people...
Shazia Mirza (on labeling Muslims): Well, that's what they said about why Jihadi John turned the way he did was because of profiling and pressure from the police and things like that. I think within the Muslim community there has to be a talk between the extremists and the normal, peace-loving people...
I've listened to many a Broadcasting House over the years and this is far from being the only time they'd has this kind of (very) left-liberal-biased panel. I have never heard a BH press panel that's entirely biased in the other political direction though. 

Hopefully, next week's show will feature Damian Thompson from the Spectator, Canadian writer Mark Steyn and lyricist Sir Tim Rice. For the sake of balance. 

Paper Review

As Sunday morning sees paper review after paper review across the BBC, here's ITBB's own selection from the Sunday papers.

First, this from The Sunday Times in an article headlined, 'Toe the line or the tartan trolls will get you in Sturgeon’s state':
Others, including the writer JK Rowling and the BBC journalists Nick Robinson and James Cook, have been relentlessly abused online by SNP supporters.
One BBC Scotland journalist said: “The online abuse is one thing but the party’s behaviour is another. The SNP seems to complain about every single story, no matter how innocuous it is. I get the sense they want to bog us down and make us reluctant to ask hard questions. Who wants to be constantly dealing with complaints?”
Then there's this from The Spectator where Fraser Nelson argues that the BBC needs to have the Eurovision Song Contest taken away from it because, as the man who used to run the BBC's coverage of it says, "The corporation is useless at entertainment...and no longer has anyone in its hierarchy who understands it":
Britain is a stickler for tradition and each May we now observe a relatively new one: we bomb in the Eurovision Song Contest. The protocol now is well-established. Our entry is chosen by a BBC bureaucrat who appears to loathe the whole contest.....
The BBC is not the first to try to ask an anonymous bureaucrat to choose a song that is expected to be popular with the masses. This happened every year with Intervision, the Soviet equivalent of Eurovision, which ended in abysmal failure. The difference between the formats epitomised why the West won: ours was colourful, humorous, raucous, and even in the 1950s produced some of the most memorable popular tunes. While Soviet entrants were told to show ‘socialist dignity’, Eurovision was producing songs designed to be sung on the way back home from the pub (Exhibit A: ‘Volare’, Italy’s 1958 entry). Tito’s Yugoslavia banned radio stations from playing music that was ‘capitalist’ or ‘kitsch’.
The BBC evinces the same bureaucratic snobbery and lack of comprehension. 
AA Gill, writing in The Sunday Times, doesn't seem to be a fan of BBC One's Shark either:
Lots of people have mentioned Shark to me, mostly old ladies. They say it’s really wonderful: a BBC nature series that sets out to rehabilitate sharks. This, for some inexplicably pixelated reason, also reminded me of the Labour party. It’s very good, post-Attenborough, Bristol nature programming that measured the scientific against the naturalistic and had just the right amount of fact to awe. And it was well worth someone’s licence fee money — not mine, of course. I don’t want to pay for programmes about nonces or sharks behaving like Chuka Umunna.
Writing more generally about the BBC, he also says:
The BBC is like the Labour party. I know, it’s always been like the Labour party, but right now it’s losing its audience, its way and its confidence, and it doesn’t know whether to go back to its core, Reithian roots or push on and try to be more like modern cable TV. It’s transfixed by the contradiction, and we all wish it well, really we do, but I also wish they made it easier to believe that they knew what was in our best interest. 
I can't say I'm with Adrian though in wishing that the BBC would make it easier for us to believe that they knew what was in our best interest, as we've had far too much of that kind of thing already, thank you very much!

Saturday, 23 May 2015

"Andrew Neill (sic), Nick Robinson, Lord Patten, Jeremy Paxman, Jeremy Clarkson"

I suspect that, like many a BBC type, you've probably all got those lovely illegal highs and lots of pink champagne out tonight and are gorging yourselves silly on the delights of the Eurovision Song Contest (and, for any real fans, Scott and David Brims are co-hosting a 'Eurovision live blog' over at Biased BBC), but...

I'd just like to share a 'below the line' exchange at The Commentator which quite tickled my funny bone: 

Edward Studor • 10 days ago
The BBC is institutionally biased. It is now impossible for the BBC NOT to be biased. Everyone who is employed there has to come from the 'right background' or 'will fit in'. This is BBC recruiting code, either passed on by telephone, memo, or on a form, that they must be/are left-wing and come from an Oxford/Cambridge background. And of course everyone knows that they only advertise their jobs in the Guardian. For the BBC to be impartial you'd have to close the whole lot down and start again.
Tethys  @Edward Studor • 10 days ago
Andrew Neill
Nick Robinson
Lord Patten
Jeremy Paxman
Jeremy Clarkson
Edward Studor  @ Tethys • 9 days ago
So out of 19995 BBC employees you could only find five who are slightly right of centre?
Daedalus  @Edward Studor • 7 days ago
He could only find 4 actually, Paxman has gone.
WFC  @Daedalus • 7 days ago
And Clarkson - so only 3.
Leftyliesrefuted  @WFC • 6 days ago
And Patten stepped down from the Beeb last year - so only 2.
Still, that means there are only 19993 Leftists at the Beeb. So quite well-balanced really.
Not to be a smart-arse but, actually, I make that 19992 Leftists at the BBC. We've got to be fair to the BBC after all.

OK, I'll let you get back to Eurovision now. The votes of the Icelandic jury are due in shortly.

(And, gosh, did I just hear the Arnold Schoenberg Choir? They weren't singing Schoenberg though. That's a shame, as a bit of Schoenberg on Eurovision would surely go down a storm with the audience. Kol Nidre, with Conchita Wurst providing the speaking part, who could resist?)

P.S. Maybe the BBC needs to invite Bridget Kendall along to assist Graeme Norton with his politically-inept guesses of which country will give douze points to their political allies. 

He seemed surprised when Romanian-speaking Moldova voted for Romania. And his statement that Latvia was "breaking ranks" by voting for Sweden rather than Russia betrays a certain lack of awareness concerning the of the history of the Baltic States, as did his shock that Lithuania gave Russia nil points. And he seemed staggered that Serbia and Montenegro (of Serbia-Montenegro fame) voted for each other. 

This is important. It really is. It really, really, really is. Really. Honestly. Bridget Kendall must accompany Graeme next year - especially if David Cameron brings the EU referendum forward a year.

And, yes, God help me, I really am watching this. I love elections. Ed Balls has already lost his Eurovision deposit. (He's not having a good year).

Ignoring a story

This morning's Today led with the Guardian's lead story (or non story) about the Bank of England sending a memo by mistake to a Graun journalist saying they are looking into the possible financial consequences of a Brexit from the EU. 

Except for a Labour MP who was trying (and failing) to score some political point or other, neither the programme's guests or their own reporter appeared to think it amounted to very much. And yet they still ran with it. 

They also ran with the Independent's lead story about "the secret CCTV switch-off", though the two media outlets took a contrasting tack on it. The Indie rejoiced in the fact on civil liberties grounds while Today focused on the negatives - i.e. the complaints of the Surveillance Camera Commissioner (yes, I didn't know we had such a person either) about the possible adverse effects of austerity cuts (which he blamed for the 'switch-off') on public safety. [Typical BBC!]

Conspicuous by its absence though was the Times's lead story. Today didn't include any features on it or even mention in during either of their paper reviews - and that's despite the fact that the story concerned someone who's appeared on their programme on many occasions, namely Sue Berelowitz, former deputy children’s commissioner for England.

The nub of the Times's story is contained in its first paragraph:
A child protection chief who was criticised for failing to speak out about widespread sexual abuse by British Pakistani gangs has quit her job with a six-figure payoff and been immediately rehired on almost £1,000 a day.
It's a story that's obviously bound to be of interest to many people. Other right-leaning media outlets - the Telegraph, the Daily Mail and Breitbart London - picked up on it and ran with it. Several parliamentarians, from George Osborne to Keith Vaz, have also picked up on it and run with it.

Yet this story of apparent public sector profligacy involving a famously politically-correct quangocrat doesn't seem to be of interest to the BBC, or other left-leaning media outlets.

The Times has a particular interest in Ms Berelowitz though:
The former official faced criticism after she attacked The Times for exposing child sexual exploitation by groups of British Pakistani men who were preying on white girls. She said that the coverage was fixated on Asian perpetrators . However, an independent inquiry found that at least 1,400 children in Rotherham had been sexually exploited by abusers of mainly Pakistani heritage between 1997 and 2013.
And I saw and heard her many times on the BBC making similar assertions, pretty much unchallenged (if I recall correctly).

It is revealing what interests and what doesn't interest the BBC, isn't it? Today clearly had no interest in this story whatsoever.

Media madness

What a terrible shame that as soon as one is associated with “the unconscionable” one becomes unconscionable too. From then on everything one may say is tainted, nullified, disbelieved, ridiculed, branded devillish and rendered void.

Thus describes the hopelessness of defending Israel at the present time. H/T Elder of Ziyon

Col. Richard Kemp has been the subject of sustained assaults and had his words wilfully distorted and falsified by particularly virulent anti-Israel networks, has been the subject of demonstrations in universities that have sought to silence him. He has been publicly accused of corruption and being in the pay of the Zionist entity, and he has been subjected to virulent anti-Semitic hatred and threats.  He has been placed on a terrorist death list.

All of this because he has been recognised and befriended by Israel for his substantive  defence of the IDF in the face of an onslaught of vilification from the media and thence from the rest of the world.

Also via EoZ and BBC Watch, tributes to Professor Robert Wistrich who died suddenly  a few days ago. It’s worth watching the video of a speech he gave earlier this year about a particular brand of “English antisemitism”. He understood better than anyone the way it works, and his insights offer background to Col Kemp’s eloquent analysis of the media’s contribution to that particular form of racism. 

I wish I could somehow persuade some (or any) of our impartial broadcasting chiefs to watch Col. Kemp’s speech or read a transcript of it. But I fear even that would be nigh impossible, and should that obstacle somehow be overcome, the next hurdle would be a collective emotional resistance to its contents. 
Col. Kemp does not merely critique the moral bankruptcy of Palestinian warfare and pay tribute to the integrity of the Israeli Defence Force, he clearly demonstrates a shrewd grasp of the media’s overwhelming influence, which shapes the world’s current morally bankrupt attitude. That’s why this speech is essential reading or viewing by anyone capable (if there is such a person) of independent thinking at the BBC.

A glimmer of light at the end of a very long, deep, dark tunnel is the gradual recognition by ordinary people, if not those that inhabit the media bubble, that the terrible destruction and desecration being wrought by Islamic Jihad on the other side of the world bears resemblance to Israel’s enemies in the shape of Hamas, Hezbollah and of course the Ayatollahs of Iran. If the western media is determined to portray Israel as a pariah, through wanton appeasement of relentless campaigning by what Col Kemp calls particularly virulent anti-Israel networks, the harder it will be for the current madness to revert to a state of  justice and equilibrium.

Listen to Col. Kemp, BBC. You might not like what he has to say, but it’s your responsibility to listen.

..and Steph's even keener

BBC News journalist, Steph Hegarty, who fly back to Ireland to vote in the gay marriage referendum, is even happier than Fergal, bless her:

Fergal's keen

Fergal Keane is clearly moved by the 'Yes' vote in the Irish gay marriage referendum, bless him:

Hugh Sykes: A Twitter History

As you're probably aware, one of my favourite BBC reporters is BBC veteran - and 'voice of the BBC' - Hugh Sykes.

His latest tweets take you right to the heart of the BBC's mindset. (He's presently banging on about immigration, re-tweeting various pro-immigration points).

In fact, Hugh's tweets should probably form an integral part of any A-level English/Politics syllabus. Pupils ought to be encouraged to work out where old Hugh's - and many of his BBC colleagues - sympathies lie, politically-speaking. 

(A rather easy question, I'd say. Please check them out for yourselves though.)


Being the BBC's oldest reporter, Hugh Sykes has covered many of the most momentous news stories.

He was there in 2348 BC, recounting the heart-breaking story of how a vulnerable 969-year old pensioner called Methuselah fell victim to a devastating flood. His BBC colleague Roger Harrabin blamed it all on global warming, while another of his BBC colleagues, home editor Mark Easton, hinted it was caused by Tory cuts and the bedroom tax, suggesting the OBR (Office for Biblical Responsibility) had fallen short, and, for good measure, implying that the problems, if truth be told, all began under the rule of Margaret-daughter-of-Cain.

Hugh, however, rightly, blamed it all squarely and unequivocally on the West - especially the pre-Obama Americans, under King Bushus the Second. The flood was caused by their foreign policy errors, said Hugh firmly. God was angry. As was Hugh.

God then sent out some ravens, a dove and a rainbow. Chris Packham from Springwatch looked unimpressed, making it very clear that the two sparrowhawks dozing on Noah's ark should have been sent out instead, adding "Phwoah, sparrowhawks!" whilst rubbing his legs in the manner of Gog from Shooting Stars with Gog and Magog. God, looking uncannily like Bill Oddie, appeared less than amused. He wanted reed warblers instead.

Hugh was also there in Iraq in around 539 BC, criticising the actions of the coalition forces who had gathered together to bring about the fall of Babylonian dictator Belshazzar.

Another BBC reporter present at the King's final feast, Mark Mardell, embedded with the Babylonian army, entered Biblical fame as being the man who ate all the pies. Even the ill-fated Belshazzar didn't get a look in when it came to the food. Mark didn't even need to claim the meal on BBC expenses but, sadly, burst soon after in such a spectacular way that many feel his story deserved at least a couple of verses in the Bible. (Instead, it was left, as usual, to the Monty Python team to properly recreate this moment in one of their Monty Python and the Meaning of Life features).

Back in the BBC's CGI-enhanced ziggurat, universal BBC pundit Abdel Bari Atwan stood up for the much-misunderstood Belshazzar and, with eyes very much a-bulging, told Gavin Esler that Jewish exiles were obviously, somehow, responsible for the writing on the wall. He then recalled his past joy on learning that the Israelites had been made to sit down and weep by the rivers of Babylon and how he looked forward to it happening again.

After having a brief rest-break back at Broadcasting House, Hugh went to Israeli-occupied Judea in the 2nd Century BC to report on the goings-on of right-wing Jews who were failing to pay attention to the editorials in Haaretz urging them to lie down like lambs before the might of the peace-loving Seleucid Empire. Hugh tweeted Haaretz link after Haaretz link, criticising the Maccabees.

His BBC colleague, Jon Donnison, also tweeted a fake mosaic of a child apparently killed by the Maccabees (but in fact killed by the Parthians). He didn't ever really apologise for it. The BBC then got a bit nervous and dispatched him to Australia - preceding Captain Cook by some 1,900 years. As there were no Westerners there at the time, only alcoholic Aborigines, Jon went mad and declared himself a prophet of some entity called Al Ar - the first of many to come over the next 600 or so years.

Fast forwarding to the 7th Century AD, we find Hugh reporting from the Arabian peninsula. Someone there called Caliph Mohammed, the last of that line of loons to declare himself a prophet of Al Ar, is busy destroying false idols, marrying a little girl and massacring Jews, and his followers are sharpening their swords in preparation to conquer the known world, and blow up buses and marathons. Hugh reports back home to Anglo-Saxon England [pah, says French scribe Marcus de Roche on the BBC's Dateline Winchester at the mere mention of 'Anglo-Saxon England'!] that this new religion, which says it wants to create an Islamic State, is a religion of peace. He strongly implies that the Venerable Bede is an Islamophobe for saying otherwise. Their swords are the swords of harmony, Hugh tells us. We have nothing to fear from them. And the West, he adds, is to blame for anything that goes wrong, from henceforth to eternity.

As the Middle Ages progress, Hugh is found reporting from across the new lands of Islam. Everything is lovely to begin with. His BBC colleague Jeremy Bowen criss-crosses the empire from Spain in the West to Persia in the east, getting his underlings to decorate their poorly-written manuscripts with luminous marginalia - drawings of Jeremy himself eating every delicacy that the lands of the Caliph have to offer. And the Jews are thinly dispersed throughout those lands, which is even better for hungry Jeremy. 

Happy days for Jeremy then but, alas, not for Hugh, who's still pining to bash the West. Thankfully, the crusades then come along, and Hugh finds himself in his element.

Things get so bad at this time that King Richard the Lionheart feels the need to send a minstrel to BBC HQ to protest in song about the BBC's evident hostility to the crusades. As the West moves in on Saladin Hussein, Hugh is found in Baghdad, making the broadcasts of his life, expressing anger and sorrow at every misplaced crusader arrow while suggesting that Saladin Hussein is putting up a brave fight. The King's chief minstrel, Sir Alistair of Campbell, a famous bastard, protests by issuing a dodgy parchment claiming that Saladin could launch catapults at London within a short medieval measurement of time. The BBC contradicts that and Lord Hutton of Campbell, a lickspittle, says the BBC should be hung, drawn and quartered. However, as ever, no one actually ever dares to hang, draw or quarter the BBC, they carry on regardless, banners flying. Hugh gloats on Twitter. His fair colleague Julia MacFarlane, spotting that, lets down her long locks from the window of a tower in Broadcasting House as a 're-tweet'.

When the Mongols invade the Muslim lands, the BBC is thrown into a deep panic. What should they call the Mongols? Isn't the word 'Mongols' offensive? Sir Jeremy of Clarkson then mutters 'Mongol' on an unbroadcast section of 'Top Horse' and lands himself in deep bother. As the Mongols enter Europe, the BBC adapts its reporting to reassure BBC tithe-payers that Mongol mass migration will actually help boost the economy, and, anyhow, the Mongols are now part of the EU and have the right to settle here. When Sir Nigel of Farage suggests that the Mongols are bloodythirsty barbarians who have slaughtered untold millions, the entire guild of Dateline London denounces him as a Little Englander and a racist. The Tuscan Lady Polly of Toynbee rides naked through the streets of Salford in protest at his comments. (The people of Salford immediately start earnestly praying for the Black Death).

We next find Hugh in Constantinople in 1453 AD, reporting that the weak Western-backed regime of Byzantine emperor Constantine XI Palaiologos has been overthrown by the peace-loving armies of anti-Western Ottoman sultan Mehmed II. Hugh blames the West for failing to understand the peace-loving motives of the Ottomans. As does Dowager-Baroness Shirley of Williams, a noted noblewoman of the day (whose mother, Dame Vera of Brittaine, wrote the most tedious book I was ever forced to read at school). Hugh then prays aloud on Twitter for the coming of one who shall be called Rageh, who will one day present a major three-part BBC documentary extolling the virtues of the Ottoman Empire. Jeremy Bowen notes that Mehmed - formerly a doctor in medieval London - is young, dynamic and popular.

As Barbary pirates raid the English coast, grabbing slaves, around the time that the great Arab poet Sheikh Spier was writing his famous plays, Hugh was tweeting like crazy about 'scare stories' from Ye Daily Maile. Ye BBC News website avoided Hugh's ire by studiously downplaying such stories, again and again.

As the 17th Century rolled on and the BBC's Nicholas Witchall found himself being called "a horrible oik" by King Charles I - before (after the Civil War) reporting, with barely disguised glee, on Charles's execution in 1649 - Hugh found himself posted to Ottoman-ruled Hungary. 

Hugh reported on the three million or so enslaved Hungarians dispersed throughout the Muslim Empire and, after interviewing five of them, found them to be intensely relaxed about it. (Many reporters beyond the BBC found the exact opposite). Hugh left BBC Radio 4's listeners with the distinct impression that the Christian bands who gathered in the Hungarian marshes to resist Erdogan's conquering Turkish army were, as he tweeted, "worse than Farage". (And so they were.)

As the forces of enlightenment gathered in 1683 to conquer Vienna on behalf of Islam, Hugh, inevitably, was there, present and correct, as the forces of reaction won an improbable victory against the forces of progress.

In a nuanced report for Broadcasting House, Hugh noted that all the Austrian generals had all previously been members of the Bullingdon Club and that the peace-loving Ottoman forces fought their battles to the accompaniment of multifaith choirs. 

Various of Hugh's colleagues in the late 17th/early 18th Centuries tweeted their snide disapproval of the rise of the Tory Party, and Hugh duly re-tweeted every single one of them. Disapproving tweets about the Whigs, in contrast, were conspicuous by their absence. Defenders of His Majesty's BBC countered criticism that the BBC was anti-Tory by citing a former His Majesty's Master of the BBC, Sir Richard Sambrooke of The Pollietequernique of Cardiff, as proof that the BBC wasn't biased - except (stretching academic credulity to the limit in most people's minds) maybe being biased in favour of the Tories and against certain continental alliances. 

As George I floated down the Thames to the accompaniment of Handel's Water Music several thousand BBC journalists, including Hugh, posted arch comments showing their disdain for the occasion. And when George II was given a fireworks display to the accompaniment of Handel's Music for the Royal Fireworks, Hugh, Julia, Steph, Jon et al collectively reached for their handkerchiefs before fainting in disapproval. Charles Moore then wrote an article in the newly-founded Spectator criticising the BBC. 

The French Revolution broke out next. "Bliss is was to be alive", pronounced Hugh on Broadcasting House. His BBC colleague Paddy O'Connell, full of the spirit of Wolfe Tone, called it "the Paris Spring". Nicholas Witchall broke a rib laughing at the execution of the King. The BBC News Channel sent hundreds  of reporters out to central Paris, at tax payers' expense. Ben Brown, presenting live for the BBC, waved his fan and swooned seventeen times. James Naughtie asked a 25-minute-long question to Robespierre about how "we" won the revolution. Sarah Montague then asked him the self-same question, albeit less long-windedly. Jeremy Bowen then described the Jacobins as being "moderate" and, writing in The New Statesman, said he'd seen no evidence of what Zionist blogs like BBC Watch call "the guillotine".

Then it all went pear-shaped. The reactionaries won.

Hugh was deeply puzzled by the rise of Napoleon. Yes, obviously, Bonaparte's praise for Islam was progressive, but was Napoleon being sincere in his sucking-up to Islam? Prancing Beau Nikki Campbell staged a dandyish coffee party at Mrs Miggins's to try to find out, and Mo Ansar attended. And when Napoleon declared himself a monarch, Hugh collapsed and went into a coma for much of the 19th Century.

As the Ottoman Empire entered its 'Sick Man of Europe' phase, British PM Benjamin Disraeli rallied the United Kingdom behind 'radical conservatism'. With Disraeli, being a Jewish Conservative, the BBC entered its 'mad phase', nearly dying of fury. They prayed in unison for the coming of a new messiah, John Reith - gaining confidence with the advent of his loinkilt-clad precursor, John Logie Baird the Baptist.

The BBC's Yolande Knell spent forty years in bed during the Victorian Era, wearing mournful black weeds over her short, tight, clingy blue dress (the one she wears when reporting from the beaches of what Victorian BBC reporters like to think of as 'the approaching Zionist entity'). Hugh, despite apparently having seen it all by now, enthusiastically 'likes' Yolande's reports on Twitter - even though most sane people find them deeply biased and depressing. 

As for the 20th Century, well that's far too heavy for a frothy post like this. Hugh never ceased tweeting though. 

And long may he continue to do so. He makes blogging about BBC bias so much easier.

Update: I'm getting the impression Hugh didn't reckon much to my efforts here: