Craig, these are very impressive studies. For me your examination of the Sunday Programme throws up more questions than it answers.
Firstly, you’ve shown that the BBC plainly has ‘attitude’. The preponderance of voices from the liberal arm of the Catholic Church (Tablet) and the focus on the child abuse issue are undoubtedly biases, but if bias is inevitable, and it surely is, this is a bias which suits me.
Much has been written about the impossibility, nay the undesirability of achieving scrupulous impartiality, in news reporting and life in general. There are morals and fundamental principles involved. We talk about the Judeo Christian tradition, I suppose we mean ‘right and wrong,’ and we wouldn’t want ‘evil’ being given equal merit with ‘righteousness’, now, would we?
Anyway, when we complain about unfair bias, someone will always be ready to accuse us of not wanting impartiality at all, just our brand of bias. And, to a certain extent that’s true.
The Sunday programme may have legitimate reasons not to be impartial. It might not set out to give all sides of every story. It might just exist to reflect society’s musings on religious issues. Having said that, when it strays into areas I find startling, it does make one question its raison d’etre. Areas such as its BBC-like prejudice against Israel, which it would probably deny, and even worse, its undeniable lack of interest - until last week - in the plight of Christians in the Middle East, post (the so-called) Arab Spring.
So, while I personally applaud its bias towards the liberal arm of the Catholic religion as opposed to the psychologically destructive illiberal, conservative arm of Catholicism (I spent some time in Eire when the abuse story was struggling to get out) I can well see that conservative Catholics might have a problem with this particular bias.
I think Sunday is a kind of Magazine programme, and the material it selects inevitably reflects the general BBC mindset.
On the whole the BBC’s liberal lefty bias itself is not exactly what I have a problem with, but I do object to its emphatic denials that such a thing exists, and the stupid ill-thought out claims that ‘impartiality is in its genes’.
The area which should be balanced and thorough, in accord with its reputation and its charter obligations, is the BBC's news reporting, and this is certainly not the case. It is full of editorial choices, omissions, half-stories and unbalanced voices. We should keep on pointing this out.
Your detailed examinations of this kind are fandabidozy.