Tuesday, 17 May 2016

#WorldOnThe MoveDay / No ‘even-handedness schism’

There’s a good post in the Telegraph about the BBC’s anti-Brexit bias by Toby Young. Note Toby’s use of those two little hyphenated words in his first sentence. 
"As a Vote Leave campaigner I've been pleasantly surprised by how ****-******** the BBC has covered the Brexit debate"
I missed most of the programmes Toby listened to yesterday, but I did hear Today, and I think Toby is quite right. Sarah Montague’s jaunt to Vietnam was unadulterated pro-immigration propaganda, and not relevant to the current crisis at all. 
I also heard the trailer for #WorldOnTheMove and assumed listeners were in store for an avalanche of emoting and uneven-handedness.
I didn’t listen to Martha Kearney or James Graham’s drama, and by the sound of it I’m very glad I didn’t. I’m allergic to Angela Jolie Pitt. It’s that Angelajolieophobia again I’m afraid, so I didn’t tune in. 

However, as I said somewhere else, despite the BBC’s (at times) fairly obvious pro-remain bias, at least they haven’t made all the Brexit arguments virtually inaccessible, as they have with all the arguments for Zionism, eg., Israel’s side of the history of the Middle East, all objective and honest analysis of the Palestinians’ approach to the two-state solution (or any solution) or indeed any even-handed reporting of  any aspect of the situation as seen from a pro-Israeli perspective. 

With very few exceptions, the pro-Israel point of view is absent from the BBC. Reporting of the Israeli /Palestinian conflict is presented entirely in pro-Palestinian terms, and all arguments take place on these terms, with total and complete censoring of Palestinian racist/religious hatred, incitement to violence and the actual violence itself. 



If you want to see a heartbreaking example of this kind of bigotry look no further than the NUT.  A must-read article by David Collier.
I realise the NUT is not the BBC, but these people get much of their news and views  from the BBC, and they are teaching the next generation.

For all the education-related do-gooding the anti-Israel campaigners indulge in, they neglect to mention the antisemitic hate-fest that runs through the Palestinian education system. No mention, either, that this is rife throughout the Arab world.

As for this blog, a series of hostile comments from an anonymous commenter have done exactly what I hoped people would not do - recoil at my use of the phrase “even-handed”. I tried to make a subtle point, and perhaps I should have avoided that phrase altogether. It was like a red rag to a bully. 
The Boris and Hitler formulation.

However, let’s be clear, as politicians are known to say, Craig and I are not on opposite sides.  There might be slight differences in emphases, but we do not disagree.
In fact there's nothing to disagree with in Craig’s statistical breakdowns of the BBC’s bias. His efforts are admirable and I don't doubt the veracity of his findings for one moment. I am in awe of the diligence and dedication he shows on our behalf and I believe his analyses give enormous credibility to the view that the BBC is biased against leaving the EU. I share that view, but I don’t think it’s the whole story.

Yes, the BBC has been biased, but at least they haven't made the argument for "Leave' completely inaccessible, as they have done with the entirety of Israel's point of view.  

I have heard the arguments for “Leave” expressed very well on the BBC. That is why I say the BBC has been trying (up till yesterday) to present both sides of the EU argument for our careful consideration, even if some of it has been through gritted teeth. 

How many voters have been seduced by the BBC's pro-remain bias is yet to be seen. Please remember, there is life after the referendum. There will be an aftermath. Whatever happens there will be recriminations,  probably more bias than ever, and somehow, whatever the outcome, we’ll have to adjust, come to terms,  and, yep, we'll just have to suck it up. 

When we started this blog Craig and I aimed to be fair and vowed to avoid becoming self-radicalised. That can happen very easily.  Sorry, anonymous, there is no schism.

We value your custom.  It’s good to receive responses, and I don’t mind a bit if you disagree with me, but ideally you’ll have comprehended what you’re disagreeing with before firing.

Maybe we should have an open thread for all those OFF TOPIC contributions?


  1. I agree that you rarely hear the pro-Israeli voice and that Israel's policies are very often misrepresented (latest example: Israel planted mines at the Jesus baptism site - no explanation by the BBC reporter, just made it sound like a malign act).

    However, I don't agree that the BBC's coverage of the EU Referendum campaign has been in any way even handed even if Toby agrees with you. I doubt Toby absorbs as much BBC coverage as the rest of us and he is probably basing his view more on his own participation. Or perhaps like Michael Portillo he wants a job at the beeb. They like "reformed sinners" at the BBC.

    Of course the BBC has given exposure to Leave arguments - they could hardly censor those views entirely - and no doubt as we get closer to the Referendum, they may give more coverage.

    But so far, to date, there has been appalling bias, as statistically demonstrated by Craig. His analysis accords with my own impressions.

    To take just one example - how do you account for the BBC Newsnight panel of just 8 people which is supposed to be a balanced reflection of the UK electorate. 50% are what would appear as "ethnic minorities" on survey forms and one person (12.5%) is from the Republic of Ireland. So at least 62.5% of the panel are ethnic minority or of non UK birth.

    The figure for 2011 in the UK is about 13% ethnic minority population. Even if that has risen to say 20% by now (unlikely but possible), the figure of 62.5% is still way out of line with the Newsnight panel.

    And why did the BBC with its huge resources choose such a small panel in any case? Also, perhaps more relevantly to the subject in focus, as their first appearance showed, they are nearly all sympathetic to Remain arguments. As I recall, only one declared they wanted to leave. That's 12.5% against the 50% suggested by the poll of polls.

    As far as I can see the Newsnight Panel was nobbled to give a Remain slant. There is no other reasonable explanation apart from sheer incompetence on a grand scale.

    1. I completely agree with your observations about last night’s Newsnight and that strange panel. I have no idea how they were selected or by whom.

    2. Yes, a very strange panel. It's been strange throughout.

      That Newsnight special was the worst yet. Evan Davis's behaviour was quite extraordinary - and in so many ways.

      He kept trying to steer the debate in a pro-EU way (using both sides to do so). I think I counted two half-hearted 'devil's advocate' questions (for balance) among an absolute onslaught of pro-EU points. He even tried, doggedly, to steer Amber Rudd into arguing that giving money through the EU to Eastern Europe was a good thing in its own right - and, yes, got 8/8 members of the 'undecided voters' panel to agree with him to when he put it to the vote...

      (...not that they decided that 'undecided' by the end. What's the bet they'll come down as an absolute majority for Remain on the last episode?)

      Then there was his outrageous introduction and the way he tried to badger Douglas Carswell into joining his self-declared 'consensus' that the £350 million a week figure is untrue.

      The contrast between the way he treated Douglas Carswell and Amber Rudd was classic BBC. My old 'interruption coefficients' would be off the scale. (As it was I counted 18 challenging interruptions against Mr. Carswell and just 6 rather-less-challenging interruptions against Miss Rudd).

      Then there was Evan's "That's what I thought" backing up of Stephen Wall and his helpful 'correction' of Stephen Wall ("I thought is was 87%").

      And then the audience, Chris Cook's report, even John Sweeney's (otherwise excellent) pay-off line.

      It was all quite something.

      (Time permitting, I'll try and make this more concrete).

  2. I have on occasions heard the pro-leave case put over sensibly and well, without interruption on the BBC, yet each time I am surprised. Pleasantly surprised, but nevertheless surprised.

  3. I think the situation is that the BBC knows they're supposed to behave. They know they are supposed to try extra hard to 'get it about right'. You can be sure there have been many discussions with Lord Hall and John Whittingdale and others, and BBC management is surely feeling a little pressure because of the license fee review hanging over their heads.

    The problem is two-fold. First, the Government is definitely pressuring them not to give too much favorable coverage to Leave, because they would see that as bias (i.e. it's bias when the BBC reports things I don't like). I've voiced my suspicions before that there may be a little quiet gentleman's agreement going on about this and immigration, an issue which is inextricably linked with the EU referendum. So there is already a tendency to favor Remain even before we get to the personal biases of the staff.

    Then there's the bias of the staff. They can't help themselves sometimes, don't even realize they're doing it. I'm not sure how many Beeboids are even capable of leaving their opinions at the door at this point, especially when there is heated discussion beforehand and probably lots of office chatter reinforcing the groupthink.

    Are they trying to be fair? Sure. Mostly. More or less. Are they even capable of it? Some are, many are not.

  4. "Are they trying to be fair? Sure. Mostly."

    No I don't accept that.

    Take this latest story they are giving the headline treatment to on their website.


    Meanwhile they have buried Johnson and Rees-Mogg's attack on the PM for misleading Parliament in an obscure part of the website. By the way, I don't even think it's an accident that they've buried the Referendum segment under "Politics".

    Also, this story has the Kuennesberg fingerprints all over it. The idea this story just suddenly blew up out of nowhere is absurd. This has been cooked up by the BBC>