Wednesday, June 24, 2015
Shock! Horror! At LAST a BBC boss who admits it's biased
BBC executives and journalists have a special patronising smile for anyone who suggests they are biased towards the Left. 'Look,' they say pityingly, 'the Left are always telling us we're biased towards the Right. Bet you didn't know that!' End of discussion.
That smile will have been wiped off these faces this week. Roger Mosey, former head of BBC TV news, has published a book giving chapter and verse on the Corporation's liberal bias.
Mosey, who also used to edit Radio 4's Today programme, confirms that Auntie leans so far Leftwards that she frequently topples over into propaganda.
He's the first truly senior BBC executive to do so. As such, he is in a position to provide killer details.
We learn not just the extent of the BBC's liberal group-think, but also exactly how news stories are reshaped and 'sanitised' to fit the agenda of the only newspaper the Beeb's journalists read from cover to cover — the Guardian, it goes without saying.
'One night on the Ten O'Clock News we broadcast a package from a racially diverse part of Britain, where ethnic minorities had become a majority of the local population,' writes Mosey.
'People there were interviewed about how they felt about the immigration that had led to the ethnic mix. Only one white man was featured, and he said he was perfectly happy with the way his neighbourhood had developed.'
Mosey — who years ago hinted privately to me that he was troubled by BBC bias — smelled a rat. So he emailed the reporter responsible.
'Just wondered, did all the people you spoke to think the majority/minority racial position was good?'
Well, said the reporter, the vox pop had been tricky because of the 'problem' of the white population. The people they stopped were 'fairly rabidly racist' so they were left on the cutting-room floor. Now, it's possible that the folk the BBC stopped in this (unnamed) area were all poisonous bigots. But bear in mind that you don't have to vote BNP to count as a rabid racist in the eyes of the Beeb.
You merely have to question the wisdom of open-door immigration or hint at the ethnic or religious identity of the Rotherham grooming gangs — a scandal that the BBC was in no particular hurry to investigate.
Mosey found further evidence of bias when the BBC illustrated stories about France's Sangatte refugee camp with . . . photographs of Sangatte refugee camp. The 'editorial policy people', as he calls them, threw a wobbly.
Stop using those pictures, they told Mosey. In fact, they seem to have wanted to ignore the existence of the squalid 'asylum centre', where migrants — some of them members of criminal gangs — waited for their chance to slip into Britain illegally.
The reason? The debate was being led by 'an angry tabloid agenda and extreme Right-wing groups'. And the BBC's solution? Let's not have the debate at all.
Or, to put it another way, let's hide the facts from BBC licence-fee payers, lest some of them voice the ignorant view that 'asylum' shouldn't extend to Albanian drug smugglers.
Mosey — who was as opposed to genuine racism as any of his colleagues — shared this story with Jeff Randall, then the Corporation's business editor and one of its few token Tory supporters.
He wrote back: 'Does anyone in the BBC's policy unit/Thought Police read [Mail columnist] Richard Littlejohn? They should. He reflects popular opinion far more accurately than the views of those whose idea of a good night out is reading the Indy over a vegetarian meal in a Somali restaurant.' (This was in the days when people still read the Independent.)
Mosey writes about the Corporation's 'dysfunctional' government — which doesn't surprise me so much because, while he was head of BBC news, I wrote a regular newspaper feature called 'Beebwatch', drawing on specially commissioned data from a media monitoring unit.
I didn't concentrate on the obvious targets, such as the Today programme and Newsnight. Instead, I peered into the folds of Auntie's bloomers — trivial, obscure or supposedly non-political items produced by young, right-on BBC staff who thought they were safe from scrutiny.
They were having a field day. When one of Labour grandee Tony Benn's windbag speeches was set to rap music, they decided that the licence-payer should cough up for three separate reports on the BBC website. Headlines: 'Will Tony Benn's CD save politics?; 'Veteran Benn spins politics and rap'; and 'Benn gets down in the groove'.
A BBC2 Timewatch documentary about the Anglo-Zulu war of 1879 revealed the Corporation's bias clearly.
We were spun a tale of tea-sipping toffs versus noble warriors. We learned that the Zulus' disembowelling of British corpses was only an 'apparent atrocity' because it was intended to release the spirits of the dead.
And when David Willetts, then the Tory pensions spokesman, argued in favour of larger families, the BBC online magazine had a fit. 'Conservative politicians and sex,' it read. 'To do it is one thing — perhaps while wearing a Chelsea strip — but to speak of it is quite another.'
The magazine wasn't troubled by the fact that stories of Tory minister David Mellor making love in Chelsea kit were known to be lies.
Drawing a parallel so outrageous as to be absurd, it continued: 'Hitler and Mussolini saw high birth rates as key to victory . . . and set about encouraging their citizens to procreate.'
Roger Mosey read Beebwatch and thought his colleagues had a case to answer. So he invited me to talk to a large group of BBC producers. What a waste of time! Every face was frozen in that patronising smirk.
The level of detail in these new revelations will revive questions about whether the BBC is biased. It's embarrassing for the Beeb, but the same evasive answers will be trotted out.
We'll be told that coverage of May's General Election was even-handed.
That's true up to a point — because special rules govern elections. But I couldn't help noticing that, while the country was roaring with laughter at Miliband's 'Edstone' stunt, BBC reporters didn't enjoy the joke.
On the contrary — some of them were furious with the Labour leader for jeopardising his victory. (How I'd love to have been in the newsroom when that exit poll showing the Tories miles in front sprang on to the screen. Quick, send for the grief counsellors!) In the end, what licence payers need to know is not whether the Corporation is dominated by metropolitan liberals, but what to do about it. Here, I'm a pessimist.
The Tories could slim down the BBC, or end its funding. But America doesn't have a licence fee and, with the exception of Fox News — laughably biased in the other direction — all the major networks are piously liberal.
An independent BBC committed to serious broadcasting would recruit the same Left-leaning staff from the same Left-leaning universities.
My guess is that Roger Mosey knows this, and is frustrated by it. We're lucky that he has vented his feelings so explosively.
The revelations in his book help dull the pain of being forced to pay for a broadcast version of the Guardian.
But there is one trick guests on programmes can play. The other day I was asked on to BBC Radio Wales to talk about the Irish vote for gay marriage.
Just before the interview, they ran a segment so biased in favour of the gay campaigners that I decided to challenge them on it. 'That was grotesquely one-sided,' I said — live. The presenter spluttered, but there was nothing he could do about it.
But a word of warning to Roger. His book is called Getting Out Alive. He shouldn't bet on repeating the trick if he is ever lured back into New Broadcasting House.
After Israeli video mocks journalists, reporters prove its premise
At first I thought the latest video by Israel’s foreign ministry — the one that lampoons media coverage of last year’s Gaza war — was unfunny, amateurish, and useless. Needless to say, it wasn’t my cup of satire.
After seeing the overheated reaction by many journalists, though, I must admit to a slight change of heart. It may still be true that the animated clip, which cast foreign reporters as myopic and oblivious to the realities of the region, was ill-conceived. But it turns out that the video, whether by design or not, was actually useful in that it exposed some of the strange beliefs, blind-spots, and self-justifications relied on by prominent journalists, whose angry reactions in fact underscored the truth behind the video’s central premise: that media coverage of Israel deserves criticism.
Note, for example, the response by Robert Mackey, a news columnist at The New York Times. While dismissing the video’s message that coverage of Israel is flawed, Mackey oddly describes Israel’s now-defunct Ministry of Public Diplomacy and Diaspora Affairs as the “ministry of Hasbara — responsible for what Israel calls public diplomacy and its critics call propaganda.”
I looked back through the news pages and found example after example of New York Times journalists, Mackey included, introducing ministries in straightforward, neutral terms — even when writing about the most repressive governments. So why, when it comes to Israel, is it different? Why the use of the foreign word hasbara, which Israel’s opponents have attempted to usurp as a derisive word, instead of the English name of the ministry, which more than sufficiently describes its function? Why, only when it comes to Israel, are unnamed critics given the opportunity to introduce the country’s ministry responsible for communications and advocacy? (I try to answer those questions in more detail here.)
Is this hostility by Mackey, who sounds less like an objective journalist and more like the anti-Israel extremists he all too frequently turns to, really supposed to convince us that Israel has no legitimate gripe with foreign journalists?
Mackey also suggests that the country’s use of satire means there must be no “actual examples” of problematic media coverage. The clip, he insists, “would seem to raise the question of why, if wildly inaccurate, comically misinformed reports on the conflict from foreign correspondents are so common, Israeli officials cannot simply point to actual examples but instead find it necessary to resort to fiction again and again to illustrate this reality.”
The flaws in this logic should be clear. Satire is an established genre of expression. And the use of satire, however well-executed, hardly indicates a dearth of concrete examples.
And indeed, there is no shortage of examples of bungled coverage. There was Shati and Shifa, where the death and damage from misfired Palestinian rockets were blamed on Israel; the downplaying and ignoring of Hamas rocket attacks; the newspaper that described destruction in Israel as being from “purported” Palestinian rockets; the patently false assertions that Netanyahu failed to quickly condemn the murder of a Palestinian boy; a slew of headlines downplaying Palestinian violence; journalists siding with Hamas and against other journalists; reporters self-censoring incriminating statements; and a funnier-than-fiction claim that a bridge links the West Bank and Gaza Strip. These are just a few of the examples that could have been mentioned in Israel’s video.
Not that specificity really matters. When a former AP correspondent penned three detailed and devastating exposés about anti-Israel bias, the reporters who now grumble about lack of detail in Israel’s satire clip were largely silent. When even The New York Times public editor called on reporters to “strengthen the coverage of Palestinians” because “they are more than just victims,” there was little public soul searching.
In short, there is plenty of specific criticism about media coverage of Israel and of the recent war. By pretending otherwise, Mackey makes Israel’s case — that the media misinforms — better than any video could.
Mackey wasn’t the only New York Times reporter to suggest that the resort to satire somehow proves Israel has no specific claims.
On Twitter, Diaa Hadid, who covers the Palestinian territories for the newspaper, referred to “A new video by Israel mocking foreign correspondents — but no actual example of incorrect coverage they so mock.” Jerusalem bureau chief Jodi Rudoren was one of several jounalists to share Mackey’s piece on Twitter, even though she knows more than most that criticism of coverage tends to be specific and substantiated.
A Times opinion editor went further. “If you don’t have a good story to tell,” editorial board member Ernesto Londoño wrote, “a tried and tested tactic is to lampoon the press.” In other words, he believes the problem is not only that Israel has no evidence to back up criticism of media coverage; it is that Israel criticizes the press because it has no compelling narrative about the conflict in general. Fair-minded observers might disagree with the disinterested dismissal of Israel’s story — a story in part about Hamas, its overt anti-Semitism, its commitment to the violent destruction of Israel, the thousands of indiscriminate rockets it lobs toward Israeli cities; a story in part about Israeli families who must send their finest off to fight in a crowded, hostile territory, understanding that they might not come back, but understanding too that the Palestinian rocket attacks must be brought to an end to protect innocent lives.
There’s more to disagree with in Londoño’s piece. Twice he tells readers that the Gaza Strip is currently “occupied” by Israel. Although some political scientists have argued as much, notwithstanding the absence of a single Israeli in the territory, other experts in international law including Eugene Kontorovich, Yuval Shany, Eyal Benvenisti, Ruth Lapidoth, Elizabeth Samson, Salon Solomon, and Benjamin Rubin have assessed that the territory is not currently occupied. Again, if the larger question is whether journalists give Israel a fair hearing, Londoño’s piece, and its attempts to conceal the full range of views about Gaza, would suggest that they do not.
To close out his argument, Londoño insists that “Israel’s image problem is not the result of global misunderstanding of Hamas.” Maybe, but it is telling that, to substantiate the claim that the media treats threats to Israelis seriously, he points to a piece entitled “Hamas Is Accused of Using Gaza War as Cover to Torture and Kill Palestinians.”
The heavy-handed reaction to the video clip wasn’t limited to New York Times journalists. A Haaretz reporter insisted on Twitter that Israel’s video efforts “recall 15 year old boys cracking rape jokes, then sneering at girls ‘you feminists have no sense of humor!’”
EU calls for more mothers to go to work: Bureaucrats accused of bullying
BRUSSELS bureaucrats were last night accused of attempting to ‘bully’ British mothers back to work - after an EU report claimed the country has too many women who choose to stay at home.
Women living in Britain are twice as likely as those in the rest of Europe to choose not to work in order to care for their children or elderly relations, according to figures in a report to the European Council.
The report suggests Britain should do more to get stay-at-home mothers into work by providing additional free child care, the Daily Telegraph reported last night.
But campaigners and MPs have hit out at the report and said that a Brussels institution had ‘no right’ to ‘lecture’ mothers.
The report - part of an annual assessment of every European economy - was presented to Chancellor George Osborne at a meeting of finance ministers last Friday.
It criticised the fact that women were far more likely to be in part-time work than men and said: ‘Despite the positive trends in relation to labour market outcomes, social challenges persist’.
Laura Perrins, of the campaign group Mothers at Home Matter, told The Telegraph: ‘How British families organise their care is up to them. 'They shouldn’t be lectured to by the British government, or beancounters in Europe. This is just another bullying tactic to get mothers to leave their young children.’
Peter Bone, Conservative MP for Wellingborough, added: ‘They have no right whatsoever to tell women and families to go to work. It is not within spitting distance of what they should be doing.’
In 2013, 42.6 per cent of British women were in part-time work compared with 13.2 per cent of men, one of the highest differences in the EU.
The percentage of women who did not work or worked part-time ‘due to personal and family responsibilities’ was 12.5 per cent, almost twice as high as the EU average of 6.3 per cent.
The council’s recommendations are part of European targets to get 75 per cent of working-age adults into employment by 2020.
Britain’s employment rate stands at a record 73.4 per cent.
The Tories pledged in their election manifesto to provide more taxpayer-funded child care places.
Last year, Mr Osborne said he wanted to see nearly 500,000 more women in the workplace by the beginning of 2016, which would allow the UK to match the female employment rate in Germany.
Conservative minister blasts Left on welfare payments
You can hardly blame Iain Duncan Smith for occasionally exploding. The Left are extremely irritating when it comes to welfare cuts.
We will therefore forgive him becoming so batey yesterday during his departmental questions that he started sounding like the Mr Angry character who used to pop up on Steve Wright’s BBC radio shows.
Work and Pensions Secretary IDS has spent the last five years trying to wrestle with our nation’s vast and baffling welfare system, trying to reduce its costs and push more welfare claimants into jobs. He has achieved great things yet still the leviathan exists, pumping cash, de-energising, de-incentivising, de-moralising.
This is not just a British madness. Much of the European Union is in the grip of socialist welfarism, often wrecking the chances of the people it affects to help.
Mr Duncan Smith finds himself taking on a continental statist consensus, constructed over decades by pipe-sucking Jean-Paul Sartre intellectuals – and used by Left-wing politicians to create client voters from the millions whose bank accounts are injected with public money.
Labour’s response? During the election it made noises about being ‘tougher than the Tories’ on welfare. Whoaa! What a great result!
This conversion to welfare ‘toughness’ happened after Labour’s pension spokesman Rachel Reeves twigged that the electorate (the taxpaying part of it, anyway) was fed up with the status quo.
Miss Reeves was not in the Chamber yesterday because she had a baby last week. In her absence it fell to one of her frontbench colleagues, Kate Green, to explain Labour’s marvellous new position.
‘Labour will indeed be tougher on cutting benefits,’ said Miss Green in her posh-Scots voice, ‘when that is a response to the wrong drivers of those benefits. What we will not tolerate is cuts to those benefits for people who are in work but need those benefits to enable their work to pay.’
The basic thrust of Miss Green’s remark, however, was probably ‘we will claim to be tough but we will not identify any cuts we support because that would oblige us to agree with you Tories and that would lose us votes’.
Mr Duncan Smith erupted. He gave Miss Green a tonking. He did likewise with two more Labour women, Marie Rimmer and Debbie Abrahams (Oldham E and Saddleworth) who complained that the welfare cuts were killing people.
Sister Rimmer, new to the House, is a marvellous creation, not least because she sits for St Helens South – formerly the seat of Shaun Woodward. It would be hard to devise a greater contrast to smoothiechops multi-millionaire Woodward.
Our Marie, who might be said by astringent caricaturists to resemble a dinner lady, is a big-boned Northern lass with a voice like a wheezy walrus and a tendency to point, angrily, when contributing to debates.
Given that she is in legal difficulty over an alleged fracas in Scotland, it was perhaps brave of Mr Duncan Smith to take her on, but take her on he did, con gusto. He called her ‘disgraceful’ while Mrs Abrahams was told to stop frightening her constituents. The Mighty Rimmer stood to her feet in outrage, her very being wobbling with indignation and her mouth silently opening and closing.
Many other Labour MPs demanded more or continued welfare spending. Repeatedly, Mr Duncan Smith was denounced as some sort of demon. I don’t know how he doesn’t stab himself in the thigh with his ballpoint pen and bring his palm down on the despatch box with a karate chop, reducing it to kindling.
Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.
American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of other countries. The only real difference, however, is how much power they have. In America, their power is limited by democracy. To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges. They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did: None. So look to the colleges to see what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way. It would be a dictatorship.
For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS and DISSECTING LEFTISM. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here.