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The Brexit Collection reveals the depth of the Corporation’s pro-EU bias – 13/07/2016

The Brexit Collection reveals the depth of the Corporation’s pro-EU bias – 13/07/2016

After the EU referendum, the BBC assembled on Radio 4 a barrage of anti-Brexit programmes which predicted that there would be rioting on the streets over food supply, the virtual ruin of the Scotch whisky industry and an uncontrolled explosion of hate crimes against EU citizens.

July 13, 2016

BBC reform, like so many other issues, has been pushed off the agenda by the referendum hullaballoo.

But sorting out BBC bias as the Brexit process gets underway is surely an urgent and major priority for the new May government – that is, if she genuinely wants Britain out.

The Corporation clearly now sees its central mission to push at every opportunity the case for Remain, for a second referendum, for a general election to endorse the exit plans. Anything, in fact, anything to upset the referendum vote.

So great is their opposition to ‘exit’ that their bias is now arguably (for example Newsnight, here) a deliberate attempt to undermine the democratic process, and to reinforce the view (held by many in the Conservative and Labour party and those who mounted demonstrations at the weekend) that those who voted ‘Leave’ were basing their decisions on lies; that they were deluded and plain wrong.

The new BBC Royal Charter is due to come into effect by the beginning of 2017, and yet the changes so far proposed by culture secretary John Whittingdale – broadly putting complaints under Ofcom and creating a new management board – will scarcely scratch the surface of current malpractice.

And meanwhile, BBC bias is continuing on an industrial scale. So brazen has it become that it has posted on the BBC iPlayer the Brexit Collection, a selection of 15 Radio 4 programmes about the Brexit vote.

The bias across most of the programmes is so extreme that it is impossible to know where to begin in describing it. News-watch, will, in due course, publish all the transcripts together with a full analysis and report.

In the meantime, a good entry point is the edition of The Food Programme, first broadcast on Sunday July 3, and presented by Dan Saladino.

He assembled for the bulk of the programme a cast list of six guests who declared, between them, that Brexit could lead to food riots; that ensuring food security after Brexit amounted to the worst peacetime challenge that the UK had ever faced; that farms would be abandoned, agricultural jobs would be lost, that the Scotch whisky industry faced virtual ruin, and that immigrants in the food processing and production industry the length and breadth of the UK were now living in fear. The full picture is here.

A key mover in this blatant exaggeration and scare-mongering was Professor Tim Lang from the City University in London, the main ‘expert’ on food supply. What Saladino did not tell listeners, however, was that Lang also works for a greenie food charity called Sustain, which, their annual reports show, receives a significant part of its funding (at least 10 per cent and probably as high as 25 per cent) directly or from the EU.

Ranged against the six gloom-mongers was a lone fisherman, who said he wanted Brexit but little more – the diminution of the UK fishing industry under the Common Fisheries Policy was not on the agenda –  and Tim Worstall, from the Adam Smith Institute. The latter managed to suggest, against all the predictions of doom elsewhere in the programme, that Brexit would actually lead to a reduction in food tariffs, and that the UK could make better trade deals with partners throughout the world.

But Saladino clearly thought that any positive comment about post-Brexit prospects should come with a health warning. Unlike with Professor Lang and his link with EU funding, he carefully pointed out that Worstall had been a speechwriter for Nigel Farage. For a BBC presenter, that, of course is a dog-whistle hand grenade that any views from the contributor have to be treated with caution because of (in the BBC’s eyes) Farage’s ‘extreme’ political views.

Another programme in the Brexit Collection was How to Make Brexit presented by Carolyn Quinn, about Greenland’s decision to leave the EU back in the 1980s. The bias is so evident it’s almost impossible to know where to start. Close to the beginning, Quinn used an extract from a pro-EU rant on the Now Show to illustrate one of her key points. The tone was thus set.

Quinn’s linking commentary and choice of quotes was framed with only one aim in mind – to tell us how desperately complex a departure would be. The first quote in this vein from a contributor was:

“This is the largest scale legislation and policy exercise that has possibly been carried out ever…The trade options alone are staggering….” Quinn left absolutely no room for doubt: leaving the EU is something that only a fool would contemplate.

Further initial commentary about the Brexit Collection can be found on the Is the BBC Biased? website here.

The choice of these programmes shows above all that the BBC itself does not care about and does not even begin to understand the depths of its pro-EU bias. The new Secretary of State for Culture has a huge challenge on his hands. The task of dealing with it has scarcely even begun.

Bias Archive 2014-21

Welcome to a brand new News-watch feature – an archive of more than 200 blogs (running to 200,000 words!) written by News-watch MD David Keighley since 2014. All were first published on The Conservative Woman website, and they appear here with kind permission of Kathy Gyngell, who founded the site.    

Each of the blogs highlight separate items of BBC bias. Individually and together they form a unique record of how far from its Charter requirement of impartiality the BBC has deviated, particularly in the field of Brexit. but also in more general areas. 

Each week, a separate blog from the archive will be chosen for the News-watch landing page.  

 

Savile, Sir Cliff, now Bashir – one more outrage the BBC will brazen out

May 29, 2021

MUCH has been written about Lord Dyson’s report into the 1995 BBC Panorama Martin Bashir interview with Princess Diana. Columnists and politicians are clamouring for urgent action to mend the Corporation’s ways. According to Lord Dyson these primarily included lying in pursuit of a story, coupled with massive stonewalling by senior management against any suggestion of wrongdoing.

It seems that steps to reform and rein in the excesses of BBC bias and rank bad journalism might be under consideration as part of the Corporation’s mid-term Charter review, due in 2022. Oliver Dowden, the culture secretary, has suggested that structural governance reform will be on the agenda.

But don’t hold your breath. Much in a similar vein was written in 2012 when the BBC was caught wrong-footed over its handling of abuse allegations against Jimmy Savile. Or when the corporation in 2019 was landed with a £2million-plus legal bill for its cruel, over-the-top coverage of baseless claims of sexual misconduct against Cliff Richard.

The BBC has so far survived intact, a bloated, £3.5billion-a-year protected state relic from an age when broadcast frequencies were a scarce resource. The danger is that despite the evidence of incompetence, almost unlimited arrogance and moral turpitude, the corporation carries on regardless because no one has the political guts or will to tackle a massive overhaul.

The core problem is that the BBC will never admit misconduct, and has been immune to outside complaints for most of its history because it is its own judge and jury in that domain in most respects.

Under the BBC Charter operational from 2017, Ofcom assumed a regulatory role over some corporation matters including the conduct of its journalism. But this was too little, too late, and the Ofcom scrutiny has so far proved totally ineffectual, not least because most of its content board appointees are former BBC advisers or employees and have the same mindset as the corporation itself.

So how can this problem be solved? Over the past 40 years – arguably since Margaret Thatcher became Prime Minister in 1979 – the BBC has become increasingly opinionated and Left-wing to the extent now that no part of its output is unaffected. Even the BBC1 programme Antiques Roadshow is larded with lectures by presenter Fiona Bruce on topics such as the evils of Britain’s colonial past.

In this vein, News-watch recently conducted a thorough survey of BBC Ideas, a catalogue of 600 or so five-minute videos ‘for the curious minded’.

This is a project launched by former Labour culture secretary James Purnell at vast expense when he was BBC director of radio and education. The majority of the titles (around 350) have controversial or political content in subject areas such as history, race, capitalism, climate change and feminism. Only 25 of them have points which could be regarded as ‘conservative’. The rest could have been taken from a manual on how to construct ‘woke’ propaganda based on post-modern critical theory.

News-watch has also thoroughly scrutinised the corporation’s EU coverage for more than two decades, and – as TCW readers are painfully aware – this is the domain in which the most crass corporation bias has operated. The 40 or so News-watch reports since 1999 summarised here show a massive weighting towards pro-EU opinion up to and including the Brexit referendum and continuing through the Brexit process itself to the present day. When has the BBC constructed a programme which shows the problems of the EU, and revealing that it is ultimately a huge anti-democratic project?

The BBC’s response to those News-watch reports? It has been characterised throughout by the same arrogance and stonewalling identified by Lord Dyson in his report on Martin Bashir.  Corporation senior management – including many of those involved in the Prince Diana interview – chose to ignore them all. Without providing a shred of evidence, they claimed that they were worthless.

An easy and respectful way of testing their veracity would have been to appoint an independent panel to assess the quality of the News-watch work. But that possibility was never even on the BBC’s agenda.  They preferred instead to launch ad hominem attacks against me and eminent Eurosceptic Lord Pearson of Rannoch, who partially funded the News-watch work.

A key character in the Bashir affair identified by Lord Dyson was Anne Sloman, who was BBC chief political adviser, and therefore one of the key advisers to Tony Hall, who was then BBC director of news. Sloman was among those who investigated in 1996 claims of impropriety against Martin Bashir, and despite abundant evidence to the contrary, concluded that he was ‘honourable’.

She betrayed similar arrogance in her treatment of News-watch and the claims of anti-EU bias. In an editorial meeting in which the Sunday Times columnist Rod Liddle was present (in his then role of editor of the BBC Today programme), she asserted that eurosceptics like Lord Pearson were ‘mad’ and therefore should be ignored. Her treatment of me was even more outrageous. At a summer drinks meeting between Parliamentarians and the BBC attended by Lord Pearson, she told him that the reports I was compiling should be ignored because I had been ‘sacked by the BBC’.  This was an outright and baseless falsehood. I had worked for the BBC for seven years without a blemish on my staff reports and had been promoted regularly throughout. I left the BBC because I found a more senior job at the ITV breakfast television station TV-am, where I became director of public affairs.

As a result of her claims, I was forced to fire off (at considerable expense) a pre-action letter for defamation of character, and she huffily backed down. But her intention was clear. She wanted me out of the way, to be discredited and taken off the case.

This illustrates that a basic tactic of BBC senior managers at the BBC is to try to destroy or discredit those who oppose it. That applied in the Bashir case with the graphics designer who drew the forged bank statements, with BBC Newsnight journalists in 2011-13 who wanted to blow the whistle on the BBC’s treatment of Jimmy Savile (their BBC contracts were not renewed) and in the Cliff Richard affair, when the BBC tactic was to throw the blame on to South Yorkshire police.

So how can be the BBC senior management be so arrogant and disdainful towards those who oppose the corporation?  A central problem is that the BBC’s Charter gives it almost unassailable independence. This was designed to protect BBC journalism from political interference. Noble aim. But the drafters of the legislation surely never envisaged that the corporation would, in effect, go rogue – as its approach to EU coverage and BBC Ideas shows – and become an enemy of the country and the culture which pays for it.  A dangerous enemy, too, because its goals appear increasingly to be the denigration and destruction of Western values.

A manifestation of its unassailability is that the BBC complaints process is not fit for purpose. It is designed to protect the BBC rather than to deal conscientiously with the concerns of audiences. The complaints process could be a shop window for BBC transparency, and for the further debate of matters of public controversy. Instead it has become another wall which the BBC hides behind and a vehicle to discredit opponents. An example of this is that News-watch has within the past month received a warning letter from the complaints unit (which is sub-contracted to facilities company Capita) warning us that we are making too many complaints and that they are too complicated to deal with so we are wasting corporation resources.

A second manifestation is that the BBC refuses to produce any independent evidence to verify its impartiality. Instead, it relies on opinion polls. This is absurd and simply not good enough. News-watch reports into the BBC output are based on scrupulously-applied academic principles which can be seen and debated by anyone. By contrast, the BBC simply tells the world it knows it is impartial, and therefore it is. Yet the corporation provides no evidence to support its position and claims it would be a waste of time to do so. That is an absurdly arrogant stance for an organisation in receipt of £3.5billion of public funding.

In that context, as cries for reforms intensify, an acid test of the government’s intent will be whether the proposed structural reforms include monitoring for bias and an overhaul of the complaints system. Only when these operate on an independent basis and thus hold the BBC genuinely to account will BBC bias end. As things stand, it is an obdurate, arrogant and unprincipled law unto itself.

 

Window-dresser Davie’s bogus BBC revolution

March 23, 2021

TIM Davie, the BBC director general, has been in his post for six months, and on Thursday he delivered to staff his second raft of big ideas for reform. 

His first proposal, in his first week of office in September, was to make BBC impartiality his number one priority, with a crackdown on biased tweeting by staff.

How’s that commitment going?

Well, hours after his latest staff speech was delivered last week, BBC Breakfast presenter Naga Munchetty and her male sidekick, Charlie Stayt, were hauled over the coals by Corporation top brass and ‘reminded of BBC impartiality rules’.

In the scale of PR cock-ups, that was a pretty spectacular own goal. Davie claimed in his staff speech that BBC news was doing ‘an outstanding job delivering impartial output’; hours later, two high-profile presenters were sniggering and sneering like schoolchildren about the idea of a government minister being patriotic by having a Union Jack in his office.

That said, was there anything in Davie’s speech which gave hope that he was intent on improving BBC output and had the vision and drive to deliver it?

Don’t bank on it. The first half of his message was marked by smug complacency. According to the director general, BBC news is brilliant, programmes are spectacularly good, and audiences are soaring.

He evidenced this by quoting a raft of disconnected figures: BBC overall audience reach is 90 per cent; BBC news reaches 86 per cent (up from 81 per cent a year ago); overall BBC viewing is up 8 per cent in both January and February.

Davie carefully avoided quoting other audience research, for example showing that the BBC’s Christmas television audiences were at an all-time low (and reached less than 10 per cent of the population) despite the lockdown, and that less than half the population don’t trust BBC journalists to tell the truth. 

He did not mention that viewing of BBC television is in steep decline with all BBC services now attracting only a total of 31 per cent audience share. 

Put another way, despite the BBC’s £3.5billion licence fee income – more by miles than any other media company in the UK – its audience share is now only three times that for Sky or Viacom (which owns Channel 5).

Seemingly undaunted by this, Davie said he was cutting jobs to make running of the Corporation more efficient, with 900 fewer people now employed, and bureaucracy ‘stripped away’. Paperwork, he claimed, had been cut by over 30 per cent.

Another trumpeted step forward is in ‘diversity’. Despite his claim of reduced paperwork and less bureaucracy, Mr Davie said that every department now had specific targets to reach employment levels of 50 per cent women, 20 per cent ethnic minority and 12 per cent of mentally or physically disadvantaged individuals.

Also targeted is ‘sustainability’. Davie said the Corporation’s ‘clear and strong’ position on this is that ‘a 2030 net-zero target’ has now been set. What this means is as clear as mud, but almost certainly involves a blizzard of bureaucratic effort. Ditto ‘diversity’.

Davie made a point of adding that ‘the over-75s licence fee policy’ had been ‘implemented professionally’ and was ahead of targets. What he meant, of course, was that despite fierce opposition, the BBC is forcing the age group which contains the most lonely, poor and vulnerable section of the population to pay to receive BBC services and that pensioners are subject to prosecution by the ‘door-to-door salesmen’ who enforce licence fee payment.

The alleged meat of his speech was that over the next six years the corporation will shift its ‘journalistic and creative centre away from London’. This, claimed Davie, will create an ‘economic benefit’ for the regions of £850million, provide a dramatic jobs boost ‘and improve representation on and off screen’.

Looking at the small print – and trying to convert his gobbledygook into something comprehensible – it means that, for example, the Today programme is going to come from outside London at least 100 times a year; Newsbeat will be produced in Birmingham; 60 per cent of programmes will be made outside London; a team of 100 ‘digital journalists’ will be deployed across the UK outside London; and two ‘long-running drama series’ will be made outside London.

Davie claims that this will be ‘the biggest transformation of the BBC in decades’.

Will it? The BBC’s main problem is still that it is riddled with bias, obsessed by ‘woke’ virtue-signalling, and has a complaints process which is risibly stacked in the BBC’s favour, existing to defend the corporation rather than to address the concerns of audiences. The Salford Quays development, which a decade ago was meant to signal a major shift by the corporation away from London bias, is every bit as much a woke media bubble as the London operation.  

In prioritising drives towards ‘diversity’ and ‘sustainability’, and by being disingenuous about the massive fall in audiences and trust,  Davie showed he is not addressing the real problems of the BBC but further encouraging the metro mindset on which it is based.  The Davie ‘transformation’ is little more than crude window-dressing.

 

BBC’s £10million deluge of Leftie propaganda

December 21, 2020

This is the first of an occasional series in which David Keighley delves into the alarming content of a £10million BBC initiative – nearly 600 short videos, many made by the usual Left-wing suspects.

PETER Mullen recently penned a sharply perceptive TCW piece on the corrosive impact of ‘woke’ ideology, in which he highlighted Italian communist Antonio Gramsci’s goal of ‘a long march through the institutions’ to destroy Western civilisation and all it stands for.

The BBC long since succumbed to that process – the stormtroopers were in action from the Sixties onwards, and their flagship programmes such as Play for Today peddled Marxist and anti-establishment ideas from their inception.

An indication that the takeover is nearing completion has been taking shape over the past four years and is called BBC Ideas.

Never heard of it? Neither had we at News-watch until recently. It’s an assemblage of almost 600 short self-contained videos of a few minutes each aimed at ‘curious minds’ and available via the BBC website.

This £10million project  – those who make the videos receive around £1,200 a minute for their labours – is a key part of the corporation’s desperate attempt to win young (18-34) viewers. It was dreamed up by James Purnell, the former Labour culture secretary who was hired by former BBC director general Tony Hall as one of his management lackeys, with the eventual title of Director of BBC Radio and Education before he left in October to continue his propaganda mission as vice-chancellor of the University of the Arts.

BBC Ideas stands as a testimony to his time at the corporation and scrutiny shows the alarming extent to which ‘woke’ ideology has taken root and dominates output.

So what’s the content? When the project was launched in January 2018 Mr Purnell said it would include ‘thought-provoking’, ‘trustworthy’ items not available elsewhere, and would be made with ‘leading institutions’ and ‘original minds’.

Let’s translate that. What he meant was that the BBC was getting into bed with the usual suspects such as the Left-dominated Open University and think tanks to spend millions on a deluge of content which fits the ‘woke’ BBC worldview.

The range of titles is bogglingly confusing. Said Ideas range from burning issues such as whether we are defecating correctly to the hidden meaning of music hall lyrics, and from ‘what quantum physics taught me about queer identity’ to a brief history of the nipple – the latter, of course, a diatribe against sexism.

I have in a drawer a Christmas stocking-filler from eons ago entitled 1,339 Facts to Make Your Jaw Drop, such as ‘a tick is ten times larger after dinner than before’. It feels almost as though the BBC hired the author to curate the Ideas catalogue.

News-watch has transcribed all the videos, and our initial findings are that almost half are distinctly biased and contain open and unchallenged advocacy of ‘woke’ controversial views. For example, Islamist terrorism is the British government’s responsibility, not the individuals who perpetrate it (they are all victims of an uncaring oppressive state); most of the world’s maps are Western and racist because they don’t show the true size of Africa; eliminating the use of fossil fuels is vital and will lead to ‘Newtopia’ with cheap renewable energy for everyone in the world; that social structures and conventions such as marriage are outmoded (as unfashionable as ‘last year’s smartphone’); the goals of Black Lives Matter must be implemented to eliminate racism; socialism is better than other types of social and political structures; meat-eating must be abandoned because cows fart and cause climate change, and life on earth is in serious and imminent danger of being wiped out.

A striking example of the contrived editorial effort to introduce political dimensions to practical subjects is the innocuously titled video ‘Why do we have so much stuff?’ The producer suggests that the fashion industry has ‘impacted’ climate change, and therefore buying new clothes should be frowned upon. No mention, of course, that reducing clothes consumption would put thousands of people in developing countries – the vulnerable poor – out of work.

What of views advocating a more conservative and traditional perspective on the world? You have to search very hard to find them. One features Jordan Peterson compressing his 12 Rules for Life into four minutes, and even that is prefaced with a warning that his views are ‘controversial’. No such warnings are attached to ‘woke’ advocates in the deluge of other videos. Another needle in the haystack is Elizabeth Oldfield of the Theos think tank talking (loosely) about the importance of Christianity, and a Benedictine monk argues that prayer can be comforting. About a dozen others contain mildly conservative points, but that’s it.

Around half the titles we have marked broadly ‘neutral’, mostly because they are on topics which are not at all controversial, such as whether you are tying your shoelaces wrongly.

News-watch is preparing a detailed report on BBC Ideas because in microcosm it indicates the scale of the rot which has overtaken the corporation, and shows starkly that any idea of impartiality has now been abandoned in the pursuit of advocacy of ‘progressive’ ideas. Over the coming weeks, we will be highlighting in further TCW blogs other issues raised by our analysis.

 

BBC bias: An open letter to the new director-general

November 7, 2020

THE BBC’s bias on Brexit has been proven beyond doubt. That is the Telegraph‘s response to News-watch’s latest report on the BBC’s Brexit coverage this week. In the words of Robin Aitken, former BBC producer and author of The Noble Liar (an excoriating and deeply perceptive book about BBC bias) our report shows an overwhelming pro-EU slant in BBC coverage from the close analysis of one random week.

The conclusion we reached, and Aitken concurs with, is that the Corporation is still regarding Brexit through the lens of Project Fear.

The question Aitken raises is whether the new director general of the BBC will take it seriously. Your move, Tim Davie, he says.

As he reports, we are indeed seeking an urgent meeting with Mr Davie to discuss how he intends to meet his pledge to make BBC impartiality a priority. And we are still waiting to hear whether he is prepared to put his money where his mouth is and, unlike his predecessor, accord News-watch the time of day and the respect its long-term independent monitoring of the BBC’s Brexit output deserves.

To encourage him on the path he’s promised, here is our open letter to him in advance of that meeting.

Dear Mr Davie

On September 3, in your first address to staff after taking over as director general, you stated that impartiality – as required by the BBC Charter – would be your main priority. 

You have announced measures which require staff not to post biased remarks or opinions on social media.

That sounds good, and was handled by the gargantuan 350-strong BBC PR machine to achieve maximum impact but, with respect,  BBC bias is not confined to ill-advised tweets – crass as they may be – from John Simpson and Gary Lineker.

Everything from comedy to drama and from the educational content of BBC Bitesize and BBC Ideas is also infected with woke, partisan zeal. 

One indication of the scale of the rot is the latest News-watch report.

Which, as Robin Aitken outlined, shows that despite everything that has happened since the 2016 referendum and the imminent departure from the EU ratified by the 2019 general election, the corporation is still pursuing Project Fear about life outside the EU, and is still swamping EU coverage with the views of  those who oppose Brexit or are pro-EU .

On top of that, not one programme has ever been broadcast by the BBC which explores possible benefits of departure. In sharp contrast, hundreds of hours of programmes have been devoted to climate alarmism and the supposed benefits of electric cars, so called ‘green’ energy and a carbon-free future.

But the reality is that a full audit of the extent of BBC failures of impartiality would take a team of dozens of scribes and analysts working round the clock for years to achieve.

Mr Davie, you are thus faced with a Herculean task in rooting out bias. But as yet, you have given no indication to the outside world – other than instituting the Tweet purge – about how you intend to achieve this.

Many viewers, of course, do not believe that reform is possible, which is why recent surveys show that  the majority no longer want to pay the BBC licence fee and don’t trust BBC news. 

But the current Charter is in place until 2027, and as the agenda for our forthcoming meeting, may I suggest the following urgent action points as a basis for our discussions and instant attention?

Find top-level advisers who are genuinely independent and will give you a perspective other than the stifling wokery which has infected the Corporation at every level.  Put some of them on the internal management board so their views are heeded.

Ditch opinion polls as a way of determining whether BBC output is impartial and get properly in touch with real people out there north of Watford and west of Oxford who will tell you what needs changing.

Institute instead rigorous monitoring of BBC output compiled by independent advisers who are not in the BBC or woke bubble. This will make the constant struggle to be unbiased a properly transparent process.

Scrap the current internal complaints system and put the 350 BBC publicists (combined pay £15million-a-year plus?)  to work instead in scrutinising output to get rid of liberal bias and in ensuring complaints are properly investigated rather than being seen as an intrusion.

Abandon your defence of the BBC licence fee and the outmoded notion of universal provision and start planning now for major change to reflect changes in the media environment. It’s only when the  Corporation has to fight in the marketplace for audiences that it will become fully responsive to audience needs and preferences, and it will be all the better for it.

Make genuine ‘diversity’ an important internal and output goal without the BBC being an overt arm of the woke ‘racism’ agenda and a fanatical tick-box exercise.

Scrap in its present form the lavish BBC Academy and relaunch it as the bastion of rigorous professional integrity and training to ensure that audiences across the whole of the UK are properly served.

Inject new life into the programme-making process by ditching tired formats such as Question Time and Newsnight – both around 40 years old – and replace them with new offerings which genuinely incorporate diversity of views.

Tell those who write for the BBC that they are not on a mission to convert the audience into woke-infected zombies but rather to stimulate them with challenging, fresh material containing a variety of perspectives and views.

At every level, celebrate British history and culture rather than preaching the message that we are a nation who should be ashamed of our past, and are tarred with blood-guilt. End once and for all the Biased Broadcasting Corporation and make the first ‘B’ stand for British in the full sense of the word.

 

What price liberty now, Mr Raab?

September 24, 2020

FOREIGN Secretary Dominic Raab holds the second most powerful office of state and is de facto deputy prime minister. In his ten-year parliamentary career he has enjoyed a dizzying rise to power.

He cut his spurs as a human rights lawyer and was shadow home secretary David Davis’s chief of staff before becoming an MP in the 2010 general election.

Just before then, as a parliamentary candidate in 2009, he wrote a full-scale onslaught against the track record of New Labour called The Assault on Liberty

He declared: ‘The British idea of liberty, developed over 800 years . . . has been both corroded and conflated. It has been corroded by the government’s direct assault on our fundamental freedoms, including freedom of speech, the presumption of innocence and freedom from arbitrary police detention.’

He added that ‘since 1997 . . . the government has hyperactively produced more legislation than all the governments in our history combined, accumulating a vast arsenal of new legal powers and creating more than 3,000 new legal offences. As the power of the state has grown, so has the scope for abuse, whether by police officers operating under ever-increasing pressure, invisible civil servants concealed within grey bureaucracies or over-zealous council officials relishing their windfall of extended authority over residents.

‘As our liberal democracy becomes less liberal, the government is inflicting lasting damage on the very bedrock of what it means to be British – undermining the fundamental freedoms we enjoy as citizens, our sense of fair play as a society and balances that restrain the state’s ability to interfere in our daily lives.’

Yesterday on Sky News, discussing the latest interferences in our basic liberties announced by Boris Johnson without parliamentary approval under delegated powers on the pretext that he is dealing with an alleged second wave of Covid-19 cases, Mr Raab declared: ‘We’ve always said we have got a sort of repository of measures in the arsenal to take. I don’t think we should speculate about what further could be done. But the reality is they will be more intrusive and we could end up with a national lockdown.’

As has been noted elsewhere, this could include banning citizens from visiting the homes of others, limit gatherings of almost every kind to six, compel pubs and restaurants to close at 10pm (even though government scientists think it will make little difference), a renewed drive to keep people working from home, the possibility of the Army being drafted in to deal with those who infringe new lockdown laws, and the creation of a national army of informants to snitch on those who break these laws.

What price now that 800-year-old British idea of liberty, Mr Raab?

 

Is new BBC boss Tim Davie a genuine reformer?

September 7, 2020

THE regime of the new BBC-director general took off at apparent breakneck speed from September 1. In Tim Davie’s first three days in office, he reversed the decision not to include the sung version of Rule, Britannia in the Last Night of the Proms; said he was going to ensure BBC output was scrupulously impartial; claimed that management and staffing of the corporation were to be slimmed down and made more sharply efficient; axed former Labour minister James Purnell, who, under Tony Hall,  had improbably become the corporation’s director of radio and education, from the BBC’s executive committee; warned presenters to stop tweeting and posting political opinions; and declared that BBC colonisation of the airwaves through the development of new channels was over.

Not so fast.  Is his agenda really radical? Or PR hype?

The answer lies in the small print – and, more tellingly, in what he did not say – in his address to staff at lunchtime on Thursday at BBC Cardiff, now housed in a spanking new £100million Welsh headquarters building.    

One immediate point is that his headline-grabbing decision to change the format of the Last Night of the Proms next Saturday was no big deal.  A choir was already due to perform in the Royal Albert Hall and was going to sing You’ll Never Walk Alone.  Of concern – showing perhaps that nothing much has yet changed at the corporation – is the wording of the BBC press statement about the decision. It’s an exercise in PR guff and obfuscation which casts what had clearly been a woke decision to axe patriotic songs as being determined by creative considerations. 

Perhaps Mr Davie’s biggest pledge is to restore BBC impartiality. That he has to say this at all – given that it is a core Charter requirement – shows the extent of the decline of the corporation.

Here, the crash-bang announcement was that Emily Maitlis and the army of BBC presenters who believe their legitimate goal is to change the world according to the rubric of the woke instruction manual rather than to report it, are going to be muzzled and prevented from posting incontinently on social media and Twitter. If true, that’s a welcome development, even if it comes well after the horse has bolted.

But will even this relatively straightforward intention work out? Already, there are reports that Gary Lineker, the £1.7million-a-year lead presenter of BBC football, has shown he doesn’t give a hoot what Tim Davie thinks. On Friday, he launched a political advocacy video pushing the need for open UK borders which suggests that we would not have fish and chips if mass immigration not been in full flow throughout the centuries.

And what of restoring impartiality in a more general sense? Here, Mr Davie has the biggest mountain to climb. The rot set in decades ago with the BBC’s pathological hatred of Margaret Thatcher yielding programmes such as the Panorama edition ‘Maggie’s Militant Tendency’ and reaching its zenith under the recently-retired Lord Hall of Birkenhead.

He never tired of telling us his BBC was free from bias while shutting down whole rafts of national debate over issues such as climate change and swearing blind that Brexit coverage was balanced when patently it was not.

The problem with BBC bias, of course, is that it is not just in news and current affairs programmes. It totally saturates output. Dramas are now made primarily to preach political points and to reflect diversity targets. Doctor Who, according to BBC director of content Charlotte Moore is ‘inspirational’. Why? Because it’s cracking good drama? Of course not! It’s because it has a female in the main role. The fulcrum of most BBC comedy is ridicule of Donald Trump. Nature programmes such as Springwatch have become, in effect, Extinction Rebellion propaganda manuals. So-called science documentaries are commissioned and constructed to make political points, and history programmes are a sustained exercise in attacking the United Kingdom and its achievements while simultaneously pushing a globalist agenda.

So what is Mr Davie going to do about this avalanche of bias and distortion? This was largely absent from his speech last week, apart from the headline-catching assault on tweeting. He said he was ‘committed’ to it, and said vaguely that there would be a re-casting of internal editorial guidelines and some ‘training’.

That’s like using a toffee hammer to demolish a house. There are no new internal measures for reviewing and policing output, and nothing about bringing independent scrutiny to challenge the decisions and judgments made by BBC staff. And David Jordan, the BBC director of editorial standards, who some credit with offering a smidgeon of ballast against the relentless tide of wokeness under Lord Hall, has been axed from the Tim Davie executive committee, while June Sarpong, the Lord Hall-promoted director of diversity, remains.

Mr Davie was virtually silent about how to restore impartiality, but, by contrast, not so on ‘diversity’. That, he said, was a top priority in every editorial meeting and every future staff appointment, in steps towards creating BBC staffing which is 20 per cent black and ethnic minority, compared with 13 per cent in the population as a whole.

And what of the licence fee? On that subject, not a peep, even though polls have suggested that 60 per cent of the UK population oppose it and view it as an anachronism in the world of Sky Q, Netflix and Amazon Prime.

That’s an astonishing omission, given the pressure now building to abolish it, especially as Mr Davie also declared that he is opposed to a shift to subscription financing. We will be watching to see if the promises of Mr Davie’s first few days turn into action.

 

Lord Hall’s BBC legacy of shame

August 31, 2020

TONY Hall’s reign as director-general of the BBC comes to an end at midnight tonight with his successor, corporation insider Tim Davie, immediately in charge.

Lord Hall of Birkenhead took his post on November 22, 2012, at the height of the corporation’s agonies over the Jimmy Savile and Lord McAlpine scandals, which showed the depths to which BBC journalism had sunk.

Last Monday, Lord Hall made a final address to staff in which he claimed he was leaving with the corporation in rude health (though of course, as always, needing more money) and on track to double its worldwide audience to one billion within the next decade.

The real story of his tenure is very different. Under his regime, the BBC has become a campaigning political organisation, especially with regard to Brexit, which the corporation fought with every sinew and continues to do so; with ‘cultural diversity’, on which it is now spending at least £100million to appease factions such as Black Lives Matter and to achieve staffing and programme quotas which discriminate in favour of ethnic minorities, and with so-called climate change, where corporation journalists have long since abandoned balanced reporting and showed favouritism to law-breaking, alarmist groups such as Extinction Rebellion and Greenpeace.

Hall’s final weeks in office exposed the true nature of his massively divisive agenda, as well as his brass-necked disregard of alternative views:

With consummate timing, the Times this week commissioned an opinion poll from You Gov about attitudes to the BBC.

It found that 55 per cent do not agree with the Last Night of the Proms decision (with only 21 per cent in agreement). Far more ominously for the corporation, only 20 per cent of the 1,646 respondents said the licence fee should remain in its present form, and 57 per cent believe the £157.50 annual fee is not ‘value for money’. Only 35 per cent think it is.

During Lord Hall’s occupancy of the D-G’s chair, a statue of George Orwell was erected outside the Portland Place BBC HQ with the legend ‘If liberty means anything at all, it means the right to tell people what they do not want to hear’. How ironic. Tim Davie has a monumental fight on his hands to reverse the damage wreaked by his predecessor.

In the Bank Holiday Sunday newspapers, it was floated that he, the new Director General, is determined to restore BBC impartiality, and that in any case Sir Robbie Gibb – an ex-BBC senior news executive who became Theresa May’s director of communications  – is planning a new ‘non-woke’ television service which would be a counter-balance to stifling BBC bias.

But don’t hold your breath on either count. It seems that Tim Davie is as wedded to the licence fee as Tony Hall.  As for Sir Robbie? He made it clear in the press coverage of his new television service that one person who won’t be involved is Nigel Farage. That sounds like his BBC instincts – and prejudice – are still very much in place.

Disturbingly, too, at the weekend he also maintained that BBC coverage of the EU referendum was balanced. It most certainly was not, as this report by News-watch conclusively shows https://news-watch.co.uk/radio-1s-newsbeat-october-2016/. The problem remains that those who have been inside the BBC ‘bubble’ can rarely see outside it.

 

Deluded BBC’s mission to mislead

June 9, 2020

NEW BBC director general Tim Davie, who cut his professional teeth marketing Pepsi-Cola, was appointed last week to head a £5billion-a-year media empire with a guaranteed income and a news operation which is the largest of its kind in the world. Here is an early item for his in-tray.

The BBC’s annual plan for 2020/21 – required by Ofcom as part of its policing of the Corporation’s public service remit and published quietly a couple of weeks back – is a chilling exercise in self-delusion. 

It provides further evidence that BBC chiefs are hell-bent on intensifying the use of the Corporation’s out-of-control news machine as a weapon of propaganda.

Taking opportunistic advantage of the lockdown, which rather predictably has generated a surge in media consumption, BBC chiefs trumpet that improved audiences in March and April are proof that its output is a vital part of national life and that continuation of its funding via the licence fee is essential.

The document also bellyaches that its income to spend on public services has dropped in real terms by 24 per cent since 2010 (what happened politically back then, one wonders, which makes that date so significant? Could it have been that Labour was voted out?); that it has been forced to make £800million of savings in the coming year; and that continuing to supply free television licences for the over-75s has cost it another £125million.

The plan runs to 78 pages and requires full reading to appreciate the monumental scale of self-delusion and leveraging of the lockdown to justify its existence and argue implicitly for more funding. This paragraph summarises the self-righteous tone:

‘The role of the BBC is never clearer than at times of national crisis. We provide the public – in great numbers, locally, nationally and internationally – with trusted, impartial news and information they can rely on. We help bring the country together, to share, to understand, to laugh and to commemorate. We examine the big decisions taken by those with responsibility over our lives, explaining the choices and making sense of the challenges. We connect people who are isolated, bringing companionship and a link to the world.’

The document was written in response to Ofcom’s annual review of BBC performance, which was published in October last year and – Ofcom being of the same mindset as the BBC itself – largely gave the Corporation a clean bill of health while, with wearying predictability, demanding that more steps be taken to ensure ‘diversity’.It also asked that more should be done to reach young people – and that editorial complaints must be handled better.

So how has it risen to such challenges?

On complaints, the BBC plan says it will become more transparent. But it does not explain how and at the same time it parrots the usual stonewall defence against those who criticise the Corporation, that opinion polls (self-commissioned, of course) show that it is the most trusted source of news in the UK.

The signs are that in reality, it is business as usual.

Exhibit A  is that, as was reported on TCW,  News-watch submitted a highly detailed five-page complaint about the April 27 edition of Panorama which claimed that the government was killing people by not providing enough  personal protection equipment (PPE) for NHS staff. As Michael St George astutely observed on TCW on June 2, the programme resembled more a Labour Party political broadcast than investigative journalism.

The fulcrum of the News-watch complaint was that that the programme produced no concrete examples of failures of PPE provision by the government, and that in any case PPE supply was the responsibility primarily of the NHS rather than the government.  

The BBC response? That a detailed, specific reply would be a wasteful use of resources.

Greater transparency? Pigs might fly.

Further issues that emerge from the Annual Plan document  will be discussed in future TCW blogs, in particular a deeply sinister plan to convert news into wall-to-wall propaganda-based ‘story-telling’; to extend its so-called ‘Reality Check’ approach to news; and to deluge audiences with a blizzard of ‘climate change’ stories.

 

Panorama’s biased contribution to the BBC’s Project Corona Fear

May 21, 2020

WHEN the BBC turned its investigative big guns towards the handling of the coronavirus lockdown, what did it do?

It projected – via its flagship BBC1 Panorama programme – that there was a massive failure in the distribution and availability of personal protection equipment (PPE) for NHS staff to the extent that many were dying.

Who or what was to blame? NHS bureaucracy or inefficiency? Public Health England zealotry? Nicola Sturgeon’s profligacy in using NHS resources in her strides towards the nanny state? Or simply the sheer complexity of the supposed crisis? Of course not: this was a BBC programme so there could be only one culprit, ‘the government’.

The Panorama allegations, broadcast on April 27, have already attracted a storm of negative coverage, and a trenchant defence from the BBC.

The Guido blog was first off the mark in identifying that six of the ‘experts’ chosen by the programme to give substance to its claims were Labour sympathisers or activists. Further, that this was in flagrant breach of editorial guidelines because the audience was not told that they were biased observers.

Unusually, Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden formally joined the fray. He wrote to Tony Hall, the retiring BBC director general, to warn that Corporation journalists should take greater care to be sure that their output was of the ‘the highest integrity’.

With wearying predictability, the BBC was totally unrepentant. A lengthy press office statement said its allegations of incompetence were based on solid evidence. It asserted that the background of contributors was not relevant because they were health workers who were expressing opinions about operational matters. 

What is the truth? News-watch http://news-watch.co.uk/ has conducted a thorough analysis of the 3,500-word programme transcript. The findings are disturbing, to say the least. The complaint letter, which has been sent to the BBC and Ofcom, can be read in full here. 

The first and major area of concern – not covered in previous criticism of the programme – is that Panorama’s claims were at best flimsy and at worst nonsense:

  • Despite what was said by presenter Richard Bilton, the government was not guilty of inflating the amount of PPE being delivered by double-counting gloves and including hygiene products – the NHS itself does that in its ordering processes;
  • There is no direct evidence that the government ignored an advisory committee recommendation which said surgical gowns should be on the pandemic PPE stockpile because it is not clear what happened to the recommendation after the committee meeting. Its implementation could have been delayed by a range of factors outside the government’s control, or even ignored by NHS chiefs;
  • Equally, there is no evidence that the government deliberately downgraded in February the severity of the threat of Covid-19 as an infectious disease in order to downscale the amount of PPE which would be needed to tackle it. This was a decision taken in conjunction with numerous advisers working in accordance with established NHS procedures, made for clinical reasons. These are transparently explained on the government Covid-19 website. 

Of course, on NHS matters, the buck does ultimately stop in many respects with the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care. But can he micro-manage everything? The News-watch complaint letter points out that NHS has 1.7million employees and a vast management hierarchy, as well as expenditure of at least £130billion a year. In the context of these huge resources, a central responsibility is dealing with health emergencies. The most up-to-date NHS manual on handling a pandemic states:

‘NHS England is responsible for the command, control, communication, coordination and leadership of the NHS in the event of a major incident or emergency. All NHS England staff should be aware of the key aspects of pandemic influenza preparedness and response and be able to identify how they will be involved in a pandemic response.’

In that context, Panorama’s accusations against the government fall at the first hurdle. Put another way, management of the NHS is, of necessity, delegated.

Turning now to the handling of contributor comments in the programme, the BBC press statement claimed that their political views were, in effect, irrelevant. What counted was that they were NHS staff who were scared and had concerns about PPE.

This stretches credulity even further than the ‘government-to-blame’ PPE supply issues. The reality is that the Panorama editorial team chose to edit and publish in what was framed as buttressing ‘evidence’ only the views of people who were critical of the government. If this was not intentionally misleading, it was risibly naive.

There is growing evidence, published copiously on TCW, that the BBC has been running Project Corona Fear and has thus recklessly and dangerously delimited the terms of debate about responses to the pandemic. Those watching BBC programmes would have searched in vain for coverage of whether the lockdown was necessary or should have been shorter, or about the threats to liberty inherent within such a strategy.

In the same vein, the Corporation has sought to set limits to the pandemic debate to suit its ideological position that the NHS is sacrosanct and beyond criticism. This explains every element of this edition of Panorama: in the BBC’s book, only the government could be to blame for PPE problems.

This is not to say that the government should be let off the hook over mistakes they have made in handling the Covid-19 threat. But the chances of the BBC doing a well-founded investigation into the issues that matter are zero. This Panorama programme showed yet again that a broadcaster with probably the largest newsroom in the world can’t be trusted to report anything properly in the public interest.

 

The BBC’s defence of the indefensible

April 3, 2020

THE BBC has issued a robust defence of the licence fee as virtually perfect, and argues that it should continue indefinitely or be replaced by a universal tax on broadband services.

The document responding to the government’s consultation on decriminalising the licence fee states that the BBC is massively loved, that its output is exactly what viewers and listeners want and completely impartial, that change would cripple the media economy, and that any other system of paying for it would cause misery, especially for the poor. 

In another age, a little-known ancestor of the current Director General, Lord Hall of Birkenhead, framed a similarly historic intervention. TCW, taking advantage of the as yet untaxed internet, has brought this dramatic document to light.

Missive to my fellow peers from Lord Hall of Knotty Ash

April 30, anno domini 1833

Chaps,

My chum, the exceedingly honourable – but seriously deluded – Lord Stanley, aided and abetted by that parvenu William Wilberforce, is soon presenting to Parliament the Slavery Abolition Bill. For two decades now we have had to put up with the massive inconvenience of not being able to trade in slaves, but this new measure will be the last straw.

Said Wilberforce, as everyone knows, has been a troublemaker and agitator for more than a decade since he set up his wretched Abolition Society. The people of my realm in Liverpool are deeply apprehensive that he wants free trade and freed labour because without it, their jobs will be at risk and Things Will Never Be The Same Again.

I have every sympathy with his desire for a different system but has he no sense? Everybody knows that the sugar trade is vital to the national economy and that if slavery is ended the whole system of transatlantic trade will collapse. Penury will ensue.

Further, my Lords, abolition will mean that the poor will be deprived of sugar, a product which they love, which keeps them exceedingly happy and nourished.  Much wailing and gnashing of teeth will be caused.

Some foolish members say that it will be possible to continue production in our Colonies, and that the molasses on which it will in future will be based will be every bit as wholesome as that we have now. This is first-grade Atlantic bilge water.

Without slaves in the Caribbean, without the current plantation labour system – which actually benefits the workforce by giving them secure accommodation and access to food and water (they even have some recreation time, I am told) – sugar prices will rocket, standards will plummet  and the End of the World will soon follow. The British people will be deprived of a vital service and bodily nutrition which could never be replicated.

I am, my Lords, your obedient servant

Knotty Ash

– Advertise

 

Trump, Sir Cliff and the skewering of the BBC

March 2, 2020

ACADEMIC David Sedgwick’s new book about the BBC, The Fake News Factory, doesn’t mince words in making clear what he thinks about corporation journalism.

In a phrase: Not a lot. His central thesis is that the BBC has become a blatant propaganda machine for liberal values, and he brings formidable forensic and marshalling skills, as well as lucid writing, to making his case.

Sedgwick has already ploughed the BBC furrow. At the end of 2018, he published BBC: Brainwashing Britain? an equally hard-hitting title in which he traced the origins and development of the corporation’s descent into an all-out bias machine.

His new book is a complementary bang up-to-date topic-by-topic survey of how the BBC’s warped view of the world is being pumped out to its audiences at taxpayers’ expense.

Much of the territory will be familiar to readers of TCW, but the range of his canvas, combined with a strong command of facts and detail, make this a very rewarding volume.

His main chapters include how the BBC opposed Brexit with every sinew; its sinister reluctance to investigate the grooming gangs of Rotherham and Telford; coverage of the cash-for-questions affair in which the MP Neil Hamilton was relentlessly and disproportionately pursued and smeared: the Cliff Richard witch-hunt;  the maligning of Victor Orban’s Hungary for daring to try to limit immigration and embrace Christian values; the extraordinary efforts to paint President Trump as a Kremlin puppet, and the operation of the so-called ‘reality check’ unit, which in true Orwellian Newspeak-style has become one of the key lines of attack by the BBC on ideas and people it does not like, using its own fakery as the main assault weapon.

His coup de grâce and final chapter is the BBC’s handling of a complaint he submitted about an element of the coverage of Donald Trump’s state visit to London in June last year. It is widely known, of course, that the BBC Complaints Unit is not fit for purpose, as is chronicled in detail here.

The beauty of Sedgwick’s complaint, however, was its simplicity.

A review should not be a spoiler, so it’s enough to say here that all the BBC Complaints Unit had to do in response was to provide a simple piece of evidence that BBC2 Newsnight presenter Emily Maitlis had not set out to malign President Trump during the visit.

Did they do so? In a word, no – but they deployed every trick in the book to obfuscate and delay, flagrantly breaking their own rules in doing so. Then – at long length – the corporation risibly claimed that proof was not needed because Ms Maitlis was being ‘ironic’, before doing a double back somersault and turning to the pages of an obscure magazine for their defence.

Some of the most telling points in the book are in the chapter about the BBC’s vicious, incontinent pursuit of Sir Cliff Richard. The story has been frequently told: that in the summer of 2014, the corporation was so filled with glee at the prospect of naming Sir Cliff as a child abuser that it threw all semblance of journalistic fairness to the winds, and ended up paying out more than £1million of taxpayer money in damages to the popular entertainer.

In Sedgwick’s hands, the sorry saga becomes riveting anew. He brings into sharp focus especially how clearly Mr Justice Mann, who heard the case, did not trust the BBC personnel who gave evidence. In any other organisation, the shower who racked up a £1million bill for damages would be swiftly fired; not so at the BBC, and Dan Johnson, the reporter who arguably did most to damage Sir Cliff’s reputation and breach his privacy, has been promoted.

This book should become cornerstone evidence in the review of corporation funding that was launched last month. It also deserves to be widely read, but there is a danger that it won’t be. Publishers are virtually to a man and woman of the same mindset as the BBC, and none of the big names will commission or touch such content. David has therefore published it himself, so distribution and supportive PR effort is limited. On top of that, Amazon – these days essential in launching a book – mysteriously failed to send out review copies and have now also (David tells me) wiped his author page (though the book itself is still available).

The frustration here is that the ‘Right’ is handicapped and often deliberately thwarted in pushing out ideas such as these that deserve to be read by a mass audience, while figures such as George Soros and those who supported Gina Miller spend billions in pushing cultural Marxism and the globalist agenda, and are often supported in their efforts by the liberal-infected arms of the state, including the judiciary and Ofcom.

 

BBC licence fee ‘overhaul’ is a damp squib

February 5, 2020

THE opening days of 2020 have brought into sharp relief the rot at the heart of the BBC. Typical, as Craig Byers outlined on TCW, was the ‘comedian’ Nish Kumar, in a programme for Brexit day, pouring hatred on Brexit and British values.

The commentator and academic David Sedgwick turned the screw further by publishing The Fake News Factory: Tales from BBC-land, a book which shows in impressive detail the degree to which, across its entire output,  the Corporation has become a propagandist for the liberal-Left and cultural Marxism, and that its complaints system – the only channel of accountability – is a sick joke.

Former senior BBC political programmes producer and Downing Street spin supremo Sir Robbie Gibb penned an excoriating assault in which he asserted that the Today programme’s coverage of the general election was a ‘masterclass’ in bias. 

These attacks came among rumblings that Boris Johnson is so dissatisfied with the Corporation that he is planning a major overhaul, including a review of funding.

Culture Secretary Baroness Morgan has now revealed what seems to be the first stage of that process, a public consultation over the licence fee. This sounds like a positive step towards making the Corporation more accountable to its audiences.

But do not hold your breath. In an article for the Daily Mail today, Baroness Morgan reveals that this forced fee on television watching is likely to remain. The only change would be that non-payment becomes a civil rather than a criminal offence. So the millions of Britons who do not want to listen to BBC bias will still have to pay for it.

Baroness Morgan also bends over backwards in her article to explain that she believes that the BBC – despite its relentless bias – is ‘a beacon of British values and world-class entertainment’. In which parallel universe does she live?

The Tories have been here before. Former culture secretary John Whittingdale – far more radical in his outlook than Baroness Morgan – claimed when he began consultations over Charter renewal in 2015 that financing and governance would be overhauled. His changes ended up a dog’s dinner with the licence fee still in place, a completely unresponsive complaints system, and governance in the hands of a management board even more supportive of BBC management than its predecessor, the BBC Trust.

The truth is that until someone in power focuses on the real rot in BBC governance and sets out seriously to root it out, nothing will change, and BBC bias will continue to spew out of every orifice, including its relentless Twitter feeds and podcasts.

 

Greenpeace and the annexing of BBC news

January 27, 2020

THE BBC runs – at our expense – probably the largest and best-resourced newsroom in the world.

So how is it using its journalistic muscle? Its latest ruse is to go into partnership with . . . Greenpeace.

The target of this initiative – evidenced here – seems to be to interfere with the operations of the government agency UK Export Finance (UKEF), which helps facilitate financial support from banks and other sources for British companies which win contracts overseas.

UKEF is already heavily hamstrung by green ideology. For example it is supporting unprofitable solar power but will not touch coal, the electricity generated from which has helped halve poverty in India within a decade. 

For Greenpeace, though, such restrictions are obviously not good enough, and now it is trying to stop any investment in any project that generates ‘carbon’.

Enter the BBC. Its programme Newsnight has combined with Greenpeace Unearthed in a ‘special investigation’.

What is Greenpeace Unearthed? It is a clearly well-resourced operation with ten journalists who go undercover in recycling centres. It is demanding massive spending on ‘the environment’, attacking fossil fuels in every way it can and trying to stop countries such as Mongolia developing mining.

The first story to emanate from the linkage appeared on the BBC website this week.

In hugely condemnatory tones, it explains how – shock horror! – UKEF is helping bankroll fossil fuel projects related to natural gas and oil which, it is claimed, could generate as much ‘carbon’ as a country such as Portugal.

The article confirms that the partnership exists, but does not provide any further detail. A little digging, however, reveals that this is a very cosy relationship. Two of those who work for Greenpeace Unearthed are former BBC employees. Its leader is Damian Kahya, who was a BBC business reporter and foreign correspondent – and trained in journalism at Cardiff University media department, which is supported by the BBC – and another staffer is Emma Howard, who worked on programmes such as BBC Radio 1 Newsbeat and BBC1 Breakfast Time before seeing the green light.

No doubt the BBC will claim that there is nothing at all irregular in whatever arrangement it has struck here. In the BBC’s estimation, climate alarmism is proven beyond doubt. But Greenpeace is an organisation which sees law-breaking in the pursuit of its goals as justified, if not irrelevant. 

And despite what the BBC believes, there is no certainty in climate science and no agreement that spending trillions on climate control will reduce global temperatures, or even if such steps are needed in the first place. The BBC is deliberately adopting a partisan approach and amplifying that by helping in Greenpeace activism.

Extinction Rebellion is also considered an extremist organisation in some police quarters and pushed the law to its limits in bringing the capital to a halt during protests last year. According to reports, Gail Bradbrook, the founder of ER, has also been enlisted as a BBC adviser.

What next for the BBC’s environmental ‘journalism’? An official Corporation ‘fact check’  manual on how to force the UK to abandon all use of fossil fuel?

 

Exiting left, Lord Hall of the British Bias Corporation

January 21, 2020

Doing a runner more like it, before he is forced to sort out the BBC, which let’s face it, is very left-wing, when it should be neutral. The licence fee needs to be removed and the whole organisation brought into the 21st century!!’

THAT, verbatim, was the first in the Daily Mail reader responses to the resignation of Tony Hall’s resignation as Director-General of the BBC. In some ways, what more could be said? 

His seven-year reign at the top has confirmed and accelerated the BBC’s slide into relentless liberal-left bias across virtually its entire output, including especially in the massively negative coverage of Brexit and the endless plugging of climate alarmism, culminating last week on the BBC1 News at Ten with a series of lead items which were pure propaganda and could have been pulled from a Greenpeace manual.

The extreme distortion of climate reporting was accompanied throughout Lord Hall’s tenure by a major focus on so-called ‘diversity’ and this has become now one of the corporation’s major obsessions. Its hallmark is that nothing is ever sufficient, with a sustained attack on white, heterosexual  ‘privilege’.

The descent of BBC journalism under his regime was also typified by the disgraceful BBC complicity in the raid by South Yorkshire police into the home of Sir Cliff Richard in August 2014, culminating in a massive legal damages payout to Sir Cliff.

The BBC defended its crass actions to the bitter end, and even tried to make out it was defending an important Press freedom principle. In reality it showed only the corporation’s arrogance.

Lord Hall’s first major task in his role was working towards the renewal of the BBC Charter in 2016. He utilised the BBC’s massive lobbying resources to ensure that the corporation – despite the massive changes under way in broadcasting –survived pretty much intact, and crucially, with no reform of the licence fee tax.

Sadly, no one in the Conservative Party stood up to the corporation. John Whittingdale, the Culture Secretary – like all his predecessors – balked at radical surgery, particularly with regard to the complaints system.

Instead of making it totally independent, he left most of the complaints handling in the BBC’s hands. The only change was handing responsibility for complaints appeals to Ofcom.

But that was never going to solve anything because Ofcom itself suffers from the same liberal mindset as the BBC, and most of its Content Board (which handles complaints appeals) are ex-BBC staff.

The only hope now is that a genuinely reformist new director-general is appointed. Don’t hold your breath. Current culture secretary Nicky Morgan has already paid gushing tributes to Lord Hall. That says it all.

 

It’d take more than scrapping the licence fee to cure the BBC

December 17, 2019

LAST Monday, in the final days of the election campaign, Boris Johnson suggested that the BBC licence fee is under review because it is an anachronism. 

That possibility has been consolidated further by Downing Street since Friday, and took a new turn with claims in the Mail on Sunday that Dominic Cummings has ordered Cabinet ministers not to appear on BBC Radio Four’s Today programme because doing so is pointless.

In addition, former senior BBC news executive Roger Mosey, now master of Selwyn College, Cambridge, tore into the BBC’s election coverage and warned that the licence fee could end unless future journalism better reflected the mood of the country outside London. 

Thus it seems that reform of the BBC is firmly on the new government’s agenda. But to what end?

The reality is that every attempt at BBC reform – stretching back to the Thatcher era, as I wrote here before the 2015 general election – has failed, and each new Charter has made the Corporation more arrogant and entrenched. A prime reflection of this came this weekend with an extraordinary editorial on Radio 4’s The World this Weekend by ‘reality checker’ Chris Morris. He excoriated selected aspects of the Conservative campaign – ‘the party and the leader that was called out on the facts most often’ – and suggested that it left him wondering whether ‘truth matters any more’. At a stroke, he seemingly squashed any idea that the Corporation might be trying to understand its own shortcomings.

The problems with the BBC are deep and systemic, and have infected every aspect of its operations, from tiresomely recasting the children’s favourite Worzel Gummidge as an eco-warrior to business as usual on Weekend Woman’s Hour – namely they ‘discuss the heteronormative, de-colonising the curriculum, and seeing sex as you see your experience of chocolate croissants’.

If Boris Johnson really does want to reform the BBC, something far more radical than a knee-jerk scrapping the licence fee will be required.

 

Jack on the A&E floor is manna from heaven for the BBC

December 10, 2019

THE Daily Mirror, a supporter of Labour since the year dot, yesterday ran a page one lead which claimed that four-year-old Jack, having been diagnosed with pneumonia, had been forced to wait for admission to Leeds General Infirmary on the A&E floor.

In an election period, a red light marked ‘election hype’ or even ‘fake news’ shrieked from every word of the Mirror’s splash.

Boris Johnson was less than sure-footed in his response, and at an election rally later in the day, Jeremy Corbyn and the Labour spin team were in full cry with claims that this was clear evidence that heartless Tories were starving the health service of resources, putting children’s lives at risk.

How did the BBC treat this? As manna from heaven throughout the day.

The coverage culminated with the BBC1 News at 10 opening with a snatch-edit sequence of Boris Johnson seemingly tongue-tied in his response. That segued into a shrill and triumphant-sounding Laura Kuenssberg gleefully claiming that this had been a bad day for the Tories and Boris Johnson, and that it showed the election was ‘not over’.

What is the truth? There are claims that the whole story was fake.

It didn’t take long pic.twitter.com/MdwFlH3BRf

— #Marcher (@MarcherLord1) December 9, 2019

But on the same tweet trail, it looks as if Leeds Infirmary have confirmed that there was a delay in admitting Jack. Their account also shows that, although he was made to wait for around four hours without a bed, he was at all times under surveillance. It seems clear that he was never seriously at risk or forgotten.

NHS hype stories have been a feature of British general elections since 1992 when a desperate Neil Kinnock latched on to a glue-ear patient called Jennifer and, despite strong protests from her parents, made her the subject of a party political broadcast attacking the Tory NHS record.

Against that background, the BBC treatment of this Leeds story was sensationalist – disproportionate to the weight of the facts; amateurish for falling for such hype; and potentially deeply biased because the tone of Ms Kuenssberg’s account was so nakedly partisan and triumphant.

It looks at first blush that the news machine, in cahoots with the openly partisan Mirror and the Labour Party itself, went into overdrive to cause maximum damage to the Tories.

Could that be because also yesterday, Boris Johnson suggested that the BBC licence fee was out of date and could be scrapped? 

Whatever the truth, John Simpson, the BBC’s octogenarian world affairs editor, has taken to his Twitter account to express his forthright views about Tory policy. He says: ‘The licence fee IS the BBC. Scrap it, and the BBC as it has always existed will disappear.  Every opinion poll shows that’s not what the majority of people want.’

The evidence that the BBC has morphed into a campaigning political organisation mounts every day.

 

Ofcom/BBC love-in: The plot thickens

November 7, 2019

MY post earlier this week about Ofcom’s report on the performance of BBC news and current affairs noted links between Cardiff University and the BBC which threw doubts on the credibility of the university’s so-called ‘research’ into BBC programmes. This was a central plank of the Ofcom report and a key ingredient in the BBC’s clean bill of health.

The blog pointed out that Professor Richard Sambrook, in charge of Cardiff’s school of journalism, was a former director of BBC News. It has since emerged that the ties go much deeper. Ian Hargreaves, who is Professor of Digital Economy at Cardiff, was Professor of Journalism there from 1999 to 2010, and before that a former senior BBC news executive. He now sits on the BBC Board of Management (the body which replaced the former Trustees). According to his BBC biography, he is ‘responsible for upholding and protecting the independence of the BBC by acting in the public interest and exercising independent judgement’. 

Further, the BBC is currently moving into a new £100million HQ in Cardiff. Joining it there is the Cardiff University media department – and its students are offered newsroom placements by the BBC. In that overall context, it is hard to see how the Cardiff report for Ofcom can be considered even remotely ‘independent’ or credible.

 

Shock news: BBC-dominated Ofcom backs the BBC

November 5, 2019

THE 2017 BBC Charter bestowed for the first time supervisory regulatory powers on Ofcom, which had previously been in charge of only the independent sector. Its first review of BBC news and current affairs performance shows that this has achieved nothing except to confirm that the broadcasting ‘establishment’ is deeply biased and complacent, and that there is an urgent need to cleanse the Augean stables.

The naive aim – based on recommendations by Sir David Clementi, who subsequently, of course, became BBC chairman – was to create independent scrutiny of complaints and impartiality.

In March 2016, when the Clementi proposals were first published by then culture secretary John Whittingdale, I wrote on TCW:

‘Disaster! The malaise of the BBC is principally that it is run by broadcasting establishment figures with no desire to think radically or independently – and Ofcom is no different. It is a quango, peopled by liberal left quangocrats cast from exactly the same mould as the BBC Trustees . . .

‘Even worse is Sir David’s suggestion that Ofcom becomes the final court of appeal. . . nearly every. . . member of the [content] board has cosy links to the BBC and has spent considerable parts of his or her career in the BBC orbit. Thus, the handling by Ofcom of BBC complaints will not make one iota of difference to the current regime.’

Sadly, the predictions have proved to be spot-on. Recent examples of folk appointed to  Ofcom’s advisory committee for England are:

  • Paula Carter, whose career has been principally at Channel 4 and the BBC;
  • Aaqil Ahmed, the former head of religion ethics at both the BBC and Channel 4, and famed, for example, for mounting a BBC Songs of Praise from the Calais migrants’ camp and claiming that inmates could be likened to Joseph, Mary and Jesus nhttp://isthebbcbiased.blogspot.com/2015/08/songs-of-displeasure.html;
  • Matthew Littleford, who is a trustee for the theatre companies Frantic Assembly and Paines Plough. He was previously a joint managing director of the TV production company Betty, editorial director for digital at BBC Worldwide, controller of UKTV (joint-owned by the BBC), and controller of entertainment for ITV’s digital channels.

Despite the relentless tide of anti-Brexit bias, the Ofcom content board – eight of the 13 members are ex-BBC – has dismissed the vast majority of BBC complaints appeals referred to it with the same cavalier liberal-Left disdain as the BBC itself.

Most strikingly, a meticulously researched complaint about the anti-Brexit bias of BBC1’s Question Time was dismissed on the basis that a single contribution from Theresa May crony Damian Green proved that the ‘hard’ Brexit perspective had been adequately represented in 25 editions. 

Ofcom has now completed at significant expense – it includes a glossy focus group report from PwC – a year-long review of the BBC’s performance in the news and current affairs domain. Is there any sign that its approach to its new responsibilities might be improving?

In a word, no. I will analyse in more detail the huge inconsistencies of the findings in a second blog, but for now, an outstanding feature of this so-called review is that while it was designed to examine impartiality, it has in reality done no such thing.

As well as the PwC report, Ofcom commissioned the School of Media, Journalism and Culture at Cardiff University to undertake content analysis of elements of BBC output. 

That in itself was a biased decision, because Cardiff, as has been demonstrated by News-watch, is deeply biased towards the BBC. For example, its director of journalism is Richard Sambrook, the BBC’s former director of global news. Irrespective of the personnel, Ofcom unbelievably asked the academics to focus mainly on the depth and range of coverage rather than impartiality.

One of their areas of investigation was Brexit. But none of it was about potential bias and its only finding, from a minuscule sample size, was that in terms of range and depth there might not have have been enough speakers from the EU. Given that most of the Remainer Parliament was made up of those who spoke passionately about the need to stay within the EU, this defies belief.

So how did the wise people of Ofcom decide that output was impartial? A main plank was that they had considered 300 complaints about BBC bias in 2018-19 and upheld none of them. Well, that’s okay then. Or maybe – more likely – it confirms the need for an urgent external investigation of Ofcom itself into confirmation bias – the tendency to search for, interpret, favour, and recall information in a way that affirms one’s prior beliefs or hypotheses.

The second main plank of their approach was the PwC report mentioned above. A key element of this was based on 13 interviews and workshops around the country, each attended by a dozen consumers of BBC output. How precisely these were framed is not disclosed – it is assumed by Ofcom that PwC knew what they were doing. But a striking feature of the exercise, at a time when the news agenda was dominated by Brexit, was that those with strong views about the topic were deliberately excluded.

Finally, what were the recommendations of the Ofcom report? News and current affairs is largely tickety-boo – with one major caveat, the ‘D’ word. Wait for it: not enough diversity!

 

BBC censures presenters – but not very much

September 27, 2019

TWO rulings have been made in the past ten days by the BBC’s editorial complaints unit (ECU) against Corporation presenters. Both the offending broadcasts, one an attack on Donald Trump, the other the ‘sneering’ handling of an interview with Rod Liddle about Brexit, took place in July.

This is hold the front page territory. Usually, the unit dismisses everything thrown at it, on grounds which have turned stonewalling into a whole new art form. The nature and extent of this is detailed in this blog dealing with the rejection by the ECU of a complaint from News-watch about the pro-EU, anti-Brexit bias in the BBC Radio 4 Mark Mardell series Brexit: A Love Story?

So who are the two who have earned such exceptional opprobrium? Step forward Emily Maitlis, of BBC2 Newsnight, and Naga Munchetty, a regular BBC1 Breakfast Time presenter.

An immediate observation is that those in the ECU should now watch their backs. Under the Corporation’s separate but over-riding equal opportunities agenda, singling out in quick succession two women in this way could be deemed by internal and external thought police as both sexist and anti-feminist. Labour MP David Lammy has already called the ECU’s decision against Ms Munchetty ‘appalling’, and 150 black broadcasters are demanding that the BBC reverse the ruling on her.

The pair’s transgressions, according to the ECU? Ms Maitlis was ‘too personal’ when she quizzed Sunday Times columnist and former BBC Today editor Rod Liddle about his book on Brexit, The Great Betrayal, suggesting that his views in it were often racist and xenophobic. The full ten-minute interview is on YouTube, and you can read the transcript here. 

In the sequence, Mr Liddle’s fellow guest was Tom Baldwin, the communications director of the People’s Vote campaign.

Ms Munchetty, for her part, had ‘gone beyond’ what editorial guidelines allowed by asserting that Donald Trump’s views were ‘embedded in racism’ when he tweeted that Democrat politicians Ilhan Omar, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ayanna Pressley and Rashida Tlaib should ‘go back home’ to sort out problems there rather than criticising the US. A 40-second extract from the sequence was tweeted by the BBC itself on the day of transmission.

The ‘partly upheld’ ruling added: ‘She went on to comment critically on the possible motive for, and potential consequences of, the President’s words. Judgements of that kind are for the audience to make, and the exchange fell short of due impartiality in that respect.’

Excuse me, if that’s the case, where does virtually all of US correspondent John Sopel’s reporting of Donald Trump stand? His bias is evident in almost every utterance. And what of Roger Harrabin’s almost risible partisanship in the climate change arena?

Miracles sometimes do happen. This might be the start of a whole new chapter in BBC accountability and rigour in enforcing Charter impartiality requirements, a sign that the Corporation is beginning to take action against the blizzard of biased reporting that dominates its coverage of issues such as climate change and Brexit.

But don’t hold your breath. At this stage, the full ECU rulings against the two women are not available; there are only the briefest details on the BBC complaints website.

What’s the point of guilty findings if precise reasons are not given? The BBC is its own judge and jury in the vast majority of complaints, and for that reason, maximum transparency and explanation should be a matter of course so that licence fee-payers can be confident that their concerns are being scrupulously considered.

Further examination of the brief details of the ruling in the Maitlis case in the light of the transcript and video of the exchange with Mr Liddle raises huge concerns.

Point number one is that we are told that Ms Maitlis was said by the unnamed complainant to have been ‘sneering and bullying’ towards Mr Liddle. The ECU does not address this grave core charge at all.

It says simply: ‘The ECU did not agree that it was possible to deduce Emily Maitlis’s view on Brexit from the discussion. It also believed that it was valid to press Mr Liddle on his personal views and noted that he had the opportunity to vigorously defend himself.’ As an action point it adds: ‘The programme has been reminded of the need to ensure rigorous questioning of controversial views does not lead to a perceived lack of impartiality.’

Looking at the interview and checking against the transcript, it’s easy to see why the complainant thought Ms Maitlis was both sneering and bullying. She spoke over Mr Liddle, aggressively interrupted him, relentlessly suggested he was racist and xenophobic and focused the interview in that territory, refused to accept Mr Liddle’s point that some of his barbs in his columns were humorous, allowed fellow guest Mr Baldwin to join in to underline her claims of racism, and throughout reinforced her verbal onslaught with body language which expressed what looked like contempt and was arguably sneering in tone for much of the time.

Her approach was cumulative, but was best typified halfway through the exchange when she asserted in connection with her allegation that Liddle was racist: ‘It’s so consistent, it’s week after week, the bile that you spew up has to be who you are.’

To be fair, towards the end, Ms Maitlis put two adversarial questions to Tom Baldwin, based on the point that holding a second referendum was not democratic. But her tone towards him was strikingly less negative, and she did not follow through with the sort of treatment handed out to Mr Liddle. To be fair again, her questions opened the door for Mr Liddle to attack Mr Baldwin’s approach and to assert that if the second referendum did not back remain, his group would probably press for a third vote.

To sum up, the ECU’s ruling is both disingenuous and an affront to common sense. What it ruled was simply this: ‘It was insufficiently clear that this was not Ms Maitlis’s view of Mr Liddle but that of his critics, and the persistent and personal nature of the criticism risked leaving her open to the charge that she had failed to be even-handed between the two guests.’

Pardon? Her questions, observations, body language and overall handling of the interview can only be described as overtly hostile. This was an outright open attack on Mr Liddle.

The most disgraceful aspects of Ms Maitlis’s handling of the exchange, such as sneeringly calling Mr Liddle a xenophobe – which were the main substance of the complaint – have been glossed over in the outline finding or completely ignored.

Trust in the BBC will only return, if ever, when its complaints procedures become rigorously robust and independent and genuinely tackle the current rampant bias. There is no sea change here. Ms Munchetty and Ms Maitlis behaved in the way they did because the current editorial framework fosters such bias.

 

Revealed: Humphrys’s own catalogue of Brexit bias

September 24, 2019

KATHY Gyngell clearly highlighted on TCW yesterday the hypocrisy of John Humphrys revealed in his forthcoming memoirs, being serialised in the Daily Mail. Today she discusses further evidence of his double standards, this time over the Iraq Dossier affair.

How could he have continued to work on BBC Radio 4’s Today – drawing massive pay from the pockets of the public he professed to serve – with the concerns he says he had about the anti-Brexit bias of the BBC hierarchy and the Corporation’s general liberal left groupthink bias?

Some would call that fraud.

There is another glaring contradiction in his stance. Mr Humphrys declares that he still believes that the BBC is a wonderful institution, is a ‘tremendous and irreplaceable force for good’ and that the country is stronger because it exists.

How does he square such sycophantic hyperbole with his assertion that the flagship BBC programme Today and news output generally is infected with institutional bias? It’s a massive contradiction. Impartiality is a core BBC Charter obligation and his grave allegations are that the Corporation has been in breach of it at least since the EU referendum (as well as at other times, as outlined below).

Digging into the Humphrys archives unearths rafts of similar inconsistencies in his approach and conduct which suggest he has worked for at least the last 20 years in a bubble of what at best can be described as selective vision and hearing.

Much of what Mr Humphrys has put into his book is not new at all. In 2014 perhaps when he started drafting his memoirs? – there was no other obvious peg) and again in 2017 (h/t Is the BBC Biased?), he gave interviews to Radio Times which contained strikingly similar key points: that there was at the Corporation an all-pervading liberal outlook, and that the BBC’s reporting of the desire for EU withdrawal and concerns about high immigration levels had not properly reflected widespread public concern.

Then, as now, he was noticeably vague on detail. He seems to lay most of the blame on ‘bosses’ who were upset by the referendum result. Is his view that they have directly influenced programme content – and if so, who was it who followed their instructions? The Today editor? Presenters? Producers and behind-the-scenes staff?

In 2014, when the first Radio Times piece appeared, News-watch noted this point, and stated in a blog:

‘He doesn’t say in which interview, with which guests or how or when he arrived at the judgment . . . No, this “bias” happened at some undefined, mysterious time in the murky miasmic mists of the Blair era. It evidently made Humphrys queasy and uneasy, but back then, he and his chums above and below him in the BBC hierarchy did nothing at all about it. Now, though, says the great man, the bias is fixed – it’s a matter of regret, but move along there, folks, nothing to see: everything in the BBC garden is tickety-boo.’

News-watch has analysed over the years more than 1,200 EU-related interviews conducted by Mr Humphrys. Analysis in the News-watch reports highlight that his approach to Brexit was shot through with the bias he now seems to blame others for creating.

Two prime examples stand out. In 1999, when a thirty-something Nigel Farage was standing for the first time in the European Parliamentary elections as a Ukip candidate, most of the interview was taken up with suggesting that Ukip was, in effect, a maverick aberration. A News-watch blog observed: 

‘Farage said he simply wanted his country back on an amicable basis, and free trade; Humphrys’s stance was that this was ‘literally unthinkable’. . . . (he) did everything he could to attack the credibility of Ukip and asked nothing about the thinking behind the need for withdrawal. His opening gambit was to observe that it was “funny” (peculiar) and “puzzling” that Ukip was contesting seats in the European Parliament when it wanted to withdraw from the EU.’

Spool forward to the closing days of the EU referendum, and Mr Humphrys filed a highly unusual (in terms of its length) 27-minute Today item on attitudes towards immigration based on visits he made to Keighley in West Yorkshire, Shirebrook in Derbyshire and Hackney, east London. The News-watch analysis concluded:

‘Humphrys’s approach was heavily biased. In his world those who oppose immigration do so . . . from a position of prejudice. He . . . missed out numbers and rate of expansion – the key bedrock of opposition to current levels of immigration. Contributions of those who expressed concerns about immigration came across as shallow and prejudiced, a picture that was made worse by Humphrys’s repeated putting of “racist” claims to them. They had to deny they were racists, and were given only minimal space to advance their fears about numbers.

‘On the other side of the coin, Humphrys heavily stressed the contributions of those who were, in various ways – in their own estimation – victims of prejudice . . . Immigrants he spoke to wanted a better world, and had been thwarted in that quest only by white prejudice.’

All this, coupled with other more detailed analysis in News-watch reports, boils down to the fact that Mr Humphrys is as responsible as everyone else at the Corporation for BBC bias. What he is alleging now will probably generate book sales, but do nothing to sort out the problems he identifies. Those inside the BBC bubble, Mr Humphrys included, are incapable of seeing outside it. And complacency of the type displayed by Mr Humphrys for at least 20 years (the period of News-watch analysis) has blocked any chance of a solution.

Will Mr Humphrys now be thrown to the wolves by the bosses he so clearly despises? No. The Corporation will carry on regardless. As it always does.

 

When will Team Boris wake up to BBC bias?

August 19, 2019

ACCORDING to weekend press reports, Boris Johnson’s director of communications Lee Cain has had a lightbulb moment. He has told Downing Street staff that appearing on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme is a ‘waste of time’.

Well, golly gosh. An old saying about a pikestaff rushes to mind.

In reality, it is hard to believe that the Johnson administration wants to do anything serious to tackle the BBC because the new Culture Secretary is Nicky Morgan. Her reaction when 70 MPs wrote to BBC director-general Tony Hall complaining about BBC Brexit coverage? 

She tweeted:

Theresa May, of course, was not concerned about BBC bias at all. That’s because she and her communications chief Robbie Gibb – a former BBC news executive – knew that the Corporation would assist in every way possible to undermine a clean break departure from the EU. It is reasonable to infer that they were probably not disappointed in the support they received.

News-watch research, contained in six separate surveys, has shown consistently that since the EU referendum in 2016 the Today programme has massively under-reported and misrepresented the withdrawal perspective, and in parallel characterised ‘no deal’ and those who support it as extremists or ‘hardline’.

Perhaps the most egregious example was that in the six months after the vote, the programme’s business news section carried only ten interviews with supporters of Brexit out of a total of 192. The introduction to the survey stated: ‘Between them, the negative guests painted a relentlessly pessimistic picture of gloom, doom and uncertainty, of plunging economic prospects, of a collapse of consumer confidence, rising inflation, a drying up of investment, job freezes, of a drain of jobs from London to mainland Europe, skills shortages because of the ending of free movement, the introduction of tariffs, and endless, complex renegotiation.’

For three years, this has been the hallmark of the BBC’s mindset. Preliminary findings from the latest News-watch survey, covering Today’s coverage of the European elections in April and May, show that as the May administration collapsed there was a doubling down on the BBC’s projection of concentrated Brexit gloom.

There were 487 EU-related speakers, of whom only 76 (15.6 per cent) were from withdrawalists (drawn from the ERG, the Brexit Party, UKIP, or those who had voted Leave in 2016 and were opposed to Theresa May’s ‘deal’). Between them, they spoke 14,000 words, which is only 10.5 per cent of the total of 133,500 spoken by all the EU-related contributors.

Figures, of course, are only part of the story. Perhaps the most striking exchange, illustrating the overall editorial approach, in the survey period was an interview by Nick Robinson with Sir William Cash on April 23. The background was that Nicky Morgan had complained the day before on the programme that she had received death threats because people such as Sir William had written an unhelpful letter to the press about her stance containing words such as ‘capitulation’ and ‘betrayal’.

The transcript of the interview with Sir William has to be seen to be believed. (It follows below.) Nick Robinson adopted a tone reserved by BBC presenters for those whom it regards as especially unsavoury, such as former BNP leader Nick Griffin. In an aggressive barrage of questions, Robinson asserted:

‘. . . what’s at issue here is the language you used, Sir Bill. No, the issue here is the language you use and I want you to address the language you’ve used rather than the argument.’

And inquired:

‘Do you think we’re still at war with Germany, Sir Bill? You refer to “appeasement”, “collaboration”, “surrendering”, “being on our hands and knees to Germany”. Do you think the war is continuing? . . . Why do you use the language of wartime, “appeasement”, “collaboration”, “surrender”, Sir Bill?’

Sir William patiently and politely explained that he had chosen the words because they were appropriate in the context that the EU were being very intransigent and ‘doing everything possible to make it difficult to leave’ on reasonable terms. Robinson was having none of it. Nicky Morgan had been offended and penance was required.

In sharp contrast, the programme’s general approach to the numerous Remain guests who suggested that leaving the EU with ‘no deal’ would be damaging or ‘catastrophic’ was benign acceptance.

Finally, a comparison with BBC’s 2014 European election coverage yields a startling statistic. The percentage of Brexit supporters who appeared in the survey period before the EU referendum was more than in the 2019 equivalent!

In this context, it would be an exciting development if the Johnson government did decide to do something concrete about such overwhelming BBC bias. Can Lee Cain succeed where others have so clearly failed?

Footnote: The News-watch legal application for a judicial review of the BBC’s approach to impartiality has been formally lodged with the BBC and the legal team is awaiting their formal reaction.

Transcript of interview with Sir William Cash, Today programme, April 23, 2019Nick Robinson: ‘A forced and humiliating surrender. Appeasement on bended knee, the Prime Minister is making us crawl on our hands and knees to Germany and France.’ Not my words, the words used by the veteran anti-EU campaigner, Sir Bill Cash, who was condemned on this programme yesterday by fellow Conservative MP Nicky Morgan who, like many MPs who back Remain, has received a series of death threats and blames, in part, the language used in this debate. Sir Bill Cash joins us on the line now, good morning to you.

Sir William Cash: Good morning.

NR: Will Nicky Morgan’s words make you reconsider the words you use?

WC: No, for a very simple reason that considering the anger in the grass roots against what’s been going on and the broken promises that have been made and the fact that I don’t think she’d read my article, in fact I’m pretty certain, because she referred to the article in the Daily Telegraph today, when it was the Sunday Telegraph and didn’t give me the impression that she’d actually read it. But there we are.

NR: (speaking over) But she’s not the only person who’s condemned it. A fellow Conservative MP Alistair Burt said, ‘Does it ever cross your mind what you’re contributing to?’ So does it?

WC: Well, no. And the answer to that is this: that this is actually about the question of our leaving the European Union. We are standing up and I’m certainly standing up and have been consistently for the vote that was cast in the election, in the, in the referendum vote and also democracy itself and the manner in which . . . and this is what my article is actually about, which is about the legality of the extension of time and the broken promises that were associated with that by the Prime Minister and in the . . . in the House of Commons. (words unclear due to speaking over)

NR: (speaking over) Indeed, but what’s at issue here is the language you used, Sir Bill. No, the issue here is the language you use and I want you to address the language you’ve used rather than the argument.

WC: (speaking under) Yeah, okay.

NR: Do you think we’re still at war with Germany, Sir Bill? You refer to ‘appeasement’, ‘collaboration’, ‘surrendering’, ‘being on our hands and knees to Germany.’ Do you think the war is continuing?

WC: No I don’t, I think . . .

NR: (speaking over) So why do you use that language?

WC: As . . . well as, as quite clearly you can gather from looking at the situation as I’ve described it, I’m talking about what is going on now. This is the problem. (fragment of word, or word unclear due to speaking over)

NR: (speaking over) Why do you use the language of wartime, ‘appeasement’, ‘collaboration’, ‘surrender’, Sir Bill?

WC: Words mean what you choose them to mean, Nick, and the reality is that . . .

NR: (interrupting) They’re your words and you chose them, and I’m asking you why you use the language of war to describe a political disagreement.

WC: Well it is actually about a (fragment of word, or word unclear) as the European Scrutiny Committee made clear last year, we are, have been, consistently in these negotiations supplicating the European Union and thereby France and Germany. That is the position as it is now. We made a report, we made it clear, (words unclear due to speaking over)

NR: (speaking over) Are they the enemy, Sir Bill?

WC: What?

NR: Are our nearest neighbours in Europe the enemy, in your view?

WC: They’re not the enemy, but what they are, are people who are being very intransigent and are doing everything possible to make it as difficult as possible for us to leave the European Union on the terms on which we have a right to leave. (words unclear due to speaking over)

NR: (speaking over) But what I notice, that you use very different language now you’re on the radio to the language that you write . . .

WC: (speaking over) No, I . . .

NR: . . . in the article. You used the words, I put it to you again . . .

WC: (speaking over) That’s your interpretation . . .

NR: . . . of war.

WC: . . . of it, Nick. (words unclear due to speaking over)

NR: (speaking over) It’s not my interpretation, it’s a fact. You use the language of war, ‘surrender’, ‘hands and knees’, ‘collaboration’, ‘appeasement’ – why do you use that language?

WC: I’m using the language because it is an accurate description of what is actually being done over the last two, two years in negotiations.

NR: So Theresa May is a traitor to her country, is she?

WC: No, I’ve never said that. What I’m saying is it’s a complete misjudgement. It’s the manner in which the negotiations have been conducted. It’s the manner in which the extension of time has been made. And when I said, in the House of Commons, it was an abject surrender, I meant what I said, because that’s what it was.

NR: So, brief last question if I may, if someone issues a death threat and echoes the language you use, is your view, ‘so be it’?

WC: They certainly, they certainly wouldn’t be justified in doing so. I’m absolutely and totally against all those sort of death threats and anything of the kind. What I do say is that actually we have to express our language in a manner which reflects what’s been going on, and that’s what I did.

 

A vital step towards ending BBC bias

August 2, 2019

WHAT are the chances of stopping BBC bias? Hopefully that prospect is today a good deal nearer.

Making the BBC impartial is the goal of the campaign that’s been running on TCW for the past month, as documented here, here, here and here.

Thanks to the wonderful generosity of hundreds of folk out there – many of them TCW readers – this crowdfunding appeal has so far raised more than £57,000 to help fund a judicial review. That’s almost double the original target of £30,000.

The process of holding the Corporation to account moved a vital step closer yesterday with the submission to the High Court of our application for the review, made possible through this crowdfunding appeal.

The core of the challenge is that the BBC is not taking seriously its Charter public service obligations. This is evidenced by its reliance on opinion polls to verify the integrity of its journalism rather than robust, transparent internal monitoring and an independent complaints procedure.

The papers will be served on the BBC next week, and a formal hearing of the application will take place as soon as court schedules allow, hopefully during the autumn.

The case for the judicial review submitted to the court is, of legal necessity, a magnum opus, running to hundreds of pages. At its core is a ‘statement of facts’ from the QC in the case, explaining the legal grounds for why the Corporation is in breach of its statutory duties.

It is not yet possible to make this very important document public, although it should be soon. In summary, it demonstrates powerfully that on this matter of burning public interest the Corporation is both complacent and unjustifiably obstructive.

The submitted ‘case’ is accompanied by a witness statement and bundle from News-watch which illustrates the extent of BBC bias and omission in coverage primarily of the EU, and shows how the BBC has refused over 20 years, with a brick-wall obstinacy, to consider properly the clear evidence of its bias against the withdrawal case and in favour of the EU, that has been presented to it. This will also be made public as soon as possible.

The timetable is now in the hands of the High Court. It is very much hoped that the judge who considers the application will order a hearing as soon as possible, but we are told it is unlikely that court time will be available before October.

Support on CrowdJustice page from donors has been highly appreciative of the need for our effort:

‘I fully support your campaign to apply for a judicial review of overt and blatant bias in the Corporation’s output. I trust you will be able to produce sound legal arguments.’

‘Ensuring that the BBC is accountable for the inherent bias in its programming is one of the most fundamental aspects of a proper functioning democracy.’

‘Once upon a time, it was a great institution, respected by the nation, and around the world, and one of the pillars of our democracy, but in recent years its employees have acquired a uniform set of beliefs, and increasingly abuse the trust placed in them to proselytise.’

The crowdfunding social media campaign in connection with the review saw a massive spike in not only follower numbers on Twitter, but well over 2million views across the platform. There could not be a better indication of the widespread and huge dissatisfaction with the Corporation.

You can donate to the campaign here.

 

Our legal challenge to the BBC is not for the faint-hearted

July 22, 2019

As the crowdfunding appeal for the Stop the BBC bias campaign gathered pace, David Keighley explained to Briefings for Brexit why a legal challenge to BBC Bias against Brexit was not for the faint-hearted. This article first appeared in Briefings for Brexit on July 15, and is republished by kind permission.

THE BBC, despite its blatant bias – especially in the Brexit domain – is pretty much impervious to complaints. It has made stonewalling a fine art.

It has a complaints system, but it is not independent, and its goal is the rejection of submissions rather than being a genuine conduit of audience concerns. It receives hundreds of thousands of complaints a year, but only a tiny fraction are upheld.

Its current Charter, which came into effect in 2017, supposedly added independence to the complaints process in that it stipulated that Ofcom – the telecoms and independent broadcasting sector regulator – would deal with appeals.

This, however, was never likely to make the corporation more responsive because most members of the Ofcom Content Board, which deals with complaints, have worked for the BBC, and thus it has the same starkly polarised attitudes towards issues such as Brexit. 

This was confirmed by Ofcom’s handling of its first major BBC-rooted complaint – a submission which tracked the composition of 25 BBC 1 Question Time panels and found that 22 of them had more supporters of ‘Remain’ than ‘Leave’. The Content Board rejected the complaint by considering in detail only one of the programmes. The core ruling was that Damian Green, then work and pensions minister, had adequately put the Leave perspective. Well, of course.

Against this background, taking on the BBC in the complaints framework is not for the faint-hearted. Over the years, the corporation has worked out set-piece responses such as ‘we get complaints from both sides, so we must be getting it right’ or ‘your complaint might appear to favour one side of the argument, but you are not taking into account that seven weeks previously we broadcast a balancing item’.

Of course, the responses are slightly subtler than that, but this summarises the basic BBC stonewall approach. Another element which the corporation perennially deploys in its favour is ‘due’ impartiality. This lays down that not every shade of opinion – especially those considered ‘extreme’ – needs to be taken into account when achieving balance. The rules of the ‘due impartiality’ game were defined by the BBC itself in the 2007 Bridcut report and they have been used as a ‘Get Out of Jail Free’ card ever since. 

It is under this framework that those whom the BBC deem to be favouring Brexit have been heavily marginalised. A statistic relevant here from News-watch data is that in 274 hours of monitored BBC EU coverage between 2002 and 2017, only 14 speakers (0.2 per cent of the total) were Left-wing advocates of the UK leaving the EU, despite the existence throughout of a strong Eurosceptic movement within Labour and the trade unions.

News-watch began the task of monitoring the BBC in 1999, and has since published around 40 reports. They can be read here. From the outset, the analysis has been on the basis of accepted academic methodology – that is, setting a data-gathering interval, transcribing the content, establishing a framing code and then proceeding to analysis by using a range of recognised quantitative and qualitative techniques.

This is the only reliable way of generating a true picture of the BBC’s output.

What has been the BBC’s reaction to News-watch reports? Basically, yet more stonewalling. In the corporation’s book, such meticulous work is the ‘wrong kind of complaint’. In 20 years it has responded in detail to only one report. It was a travesty, as is shown here and here.

Not only that, senior corporation figures have lined up to insult the News-watch methodology, dismissing it as crude counting and even claiming that bias cannot be measured in this way. Only BBC editors were properly qualified to do so.

But others do not think the same. Lord Wilson of Dinton, the former Cabinet Secretary, was commissioned by the former BBC Governors in 2004 to mount an inquiry into the BBC’s EU-related coverage. Central to his assessment was the commissioning of content analysis conducted on the same basis as News-watch.

His findings were sharply critical across the board. He was especially scathing of the BBC’s ignorance of its own output and recommended that detailed monitoring of the sort undertaken by News-watch should immediately be put in place. 

In response, the BBC said it would comply. A news editor was appointed to carry out the work. Then everything went quiet. No reports or findings were ever published by the BBC executive.

In 2012 the Commons European Scrutiny Committee, under the chairmanship of veteran Eurosceptic Bill Cash, became concerned that the BBC output was not meeting Charter requirements to be impartial, and sought to establish what procedures were in place to guarantee it.

The BBC was very reluctant to appear before the committee, claiming it compromised its ‘independence’ to be scrutinised in this way. But eventually – as the possibility of an EU referendum becoming part of formal Conservative party policy developed – Tony Hall, the director-general, James Harding, then the news director, and David Jordan, the director of editorial standards, did agree to attend hearings in 2015, with Rona Fairhead, then the BBC chairman, and Richard Ayre, then the BBC trustee charged with overseeing impartiality issues. A summary analysis of the proceedings is here. 

At these hearings it emerged that the commitment to carry out monitoring in response to the Wilson report had been abandoned. The reasons? David Jordan asserted it was too costly, got in the way of journalism, and did not yield helpful results. James Harding maintained that BBC editors knew what they were doing and that impartiality was thus guaranteed.

Mr Ayre, for his part, told the committee that opinion polls among audiences about trust provided external verification that impartiality was being achieved. And James Harding baldy declared that – despite what Wilson had said – internal editorial processes were sufficient to deliver the necessary balance. Put another way, the BBC was once more its own judge and jury in this critically important domain.

Since then, the EU referendum has been held, and two general elections (in 2015 and 2017). The new Charter has also come into effect. The trustees have been abolished and a new management board and complaints process put in place.

And what of EU coverage? News-watch reports since the referendum have shown that James Harding was drastically wrong. The corporation continues to massively under-report the Brexit perspective, and to grossly exaggerate the complexities of ‘no deal’ and, more generally, life for the UK outside the EU.

In parallel, when News-watch reports have been submitted, the senior management have refused to consider them properly, if at all, and have doubled down on their claims that academic methodology is not an appropriate way of measuring bias. They continue to rubbish such analysis as ‘counting’. Ofcom has predictably sided with the BBC in refusing to look properly at such research. 

It is against this background that for more than a year, a new assault on the BBC’s intransigence – and lack of impartiality – has been meticulously planned. The corporation, as the analysis above shows, is arrogantly impermeable. It justifies its blatant partisanship behind the cloak of ‘due’ impartiality and seeks to discredit any analysis other than its own.

So what can be done? Ultimately, the only certain route is drastic reform of the Charter and governance. But that is not going to happen any time soon, so that leaves judicial review. It was Bill Cash who first suggested that this was a possibility. The advice of a top silk was sought and he spotted that as well as delivering impartiality, the BBC must have in place – under its Charter and Public Purposes requirements – robust systems which deliver it.

Letters have been exchanged with the BBC and these have confirmed that the corporation firmly believes that, in line with what was said to the European Scrutiny Committee, its internal editorial processes are sufficient to guarantee properly balanced coverage, and that an annual opinion poll – which in 2017 showed that 50 per cent of those sampled pick the BBC as an ‘impartial’ news source (from a list of 20) – clearly verifies this.

The case being outlined in the judicial review is that only rigorous monitoring of the sort recommended by Lord Wilson and conducted by News-watch can illuminate and ensure impartiality, and that it is a national scandal that an organisation receiving £3.5billion a year in public money cannot see this. And further, that it is utter nonsense to claim that opinion polls of the sort conducted by the BBC verify impartiality. These do not establish what people know empirically, but only what they think.

In this action, I am the claimant as a licence fee payer. The application for the review is due to be filed by the end of the month. Let battle commence!

You can contribute to our appeal for help in meeting the costs of the review here. 

 

Stop BBC Bias Stage One achieved!

July 10, 2019

OUR initial target of £30,000 to meet the minimum costs of the forthcoming judicial review aiming to Stop BBC Bias has been met. We are hugely grateful for your support. Thank you.

At one stage last Friday, as word spread, cash was pouring in at £1,000 an hour. It was both thrilling and gratifying to see that there was this level of support and concern to hold the BBC to account. The messages from donors testified to the range and depth of feeling.

Thanks to all of you who stumped up so generously and promptly, Stage One is achieved. This magnificent response means we can now definitely submit our court application over the next few weeks.

Stage Two is the fight that follows its submission. We still need help to build the war chest to take us all the way through the judicial review and be able to fight anything that the BBC throws at us.

Why, you may ask, did we not set our sights higher in the first place? Well, the rules of the CrowdJustice site are that, when framing your appeal, you have to set a make-or-break target. If you do not meet it, the money is not collected from the donors and you end up with nothing. That is why we came up with quite a cautious ‘guesstimate’, pitched so that the action could definitely go ahead.

It worked.

Now that we have passed the do-or-die obstacle, we move to the next stage which is to prepare as strongly as possible for the fight with the BBC and with as much confidence as possible. They have deep pockets lined by the £3.5billion they get from licence fee-payers every year, but we do not. The BBC can afford a huge legal department, and they have a track record of fighting tooth and nail any challenge in the courts.

This couldn’t be better exemplified than in the Cliff Richard hearing, the report from which was on TCW yesterday. Had Sir Cliff had been poor, he could well have been deterred from going to court at all. We need to be able to match his strength and determination. With the public’s backing we will.

Finally, thank you all once more for your support to date. We’ll keep you posted about our progress.

You can donate here.

 

Your support for our campaign – and fury at the biased BBC

July 8, 2019

SINCE we launched our crowdfunding appeal to hold the BBC to account, your opinions – comments in support of us as well as expressions of anger about the BBC’s arrogance – have come pouring in. Opinions that have not mattered to the BBC.

It is somewhat ironic, then, that part of the case for the judicial review against the BBC is that it relies heavily on opinion polls – published each year as part of the annual report – to ‘verify’ that it impartial. The latest, from 2017 is here. 

Such polls, the Corporation claims, show that 50 per cent of the public say BBC news is their choice if they are looking for an ‘impartial’ news source. But the converse is also true – half the public, all of whom are forced to pay a licence fee if they watch terrestrial television or use the BBC iPlayer, do not opt for the Corporation.

In any case an opinion poll such as this does not verify that the BBC is actually impartial (as required by its Charter), only that some people think it is impartial. Or indeed that is above complaint.

Of course, when the BBC commissions these expensive opinion polls it does not report the strongly negative views about it which donors to our judicial review crowdfunding appeal reflect and have been expressing over the past few days.

They confirm the levels of frustration and anger out there; one even came from a former BBC employee who now says she is ashamed of the current bias. This anger deserves airing. The BBC will not but we will and can. Here is a selection.

Derrick wrote:

The reporting of news at the BBC has become the expression of opinions and the suppression of news. A complete clear-out of the current editorial and production teams is needed to restore the reporting of truth across the board.

Cathy said:

I was once a proud ‘Auntie’ employee and am ashamed of the current bias in reporting.

Tony commented:

The BBC’s agenda-driven bias in its reporting of certain topics is a disgrace. Brexit, climate change, economics, health – you name it, the BBC twists and manipulates rather than offering balanced facts or debate. It is, by far, the most influential player in biasing public opinion.

Others chose not to share their names but still wanted to vent their opinions:

It is partly because of the extreme BBC bias that we failed to leave the EU when we should have; they are undermining democracy.

and

Appalled that the publicly-funded BBC has become a left-wing propaganda machine unashamedly delivering bias in everything from news coverage to drama and comedy.

David commented on Left-wing and Marxist bias:

As an ex-serviceman I have seen the bias of this inappropriately named organisation at first hand. Marxist group-think and anti-British propaganda prevail at every opportunity. That successive governments have not taken action against it is a national disgrace.

Rosemary came back to Brexit:

I am disgusted by the continual Left-wing bias and anti-Brexit stance by the BBC. Best wishes in your fight for impartiality on the part of national broadcaster.

Roger said:

We are told we live in a democracy but in fact we are controlled by the establishment for which the BBC is the campaign organisation and is funded by the licence fee which is the most regressive tax in the UK.

Gillian, like many kind people, wished us luck:

Good luck in regaining a balanced BBC . . . I refuse to watch any BBC station, including Parliament . . . I do not wish to be brainwashed . . . for the compulsory subscription fee to have the freedom to watch television, I wish to be given a balanced view of news and life in general from the state broadcaster.

Peter said:

I am a white man from a humble background. I am a ‘one nation conservative’. The BBC assumes that I therefore know nothing. I have always worked hard, paid my taxes, and have been a senior healthcare professional person for 40 years. The BBC feels that I need educating, as I voted Leave!!!

David said:

For decades the BBC has had worldwide respect and recognition for the truth. The current administration must be taken to task for tarnishing this proud, long-standing reputation.

Kevin said:

I am sick of being forced to fund this broken, biased media conglomerate. My complaints to the BBC have been effectively ignored so time for a legal challenge.

Ian said:

Having spent the last three years trying to undermine the majority by attacking Leave voters as misled, the BBC have singularly devoted hours of coverage to avoiding the elephant in the room i.e. the downsides of our being members. Need I list them?

The last word for now goes to Christopher. He declared:

Brilliant initiative. Five million people not paying the licence fee would make those self-righteous fat cats’ eyes water, but that would be a criminal offence.’

Can you help us reach our target? We are nearly there!

Donate here https://www.crowdjustice.com/case/stopbbcbias/

 

BBC challenge is off to a flying start

July 5, 2019

THE campaign to raise cash to fund a judicial review against the BBC got off yesterday to a flying start with £5,000 – a sixth of the total £30,000 target – pledged in the first five hours.

Many of those who responded to the launch blog on TCW suggested that a better way of challenging the BBC would be simply by not paying the licence fee. They are, of course, entitled to their opinion as well as their right to stop watching television – whether on a TV set or via a computer – but the fact remains that watching terrestrial television without a licence remains a criminal offence, and there is a huge nationwide operation to catch and bring offenders to court.

This is arguably an anachronism, and unjust, but the system was set in concrete for the next decade by George Osborne when the BBC Charter was renewed during 2015-16, despite the massive pressure for change.

Because of the legal framework, many people – though clearly resenting the forced payment of the licence fee – comply with it because they do not want to run the risk of acquiring a criminal record, and it is the point of entry to watching all other channels.

In this context, and in practical terms, a judicial review is one of the best available avenues to challenge the BBC. Although the process is expensive for an individual to bear, the sums involved are relatively modest and open up the chance that well before the next Charter renewal, the BBC will be held to account in a core area of operations, namely its persistent, glaring bias.

The review case is based on a relatively simple premise: that the internal processes of the BBC are not robust, independent or transparent enough to ensure impartiality. The judicial review application will, of course, not guarantee change, but it will require the Corporation to think very hard about this whole domain and to justify their conduct. This is what we need your help in calling them to account this way.

You can donate here. 

 

Help crowdfund to stop BBC bias

July 4, 2019

Act now! A £30,000 crowd-funding appeal is being launched today in an effort to #stopBBCbias. All donations gratefully received! Details of how to contribute are below.

For 20 years – since the European elections of 1999 – News-watch has been monitoring the BBC reporting of EU affairs to analyse whether it is meeting its Charter and Public Purposes requirement to be impartial.

It hasn’t and it isn’t. One survey after another has reached the same damning conclusion.

The reports, which use accepted academic research methodology, have established that the case for withdrawal from the EU has, from the start, been seriously under-represented. One of them, a report published in 2017 detailing the BBC’s coverage of ‘leave’ sympathy on the Left, summarises the extent of the failure; the standout statistic is noted in a ‘results table’ here.

In 274 hours of monitored BBC EU coverage between 2002 and 2017, only 14 speakers (0.2 per cent of the total) were Left-wing advocates for leaving the EU. Yet a strong Eurosceptic movement existed within Labour and the trade unions throughout that period.

There has also been systematic bias by omission in explaining the workings and negativities of the EU.

The BBC has always regarded News-watch’s surveys as unwanted attention to the extent that it has refused to engage with the vast majority of the News-watch reports.

On the very rare occasions it has deigned to offer a formal response to News-watch, it has been a travesty, as this Civitas paper conclusively demonstrates.

After Lord Wilson’s 2005 report into BBC EU coverage, which attacked the Corporation for not conducting proper monitoring and assessment of its output, it did claim to start such internal scrutiny. But no findings were ever published. Then, in 2015, the Corporation abruptly announced that it had abandoned such an approach and now relied on internal editorial processes. 

Since the EU referendum, things have got massively worse. From the moment a palpably shaken David Dimbleby announced the result on that June 2016 morning, the Corporation has seen its duty as vigorously pushing the case for Remain and the EU perspective, while under-representing and often undermining the case to Leave. Exemplifying this is the current projection by BBC staff that ‘no deal’ is a Doomsday option.

At the same time, the BBC complaints procedure remains a brick wall designed to reject complaints and defend its bias rather than to make the Corporation’s journalism properly subject to scrutiny. In parallel, Parliament, which should police such a fundamental failure of the BBC Charter requirements, is so dominated by those who support the EU that it, too, is ineffective.

Enough is enough. That is why a judicial review process is being launched today. The goal is to push the Corporation towards becoming much more robust, transparent and equitable in meeting its fundamental requirement to be impartial.

Such cases are complex because the law is itself hugely complicated. But the action is cleverly pitched by the barristers who have framed it. The focus is not on the thousands of individual cases of bias that News-watch has exposed – that would be a fool’s errand in the courts. They are, though, part of the supporting evidence. Rather, the attack is on the BBC’s internal processes for ensuring impartiality. Put bluntly, they are simply not fit for purpose.

As already stated, News-watch analyses Corporation output by deploying rigorous research techniques accepted worldwide as the benchmark of scrutiny. The BBC does not. Instead, it relies mainly on internal meetings and processes. That in itself is a major issue of concern, because a fundamental of any research is to ensure against contamination through what is called confirmation bias. Those inhabiting an environment which has a particular set of values are oblivious of their bias, and indeed, will defend it to the hilt. In other words, they create a self-reinforcing echo chamber.

The BBC’s failure to exercise proper policing of impartiality does not stop there. It has emerged during exchanges with the BBC over the past year in connection with the case that its second major approach is via opinion polling. Participants are given a list of news providers and asked which they deem the most accurate, trustworthy and impartial. Around 50 per cent opt for the BBC in the impartiality category, and this, says the Corporation, is a key factor in showing that it is impartial.

This is nonsense. Polls do not calibrate anything other than people’s opinions. They do not, and cannot, measure whether the BBC is impartial, only the degree to which people think it is impartial (by comparison with other manifestly partial news outlets).

It boils down to this: on matters of impartiality, the Corporation is its own judge and jury, and has no verification other than the impressions of a sample of its audience.

It is against this background that the judicial review is being launched. It is nothing short of a national scandal that a public corporation which has a protected income of £3.5billion a year from licence-fee payers relies on such flimsy processes to deliver and verify such a crucial element of its Charter requirements.

In order to challenge the BBC in this vital way, a crowd-funding appeal is being launched today to raise £30,000 to cover the legal costs, and to ensure the message is spread as widely as possible. This will lead to a judicial review application being filed at the end of July.

We do hope you will contribute – any donation large or small will be very gratefully received.

You can donate here.

Q and A

What is a judicial review?

It is a legal process allowing the courts to intervene if a public body is not complying with its statutory duties. Our case is the BBC does not police its impartiality rigorously enough – and has no independent verification – and that, as a result, the Corporation has become very biased on many issues, especially its coverage of Brexit.

How much money is needed and why?

Bringing such a court case is expensive, and the BBC has deep pockets. To have the best chance of winning, we need the best legal opinion and representation. Crowdfunding has been chosen because we believe that members of the public are as concerned as we are about BBC bias. The £30,000 being sought now will cover the judicial review application – further funds will be sought towards hearings when they are arranged.

Why should I support this action?

The BBC is a public corporation funded by a compulsory licence fee and enjoys an income of £3.5billion a year. It is required by its Charter to be impartial, but there is abundant evidence that it is not. Further, it has emerged that its internal processes for ensuring impartiality are inadequate, and rely to a large extent on opinion polling, which is not a reliable or appropriate way of measuring bias. The review is thus necessary in the public interest to improve the Corporation’s performance in a very important area of operations.

What is the timetable?

The goal is to submit the application for the review to the Administrative Court by the end of July, before the current legal term ends. A judge will decide the next steps, including when and if a hearing is to be held. These are fast track proceedings, so the hope is that a hearing will be held in October.

Why is David Keighley the claimant?

This is because he is a licence fee-payer with extensive media experience, especially in the monitoring of BBC output. His organisation News-watch has prepared dozens of surveys in this field using rigorous academic analysis. The BBC have largely refused to engage with the findings, and this is one of the main reasons why the judicial review is now being undertaken. His background evidence will be a core component in demonstrating why the BBC’s internal procedures for preventing bias are not adequate.

https://www.crowdjustice.com/case/stopbbcbias/

 

Interview that blew the gaff on the BBC’s Remain mania

May 28, 2019

HOW very predictable. The BBC have never treated Nigel Farage or his core message seriously. During the European elections of 1999, when he was spokesman for the fledgling UKIP, they virtually ignored the party’s plans for withdrawal and gave far more airtime to the pro-Euro Conservative party. In all the years in between, they ignored as much as they could of the Brexit perspective and bracketed it firmly with bigotry, xenophobia and extremism. For example, News-watch surveys show that of 4,275 guests talking about the EU on Radio 4’s Today programme in survey periods between 2005 and 2015, only 132 (3.2 per cent) were supporters of the UK’s withdrawal from the EU.

And so on Sunday night, as the European parliamentary results rolled in, what was the BBC’s focus? Undoubtedly, virtually from the off, it was to discredit pro-Brexit developments in any way possible. The programme rapidly became the Emily Thornberry/Alastair Campbell show, complete with unchallenged allegations from the latter that the Brexit Party was funded by roubles, and from Lady Nugee that those who had voted for Brexit first time would see the error of their ways at a second poll. Both worked flat out to discredit Nigel Farage and rubbish the strength of the pro-Brexit vote.

It quickly became apparent, too, that part of the strategy was that BBC presenters and reporters crudely lumped together the votes for Greens, Liberal Democrats and the nationalist parties, and claimed they were all Remain.

This was poppycock, and at odds with what election results can indicate. For example, pollster Katherine Peacock said on the Today programme on May 3 when discussing the rise in the Liberal Democrat vote in the local elections, which Vince Cable had claimed was a vote for Remain:

‘You know, Vince Cable said that a vote for them is a vote for Remain. But I think it’s much, much more complex than that. And Lib Dems have a tradition of being that protest vote and of running councils and of making gains in local elections and I think that’s what you’ve seen a return to. Whether this actually can be transferred across to the European Elections is quite challenging. I think the issue of identity with political parties is very interesting. You’ve got only 8 per cent of the public who say they very strongly support a political party. Forty per cent say that they very strongly hold their position on Brexit, either Leave or Remain.’

There is no doubt that many of those who voted Liberal Democrat last Thursday were voting for Remain. But political allegiances are not currently as simple or binary as that, and to lump all the votes for one party together in the way the BBC did was highly questionable.

Yesterday morning Nigel Farage appeared on the Today programme. His interviewer was Justin Webb, and it was obvious from the outset that his mission was, as per usual, to attack and seek to discredit the Brexit Party’s success in every way he could, to the point of belligerence. There is a full transcript of the interview at the end of this article.

Mr Webb’s very predictable first point, continuing the overnight BBC theme, was that with ‘a total of 40 per cent of the vote’ Remain had won. Nigel Farage countered that parties who had entered the election supporting Brexit had won 52 per cent of the votes. Undaunted, Mr Webb resumed the attack. He said: ‘What they don’t accept is a no deal Brexit, which they say would be immensely damaging and what a huge number of the British people fear is a no deal Brexit that would damage their jobs. And that is the point that they’re making.’

And there we had it. News-watch research shows that this is what the BBC has been saying in various ways since the referendum took place. Of course, Corporation journalists have a duty to be adversarial when appropriate. But the overall treatment of the Brexit Party went well beyond that, and the negativity was only one way. On the results programme, by contrast, when a Plaid Cymru spokesman claimed at length that the Welsh vote was without doubt a victory for Remain and reversed the referendum vote, no one challenged him.

To be fair, Mr Farage managed to make some telling points of his own, such as that the two-party system served nothing but itself. But the relentless dogs-of-war onslaught continued, with Mr Webb openly laughing and incredulous at the idea of the Brexit Party standing in the next general election with a full manifesto, and then claiming Nigel Farage’s past policies included ‘a liking for President Putin’ – and no doubt in BBC terms the biggest heresy of all – ‘you don’t want the health service’.

In this one interview, all the BBC’s editorial doubts about Brexit, which have been the focus of their EU coverage for the 20 years that News-watch has been monitoring it, came into play. The difference now is that the BBC is seemingly transforming into what looks increasingly like a campaigning organisation with an agenda of its own – and that, as became crystal clear overnight, is to work all-out to discredit the idea of a ‘no deal’ Brexit, no matter how much the people of Britain might want it.

Here is the full interview:

JUSTIN WEBB: Let us turn to Nigel Farage who’s here in the studio, morning to you.

NIGEL FARAGE: Good morning to you.

JW: Nobody won, did they?

NF: Well, I don’t think we did too badly. I mean, the party didn’t even exist six weeks ago. We set it up and, of course, we had no ground campaign, no branches and yet, with a big simple message which is ‘We’ve been badly let down by two parties who’ve broken their promises’, we’ve topped the poll in a fairly dramatic start.

JW: And with a big simple message on the other side, ‘We want to remain’. They actually did better than you, got 40 per cent of the vote you, you and UKIP got 35 between you.

NF: (speaking over) No, no, no, no . . .

JW: So actually, they . . .

NF: (speaking over) No, no, no, no . . .

JW: Let me just put it to you . . .

NF: Hang on a second . . .

JW: They can legitimately, on the other . . .

NF: (speaking over) No.

JW: . . . side of the argument, claim victory this morning.

NF: (speaking over) Of course they can’t, because the Conservative Party position is they support Brexit and us leaving, add the Conservative vote are up. If you go around the country . . . do you know what it is? It’s about 52/48. We’re pretty much where we were three years ago. Things haven’t changed, people haven’t changed their minds. Now, actually, you know, that referendum was won by a clear majority of 1.3million. In a democracy, it’s the majority that wins. The problem we’ve got is that for a democracy to really function properly, you need the loser’s consent. And it’s pretty clear, listening to those clips, that the Remain parties still don’t accept Brexit. So these battles will go on.

JW: What they don’t accept is a ‘no deal’ Brexit, which they say would be immensely damaging and what a huge number of the British people fear is a ‘no deal’ Brexit that would damage their jobs. And that is the point that they’re making.

NF: Yeah well, the point is . . .

JW: (speaking over) And that is the point that these European elections have made to you and your supporters.

NF: Well, we couldn’t have been clearer. You know, the next date is 31 October. That will become as big a day in people’s minds as March 29. And all I can say is this: if we don’t leave on March 31 [sic] then you could can expect to see the Brexit Party’s success last night continue into the next general election.

JW: If a Conservative leader, new Conservative leader, new prime minister, comes to power and says, ‘Okay, we are going to leave on October 31 without a deal.’ And some Conservatives, as seems very likely, say, ‘We can’t support that,’ so there is an election. Will you do a deal with that leader to make sure that that side wins the election?

NF: Well, the first thing I want to say is this: that we’ve got a two-month period now during which there’s going to be this Conservative contest. That’s two of the five months we’ve got left until the leaving date. And I absolutely insist that we do have a mandate to now be part of that team. I want the Brexit Party . . . we’ve got some businessmen and women of considerable experience, quite happy to help the government get ready for 31 October by becoming part of that team . . .

JW: (interrupting) You haven’t got any MPs?

NF: Well, we will actually be in Brussels. You know, that’s where, that’s where . . .

JW: (speaking over) Yeah, but you don’t have any standing in this country to be part of the negotiations, any more than the Lib Dems do.

NF: Well, I don’t know, we’ve just won a national election. I would have thought we do have quite considerable standing. And we’ve also got the right people and the right expertise. So that’s the first thing I would say. The second thing I would say is whatever any Conservative leader says, well why would I believe them? Because we’ve heard it all before, Theresa May telling us 108 times we were leaving on March 29 and we didn’t, so . . .

JW: (speaking over) So hang on a second, even if there’s a manifesto then, say for the sake of argument, Boris Johnson is in charge, there’s a manifesto, he’s, he’s brought down by his own party effectively . . .

NF: (words unclear, speaking under)

JW: . . . there is a general election . . . well no, all these things are . . .

NF: (speaking over) We’re a long way from . . .

JW: . . . entirely possibly.

NF: We’re a long way from that.

JW: And they came to you and said, ‘Let’s do a deal, let’s say “no deal” Brexit, but let’s get it across by doing a deal your party’ are you . . . you’re not ruling it out, are you?

NF: I do not believe that the Conservative Party is even capable of producing a leader through this contest with that kind of clear message. I just don’t think it’s going to happen.

JW: But if they do, if they do, and a lot of Conservatives not only think that it’s possible, but think that is likely, and want it to happen, a lot of Conservative members . . . members. What they want to know from you is what then is the electoral setup going into that . . .

NF: (interrupting) If I see a Conservative manifesto at the end of this year, with an autumn election that says absolutely, unequivocally and clearly, ‘We are leaving the European Union with or without a deal and we mean it’, I’d be delighted to see it, but, but again, would they (words unclear due to speaking over)

JW: (speaking over) And, and . . .

NF: But they, but they . . .

JW: (speaking over) No, but you, hang on a second . . .

NF: (words unclear)

JW: (speaking over) No, excuse me, because you were (words unclear due to speaking over)

NF: (speaking over) In 2017 . . .

JW: . . . almost getting there . . .

NF: (speaking over) In 2017 . . .

JW: . . . but then you didn’t tell us what you were going to (word unclear due to speaking over)

NF: (speaking over) In 2017, the Conservatives told us we would be leaving on March 29 with or without a deal, I wouldn’t, I wouldn’t . . .

JW: (speaking over) And if they tell you now, at the end of October, what do you do?

NF: I wouldn’t believe them.

JW: What, you’d simply, you’d simply blank them and stand against them?

NF: Firstly, it isn’t going to happen. I don’t think you . . . I mean, we’re not going to get a Conservative leader with that degree of clarity. And secondly, I wouldn’t believe them. How could I, with the track record of the last couple of years?

JW: But, but what you’re doing then is (laughs) suggesting to the country that you are going to stand as a political party . . .

NF: Yeah.

JW: . . . with a whole gamut of policies . . .

NF: Yeah.

JW: . . . and recently, on The Andrew Marr Show, when you were reminded of what those previous policies were, that you’ve held, you didn’t much like it. You are going to have to turn yourself into a full-scale political party?

NF: It’s a heck of a job. You know we’ve done amazing things in six weeks. I’m not pretending that to set up the infrastructure to fight 650 seats, perhaps for an October election is easy, but that, that work . . .

JW: (speaking over) But you’re intending to do it?

NF: . . . that work starts (words unclear due to speaking over ‘this afternoon’?)

JW: (speaking over) With a full manifesto?

NF: Absolutely. (words unclear due to speaking over)

JW: (speaking over) And we’ll be reminded of your previous liking for President Putin . . .

NF: (words unclear, speaking under)

JW: . . . and you don’t want the health service and all the rest of it . . .

NF: (speaking over) Hang on, they were never policies. I mean, I know the job of media is to close down debate, but those things that were talked about on the Andrew Marr programme . . .

JW: (speaking over) No, I’m opening it up, they’re your policies.

NF: (speaking over) were never, ever policies. But we will, of course, talk about policies, to have a policy platform . . .

JW: (speaking over) Right . . .

NF: . . . no question about that.

JW: (speaking over) Right, you are, you are going to stand in the next election with a full set of . . .

NF: (speaking over) But I’ll tell you what’s also, I’ll tell you what’s also very interesting, all the focus this morning is on the impact we’ve had on the Conservative Party. Just look at what happened to the Labour vote in the north-east of England and in Wales, where for the first time in over 100 years the Labour Party have not won an election in Wales. We’re also taking huge numbers of votes from the Labour Party too.

JW: You are going to challenge those two parties, right across the board . . .

NF: (speaking over) Yes.

JW: . . . and you think you can supplant them or live with them . . .

NF: (speaking over) Well . . .

JW: . . . in, in an election?

NF: I think that the two-party system now serves nothing but itself. I think they’re an obstruction to the modernisation of politics in our country, an obstruction to us moving forwards and yes, we’re going to take them on and I accept it’s a hugely ambitious thing to do, but that is what we’re going to try.

JW: So you’re going to stay in politics, because you had said you’d gone. In fact, you had gone.

NF: Well, I was quite happy to have gone . . .

JW: (speaking over) But you’re not any more.

NF: . . . and had we left the European Union . . .

JW: You are sticking with this for the long term?

NF: Yes, absolutely.

JW: Final thought about Donald Trump who’s coming here soon, are you going to see him?

NF: Well it’s difficult because, you know, whilst I’m a friend of his and I saw him quite recently in America, you know, this is an official state visit. And we know that Number 10 are saying, ‘Please don’t meet that person’, so if I do, it’ll be in private.

 

No escape from the BBC’s propaganda deluge

April 24, 2019

PAUL Homewood has lucidly demonstrated why the BBC1 programme Climate Change – The Facts is an outrage from start to finish against both science and truth, yesterday and in the second part of his critique today.

His analysis confirms yet again that the BBC is deeply biased and locked in a mission to churn out ‘end of the world is nigh’ claptrap on an unchecked industrial scale.

Such programmes, rather than being an honest exploration of the very complex climate science domain, such as in the book Population Bombed! Exploding the Link Between Overpopulation and Climate Change, have become platforms for political campaigners such as David Attenborough to spout Malthusian nonsense. 

In this respect, of course, Attenborough has form as long as your arm. Once he kept his warped ideology to himself, but for the past decade he has become increasingly open, climaxing in his current Netflix series Our Planet in which – as Paul Homewood has also completely debunked on TCW – he claimed that walruses in dramatic footage shot in Siberia were throwing themselves off cliffs because of climate change when, in reality, hungry polar bears were hunting them, or they may even have been scared into leaping their deaths by the programme film crew.

Those who should be preventing Attenborough’s blatant distortions and politicking – the BBC Management Board and Ofcom – are instead complicit in the propaganda deluge. Recent rulings have ensured that those who are engaged in genuine exploration of the science of climate are so rarely heard, thanks to the cooked-up formula of ‘due impartiality’, that they are effectively gagged. 

There is no point in complaining about any element of Climate Change – The Facts because the BBC’s editorial complaints unit and the Ofcom content board have decided that the facts about climate alarmism are settled and are virtually beyond challenge. Orwell’s Ministry of Truth might not yet exist, but are the UK’s broadcasting regulators its forerunners?

 

Entrenched: Fifteen years of BBC bias over Europe

April 18, 2019

ON March 29 last year, one year before non-Brexit day, BBC Radio 4 broadcast a day-long series of programmes called Britain at the Crossroads which the Corporation’s PR hype said was designed to examine the steps towards Brexit.

At its heart was the first of a multi-part series presented by Mark Mardell called Brexit: A Love Story? which purported to give a history of the love-hate relationship between the UK and the EU.

Predictably, it proved very one-sided. There was a deluge of pro-EU/EEC comment – from both presenter and contributors – but much less from those who were anti-EEC/EU. The News-watch survey into the programme, and of the Britain at the Crossroads series, can be accessed here.

A complaint against the blatantly biased approach was duly submitted by News-watch. Robin Hutt, the director of the BBC complaints unit, finally responded (appropriately, perhaps) on April 1.

Mr Hutt relied for his defence on overarching ‘due impartiality’. This allowed him at a stroke to rule out the main findings of the News-watch report. Under this rubbery concept, of course, the BBC is allowed huge flexibility. It argues that most topics are not ‘binary’ but discussed from multiple viewpoints, and it is thus up to BBC editors to decide the degree to which the various perspectives are included.

It’s an all-purpose ‘Get out of Jail Free’ card, allowing the BBC to decide what it likes.

On this basis, Mr Hutt declared in his letter that it was perfectly acceptable for Brexit: A Love Story? to contain a predominance of pre-EU views (in a ratio of 9:4) – indeed that it was ‘inevitable’ – because the programme team had decided that the relationship would be examined through the lens of successive governments. Well, of course.

It did not seem to occur to him that on a day of programming about Brexit, such an approach was grossly partisan. As most of those who voted in Britain chose Brexit, why was the programme angle (as an example of an alternative) not about how Parliament had for 50 years flouted British public opinion against the EU/EEC and continued to do so?

Put another way, why were the main contributors legions of fawning civil servants, along with Tony Blair and Nick Clegg, rather than figures such as Nigel Farage – who spoke a mere 134 words, most of which were taken up by him explaining the correct spelling of his name – or veteran Eurosceptic Sir Bill Cash (who did not appear at all)?

Mr Hutt also argued that the low number of Eurosceptic contributions was defensible, because those who were included were of a high quality and their comments were edited in a way that skilfully and succinctly conveyed their core arguments. He claimed that this was an acceptable ‘editorial technique’: their contributions may have been small in volume, but they were punching above their weight and ‘fairly represented’.

This, too, is a highly dubious defence. The supposed expert selection of such contributions meant that the most prominent included Enoch Powell, Tony Benn, Jimmy Goldsmith and Kelvin MacKenzie. Of course, all these were ‘Eurosceptic’ in their outlook. But were they typical of such opinion? Hardly. This was further evidence of the BBC ’bubble’ – those opposed to the EU were at every stage (and are) immoderate or extreme.

Mr Hutt, it also emerged, does not believe that academic techniques of content analysis of the type used by News-watch can be used to assess bias. It boils down to that, to him, that 9:4 imbalance was totally irrelevant because any attempt at ‘simple quantification’ of BBC content is not helpful. He argues that views about the EU/EEC are not generally ‘binary’ and that in any case, someone who might be classed as ‘pro-EU’ might actually have been making an impartial contribution.

This has now become a standard and fossilised BBC defence. Chief political adviser Ric Bailey made exactly the same stone-wall point on the BBC Newswatch programme which discussed the recent blatant imbalance against pro-Brexit panellists on BBC1 Question Time.

Lord Wilson of Dinton, the former Cabinet Secretary, conducted an inquiry into the BBC’s coverage of the EU in 2004/5 when a referendum about the proposed EU Constitution was being considered. He observed on p5 of the report: 

‘Senior managers appear insufficiently self-critical about standards of impartiality . . . This attitude appears to have filtered through to producers, reporters and presenters in the front line. There is no evidence of any systematic monitoring to ensure that all shades of significant opinion are fairly represented and there is a resistance to accepting external evidence. Leaving decisions to individual programme editors means that if there is bias in the coverage overall, no one in the BBC would know about it.’

Almost 15 years on, Mr Hutt’s letter is clear evidence that nothing has changed.

 

History will damn the BBC over Brexit

April 9, 2019

CHARLES Moore, former editor of the Daily Telegraph, has suggested that those worried about BBC bias should not pay their licence fee or set out to tie the Corporation in administrative knots by reducing the amount they pay. 

His concern follows an appearance on BBC1’s Question Time last week during which he noted that he was the only Leaver on that night’s panel and was thus outnumbered 4:1. 

Sadly, his call won’t make a blind bit of difference. This was shown graphically in presenter Fiona Bruce’s response to his bias claim. Reading from the approved BBC hymn sheet, she claimed: ‘Obviously the Government supports the Leave position, and last week we had three people who take the Leave position and two people who took the Remain position.’

Yes, that is what she actually said and clearly believes. In the world of the BBC, Theresa May and Philip Hammond support Leave. It will take much more than a licence fee strike to counter such obdurate, wrong-headed bias.

Mr Moore also suggests taking legal action against the Corporation for not meeting its Charter requirements regarding impartiality. Of that, there is no question, especially in the attitude towards ’no deal’. The problem in any judicial review will be finding a judge who dares take on the BBC, or has the independent mindset to do so.

When Mr Justice Mann had the temerity to rule that the Corporation flagrantly infringed Cliff Richard’s right to privacy in televising the raid on his home by police on a sordid fishing expedition, the BBC defence machine sprang into action, and ranged salvoes against him which claimed he had assaulted press freedom at a fundamental, liberty-threatening level.

The reality is that the Corporation is impervious to any kind of complaint. It remains its own judge and jury with respect to bias, churning it out relentlessly and on an industrial scale in almost every element of its output.

When the history of the Brexit fiasco is written, to what extent will it analyse the role of the BBC?

 

Biased, bogus and so, so self-satisfied – the voice of the BBC bubble

March 25, 2019

BBC director-general Tony Hall delivered the prestigious Lord Speaker address to peers last week.

His central message? That the BBC – which Lord Hall has run for almost seven years – is totally impartial, is the best news organisation in the world, and that the Corporation is in the vanguard of upholding news values and investigative journalism.

His evidence for his sweeping assertion about impartiality? Zilch. He simply knows that this is the case. In reality, the BBC’s only verification of its lack of bias is self-run opinion polls.

Yet further down in his speech was clear evidence of his bias. From the heart of his BBC bubble, he trotted out a list of the areas where he claimed BBC was pursuing important journalism.

On the menu was not ‘exploring Jeremy Corbyn’s links with Hamas’, ‘making sure the EU referendum vote is upheld against the tyranny of parliament’, or ‘the strengths of Donald Trump’s administration’. Rather, it was a litany of Leftist concerns: ‘climate change’ followed by ‘population growth, migration, energy and sustainability’ and then ‘healthcare’.

Not in themselves loaded words, of course, but translated into the reality of BBC coverage, what he meant was using the Corporation’s lavishly-funded journalistic machine to ram home climate alarmism, tell the British public how racist and xenophobic they are about immigration, to pursue the green energy agenda and to use every opportunity to declare how brilliant the NHS is, and that there are no alternatives.

Lord Hall also trumpeted in his speech the importance of the BBC ‘reality check’ unit against the advance of so-called ‘fake’ news. In reality, News-watch surveys have shown this unit to be highly biased.

Coincidentally, too, on the day of Lord Hall’s speech, the Briefings for Brexit website demonstrated that in its determination to rubbish both Donald Trump and the dangers of accepting food from the US (rather than the beloved EU), the reality check unit seriously misrepresented food poisoning statistics. 

Presenter Chris Morris told Today that more people were affected in the US – suggesting it was because of looser standards across the pond – when the reverse is the case.

Professor David Paton, holder of the chair of Industrial Economics at the University of Nottingham, summed up Morris’s offering thus: ‘The trouble is that virtually every element of Chris Morris’s Reality Check was either flat out false or based on a seriously incompetent use of statistics.’ Ouch!

In the wider context, the BBC is being allowed to get away with such shortcomings in its journalism at least partly because, under the Theresa May administration, there is a continued grave dereliction of duty by parliament in holding the BBC to account.

Mrs May herself has relied on the BBC in furthering her ‘deal’ agenda. Thus she appointed Robbie Gibb, a BBC senior producer, as her main communications aide. Clearly, she thought he had perfect qualifications to meet her objectives. She knew full well that he would take every advantage of the Corporation’s pro-EU and anti-Brexit instincts. News-watch surveys have repeatedly shown that she was not disappointed.

Another factor is that the three culture secretaries to have served under the May regime, the obsequious May apparatchik Karen Bradley, the colourless Matt Hancock and, currently, barrister Jeremy Wright – whose experience of the media before his appointment was conspicuous by its absence – have left the Corporation totally alone.

Were they appointed simply to ensure this? All three campaigned for Remain in 2016, and are now among the most enthusiastic supporters of May’s so-called ‘deal’.

Another matter of concern is the Commons culture select committee. During the first Cameron administration, this was headed by John Whittingdale and he took seriously the need to keep the BBC on its toes.

Now, though, it is chaired by Damian Collins, who is one of the Commons’ most fervent champions of the EU. https://www.conservativehome.com/highlights/2018/10/profile-damian-collins-gung-ho-attacker-of-fake-news-when-committed-by-leavers.html

During his watch, not a finger has been lifted in the domain of BBC impartiality – even though in some areas of coverage, the Corporation has blatantly abandoned all pretence of impartiality, for example by describing those who are sceptical about climate alarmism as ‘deniers’. 

Against this background, Lord Hall knew when he stood up in the House of Lords last week to deliver his speech that he could crow about BBC rectitude virtually without fear of real challenge. That was reflected in almost every word he spoke. This failure to hold the BBC properly to account is of major national concern.

His speech chillingly underlined that, through the Corporation’s reliance on bogus fact-checking, increasing colonisation of local news sources (filling the gap left by the collapse of local newspapers, itself triggered partly by the BBC’s aggressive internet expansion into local news provision), and its strident stance towards demonising ‘fake news’ (in other words, those who disagree with its nakedly leftist worldview), the BBC has an increasing stranglehold over national discourse.

And as things stand, nothing is getting in its way.

 

‘Hardline’ Hoey and the BBC at its slippery worst

March 9, 2019

ONE of the huge frustrations about the BBC is that they have a defence for every complaint, made up according to their own ever-shifting rules, and adjudicated mainly by their own staff.

When David Cameron formally announced that he would hold an EU Referendum, Newsnight reported the development with a programme which included 18 Remainers (one who was said to be a businessman but actually was a Liberal Democrat politician) and just one who wanted Leave.

News-watch complained. The BBC’s response? Months earlier, Newsnight had presented an edition which contained someone who put the case for withdrawal. The programme with blatant 18-1 stacking was thus fine because this was ‘due impartiality’. Of course.

And so it was on Sunday when Labour MP Kate Hoey – unlike most in her party, a firm supporter of implementing the 2016 referendum result – heard in the BBC1 news bulletin that people like her were ‘hardliners’. This, according to the Collins dictionary, equates to being of rigid views which are often ‘extreme’.

Ms Hoey decided to complain and she wrote to Fran Unsworth, the BBC’s director of news. Ms Unsworth was away so Jonathan Munro, head of newsgathering, responded. He wrote:

‘I’m sorry you were unhappy with the scripting of our early evening bulletin on Sunday. We do take great care in our language on Brexit, so I was keen to understand the context of our choice of words in our coverage. The term “hardliner” is in use across the media, including most newspapers, generally to distinguish the views of members of the European Research Group from their Conservative colleagues who support Brexit, but have indicated they are more flexible about the terms the Prime Minister is negotiating.

‘In this case our headline referred to “Tory hardliners” and the introduction to the report made clear the term was being used in the context of the debate over the Northern Ireland backstop. The report itself did not use it.

‘We weren’t accusing you of anything, of course, but I think you are right to remind us that adjectives should be used carefully in our coverage, and that where time permits explanation is preferable to shorthand. I hope this answers your concerns.’

His statement boils down to that it is permissible at the BBC to use a word with ‘extremist’ connotations to describe those who want a clean break from the EU because others use it. But what about accuracy? Is Mr Munro unaware that the most of the newspapers he mentions, including the Daily Mail, have a clearly biased agenda? Many want a second referendum. Others support Theresa May’s so-called ‘deal’ – but many regard that as remaining shackled to EU regulation, and a reneging of the referendum result.

Mr Munro’s defence thus arguably amounts to a political judgment, as does his linked assertion that those in the Conservative party outside the ERG are simply ‘more flexible’. The BBC has a special duty to ensure rigorous impartiality because it receives £3.5billion a year from a tax on the public. Because of that, it has a Charter which requires it. In that context, how how can Mr Munro even begin to believe that simply following the at best lazy and at worst partisan use of language of the MSM is acceptable?

Just as slippery is his assertion that adjectives must be used with care. On one level, it comes as a relief that a public service organisation so cavalier with the use of ‘hardline’ at least thinks this is an important principle. But then comes his proviso: ‘where time permits, explanation is preferable to shorthand’. So does that mean that, in the BBC’s journalism, the use of highly dubious adjectives such as ‘hardline’ is justified by time constraints?

The lazy and perjorative use of language is certainly a defining feature of BBC Brexit coverage. Ms Hoey spelled out this out in more detail in a piece for the inews website. She wrote:

‘The Corporation was warned about its biased use of language about the EU in 2005, when the referendum was first mooted. Lord Wilson of Dinton conducted an independent inquiry into bias claims, which concluded that the BBC was “not succeeding” in being impartial in its coverage of Europe.

‘The BBC promised to do better but the sloppy and loaded approach has become worse since the referendum. First came the phrases “hard” and “soft” Brexit. This painted those who wanted a clean break with Brussels as hard and unyielding, and those who did not as cuddly and reasonable.

‘Another term picked up by BBC journalists to describe leaving the EU was “divorce”. Jean-Claude Juncker frequently refers to the EU as a “family”, and in 2016 began referring to Brexit as a “divorce”. By autumn 2017 a survey by News-Watch, which searches for BBC bias in coverage of the EU, showed BBC presenters and correspondents using “divorce” as the core definition of what Leavers wanted. Not only were Leavers xenophobes – they were now home-wreckers, too. The term “hardline” has been used by BBC journalists to describe President Trump’s immigration policies and a highly divisive wartime Japanese governor. It is clearly not intended as a compliment.

‘News-Watch surveyed the coverage on Radio 4’s Today programme of Parliament’s defeat of the Withdrawal Deal. Only a handful of the 111 contributors were firm supporters of implementing the referendum result. And the main one – Steve Baker, spokesman for the ERG group – was introduced as – surprise! – “hardline”, a term never applied to figures such as David Lammy or Dominic Grieve, who are “hardline” in trying to thwart leaving the EU. The word “Brexiteer” – with its echoes of “mutineer” – is another biased description used routinely by the BBC. The Financial Times manages to use the more neutral “Brexiters” – you’d think a supposedly impartial news organisation would do the same.’

Taking all this together, the email exchange with Ms Hoey speaks volumes about the BBC’s sense of self-righteousness and confirms its relentless support of staying in the EU. That stance has not changed one iota over the decades of the EU debate. The Corporation is so blinkered that those who run it are disturbingly unaware of the bias they peddle. Their hugely negative use of the ‘hardline’ label is astutely chronicled on the Is the BBC Biased? website here.

 

New watchdog turns out to be the BBC’s poodle

February 18, 2019

THE media and telecoms regulator Ofcom has published its depressingly predictable rejection of News-watch’s comprehensively researched complaint about BBC Radio 4’s Brexit bias which we lodged with it in May last year.

In this, its first major ruling on BBC impartiality since it became BBC complaints watchdog under the 2017 BBC Charter, Ofcom starkly rejects any suggestion of bias in the Corporation’s news and current affairs coverage of Brexit.

Played out behind the scenes and with sadly little media attention, this is the latest and highly significant stage in our quest to get the BBC to treat evidence-based complaint of bias seriously and responsibly (as opposed to dismissively). There was some hope of a reformed system and proper accountability when the BBC Trust was replaced by Ofcom as the ‘regulator’. But the total inadequacy of this response reveals a regulator firmly allied with the BBC, and no mechanism existing to call the overweening compulsory taxpayer-funded broadcaster to account. It confirms that on Brexit, as on climate science, Ofcom, far from holding the BBC to account is its champion. The ruling leaves the BBC, as it has been for over 20 years, impervious to complaint. News-watch’s full response can be found here.

According to Ofcom, the BBC’s requirements of ‘due impartiality’ in the Brexit debate were met in the 50 hours of BBC Radio 4 programmes News-watch monitored and analysed. These included 24 editions of the ​Today programme as well as ​Britain at the Crossroads​, a special day-long strand of Brexit-related material.

Ofcom’s programme standards team – which took nine months to consider its response – ruled that because the debate about Brexit in the period involved (autumn 2017 to summer 2018) was no longer ‘binary’ (divided into Leave and Remain, as it had been during the 2016 referendum campaign), there was no requirement to ensure that coverage reflected these viewpoints on an equal basis. It said the debate about Brexit was now ‘a much more complex and nuanced discussion comprising many different viewpoints on the form that the UK’s exit from the EU should take.’

Major problems in Radio 4’s coverage were uncovered by a rigorous scrutiny of every programme transcript, which across three surveys of the BBC output conducted revealed the following dramatic imbalance:

  • Pro-EU and Remain outnumbered figures who wanted a decisive Brexit by ratios of up to 5:1 and never less than 2:1;
  • BBC presenters and correspondents were not neutral in reports and interviews, exaggerating the problems of leaving the EU while ignoring the potential benefits of developing new trade policies and restoring national sovereignty.

By sidestepping the evidence based on internationally-recognised techniques of assessing media content that was supplied to it, Ofcom gives the BBC a clean bill of health despite the abundant evidence to the contrary. Either naive, or disingenuous, it appears to believe that simply to include a range of opinions creates ‘due impartiality’ – an absurd stance at odds with agreed research practice, and for which there is no excuse.

The first report sent to it concerned 24 editions of the Today programme from October 9 to November 4, 2017, a period of unusually high Brexit coverage mainly hinged on the unfolding negotiations.

Bias was evident in the presenters’ pejorative use of language – the word ‘divorce’, for example, was used on average twice during every programme to describe Brexit, in favour of the neutral exit or departure. It was evident in the almost complete absence of participation by ‘ordinary’ people who’d voted Leave, or of UKIP, the only political grouping with substantial electoral backing which supported without reservation the need for a decisive Brexit. Their opportunity to speak comprised just 76 words.

It was evident in the news bulletins. Thirteen items projected major problems in the Brexit arena (including plummeting registration of nurses from across the EU, a Brexit cost to every household of £500, the loss of thousands of jobs in the City of London and claims by Hillary Clinton that the Brexit vote was based on a ‘big lie’). Against this, none featured that was positive.

Finally, it was evident in the selection of guests. Of the 199 speakers in Today’s EU coverage, 102 (51.3 per cent) were broadly pro-EU or were negative about Brexit, against just 54 speakers (27.1 per cent) who were positive, a ratio of 2:1. The remainder were neutral.

Outside the political parties in the House of Commons, only 16 supporters of Brexit or ‘anti’ the EU featured, against 52 from those opposed to Brexit or in favour of the EU – a ratio worse than 3:1 and in terms of the word counts, a ratio of 4:1.

The latter predicted a litany of woe and doom for the UK, including the intractable difficulties of reaching new free trade deals; collapsing farm incomes; exports hit by new red tape, tariffs, customs delays and rising prices; long-term decline; that the cost of dairy exports and imports could soar; and that Brexit was hitting car exports from the UK and so on.

This picture of negativity against Brexit was worsened by comments from BBC correspondents and presenters. Of course, the government’s progress towards negotiations was not smooth, but the BBC’s editorial focus was disproportionately and relentlessly negative, as we found too in our analysis of the third series of the BBC Radio 4 programme Brexit: A Guide for the Perplexed, broadcast on five consecutive days between 19 and 23 February 2018. Each programme, 12 minutes long and presented by the BBC’s EU ‘Reality Check’ reporter Chris Morris, dealt with the projected impact of Brexit on the UK pharmaceuticals sector, food and agriculture, the future of British Overseas Territories, the regions of the UK outside London, and the so-called ‘transitional phase’ after March 2019.

It was not an objective examination of the issues of Brexit but an edited assemblage of contributions which were overwhelmingly biased against Brexit and pro-EU in their outlook. The imbalance in speaker bias was again startling. The ratio of pro-EU to anti-EU speakers in this category was 6:1 and the anti-Brexit to pro-Brexit word count ratio was almost 11 to one.

Bias in broadcasting, of course, is not measured by metrics alone, but transcript analysis confirms that the negativity from these contributors against Brexit was very strong. The overall pessimism was compounded by the comments and opinions of Chris Morris, who himself spoke 49 per cent of the words across the five programmes. Mr Morris amplified the negativity of those gloomy about the impact of Brexit, challenged or cut short those who made positive points, his primary intent seeming to echo a ‘walking the plank’ metaphor introduced in the final programme. Nor did Mr Morris alert his listeners to the clear pro-EU views of his guests or that many had been campaigners for Remain since before the EU Referendum. One, Professor of Law Catherine Barnard, held the Jean Monnet chair at Cambridge, and was thus at least partly paid for by the EU. Thus, BBC ‘Reality Checking’ is a complete misnomer.

On March 29, 2018, BBC Radio 4 broadcast eight separate programmes about Brexit designed to reflect the issues involved one year before the EU departure date. News-watch transcribed and analysed all the programmes. The overall word-count added up to 15,554 from those who broadly favoured Remain against 6,889 from those making contrary points. The Today programme that day – which accounted for one third of the day’s output – exhibited even worse bias, with only eight contributors pro-Brexit against 26 negative towards it, or positive about the EU.

The presenters’ mission seemed to be to highlight every possible snag in the Brexit process, and play down or ignore the opportunities. The sequences which explored the future of the EU were at core in different ways all strongly in favour of the EU. Entirely missing were any commentators calling for drastic reform – or withdrawal – or any who were part of so-called ‘populist’ or ‘Right-wing’ movements from within the EU.

With the exception of one programme, The Brexit Lab, the overall coverage in Britain at the Crossroads was deeply skewed against Brexit. This has been the case in all eight News-watch surveys completed since the EU referendum.

It is a matter of major national concern that the BBC is breaching its Charter requirements towards impartiality in this way. What Ofcom has done has the direst of implications. Yet very few out there in the media or in Parliament seem to care.

 

Welcome to the Fiona Bruce Remainer Show

January 23, 2019

BBC Question Time – like so much of the state broadcaster’s output – is a desperately tired format. It was first aired in 1979 and has remained virtually unaltered since. Does it add positively to political debate in the UK?

Not currently. Brexit is the central issue facing the country – and dominates the questions most weeks – but the panels are made up mostly of Remainers, usually on a 4-1 basis, with highly predictable results.

David Dimbleby, of course, retired in December after 25 years as host, and his position has now been taken up by Fiona Bruce, for two decades a cornerstone of the BBC’s increasing moves towards female dominance.

Has Bruce made a difference to Question Time? These are relatively early days of course, but from the evidence of the first two editions, she has already hijacked the proceedings so that it is less about the audience and much more a vehicle primarily for her to interview the guests.

The upshot? We now have not Question Time, but instead, the Fiona Bruce Show. Her three predecessors – Robin Day, Peter Sissons and Dimbleby – clearly saw their role as chairman and their interventions were usually minimal.

Not so Bruce: from the outset she was champing at the bit to challenge almost every utterance of the panellists. Her approach has already delivered a stick for the Labour Party to beat her.

In week two, she could not resist the opportunity to interrupt Diane Abbott’s legendary watching-paint-dry circumlocution. Now, predictably, the Corbyn menace mob are crying foul, accusing Bruce of anti-Labour bias and even racism. Preposterous as that is in any BBC context, Day & Co would never have fallen into such an elephant trap. But it is a mark of the BBC now that it is so locked in its own bubble of self-righteousness that it cannot see it.

Bruce also took issue in her second programme with Spectator columnist Isabel Oakeshott, last Monday’s token ‘ardent Brexiteer’ (as Bruce introduced her) over how the questions on the programme were chosen. Oakeshott observed that she thought the evening’s main question – which (negotiating) red lines should be scrapped in order to get the approval of Parliament? – was inappropriate because (broadly) people had voted to Leave the EU without qualification.

Immediately Ms Bruce shot back that the question had been ‘chosen by the audience’. Yes, the programme’s questions are submitted by the audience, but they are not then selected randomly – the programme editors choose the ones that will actually be asked. Strikingly, none that made it to air last Monday asked why ‘No Deal’ might be the best option for the UK, a viewpoint which was clearly strongly supported by audience members, because when Oakeshott snatched a few moments to float the possibility, she received a rousing cheer – arguably one of the loudest ever on the programme.

Instead, the core question posed gave government pro-May spokesman Rory Stewart ample opportunity to patronise Leave voters by saying their main concern was immigration, and claim that everything but free movement could be compromised: Kirsty Blackman of the SNP to say for the millionth time on behalf of her party that they wanted Remain; Diane Abbott to drone on about Labour’s six tests (a recipe for Remain under a subtle-as-a-brick disguise); and EU ‘expert’ Anand Menon to say that ‘no deal’ would be an unqualified catastrophe.

Perhaps in the BBC’s and Bruce’s impartiality universe, that made for a balanced programme, but the reality was that the bulk of the running time was about how Brexit will be diluted to please Parliament, and in that torrent of negativity, Oakeshott had just six minutes of airtime. Those who wanted a heavily compromised Brexit spoke for 35 minutes.

The reality was that this edition of Question Time was heavily stacked against the Leave perspective by the choice of questions. Its new chair – incredibly – believed otherwise.

 

The BBC’s brazen operation to ramp up no-deal paranoia

January 15, 2019WHATEVER happens in the Brexit vote today, one element is for certain. The BBC has been ramping up ‘no deal’ paranoia as a consistent theme of its coverage for a very long time.

Despite the Leave vote in 2016, the Remain chums at the Corporation have a very different view. ‘No deal’ is to be avoided like the plague.

When Peter Lilley last week published his 30 truths about ‘no deal’ was it elevated to headline status on any BBC outlet? If it was, Google and the BBC website provides no trace. In this respect, the BBC is arguably now behaving like a political grouping or faction in its own right. And it prompts the question of to what extent the Downing Street press operation – headed, of course, by a former BBC producer and editor, Robbie Gibb – is influencing the tenor of the Corporation’s coverage.

Of course, publicly the BBC would swear blind that such behind-the-scenes intervention is impossible. But former BBC freelancer Owen Bennett-Jones last week made allegations that one of his managers back in 2004 intervened to avert Jack Straw’s (and the government’s) displeasure over an interview he had recorded in which the then Foreign Secretary had lost his temper. The exchange, Bennett-Jones claimed,never saw the light of day.

Whatever goes on, News-watch is currently completing a survey of BBC Radio 4 Today’s coverage of the Brexit negotiations during the autumn when the key Salzburg and Brussels ‘summits’ were held. The preliminary findings confirm that the stifling blanket negativity towards ‘no deal’ was a vital ingredient in the framing of content during this crucial period of Leave debate and negotiations.

How was this done? Ingredient one was that those who want a clear Brexit which without question involved leaving the single market, the customs union and ECJ jurisdiction, comprised only one in three of the programme guests, and they spoke only around 20 per cent of the Brexit-related words. Further, a mere handful – Bernard Jenkin, David Davis and a couple of business figures – had the opportunity to speak favourably about ‘no deal’. What they did say on this topic was kept to a minimum.

Completely absent from the programme were any features or interviews which explored the possible economic advantages of leaving the EU, despite frequent reports in the period which explored the potential opportunities.

In sharp contrast, there was a clutch of special features – some elevated to headline status – in the survey period in which BBC journalists sought out the views of those who think ‘no deal’ will be catastrophic and lead, for example, to food shortages, endless lorry queues and permanent loss of trade. In this respect, their key source of alleged ‘authority’ was Stena, the Swedish-owned ferry company whose billionaire owner was strongly opposed to Leave before the referendum and has now threatened to re-flag (to an EU country) its entire UK-based fleet. 

What else? Well the programme in the monitoring period was stuffed full with no fewer than 30 figures from the EU who variously argued, with minimal challenge from presenters, points such as that Brexit was based on a lie, that no deal would be a catastrophe, and that – surprise, surprise – much more compromise was therefore needed by the UK government.

Next in terms of programme guests was a battalion of EU supporters, Remainers and second referendum supporters, ranging from Gina Miller, Nick Clegg and Ed Miliband to all the usual suspects in between. All were given an easy ride in pushing their various views against ‘no deal’ – those who said it would be a ‘catastrophe’ did so without challenge.

Another important source of ‘no deal’ negativity was the BBC’s so-called reality check team. Predictably, they took the gloomiest possible view of the Northern Irish backstop, and of the prospect of chaos at ports. But that was not all. During this period, they actually spent licence fee-payers’ money on commissioning a report from the Institute for Government about the impact of Brexit. This was elevated to bulletin status. The report claimed to be neutral but was anything but, rather, an extension – or ramping up – of Project Fear.

A moment’s look at the institute’s website – its chair is Lord Sainsbury of Turville, an ardent Remainer, and other board members include Baroness Amos and Liam Byrne, both former Labour MPs – would have confirmed its negativity and bias.

These four strands of ‘no deal’ pessimism would easily have been sufficient to swamp the meagre contributions from those wanting a reversion to WTO terms. But for the Today programme, they were not enough. On top of this BBC presenters and correspondents piled in with numerous ‘no deal’ elephant traps. For Political Editor Laura Kuenssberg, such an exit ran the risk of ‘total chaos’. Europe Editor Katya Adler warned of dire problems to passenger and freight flights, and to trade in the wider sense. Nick Robinson compared ‘no deal’ to a ‘cliff-edge’.

Their negativity amounted to a deluge. Was it tempered at all by exploration of the positives? Emphatically not.

 

A coastline destroyed by the wind farm invasion

January 1, 20192018: That was the year . . . when wind farm ugliness and blight became a fact of life for the half million folk who live in coastal Sussex.

The Rampion wind farm – insultingly called after the beautiful purple Sussex county flower and one of the largest such installations in Britain – was granted planning permission in 2014, was built at breakneck speed and since April has been operational.

At the year end, the ramifications are painfully clear. Sea views from the elegant squares and terraces of every settlement from Worthing in the west, through Hove and Brighton, to Peacehaven in the east are now dominated by the 116 bird-slicing turbines, each towering to a massive 460ft.

The eyesore status is round the clock, too: by day, the monster towers can be seen with startling clarity; at night comes light pollution because each turbine has a warning flashing red light and there is the near-permanent presence of glaringly lit supply boats.

If buildings have listed status, residents can’t alter a thing – not even the colour of stucco paint – because planners want rightly to protect the historical heritage. But at a stroke that heritage has been despoiled by an industrial complex that has ruined the coastline beyond anything previously imaginable.

Why? Well, of course, it’s claimed by the green lobby that – despite their massive ugliness and murderous 160ft turbine blades – wind farms are justified because they provide ‘clean’ carbon-free energy.

In this brilliant synthesis of the wind farm con, Wind turbines are neither clean nor green and they supply zero global energy, recently published in the Spectator, Matt Ridley explains why. First, the manufacture and installation of such offshore farms demands massive resources. Second, they are ‘economic’ only because of massive subsidy, and third, they have a very limited operating life, providing only intermittent and totally unpredictable energy supply. Finally, despite the massive investment and subsidies they provide none of the world’s energy supply. How so? Ridley demonstrates that to the nearest whole number there is still no wind power on Earth:

‘Even put together, wind and photovoltaic solar are supplying less than 1 per cent of global energy demand. From the International Energy Agency’s 2016 Key Renewables Trends, we can see that wind provided 0.46 per cent of global energy consumption in 2014, and solar and tide combined provided 0.35 per cent. Remember this is total energy, not just electricity, which is less than a fifth of all final energy, the rest being the solid, gaseous, and liquid fuels that do the heavy lifting for heat, transport and industry.’

And one of the key beneficiaries of this lunacy? The Queen. Her income has been boosted by tens of millions because the Crown Estates ‘owns’ and leases to energy suppliers the coastal waters off the UK. Maybe someone should tell her.

 

A Christmas read: The Ministry of Truth, London W1A 1AA

December 29, 2018BBC: Brainwashing Britain? by David Sedgwick; Sandgrounder, November 2018HOW does the BBC get away with its grinding partisanship? This new book has a brave and thoroughly readable shot at explaining.

The Corporation, of course, risibly swears blind that it is not biased, and that it is a model of impartiality – as required by its Charter – but patently is not. Everything it broadcasts has an angle; mostly acute.

A cracking example came this week in the reaction to Japan’s decision to resume whaling. John Simpson, the veteran grandiosely titled ‘world affairs correspondent’, typified the Corporation’s coverage when he tweeted on Boxing Day that it was, of course, probably Donald Trump’s fault for leaving ‘various international orgs on nationalistic grounds’. 

In the real internal BBC editorial guidelines – as opposed to the version posted on its website for public consumption – Simpson’s opinions tick every box: anti-Trump; anti-‘nationalism’ (the root, of course, of the Corporation’s long-term pro-EU fervour), and pro-globalism.

In BBC: Brainwashing Britain? a writer with commonsense nous combined with an academic understanding of propaganda techniques has thoroughly surveyed the £5billion-a-year state-funded behemoth and sought to explain.

Who is this David against Goliath? He goes under the pen name of ‘David Sedgwick’, and declares that he is a university lecturer who lives in Malaga and Liverpool. He also writes for the Comment Central blog under the name of David Hardy, and this excoriating piece about Theresa May is an example of his work.

Why a pen name? The reasons are known only to Sedgwick himself, but in today’s academic precincts, it’s a sad fact of life that those who dare adopt an overt approach which can be deemed ‘Right-wing’ – such as Jordan Peterson – open themselves to calls for them to be sacked, and worse. And as Sedgwick points out in one of his key chapters, the BBC is very good at smearing those whose opinions it opposes, especially when self-interest is concerned.

His theories in his well-evidenced 350-page book? Well, not rocket science, maybe, but they are plausible and woven together with skill.

He believes a main driving force behind BBC bias is a crude form of cultural Marxism which infected the Corporation progressively from the 1960s, when Hugh Carleton Greene, a self-declared ‘psychological warrior’, became director general. Greene decided that the BBC should be ‘ahead of public opinion’ rather than a servant of it, thus giving the liberals attracted to work there a licence to shape their own agendas in what they broadcast.

Sedgwick draws his definition of this ‘cultural Marxism’ from the online Urban Dictionary: The gradual process of destroying all traditions, languages, religions individuality, government, family, law and order, in order to re-assemble society in the future as a communist utopia. This utopia will have no notion of gender, traditions, morality good or even family or the state. 

In this framework, Sedgwick argues, the BBC’s goal has gradually become to undermine almost every element of British history and activity, except in areas where it must also protect its own revenues and existence.

Sedgwick has studied deeply the psychology and methodology of propaganda and on this basis he believes that much of what the BBC does and says can be compared closely to the techniques of propagandists in all their various historical forms, and especially to the nightmare versions conjured up by George Orwell in 1984.

What an irony, therefore, that the Corporation has recently unveiled outside its vast Portland Place HQ a statue of George Orwell, the aim of which is, through association, to illustrate the BBC’s pursuit of ‘truth’. Sedgwick’s central theory, however, is that 1984’s influence on the BBC is much more sinister – its output and modus operandi mirroring the Ministry of Truth.

Once he has established his focus, Sedgwick slickly draws on a wealth of examples to illustrate his themes, most based on his own wide-ranging and well-researched observations of BBC output. They range from Evan Davis gratuitously insulting a Donald Trump restaurant and comparing his alleged toupee to grass in a Norwegian meadow, through to John Sweeney’s notorious package about the post-referendum Harlow ‘race-hate’ murder in which he carefully assembled claims that Nigel Farage had ‘blood on his hands’.

Overall, this is an important book. Despite the BBC’s relentless bias – also documented on News-watch and Is the BBC Biased? 

– very few books of this nature and scope have been written. Is this because most publishers are of the same mindset as the BBC?

 

The BBC doesn’t fight fake news – it commissions it

December 14, 2018

BBC director general Lord Hall of Birkenhead has declared that the Corporation is on a mission to counter fake news. 

He announced this in June at the Prospect annual conference – the day before the white-collar trades union announced it would be campaigning for a Brexit ‘people’s vote’. Others who addressed the conference included arch-Remainers Hilary Benn and Rain Newton-Smith, the chief economist of the CBI.

It might be a little unfair to judge Lord Hall purely on the company he keeps, but latest research by News-watch shows that under his stewardship the Corporation has morphed into a major purveyor of the commodity he allegedly so despises – and especially that which will thwart Brexit.

Strong documentary evidence in this vein came to light recently when Guido Fawkes unearthed an internal circular from BBC economics editor Kamal Ahmed, who is shortly to assume the elevated role of Corporation Editorial Director (whatever that means). From his lofty perch, he told BBC journalists that whatever Brexiteers might think, predictions from economists proved that leaving the EU is ‘rubbish’.

How systemic within the BBC is the approach decreed and endorsed by Ahmed? How much has the fake news virus entered into the Corporation’s DNA?

News-watch is currently analysing the BBC’s coverage during the autumn of the steps towards Theresa May’s reviled so-called EU ‘deal’ and, as always, the devil is in the detail.

On September 17, as the Salzburg EU ‘summit’ unfolded, the BBC’s ubiquitous ‘reality check’ correspondent Chris Morris was in action on the Radio 4 Today programme. His mission? To tell listeners of the dangers of ‘no deal’ and to ram home to the maximum extent the chaos and misery which would ensue if Mrs May did not accept the terms on offer from her EU masters.

In this vein, a Morris voice-piece was prominent in that morning’s bulletins. He declared that a report from ‘a political research group’ warned that nine out of ten areas of economic and legislative activity would not be able to avoid ‘major negative impacts’ because time was running out to avoid ‘no deal’, and that another major problem was that a 21-month transition period was not enough to be able to secure any free-trade deals.

The source of all this doom and gloom and Brexit impossibility? Morris said the ‘political research group’ involved was a body called the Institute for Government. Sounds authoritative, even-handed and ‘expert’, doesn’t it?

That was clearly what Morris wished to convey, because he did not include any further details about the Institute. But dig about on its website and instantly several red-letter points central to the Brexit debate leap out.

First, it is chaired by the Labour peer and ex-minister Lord Sainsbury of Turville who, according to the Daily Telegraph, spent £8million trying to avert Brexit. The report claims he created four aliases so he could spend so lavishly. 

Second, on the board of the Institute are two other former Labour ministers, Baroness Amos and Liam Byrne MP; Sir Andrew Cahn, the UK’s former permanent representative to the EU, who (surprise, surprise) is another fervent supporter of the EU; and Sir Richard Lambert, formerly editor of the Financial Times. It is hard to imagine a more arch-Remain grouping.

There is more: the Institute’s director (chief executive) is Bronwen Maddox, a former Times foreign editor who became editor of the Prospect current affairs magazine before taking up her current role. Her views on Brexit are also pretty clear – she is a declared full-scale fan of George Osborne’s Project Fear.

For most people, details such as these would have sent a clear signal that the Institute would not exactly be sympathetic or even-handed in its attitudes towards the Brexit cause, and that any report by it must be handled with caution. A few minutes’ perusal of the report confirms that it is shot through with hyperbolic ‘no deal’ misery in the Project Fear mould. 

But to the BBC and Morris this was of no concern regarding impartiality, despite editorial guidelines which stipulate that sources with potential bias must be identified.

Not only that. Sharp-eared listeners would have heard in the 7am bulletin a brief mention that the Institute’s report was not merely being reported by the BBC – it had actually been commissioned by BBC News!

And that’s a smoking gun. On the one hand, Editorial Director Ahmed is circulating notes to BBC journalists telling them that they must believe in and shout from the rafters the predictions of the doomsters of the IMF and the Treasury; on the other the BBC’s self-declared ‘reality check’ unit is commissioning and slyly integrating into its news agenda authoritative-sounding reports commissioned by the Corporation to exaggerate to the maximum extent the dangers of ‘no deal’.

Question to Lord Hall: Is this not the very definition of fake news?

 

Ambush: BBC’s Brexit negativity plumbs new depths in attack on Peter Lilley

November 23, 2018

 

The BBC’s visceral negativity towards Brexit was displayed on Monday in an extraordinary attempted ambush by Today presenter John Humphrys and the BBC’s ‘reality check’ correspondent Chris Morris.

The intended victim of this double onslaught was Peter Lilley, now Lord Lilley, and the subject was a report he had written suggesting that life outside the EU could be prosperous and free.

In the BBC’s world that, of course, is a thought crime. So Lilley was subjected first to a Humphrys grilling of the type reserved for those in the Corporation’s rogues’ gallery. But for the editorial team that was not enough. Next came a spot of BBC-style reality checking from Morris who claimed, in essence, that the Lilley report was pie in the sky fantasy.

A lesser man than Lord Lilley would have been banjaxed by such a bare-knuckle assault. As it was, he gave at least as good as he got. But the BBC tactics show that their efforts to discredit the possibility of a clean exit from the EU have reached new heights. They now believe that the elevated expression of their own biased judgments are a totally legitimate part of their so-called journalism.

The BBC’s so-called ‘reality check’ unit is, of course, nothing of the sort. Why? Exhibit A is that back in February, Morris presented a five-part series called Brexit: a Guide for the Perplexed. His lens was so distorted that 18 out his 24 main interviewees were anti-Brexit and only seven per cent of the words spoken were from the withdrawal perspective. That report by News-watch is currently under investigation by Ofcom following a formal complaint, and the outcome of the appeal is expected imminently.

Meanwhile, Morris has ploughed on regardless with his opinionated perspective, to the extent that, judging by the frequency of his appearances, the Today programme now regards his input as an essential part of the editorial process.

The transcript of the Lilley-Humphrys-Morris sequence on Monday (it can be read in full here) reveals just how biased this approach has become. Recent analysis by News-watch (not yet published) has shown that appearances by the so-called ‘Brexiteers’ on BBC programmes, or analysis of their perspective, remain much less frequent than those by Europhiles.

But the Corporation is not happy with skewing the debate by numbers alone. Its editorial imperative is to rubbish as hard and as much as it can every element of the Brexit case while paying lip service to its existence, thus retaining (in its view) a fig-leaf nod to its concept of ‘due impartiality’.

Thus it was on Monday’s Today, as already noted, that Lord Lilley was first grilled by Humphrys. Fair enough, perhaps, though Remain advocates very, very rarely face such rigorous scrutiny. What was also very clear was that John Humphrys was out of his depth in terms of his knowledge of the terrain.

Next came Morris with his titular stamp of ‘reality check’ authority. Lord Lilley himself has written about this encounter in the Sun. 

His article is excoriating. He observes: ‘. . . they then brought on a chap called Chris Morris, described as the BBC “reality checker”, who was invited to rebut my document. But all he did was oppose my facts with the opinions of people with whom he agreed.’

Lord Lilley added: ‘He systematically argued the Remain case and defended their Project Fear scare stories. The one thing he did not do was bring in any new facts. My central claim was that if we leave the EU Customs Union but have a free trade agreement with the European Union, our businesses have little to fear.

‘The main difference will be that traders will have to send in a customs declaration detailing the goods they are buying from or selling to Europe. That is a nuisance which we should try to simplify as much as possible.

‘But allegations that “this will be hugely costly, cause lengthy delays, disrupt supply chains and undermine economic growth” are imaginary or exaggerated.’ These allegations were presented by Morris as ‘facts’ but showed he was setting himself up as a fortune-teller on the lines of the Delphic Oracle. In pointing out that the current EU border regime is not frictionless (something apparently unknown to Morris) Lord Lilley further undermined both Morris’s ‘reality check’ credibility and his Brexit doom-mongering. It also seems that Morris is totally impervious to evidence like this. 

Why does this matter? Because this was without question a new low in the BBC’s coverage of Brexit and in their journalism as a whole. For years they have seriously under-reported and distorted the case for leaving the EU. Their coverage has also been marked by massive bias by omission, a feature first noted by the Wilson report of 2005 in that they have never properly reported the case against the EU or the benefits of leaving.

To what extent has this biased reporting bedevilled the steps towards withdrawal? Not content with that deluge of negativity, Monday’s Today showed the Corporation have now formally adopted within the editorial process a mechanism that they say is ‘objective’ but in reality – in the hands of Morris – is the official adoption of a process designed to discredit Brexit.

 

Time Lord Mardell’s Brexit baddies? No need for three guesses

November 14, 2018

 

BBC bias seems to be sinking to new depths each week. It has become an advanced case of infestation by deathwatch beetle. The question is no longer ‘is it biased?’ but rather ‘what is not?’

Take Doctor Who on BBC1. Once it was an original, entertaining and exciting sci-fi show brimful of intriguing ideas. Not now. Led by a female Doctor, it has fully transformed into an exercise in the Corporation’s box-ticking multiculturalism and the rewriting of history according to the creed of political correctness.

This week’s episode saw the Time Lord and his motley multicultural crew witnessing Indian partition in 1947. The villains? Not, of course, the Muslim League. In the BBC’s alternative universe, it could never be that. No, it was us empire-obsessed Brits, aided and abetted by a rampant, murderous Hindu who demanded separation. 

The latest News-watch report into BBC bias – an analysis of former Europe editor Mark Mardell’s 13-part series Brexit: A Love Story?, covering the UK’s relationship with the EU from joining to possible exit – reveals equally serious distortion and partisanship. The full report is here.

It was claimed that the series, broadcast fortnightly as a segment in Radio 4’s World at One between March and September, and thus projected as ‘news’ with all that this entails in terms of adherence to standards, was a journalistic examination of the ebb and flow of the UK’s membership.

Not so. According to Mardell and the editorial team, there were villains and heroes in the tale. And just as in the now pantomimic Doctor Who, there was no doubt who the baddies were.

Step forward as the ringleaders – boo! hiss! – Margaret Thatcher, whose alleged love of conflict and dislike of Germans alienated Brits against the nice, well-meaning EU folk; the British press, which, dominated by barons such as Conrad Black and Rupert Murdoch, and dolts such as Kelvin MacKenzie and Boris Johnson, lied continuously about benevolent EU rules; the ‘odious’ arch-capitalist Jimmy Goldsmith, who used his ill-gained cash to panic or blackmail the hapless John Major into accepting the Pandora’s Box idea of an in-out referendum; Nigel Farage, who opportunistically used events outside the EU’s control to force David Cameron actually to hold that referendum; and of course those in the Conservative party who dared over the years to challenge the EU’s goal of ever-closer union.

In Mardell’s estimation, it was the factors above plus Tory ‘civil war’ – not dislike and distrust by the British public of the EU itself and a desire to re-assert national sovereignty – which was a primary propellant of the exit vote.

The deluge of pro-EU opinion in the series was overwhelming. Almost two thirds (64 per cent) of the 38,000 words spoken by contributors were from figures who supported the EU and only 28 per cent who could be described as Eurosceptic or in favour of Leave. Farage and supporters of Leave such as the late Peter Shore were reduced to bit parts in the saga; most time was devoted to Brussels-loving senior civil servants, diplomats and politicians. Of course bias cannot be measured by such numbers alone, but in the context of the overall editorial framework in the series, they are an important indicator.

Another measure is that only six of the 121 contributors who appeared in the series as a whole made what could be called substantive points against the EU.

Perhaps the most serious skew in terms of the rewriting of history was found in the episode which examined the handling of the BSE crisis during the 1990s. In Mardell’s hands, this was projected simplistically as a battle between a stupid and reckless Conservative government – putting lives at risk in their headlong defence of British beef – against those nice EU bureaucrats who were doing nothing but taking reasonable steps to protect the hapless British public.

According to Mardell, was immigration at all a contributory factor towards the Brexit vote? Even he could not ignore the opening of the EU free movement gates from 2004, and one of the episodes dealt with this. But his primary contributor on this theme was Tony Blair, buttressed by then home secretary David Blunkett and an ‘expert’ from the London School of Economics, who argued one-dimensionally between them that the EU influx was an economic benefit and not at all a mistake. Opposition to that view? Only in the form of very brief vox pops which were clearly edited to convey the BBC’s wearyingly predictable version of anti-immigration bigotry.

The report as a whole shows a level of bias which might not be surprising for readers of TCW, but is of the deepest concern. The series – as the endgame of the Brexit negotiations approached in the autumn – was cast as an overview appraisal of the the UK-EU relationship and scheduled accordingly in one of the BBC’s flagship news programmes. It was nothing of the sort. Rather, Mardell and his team were bent on showing that leaving the EU was an act of national mutilation triggered by the prejudice cultivated by the carefully-assembled cast of pantomime villains.

 

Today’s solution to its audience collapse: Diversity in a podcast

November 1, 2018

The BBC Radio 4 Today programme is in dire trouble. It is haemorrhaging listeners and, according to latest reports, more than one million have deserted over the past year, bringing the weekly audience down to 6.7m.

This should, of course, be a matter of urgent and very significant concern. The reality is that in the UK, only the BBC – by dint of its guaranteed vast licence-fee income – can afford to put out such a heavily-resourced news and current affairs radio programme. If the Corporation can’t get it right with flagship programmes such as Today, it is failing in its core remit.

Those multi-million figures, by the way, are somewhat misleading. They are simply the total number listening at some point for a few minutes to the 17.5 hours each week of Today output. The peak audience (on which basis television audiences are measured) is normally no more than two million at 8am.

What is the reason for the sharp decline? Could it be the programme’s relentless alienating bias? And might it be that the format – devised more than 40 years ago – has ossified over the decades into a diet of engineered difficult-to-listen-to confrontation on lines dictated by the BBC’s Leftist, politically correct worldview?

Tim Montgomerie recently adroitly summed up this growing antipathy. Explaining why he had become an ‘ex-Today listener’, he said:

‘On reflection, it’s the lack of illumination on almost any topic (as much as the bias) that makes me glad to have finally broken free. The biases are to “the State must do something about X” rather than “how can X best be solved?”; to short-term gloom rather than to long-term context; to politics; to supra-nationalism; to liberalism over conservatism . . . and any bad news from Trump’s America over bad news from within Brussels’ empire (especially from Italy).’

The BBC, of course, is deeply disdainful and dismissive of such views. World affairs editor John Simpson summed up the Corporation’s stance when he declared in Radio Times: ‘I’m getting really fed up with the complaints and criticisms being directed at BBC News at the moment. Not so much from our usual critics, the hardliners on the Left and the Right, who habitually claim we’re biased because we’re not actually biased in their favour. No – it’s middle-of-the-roaders who are doing the complaining now.’

However the slump in Today listening is now so acute that the Corporation has been forced into remedial action. Enter stage left with much huffing and puffing James Purnell, the BBC’s director of radio, who, of course, was formerly a Blairite Labour minister. He emerged this week from the corporate shadows in Portland Place as the man with a plan for tackling the decline – even though before his appointment to his current role he had no direct broadcasting experience.

His wheeze? A daily 20-minute Today podcast, dubbed imaginatively Beyond Today. Which 1A 1AA committee thought of that?

To be fair, there is no doubt that media audiences of all kinds increasingly prefer to be in charge of their own agenda, and in line with that podcasts have grown in popularity, along with visual services such as Netflix. According to Ofcom, the number of weekly podcast listeners has increased from 3.2m five years ago to 5.9m in 2018. 

What appears to have got Purnell particularly excited, though, is that 49 per cent of these podcast enthusiasts are adults aged under 35, and because Today’s existing audience is significantly older, his plan envisages that the lost million oldies will be replaced by youthful eager-beaver trendies.

In line with that, Purnell has appointed 37-year-old Tina Daheley – previously a stand-in presenter of a range of BBC news programmes including BBC1 Breakfast – and Today reporter Matthew Price as the presenters of the new podcasts. They will be assisted by a production team of ‘mainly women’.

Their agenda? Well, Ms Daheley – whose Twitter account shows clearly her preferences – has not been backward in coming forward. She told the Observer: ‘Anyone who has been paying attention knows podcasts are hugely popular with under-35s, and if you’re serious about reaching that audience, it’s the logical thing to do. For me, a big thing is class and social background. We’re supposed to be holding a mirror to society and be representing them, but when was the last time someone who didn’t go to public school or Oxbridge presented the Ten O’Clock News?

‘The BBC gets a lot out of me. I should be thinking: “This is brilliant, I’ve got this whole area locked off, I tick all of those boxes in terms of strategy – young women, brown people, so-called C2DE demographics” – but I wish there were more of me. I had to work twice as hard and be damn good at my job to develop my career. I was doing 19 jobs and working for months without a day off [to get noticed] but there should be more people who look like me.’

So there we have it. Mr Purnell’s strategy to win back the Today deserters is not to address issues of bias, or to make an atrophied programme format less BBC agitprop and more accessible. Rather, it’s to ram yet more opinionated ‘diversity’ – in all its multi-faceted Corporation splendour and zeal – down our gullets. Whether we like it or not.

The first edition of Beyond Today was published on Tuesday.  What had it to offer? Exactly the same BBC diet, with Evan Davis and someone from the BBC’s favourite think tank, the Institute of Fiscal Studies, warning that more money needs to be spent on public services.

 

The BBC and Ofcom – May’s allies-in-chief over Brexit sabotage

October 26, 2018

One of the many major issues of concern during the Brexit process has been that the BBC has been left totally unchallenged and totally unfettered in terms of impartiality.

The result is that it continues to churn out industrial quantities of pro-EU bias – exactly as it has done for at least the past two decades, as is evidenced in this Civitas paper.

Karen Bradley, Theresa May’s first culture and media secretary, was one of her closest allies in the Cameron years, and she (and May) left the Corporation totally alone, despite extensive evidence from immediately after the 2016 referendum that the BBC was doing its best to sabotage progress towards Brexit. Matt Hancock, Bradley’s successor in the media portfolio, is apparently less of a May flunkey, but he registered zero concerns about Corporation bias during his brief tenure other than making sure the diversity agenda was pursued to its maximum extent.

After the Chequers revolt in July, May appointed Jeremy Wright – a Remain-voting criminal law barrister and government legal adviser – as the new culture and media incumbent. So far, the best that can be said about his approach to the job is that he has adopted a low profile. He told Press Gazette on his appointment that he was going to ‘leap wholeheartedly into the digital world’, but what that means remains to be seen.https://www.pressgazette.co.uk/who-is-new-culture-secretary-jeremy-wright/

Damian Collins, as chair of the Commons culture and media committee, could cause a stink about BBC bias if he chose – as did John Whittingdale when he held the equivalent post – but he has made it abundantly clear that he is a Remain fanatic and seemingly approves of the propaganda being broadcast.

In and among this dereliction of duty, Mrs May appointed Robbie Gibb, a BBC apparatchik who was formerly the head of the Corporation’s Westminster operation, to her most senior communications role. He is now using his extensive knowledge of the BBC machine to pursue her agenda of destroying any chances of a meaningful Brexit.

Labour, of course, though deeply critical that the Corporation is not being sycophantic enough towards it, also wants the barrage of anti-Brexit propaganda emanating from the Corporation to continue, and so is not prepared to take any formal steps to complain about it.

The new BBC Management Board, which was supposed to hold the Corporation more rigorously to account through a tougher complaints regime, has proved itself totally useless except – like Matt Hancock – in pursuing the diversity agenda. And Sir David Clementi, the latest chairman, who took up his post in spring 2017, has turned out to be arguably the lowest-profile holder of the post in Corporation history.

When the new BBC Charter came into effect last year, Ofcom assumed new powers in regulating the BBC as complaints appeals backstop. But most of the members of Ofcom’s Content Board have strong BBC connections, and its main ruling to date on the BBC – about pro-Remain bias on BBC1’s Question Time – was a farcical exercise in terms of both methodology and pro-BBC bias.

What can be done? The BBC still commands the biggest news and current affairs broadcast audiences through its huge licence fee resources, and as the Brexit process is increasingly sabotaged by Theresa May and her senior civil servants, she has the Corporation as one of her chief allies.

 

We’re right about climate change, say the BBC – and let the facts go hang

October 16, 2018

How idiotic has the advocacy of climate alarmism by the BBC become?

Last month, as TCW reported, BBC news director Fran Unsworth issued a formal directive stating, in effect, that alarmism is proven and may not be challenged on the BBC airwaves.

Now one of her key minions, James Stephenson, the BBC’s overall editor of news and current affairs, has appeared on the latest edition of BBC Radio 4’s Feedback to ram home the message.

Full reading of the transcript is recommended to appreciate the jaw-dropping scale of the bias involved, but in essence Stephenson declared that, despite viewer concerns that the Corporation was adopting a partisan approach, ‘the science’ is beyond doubt and the IPCC’s word on the subject must be considered gospel.

His stance amounts to a total junking by the Corporation of basic scientific empiricism, which since Roger Bacon’s Opus Majus in 1267 has been based on the premise that one new set of verifiable data can sweep away any theory.

In that context, the alleged existence of ‘consensus’ between climate scientists on which Stephenson relies for justifying his propaganda position matters not one jot.

In fact – despite all the IPCC’s posturing, politicking and blustering – the study of the workings of the globe’s climate is in its infancy, not least because measurement of variables is so unreliable and incomplete.

A leading anti-alarmist scientist (and true empiricist), the Australian Jo Nova, excoriatingly reports that the world’s major climate ‘record’ – on which are anchored many of the IPCC’s alarmist predictions – is riddled with massive errors, gaps and assumptions.

So extreme was Stephenson’s partisanship in favour of the climate alarmist stance on Feedback that he bloody-mindedly defended a major mistake in the Corporation’s IPCC-related coverage.

Today presenters John Humphrys and Sarah Montague both wrongly said the IPCC report was warning about a 1.5 per cent rise in global temperatures when actually it referred to 1.5 degrees. Whoops, but in the BBC’s manual of climate change reporting, who cares? Stephenson accepted that this was inaccurate, but claimed it did not matter because ‘audiences would have recognised it was a slip’.

Eh? In other words, in the BBC’s climate change universe, never let the facts get in the way of a good scare story.

Ironically, perhaps, the BBC position on alarmism can be compared to that of the Catholic Church as imagined in Bertolt Brecht’s 1938 play The Life of Galileo. In the 1960s this was a ‘must see’ drama for all those on the Left. They wanted to ridicule the play’s projection of the unreason and unbending conservatism of Catholicism, then one of the biggest targets of every Left-winger. Ultra-Marxist Brecht represented Galileo as the voice of ‘reason’ against the Church’s defence of bigoted religious orthodoxy. The BBC, of course, would love to see themselves as Galileo in the climate change debate.

In reality, they are not. The BBC, the IPCC and other bodies such as the EU, politicians and governments who have swallowed the IPCC agenda, the multi-national companies benefiting from ‘green’ energy, and academia are now all vested interests defending the ‘warmist’ status quo at any and every cost – including the rejection of reason itself.

Every man (and woman and non-binary) jack of them, like the Catholic Church in Brecht’s projection, is pitched against true scientific inquiry. Those who question alarmism are not ‘deniers’, as the BBC so insultingly calls them. Rather, it is they, the ‘deniers’, the anti-alarmists, who are heroes and heroines fighting to smash the deeply corrupt alarmist scam, which, on some estimates, is costing taxpayers trillions of dollars a year.

 

BBC Watch: John Simpson is really very cross with us

September 3, 2018

John Simpson, the BBC’s veteran and rather pompous world affairs editor – who can forget his claims of liberating Kabul in 2001? – has been sounding off in Radio Times.

The article is unfortunately pay-walled but a brief resume of it can be read here. His scatter-gun target? Well, it seems just about everyone, and certainly the majority of those who contribute to the licence fee income which pays his wages. He defines the object of his ire as ‘middle-of-the-roaders’ who dare to complain about BBC bias. The full article can be read here.

Simpson already has form in venting his spleen in this domain. For example, he also reveals in the Radio Times article that he has been in ’hot water’ with his bosses for claims he made about Brexit at a conference held recently. Not, of course, in favour of the democratic will being carried out.

No, he told the delegates that the British people got the referendum vote wrong. If only they had known the facts and thought in a ‘more balanced’ sort of way, they would have decided to stay in the EU.

Another target of Simpson’s complaining was the recently-elected ‘far-Right’ (in BBC parlance) Italian interior minister Matteo Salvini. Here, Simpson’s scatter-gun turned into an exploding, ineptly-fired blunderbuss.

He leapt with glee on the chance to compare Signor Salvini to the Nazis by claiming he had said he was planning ‘mass purification’ of Italy in his steps towards controlling immigration. In reality, Salvini did not use the word ‘purification’ at all – it was a mis-translation. He wanted the streets of Italy to be rigorously checked to understand fully the extent of the immigrant problem. But in Simpson’s world, perhaps, the facts never get in the way of a good chance to attack those he disagrees with.

And so back to Radio Times. This is Simpson at his loftiest. He declares:

‘I’m getting really fed up with the complaints and criticisms being directed at BBC News at the moment. Not so much from our usual critics, the hardliners on the left and the right, who habitually claim we’re biased because we’re not actually biased in their favour. No – it’s middle-of-the-roaders who are doing the complaining now.’

He explains that these turncoats have dared to start writing to newspapers to say that the BBC is no longer even-handed. He is clearly flabbergasted by their actions. He responds:

‘Well, I promise you, with the perspective that 52 years of working for it gives me, it’s not the BBC that’s changed, it’s them. Maybe it’s because they’re so used to social media, and hearing only the kind of views they like, that they’re enraged by having to listen to arguments they hate. At present it’s Brexit. Before that it was Scottish independence. People have allowed themselves to be persuaded that there’s something wrong with being given open and unbiased information from BBC journalists. Well, I’m sorry, but I don’t think any subject is too important to keep our minds closed about it.’

And how does Simpson know that the BBC is not biased? Does he produce any evidence to back his assertions? In a word, no. His first line of defence – in the quote above – is his 52 years of experience at the BBC. In his estimation, that clearly means he must be always and infallibly right on these matters, and hapless licence fee ‘middle-of-the-roaders’ equally deluded and wrong.

Second is another firecracker from his arsenal. It’s that ‘those who work at the BBC’ are still basically followers of John Reith (the BBC’s first director-general). And what does that mean? He opines:

‘We think it’s our job to tell people honestly, to the best of our ability, what’s happening . . . This has been the nastiest period in our national life since 1945. It’s the broadcasters’ job to give people the range of opinions they won’t necessarily get in the newspapers . . . [reporters and presenters are not biased] they are only telling you something you don’t want to hear.’

Eh? This survey by News-watch, based on Brexit: A Guide for the Perplexed, a series of programmes on Radio 4 presented by Chris Morris of the BBC ‘Reality Check’ unit, found that 75 per cent of the main speakers were against Brexit, and those in favour had just seven per cent of the programme time.

Simpson’s claim that the BBC is giving viewers and listeners a ‘range of opinions’ on topic after topic – from climate alarmism, to President Trump and Brexit and dozens more – is thus moonshine. His awareness of the reality of BBC output, from his Portland Place eyrie, is also clearly extremely tenuous. And the level of his arrogance towards licence fee payers? Perhaps that’s best left to readers to decide.

 

BBC Watch: The buck stops with you, Lord Hall

August 20, 2018

Lord Hall, the BBC director general, has immense powers. He is not only the chief executive of the £5billion-a-year Corporation, he is also its editor-in-chief.

The only check on his conduct is the BBC Board of Management, but that is packed with BBC executives and so-called ‘independent’ members, such as Arts Council chief Sir Nicholas Serota and Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson, who are anything but because they share Lord Hall’s liberal-Left ‘diversity’-at-all-costs mindset.

The dual role entails responsibilities beyond those in other large media organisations dealing with news. National newspapers, for example, almost invariably have chief executives to run the business side and editors to run the news content, usually with a dispute resolution mechanism for when clashes occur. The same is the case at the BBC’s only terrestrial broadcast rivals, ITV News and Channel 4 News.

The Cliff Richard breach of privacy court case – with the BBC’s decision on Wednesday not to go to the Court of Appeal despite much blustering to the contrary – has culminated with the Corporation conceding game, set and match to the singer.

It has also generated a damages and legal costs bill of at least £1.9million, the equivalent of almost 13,000 licence fee payments.

Because of his dual role, responsibility for this huge misjudgment lies firmly with Lord Hall. It happened almost two years after he was appointed and had recruited former Times editor James Harding to be his key lieutenant as director of news.

Lord Hall centrally carries the can for the huge breach of Sir Cliff’s privacy and everything that went on in connection with the raid.

According to Mr Justice Mann in his judgment, that included disingenuous, coercive and sometimes lying conduct of BBC staff; the gung-ho and sensationalist pursuit of a perceived scoop; the decision to enter the ‘scoop’ for a Royal Television Society award; the naming of Sir Cliff before he had been arrested, questioned or charged in connection with any criminal offence (or indeed knew anything of any allegations against him); and the grossly over-the-top deployment of a helicopter in the raid coverage.

At the time of the raid in August 2014, leading international human rights lawyer Geoffrey Robertson said it amounted to ‘a conspiracy to injure’ the singer.

Is that, then, the end of the matter? Has Lord Hall come forward to to explain why he has brought the reputation of BBC journalism (such as is left of it) into disrepute? And to apologise unequivocally to Sir Cliff for causing him so much distress by such a flagrant breach of his privacy?

Of course not. On Wednesday, as the decision not to appeal was made public, Lord Hall was – as has been the case throughout this four-year debacle – nowhere to be seen. Nor was Fran Unsworth, his recently appointed director of news, who had signed off on the coverage in a more junior role and was the most senior BBC defendant in the court case.

Instead, it was left to David Jordan, the BBC’s director of editorial policy and standards, to field interviews.

Nevertheless, what he had been sanctioned to say would almost certainly have been cleared by Lord Hall himself. And what was the BBC message?

Well, despite its own legal advice that the Corporation had no chance of winning an appeal, the BBC is not yet ready to bury the hatchet.

Mr Justice Mann said three weeks ago in his reasons why he would not allow an appeal (prompting the BBC to ponder an Appeal Court ruling):

‘It has been suggested that my judgment is remarkable in imposing a new blanket restraint on the reporting of the subject of a criminal investigations. . . That is an erroneous reading . . . My judgment acknowledges that the reasonable expectation of privacy in the fact of an investigation is a presumption or starting point that can give way to countervailing factors; the safety of the public is one example.’

Despite this, the BBC’s message on Wednesday was that Mr Justice Mann is wrong. In the BBC’s eyes, the ruling will endanger public safety and disallow the naming of suspects. They have now written to the Attorney General demanding a change of the law to recognise this.

A second point conveyed by Jordan on His Master’s behalf was that Mr Justice Mann – who meticulously detailed in his core judgment last month why he did not believe the BBC’s account of its dealings with South Yorkshire police over the raid, thus doing what a judge does – had erred.

It boiled down to two fingers from Lord Hall to both the British court process and to Mr Justice Mann for daring to rule that the Corporation could be wrong.

To be fair, Jordan did also repeat an apology to Sir Cliff and acknowledge the distress he had suffered. He also accepted clearly for the first time that elements of the BBC coverage were ‘ill-judged’.

But in the context of the heavy BBC caveats about the judgment, do these words of qualified appeasement add up to anything meaningful or genuinely felt?

Two weeks ago, as the BBC was still considering an appeal, former BBC Chairman Lord Grade waded into the debacle. In an excoriating attack in the Times, he observed:

‘If there is a higher principle at stake, why is the editor-in-chief of the BBC, its director-general Lord Hall of Birkenhead, like Macavity, nowhere to be seen or heard? Why was he not on the steps of the court after the judgment? What and when did he know about the decision to launch helicopters and collude with the police? Is he proud of the scoop?

‘The ultimate custodian of the public interest in the BBC is its publicly appointed board. What action are they demanding over this shameful episode? Is there not a public interest in explaining their position to their paymasters, the licence-fee payers? It’s time the BBC Board spoke out about one of the most shocking lapses in the history of BBC journalism. It’s not too late for the BBC hierarchy to exercise some judgment.’

A further question now outstanding is whether Lord Hall should resign. The buck for this whole sorry saga, and the continuing obfuscation and prevarication, stops with him.

 

Lefties good, everyone else bad – welcome to Esler World

August 13, 2018

Gavin Esler, for 20 years a front-line BBC presenter and now a full-time writer and Chancellor of the University of Kent, has decided we deserve to be treated to his opinions about the world.

What, you might ask, are they? While presenting Dateline London and Newsnight, did he harbour secret dreams of a return to grammar schools, curbs on immigration, and of leaving the EU?

In a word, no. In two, emphatically no. Indeed, Mr Esler’s thoughts – expressed in an epic 2,000-word outpouring on the New European website – are underpinned with with what can only be called excremental venom.

His targets of derision? Anyone who might dare articulate even a glimmering of a viewpoint which does not chime with his extreme liberal-Left outlook.

Esler’s pronounced liberal bias was in fact already abundantly evident in his role as presenter of Dateline London, a current affairs panel discussion show on the BBC News Channel. His approach has been meticulously chronicled over many years by Craig Byers in no fewer than 49 postings on Is the BBC Biased?

In all that time, only one programme had a majority of guests who were not liberal-Left.

A sample of his presenting style (when, of course, he was theoretically bound by BBC rules about impartiality) spotted by Craig was a link he provided in the run-up to the 2016 US presidential election. He said: ‘Donald Trump really is a fat-shaming, ill-informed, tax-avoiding misogynist who routinely insults people of other races. Why is this election even close? And why could Mr Trump still win?’

Now that Esler’s gloves are off, such bias is piffling. In his world, those opposing him and the ideas espoused by them are basically sh*t – he even coins a scatalogical word for Brexit as his outro: ‘Brexcrement’. Those supporting it are drowning in it. Clever him. How long in his University of Kent eyrie did that eureka moment take to dream up?

The article would be comical if were not intended seriously. Everyone whom Esler approves of is ‘impressive’ (such as fanatical Remainer Sarah Woollaston MP); those he does not like are liars and cheats, or are supported by sinister financing. Oh, and they peddle ‘fake news’, or are crassly incompetent.

A few examples will illustrate his delusions and his wildly risible pantomime division of the world into heroes and villains:

Hero 1: Damian Collins, chair of the Commons Media Select Committee, for publishing a report into ‘fake news’ and spotting that it is underpinned by campaigns of ‘disinformation and messages of hate’. What Esler means, of course, is that he admires Collins’s work in attacking the Leave EU campaign.

Hero 2: Himself! Esler outlines how he has had a brilliant career in journalism and throughout was ‘accurate, fair and balanced’. But now – thanks to the noble work of Collins & co – it has been revealed that those pillars are cracking because of assaults by those who support views he does not like, such as Brexit, taxpayer-value-for-money, and climate change scepticism. So he – an intrepid warrior for Truth – is valiantly stopping the rot by name-calling.

Hero 3 (this one is a collective): American journalists on the New York Times, CNN and the Washington Post for calling out the serial lies of Donald Trump. In this section, Esler shows the full depths of his negativity by claiming they should not have reported Trump’s campaign as a serious project. He says: ‘We don’t “balance” arguments on child protection by hearing advocates for paedophilia, nor do we confront anti-slavery campaigners with racists arguing that other people can be personal property.’

Villain 1: Former Chancellor Nigel Lawson, for daring even to suggest that climate alarmism might be unfounded. In Esler’s neatly-defined world, alarmism is proven science, and there can be no, absolutely no, reporting of opposition.

Villain 2 (collective ‘Brexcrement’ supporters dubbed charmingly the ‘shameless Brexit Bunch’): First, Nigel Farage. Well, of course, he’s everyone’s favourite target. To Esler, he has been 20 years in the European Parliament and ‘never implemented a policy’. Is he ignorant of the fact that the European Parliament doesn’t implement anything except hot air – the only Parliament in the world that does not legislate? Next, Boris Johnson for being ‘all sizzle and no steak’ and launching ‘endless fantasy projects’. Finally in this category is ‘Living Fossil’ Jacob Rees-Mogg. How very grown-up Esler is in his analytical observations.

Villain 3: Chloe Westley (and with her, the TaxPayers’ Alliance and the Institute of Economic Affairs). Ms Westley – according to Esler, a ‘ubiquitous antipodean’ who worked for Vote Leave (sin one) and now the TaxPayers’ Alliance (sin two) – is a baddie because she won’t reveal how the TPA is funded. The IEA is tarred with the same brush.

Can this avalanche of ad hominem bile be dismissed as the work of one rotten apple in the BBC’s otherwise pristine Orchard of Impartiality? Seemingly not. Emily Maitlis, a former colleague of Esler still working on Newsnight, has tweeted that he has ‘nailed something truly critical’.

The fact that Maitlis – who is still bound by the BBC’s supposed strictures governing impartiality – can send such a message with impunity about something so blatantly biased speaks volumes. For years, News-watch  and Is the BBC Biased? have been chronicling the relentless skew in BBC output. Is Esler’s name-calling the real voice of BBC journalism?

 

TCW Encore: Move along, there’s nothing to see – BBC’s whitewash of the Brendan Cox affair

August 13, 2018

Starting today, over the next two weeks we’ll be republishing our 14 most-read posts/blogs of the year to date.

Reviewing the list, what strikes most is the extent to which that new prophet and counter-cultural phenomenon of the year, Jordan Peterson, features in it. Virtually unheard of before he rejected the mandatory use of gender-neutral pronouns, on the grounds of free speech, back in 2016 (much to the fury of radical transgender activists), today he is an international household name. More on the pronoun warrior who’s since taken his fight against post-modernism round the world in the days to come.

But today, our 14th most-read post of the year features the BBC, an institution that now more often closes down debate than opens it up in pursuit of its own Leftist agenda. Nothing was more illustrative of the biased BBC’s journalism than its whitewashing of Brendan Cox, which David Keighley documented in a post for us on February 20, 2018.

It is not known precisely what Brendan Cox, the widower of murdered MP Jo Cox, did wrongly to women while he was employed by Save the Children.

Mr Cox, who had been director of strategy for the charity, resigned in 2015 while an inquiry into the allegations against him was in progress, and proceedings were terminated before the facts could be established.

Belatedly, he has now accepted that he ‘crossed a line’, and in recognition of that he has resigned from the two charities he founded in memory of the tragic Ms Cox after her death in 2016.

Some of those who know Mr Cox, including his in-laws and Daily Mail commentator Amanda Platell are standing by him, because they say he is a dedicated family man, looking after two vulnerable children, who has painfully seen the error of his ways.

The purpose of this blog is not to attack Mr Cox for his morality or propriety without the full facts being known. In the #MeToo era, far too much effort is being expended on name-calling and rushing to judgments about the behaviours of people – especially men – without the facts being known except through the often unreliable, distorted lens of the media.

What Mr Cox’s resignations have thrown into focus, however, is the appalling bias in the BBC’s coverage of the whole Jo Cox saga. Her death in the days leading up to the EU referendum was shockingly violent. But in the BBC’s book, she instantly became a martyr of Right-wing bigotry, even though her killer, Thomas Mair, was arguably mentally deranged.

The Jo Cox label instantly became a BBC dog-whistle fulcrum to bring on a raft of people – including especially Brendan Cox himself – who wanted to attack those who were perceived to be against her saint-like espousal of causes such as open immigration, Remain (in the EU), and cultural diversity.

Airbrushed out of the equation from day one in the BBC coverage was that Ms Cox – far from being a saint – was strongly anti-Israeli and a staunch supporter of the Palestinian cause, despite it being heavily tainted by the stench of Hezbollah terrorism. She had first pursued such views while head of strategy at Oxfam and was advocating the potentially crippling Boycott, Divestments and Sanctions (BDS) agenda against Israel.

Evidence for the massive volume of unqualified pro-Jo Cox coverage on the BBC can be found by simply typing Jo Cox into the website search engine. Typical was in June last year after the General Election when Mr Cox was quoted as saying on the Today programme that Ms Cox would have been ‘hugely excited’ by Labour’s performance and that it showed her murder had ‘failed in its aim to push people apart’ (referring, of course, to the dog-whistle tag above).

Moving up to date, it was astonishing in this context that the Andrew Marr Show on Sunday failed to consider in any detail Mr Cox’s fall from grace and the implications for the Cox causes. The story of his resignation, a good old-fashioned newspaper scoop, was emblazoned across page one of the Mail on Sunday, but it was not mentioned in the Marr newspaper review. Mr Marr said simply that he was ‘sad’ for Mr Cox. The reason for the omission? Editor Rob Burley claimed it was that the guest newspaper reviewers did not think it worth mentioning because allegations against Mr Cox had already been made the previous week.

Excuse me? The editor of any BBC programme is responsible for his output and he must have known the enormous relevance and public interest attached to the news. His decision not to cover the story suggests the deliberate ignoring of developments that went against the pro-Cox BBC narrative.

That suspicion is amplified by the BBC website’s handling of the resignations of Mr Cox. Its headline was simply ‘Murdered MP’s widower Brendan Cox quits charities’. In other words, ‘move along there, nothing to see’. In the BBC’s carefully-crafted liberal-values world, the importance of the Jo Cox symbolism is undiminished.

This BBC reluctance to cover stories which go against an overall pro-Labour and associated dog-whistle causes was also on display in another aspect of the BBC news agenda at the weekend. One item widely covered elsewhere in the mainstream media was conspicuous by its absence: the sensational claims by a former Czech secret police operative that Jeremy Corbyn, or ‘COB’ as he was allegedly known in the spying world, had been paid for giving information to (then) enemy powers.

It is important to point out that Labour and Mr Corbyn strongly deny the allegations, but such claims about a would-be Prime Minister are of grave importance.

As Stephen Glover has lucidly pointed out in the Daily Mail, had there been allegations that Theresa May met leaders of apartheid in South Africa in the 1980s, it’s hard to believe that the BBC would not have gone to town – as they have also with every claim about the alleged Russian links of Donald Trump.

But when it comes to Labour? Barely a squeak. Craig Byers of Is the BBC biased blog spot has done some excellent sleuthing on BBC ‘coverage’ of the Corbyn Czech story. The BBC might have not bothered – they have made it very clear that they think they are dealing with moonshine.

At the start of his paper review Andrew Marr pretty well summed this attitude up:

‘They’ve [the Telegraph] also got a story about Jeremy Corbyn and the Czech agent. I should say that this has been comprehensively and absolutely denied as lies and rubbish by all the politicians concerned and it does seem, reading through it, fairly thin.’

 

BBC Watch: Game, set and match to Mr Justice Mann

August 7, 2018

Mr Justice Mann’s reasons for not allowing the BBC appeal against his judgment in the Sir Cliff Richard case are now available. The BBC’s claim was that the High Court judge had issued a blanket ruling which threatened press freedom and public safety by not allowing them in future to name suspects in criminal cases. Others in the press, such as Stephen Glover of the Daily Mail, supported the BBC and urged the appeal, raising the question of whether they had read the verdict properly.

Mr Justice Mann’s reasons for dismissing the argument – also outlined in the basis of his original judgment to be found on TCW here – state that this is absolutely not true. What he says is this:

I do, however, also deal with another aspect of this case in light of the considerable public interest it has attracted. In para.28 of his skeleton argument, as I have already pointed out, Mr Millar (Gavin Millar QC, leading the BBC legal team) suggested that there was a ‘compelling reason for the appeal’ without actually identifying one. I asked for clarification as to whether he was in any way adopting or relying on the widely expressed fears of the media that my judgment had somehow imposed a new bar on press reporting, or prevented the naming of any suspects in police investigations. He did not quite adopt that as a separate ground but my having raised it he did raise the chilling effect of my judgment as a basis for the appeal and something which, he said, amounted to a compelling reason for it.

  1. In the light of that I should say something about it. I do not accept that properly read my judgment should have the striking effect contended for by some. It has been suggested that my judgment is remarkable in imposing a new blanket restraint on the reporting of the subject of a criminal investigations, although it is fair to Mr Millar to say that he himself did not go quite that far in his expression, though his case was related to it. That is an erroneous reading of my judgment.
  2. My judgment acknowledges that the reasonable expectation of privacy in the fact of an investigation is a presumption or starting point that can give way to countervailing factors; the safety of the public is one example. The desirability of flushing out potential witnesses or more potential complainants is another, as the judgment itself acknowledges. (See para.252 and probably para.221) The door is not closed to other potential reasons for displacing the presumption. Even if the right survives at that stage of the argument, the press can still involve its Art.10 rights including any public interest factors which it considers to operate, and the balancing exercise then takes place. So it is simply wrong to suggest that there is now some blanket restriction on reporting investigations.
  3. Of course judgments have to be made and they may not always be easy. But it would be wrong to present my judgment as having any effect other than that just described. Accordingly I do not accept that there is some sort of wide effect of my judgment which provides some other compelling reason for an appeal and, insofar as relevant, I reject any application for permission to appeal on that basis too.

Alarm over press freedom, then, was a fiction of the BBC’s own creation. Yet despite this the BBC denied reports at the weekend that they have abandoned the idea of going to the Court of Appeal. That means they are still hoping to overturn Mr Justice Mann’s ruling. If so, what does it take for them to admit they are wrong?

 

BBC Watch: As Grade joins criticism over Sir Cliff, will heads start to roll?

August 3, 2018

Back in 2014, immediately after the BBC mounted dramatic coverage of a police raid on the home of Sir Cliff Richard in connection with an alleged sexual crime, director of BBC news Fran Unsworth – then in the deputy role – attempted to justify the Corporation’s actions.

As was reported at the time by TCW, she solemnly maintained that the ‘sensational’ headline reports, complete with helicopter shots, were legitimate journalism. Her reason? Never mind Sir Cliff’s expectation of privacy. Everything was justified because the BBC was under pressure from its competitors and needed to deliver to audiences ‘exclusive’ stories. In other words, in the world of the BBC journalism, the end justifies the means.

This cold, one-dimensional and self-interested reaction from Ms Unsworth has characterised every element of the BBC’s defence of the raid and subsequent developments, though now the BBC’s stance has been embroidered with claims that it was right to name Sir Cliff in the interests of press freedom.

In this instance, that meant naming a suspect before he was questioned, arrested or charged on the slenderest of evidence from thirty years previously, obtained from a still unnamed source.

Mr Justice Mann’s High Court judgment last month, of course, blew Ms Unsworth’s posturing to shreds. He declared that the BBC staff involved had been obsessed with getting and protecting a scoop, had acted deviously both in the build-up to the raid and subsequently as court proceedings unfolded, that the coverage had been ‘sensationalist’, and that overall, the BBC had blatantly breached Sir Cliff’s right to privacy.

As the Corporation still obdurately considers an appeal against the verdict, former BBC Chairman Lord Grade has now stepped into the row.

In a stinging rebuke of every aspect of the Corporation’s handling of the raid, he has written in the Times (behind a paywall, but reported here) that the BBC’s decision to ‘reveal so dramatically that Cliff Richard was the suspect’ marked a historic low in its journalism, and that those involved should hang their heads in shame.

Lord Grade accepted that the issues raised by the Sir Cliff case in relation to the tension between an individual’s privacy and press freedom might bear further examination. But he then slated the ‘arrogant irresponsibility’ which had motivated the coverage, and added: ‘We shouldn’t be fooled by the BBC’s leap to the moral high ground of defending the public interest. It is a piece of shameless spin that deflects from its grievous journalistic lapses. In revealing Cliff Richard’s name, the BBC displayed no higher purpose than securing a scoop, whatever the human cost.’

Winding up, Lord Grade then turned his fire on Lord Hall, the BBC director general, and the BBC Board of Management. He said: ‘If there is a higher principle at stake, why is the editor-in-chief of the BBC, its director-general Lord Hall of Birkenhead, like Macavity, nowhere to be seen or heard? Why was he not on the steps of the court after the judgment? What and when did he know about the decision to launch helicopters and collude with the police? Is he proud of the scoop?

‘The ultimate custodian of the public interest in the BBC is its publicly appointed board. What action are they demanding over this shameful episode? Is there not a public interest in explaining their position to their paymasters, the licence-fee payers? It’s time the BBC Board spoke out about one of the most shocking lapses in the history of BBC journalism. It’s not too late for the BBC hierarchy to exercise some judgment.’

These are grave observations and charges. The reality is that Mr Justice Mann’s verdict on the BBC’s conduct focuses upon deep faults in the BBC’s modus operandi. He found that the reporter involved, Dan Johnson, deliberately misled South Yorkshire Police over the amount of information he had about Sir Cliff, thereby bulldozing them into allowing BBC cameras to film the raid.

In court, the BBC staff involved defended their own actions, while seeking to project that any lapses in judgment were the fault of the police. In so doing, they were prepared to trash the reputations and honesty of all the individual police personnel involved.

Lord Grade’s intervention means that two former Chairmen of the BBC have now lined up to attack it. Lord Patten said soon after the verdict that the Corporation would be ‘crazy’ to appeal, adding that this was ‘not BBC journalism at its best’.

In organisations other than the BBC, against such pressure, the board would probably now be asking for resignations, or even sacking the people responsible for making and defending such patently suspect judgments.

Is that now on the cards from the BBC Board of Management, chaired by the former banker Sir David Clementi? Are they asking for scalps? In the 18 months since his appointment, Sir David has made virtually no public pronouncements and is probably the most low-profile BBC Chairman ever. Like Lord Hall, he is conspicuous by his absence.

So don’t hold your breath.

 

BBC Watch: This imaginary quagmire over press freedom

July 31, 2018

Last week Mr Justice Mann ruled that the BBC had no grounds for an appeal against his earlier High Court judgment in the Cliff Richard case. The BBC also accepted that it must now pay an estimated £1.3million in damages and costs (of Sir Cliff Richard and South Yorkshire Police).

That figure may well rise substantially after the judge has assessed the costs aspects of the case further.

Is that the end of the matter? This is the BBC and so of course it is not. The central point here is that the Corporation can never, ever admit that it is wrong. In the obdurate pursuit of its self-rectitude, nothing can stand in its way.

And so, despite huge and still-increasing bills, senior BBC executives are now saying that an important issue of press freedom is at stake, and they are considering going to the Appeal Court. Under the rules, they have three weeks in which to decide whether or not to do so.

Some newspapers have joined in this refrain about press freedom and the need to pursue the matter (and thus Sir Cliff) further. Stephen Glover of the Daily Mail – normally, of course, a staunch critic of the Corporation – is among them. He appeared on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme last Thursday to push his fears. He declared:

‘If the judge’s precedent is allowed to stand, there is a danger that suspects cannot be named by (media outlets) . . . and that the police could, for example, raid somebody’s house, a suspect’s house in the middle of the night and put somebody on police bail and the local media wouldn’t be able to report that . . . people might live in a state of fear or intimidation from the police. I mean, what we’re talking here about, I think is, in essence, open justice. And this is a long-established tradition, that media organisations do feel free to name suspects in certain circumstances. And if that is taken away, then the freedom of the press is certainly threatened.’

His observations were followed on Saturday by a Daily Mail editorial which claimed that Mr Justice Mann’s judgment meant that that only in ‘exceptional circumstances’ could the names of those arrested or suspected of committing an offence now be published. As such, the ruling ‘drove a coach and horses’ through the public’s right to know. In turn, this could allow ‘the police, the rich and powerful and the crooked’ to avoid public scrutiny.

The editorial accepted that people have a ‘reasonable expectation of privacy’, but added ‘that cannot mean people arresting innocent people in the dead of the night or ransacking their homes under a shroud of secrecy’. It opined that the Corporation thus has no alternative but to pursue the case.

The tragedy here is that the Mail and Stephen Glover have been pulled into an imaginary quagmire confected by the BBC in its bull-headed self-defence.

In fact, Mr Justice Mann did not say in his judgment at any point that in future suspects could not be named except in ‘exceptional circumstances’. All the Daily Mail’s fears are thus invalid. His analysis does contain a very stimulating and lucid discussion on this topic, based on case law stemming from judgments relevant to the battle in the Human Rights Act between Section 8 rights to privacy and Section 10 rights describing press freedom.

His Lordship points out in paragraph 234 of the judgment that an earlier judicial ruling about privacy (involving The Times) had raised that possibility of a blanket exceptional circumstances restriction but had not determined its validity as a principle.

But in paragraph 237, he states: ‘I respectfully agree (with the finding in an earlier case) . . . that whether or not there is a reasonable expectation of privacy in a police investigation is a fact-sensitive question and is not capable of a universal answer one way or the other.’

In other words, contrary to what Stephen Glover and the Daily Mail have argued, there is not in the judgment a blanket restriction of naming suspects. It is rather that – as was evident before the Cliff Richard case – the Human Rights Act stipulates that an individual’s rights to privacy must be taken into account, and must be overridden only if the reasons for doing so are in the public interest and the evidence in a case is strong.

There is not, and never has been, in English law, a ‘right’ for the media to name suspects in criminal investigations. It must be done only with great care.

And that is what Mr Justice Mann’s analysis considers meticulously. He makes it clear that, balancing all the facts presented to him, South Yorkshire Police were unwisely pushed into allowing the BBC to televise their raid of Sir Cliff’s home, largely because Dan Johnson (the reporter involved) had seriously misrepresented the strength of the information he had gathered from unnamed sources about the raid. The serious breach in Sir Cliff’s privacy happened because of a degree of police ineptitude and naivety, but most of all, because in the avid pursuit of a scoop, the BBC bulldozed anything that got in their way.

This dissection of Mr Justice Mann’s judgment is inevitably to some extent repetitious. But it is of deep concern that both the BBC – and more disappointingly, the Daily Mail – are continuing to project this as a battle of ‘freedom’. It is not and never was. The BBC went for Sir Cliff with all guns blazing and invaded his privacy in a most appalling way.

A truly responsible journalistic organisation would now be absorbing the lessons learned and ensuring that in future it acted correctly, ethically and within the law of the land. But this is the never-wrong BBC, and that, for it, would be like climbing Everest.

 

It’s not press freedom at stake over Sir Cliff, it’s the rights of an innocent man

July 23, 2018

Journalists, lawyers and, of course, the BBC have mounted an all-out attack on Mr Justice Mann’s ruling last Wednesday that the BBC and South Yorkshire police breached Sir Cliff Richard’s privacy in the 2014 raid on his home, carried out over a single allegation of sexual impropriety almost 30 years previously.

It is hard not to conclude from the tone that at least some of their vehemence and negativity is based on the media’s long-standing antipathy towards Sir Cliff, chronicled excellently here by the writer Michael Thornton, a long-time friend of the singer.

They are thus condemning an innocent man to continuation of an ordeal which has already lasted four long years because of the BBC’s intransigence.

Leading the fresh charge against Sir Cliff is a Guardian editorial which argues that the verdict of Mr Justice Mann, who ruled that the singer should not have been named, is a grave threat to press freedom which will hamper future criminal inquiries and allow rich celebrities to shield themselves from the public’s right to know.

A Daily Mail article containing a welter of one-sided similar opinion was framed under a headline suggested that a ‘British Harvey Weinstein’ would not have faced justice if he had been protected by the same level of privacy that the judge ruled should have been afforded to Sir Cliff. The main drift is that the media must have the right to name suspects being investigated by the police.

Harvey Weinstein, of course, though charged with an array of sexual offences, has not yet been found guilty of anything and vigorously denies what is claimed against him. This seems to have escaped the Daily Mail.

A Sun editorial was equally indignant and urged the BBC, in the interests of press freedom, to spend tens of thousands more of licence-fee-payers’ cash in a judicial appeal, to fight what it claimed was a judgment which elevated privacy under Human Rights law above free speech.

On the Spiked website, barrister Jon Holbrook suggested that Sir Cliff’s win was the public’s loss because the verdict elevated an individual’s right to privacy over ‘other broad public interests’. He also claimed that under Mr Justice Mann’s reasoning, Stuart Hall, Rolf Harris and Max Clifford – three figures who were jailed for sexual offences in the aftermath of the Jimmy Savile revelations – would not have been brought to justice.

The BBC was meanwhile working itself into a similar one-dimensional lather. The Corporation – which is still its own judge and jury in most complaints – will virtually never admit its journalism is wrong. True to form, it declared that it is continuing its battle against Sir Cliff and is considering an appeal because the verdict is a major threat to press freedom.

The core argument running through the pieces is that Mr Justice Mann had endangered future public safety by a blunderbuss of a repressive ruling which effectively bans the press from naming suspects who are under investigation.

Having read the ruling, and examined the arguments by the media who are hostile to Sir Cliff, I think their stance is plain wrong.

First, there has never been an absolute right for media outlets to name suspects in criminal investigations. Doing so has always been subject to the law of libel, and for the past 20 years, the privacy aspects of the Human Rights Act. It has been left to an editor’s judgment when it is safe to name a suspect. It is dependent on a host of ethical and factual considerations such as the stage an investigation has reached, the nature and reliability of the allegations involved, whether the suspect has been arrested and questioned, and many more.

Further, Stuart Hall, Rolf Harris and Max Clifford were brought to justice not simply because they were named by the police and press in similar circumstances to Sir Cliff. In each case, by the time they were named as suspects, each had been arrested, each had been interviewed, and in each case, there were multiple separate police-registered allegations against them. Once they had been named, it is true, further alleged victims of each man came forward, but the judicial process and their subsequent convictions were not dependent upon this – police already had substantial evidence, and had clear cases against them.

Conversely, those crying wolf over the past few days seem to have forgotten that police eagerness to name suspects in connection with allegations of historical sexual crimes led to years of needless suffering for a series of men who were entirely innocent, including Leon Brittan – who died while wrongly under suspicion – Lord Bramall, Paul Gambaccini and Jim Davidson.

Thirdly, it seems that the media figures and outlets attacking Mr Justice Mann’s ruling have lost sight of why the judge reached the conclusions that he did about it being wrong to name Sir Cliff. To understand this fully, it is necessary to read his whole lucid report.

To summarise, the judge took the specific facts of this case fully into account. It is not a blanket ban on police suspects being named, but a condemnation of naming Sir Cliff in this case. His judgment is hinged on numerous factors, including that there was only one allegation against the singer; that he had not been arrested, questioned or charged when the BBC’s coverage was mounted and the police raid undertaken; that the BBC was obsessed with getting a scoop to the extent that it was prepared to deceive and lie; and that as a result, what was broadcast was totally disproportionate.

Overall, therefore, the ruling is not the assault on press freedom that has now been projected. More worryingly, those staging the attacks are losing sight of one of the fundamentals of British justice and pillars of freedom, the Blackstone principle, which spelled out in the 18th century that it was better that ten guilty men go free than that one innocent man is convicted. Benjamin Franklin went further, saying the number should be 100 guilty men.

Strikingly, in comments below the articles I have mentioned which attack the verdict, the public overwhelmingly disagree and side strongly with Mr Justice Mann and Sir Cliff. Thus, the protection of the innocent is more important to them than it is to the media. In their eyes, the pillorying of Sir Cliff was grossly unfair, and that was the main factor in this case. Is the media’s reluctance to see this yet another reason why the public believe increasingly they are being fed fake news, especially by the BBC?

 

BBC Watch: Held to account over the trashing of Sir Cliff

July 19, 2018

Gotcha! In awarding £210,000 damages to Cliff Richard against the BBC for ‘tainting his life’ by its ‘sensationalist’ breach of his privacy in the August 2014 coverage of a police raid on his home, High Court judge Mr Justice Mann does not mince his words.

It boils down to an extremely rare event: the BBC being held to account for adopting gutter journalism in its over-the-top pursuit of a national icon who, with his traditionalist Christian values, does not fit the BBC’s ‘diversity’ agenda.

For the BBC, of course, this is an unbearable slight: although professing on one level to be apologetic to Sir Cliff for his discomfort, they immediately rubbished the verdict and are threatening to mount an appeal on the specious ground that this is an affront to press freedom. Of which, more later.

The scale of Mr Justice Mann’s withering judgment of the BBC’s conduct is matched by the size of the invasion of privacy award: it is believed to be the largest ever in such a case (the previous record was £60,000) and may expand to considerably more after further hearings into the scale of the damage to Sir Cliff’s reputation and earnings.

On top of that, of course, will be the singer’s and the BBC’s costs, which some have estimated will run to millions – to be borne by the licence-fee payer.

The bulk of Mr Justice Mann’s criticism in his meticulous 200-page verdict is aimed at the BBC’s devious approach to its negotiations with South Yorkshire Police and the Corporation’s disproportionate, all-guns-blazing coverage, which included the use of a helicopter as police raided Sir Cliff’s Sunningdale home.

This has been chronicled in TCW since the very start, here, here, here, here and here.

He is particularly scathing about the reporter at the centre of the case, Dan Johnson, and his line managers, Gary Smith, the BBC UK news editor, and Declan Wilson, then manager of the BBC’s North of England bureau.

Mr Justice Mann states that Mr Wilson’s evidence given to the damages hearing in April ‘needs to be approached with caution’; Dan Johnson – though ‘not a generally dishonest man’ – let his ‘enthusiasm for the story get the better of his complete regard for truth’; and Mr Smith was ‘unduly defensive’ and ‘to a degree evasive’ and could not always be relied upon to be a reliable witness.

Fran Unsworth, then the deputy director of news, and now promoted to be director of news, (the most senior BBC person to give evidence at the court hearing) was said to have been honest in her statements to the court, but her testimony was ‘tinged with wishful thinking and a bit of ex post facto convenient rationalisation’. Is that His Honour’s polite judicial circumlocution for bending the facts to meet the BBC’s perspective?

The usual suspects are now lining up to attack Mr Justice Mann. As already noted, the BBC itself – which can never accept that its journalism is wrong – has said it will appeal against the decision because it marks a ‘dramatic shift against press freedom’.

Over at the Guardian, veteran media pundit Roy Greenslade makes much the same point. He claims that reporting the details of suspects is a vital part of the process of holding the police to account. He adds that the fundamental error in the ruling is that Mr Justice Mann has allowed the right of privacy under the Human Rights Act to trump the public’s right to know.

Strong charges, but the reality is that such areas of journalism have always been grey and difficult. Offsetting the right to know is the ‘fair comment’ provision in court and crime reporting, which stipulates that certain actions and comment by the media can be contempt of court because they are prejudicial to the outcome of a trial, and suggest guilt.

Against Greenslade and the BBC, in 2014 human rights barrister Geoffrey Robertson, whose Leftist sympathies would normally make him an ally of the Corporation and the Guardian, was so outraged by the BBC’s conduct that he described it as a ‘conspiracy to injure’ the singer.

An inquiry in 2015 by former chief constable Andy Trotter – who had been lead in press liaison for the Association of Chief Constables – also found that the BBC’s conduct in its negotiations with South Yorkshire Police and in mounting the level of coverage it did was unreasonable. The BBC refused to take part in his investigation.

It boils down to that throughout this sorry saga, the BBC’s approach was totally over the top. There was only one source for the Cliff Richard allegations, and it was from many years previously. Despite this, the BBC covered the fishing search at the level of a major crime. They arguably conned South Yorkshire Police into allowing them to witness the event, and thereby grievously damaged the singer’s reputation.

Further, it emerged in Mr Justice Mann’s verdict that, in their frantic efforts to protect their perceived scoop, the BBC were prepared to lie to ITN, with whom they shared the use of the news helicopter. There was a sharing contractual agreement for any story gathered using it.

Gary Smith – the BBC’s UK news editor, and thus senior in the hierarchy – said on the day of the raid they wanted to use it but not for a breaking news story. Nothing could have been further from the truth. Mr Justice Mann described this as ‘sophistry’. Others might be more direct.

The ramifications of this verdict for the BBC’s integrity are immense. It throws an unprecedented spotlight on the Corporations newsgathering modus operandi.

 

BBC Watch: Hardline news – who else is on the hitlist?

July 16, 2018

Last week in TCW, Craig Byers astutely picked up that the BBC’s use of ‘hardline’ in the EU debate was deeply slanted.

The adjective, he spotted, was reserved for those whom the Corporation perceived to be most opposed to staying in the European Union. He also spotted that its derogatory application was much broader, boiling down to a catch-all dog-whistle label for the figures on the Right whom the Corporation classes as extremists.

Further intensive analysis of the BBC’s application of the word across its entire output using tracking software through all of June and into July, as the Chequers Brexit showdown meeting unfolded, confirms a fascinating picture of selective, targeted usage in what appears to be systematic bias. There were around 700 examples.

The first point to note is that across the six weeks hardline was NEVER applied to someone whom the BBC perceives to be progressive or liberal, but only to those who are projected as extremist, fundamentalist, oppressive and on the so-called Right.

There was a glaring demonstration of the deliberate polarity involved when a reporter describing the latest battles in the Brexit talks said the Brexiteers were ‘hardline’. What were the Remainers? The same? No, they were merely ‘stubborn’.

A possible fine-tooth comb exception here was the use of the word in the description of the former regime in Serbia, which was said to be ‘hardline communist Stalinist’ (and thus possibly of the ‘Left’). However, perhaps even John McDonnell would find it hard to regard the Serbian government in the land of Tito as anything but totalitarian and so the exception is not so.

So who else other than Jacob Rees-Mogg and those who want a ‘hard’ (another BBC journalistic distortion) Brexit are classed as hardline?

It’s a fascinating list. The key markers include opposition to uncontrolled immigration wherever it exists (from Mexico to Japan), any opposition to the EU’s prevailing policies and moves towards federalism, religious extremism practised by ‘Islamic’ imams and cultivated in madrassas, the anti-Western government regime in Iran, and the North Korean government.

And who are the people involved? Step forward first, of course, Donald Trump. His are multiple hardline sins: separating illegal immigrants from their children (though Presidents Obama and Clinton’s pursuit of the same policy was not mentioned); wanting to stop illegal immigrants; proposing a new tougher immigration Bill; and having policies similar to the Ku Klux Klan. Around 200 of the uses of the dog-whistle applied to him for his brazen attempts to prevent illegal immigrants entering the US.

Next were those in the new Italian government of Matteo Salvini, primarily for daring to stop NGO ‘immigrant’ ships landing in Italy, but also for not honouring the Schengen agreement and worrying generally about volumes of immigration in opposition to the EU; Sebastian Kurz, the Chancellor of Austria, and all the governments in the EU (including especially Hungary and Slovenia) who are opposing the immigration policies of Angela Merkel; the Polish government, for wanting to reform its legal system in opposition to the EU; and last but not least, Shintaro Ishihara, who was Governor of Tokyo for 13 years, for opposing levels of immigration and championing Japanese culture and values.

Is this nit-picking? The BBC – which maintains it gets its journalism right 99.999 per cent of the time – would no doubt say it is. Its defence would probably be (based on long experience!) that ‘hardline’ is a commonly used word and any linkage with the ‘Right’ is coincidental.

But that most definitely does not stack up here. For starters, why are Jeremy Corbyn or John McDonnell, who openly advocate Marxist economics, and demonstrably have supported terrorist regimes, not in the ‘hardline’ category? Why are Brexiteers, who want only to leave the EU in accordance with the vote of the EU Referendum, described with the same word as imams who conduct or encourage acts of terrorism? And why is any opposition to illegal immigration and open borders bracketed by the BBC in its language with those ‘Islamist’ terrorists or the repressive regime of President Tito of the former Yugoslavia?

Another important point in this slanted use of language by the BBC is that in the News-watch survey of the Brexit coverage on the Today programme in autumn/winter last year, it was noted that the BBC had started using the word ‘divorce’ routinely to describe the Brexit process.

The report concluded:

‘The main finding is that there was an unjustified heavy bias towards exploring the difficulties and potential negativities of Brexit. In this context, there is a special investigation of the pervasive and indiscriminate use by this BBC coverage of the word “divorce” – with all its negative overtones – to describe the EU exit process. In academic media analysis, it is held that such value-loaded “framing” of issues by the editorial process . . . negatively influence audiences.’

It boils down to the fact that the BBC has form in this sphere. The state broadcaster systematically uses negative labels to disparage and undermine the perspectives it opposes.

 

David Keighley’s BBC Watch: After Dimbleby, it’s Quota Time

June 21, 2018

There have been 1,369 editions of BBC1’s Question Time since its launch in 1979, and it has an estimated weekly audience of 2.4million in its 10.40pm slot on Thursdays.

David Dimbleby has announced he is leaving the show after 25 years in the chair, following ten years by Sir Robin Day (1979-89) and four from Peter Sissons (1989-93) – so who will be next?

There is a list of potential successors, ranging from Kirsty Wark to Victoria Derbyshire and Huw Edwards. But almost certainly the winner won’t be a man. This is the era of BBC ‘diversity’/feminism quota box-ticking, outlined here, and no woman has yet been the show’s permanent host – though in the mid-1980s, Nationwide host Sue Lawley deputised regularly for Sir Robin Day.

Already the Conservative Commons equalities committee chair Maria Miller has stepped in, warning the BBC that it must appoint a woman.

Woe betide the Corporation, therefore, if it appoints a man. And now that it is in the grip of the ‘quota’ agenda, can it risk appointing a white woman to the role?

This is an organisation where the head of comedy, Shane Allen, said this week that Monty Python – one of the greatest creative hits in television history – would not now be made by the BBC because it was conceived by and starred white Oxbridge graduates.

On that basis, there must be only a handful of candidates for Question Time. Step forward Today presenter Mishal Husain and Samira Ahmed, who hosts the BBC News Channel’s complaints programme Newswatch, after cutting her television teeth on Channel 4 News. So certain is Ms Ahmed that she is in with a shout that she has self-declared her candidacy on Twitter.

Ms Husain has already briefly occupied the Question Time chair during the debates leading up to the 2017 General Election. Her debut, as was reported here, did not go well. The audience was full of raucous supporters of Jeremy Corbyn, and Ms Husain had great difficulty controlling proceedings. She was loudly heckled and almost drowned out when she asked the Labour leader how he would pay for his (uncosted) child care policies.

The BBC thus has a serious dilemma of its own making on its hands. Quotas are a serious bind and indeed are likely to stifle creativity and excellence in programme-making.

In reality, however, women have been centre stage in the production of Question Time since its inception. The first editor was a formidable feminist, Barbara Maxwell, to whom Sir Robin referred as ‘the flame-haired temptress’. Her reign lasted 14 years.

The story of the pressures Sir Robin faced from Ms Maxwell is told by Peter Sissons in his autobiography and summarised here. From the outset she worked to ensure that women panellists were a regular part of the show, often irrespective – Sir Robin believed – of whether they had enough experience to be able to deliver under the unique pressures the show generated.

When Sissons – lured to the BBC from ITN in 1989 to be Sir Robin’s successor – took over, Ms Maxwell made it clear to him that the female quota system must continue. When Sissons objected, he says she made his life in the chair as awkward and uncomfortable as possible by the choice of sometimes unsuitable and incompetent female panellists.

Sissons says he left the show four years later after the BBC decided Question Time would be put out to independent production. The team appointed was all-female and – Sissons alleged – intensified the pressure on him.

Sue Lawley was lined up as his successor, but ruled herself out because the BBC insisted that there must be a three-legged audition process also involving David Dimbleby and Jeremy Paxman. Although she was the clear favourite, Ms Lawley refused to take part because, it is claimed, she thought that as an established BBC presenter auditioning was beneath her, so Dimbleby was appointed.

The point of all this? Despite its long history of female involvement and the encouragement of participation by ‘minorities’, Question Time seems now destined to have a host who will be chosen on the basis of quota-related box-ticking rather than his or her capacity to perform in a particularly tough hot seat.

Another issue is whether the programme is past its sell-by date. The format of voters confronting politicians was innovative in 1989 but almost 40 years on it has become hackneyed and formulaic. As is argued here, it has become a platform for platitudes, a performance vehicle for those who can blather best. Rather than illuminating the political process, it generates mainly obfuscation.

Not only that, as the Institute of Economic Affairs shows here, it has become deeply biased, especially since the EU referendum, with panels heavily weighted towards the Remain side.

The BBC has a programme budget of billions. It is high time it started to use it to generate innovative news and current affairs programmes rather than hobbling along with the tired relics of another age.

 

David Keighley’s BBC Watch: Bad news on Two for old, white men

June 1, 2018

Be afraid, be very afraid. Patrick Holland, appointed last year as the Controller of BBC2, has launched a new mission.

He has decided that his channel, which attracts only around six per cent of the television audience share, needs a bit of a shake-up.

The reason? It’s too posh. Too much like ‘eating muesli’. And, of course, the dwindling audience is . . . well, just too full of old white men. In the world of the BBC, that’s just not on.

In response, Mr Holland has promised to produce programmes that are ‘challenging’ and of ‘unashamed complexity’. And he will reel in the viewers he wants by ensuring that his future not-posh offerings appeal to ‘older women, people living outside London and those from ethnic minority backgrounds’.

His line of attack? Well, the BBC is the BBC, and if in doubt when looking for something ‘challenging’, where better to start than with a little something on Margaret Thatcher?

For almost 40 years now since her election as Prime Minister, the Corporation has been treating her as the devil incarnate, most recently in coverage of the continuing calls for an inquiry into the violence which erupted at Orgreave during the 1984 miners’ strike. The Corporation described this as ‘one of the most violent episodes in British industrial history’, leaving little doubt as to who was to blame.

Mr Holland has commissioned a five-part series about her, which, it is said, will chart ‘the seismic social history of modern Britain’.

For the uninitiated, that’s BBC code. What he almost certainly means is that the programme will set out to chart the havoc and misery which, in the BBC’s usual estimation, the Thatcher era and its legacy caused.

Also in store? Under the heading of ‘embracing complexity’ in a recent speech announcing new BBC programmes, Mr Holland also promises a look ‘at why some Asian cultures have thrived in the UK while other have struggled’, and journalist Mobeen Azhar will examine how the lives of British Muslim families were ‘transformed’ by the Satanic Verses fatwa on Salman Rushdie.

Mr Holland added: ‘The Mash Report is returning to BBC Two having broken the internet with its viral clips from the brilliant Rachel Parris and Nish Kumar as they discussed Trump, sexual harassment and Brexit. Short form content from this series has had over 200million views, bringing a massive new audience to topical comedy.’

How this all translates to the screen, of course is anyone’s guess. It might be admiring of Donald Trump, talk up the benefits of Brexit, say that immigration – brilliant as many immigrants are – is an increasing matter of concern for many communities, and condemn unequivocally the passing of a death sentence on a novelist for writing a book, and the burning of those books on the streets of Britain.

Then again, maybe not.

A third leg of the programming is an expedition to Redcar on Teesside. More words from Mr Holland: ‘Enter a docusoap for a new generation . . . it follows life in the north-eastern town after the steelworks has closed down. The subject could be grim or gawpy but the series is anything but.’

Hold on to your hats! Some might say this visit to the north is framed in a rather patronising way. Might there be be hope for the wretched flat-cap workers up there who had the temerity to vote for Brexit despite their economic plight?

Mr Holland finished his speech: ‘At its core, BBC2 is about values that urgently need championing right now: curiosity and challenge, diversity and difference, mischief and provocation. Not shying from complexity but actively seeking it out.’

Was that lifted from the script of the satirical BBC programme W1A 1AA? Whatever the truth, those grey, geriatric men who have the temerity to watch BBC2 are, it seems, in for a bumpy ride.

 

David Keighley’s BBC Watch: A figleaf swept away in the torrent of anti-Brexit bias

April 24, 2018

In BBC Radio 4’s Feedback on Friday, host Roger Bolton introduced a classic edition of Corporation Complaints Stonewalling.

The subject? Primarily coverage of Brexit. The message? As always, the BBC is getting it right.

The full transcript can be read here.

Element one, carefully orchestrated by Bolton, was to convey that the BBC was receiving complaints that its Brexit coverage was biased from both ‘sides’, those who supported Brexit and those who opposed it. Because of this, it was risibly suggested, complaints of editorial imbalance must be unfounded.

Element two was that two BBC bigwigs – Gavin Allen, controller of daily news programmes, and Ric Bailey, chief political adviser – confirmed why, in their view, the BBC’s coverage was completely impartial and met Charter requirements.

Element three was that Today presenter Nick Robinson – now seemingly firmly ensconced as the Corporation’s defender-in-chief – was wheeled out to defend the relentless tide of anti-Brexit negativity.

None of the three men produced a shred of credible, verifiable evidence to support their claims. Their approach boiled down to that they know what they are doing; anyone who disagrees is simply deluded.

In other words, with more than 20 tedious minutes devoted to Brexit, Feedback was yet another edition of the favourite BBC refrain in response to the tens of thousands of complaints it receives: ‘Move along there, nothing to see!’

Reading the programme transcript confirms that these BBC luminaries truly believe this, and have constructed elaborate, self-justifying arguments to support their stance. Allen, for example, argued that the BBC’s only fault in this domain is actually that it doesn’t explain enough its internal processes. If listeners and viewers only knew how hard he and Corporation editors think about bias, they wouldn’t complain.

Poppycock! What actually seems to be the case is rather that Bolton, Allen, Bailey and Robinson – and seemingly all of the BBC’s battalions of journalists – are locked in a bubble of their own making and can’t see the acres of bias they churn out each week. This is confirmation bias.

Exhibit A, based on the BBC output being broadcast as the four men were congratulating themselves on their journalistic brilliance and rectitude, is an analysis conducted last week by Craig Byers of the website Is the BBC Biased? Using a monitoring service called TV Eyes, Craig painstakingly tracked every mention on BBC programmes of the word ‘Brexit’ between Monday and Friday last week (April 16-20).

What he found was a deluge of Brexit negativity. Craig’s blog needs to be read in full to appreciate the sheer scale. It permeated every element of its news output and even percolated down to BBC1’s The One Show and EastEnders, which had a pointed reference to these ‘tough Brexit times’. In the BBC’s world, Brexit was a threat to EU immigrants (in the context of the Windrush developments), to farmers, to interest rates, to airlines, to personal privacy (via Cambridge Analytica), to house prices, to security in Northern Ireland, and more.

Among all these sustained mentions of the problems, the positive words about Brexit could be counted virtually on the fingers of one hand.

Exhibit B was mentioned by Ric Bailey on Feedback in an attempt to show that Brexit coverage was balanced. It did no such thing. He instanced that during a special day about Brexit on Radio 4 on March 29, the corporation had broadcast a half-hour programme called The Brexit Lab about the opportunities of Brexit. It suggested, for example, that environmental controls could be tougher and that British Rail could be re-nationalised once the UK was freed from the EU’s regulatory shackles.

What Bailey did not say, however, was that the remainder of this special programming – including an edition of Today, sequences on The World at One and The World Tonight, plus two much longer programmes, one about the historical relationship between Britain and ‘Europe’ (45 minutes), the other about reaction in EU countries to Brexit and their views about the future of the EU (60 minutes) – was heavily dominated by Remain themes and Remain speakers.

The suspicion must be that The Brexit Lab had been devised and broadcast as a figleaf. Within days, it was being used by one of the corporation’s most senior editorial figures as ‘proof’ that its Brexit output is balanced. The reality is vastly different. Craig’s analysis above, plus News-watch reports that can be seen here, provide voluminous evidence that since the EU Referendum, the BBC has been engaged in an all-out war to undermine Brexit.

And even concerning March 29, which the BBC trumpeted as evidence of its ‘balance’, senior executives seem totally and even comically unaware that the reverse is true. The Brexit Lab was totally swamped by other negative programming. Whatever the reason, the pro-EU, anti-Brexit propaganda spews forth regardless.

 

Blair’s EU witch project and the BBC

March 1, 2018

How much was it worth? The EU Remain cause is already bankrolled lavishly by figures such as George Soros – but what would eight minutes of virtually uninterrupted prime airtime on BBC Radio 4’s the Today programme cost?

That is what former Prime Minister and arch-Remainer Tony Blair was granted at 7.32am this morning to continue his relentless truth-bending campaign to overturn the EU Referendum vote. The full sorry transcript can be read here.

This exchange can be seen as as a new high in the BBC’s now all-out campaign to do everything in its power to undermine the decision in favour of Brexit, evidence for which includes this recent News-watch paper for Civitas surveying almost 20 years of the Corporation’s EU coverage.

True, interviewer Sarah Montague threw in a few questions, and interrupted half a dozen times, but they were arguably only punctuation marks in Mr Blair’s flow and were about as taxing as a wet lettuce – in sharp contrast to the approach towards any Brexit-supporting figure who is invited to appear on Today.

In effect Mr Blair was allowed to deliver an 8-minute party political broadcast of 1,850 words, divided into 10 sections.

His purpose? To tell the world that unless the UK accepted staying in the single market and the customs union, a hard border was inevitable between the Republic of Ireland and Ulster. And if that happened, there would be a serious risk of a return to terrorism and civil strife.

Ms Montague feebly suggested that the peace process might be re-cast in the light of the Brexit vote and new thinking about border arrangements, but Mr Blair was having none of it.

His full, patronising fingers-up to the British people who voted to leave the EU was summed-up in the following extract from his homily:

‘And really what I’m doing today is saying that there are essentially three legs to the stool of changing Brexit. The first is that the British people start to understand this is a very costly and complex process, much more so than we realised. Now, I think that’s well on the way to being satisfied. Secondly, I think we have to show people who voted Leave there are different ways of dealing with their anxieties and better ways than Brexit. But the third thing is to say to Europe it’s also bad for you. You know, Brexit may be bad for Britain, it’s bad for Europe, it’s going to diminish Europe . . .’

Who but the Blair/Soros axis cares about the latter point? Why did Ms Montague choose not to challenge him on that? Her lack of intervention underlined that, while the BBC is pulling out all the stops to highlight the dangers of leaving the EU, it never focuses on the problems of staying in, or the deep structural problems of the EU itself.

As for the first two points, ‘contempt-filled’ should perhaps be added to ‘patronising’ in the description of Mr Blair’s approach. The British people, despite being battered by Project Fear and Mr Blair’s repeated lauding of the wonders of the EU, voted to leave. To say they didn’t understand and now need ‘soothing in their anxieties’ is La-La Land logic of the type Mr Blair excels in producing.

An issue of deeper concern remains the BBC’s journalism about Brexit. Survey after survey by News-watch, as well as the Civitas paper mentioned above, have underlined the all-pervasive negativity against leaving the EU.

Mr Blair has been making exactly the pro-EU points he made yesterday ever since the referendum was announced. In those circumstances, Ms Montague’s professional incisors should have been bared to their full extent, in the same way that she and her colleagues repeatedly attacked Nigel Farage over all the years he was involved in UKIP. They emphatically were not.

There is an abundance of evidence from the DUP, from Kate Hoey and the Labour supporters of Brexit, as well as from Brexit ranks – for example here which indicates that the alleged problems of the Northern Ireland border are a confection by an unholy alliance of Remainers, Sinn Fein, the EU and the Irish Taoiseach to thwart the Brexit process and lead to Irish unification.

Ms Montague chose not to draw on any of such material, and virtually ignored that the possibility was there. It was a kid-gloves approach.

 

Move along, there’s nothing to see – BBC’s whitewash of the Brendan Cox affair

February 20, 2018

It is not known precisely what Brendan Cox, the widower of murdered MP Jo Cox, did wrongly to women while he was employed by Save the Children.

Mr Cox, who had been director of strategy for the charity, resigned in 2015 while an inquiry into the allegations against him was in progress, and proceedings were terminated before the facts could be established.

Belatedly, he has now accepted that he ‘crossed a line’, and in recognition of that he has resigned from the two charities he founded in memory of the tragic Ms Cox after her death in 2016.

Some of those who know Mr Cox, including his in-laws and Daily Mail commentator Amanda Platell are standing by him, because they say he is a dedicated family man, looking after two vulnerable children, who has painfully seen the error of his ways.

The purpose of this blog is not to attack Mr Cox for his morality or propriety without the full facts being known. In the #MeToo era, far too much effort is being expended on name-calling and rushing to judgments about the behaviours of people – especially men – without the facts being known except through the often unreliable, distorted lens of the media.

What Mr Cox’s resignations have thrown into focus, however, is the appalling bias in the BBC’s coverage of the whole Jo Cox saga. Her death in the days leading up to the EU referendum was shockingly violent. But in the BBC’s book, she instantly became a martyr of Right-wing bigotry, even though her killer, Thomas Mair, was arguably mentally deranged.

The Jo Cox label instantly became a BBC dog-whistle fulcrum to bring on a raft of people – including especially Brendan Cox himself – who wanted to attack those who were perceived to be against her saint-like espousal of causes such as open immigration, Remain (in the EU), and cultural diversity.

Airbrushed out of the equation from day one in the BBC coverage was that Ms Cox – far from being a saint – was strongly anti-Israeli and a staunch supporter of the Palestinian cause, despite it being heavily tainted by the stench of Hezbollah terrorism. She had first pursued such views while head of strategy at Oxfam and was advocating the potentially crippling Boycott, Divestments and Sanctions (BDS) agenda against Israel.

Evidence for the massive volume of unqualified pro-Jo Cox coverage on the BBC can be found by simply typing Jo Cox into the website search engine. Typical was in June last year after the General Election when Mr Cox was quoted as saying on the Today programme that Ms Cox would have been ‘hugely excited’ by Labour’s performance and that it showed her murder had ‘failed in its aim to push people apart’ (referring, of course, to the dog-whistle tag above).

Moving up to date, it was astonishing in this context that the Andrew Marr Show on Sunday failed to consider in any detail Mr Cox’s fall from grace and the implications for the Cox causes. The story of his resignation, a good old-fashioned newspaper scoop, was emblazoned across page one of the Mail on Sunday, but it was not mentioned in the Marr newspaper review. Mr Marr said simply that he was ‘sad’ for Mr Cox. The reason for the omission? Editor Rob Burley claimed it was that the guest newspaper reviewers did not think it worth mentioning because allegations against Mr Cox had already been made the previous week.

Excuse me? The editor of any BBC programme is responsible for his output and he must have known the enormous relevance and public interest attached to the news. His decision not to cover the story suggests the deliberate ignoring of developments that went against the pro-Cox BBC narrative.

That suspicion is amplified by the BBC website’s handling of the resignations of Mr Cox. Its headline was simply ‘Murdered MP’s widower Brendan Cox quits charities’. In other words, ‘move along there, nothing to see’. In the BBC’s carefully-crafted liberal-values world, the importance of the Jo Cox symbolism is undiminished.

This BBC reluctance to cover stories which go against an overall pro-Labour and associated dog-whistle causes was also on display in another aspect of the BBC news agenda at the weekend. One item widely covered elsewhere in the mainstream media was conspicuous by its absence: the sensational claims by a former Czech secret police operative that Jeremy Corbyn, or ‘COB’ as he was allegedly known in the spying world, had been paid for giving information to (then) enemy powers.

It is important to point out that Labour and Mr Corbyn strongly deny the allegations, but such claims about a would-be Prime Minister are of grave importance.

As Stephen Glover has lucidly pointed out in the Daily Mail, had there been allegations that Theresa May met leaders of apartheid in South Africa in the 1980s, it’s hard to believe that the BBC would not have gone to town – as they have also with every claim about the alleged Russian links of Donald Trump.

But when it comes to Labour? Barely a squeak. Craig Byers of Is the BBC biased blog spot has done some excellent sleuthing on BBC ‘coverage’ of the Corbyn Czech story. The BBC might have not bothered – they have made it very clear that they think they are dealing with moonshine.

At the start of his paper review Andrew Marr pretty well summed this attitude up:

‘They’ve [the Telegraph] also got a story about Jeremy Corbyn and the Czech agent. I should say that this has been comprehensively and absolutely denied as lies and rubbish by all the politicians concerned and it does seem, reading through it, fairly thin.’

 

Leftist, anti-British, anti-capitalist and corrupt – why is Oxfam getting millions from a Tory government?

February 14, 2018

An astonishing aspect of the aid agency scandal is that few in the press or the political establishment have properly questioned this multi-billion-pound scam before now.

Oxfam, when it was founded in 1942, was driven by Christian principles of helping our fellow men. No longer.

The stark reality is that almost all the charities, trusts, and organisations involved in aid are now run by socialist ideologues whose driving force is predominately anti-capitalist, anti-British, pro-climate-change dogma.

This is exactly the approach that has led Venezuela to the brink of disintegration.

Exhibit A illustrates the catalogue of aid agency madness. It is the glitzy Oxfam policy document released on January 16: a clarion call to attack billionaires and the economic system that created them couched in the language of Momentum.

Why on earth is a so-called Conservative government supporting such a rats’ nest of socialist propaganda? It is driven by self-righteous zeal. So much money is being ploughed into this sector that it has become a gilded cage. In that framework, the sort of corrupt self-entitlement and bullying now coming to light are inevitable by-products.

At the centre of the UK’s £13.5billion foreign aid and aid agency ‘development’ enterprise is the lavish Oxfam operation and its palatial Oxford HQ. An examination of the massive conglomerate’s chairman, former BBC high-flyer Caroline Thomson, is a key to its nature.

Her Christianity-free, jargon-driven multi-national empire derives half its income from government funds – predominantly the EU, a raft of agencies of the UN and the British and Swedish governments. It is not, therefore, truly a ‘charity’ at all, but an arm of the burgeoning global governance and rights industry.

And who is Ms Thomson? Her background speaks volumes about the organisation and aspirations of the enterprise she chairs.

She began her career as a BBC trainee in 1975 and rose – via a spell as political adviser to arch-Europhile Roy Jenkins – to become the Corporation’s chief operating officer. In 2012, she was granted a £670,000 pay-off when George Entwistle thwarted her bid to become director general.

Her credentials for her roles with the BBC and now Oxfam are exactly as might be expected. She is the daughter of the late Lord Thomson of Monifieth, a Labour peer, the UK’s first European Commissioner and later chairman of the former television regulatory body, the Independent Broadcasting Authority. Her husband of more than 40 years is the Labour peer Roger Liddle, who was Tony Blair’s special adviser on European policy, and then moved to the European Commission in a similar role under Jose Manuel Barroso, its then president. His Lordship currently heads a think tank on EU policy and has written a book with Peter Mandelson.

Neither of the Liddles, it could be deduced, would vote Tory or UKIP. Ms Thomson joined the Trustees of Oxfam in March 2017 – adding to a clutch of similar roles – and assumed the chairmanship in October. Did she conduct due diligence?

A brief visit to the charity’s website reveals the doctrinaire Leftist propaganda within. There are hundreds of documents on ‘equality’ (code for anti-capitalist), climate change and ‘women’s empowerment’ (though rarely in Muslim countries, of course). Treatises and projects tackling corruption, providing cheap energy, entrepreneurship and sound business administration are strangely much harder to find.

Maybe someone who had worked at the BBC would find these Oxfam doctrines exactly to their taste. And maybe, because such goals are felt by those who uphold them to be the beyond-reproach ‘higher good’, Ms Thomson did not delve much further into how Oxfam staff conducted themselves in places such as Haiti and Chad, and in the UK’s so-called charity shops.

Whatever the reasoning, she and the entire body of Trustees are in the line of fire now. The problem, though, comes back to the core issue that virtually all of the development industry now sings from the same hymn sheet in terms of policy and motivation.

While at the BBC, Ms Thomson was deputy director of the World Service, whose charity and aid-sector arm is now known as Media Action. Its current boss? That will be Caroline Nursey, who before she assumed her current role was a director (in several different areas of responsibility) at – of course – Oxfam.

There is no doubt that aid agencies do carry out some work that is necessary and important, particularly in fast-track disaster relief. But the Nursey/Thomson axis underlines that they do so from within a very narrow, doctrinaire bubble. The BBC is its main propaganda arm, as the projects of their Media Action wing outlined on its website vividly illustrate. Other aid agencies march in lock-step to their version of the ‘higher good’.

With guaranteed finance emanating from state sources, the Oxfam scandal doubly underlines that they have been scandalously complacent and lazy – if not institutionally blind – towards issues such as sexual abuse. The whole arena needs an Augean cleansing.

International Development secretary Penny Mordaunt and the Conservative government have a major opportunity to launch this. But will they? Don’t hold your breath.

 

No defence left for the BBC – damning figures that prove Brexit bias

January 26, 2018

Readers of TCW will need little persuading that the BBC’s coverage of Brexit is biased. The Corporation vehemently denies it of course, but since the referendum vote, it has seemingly been on an all-out mission to find every reason why leaving the EU is disastrous for the UK – and to avoid reporting the benefits.

Hillary Clinton, on a book-plugging visit to London, claims the Brexit result was based on a ‘big lie’? Immediately it’s a BBC headline. Wages aren’t rising in pace with the cost of living? Another ‘hold the front page’ moment ‘because of Brexit uncertainty’.

What is surprising, however, is the sheer scale of the Corporation’s failure to meet its Charter requirement of impartiality. A paper by News-watch published today by Civitas, based on a collation of research conducted into the BBC’s EU coverage over the past 18 years, chronicles the immense problems for the first time.

The report, The Brussels Broadcasting Corporation? – How pro-Brexit views have been marginalised in the BBC’s news coverage, can be read in full here.

The paper also demonstrates that the Corporation’s complaints process is not fit for purpose. It is a self-serving mechanism for kicking impartiality issues into touch rather than dealing with them honestly, independently and robustly. The only remedy, the authors argue, may be a judicial review or a public inquiry.

News-watch has been monitoring BBC output since the European Parliamentary elections in 1999. This work is based on rigorous academic principles followed by university media schools around the world. There are 38 reports covering hundreds of hours of EU output and 8,000 programme transcripts, and it is believed to be the largest systematic study of the media ever undertaken.

The key findings, which show that supporters of withdrawal from across the political spectrum have been severely under-presented, include:

  • Of 4,275 survey-period guests talking about the EU on BBC Radio 4’s flagship Today programme between 2005 and 2015, only 132 (3.2 per cent) were supporters of the UK’s withdrawal from the EU.
  • In 274 hours of monitored BBC EU coverage between 2002 and 2017, only 14 speakers (0.2 per cent of the total) were Left-wing advocates for leaving the EU, and they spoke only 1,680 words.
  • In the same period, Tory pro-EU grandees Kenneth Clarke and Michael Heseltine made between them 28 appearances, with contributions totalling 11,208 words – over nine times the amount of airtime allocated to all Left-wing supporters of Brexit.
  • In Today’s business news covering the six months after the EU referendum, only 10 (2.9 per cent) of 366 speaker contributions were from supporters of withdrawal from the EU. http://news-watch.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2017/03/News-watch-Business-News-Survey-.pdf
  • More recently, in October-November last year, of 68 non-politically allied speakers in the Brexit-related coverage on Today, 52 were anti-Brexit or pro-EU, and only 16 were pro-Brexit or anti-EU, an imbalance of worse than 3:1 – despite the Leave vote.

Of course, measuring bias is not solely about numbers. They are one factor among many in News-watch assessment methodology.

The News-watch reports also include detailed textual analysis which confirms that these blatant numerical imbalances are indicators of across-the-board bias against EU withdrawal.

Equally as disturbing is the BBC’s attitude towards this work. Over most of the 18 years, successive figures from the senior hierarchy have refused point blank even to consider the News-watch work. The one exception, in 2007, was a travesty.

The Corporation’s stone-wall excuse boils down to that they are the wrong kind of complaint because the internal BBC process deals only with issues arising from single programme editions.

The most recent dismissal of a News-watch report – about coverage of the EU and Brexit issues in last year’s General Election – was derisory. Without providing any evidence, the BBC press office claimed that it ‘would not pass basic academic scrutiny’. The speed and content of their response suggested that they could not have properly read it.

Another key point in the equation is what the BBC has not covered in the Brexit terrain. The News-watch work has been championed in Parliament by a cross-party group of MPs which includes Kate Hoey and Kelvin Hopkins from Labour, Philip Davies and Philip Hollobone from the Conservatives and Ian Paisley from the DUP.

Sir David Clementi, the BBC Chairman and his predecessors, and Lord Hall, the Director General of the BBC, not only have refused to meet the group to discuss the bias issues – but they also have been unable to supply to the cross-party group a single BBC programme since the referendum which has examined the opportunities of Brexit.

News-watch has been scouring the schedules to spot one – but in vain.

 

David Keighley: BBC sting in the reindeers’ tale

January 10, 2018

Hold the front page! The BBC has accepted it has made a mistake – over sensationalist claims about climate change.

But don’t faint: as always with the BBC and complaints, there is a sting in the tail.

Simon Reeve, the BBC ‘travel’ presenter (qualifications include working in a supermarket and being an advocate for the World Wide Fund for Nature), claimed in a recent programme about Russia that reindeer populations across the north of the country were ‘in steep decline’ because of climate change.
Lord Lawson of the Global Warming Policy Foundation submitted a complaint pointing out that according to a large-scale 2016 study, despite massive reductions in state support for husbandry 17 out of 19 sub-populations of Eurasian reindeer were either increasing or were stable. The survey specifically warned against linking numbers to climate change.

So did this monumental economical-with-reality statement by Mr Reeve warrant a full apology to Lord Lawson? Of course not. The Corporation simply stated: ‘This programme suggested that many reindeer populations are in steep decline because of climate change. It would have been more accurate to say that many reindeer populations are threatened by it.’

So in other words, even when BBC presenters are wrong, they are right. And on matters of climate change Lord Lawson is always wrong, as the BBC trumpets as loudly as it can.

 

David Keighley’s BBC Watch: We’re impartial, it’s just our staff who aren’t

January 1, 2018

Good morning. Here is the Not the Fake BBC News.

As usual, before we start, it’s important to point out that the BBC itself doesn’t have an opinion on anything, but our correspondents do.

First, the latest from America. Our person there reports that the fascist and racist Donald Trump, the worst President there has ever been, has risibly denied again that he is not a puppet of the Russians. Our correspondent says his denial must be untrue because Hillary Clinton – who he believes always sticks to the facts – said so.

Now Brexit. Yatka Alder, from our Brussels bureau, has learned exclusively that the bill for leaving the EU has risen to £200billion because her sources in the Commission have found liabilities that the UK did not know about. She has thought long and hard and considers that there is no escape from this rocketing reckoning, because Jean-Claude Juncker told her so after only his eighth brandy.

At home, Ark Measton, our crack home correspondent, estimates that the NHS waiting lists will rise in 2018 to at least six months for all operations. His sources in Momentum – and leaked calculations from Diane Abbott – have confirmed to him that this must be true because of the egregious pursuit of ‘austerity’. His impeccable sources – Jeremy Corbyn, backed by Lord Adonis – have confirmed the veracity of the prediction.

And globally, our climate alarmist person Dodger Horrortin has been told by Al Gore that 2018 will see ice vanish from the North Pole. He considers this to be true because those who disagree are known to be deluded morons – and on top of that it will be third time lucky for Mr Gore.

Fantasy? Maybe not. In one of its latest rulings, the BBC Complaints Unit has decided that a report in December by US Correspondent James Cook  – which openly called President Trump racist and fascist – was not a breach of BBC impartiality.

The reason? Well, in the BBC rulebook the BBC itself never has opinions, and the offending article was not actually by the BBC. Rather it was ‘analysis’ by Cook.

You decide. In the piece, headlined ‘Giving succour to the far Right, Trump breaks with American ideals’, Cook – having claimed that President Trump sympathises with the ‘far Right’ – said:

‘Did American soldiers fight and die on the beaches of Normandy so their president could promote fascism? It is an astonishing question, absurd even. To many it may seem offensive even to ask. But it falls to reporters to describe in plain language what we see, and promotion of fascism and racism is all too easy to observe in the United States of 2017.’

Here in glorious Technicolor is the hook-wriggling prestidigitation deployed by the Complaints Unit to defend the Cook piece:

‘James Cook’s analysis in this article was in keeping with his remit as our North America correspondent, part of which is to provide his insight into stories taking place there. It is not unusual for correspondents to offer their own take on developments that relate to their specific area and it was made clear that this was his analysis.

‘BBC News does not have an opinion on Donald Trump’s presidency. When reporting on his actions, we have tried to explain his position in detail and to incorporate a range of views about his policies. We have featured Mr Trump’s supporters as well as his critics and reflected his own response to criticism.

‘We do not aim to denigrate any view or to promote any view. Our goal has simply been to report and analyse events in order that our audiences can make up their own minds.’

Eh? The mind boggles. The BBC doesn’t have opinions, but will seemingly accept that under its label, its correspondents can convey their own ‘take’ on hugely controversial subjects – even down to condemning a democratically elected President as a ‘fascist’ on the basis of a highly tendentious and facile take on US history.

(h/t Is the BBC Biased?)

 

2017 Revisited – January: Trump replaces Farage as Auntie’s new whipping boy

December 24, 2017

2017 Revisited: A look back through the eyes of TCW’s top writers. 

First posted January 2017.

Is there anything the BBC won’t now do to discredit Donald Trump or figures on the so-called Right?

For years, their chief bogeyman in the ‘Right-wing and ‘populist’ category was Nigel Farage, who was cast in interview after interview as xenophobic at best, racist at worst, incompetent and venal.

The treatment was a form of painting by numbers in which, on almost every occasion, formulaic questions about his character and ineptitude trumped the need to investigate how important his core policies and ideas actually were.

After June 23, 2016, the Corporation could and should have produced a programme showing how over almost two decades Farage spearheaded, against all the odds and the relentless opposition of the media, the drive towards the Brexit vote.

Instead, they concocted a crude and seriously unfunny alleged ‘satire’ that regurgitated all the allegations they had been spraying against him throughout those 20 years.

From the moment Donald Trump began pursuing his political goals, the same anti-populist approach was adopted. The charge sheet against him was that he was, well, Donald Trump – (shock, horror) a businessman, a billionaire, ‘Right-wing’, xenophobic and venal, and above all, not a Democrat or Hillary Clinton.

From dawn on Wednesday, that resentment was sharply evident. Using Buzzfeed’s so-called intelligence dossier that on the BBC’s own admission they had not been able to verify, the President-elect came under all-out no-holds-barred attack from a bewildering array of BBC presenters and correspondents.

Their watchword? Never let the facts – or niceties such as the journalistic ethics covered in the BBC’s Editorial Guidelines – get in the way of a chance to kick this (in their estimation) dangerous buffoon.

So indiscriminate was the venom that US correspondent Jon Sopel even resorted to ridiculing Trump – on Today, the BBC’s so-called flagship news and current affairs programme – because he was a ‘man of a certain age’ who got up early in the morning, and had then to go to the bathroom.

On the one hand, BBC correspondents, typified by Nick Bryant, reported on Wednesday morning with eulogising obeisance Barack Obama’s farewell speech. Bryant crowed that the outgoing President was ‘one of the most gifted speakers ever to occupy the White House, the Poet Laureate of his own Presidency’, and added: ‘Barack Obama is a leader who will have the word “era” attached to his name.’

On the other hand, ‘the intelligence dossier’ was used with undisguised glee. US reporter Paul Wood led the way by dismissing, in effect, Trump’s rebuttal and instead magnified its importance. As Craig Byers adroitly summed up in his observations: ‘He thinks the evidence of blackmail tapes is strong because his sources have told him that “there’s more than one tape; there was audio as well as video; it was on more than one date and in more than one place . . .”’

On that basis, the direct attacks on Trump continued unabated in main bulletins for a full 24 hours.

By Thursday morning, as well as the bathroom-related observations from Sopel, it was being said on Today that Trump was ‘at war’ with the intelligence community, and that the Democrats were now talking about ‘impeachment even before his inauguration’. In the BBC’s world, there could be no doubt: a dangerous clown of the first magnitude was about to take command in the White House.

As the BBC’s 2017 Charter comes into effect, banker Sir David Clementi has this week been named as the first Chairman of the Corporation’s new unitary board.

Top of his agenda should be that the BBC has now abandoned any pretence of impartiality in the reporting of what is sees as ‘populism’. And pigs might fly. The reality is that almost every BBC Chairman has gone native from the minute of assuming the role.

Yet, in the past six months, the Corporation has in effect declared war on both Trump and Brexit. The Conservative government is also under an all-fronts attack. These are dangerous, uncharted waters and unless Clementi does take swift, radical action, even the £4billion-a-year BBC could hit the rocks.

 

David Keighley’s BBC Watch: EU’s Brexit ‘wall of silence’ goes unchallenged

November 21, 2017

Untold thousands are complaining to the BBC about its pro-EU bias in the reporting of Brexit.

Licence fee-payers don’t know how many complaints there actually are because the Corporation, in its infinite wisdom, won’t tell us.

That’s because it views the deluge of complaints it receives every day as confidential information, and discloses only a selected few. Most, of course, are rejected using a formula which is as subtle as a brick and best described as ‘we are right, you are wrong’.

Under the new BBC Charter, Ofcom last week ordered the Corporation to be more open in its handling of complaints. But the changes that have been instituted are little more than window-dressing. The BBC remains firmly in control.

A weekly charade in the complaints procedure is the BBC segment Newswatch, in which presenter Samira Ahmed persuades a variety of BBC executives and journalists to come down from their eyries to chant the Corporate Slogan in various permutations to viewers.

Latest to do so was the BBC’s ‘Europe editor’ Katya Adler. Ms Adler’s appearance turned out to be an object lesson in the BBC art of complaint-bashing and obfuscation. There is a link to a transcript of the full interview at the end.

Ms Ahmed first suggested that the biggest complaint about the Brexit coverage was that it was ‘constantly knocking British negotiators’ and ‘looking for failure’.

Ms Adler’s reply: ‘It’s a fair comment to make. It’s a comment you would expect to make. As Europe editor it’s my job to put across the European perspective. Now that might come across as anti-UK but actually it’s just putting across the other point of view. And as we see these Brexit negotiations become pretty bad-tempered, obviously there’s very, very, very differing points of view.’

Where to start? Does it not occur to her that, in the interests of balance, ‘putting across the other point of view’ might also involve being critical of the EU, its modus operandi and its institutions? BBC reporters and presenters in London have left no stone unturned in exposing ‘perceived’ weaknesses and false steps in the moves towards Brexit – or in reporting the word of those who are still battling to Remain.

Nick Clegg publishes a book calling for Brexit to be overturned? No problem, give him free publicity in a 7.15am prime slot on Radio 4’s Today (October 9). Hillary Clinton wants a mass audience to plug her latest book and to tell the world that Brexit – like Donald Trump’s victory – was achieved only by lying? Again, no problem: it was a headline BBC bulletin story (October 14).

Ms Ahmed’s next point took this up and suggested that some scrutiny might be applied to EU negotiators.

But again, Ms Adler’s response was a lame excuse and a brick wall. She explained that the ‘Europe’ side have been put under ‘omerta’ (a vow of silence), told to ‘zip it’, and that as a result, only Michel Barnier, the chief negotiator, is allowed to speak. She said: ‘We just don’t have that same possibility, the same access, to talk to the main players on the European side, as we do on the British side, to really put those difficult questions to them on camera, or on the record in a radio interview, and I understand that for our viewers and listeners, for the readers on the website, that is extremely frustrating, and it feels like we’re not doing our job.’

Too right. Again, it seems astonishing that the BBC’s journalistic efforts are so simply poleaxed. Journalism is often defined as, in the public interest, getting to the facts and perspectives that people, for whatever reasons, don’t want to be revealed. But when it comes to the European Union, the Corporation’s ‘Europe editor’ and its EU operation as a whole in Brussels are thwarted by the European Commission’s Operation Zip-It.

How very sinister.

Full transcript here.

 

David Keighley’s BBC Watch: Soros attack dogs join the fray over BBC’s Brexit bias

October 28, 2017

News-watch released at the weekend a pair of meticulously-researched reports that exposed yet again the BBC’s continued serious bias in the reporting of Brexit.

One survey showed that during the General Election, there was a heavy imbalance towards anti-Brexit opinion; the other, that over 18 years, the Corporation has covered Left-wing views in favour of withdrawal at only derisory levels – thus in effect ignoring the views of at least 3.5million Labour voters who supported Brexit.

One-page summaries and the full reports can be found on the News-watch website.

The BBC’s response? In a word, abuse. The Press Office – utterances from which have to be sanctioned at the highest level – claimed that the News-watch work was not worthy of being called ‘surveys’.

They said: ‘We do not recognise the allegations made by News-watch and to describe this as a “report” would be a gross overstatement for what is a defective and loaded piece of work which wouldn’t pass basic academic scrutiny.’

Their evidence for this unpleasant ad hominem attack? Zilch. News-watch has been trying to get the BBC to engage with News-watch reports for 18 years, but they never have. The Corporation claims with bull-headed obstinacy that its so-called complaints procedure precludes consideration of such detailed analysis – complaints must confine themselves to single programme issues.

In addition to the Press Office attack, BBC personnel, including the editor of the Andrew Marr show, engaged in a Twitter storm of insults against the News-watch reports (h/t Craig Byers of Is the BBC Biased?)

The next stage in the saga was on Monday when the website Open Democracy – a principal funder of which is financier George Soros – added more ‘ad hominem’ vitriol about News-watch, its methodology and its funding. A full-scale hatchet-job.

Was this coincidence? Or was the BBC co-operating, or working in tandem, with attack dogs who share the Corporation’s views about Brexit?

Whatever the chain of cause and effect, it is certain that Open Democracy and the entire Soros empire are engaged in a full-scale battle to prevent the UK leaving the EU. Its contributors include Roland Rudd, the brother of Amber Rudd, who was a major figure in and behind Britain Stronger in Europe, the designated Remain organisation to which Richard Branson gave his financial backing.

Mr Rudd is the UK linchpin in the aggressive £13.7billion drive by Soros – the amount he has just donated to his ‘charitable’ interests such as Open Democracy – to achieve EU integration, allow fully open borders, and smash the nation state.

And what was the evidence for the Open Democracy attack on News-watch in terms of the BBC bias ? Open Democracy canvassed the opinion of an academic called Dr Tom Mills, who works at the University of Aston and is linked to a group which seriously believes that the BBC is Right-wing.

He said:

‘News-watch and other pro-Leave lobbyists are obviously trying to influence debates around Brexit in certain interests . . . through what looks like a rather crude coding framework. The problem with dividing everything into pro and anti camps is that it makes a substantive and informed discussion of the issues at stake very difficult . . . what’s lacking is a clear and transparent methodology that can deal with how the underlying issues are dealt with, rather than the question of how much time is given to two sides of a political argument.’

Like the BBC, it seems he had not read the reports properly before commenting. Every News-watch survey contains a clear outline of the methodology. His point about ‘a rather crude coding framework’ is utter tosh. Even a cursory reading will reveal that the classifications involved in the surveys are complex, nuanced and highly detailed. They are most definitely not, as he implies, binary or simplistic.

Perhaps what Dr Mills is actually trying to say, rather crudely, is that putting on fewer supporters of Brexit than those who oppose it doesn’t matter.

The reality of News-watch funding is that it is a minnow. Costs amount to the tens of thousands. Donors include a charitable foundation and individuals from a variety of backgrounds and political affiliations, but none of them has any influence (or has ever had) on the content of reports.

By contrast Open Democracy, according to its website, receives millions of pounds from a variety of Left-leaning trusts and Soros-related sources, all of which clearly want to subvert democracy by reversing the Brexit vote. And as noted above, this is all part of an £13.7billion effort by George Soros and his many-tentacled empire to reinforce and expand the European Union. And to topple democratically-elected governments.

Aided and abetted, it seems, by the BBC.

 

David Keighley’s BBC Watch: If you’re not a hate crime victim, you must be a thug

October 20, 2017

Eyes and ears open, everyone, and anti-prejudice antennas out! It’s national hate crime awareness week.

This is a full-scale effort, involving the Crown Prosecution Service, police forces, the Home Office and the Ministry of Justice, and sundry anti-race hate groups, many of which are taxpayer-funded, to tell us that we are all miserable sinners.
‘Hate’ in this context covers such crimes generally – against the disabled, religions, different sexual orientations, and race – but the principal focus is on race because the bulk of such crimes (78 per cent, according to latest Home Office data) fall into this category.

Centre stage in this campaign, of course, is the BBC. True to form, last week it produced a Panorama programme in which sinister Brit thugs – fired up by the Brexit vote – were attacking anyone from the EU they could find. Over on This Week, they then gave a platform to a transgender person who declared that ‘the white race’ is ‘the most violent and oppressive force of nature on earth’.

Aiding the Corporation? Step forward Superintendent Paul Giannasi OBE, the National Hate Crimes Coordinator, who runs for the National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC) the portal for reporting hate crime. No, he is not a secret member of UKIP. Rather, he is part of a Facebook group called ‘We Love Europe’, and boy, does he. Mr Giannasi believes that the Brexit vote was a change ‘unwanted and unexpected’ that was an ‘expression of the tyranny of democracy’ which was ‘caused by political arrogance, thirst for power, idiotic fears, prejudice, bigotry and incredible stupidity’.

And let’s not forget the special contribution of Hillary Rodham Clinton. On a book-plug visit, she was given oodles of BBC airtime to reject Brexit. Nasty populist Nigel Farage, she claimed, duped the British people with the ‘big lie’ about topics such as immigration – and then went on to sabotage her own election as US President.

In fact the BBC declared war on Brexit, using race hate claims as a main weapon, over a year ago. It was among the most avid in reporting an alleged ‘spike’ in such offences after June 23 (of which more later) and then wrongly claimed on August 31 that the death of a Polish man in Harlow was a ‘frenzied’ murder triggered by post-Brexit race hate.

The message from all the agencies involved is clear. Bigoted white people are smashing skulls, wreaking havoc, subverting the democratic process, and their populist prejudices against other nationalities and other races are forcing the UK to abandon globalism and leave the EU.

But what is the truth about ‘race hate’? Everything about the way it is framed and reported should send alarm bells about the veracity of any figures involved.

First, it’s almost certainly the easiest crime on the statute book to register because, uniquely, alleged incidents are recorded by the police on a self-report basis via their specially-established website, True Vision (run by Supt Giannasi). All a ‘victim’ has to do is register the ‘crime’ – and hey presto, it’s in the stats.

At a time when – as the Sun reported this week – police forces are working flat-out to limit ‘by hundreds of thousands’ the number of recorded burglaries, shop thefts, and even minor assault charges, they are simultaneously transferring their efforts to the ‘hate crime’ domain. The key supporters of the Stop Hate UK charity, for example, include a clutch of police forces.

Second, the definition of a ‘hate crime’ is unusually loose. Such an offence is deemed to have been committed if the victim, or any witness of the incident, thinks they have been subjected to ‘hate’.

This ease of reporting has been accompanied by a mushrooming of associated interest groups, spearheaded by the government’s primary service provider, Capita, and this has no doubt contributed to the rising volume of ‘race hate’ claims.

This ‘increase’ was trumpeted yet again this week in the annual hate crime figures released by the Home Office, up to the end of March. True to form, the BBC’s report of the statistics is accompanied by a picture of one of the sinister-looking Pole-hating thugs it had trawled Britain to find for its special Panorama edition.

These statistics show that there has indeed been a rise in recorded hate crime, from 62,518 in 2015-16 to 80,393 in 2016-17. But in the context of the lax self-report procedures, what does this prove? Does it reflect a rise in actual incidents? Or perhaps far more likely – in tandem with the vast amounts of money being spent in this arena, combined with publicity from the BBC, and the Remain faction generally – simply that there is increased awareness that such ‘crimes’ can be reported?

Whatever the reason, Amber Rudd’s Home Office was keen to stress the alleged ‘spike’ in race attacks and crimes after June 23 last year because of the Brexit vote. But drill down deeper into the report, and it quickly emerges that this, too, must be treated with a great pinch of salt because it is, to quote the report, based only on ‘anecdotal evidence’.

These figures fail another vital acid test. The Crown Prosecution Service is responsible for bringing hate crimes to court and made clear in its annual report, also published this week, that this is a major priority.

What do the stats show? Well, in the last year – despite everything noted above – the number of hate crime prosecutions fell by almost 1,000 over the previous year to 14,480. In other words, the number of so-called hate crimes with sufficient evidence to go to court is in sharp decline, despite all the resources and efforts being expended. On that basis, of the 80,000 race hate ‘crimes’ reported to True Vision, only about 18 per cent will be tested in court.

And the reaction? This BBC report emphasises in great detail the rise in number of recorded ‘crimes’, does not enumerate the fall in prosecutions, and has a long sequence about a Muslim ‘victim’ who concludes: ‘I really think it’s important for us to report, no matter what.’ Of course.

 

David Keighley BBC Watch: BBC’s news boss Harding jumps ship – more Fake News?

October 13, 2017

So. Farewell then, BBC Director of News, James Harding.

He is quitting his £340,000-a-year post to set up an ’exciting new venture’ with a ‘distinct approach to news’. Sources say he’s been frustrated by the constraints of his current role.

Corporation Director General Tony Hall declared that he had done an ‘incredible job’ since his appointment (by Lord Hall) in 2013. Well, of course.

His achievements? Specially underlined were the appointment of (female) Laura Kuenssberg as the BBC’s political editor and the establishment of the BBC’s Reality Check unit to ‘counter fake news’.

Lord Hall declared: ‘He has led the BBC’s coverage through two referendums, two general elections, an astonishing US presidential election, not to mention a series of extraordinary events at home and abroad.’

So with Lord Hall’s endorsement ringing in his ears, what is in store from Mr Harding’s dynamic, venture-capital-backed new outfit? TCW has been allowed an exclusive sneak preview of some of the first dummy news bulletins of his Not the Fake News service. Here is one of them:

Donald Trump, the madman elected President of the United States by imbecilic rednecks and rust-belt no-hopers, has thankfully been banned from visiting the United Kingdom. Hurrah! Lady Nugee, the wonderful shadow foreign secretary, has called for a national day of anti-Trump emoting.

Workers at BAE Systems – who were foolishly thinking of protesting about losing their jobs because of a shortage of orders for the Typhoon jet – have seen the error of their ways. They have sided with Jeremy Corbyn – hurrah again! – in realising that all arms-making should end and their company should fold.

On the Brexit front, Not the Fake News has been continuing its relentless search to find and give airtime to all those who think that leaving the EU is the worst mistake in British history. Our latest interviewee – a long-lost cousin of former Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg who also adores Nicola Sturgeon – has exclusively told us that leaving the EU will lead to the wiping out of the Yorkshire rhubarb industry because of a shortage of immigrant rhubarb pickers. Immediate protests by Momentum are planned.

Still with the EU, our correspondent has conducted yet another interview with Lord Heseltine about his views about the EU referendum. He still believes it was a stupid exercise, that those voting for exit were gullible idiots, and that they were overwhelmingly uneducated yobs and saboteurs.

Finally, on climate change, our special investigations unit has found that an alarmist denier has been covertly smuggled into the BBC and has been generating ‘Fake News’ stories which suggest there is no need for alarm. We have handed over our dossier to the BBC authorities and the police. They have promised immediate action to root out the offender under ‘hate crimes’ legislation.

Cynics, of course, would say that nothing much distinguishes this from actual BBC bulletins. Spot the join.

What has Harding achieved? A key moment under his regime was when the Corporation disgracefully made a public spectacle of a police raid on the home of Cliff Richard, thereby causing the singer immense distress. The BBC’s conduct was described by leading human rights barrister Geoffrey Robertson as ‘a conspiracy to injure’ Sir Cliff.

At the same time, Harding has resisted all attempts to make the BBC more transparent. Or accountable, especially with regard to impartiality. This was most evident when he appeared before the Commons European Scrutiny Committee in October 2015, talking about how the Corporation would ensure impartiality in its referendum coverage.

As TCW noted, he obdurately rejected any form of systematic monitoring of Corporation output because ‘it threatened editorial freedom’. As a result, the BBC’s long-term bias in the reporting of EU affairs continued during the referendum campaign, as was conclusively shown by News-watch here.

And since last year, Harding has authorised an approach to the reporting of Brexit which is even more partisan. Essentially, his battalions of journalists have been on a permanent quest to explore – and give maximum exposure to – obstacles to leaving the EU, while under-reporting the potential benefits. Most strikingly, there has not yet been a single programme from his (or any) BBC department which looks at Brexit in a positive light.

According to Guido, the early runners and riders to succeed Harding are all senior news figures within the Corporation. If that turns out to be true, the chances of any significant changes to Harding’s approach are remote indeed – they inhabit the same WIA 1AA ‘bubble’.

 

David Keighley’s BBC Watch: There’s no bias against Brexit. Why? Because Nick Robinson says so

October 5, 2017

The BBC seems to have appointed Radio 4 Today presenter Nick Robinson as its defender-in-chief. Back in April, he told those who thought the Corporation was biased against Brexit that they were wrong. The referendum was over, so there was no longer a need to strike a balance between the two sides.

He has been in action again, this time delivering a speech in honour of his friend, the former BBC Panorama editor and media pundit Steve Hewlett, who died of cancer at the age of 58 earlier this year. It can be read in full here. The message? In Robinson’s opinion the BBC is doing very well indeed, thank you. News output is not biased. This is proved, apparently, by the fact that complaints emanate from all parts of the political spectrum and that there are appearances by such controversial figures as former Chancellor of the Exchequer Nigel Lawson. Of which more later.

 

The first thing to note is that his analysis is not based on any verifiable evidence. No surveys seem to have been conducted. On top of Lord Lawson, Robinson picks out mentions of Nick Griffin here, of Nigel Farage there, to show the inclusion of ‘Right-wing’ figures. But none of his observations is backed up by anything other than his own subjective judgments.

And he conveniently misses out that almost every time Mr Farage has been interviewed by the BBC, he has been treated as a racist, told he is incompetent – and very rarely asked about EU withdrawal itself. More recently, too, of course, he was shamefully and ludicrously accused on BBC2 Newsnight of having ‘blood on his hands’ over the death of a Polish man in Essex when nothing could be further from the truth.

Robinson claims that the BBC is ‘staffed by people who – regardless of their personal background or private views – are committed to getting as close to the truth as they can, and to offering their audience a free, open and broad debate about the issues confronting the country’. Well that’s OK then. Of course they are.

His analysis boils down to an assertion that the BBC is a beacon of light and trust in an increasingly dark world. The biggest threat to journalistic integrity comes from elsewhere: ‘fake news’ and commentary on websites such as Westmonster. They, unlike the BBC, spend their time peddling untruths and rumour and are making social and political divisions far worse.

Yet his invective is deeply flawed and it takes only moments to unpick it. Take Lord Lawson’s appearance. He is mentioned as an example of someone who was invited (in August) to appear on Today, even though many thought he should not be allowed to outline his views on climate change. Robinson claims that this was an example of the BBC’s even-handedness and fairness.

But what he then adds proves sharply otherwise. First he stresses that Lord Lawson got his facts wrong – and then claims ‘we’ (the magnificently unbiased staff of the Corporation?) ‘must say so’. This, however, was a risible misrepresentation of what actually happened. First, Lord Lawson only appeared at all because the global-warming arch-alarmist Al Gore was first invited on Today. He was treated with kid gloves, with virtually no challenge, as he outlined his view that man’s impact on the climate was intensifying to catastrophic proportions.

To ‘balance’ these highly contentious claims, the interview with Lord Lawson was then arranged. But the odds were stacked against him in that he appeared with two other alarmist figures who countered his every claim. Lord Lawson made one minor error over statistics. But he immediately owned up to it and a correction was issued. His slip did not affect his basic points that Gore and the climate alarmist faction have been making outlandish and scientifically unsupported claims for years, and continue to do so.

Robinson also did not mention that immediately after Lawson appeared there was an outcry – reported at great length on the BBC – from climate activists, including the BBC’s own favourite populist ‘scientist’ Brian Cox, who said Lord Lawson’s appearance should never have been allowed. To ram home Lord Lawson’s error, two more alarmists appeared on Today. They rubbished everything Lord Lawson had said, with barely a squeak of opposition from the programme’s presenters.
This adds up to a ratio of at least 5:1 against Lord Lawson.

This is the sort of ‘fairness’ that operates at the BBC on controversial issues. For more than a decade, the corporation has accepted that climate alarmism is warranted and, arguably, its reporting in this sphere adds up to its own campaign to prove it.

The conclusion? Nick Robinson’s speech as a whole, and especially in the mention of Lord Lawson was, to put it mildly, disingenuous. His appearance on Today did not show, as Robinson claimed, that the BBC allows dissenting voices to appear and is fair to them. The reality is that the BBC has a skewed agenda in this domain, and any opinions expressed by Lord Lawson were both swamped and twisted. So, too, with Nigel Farage.

In his speech, Robinson accused those who write for blogs of living in a bubble. Even if they do, it’s nothing compared with the one surrounding the BBC’s approach to editorial impartiality.

David Keighley’s BBC Watch: Accentuate the negative: Dimbleby’s Brexit obsession

September 26, 2017

This weekend’s edition of Radio 4’s Any Questions? contained a telling – and in the BBC bias stakes, wearyingly predictable – spat between the host, Jonathan Dimbleby, and panellist Charles Moore, ex-editor of the Daily Telegraph.

Mr Moore, in discussion about the impact of leaving the EU, made the perfectly reasonable observation that the BBC was qualifying every positive business story with a ‘despite Brexit’ tag. Of course, anyone who listens to the BBC knows this to be true. The exact phrase ’despite Brexit’ might not be used in every report, but it is nevertheless the hallmark of the journalism. Only Remainers and the BBC itself deny it.

This sustained BBC bias against Brexit now that, according to Nigel Farage, Theresa May appears to be back-sliding, urgently needs halting.

Fat chance, it seems. In step with an audience that was so impolite and Remain-partisan that it booed Mr Moore for daring to criticise the BBC, Jonathan Dimbleby immediately became both heated and distinctly uppity. He claimed that ‘all views were held’ by those who appeared on BBC programmes – Moore being on his show proved that – and then challenged him to provide ‘chapter and verse’ to support his allegations.

This, perhaps, it could be argued, came straight from the corporation’s Complaints Procedure Manual, the primary purpose of which is to disallow as many submissions as possible and to ridicule, name-call, patronise and undermine complainants. In action here were these classics:

  1. a) Tell a complainant they don’t really know what they are talking about because the BBC output is far too large to be properly understood or encompassed (even by Charles Moore!)
  2. b) Because one person has appeared from the ‘Right’ (or whatever minority view they don’t like) it proves they are ‘balanced’, because the corporation’s definition of ‘due impartiality’ is entirely on the BBC’s own terms.

The reality, of course, is that it is beyond the resources of almost anyone to track and analyse every single BBC report. So in this respect, the Corporation complaints department always has an upper hand.

However, on this subject and in this context, Dimbleby junior was on much shakier ground. News-watch analysed all EU-related business news slots of the Today programme between June 24 and December 22, the six months immediately after the EU referendum. Analysis of the 130,000 words in 208 relevant transcripts found:

‘. . . of the 366 guest speakers, 192 (52.5 per cent) were negative about the impact of the vote and only 60 (16.3 per cent) expressed opinions which were pro-Brexit or saw the post-referendum economic outlook as positive. That is three times more anti-Brexit speakers than pro-Brexit ones . . . The most serious imbalance was that only ten (2.9 per cent) of the business news interviews (from six guests) were with supporters of withdrawal from the EU. They were thus a tiny minority in the overall welter of negativity . . . the pro-Brexit sector of business was virtually ignored.

‘Between them, the negative guests painted a relentlessly pessimistic picture of gloom, doom and uncertainty, of plunging economic prospects, of a collapse of consumer confidence, rising inflation, a drying up of investment, job freezes, of a drain of jobs from London to mainland Europe, skills shortages because of the ending of free movement, the introduction of tariffs, and endless, complex renegotiation . . . This was a continuation of the Remain campaign’s ‘Project Fear’, beginning at dawn on June 24 and persisting until Christmas despite mounting post-Brexit positive news.’

Charles Moore has himself read this evidence. Back in April, he took part in a so-called debate held by the Spectator with Today programme presenter Nick Robinson. He quoted to him points from the News-watch report, crediting it by name. Robinson, however, was having none of it. He rejected out of hand – without any counter-evidence except that he ‘knew’ the BBC was in the right – the News-watch findings. In his eyes the Corporation had done no wrong, and could never do wrong, in this domain because, well, they were too smart and too diligent.

Such intransigent arrogance echoed closely Dimbleby’s approach to Moore on Friday.

The central issue is not solely that the BBC’s coverage of the impact on business of Brexit is relentlessly negative, but also that they have not since Brexit produced a single programme that has looked at the possible positive outcomes for the economy. Instead, they fabricate surveys that suggest fruit farmers will go out of business, and underline at every opportunity only the complexities involved.

The new, beefed-up BBC management board under the chairmanship of banker Sir David Clementi was supposed to sort this out. But his recent speech to the Royal Television Society Cambridge convention – remarkably, one of his first public utterances since his appointment back in January – suggested that, on the contrary, he is completely satisfied with current BBC performance. He declared that the BBC’s own Reality Check unit is ensuring and safeguarding impartiality.

So that’s OK, then. Or perhaps not.

 

David Keighley’s BBC watch: This foul slur against Farage must be corrected

September 22, 2017

Nigel Farage this week complained directly to Lord Hall, the director general of the BBC, about the news reports which contained the wrongful claim that he had ‘blood on his hands’ for the death last August of a Polish man, who the corporation also sensationally and wrongfully alleged had been murdered in a frenzied, unprovoked attack by a gang of youths fired by race hate following the EU Referendum.

It has emerged in court that almost every element of these initial reports were untrue: that the crime in Harlow, Essex, was nothing whatsoever to do with Brexit or race hate on behalf of English people. The sordid truth is that Arkadiusz Jozwik, the Polish man, drunkenly provoked a single 15-year-old youth into punching him, with the result that he fell over and cracked his head, causing the fatal injuries. It was manslaughter, for which Chelmsford Crown Court gave the youth three years in custody.

Mr Farage took the trouble of personally delivering to Broadcasting House in London the complaint letter, which set out in detail why the BBC’s reporting of the death of Mr Jozwik was seriously in breach of the BBC Charter and editorial standards. The essence of this is set out in articles on TCW and News-watch here, and here.

The former UKIP leader outlined in addition that, after the reports appeared – and, he believed, as a direct result of them – he and his family had faced enormous personal distress. They were subjected to vile name-calling and abuse to the point of needing protection.

How has the BBC responded? Normal decency and courtesy would surely dictate that allegations of this gravity from a figure of the stature of Mr Farage should at least be met with a personal meeting and some kind of detailed response, even if – as is virtually inevitable with complaints submitted to the BBC – any wrongdoing is ruled out.

So far, however, this appears not to be on the cards. Instead, the Corporation hastily issued through its press office a terse statement which said that the BBC ‘vehemently defended’ its reporting, that its coverage of the Harlow killing was ‘fair’ and was in line with speculation also carried elsewhere that ‘racial motivation’ was a ‘line of enquiry’. In other words, a dead bat.

How did they know? This is one of the perpetual mysteries of the BBC news operation. Senior staff claim that they know they are meeting editorial standards but this is entirely according to their own rules, their own definition of ‘due impartiality’, and is determined internally.

A key part of Mr Farage’s complaint not dealt with by the statement was that when the true facts of the Jozwik killing emerged, they were reported at a much lesser level (primarily on the Essex pages of the BBC’s regional website) and without sufficient acknowledgment that the race-hate angle (imposed sensationally on the story by them) had been discounted. The original reports, by comparison, had been blasted at headline level on their most-watched BBC1 bulletins and BBC2 Newsnight.

It also seems that the press office statement is attempting to justify the sensationalism of the original reports by claiming that other media outlets adopted a similar tack.

But this hook-wriggling will not do. First it is the BBC’s responsibility (as with every journalistic organisation), to check the facts it reports around a suspected criminal incident, because there is a legal duty to ensure that a subsequent trial is not prejudiced by inaccurate or exaggerated reporting. It is categorically not a defence to say (as is implied in the Corporation’s response) that the BBC is in the clear because others reported in the same vein. The BBC receives large amounts of public cash to fund a lavish journalistic operation, has vast capacity to check facts, and has special and deliberately onerous public service requirements to uphold accuracy and impartiality.

Second, other reporting of the Jozwik killing did not contain a direct allegation that this was a ‘race-hate murder triggered by the Brexit vote’ or that Mr Farage had ‘blood on his hands’. It was the BBC which especially elevated the crime to that level.

For example, The Guardian’s report of the death of Mr Jozwik published the evening before the BBC’s report (at 20:28 on August 30) underlines the irresponsibility of the BBC’s reporting. It was more circumspect. The headline was ‘Six teenage boys arrested over death of Polish man’. The Guardian, of course, is a deliberately partisan newspaper which does not have the same stringent public service requirements for accuracy and responsible reporting that govern the BBC.

All things taken into account, Nigel Farage surely deserves a detailed inquiry and a personal explanation from Lord Hall why the claim that he had ‘blood on his hands’ was included prominently in a BBC report. And of why a BBC correction to this grossly speculative reporting has not been conveyed at a level equal to the original reports.

 

David Keighley’s BBC Watch: Never mind making better programmes, diversity is all that counts

September 19, 2017

Last week, the key people responsible for making UK television programmes gathered for the biennial Royal Television Society Cambridge convention, aimed at tackling the main issues facing the industry.

What emerged from the gathering rammed home that as long as public subsidy drives and feeds the industry, those managing it seem less concerned with entertaining and informing audiences than with meeting – with obsessive zeal – targets linked to social engineering.

Those addressing the £1,500-a-head delegates in the rarefied elegance of King’s College included the chief executive of Sky, James Murdoch, the culture secretary, Karen Bradley, the new BBC chairman, Sir David Clementi, and the chief executive of Ofcom, Sharon White.

The main topic of this stellar line-up? Perhaps the increasingly serious skew against Brexit on television news programmes? Or why Britons should continue to be forced to pay £147 a year through the BBC licence fee for programmes they don’t want? Or why the BBC is on a hell-for-leather mission in almost every element of its output to undermine British values and culture and to push a Left-wing perspective?

No. The main preoccupation and source of worry of Messrs White, Clementi and Bradley was – maybe you’ve guessed it already – diversity.

Never mind better programmes; each of them, with a manner reminiscent of medieval penitents, told the gathering that they and the industry must do better and continue to work flat out out to ensure that there are more ethnic minority faces on our screens and in the workforces of production companies.

No matter that in the 16 years since former BBC Director General Greg Dyke described the Corporation as ‘hideously white’, enormous efforts have been made to recruit and reflect ethnic minorities, and the diversity monitoring initiative Project Diamond has been set up – the framework for achieving change would make the Stasi’s recording techniques look modest. It emerged with a vengeance that the changes are not considered to be enough.

Leading the charge was Ofcom’s Sharon White. Ofcom, of course, under the new BBC Charter, now regulates aspects of the Corporation. In an interview with the BBC Newsnight interviewer Kirsty Wark (who else?), Ms White outlined her pride that under her regulatory watch, a new industry-wide intensified regime of form-filling, box-ticking quotas is now being rigorously implemented.

Especially in her sights in this respect, however, it emerged, is her new charge, the BBC. Not content that, according to BBC management board member Baroness Grey-Thompson, the Corporation must, if necessary, spend up to £100million on meeting diversity targets, Ms White noted censoriously that recent figures in the domain were rigged because they included the BBC World Service. That, she said, would definitely not do (or count), because lots of ethnically diverse people already worked there. Must try harder. Much harder.

Ms White also revealed that no matter what is achieved with ethnic, gender and disabled diversity, another issue was troubling her and was now in her sights. Class, of course. Straight from what sounded like the Corbyn and McDonnell text book on class war, she told Ms Wark, in effect, that far too few working-class people were currently employed across the industry, and that this, too, must be remedied. She was not yet sure how, but was working on it as part of her drive towards ‘transparency’.

Be very afraid. It turns out that the BBC – always keen to spend public money on such causes – has, in fact, pre-empted her. BBC Director of Radio James Purnell, the former Labour Cabinet minister who was privately educated and is an Oxford graduate, said at the convention that, in an effort to reduce numbers of ‘privileged’ employees, the Corporation was already experimenting with ‘anonymised’ recruitment, which involved redacting from job applications names, places of education and home addresses.

He is reported to have said he would ‘love’ to introduce, as another part of this process, new social class targets to combat the BBC’s ‘tendency towards hiring privileged people’. The problem, he claimed, was that almost 25 per cent of managers went to private schools, compared with only 7 per cent in the UK population.

‘We don’t have targets on socio-economic [backgrounds] but we’re thinking about it . . . We would love to have a target, we would be very happy to do that,’ he told the Daily Mail.

Another who addressed the conference, as an after-dinner speaker, was Tony Blair’s henchman-in-chief, Alastair Campbell. Surprise, surprise, they did not invite Nigel Farage. It is said that Mr Campbell had been warned ‘not to bang on’ about Brexit. But, according to reports, he disobeyed.

Under the splendid hammer-beamed ceiling of the King’s dining hall, he asked the delegates how many supported Brexit, and invited a show of hands. There was none.

That perhaps says it all about the state of the television industry. Out of touch with audiences, unconcerned about and uncomprehending of its deep bias against Brexit, and focused on ethnic and class diversity rather than programme quality and appeal.

 

David Keighley’s BBC Watch: BBC bias turns street scuffle into anti-Brexit cause celebre

September 11, 2017

On August 31 last year, the £1billion taxpayer-funded BBC news machine went into what can only be described as incontinent anti-Brexit overdrive in response to the killing of a Polish man in Essex.

This, its headlines declared, was being regarded as a race hate killing triggered by the Brexit vote two months earlier.

It emerged on Friday at the final sentencing hearing in this sorry case that what happened that day was the polar opposite of what the corporation projected so forcefully in in its headlines.

After the EU referendum, every part of the BBC was working flat out to show why the vote was a huge mistake, as illustrated in reports by my monitoring organisation News-watch here and here. Programmes in Radio 4’s Brexit Collection predicted – with scarcely a peep of counter-opinion – that there would be rioting on the streets over food price hikes.

Then, on August 31, the news broke that a well-liked Polish immigrant in Harlow had been killed. Rumours were circulating that a gang of feral youths were responsible and that there could be a racist element. Police were ‘not ruling this out’.

For the corporation, this was too good to be true. Reporter Daniel Sandford’s account in the main BBC1 bulletins that night suggested strongly that this was a ‘frenzied’ race-hate murder by feral youths and was triggered by Brexit. To reinforce the point, his report – along with other material on the BBC website – included edited reaction to that possibility from the local MP and a Polish diplomat. The full transcript can be seen here.

Later, over on BBC2’s Newsnight, John Sweeney ratcheted up this crude tabloid sensationalism by including an interview in his edited package about the killing in which a friend of the dead man suggested that Nigel Farage ‘now has blood on his hands’.

Let’s not mince words. The death of Polish immigrant Arkadiusz Jozwik, 40, following a late-night altercation in Harlow’s Stow shopping centre, was a sordid, tragic affair, and a sorry reflection of the escalating level of violence in Britain today.

But with Friday’s sentencing at Chelmsford Crown Court of the youth responsible for Mr Jozwik’s death, we know the full story. And it was light years away from what can now be seen as the BBC’s deliberate anti-Brexit editorial drive. Its elevation of the ‘race hate’ angle was especially biased and in tune with its overall portrayal – as also illustrated here – that the Leave vote was swayed by uneducated, bigoted thugs.

The facts that are now clear are, first, that Mr Jozwik was not the victim of a gang killing, nor was he murdered. One youth, said to be a ‘shrimp’ little more than five feet tall and then aged 15, was responsible, and he was convicted of manslaughter.

The youth felled Mr Jozwik with one ‘superman’ punch delivered from behind. But the cause of death was impact with the pavement. All parties in court – including the Crown Prosecution Service and the judge – accepted that the punch was vicious but was not intended to kill.

Second, the ‘gang’ involved did not instigate the incident which led to the punch, and were not spoiling for a fight. It was, as emerged on Friday in court, totally the other way round. The defendant and his friends were provoked. Mr Jozwik had been out drinking with a friend and, according to police statements gathered by a team of detectives and read out in court, was rolling drunk.

Patrick Upward, counsel for the youth, told the sentencing court: ‘Far from being the all-affectionate individual of those that knew him, the deceased and his companion, according to witnesses, were staggering from drink. They made racist remarks to the youths and invited violence from those youngsters, and they were considerably bigger and stronger than the young people. It was after the deceased pushed one of the youngsters that this defendant did what he did.’

The teenager, now aged 16, was sentenced to three years in a youth detention centre.

So what are the lessons? In any killing where the facts are not clear, there should always be a degree of caution by journalists in their framing of initial reports. This applies especially to the BBC which has to adhere to Charter impartiality requirements and its associated editorial guidelines.
On August 31 last year, Daniel Sandford did mention briefly that there was doubt in some quarters about the racist motive, but the race-hate angle was unquestionably most prominent in his report and online. The Sweeney report on Newsnight amplified further the overall BBC approach of outright sensationalism.

Immediately afterwards, News-watch formally submitted detailed complaints to the BBC’s Complaints Unit. With total predictability, they were dismissed.
Meanwhile, the deluge of anti-Brexit BBC reporting has continued, including the angle that race-hate was involved in the vote. And how did the BBC report Friday’s sentencing hearing? With a headline that this was not a race hate murder connected to Brexit? That Daniel Sandford had been wrong to afford such prominence to that possibility? That the (English) killer had been provoked by racist chants by a drunken Polish man 25 years his senior? And that the Farage blood-on-hands quote had now been shown to be preposterous?

Of course not. Tucked away in the BBC’s regional website Essex pages is a short 280-word report that makes no mention of last year’s intemperate sensationalism by the corporation, and notes only towards the end the key point that the racism involved did not emanate from the killer.

 

David Keighley: Just like Corbyn, Jon Snow remains locked in the simplistic Sixties

August 30, 2017

The annual focus of the television industry immediately before every August Bank Holiday weekend is the Edinburgh Television Festival, a lavish £2,000-a-head talkfest, the main goal of which now seems increasingly to enforce ‘diversity’ in all its many forms.

Its recurring centrepiece is the McTaggart lecture, delivered by an industry luminary and named after the BBC executive whose main claim to fame is that in 1966 he brought Ken Loach’s play Cathy Come Home to the screens.

So who, in this year when Donald Trump was inaugurated and Brexit assumed centre stage, was chosen to deliver the lecture? Someone perhaps from Breitbart, with an alternative view about why television news showed itself to be so out of touch with public opinion and was resolutely biased in favour of the Remain perspective?

No. The man of the moment was the veteran Channel 4 News presenter Jon Snow, who in June distinguished himself at Glastonbury (where else?) with an allegedly drunken f-word tirade against the Tories.

Once, such immoderate behaviour by a 69-year-old man might have brought him up before the magistrates on a drunk and disorderly charge. But Snow’s reported inebriated chanting in the mass festival adulation of Jeremy Corbyn earned from his Channel 4 bosses only a mild rebuke and a warning about impartiality.

He himself said only that he had ‘no recollection’ of what had happened.

From his peers in the media establishment his incontinence made him a hero. Zoe Williams in The Guardian, for example, spoke in adulatory tones about his impeccable track record in upholding impartiality – especially in his reporting of Gaza. Of course.

And so it was in Edinburgh. Predictably, he earned a standing ovation from his industry audience.

At the core of his speech, Snow projected himself as an impassioned, reasoned defender of public service broadcasting against the tax-avoiding, truth-bending twin evils of Google and Facebook. A beacon of light against the Gog and Magog forces of nasty, unbridled capitalism – and all those on the internet who have different views from those he routinely expresses on Channel 4.

In his media world, he – and, presumably, his fellow public service travellers at the BBC – are upholders of the truth and light and social justice; those out there on the web are unregulated and out-of-control purveyors and manipulators of darkness.

Snow’s analysis focused on the Grenfell Tower fire, and was qualified by a mea culpa. Public service broadcasting had been too obsessed by reporting the ‘flatulence’ (his word) of Brexit and the ‘air-time sapping antics of Trump’. As a result, it had missed that tens of thousands of ‘the left behind’ in North Kensington and in social housing across Britain were in dire need and dangerously at risk because of austerity and a country that did not care.

His solution? Going out to find out why 52 per cent of the country voted for Brexit? No, the exact opposite. That was mere ‘flatulence’. The problem was a lack of diversity in the media. He commented: ‘We the media report the lack of diversity in other walks of life – but our own record is nothing like good enough . . . just under 80 per cent of top editors were educated at private or grammar schools. Compare that with the 88 per cent of the British public now at comprehensives.”

Thereafter, he gradually, in effect, revealed why he had joined the Corbyn mob at Glastonbury. His solution to society’s ills was more diversity, more ‘equality’, an end to capitalism – exactly in line with Labour. Snow revealed during his speech that in the 1960s he had been expelled from Liverpool University for taking part in a sit-in against investment in South Africa.

The more he spoke, the more it became clear he was still locked in that same simplistic worldview of 1960s protest. Just like Corbyn.

Another speaker at the Edinburgh Festival was Damian Collins, the Conservative chair of the Commons Media Committee. His mission? To find ways of making sure public service broadcasters were properly impartial in their reporting?

No. He was still on the warpath about the pay of BBC stars and wanted those not directly on the BBC’s books such as David Dimbleby – working for ‘independent’ companies – also to be forced to disclose their earnings. A step in the right direction in BBC accountability, perhaps, though the previous round of disclosures led only to a major protest by the feministas at the corporation, and pressure for female pay rates to be upgraded.

Collins and his committee colleagues should surely be focusing instead on a much more serious problem: the rooting out of the deep, comic-book bias shown by Snow. As the broadcaster illustrated with every word he spoke, it now saturates all elements of our public service news.

 

David Keighley’s BBC Watch: Whitewash EU extravagance and smear Farage

August 11, 2017

How biased is the BBC in favour of the EU? Off the Richter scale.

Their reaction this week to revelations about the financial incontinence of EU Commissioners showed that the Corporation will bend journalism into the furthest extremes of contortionism to defend EU bureaucrats.

And surprise, surprise they also used the story as a new opportunity to resort to their favourite EU-related blood sport: a wearyingly predictable but totally inappropriate and irrelevant attack on Nigel Farage.

Guido has detailed how the Belgian organisation Access Info Europe has forced the EU to reveal the travel expenses of its unelected Commissioners.

In fact, the profligacy in Commissioners’ expenses is the tip of an iceberg. The organisation has been fighting with the high command in Brussels for years to achieve even the most basic transparency in a number of domains. Despite this being public money from the coffers of member states, they have met with bloody-minded obstruction at every turn.

The group’s website writes of the battle:

The problems identified by Access Info include requiring requesters to provide identification before requests are processed, brusque treatment of requesters, failures to register requests, and serious delays in responding with multiple extensions applied. Refusals to provide access are often based on exceptions that are either poorly argued or misapplied, sometimes in breach of European Court of Justice jurisprudence.

Scrutiny of spending by government is one of the key litmus tests of accountability, but it is clear that Brussels does not give a damn; democracy – never an intrinsic part of the EU project – can especially go hang when the EU is pursuing its own self-interests and lax spending. Nor it seems does the BBC.

The information revealed to Access Info Europe shows that in a two month-period the Commissioners spent on their job expenses almost half a million euros –the equivalent of €297 every day by every commissioner – including a €27,000 bill for a two-day trip to Rome and €1,500 by the UK Commissioner Jonathan Hill for a two-day outing to Davos.

Justified? In the BBC report about the revelations, gone-native Brussels reporter Adam Fleming is keen to highlight the EU’s perspective.

He notes that the €27,000 Rome bill also included the fares of eight EU support officials and that there is a cap on the allowances. He adds that David Davis spent more on his expenses (£10,576) in a two-month period than Commission vice president Frans Timmermans (£6,200).

Everything in the tone of the rest of the BBC reporting also suggests that this is a storm in a teacup. Most prominent are the EU’s claims that this was all within rules, that everything of the revealed spending was scrutinised by the European Parliament, and that private jets were only hired when there was “no viable commercial plane available to fit the agenda”.

Well, of course.

And finally, in comes the sharply-aimed BBC kick at Nigel Farage. The report observes that he has described the Commission’s claims as ‘outrageous’, but also adds that ‘his own expense claims have come under scrutiny in the past’.

There is a link to a 2014 BBC website story in which these ‘claims’ – based on allegations in The Times that he wrongly used thousands of pounds of EU allowance money to run a Ukip office – are outlined in full.

Now it is true that Nigel Farage’s denial of the claims is prominently included in the BBC account. But the issues here are that Nigel Farage and Ukip have always hotly denied the claims, and no formal charges linked to Farage’s spending have ever been lodged. The timing of the story suggests it was cooked up to damage Ukip’s prospects in the 2014 European Parliamentary elections.

The question here is why the BBC thought these strongly-disputed, never-substantiated and very old allegations were relevant to a brand new story about EU Commissioners fighting tooth and nail to keep secret their expenses.

There can be only one answer to that question – it is evidence that on every occasion it can, with any flimsy pretext, BBC journalists will strain their utmost to discredit anyone and anything to do with Brexit. At the same time, it has virtually zero interest in explaining to the British people anything about the EU that is negative. It never has.

 

David Keighley’s BBC Watch: Gender aside, Auntie’s ‘talent’ is paid far too much

July 24, 2017

What are the lessons of the BBC pay row?

It reached fever pitch at the weekend with dozens of ‘underpaid’ BBC females claiming monstrous injustice – and, by implication, demanding oodles more licence fee payers’ cash – in a begging letter to the Sunday Telegraph.

Most ridiculous and self-righteous moment? Labour placeman James Purnell – now the grandiose Director of BBC Radio and Education, despite his total lack of prior broadcasting experience – being asked by Jeremy Vine why his salary for acting as a DJ ion a Radio 2 mid-morning show was a jaw-dropping £750,000 a year.

“Because you are fantastic”, replied Purnell. Well, of course.

Purnell – if asked – might perhaps also have similarly praised the rafts of these extortionately-paid top presenters who happen to share his political views. Gary Lineker (pay: £1.75 million), for example, who has tweeted that he is ashamed of his generation for voting to leave the EU. Or Graham Norton (£850,000), who declared on Irish television that the Brexit vote only happened because people were told a pack of lies.

After all this heat and indignation about Claudia Winkleman being paid less than Chris Evans, the House of Commons Digital, Media and Sport Committee (DDCMS) has decided that it will act. It has summoned DG Tony Hall and the new Invisible Man Chairman Sir David Clementi before it to discuss pay disparity.

Excuse me? This is an organisation lavishly funded by a punitive, regressive tax – now as outdated as tithes – which has spent the past 20 years doctoring the employment process so that 48.7 per cent of the staff are women. What more does this committee want?

Blood and stone come to mind. The process of devising pay scales which could somehow reflect the differences in job specs between Gary Linker, Chris Evans and Emily Maitlis and take into account their differing levels of ‘talent’, effort and application could take an army of BBC and DDCMS staff a generation to sort out.

And even then, of course, the equality Gauleiters such as Harriet Harman would not be happy.  They never are.

The real, most important issue here for the DDCMS Commons Committee to tackle is the overall incontinent pay levels at the BBC – which in the news department, for example, run at almost 40 per cent above their commercial equivalents – and the massive misuse of public funds such largesse represents.

Two years ago, the Cameron government had the chance in the BBC Charter renewal, to reform the BBC so that it was funded by subscription rather than a punitive, out-dated tax. If it had been made to compete properly for its income, the Corporation could no longer have sustained a gilded-cage approach and mentality.

That, inevitably, would have also rooted out the liberal-Left systematic bias which dominates and underpins everything that the BBC does. The opportunity – thanks primarily to George Osborne – was missed, and now debate about the Corporation’s future is mired in yet another totally irrelevant and spurious debate about ‘equality’.

Meanwhile, as the DDCMS Committee fiddles among these irrelevancies, Rome burns. The perennial, overwhelming BBC bias against Brexit continues unchecked, endangering the entire process and ensuring that daily sloshes of Remoaner petrol are given maximum headwinds.

Footnote: Last year, as Craig Byers notes here, more than 101,000 women were criminalised for not paying the BBC licence fee, compared to only 40,000 men. Chances of Emily Maitlis and her cronies writing to the Telegraph against such blatant inequality? Don’t hold your breath!

 

David Keighley’s BBC Watch: Forget bias, Ministers fret over the meaningless ‘gender pay gap’

July 17, 2017

The Department of Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (as it is now known), it seems, has finally been galvanised into contemplating action against the BBC. It has a dragon to slay.

Is it the relentless barrage of anti-Brexit bias emanating from the Corporation? It continues unabated, as is illustrated adroitly here – yet again – in analysis of Andrew Marr’s relentlessly anti-Brexit questioning of his key EU-related guests. The vast majority of 44 questions put to them over the past three weeks were negative about Brexit.

No. In DCMS’s world, it seems, there are bigger fish to fry. Too few of the the BBC’s top earners – in a list due to be published this week – are women.

Shock horror! There’s ‘pay disparity’ between the sexes in the higher echelons of the BBC gilded cage and now ministers, it is claimed, are ready to take action to ensure the balance is redressed.

‘Tilting at windmills’ is here totally appropriate. First, because the BBC has been discriminating against men for years to the extent that, according to the ONS, 48.7 per cent of its 21,000 staff are already women, and the eventual target for its workforce may be as high as 60 per cent.

Second, because the BBC receives such massive levels of income from the public purse that it pays its 3,000 staff in journalism roles – at least half of whom are presumably women – well over the going rate. Such BBC staff are on an average of almost £42,000 a year, which, according to UK Press Gazette, is heading towards 40 per cent higher than equivalent posts in the commercial sector.

The BBC headlines the Labour agendas of ‘austerity’ and ‘spending cuts’ at every opportunity. But the Corporation is thus seemingly totally immune from any such pressures.

That, however, as already noted, is not the problem. For the Government, no, the DCMS is up in arms because too few women are among the top Corporation earners, the 109 who pull in more than £150,000 a year earned by the Prime Minister.

Is not the key point here why the BBC is dishing out such huge salaries in the first place? It is reported, for example, that political editor Laura Kuenssberg  is paid between £300,000 and £350,000 a year. That’s heading towards £1,000 a day for her to offer what many would say was rather mundane bread and butter analysis. By contrast, James Harding, the overall boss of the 7,000+ staff in the news division earns £340,000 a year. Is that gender discrimination in Kuenssberg’s favour?

Another indicator of the Corporation’s continued gilded-cage largesse with the public purse is that – hard on the heels of the £1 billion spent on the rebuilding of its West End HQ – they are splashing out £120m on a Norman Foster-designed new HQ for BBC Wales in Cardiff.

And meanwhile, as noted above, the BBC anti-Brexit negativity churns on unchecked.

David Keighley’s BBC Brexit Watch: May’s new spinner picks a fight with Fox

July 11, 2017

Is the BBC biased against Brexit? Overwhelming evidence produced by News-watch shows that it is.

Yet a war of words on the topic within the Conservative Party has broken out. Some of those on the Remain side – along with Theresa May herself – appear to be determined to insult those who think the Corporation’s output  is imbalanced, describing them as ‘absurd’.

Trade Secretary Liam Fox said in the House of Commons on Friday that he was deeply concerned about BBC anti-Brexit bias.

A cross-party group of MPs, including Conservatives Philip Davies and Philip Hollobone, also told BBC Director of News James Harding at a meeting last week that they had serious concerns about the deeply negative approach to almost all aspects of the Brexit process. They submitted a dossier of evidence supporting their claims.

But former BBC producer Robbie Gibb, appointed on Friday as Theresa May’s new director of communications, thinks strongly otherwise. In what he must have known was an incendiary tweet, he declared:

“It’s been a privilege to work for the BBC. I will always be a supporter because of its values and commitment to impartiality.”

That’s surely another way of declaring war on Dr Fox. Is that a good way to start a new job? To alienate those in the party who think otherwise?

In the same vein, the Conservative former culture minister Ed Vaizey – in a story about fears of BBC bias among Tory MPs – told the i newspaper: “Those people who question the BBC’s patriotism or declare that the BBC is somehow biased in this debate are absurd.”

He added those who level claims of bias against the BBC “have simply lost the argument”.

According to the i news story, Downing Street also distanced itself from Dr Fox’s comments. Theresa May’s official spokesman said: “Ministers and MPs and others will all have their views. It’s a matter for newspapers, broadcasters and others to determine the tone and content of their own coverage.”

He added: “The Prime Minister has always been clear on the need to have a free press and free media in this country.”

Come again? Was that the the voice of Robbie Gibb? Or the effective deputy prime minister, arch-Remainer Damian Green? And is every instinct of Theresa May now suicidal?

Whoever it was who dreamed up this nonsense, they seem to be ignorant about the the BBC Charter. It stipulates that although the BBC has wide discretion in choosing what to broadcast, an over-riding qualification is that it must be impartial.

And who is it in the Conservative Party who in the Mrs May’s estimation is against a ‘free press’? Liam Fox and Messrs Hollobone and Davies did not say they want to to muzzle the BBC or end ‘free media’. Far from it. What they do demand is that the Corporation covers the Brexit process in accordance with the Charter, and makes sure the majority who supported Brexit are not swamped on BBC programming by what amounts to a continuation of Project Fear.

 

David Keighley’s BBC Watch: Let’s forget that Brown tried to do a deal with DUP ‘bigots’

June 12, 2017

The BBC has quickly found a new villain to kick. Is its next mission – after four years branding those who oppose immigration and especially Ukip as divisive racists – to tar the proud, family-oriented and genuinely conservative people of Northern Ireland as repressive monsters?

In coverage since the election results emerged, the Corporation is – in effect – demonising the majority of the population of part of the United Kingdom.

In the firing line of this calculated bias is the Democratic Unionist Party, which – despite the BBC’s unpleasant characterisation of them – is the cornerstone of peace and prosperity in the area.

Salvoes of disdain against the party were fired over the weekend in website stories and by presenters such as Emily Maitlis. In parallel, archive footage of ‘fundamentalist’ party founder Ian Paisley in the 1970s has been excavated, its alleged links with so called unionist terrorism have been emphasised, and the perceived anti-gay views of some of its members ruthlessly recycled and exaggerated.

Could this be also because the DUP – unlike the Tories, who failed to sort out the BBC despite its opportunity to do so – wants to abolish the BBC licence fee and hold a proper commission into how the Corporation is run and spends £4 billion of taxpayers’ money every year? That, of course, to the BBC, is the ultimate heresy.

It is also striking that in this systematic savaging of the DUP, the BBC are in lockstep with Jeremy Corbyn, now the Corporation’s do-no-wrong hero. He confirmed on the Andrew Marr Show his disdain for the values of the party.

But why wouldn’t he? It’s payback time against an old enemy for a man who from the minute he entered Parliament gave abundant outward appearances of supporting the IRA’s murderous tactics on mainland Britain and in the Province.

Exhibit A in this huge new BBC bias against the people of Northern Ireland is this exchange (spotted and extracted by Craig Byers of Is the BBC Biased?) between Emily Maitlis and Greg Barker (now Baron Barker of Battle)in a special edition of BBC2’s Newsnight:

EM: I’m just hearing from Nick Watt that the DUP may align itself with the Conservative Party in a confidence and supply arrangement. Would that suit you?
GB: I think that would be ideal.
EM: So you would not mind, and there would be many people, Conservative voters and wider voters, who say the DUP represents everything that Theresa May meant when she talked about a Nasty Party.
GB: They are certainly not our allies of choice. Personally, I would prefer to do a deal with the Lib Dems. We actually had a strong and stable coalition with the Lib Dems for five years, but that’s not on the cards. So I think…what is the alternative? The alternative would be handing the keys to Jeremy Corbyn.
EM: We are looking at the party that is homophobic, that doesn’t really believe in climate change, that talks about creationism.
GB: Sure, and I abhor all of those things…
EM: I mean, that could drag the party backwards, couldn’t it?

To Maitlis, the only issue worth exploring about the DUP is the espousal of conservative values she and the Corporation most abhor. Oh, and gosh! – in the BBC’s lexicon, the ultimate crime (bracketed now with Donald Trump) – they don’t really believe in climate change. And is ‘creationism’ how the BBC now regards Christianity?

Exhibit B (with thanks again to Craig Byers) is this BBC website story. It’s an unpleasant hatchet job. Centre stage in the party assassination is a tweet by the lefty Channel 4 News presenter Jon Snow, who declared:

“One of the most extreme political entities in the British Isles…is to wag the tail of Mrs May’s minority Government.”

Then with more vitriol comes another tweet, from Guardian deputy editor Paul Johnson:

‘DUP
-Climate deniers
– Anti-abortion
– Anti LGBT rights
– Pro-Brexit
And May says will govern for all nation.’

The scene thus set, the BBC’s own opinions follow: the party has a ‘devout climate change denier’ who was once the Province’s environment minister; another party figure dares to believe that human life was created by God; much to the chagrin of Elton John, someone in the hierarchy did not know that heterosexual people could contract HIV; and (most heinous crime of all?) the party supported Brexit, and ‘was the most Eurosceptic party in the UK before the ascent of Ukip’.

Boo! But conspicuously missing from this charge sheet is that in 2010, after Gordon Brown lost the then general election, his Northern Ireland Secretary Shaun Woodward – in an effort to thwart the formation of the Conservative coalition – offered the DUP an ‘economic package’ to secure DUP support.

All this illustrates that in the BBC’s mindset, the highest sin is the espousal and defence of anything the Corporation sees as anti-liberal. Yet Northern Ireland, despite its bloody history, is now a transformed place where civilised values are the core of civic life. The DUP is the Province’s majority party and is an expression of those values.

 

David Keighley: Last night was a BBC gain

June 9, 2017

The sense of excitement and joy in the BBC election studio was palpable from the off last night. The nasty party was getting its due desserts and they loved it.

A central question, as this extraordinary result sinks in, is the extent to which the favourable projection of Jeremy Corbyn by the BBC – combined with the constant carping about Brexit – caused it.

The favourable treatment of Corbyn and his financially incontinent Marxist policies was summed up (for example) on the eve of the poll, when BBC Newsnight’s political editor – the former Guardian journalist Nicholas Watt – declared what a wonderful campaign he had fought. Conspicuously absent was any mention of his blatant and deeply-troubling inks with terrorism

As ‘balance’ to this, Newsnight’s editors had commissioned Matthew Parris – possibly the wettest of all Conservative commentators, whose continual bleating against Brexit has exceeded even that of Kenneth Clarke – to cobble together a profile of Theresa May that emphasised all her weaknesses.

 

David Keighley’s BBC Election Watch: Evan Davis admits Auntie couldn’t care less about your complaints

June 8, 2017

At last! Someone at the BBC has finally admitted publicly what has been obvious for years.

Step forward Newsnight presenter Evan Davis, who – according to the Daily Mail – told the Hay literary festival that the BBC programme makers and journalists don’t take note of emails complaining about bias.

The reality, of course, is that although the Corporation has an elaborate so-called complaints process, its primary purpose is to bat into the very long grass the vast majority of audience concerns.

Davis made his ‘admission’ about the handling of complaints while plugging his new book Post Truth: Why We Have Reached Peak Bullshit and What We Can Do About It.

Perhaps in the ‘B****’ word he was describing subconsciously his own elements of BBC output. His approach speaks volumes about the BBC mind-set.

Take Monday’s Newsnight, for example. True to form, Davis fawningly allowed Mayor of London Sadiq Khan to rattle on without interruption about alleged Tory cuts to the police service. A couple of minutes later, he displayed maximum gurning cynicism in his handling of a Trump adviser’s reaction to the London bombings. From Uriah Heep to Torquemada in a flash.

In the book, Davis chooses a number of careful historical examples in his ‘b******’ stakes. One is Ian Huntley’s ludicrous defence in the Soham killings. Another is Bill Clinton’s claim that ‘he did not have sexual relations with that woman’.

But then his real contemporary targets come in to view. Top of his hit list is the EU referendum Leave side’s claim about £350m a week savings through the ending of the UK’s EU contributions. Associated with that, he pushes again the line that ‘most business and expert opinion’ believes that Brexit will be bad for the British economy.

Then comes Trump and his claims that unemployment in the US had been downplayed in official statistics.

The book confirms the stark reality that Davis and his chums ignore complaints because they are stuck in their own BBC bubble of unreality. Everything outside it that they disagree with – from Brexit to the election of Donald Trump, and from climate scepticism to populism (when associated with the Right) – is viewed as ‘b*****’.

David Keighley’s BBC Watch: Beheading Trump is such a hoot

June 3, 2017

The American so-called comedian Kathy Griffin has issued a grovelling apology for posting a sick picture of herself holding up a bloodied and horrific model of the decapitated head of Donald Trump.

Clearly thinking it was a jolly jape, she at first defended the image and the ‘joke’, but has now reluctantly accepted that it was wrong – but only after it emerged that she could face formal investigation for inciting violence.

For the Left, clearly its hatred of the democratic process will stop at nothing.

The BBC’s reaction? Despite Griffin’s backtracking it posted a screen grab of the horrendous image. This is despite crystal-clear editorial guidelines that prohibit the showing of graphic images that are likely to offend. Does the BBC think it is funny?

And what about the impact on children? Readership of the BBC website is not said by the Corporation to be ‘adults only’. Children cannot make the distinction between real and imaginary in the same way as adults.

Since his candidacy started, the BBC has been heaping derision on Trump and undermining him.

Correspondents such as Jon Sopel snort with derision in their reports about him. The showing of this sick ‘joke’ photograph underlines this venomous disregard.

This is the BBC that has a so-called code of conduct that would never in a month of Sundays show an Isis thug holding up a bloodied head. Yet it has no problem doing that when the imaginary victim is…Donald Trump.

Not only that, but Griffin now realises that she has not only crossed the line, (by losing paid contracts) but may face charges of inciting violence against the POTUS. She has posted an apology, that she had crossed the line, and for people to take down that offensive picture: Take note BBC.

 

David Keighley’s BBC Election Watch: Lefty Cambridge mob destroys any illusion of ‘balance’

June 2, 2017

The so-called ‘leaders’ debate on BBC One on Wednesday night was a car crash of a programme that should never have been broadcast.

‘Balance’ was never going to be possible in a set-up involving five strident left-wing parties ranged against two from the ‘right’. Those at the Corporation paid substantial salaries to achieve ‘impartiality’, including the Director of News, James Harding, should have spotted this a mile away.

Further, despite anything that the BBC might say, the audience was seriously biased against Amber Rudd for the Conservatives and Paul Nuttall of Ukip. The Corporation afterwards claimed this was not their fault because they had sub-contracted the polling organisation ComRes to select the audience members on a ‘scientific’ basis.

Poppycock. The BBC is responsible for programmes that it broadcasts and in a general election the Corporation has a clearly-defined responsibility under both the Charter and electoral law to ensure balance.

The reality is that the make-up of the audience was a first-order farce. Nothing the BBC broadcasts subsequently can ‘balance’ this, so gross was the problem.

This Cambridge mob was not just biased in its reactions throughout the 90 minutes, but risibly so. Everything Jeremy Corbyn said was cheered to the rafters, whereas Rudd and Nuttall were subjected to catcalls. The camerawork (was that sub-contracted, too?) further exaggerated the problems by homing in on the negative reaction.

Returning to the intrinsic imbalance of the five ‘left’ to two ’right’ set-up, a major problem here was that the moderator, Radio 4 Today presenter Mishal Husain, was never equal to the task.

But there were deeper problems, that meant Husain’s basic failure of control was compounded. The result was that programme was shot through with basic unfairness.

Nowhere was this more risibly evident than in the handling of immigration. Put bluntly Paul Nuttall’s call for tougher controls was ganged up upon and shouted down by the SNP, Green, Plaid Cymru and Liberal Democrat panellists – who, like playground bullies, called him a racist.

There was nothing new about this. Those on the Left such as Tim Farron and Caroline Lucas have been disgracefully and indiscriminately using the ‘R’ word against anyone who disagrees with uncontrolled immigration for decades.

But that is where the BBC failed at the most basic level in its duty as a public service broadcaster. It should have foreseen such unfairness, and known it would be an inevitable outcome. The problem is that the British political system is no longer binary, and the majority of parties are now left-wing, so ‘debates’ like this simply cannot work.

Another point is that the BBC intrinsically does not care a stuff about right-wing opinion. For years it has been working to undermine and belittle the views of Ukip, and so in that mind-set, the latest twist last night was only par for the course.

Everybody who watched last night could see this blatant bias, but not the BBC itself. Its headlines yesterday morning did not mention the bias claims, but focused instead on the claim that Theresa May had been shown to be a coward for not turning up.

 

David Keighley’s BBC Election Watch: Cruel Tories smashed the miners and gave us Brexit

May 31, 2017

Eh, lad, it’s grim oop north.

That is, according to BBC correspondents when they venture there. Veteran reporter Hugh Sykes was up in Yorkshire yesterday for a series of special BBC Radio 4 World at One reports ostensibly about the issues of the General Election.

His focus was the plight of the 67,000 men who had once worked in the West Yorkshire coalfield around Wakefield and Barnsley. Where could they turn to now?

No such BBC report would be complete without a clip from Margaret Thatcher – Corporation code for that the demise of the pits was mostly her fault – and Hugh Sykes duly obliged.

The former miners he spoke to – one now the manager of the National Mining Museum at the former Caphouse Colliery, near Wakefield, another, the treasurer of the Grimethorpe Colliery Band – were a practical, no-nonsense, philosophical lot who had clearly moved on with their lives.

But this was the BBC and that wasn’t the point. First it was the reminder of Thatcher, then a carefully-edited melange of interview clips that showed that a proud, team-player way of life had been crushed and lost for ever – and then that they had now turned in their desperation to Brexit, and could no longer easily vote Labour.

What had they got instead of their steady jobs-for life? Well here, Sykes turned, of course, to the Barnsley poet and BBC favourite Ian Mcmillan, whose poem about the 1980s strikes in Yorkshire contains these lines:

The past is not just Kings and Queens, it’s those like me and you
Who clashed with a woman at Number 10, who had to stand and fight
Cos when your way of life’s being smashed to bits, what else can you do?

Mcmillan duly painted a grim picture indeed – most of it the Tories’ fault. This, he declared, was a soundbite election with phrases such as ‘strong and stable’ but they meant nothing. ‘Austerity’ dominated and was destroying all. Men – those proud miners – and their families, were ruled and being crushed by it, and even those with jobs had to go to food banks to make ends meet.

Then, to reinforce the tragedy of lost jobs, lost hope and lost spirit, it was on to the Grimethorpe Band with their mournful rendition of ‘Abide With Me’. How very, very Northern. Cloth caps united.

Job done. Another clichéd version of a constant BBC refrain: That nasty austerity caused the Brexit vote.

 

David Keighley’s BBC Election Watch: Past it Paxman left Corbyn in the clear

May 30, 2017

Where are they when you need them?

Broadcast interviewers who can cut the mustard and send politicians scurrying back to party HQs with their tails between their legs and looking for solace? Who is there who can sniff out and deal with obfuscation with scalpel-like precision?

Jeremy Paxman, of course, is no longer with the BBC, and his interviews with Jeremy Corbyn and Theresa May for Channel 4 and Sky News underlined how out of touch he has become. He relied far too much on bluster and raw, awkward aggression. So unsubtle was his technique that it left even Corbyn – who simply side-stepped as much as he could and kept his cool – looking almost good.

On the BBC itself, it’s not much better. Evan Davis, Paxman’s successor on BBC2 Newsnight, is so biased against anyone he perceives as right-wing that his approach is a parody of the interviewing art. He comes across as an indignant, over-excited yappy dog – snarling at those he disagrees with and fawning over his lefty heroes.

Over on Radio 4’s Today, where most of the key interviews take place, John Humphrys can still create discomfort among those who are being evasive. But he, too, has caught the Davis disease, and usually treats those on the ‘right’ with far more toughness than those of other political hues.

His interview of Paul Nuttall last week was a case-study. First, three days after the Manchester bombing, he rather crassly suggested that he was on a ‘suicide mission’ – a mistake, maybe, but it set the tone. Out came the full attack arsenal, fired in quick-fire salvoes: Nuttall’s party were racists, redundant and unpleasantly prejudiced against Islam.

Just like, in the BBC lexicon, Ukip always have been.

Nuttall could scarcely get in a word edgeways.

What of the other Today presenters? Mishal Husain is most relentless in her pursuit of women’s rights, perceived Islamophobia and social justice. Nick Robinson has become the indignant defender-in-chief of BBC journalism – protesting, in effect, that it is never biased – while Sarah Montague and Justin Webb bumble through, their toughest approaches always reserved for right-wing targets.

 

David Keighley’s BBC Election Watch: On climate change, vote anyone but Tory (or, worse, Ukip)

May 29, 2017

At what point do BBC ‘correspondents’ cross the line from offering a properly judged and impartial assessment into propaganda and overt electioneering?

News-watch surveys provide abundant evidence that it is all too often – and a new prime example was 556 words on the doctrine of climate alarmism from Roger Harrabin the BBC’s ‘environment analyst’ on Radio 4’s The World This Weekend yesterday. (His report starts at around 1.25pm)

This amounted to a BBC party political broadcast against elements of the Conservative party, and especially – to Harrabin – the real villains of the piece, Ukip.

A transcript of the full horror of what he delivered in this ‘impartial assessment’ is below.

Where to start? In Harrabin’s world, our seas are ‘full of plastic’(!), and the fact that Stephen Hawking thinks that climate change is the biggest long-term threat to humanity makes his speculation sacrosanct.

Then we must take into account that, according to government surveys, only one per cent ‘strongly oppose renewables’ and so that, in Harrabin’s world, makes the spending of billions on such energy (instead of, say, the NHS) OK.

No mention in his equation of the thousands of old people who freeze in winter because of the huge bills generated by wind farm and solar subsidies.

And who, according to Harrabin, are the irresponsible and reckless parties who are opposing the climate alarmism agenda? Top if his list are ‘Conservative libertarians’, followed by – boo, hiss! – Ukip. Of course! Every BBC correspondent’s favourite whipping boys.  Along with Donald Trump, who also dares to question this sacred dogma.

Next on the list of Harrabin infamy is The Mail on Sunday, which had the temerity to launch its Great Green Con campaign and thereby ‘legitimised’ anti-environmentalism’.  How dare they.

Next target? Brexit, of course!. Now at risk is all the wonderful legislation emanating from Brussels designed to ‘restore nature’ (whatever that means). As a result,too, of leaving the EU at risk will be flood control, along with the drive to spend billions on insulating millions of homes.

Harrabin concludes – with outrageous partiality – during an election campaign:

“The Conservatives’ ambition looks limited here compared with the Lib Dems, Greens and Plaid Cymru and also Labour who want to make home insulation an infrastructure priority. The SNP hasn’t published its manifesto yet but it too wants to take a strong line on climate change.”

So there we have it. Vote anything but Conservative and Ukip, and avoid Brexit and all will be well with the world. Humanity will be safe.

Transcript of BBC Radio 4, ‘The World This Weekend’, 28 May, 2017, Climate Change, 1.27pm

Mark Mardell: And as one Carlisle resident said, there hasn’t been much about the environment generally, even though it was once near the top of many a politician’s agenda. What happened? Here’s our environment analyst Roger Harrabin.

Roger HarrabinAir pollution, melting sea ice, wildlife depletion, a soil crisis, seas full of plastic. Why isn’t the election full of environmental angst? Well I think it’s mainly a question of worry capacity. Stephen Hawking would tell you climate change was the biggest long-term threat to humanity but in the meantime we’re also beset by terrorism, the refugee crisis, Brexit – they’ve filled up our worry-space.

Coupled with that there’s been a shift in the way the media discusses the environment. The old consensus on climate change has been rattled by a long campaign from Conservative libertarians and Ukip. They scored their first success with wind farms, scattered protests against turbines were at first below the radar of the national media, but those angry local voices were eventually amplified by the Telegraph, and that began to influence policy.  

The Government’s own surveys actually suggest that just one per cent of the populace strongly opposes renewables, but that’s by the by.

Then the Mail on Sunday launched its Great Green Con campaign, criticising failings in renewables and highlighting uncertainties in climate science. When it was previously non-PC to declare yourself a climate change sceptic, a stance of what you might call anti-environmentalism has now been legitimised.

This steady pressure from over its right shoulder has led the Government to mostly gag itself on climate change over recent years and the sceptics have been claiming victory. But wait a minute – except Ukip, all the manifestos published so far, that’s including the blue one, recommit to the Climate Change Act. That sort of consensus hardly stimulates media interest, but it does prove the issue hasn’t gone away.  

There are details over policy of course. The Conservative manifesto aspires to the cheapest energy prices in Europe. The Greens promise affordable energy, not cheap energy. But as a slogan that’s not quite so catchy.  

For all parties, Brexit looms large, 80 per cent of the UK’s environmental policy comes through the EU. How will politicians translate that into UK law? How will they handle the massive opportunity to restore nature as they’ve promised following British withdrawal from the Common Agriculture Policy? Can they direct some of the agricultural budget to catching water on farmland to prevent the floods we discussed earlier? How will they improve the chaotic waste and recycling policies and how will our next government solve the conundrum of persuading tens of millions of people to insulate their own homes as part of the supposedly inexorable drive towards the low carbon economy?  

The Conservatives’ ambition looks limited here compared with the Lib Dems, Greens and Plaid Cymru and also Labour who want to make home insulation an infrastructure priority. The SNP hasn’t published its manifesto yet but it too wants to take a strong line on climate change.  

Then how will the parties deal with the thorny issue of air pollution? Policies are there in other manifestos but details are strikingly absent from the Conservative document, presumably to avoid upsetting diesel drivers. So many environmental questions still, so many unanswered.

 

David Keighley’s BBC Watch: If everyone went to university and smoked pot, the Libs would walk it

May 19, 2017

Reporter Katie Razzall was recently given 10 minutes on Newsnight to explain why ‘uneducated’ voters had so rashly opted for Brexit and were more likely to vote Conservative or Ukip.

It was a classic example of the BBC’s rearguard action to champion liberal values and globalism, and to heap clichéd derision on the Leave side.

Katie, it should be first explained, has form in this arena.  Last June her Referendum Road reports, especially this, from Cornwall, were heavily skewed against Brexit. And of course, she works in a programme team heavily saturated with former Guardian journalists, such as Ian Katz, the editor.

Her ammunition now was a new YouGov poll which, she trumpeted, showed that (as she described) ‘outward looking, educated’ liberals were significantly less likely to vote Tory (and especially Ukip) than those with a degree.

In sharp contrast, the BBC as a whole this week virtually ignored another poll from YouGov, which showed strikingly that of the 48 per cent who voted Remain, only 22 per cent were sticking to that view – overall 68 per cent of the UK now wanted out.

But no matter. Katie had evidence in the other poll to attack Brexit, and she was jolly well going to use it.

First stop was Durham University where – in its refined surroundings – all but one of her highly articulate, educated, interviewees wanted out. They were given clear time and space to advocate that globalism and cultural diversity were the way forward, and at the same time, to stress that no-one had voted for a ‘hard’ Brexit.

Then it was a trip to the dark side. Up the North-East coast to the near-deserted fishing harbour at Sunderland, then to a deprived area of inner-city Tyneside. Here, among the Brexit, Ukip and Tory voters, Razzall edited a scramble of opinions about gloom, doom – and, of course, fear of immigration. Where else, in the BBC’s world, would such negativity towards it exist?

Lo and behold, in and among her deprived masses, was one woman who had gone to university and had dropped out. And guess what? To her, ‘fear’ – of course – was the reason why Britain had voted ’out’.

In fact, the YouGov poll was much more nuanced than Razzall made out.  Sixty per cent of those earning more than £70,000 a year intend to vote Tory, and even 40 per cent of those on under £20,000.  What does that say about contemporary Britain? Razzall and Newsnight weren’t interested.

And 17 per cent of those with ‘no formal qualifications’ will vote Ukip, compared to only four per cent of those with degrees. With Liberal Democrats, the figure is virtually reversed – 5 per cent against 19 per cent. Could that be because smoking cannabis is a university pastime? The Liberal Democrats’ ace policy card in this election, of course, is the legalisation of the drug.

 

David Keighley’s BBC Election Watch: Two thirds back Leave but let’s keep it a secret

May 17, 2017

Since June 23, the BBC has been working with a passion to tell us why Brexit won’t work.

Any reason, every reason, will do. This frenzy was so great in the immediate aftermath that they assembled a cast of ‘experts’ to tell us that there would be rioting on the streets because of food supply problems.

With equal alacrity, the BBC comrades reported the wholly manufactured idea that the vote had been the result of ‘race hate’, had triggered a further torrent if it, and that this native English ‘racist’ venom against ‘Europeans’ was so bad that murder in Harlow was being committed as a result if it. In the BBC’s world, no pizza parlour was now safe. Nigel Farage, it was posited in one report, had blood on his hands.

During the referendum period, a central plank of the BBC’s campaign to support Remain was that the business world thought it was a very bad idea. The POTUS, the IFS, the IMF, the IoD, the CBI (almost any acronym would do!) were against it, and – as Kamal Ahmed, the BBC’s economics editor rammed down our throats – they could not be ignored.

This relentless focus on Big Business’s anti-Brexit views, as the latest News-Watch reports here and here have showed, has continued to the present day – so much so that when Lloyd’s of London announced at the beginning of April (just after Article 50 had been triggered) that they were setting up a Brussels office with ‘tens’ of staff, it was elevated to headline bulletin status.

A feature of the coverage has also been to show whenever possible that Brexit voters were tough, rough, largely inarticulate northern types from desperate economic areas such as Sunderland, Teesside, South Wales and deepest, remotest Lancashire or Yorkshire.

This overall deeply biased stereotyping has rolled over with the Brexit-related coverage during the the general election campaign.  This example, from yesterday, shows the Corporation exaggerating the problems of obtaining post-Brexit trade deals. Any obstacle will do.

So what happened at the BBC on Monday when the latest YouGov report was published on post-referendum attitudes towards Brexit – showing that as had first been noted in March – 68 per cent of Britain now wanted to get on with Brexit, and support for Remain had collapsed to 22 per cent?

Very predictably, perhaps, they have ignored it. Not a squeak – not even in the remotest regions of the website.

This bias is so blatant, so massive, that it is beyond parody. And yet the Corporation soldiers on, seemingly impervious to any criticism.

 

David Keighley’s BBC Election Watch: Today sticks the knife into Ukip

May 16, 2017

The Today programme’s election centrepiece yesterday was a visit to Bath University by presenter Justin Webb, ostensibly to explore what they clearly saw as one of the burning issues of the campaign: the ‘progressive alliance’.

And bingo! En route, they managed to find a new way of showing how unpopular Ukip is.

Somewhat unusually for Today – perhaps the influence of new editor Sarah Sands? – it was a series of segments in front of a live audience in one of the university buildings.

Whoever they were – it was not explained – they were up at 6 am and listened mainly politely to a range of contributors, such as Lord Ashdown and Molly Scott Cato, the local Green candidate.

But the mood changed markedly at around 6.45 am. Suddenly, we were in the radio equivalent of the Lion’s Den, when Ukip’s Ian Kealey, (who fought North Somerset for the party in 2015) joined Webb. Guess what? They audience booed him loudly, and attempted to shout him down with yells of ‘you’re broke’.

Then, as he dared to suggest there might be benefits of Brexit, there was more heckling, including laughter and jeers. Someone could be heard above the cacophony. He shouted: ‘Name one’.

Justin Webb, to be fair, stepped in at this point to calm things down, and Kealey then eloquently managed to outline that young people would potentially benefit because £15 billion of investment money had come into the country. This, he claimed, would translate into jobs.

The rest of the sequence was an interview with Scott Cato. No heckling here. In fact, there was applause as she attacked the Tory party for its ‘divide and conquer policy’, which, she claimed, gave benefits to older people to deprive younger generations; and then outlined that under the Greens, tuition fees would be scrapped, and secure homes would be provided for young people.

Now, of course, no-one can ever predict how a live audience is going to react. But perhaps if you go to Bath University and put students who listen to the Today programme with a Ukip candidate, it’s almost a  cast-iron certainty.

As it was Ian Kealey was alone in being heckled. It will be interesting to see how Today editors work to balance that negativity against Ukip (that they created) as the campaign unfolds.

 

David Keighley’s BBC Election Watch: ‘Impartial’ BBC website loads dice against Tories

May 15, 2017

This, at 16:44 yesterday afternoon, was the menu in the supposedly ‘impartial’ politics section of the BBC website. Spot a pattern?

Tory council housing plan not new money

Labour Pledge to Build 1m new homes

Labour promises ‘Robin Hood’ Tax on City

Conservative Councillor suspended over Eurovision Tweets

Labour warns bosses they will have to take a pay cut if Labour win power

Theresa May rules out vote at 16  – in contrast to most other parties 

Lib Dems pledge to boost armed forces

Davis voices concern over EU border plan

Brown: Tories ’waging war against poor’

Nurses to stage ‘summer of protests’

The analysis that follows is not strictly scientific (though with a nod towards discourse analysis), but this selection – taken at random – speaks volumes about how the BBC is covering the general election.

Labour is on a mercy mission to relieve those nasty City types of their cash through a benevolent Robin Hood Tax; is the only bulwark against the unrelenting, merciless assaults by the Tories on the undeserving poor; and is going to build one million ‘totally affordable’ new houses. Just like that.

There’s no mention, it should also be noted, of perhaps one of the biggest Labour-related stories of the day: that Jeremy Corbyn was arrested in 1986 as part of his sustained mission to support the IRA (sorry, Sinn Fein), on this occasion, connected with the ‘rights’ of the man who nearly murdered Margaret Thatcher, the Brighton bomber Patrick Magee.

Not forgotten, though, are the Liberal Democrats. Here, that nice Mr Farron – fresh from his heroic calls to legalise cannabis – is planning a boost to the armed forces. Hurrah!

The Conservative campaign is cast as rather less benevolent. Boo! Killjoy Theresa May is alone in blocking votes at 16. Hiss! A Tory councillor somewhere in the deepest shires has been suspended for making nasty (by implication, ‘ray-cist’) tweets about Eurovision.

Then, continuing the litany of gloom, the Tory plans for Brexit are in yet more disarray over issues related to the Northern Ireland border; and a scheme outlined by Sir Michael Fallon to build new social housing from a budget of £1.4bn does not count in the election because the availability of the money had already been announced.

Finally, in case anybody is rash enough to think there is anything at all positive on offer from those nasty Tories, there’s news that the NHS is still in crisis, with beleaguered nurses – understaffed by 40,000 thanks to Tory underinvestment and mismanagement – planning to strike in the summer.

 

David Keighley’s BBC Election Watch: Public moves on over Brexit – leaving Beeb behind

May 12, 2017

 

YouGov’s latest poll on attitudes towards Brexit – as the New Statesman outlines here – demonstrates that 69 per cent of the public now support leaving the EU and only 21 per cent want to ignore the result of the referendum.

Not only that, 25 per cent in the Brexit-supporting total are Remain voters who accept that the British people have voted to leave, and that the Government thus has a duty ‘to carry out their wishes and leave’.

In other words, they concur that the referendum vote is confirmation – despite the frantic protestations of Tim Farron – that Leave does indeed mean Leave. The 48 per cent support for Remain on June 23 is distant history. The majority of Remain voters have moved on.

Put another way, only around 9 million Britons out of the 43.5m who voted on June 23 are still hankering for a re-run.

Will someone please tell the BBC? New Statesman Political Editor George Eaton pulls no punches in his assessment of how devastating the figures are to the Remain case. He states:

“After voting Remain, they ceased to act as a unified political bloc. The crucial figure for understanding May’s decision to pursue Brexit is not “the 48 per cent” or “the 52 per cent” but the 69 per cent – the number who believe the Government has a duty to leave the EU (more than a third of whom voted Remain). A mere 21 per cent agree that the government should either block Brexit or seek to prevent it through a second referendum.”

Yet the BBC continues to behave as if it is their main duty to show audiences how difficult the Brexit road is going to be, and how suspect the ‘Leave ‘vote was, as is detailed by News-watch here.

BBC Media Editor Amol Rajan has now even also seriously floated on the Today programme (at 8.20am in the edition) what amounts to a conspiracy theory about the Vote Leave project. He has suggested it was backed by a shadowy ‘millionaire’ (how much dodgier in the BBC lexicon can you be?) combined with a publicity-shy software company called Cambridge Analytica, who – shock, horror – are also, in an equally shadowy way, behind Donald Trump.

All this is beginning to look like the BBC – in its dogged opposition to Brexit – is acting like a millenarian cult. A fascinating book on the psychology involved is here. The end of the world is nigh and they are jolly well going to tell us about it – despite what voters now think and very clearly want. And despite any amount of positive news to the contrary.

 

David Keighley’s BBC Election Watch: Reporters flaunt their bias against ‘populists’ like Trump

May 11, 2017

What was BBC Today presenter Nick Robinson’s reaction as news broke that FBI Director James Comey had been fired by Donald Trump?

He tweeted: ‘Life becomes like reality TV show as @realDonaldTrump tells FBI Director “You’re fired!”‘

How impartial was that? You can be the judge. Meanwhile, on the Today show itself, the editorial machine was working flat out on a parallel mission, to suggest that the President’s actions were so outrageous that they could be compared with one of the darkest acts of Watergate.

US correspondent Jon Sopel led the charge after the Today bulletins at 6.30am yesterday morning, when prompted by by John Humphrys that this was in the same territory as back in 1972, he declared:

‘…a lot of people are saying… is very very smells very similar to the Nixon investigation, the Nixon era and John, I know you were doing my job then the night of the ‘Saturday Massacre’ when the special investigator into Richard Nixon and Watergate affair was fired … we know where that ended up’.

He added that there were now also suggestions that this could be a cover-up – over Trump’s dealings with Russia – of the sort that ‘finished off Richard Nixon’.  The message was reinforced in a later interview with a correspondent from the Washington Post.

Then at 8.10am, BBC North America correspondent Aleem Maqbool gave his verdict on the Comey sacking. He opined:

‘Americans have come to expect almost anything from their president.’

That was not intended as a compliment. The issue at stake here, yet again, is the BBC’s supposed impartiality. Robinson, Maqbool and Sopel – and Humphrys – were anything but; their goal was to question flagrantly the competence of Donald Trump and to suggest one-sidedly that the sacking of Comey was potentially so seriously dodgy that impeachment was now in the frame.

As the coverage of the general election unfolds, this mindset of partisanship against ‘populism’ is of deep concern. Also on Today yesterday morning (for example), Dominic O’Connell, the business news presenter, was over in Northern Ireland. His mission? To rake up every possible reason why Brexit was a major headache and a threat to the business community.

The BBC may be playing the numbers game between parties carefully in their election coverage. But when it comes to the issues, there is no doubt whose side they are on.

 

David Keighley’s BBC Election Watch: Love of foreign aid trumps loathing for Tories

May 10, 2017

The Institute of Fiscal Studies published a report on Monday showing that the foreign aid budget has almost doubled over a decade to £13.6 billion and was likely to continue on its spectacular upward rise over the next Parliament.

The Daily Mail thought this lavish spending by the Department of International Development (DfID) was an important story with a headline talking of ‘ballooning’ figures, while the Daily Express said it was a ‘bombshell’ revelation about an already ‘bloated’ budget.

On the BBC, however, the story was conspicuously absent from the Corporation’s morning agenda. Not a peep.

Compare that with during the EU referendum. Then the IFS was wheeled out with monotonous regularity as ‘proof’ that economic scare stories about the negative consequences of Brexit were likely to come true. Correspondents such as economics editor Kamal Ahmed regularly drilled into audiences how important and reliable the IFS is.

This latest report, which revealed that DfID’s budget – dictated by David Cameron’s controversial pledge to spend at least 0.7 per cent of the UK’s national income in this arena – had risen by 24 per cent under the Tories since 2010, compared with across-the-board cuts in all other departments (excluding health, education and defence) of 28 per cent,  totalling £34.6 billion.

As The Daily Mail points out, despite this – and despite widespread public anger at government priorities away from domestic issues – Theresa May has already committed with bone-headed obstinacy to the current DfID rate of spending, and has seemingly set her face against any changes in the DfID policy in the Conservative Party manifesto.

An IFS report so intrinsically critical of this government would normally have been seized upon by BBC like a rat up a drainpipe as a strong line of attack.

But not this morning, and not on this subject. Why? Is it perhaps because the Corporation is so wedded to the importance of overseas aid – in tune with its own right-on agenda pursued by its Media Action arm – that it views such spending as sacrosanct? And not even its beloved IFS can persuade it otherwise.

 

David Keighley’s BBC Election Watch: Macron’s victory is a rare break for the Beeb’s battered suits

May 9, 2017

Election watch today is focusing on bias by omission – in this case, what the BBC hasn’t reported about Macron’s victory.

Throughout, there was no doubt whose side in this election the Corporation was on, if only in the routine labelling of Marine Le Pen as ‘far right’ and Macron as a ‘centrist’ – even though many not of the BBC mindset would regard his policies on the EU and immigration as anything but.

And yesterday, on Today, Jim Naughtie, designated now as the programme’s ‘special correspondent’ was unquestionably in celebratory mode, adopting exactly the same overall positive and congratulatory tone as when, also from from Paris (in 2002) he reported on the introduction of euro notes and coins.

What the BBC didn’t report yesterday was the massive snub Macron dealt to French tradition when he opted to announce his victory to the strains of the EU’s anthem Ode to Joy rather than the usual patriotic tune Le Marseillaise.

Also missing from the BBC’s reports was any realistic analysis of the negative impact his blind passion for the EU – and its legions of multiplying structural problems – will have on the French economy.

Curiously missing too, as Kathy Gyngell has also noted on TCW, was any real investigation of Macron’s suspiciously- smooth mercurial rise to power, and how a political novice has managed to launch so potent a political movement in little more than a year. The BBC’s Hugh Schofield instead put it down to his ‘irresistible charm’ (although, to be fair, also noting that this might be his undoing).

Questions that now abound include whether this BBC-declared ‘centrist’ is actually a socialist, especially as the general secretary of En Marche! (Macron’s new party), Richard Ferrand, is  a long-time member of the Socialist Party.

But the final words go to Schofield. He declared:

The election of a new leader is not a moment that invites cynicism – and most people will wish the best for a man who is palpably decent and wants to give his all for France.

Was that what the approach adopted by Schofield and his BBC chums reported on the election of Donald Trump? Maybe not. This post on TCW is an interesting comparison with how the Corporation treated his election. Not much mention there of charm!

 

David Keighley’s BBC Election Watch: Marr lets slippery McDonnell off the Marxist hook

May 8, 2017

Is he or isn’t he? Andrew Marr asked shadow Chancellor John McDonnell yesterday morning if he is an ‘unapologetic’ Marxist?

His answer was an object lesson is smokescreen building – and the BBC accepted it with scarcely a murmur.

This was potentially fertile territory, in that the New Statesman (for example) has argued – on the basis of McDonnell’s own writings and conduct – that he is actually engaged in a ‘Gramascian’ quest to destabilise Britain before pushing it towards a full-scale Marxist revolution.

Bang up-to-date evidence for this, as Guido has pointed out, is that McDonnell last week stood in front of Communist flags to deliver a May Day speech, and has also been clandestinely tape-recorded stating his support for the political doctrine.

McDonnell’s response on Marr? It was slippery as an eel, as the programme transcript (p8)  shows. To the specific charge (of being an unapologetic Marxist), he said ‘no’, but then sought to obfuscate by stating:

“I believe there’s a lot to learn from reading Kapital, yes of course it is, and that’s been recommended not just by me but many others, mainstream economists as well. But I also believe in the long tradition of the Labour Party which involves people like G.D.H. Cole, Tawney and others. You put that altogether and you have, I think, a direction for our economy based upon sound principles of fairness.”

Asked by Marr if he wanted to destroy the capitalist system, the slipperiness continued. McDonnell again professed the answer was ‘no’, that Marx had got it wrong by predicting an ‘enormous crash’. The shadow Chancellor posited instead that he, by contrast, merely wanted to ‘transform’. He declared:

“I want to transform the system. I’ll tell you how I want to transform it. I want to transform it in a way in which we have a prosperous economy, but where that prosperity is shared by all.” 

AM: “So you’re not longer looking for a revolutionary moment?” 

JM: “I’m looking for a transformative government which will – like the Attlee government which transformed our society will lay the foundations for a prosperous economy. There are countries richer but where everybody shares in those riches.”

Marr moved on at this point his curiosity seemingly satisfied, and the subsequent BBC headline story condensed the exchange as follows:

‘(John McDonnell:) “I believe there’s a lot to learn from reading [Das] Kapital, yes, of course it is, and that’s been recommended not just by me but many others, mainstream economists as well.”

But when it was put to him that Das Kapital predicted capitalism would fail and asked whether he wanted to bring down the system, he said: “I want to transform the system – that’s where Marx got it wrong, we know that.”’

So that’s OK then in the BBC’s world. ‘Transformation’ is the new name of the game.

To the Corporation that was case closed. No mention of red flags or Gramascian tactics. The shadow Chancellor is a nice cuddly, ‘transformer’ of the capitalist system whose only goal is to cane the rich.

Others, meanwhile, The Sun included, posed slightly more awkward questions.

It’s hard to imagine that Andrew Marr would have given anyone he regarded as on the right of the political spectrum such an easy ride.

 

David Keighley’s BBC Watch: This election is a battle between the Tories and the broadcasters

April 21, 2017

This is an election like no other for the BBC. They have a mission.

Two weeks ago, as is laid out here, Today presenter Nick Robinson effectively declared war on Brexit with his statement that the Corporation would henceforward work flat out to find the problems with Brexit, and not bring balanced coverage of the Leave perspective.  Of which, more later.

Since then, it has become painfully evident what he meant. The Corporation’s Article 50 coverage relentlessly highlighted the difficulties, with pride of place given to predictions by correspondents of decades-long wrangles, inflation of perceived problems over Gibraltar, the continuing need for the European Court of Justice and dire warnings that the British tourist and hospitality industry would collapse if the UK did not have continued access to EU labour.

In the same vein, after the general election was announced, Today’s business news – like a heat-seeking missile – sought out the views of the (ex BBC) DG of the CBI, Carolyn Fairbairn, on the need for continued free movement, reinforced an hour later by the ultra-Remain businessman Sir Martin Sorrell, who predicted that the real reason for the election was so that Mrs May could achieve a soft-Brexit in line with his own objectives.

To be fair, Andrew Lillico, a pro-Leave business figure also appeared, but there was no doubt which views were considered to be the most important.

So what will happen during the general election? This – despite what the Conservative Party machine might say – is effectively a second Brexit referendum, brought about because, as Theresa May has acknowledged, the Remain side are determined to thwart Brexit.

There are, of course, special rules for broadcasters during general elections. Broadly, they provide that much more attention must be paid to balance between the parties contesting the election.

But here, in this election, is an immediate problem. Those rules (as defined, for example by Ofcom in Section 6 of its programming code) are designed mainly to prevent imbalances between political parties.

That creates an immediate problem with an election so inevitably focused on a single issue: that the overwhelming majority of current MPs (most of whom will become candidates after May 3) were Remainers, and after the referendum vote want a strongly-limited and compromised form of EU exit.

Labour, for example, as exemplified by shadow chancellor John McDonnell on Today on Wednesday morning, says it now supports Brexit. But the form of Brexit it wants is continued membership of the single market, and qualified support for free movement. The Liberal Democrats and the SNP, of course, aggressively oppose Brexit – and make no bones about it.

The BBC, in this framework, has oodles of ‘wriggle-room’ to sidestep the election rules, and to continue to pursue vigorously its self-declared campaign to expose to the maximum the pitfalls of Brexit throughout the election period.

Of course, election coverage of the issues involved is also subject to the normal over-arching rules of public service impartiality. But it is precisely here that the BBC – as is clear in the Nick Robinson Radio Times piece – has interpreted the clauses relating to ‘due impartiality’ according to its own anti-Brexit ends. In the Corporation’s estimation, it is on a mission to spread ‘understanding’ about the exit process. In reality, that means something very different: the goal is to portray exit in the most negative light possible.

News-watch coverage of previous general elections has shown that, despite the supposedly strict general election impartiality rules, the BBC’s approach to EU coverage was seriously flawed. After the 2015 poll, it was noted:

…the analysis shows that the issue of possible withdrawal was not explored fairly or deeply enough…Coverage was heavily distorted, for instance by the substantial business news comment on the Today programme that withdrawal would damage British trade and jobs. 

The message of potential damage to the economy was supplemented by the provision of frequent platforms for Labour and Liberal Democrat figures to warn of the same dangers. The spokesmen from these parties were not properly challenged on their views. 

Will this change in 2017? Fat chance. Subsequent News-watch reports have shown that this bias has continued, regardless of the June 23 vote.

The problem now is that – despite the new BBC Charter – the Corporation’s approach to impartiality in news coverage is mainly self-regulated through its own Complaints Unit. Ofcom only enters the frame if there is an appeal against the BBC’s own rulings, and that’s a procedure that takes months. News-watch’s complaint about the BBC’s fantasy race hate murder in Harlow took six months to grind through the BBC machine.

The Conservative Party under David Cameron fluffed the opportunity to achieve genuine reform of the BBC. Will that glaring failure now come back to haunt Theresa May?

 

David Keighley’s BBC Watch: Robinson trots out tired excuses to defend Brexit bias

April 7, 2017

BBC presenter and ex-political editor Nick Robinson has been sounding off aggressively against those who, he complains, are ‘moaning’ that the Corporation’s reporting of Brexit is biased.

‘Calm down dears’, is his core, patronising message.

The Radio 4 Today presenter has declared in the Radio Times that, as departure negotiations proceed, there is no need to provide balance between the ‘Leave’ and ‘Remain’ sides in BBC coverage of post-Brexit developments.

Instead, the requirement is only for ‘due impartiality’(defined, as always, of course, by the BBC itself) and the goal is is to scrutinise ‘new questions’ about ‘immigration, trade and industrial policies’.

Robinson is bluntly critical of those who ‘do not accept that the war is over’ and have challenged the Corporation’s coverage by getting out their ‘stopwatches and calculators’ and by querying ‘the alleged tone of questions’ and ‘the number of interruptions’.

In terms of detail, Robinson’s praise for the BBC reporting seems to be based primarily on the Corporation’s Manual of Usual Excuses. This is wheeled out every time the word ‘bias’ is mentioned, and vigorously deployed by the BBC Complaints Unit to repel all boarders.

Direct from its grubby pages come the wearyingly predictable defences.

Robinson first claims that both sides have complained, so that means the BBC must be getting things right; then that Brexiteers such as Gove, Fox and Johnson are ‘remarkably reluctant’ to appear, so any shortcomings in that respect are their fault; and finally (the trump card!) that the BBC’s duty is in any case to its audiences, and they – he opines – don’t care about the obsessions of stop-watch wielding politicians. The only duty (again, of course, on the BBC’s terms) is to make sure they ‘understand’.

This all adds up to classic Corporation extreme stone-walling. It has been voiced by Robinson but has undoubtedly been cleared and co-ordinated by the BBC high command – and must also be seen as the official response to the complaint filed a couple of weeks back by Tory MP Julian Knight and 70 other cross-party MPs, who wrote to Director General Tony Hall about the Corporation’s failure to explore and reflect the pro-Brexit perspective.

And, with Robinson’s scathingly condescending references to stop-watches and calculators, it is also framed as a direct attack on the latest academic research from News-watch into six months of Today’s business news output. This found a serious failure to air pro-Brexit viewpoints and an unjustifiably heavy focus on gloomy forecasts for the UK economy that added up to a continuation of the Remain side’s Project Fear.

But despite all the bluster, this exercise in smoke-screen obfuscation is remarkably threadbare.

It boils down to a chilling statement of intent that coverage henceforward will be whatever the BBC decides is impartial – no matter what evidence is produced to the contrary.

The reality is that, as the latest News-watch report detailed, the BBC’s coverage of post-Brexit developments is sharply skewed towards the Remain side – and that in the Corporation’s self-declared agenda setting business slots, in six months, there were only only 10 contributions from clear supporters of Brexit, ranged against dozens who were not.

Robinson might rail against the use of ‘stop-watches and calculators’, but how can such lack of ‘balance’ or ‘due impartiality’ ever be defensible – and how else other than by careful, systematic counting can such blatant negativity be identified?

The BBC will NEVER countenance a complaint based on detailed research of their output – and that’s a gross affront to the licence fee payers that Robinson claims to be serving and helping to ‘understand’.

It is true that as Brexit unfolds, some elements of coverage do contain a wider range of anti-EU opinion than ever before. Prominent Leave campaigner, the Labour MP Gisela Stuart, for example, was afforded a very unusual brief slot on Today on the day of the Theresa May Article 50 letter to outline her timetable towards Brexit.

But small morsels aside, the Corporation is otherwise relentlessly focused on the Remain agenda. There’s a continuing, avid search for anything that suggests that ‘race hate’ has escalated as a result of the Brexit vote; Nigel Farage and Ukip continue to be pilloried – on Wednesday night, BBC1’s main bulletins reported Farage’s contribution to the European Parliamentary debate on Brexit in the worst possible light; and every obstacle in the Brexit negotiations, such as the Gibraltar clause, are seized upon with over- enthusiastic glee.

Robinson may claim that this is simple scrutiny of ‘immigration, trade and industrial policies’, but he’s wrong. It adds up to that since June 24, the BBC has mounted a declaration of war against the Brexit prospects and has sided firmly with the Remain side.

There has not been a single BBC programme that has looked at Brexit optimistically.

 

David Keighley’s BBC Watch: Right-on thought police ban meat in the Salford canteen

April 3, 2017

Aw, diddums! BBC staff in the plush Salford Quays Northern HQ are throwing out from their high chairs their steak knives.

Their beef? Someone, somewhere in the vast BBC hierarchy has decided to introduce ‘Meat Free Mondays’ in the staff canteen.

The carnivores at the Corporation – no doubt now a rare breed among the right-on staff – are not happy. So desperate are they that they are even appealing for local burger vans to roll up outside and set up shop.

But management is adamant about the meat ban. No matter that only 2.6 per cent of the population are vegetarians. A memo from BBC North Internal Communications loftily states:

‘Why are we doing this?  Well, to put it simply, it’s good for the environment. Skipping meat on the menu just for one day a week can help reduce greenhouse gas emissions, water use and land use.

‘A plant-based diet often reduces the intake of saturated fat, animal hormones, and cholesterol while increasing the intake of fresh fruits and veggies. That has the potential to reduce the risk of cancer, diabetes, obesity and heart disease,’

How very Big Brother! In other words, you are selfish, indulgent gluttons who cannot be trusted. We have to take action, both to save the planet and stop you killing yourselves.

In the BBC’s world, of course, this head-on bludgeoning is also undoubtedly about the big ‘D’ word as well – diversity. Vegetarians are a minority, so their needs must be underlined, promoted and protected.

Where next in this holier-than-thou culinary crusade? Well, as the new Charter comes into effect this week, disabled rights campaigner Tanni Grey-Thompson is among those who has been appointed to the souped-up management board. Her goal? Spending £100m on the diversity agenda and firing anyone who has the temerity to object.

Already, the Corporation is choking in bureaucracy in its pursuit of ‘diversity’ under its newly-introduced Diamond project, the aim of which is to check the ethnic and faith backgrounds of every guest and contributor to make sure targets are met.

In addition, the Corporation decided long ago that extremist claims of global warming and climate alarmism pursued by aggressive, totalitarian organisations such as Greenpeace and the World Wildlife Fund are based on incontrovertible scientific ‘consensus’.

Flick to the BBC News science section, and there is an endless  daily diet of gloom in tune with this latter-day ‘The End is Nigh’ reporting – at random this weekend: nasty humans and their belching ‘carbon’ emissions are dangerously bleaching coral reefs in Australia; causing unsustainable depletion of aquifers in the selfish pursuit of crop growth; and are bringing about Armageddon in South Georgia through triggering the melting of glaciers.

This diet of unalloyed doom has been a constant of the BBC website for more than a decade and so actually it is perhaps a miracle that the Corporation’s canteens have not been targeted by Corporation Thought Police before now. Where better to display their warrior green credentials?

What next on/off the menu?

Halal meat: The $64,000 question here, of course, is whether, in the interests of ‘diversity’, Corporation employees are already eating cattle and sheep slaughtered inhumanely in line with dark ages Muslim ritual.  Perhaps we should know.

Pork: How long, in the interests of not offending certain minorities linked mainly with the letters ‘I’ and “M”, will bacon sandwiches be on the breakfast menu? Will the BBC climate change warriors and diversity police combine to rule that such crass, confrontational working class fare is a delicacy too far?

Alcohol: Back in the 1980s, every executive had his own booze ‘hospitality’ cabinet stocked with fine wines and the BBC Club bars pulsed with life. Those days, of course, are long gone; but the BBC Club still offers alcohol  (beer, wine and spirits) as part of its hospitality packages. How long will this be allowed to continue?

Air miles: Foods that require such transportation are in the BBC’s cast-iron estimation highly damaging to the environment. So out must go trendy tropical fruits, out-of-season vegetables and salads. In come good old British staples: carrots and cabbage and spuds galore.

The truth, of course, is that – despite the BBC’s gung-ho approach – science has not proved at all that meat-free diets are better for the environment, as this excellent article on Science Alert shows. The basic common-sense reality is that ounce for ounce, vegetables pack far fewer calories than meat, and that, therefore, much more land is required to produce the equivalent nourishment.

But that, to the BBC, is logic that is not allowed. It is engaged in a political battle to change the world according to its own definition of what is right. And the poor, hapless BBC carnivores of Salford Quay can stew.

 

David Keighley’s BBC Watch: ‘Race hate murder’ linked to Brexit was just fake news

March 21, 2017

Whither the BBC as its new Charter comes into effect? From April 2, the much-reviled BBC Trust – which was created by New Labour in 2007 – will be no more. Its regulatory role is being taken over partly by a souped-up management board, and partly – in the policing of impartiality – by the commercial media sector’s watchdog, Ofcom.

In charge of the new management structure as Chairman is former deputy governor of the Bank of England Sir David Clementi. It remains to be seen what his regime will be like, if only because with less than two weeks to go, the names of Clementi’s non-executive colleagues have not yet been announced.

As the handover looms, there are disturbing signs that there is much to do. BBC arrogance is as rampant as ever. James Purnell, the former Labour cabinet minister appointed as director of BBC radio despite his complete lack of broadcasting experience, is now trying to steamroller Parliament into passing legislation that would force listings publications to give priority to programmes from the BBC.

How very Big Brother! Not content with levering £3.5 billion a year in licence fee payments from British pockets, this new Labour apparatchik now wants to rig things even further in the BBC’s favour by ordering commercial operators around. But hey-ho, listings outlets are mainly run by private enterprise so who at the BBC cares?

His patronising, droit de seigneur approach perhaps summarises all that is wrong with the BBC.

Meanwhile, the Ofcom element of the changes has already set alarm bells ringing. A core goal of the reforms in the BBC Charter overseen by John Whittingdale during his stint as Culture Secretary was the creation of genuinely independent scrutiny of the BBC’s output – thereby the ending of corrosive liberal Left bias.

The focus of Ofcom boss Sharon White seems, however, to be elsewhere. At an Oxford media conference earlier this month her main concern was ‘diversity’ and the lack of older women on BBC screens.  Another major problem is that the Ofcom Content Board, which will be the final court of appeal in complaints about BBC output, is chock-full of ex-BBC figures.

It seems most unlikely – if not inconceivable – on that basis that they will fight to reform BBC output in ways that are so urgently required.

It is reported that 70 MPs have written to BBC Director General Tony Hall complaining about post-Brexit coverage of the Corporation, claiming that it is reporting ‘too gloomily’ the prospects for the UK. As this report from News-watch about Radio 4’s group of programmes called the Brexit Collection shows, that is an understatement.

The summary states:

‘Overall, there were no attempts in any programme to explore the benefits of leaving the EU, but conversely, Brexit came under sustained negative attack. This was reflected in the balance of contributions and comment contained within the items. Analysis by News-watch shows that only 23% of contributors in the programmes as a whole spoke in favour of Brexit, against 58% in favour of Remain and 19% who gave a neutral or factual commentary.’

The extent of the rot in terms of bias – and thus, the size of the task facing Ofcom – is also sharply illustrated by a hot-off-the-press dying-days ruling by the BBC Trust about a complaint submitted by News-watch. The full paper trail of this saga can be read here.

This dates back to the death last August 31 of a well-liked Polish man, ‘Arek’ Jozwik, after a late night fracas in a pizza parlour in Harlow. This sent the BBC news gathering operation – which then as now was hell-bent on a mission to undermine Brexit – into overdrive.

BBC1 man-on-the spot Daniel Sandford alleged most prominently in his report that the crime – prematurely said by him to be a ‘murder’ – was being investigated as a frenzied attack by a gang of six local youths triggered by race hate stirred up by the referendum vote.

And later that evening, on BBC2’s Newsnight, correspondent John Sweeney’s outro to his feature about the death was a quote from a friend of Mr Jozwik, who declared that Nigel Farage had ‘blood on his hands’.

Fast forward to the present. It has since emerged that Mr Jozwik’s death was not murder at all. Nor, say the police, was race hate involved, and nor was the crime committed by a frenzied gang of race hating youths.

Instead, a sole 15-year-old youth has been charged with manslaughter. He has indicated a plea of ‘not guilty’ at a preliminary hearing and was released on conditional bail until his trial, scheduled for July.

News-watch filed a formal complaint about Sandford’s provocative report. This claimed in essence that the reporting of Harlow was deeply irresponsible journalism which deliberately sensationalised the known facts about the killing, and too readily linked it to race hate – reports about which were in any case much exaggerated. There was supporting evidence showing how very rare killings with a racial motive are in the UK.

This was rejected by the Complaints Unit. They maintained, in essence, that Sandford was merely doing his job within the BBC rules.

News-watch then submitted an appeal to the BBC Trust. Former BBC producer Fran O’Brien, who is now the Trust’s Head of Editorial Standards, responded this week.

Her decision? Surprise, surprise, exactly the same as the Complaints Unit. There was, she ruled, no exaggeration, no inaccuracy, no breach of rules linked to over-emphasising ‘race hate’. Everything was totally tickety-boo and in line with the BBC Editorial Guidelines. And that was that. O’Brien declared there could be no appeal.

This last-gasp ruling underlines yet again that BBC journalism exists in its own bubble, and the Complaints Unit (which keeps under the new Charter its role as the frontline complaints investigator) does nothing to prick it; if anything, the reverse. The Corporation reports on its terms, no matter how inflammatory or at odds with the facts and common sense its output is.

The blunt truth is that the Sandford report of Mr Jozwik’s killing grossly and irresponsibly exaggerated the race hate dimension, wrongly linked it to Brexit, and must be seen in the overall context of the BBC’s determined desire to undermine the referendum result.

What price now Whittingdale’s reforms? The reality is that, until BBC bias is governed by a system that includes genuinely independent scrutiny, the Corporation will remain locked in that skewed journalistic bubble – uncaringly out of touch with vast swathes of the British people. No amount of statist bludgeoning by Purnell will change that.

 

David Keighley’s BBC Watch: Kuenssberg fires first shot in air war to down Brexit talks

March 13, 2017

Britain’s Biggest Deal, BBC2’s programme about the triggering of the Brexit process, had a prime time slot, and was presented by the Corporation’s political editor Laura Kuenssberg. It was thus a shop-window effort.

Impartial, in line with the BBC’s Charter requirements?  No. It was a no-holds-barred attempt to put across how nightmarish the exit process will be.

Since June 24, as News-watch’s report on the Brexit Collection showed, the Corporation has been on a flat-out mission to convey how stupid the British people were in voting ‘out’.

With Article 50 due to be triggered this week, Britain’s Biggest Deal can be seen as a culmination and a summation of those efforts. It ominously presages that for the next two years, as the negotiations unfold, the Corporation – led by Kuenssberg – will be cheering on every effort to undermine them.

Element one was a gross imbalance of speakers who wanted to rake up every conceivable obstacle to the UK departure. Kuenssberg assembled a diverse and impressive cast-list: Tony Blair bellyaching about how important high volume immigration is to the UK economy; Sadiq Khan warning about the dire consequences of leaving the single market; Remainer William (now Lord) Hague intoning that this was the most complex diplomatic task ever undertaken; a West Country baker fearing  major negative impact on his business; EU figures warning of dire consequences, of hard choices, and UK civil servants echoing the same.

Basic programme statistics confirm this gross structural bias. Fifteen of the programme contributors were Remainers, were pro-EU or thought that leaving could not be achieved in the allotted two years. Pitched against them were only five guests who believed otherwise.

In other words, 3:1 in favour of the Remain camp. And no-one from Ukip. Slowly but surely, the party is being air-brushed out.

Remainers spoke 3,700 words; those who were in favour of Brexit only 2,300. That’s a 3:2 imbalance.

Far more important in the equation, however, were the 3,000 or so words spoken by Kuenssberg, her handling of the programme guests, and her decisions on the programme structure.

‘Double, double toil and trouble’ …. springs to mind, and (for once) is here perhaps totally appropriate. No eye of newt and toe of frog in the programme brew, maybe, but a modern-day equivalent: first of all, the Tory Remainer from hell, Anna Soubry; then Blair, Sturgeon and Farron in full anti-Brexit cry, along with EU harpies such as Karel de Grucht and Donald Tusk – and finally, an EU law ‘expert’ from Clifford Chance, one of the few legal practices to come out overtly (and aggressively) in favour of Remain (referred to here by Open Europe – link to pay-walled FT article) .

Their combined oracle-reading was spine-chilling indeed.

Striking, too, throughout was Kuenssberg’s use of language to describe the Brexit process. It was, she posited at the outset, ‘a diplomatic mission from hell, a nightmare’, with political danger ‘all around from Westminster to Scotland’ (on high Dunsinane Hill?).

Then, as the programme unfolded, there was what amounted to a torrent of negative observations and questions:  were we, she pondered, ‘hurtling along a collision course?’; there was ‘a lot more to worry about than herring or cod’; ‘divorce was messy, breaking up is hard to do’; ‘could the whole deal be derailed before it’s even begun?’; and of course:

‘But as everyone knows, divorce isn’t only about cold, hard cash. Even if the money is settled, the deal means disentangling ourselves from the hidden ways that we are bound together.’

Followed soon afterwards by:

‘The lights in Whitehall are burning later than usual, with two new departments to cope. Government lawyers are right now trawling thousands of pieces of legislation to work out what’s next. Enough to make even the most brilliant minds boggle.’

And that was only in the first five minutes.

Also true, it must be acknowledged, is that Boris Johnson, Michael Gove, David Davis and Iain Duncan Smith were included in the programme mix, and between them made some strong points about positive outcomes.

But here, too, as Craig Byers notes in his blog on the programme, another type of bias was on display: Kuenssberg posed much tougher and adversarial questions to them than to the Remain contributors. She suggested, for example, to Lord Hague that this was a diplomatic nightmare. His answer simply and obligingly confirmed it.

In sharp contrast, Brexit minister David Davis was dealing with that ‘nightmare’ and there was hard-edged steeliness from Kuenssberg about looming ‘cliff edges’.

Perhaps the most blatantly biased aspect of the whole farrago was the sight of Kuenssberg brandishing to shoppers a giant cheque for £50 billion, which, she repeatedly posited, could be the cost of Brexit. Rather predictably, they were horrified at the idea, and said so.

The programme can be viewed here. The transcript is on the News-watch website here.

 

David Keighley’s BBC Watch: Now the two-parent family is “controversial”

March 7, 2017

(David Keighley explains how the BBC’s equality drive shapes its left/liberal stance in the latest of our series of articles to ‘celebrate’ International Women’s Day on Wednesday.)

According the latest BBC annual report, 48.7 per cent of its 21,000 full-time staff are now women.

That’s a much higher rate than in the population as a whole – 13.4m men and 7.8m women are in full time work, according to the ONS – so this is quite an achievement. In the ‘equality’ stakes. It boils down to the fact that the Corporation has been working flat out for many years to boost the number of females in its pay.

Tellingly, the statistic is contained in the ‘diversity’ section of the report. This means that the level of women’s employment – even though it is now within a whisker of being at actual par – is still considered to be a matter of major concern, juxtaposed with the need to achieve quotas for those from ethnic and religious minorities and among those who are disabled.

Strangely, the ultimate target in terms of male/female ratios the female employment table is left blank. Could it be that in Corporation feminist thinking it will be 60:40 or maybe even higher before male chauvinist piggery is banished?

Whatever the target, it is still not enough in some quarters. Sharon White, the Chief Executive of Ofcom, which from April, when the new BBC Charter comes into full effect, assumes a regulatory role over elements of the Corporation, is one of those who is not satisfied.

The reason? According to former civil servant Ms White, Auntie is still not putting enough older women on screen either as presenters or in dramatic roles.

Ms White is not alone in her belly-aching. When Helen Boaden left her £340,000-a-year post of Director of BBC Radio towards the end of last year, she complained that she had spent her career battling against the posh ‘entitled men’ who inhabited senior management posts.

The annual report reveals that part of the BBC’s agenda in the equality stakes is support for a number of initiatives that fight for women’s rights. One such is ‘Global Women in News’. It boasts more than 1,000 BBC members, with the goal ‘to boost and support the career progression of the female workforce in a meaningful way’.

Sarah Gibson, a co-founder, says that this includes the holding of a variety of network events ‘with inspiring guests speakers’. And who might those be? Top of her list are Arianna Huffington, founder, of course, of the overtly liberal-left blog The Huffington Post, and Miriam Gonzalez-Durantez, who is on record as attacking International Women’s Day organisers for daring to invite her to take part in a letter addressed, ‘Dear Mrs Clegg’.

How very foolhardy of them. It may be that this Global Women in News group is doing excellent work in smoothing women’s career paths, but key points here are: a) the equality agenda is also part of the reinforcement process of the BBC’s liberal/Left echo chamber, and b) all this effort to achieve ‘equality’ eats up substantial BBC resources and time and effort.

The scale of such costs is not disclosed in the annual report, but meanwhile, the BBC will not – by contrast – pay for systematic monitoring of its own output to check for political balance, with disastrous consequences in terms of a failure of impartiality over issues such as Brexit.

And how does this female preferential agenda affect the BBC’s output? By generating programmes and approaches that emphasise the importance of family in raising healthy, well-adjusted children? Maybe not. TCW has identified in the three years since it was launched legion examples of the BBC feminist and gender agendas and propaganda.

Here, for example, Kathy Gyngell explores veteran war reporter John Simpson’s concerns about the domination on screen of females at the Corporation, and shows how the internal Diversity Strategy is driven not by merit, talent or skills but by ‘age, gender, disability, ethnicity and sexual orientation”.

Here, Laura Perrins identifies how the quest for female equality is behind the BBC’s relentless championing of women’s football, despite audience tastes.

And here, Mark Ellse shows how a feminist victim agenda drove the recent plot in The Archers featuring domestic violence.

There is no escape from it, even in glossy BBC dramas where the plots are about female subjugation and nasty, shallow, preying men. Men who are nice have to have major drawbacks – such as being thick or without drive.

Finally, how about this – taken at random from among the BBC’s educational pages? BBC iWonder says – in a section about whether we still need men (because of advances in genetic engineering):

Despite these breath-taking advances in science, it could be that human psychology and economics will also favour having two sexes. The majority of people still identify as heterosexual, and raising families on one’s own can be exhausting and unaffordable in the modern world. Children might also prefer and benefit from having two domestic parents, although this remains a controversial topic.

Eh? In the continuing BBC struggle for feminist ‘equality’ – despite par being achieved – there is clearly no end to the war in sight. Begrudgingly, it is accepted that there might be some sort of role in future for males. But astonishingly, in the sisters’ estimation, the continuation of the two-parent family unit is ‘a controversial topic’ – and perhaps should only be considered at all because ‘raising families on one’s own can be exhausting and unaffordable’.

Brave New World indeed.

 

David Keighley’s BBC Watch: Antiquated TV poll tax is bound to end in courts, fines and jail

February 28, 2017

Surprise, surprise. The Daily Mail is filled with indignation that Capita, the company paid £58m a year to collect £3.8bn in licence revenue from the public, uses pressuring tactics.

An undercover investigation by the newspaper has ‘revealed’ that the 330-strong network of collectors are on a bonus scheme to secure the maximum number of convictions for non-payment – and will deploy underhand means to get into people’s homes so that they can gather the evidence to issue proceedings.

In their sights for such doorstep harassment are (if the figures are correct) half a million people a year – and that seems reasonable because licence fee non-payment convictions are running at about 180,000 annually.

MPs, such as Labour’s Chris Matheson, according to the Mail, are suitably aghast and are calling for ‘urgent action’ to protect the non-payers from Capita’s excesses.

But aren’t they protesting well after the horse has bolted? The same MPs at the end of last year willingly set in concrete for the next decade as part of the new BBC Charter the licence fee system, and thus endorsed the continuing criminalisation of tens of thousands of – mainly poor – evaders, including sending some of them to jail.

And why are MPs surprised? Any money collection system has to include sanctions for non-payers, and it could be argued that Capita, in trying to make its collection system as efficient and productive as possible in securing high conviction rate, is merely making good use of public money. Capita staff haven’t suddenly become monsters – it’s the system and the regime that’s to blame.

The real issue here is that it is ludicrous that the BBC – in an era when multiple sources of video and broadcasting are available – should continue to be paid for in this way.

This is an organisation that, because of its lavish public funding, is out of control in what it is broadcasting. The Corporation has effectively declared open, contemptuous war on the Presidency of Donald Trump, and is working as hard as it can to thwart Brexit and portray those who voted for it as stupid and uneducated.

MPs cannot have their cake and eat it. If they want to stop injustices in the licence-fee collection system, the way of doing so is to open up the BBC to competition by financing it through subscription. That way, it will also reform internally and become more in touch with public tastes and needs.

BBC director Tony Hall has meanwhile written to Capita, voicing platitudes that that public trust must be a cornerstone of the licence fee system, suggesting that the company is falling short in its enforcement policies and demanding that ‘vulnerable people’ must not targeted.

Such sentiments are delusional. The reality is that large numbers of non-payers have always and will always be in the ‘vulnerable’ category. Little reliable research has been conducted on this and most of it comes from the BBC itself. The National Audit Office has investigated, however, and concluded:

Areas with high evasion rates are most likely to have, for example, a higher than average proportion of younger people, low income households, and students and single parent families, and a level of County Court judgments 50 per cent above the national average.

At the same time, the system relies upon collectors persuading householders to let them into their homes so they can check properly that they both do not have a licence and do possess a TV set capable of receiving BBC services. They have no legal right of entry.

But in turn, this means in other words that the main goal of Capita’s staff is to pressure people to let them in. They are seeking out lines of least resistance – by definition, therefore, targeting the vulnerable.

 

David Keighley’s BBC Watch: New Labour stooge takes the sword to Western civilisation

February 14, 2017

Former New Labour minister James Purnell, who was recently appointed on a £300,000 salary the BBC’s Director of radio and education – without a smidgeon of programme-making experience – has announced a revolution in the Corporation’s style of broadcasting.

Hold on to your hats!

Out goes what Tony-crony Purnell says is the cultural elitism of past landmarks of BBC broadcasting, such as the 1969 Kenneth Clark series Civilisation. In comes his version of the programme series based on the same word, but this time, of course, in the plural.

This gem of the new Charter era will be presented by a venerable trio of the BBC’s finest: Mary Beard, who believes (p12 on the link indicates the depths her post-Brexit despair) that the EU is the best thing that ever existed; Simon Schama (a fanatical Remainer), and finally – bingo again! – David Olusoga a black historian who rails in The Guardian about how racist Britain still is and saw after the Brexit vote a vicious return to 1980s racism.

Purnell declares in his management-gobbledygook-speak blog post announcing his new intentions: ‘[We have] Civilisations – inspired by Kenneth Clark’s seminal documentary series, but in many ways the opposite of the original. Rather than a single view of civilisation, we will have three presenters. Rather than looking at Western civilisation, we will look at many, and question the very concept of civilisation.’

Pardon? What precisely that means remains to be seen. But perhaps we already have clues to this exciting new BBC-Purnellian world of non-elitist output. Basically – as Olusoga outlined  in his vitriolic Guardian analysis – it must first always be remembered that the Brits are – at core – slave-running colonialists, want him to ‘go back to Africa’ and still haven’t given up their bad old ways, as, in his race-dominated world, the alleged outpouring of race hate after the Brexit vote showed.

And what of the approach of the BBC’s education department, over which Purnell now presides? Here what really counts in the civilisation stakes is of course Islam. Forget Kenneth Clark’s admiration and analysis of the West.

This new policy is already starkly evident in the current BBC1 series The Art of France, presented by Andrew Graham Dixon. Preposterously, in the first episode he declared that the development of the Gothic style of architecture at the cathedral of St Denis in Paris in the twelfth century was the result of – wait for it – ‘Ottoman’ influences, and that (as his justification for this claim) France has always been ‘a mongrel nation’.

Of course, in the BBC’s new reality, immigration has always been the driving force of civilisation – with Roman Britain paving the way. Proof? Three (should be four) skeletons found in London and recently subjected to DNA analysis, came from far-flung places.

The approved BBC reality is now that Islam was the font of all that is good in our world today. While we were shivering in crude wooden huts, those marvellous denizens of El-Andalus in Southern Spain lived in a multicultural paradise, and were making the scientific advances that shaped the modern world. Rev Jules Gomes expertly debunks this pernicious nonsense on TCW here.

Of course, we have not seen this new series yet, and these predictions might miss the mark. But every word of Purnell’s blog post suggests otherwise. It is new evidence that he and the rest of the BBC are now engaged in a major re-writing of British history and culture to make it accord with its prevailing liberal-Left approval of multiculturalism, immigration, and moral relativity.

Anyone who disagrees is cast as a reactionary bigot. In turn, this means that those at the Corporation no longer have the capacity or even wish to understand or tolerate adversarial attitudes. And now a full-scale assault against them is underway.

Purnell’s blog should be seen as the underlying justification for this new war: on Trump, on Farage, on anyone who disagrees. In this new order, they now belong only to the realm of ‘Fake News’. Output reflects that.

 

David Keighley: BBC declares war on America

January 30, 2017

This was the weekend when, arguably, the BBC abandoned principles of impartiality and became a fully-fledged political faction determined to mount an all-out assault on the presidency of Donald Trump.

In BBC programme after programme, battalions of outraged parties were lined up to attack his new approach to border control. In tandem, presenters worked flat out to ensure that their points were delivered with maximum venom and outrage.

Especially egregious – though in line with the overall approach – was the contribution from a ‘journalist’ called Matthew Green on BBC News 24. As part of the newspaper review, Green – who believes that the Republican Party is the most dangerous Party on Earth – declared (without challenge from presenter Maxine Mawhinney):

‘Trump is ignorant, prejudiced and vicious in ways that no American leader has been. And I think Theresa May’s refusal to join other European leaders condemning what Trump is doing is a huge stain on her premiership and could be a defining moment for her.’

In case that was not enough, he later threw in:

‘US newspapers are calling him a tin pot dictator. America, in the past week, has suffered its ugliest start to any republic in the history of the country…Donald Trump is suffering from narcissistic personality disorder. He is megalomaniacal, vainglorious, prejudiced, vengeful. We’ve seen it all clearly. It is totally obvious.’

What stimulated such incontinent (and yet unmoderated) rage? The reality is that President Trump, using accepted constitutional process (fully in line with election promises), ordered that for the next 90 days (link to the full executive order), there will be a ban on entry by nationals from seven countries pending investigations about potential security risks.

On top of that, the US refugee settlement programme will be suspended for 120 days, and thereafter entrants with refugee status will likely be limited to 50,000 a year (compared to 110,000 under Barack Obama). And pending further investigations about Syria, potential refugees will not be allowed.

Tough? Yes. Draconian? Well, that’s surely what the US electorate voted for in November. The Democrats may have hated it, but Donald Trump was clear in rally after rally that he wanted tougher border controls. The new executive order is step one.

Of course, such restrictions are bound to cause anomalies and upset, but which comes first in terms of presidential responsibilities? The inconvenience of aliens – or the security of citizens?

Of central relevance here is that in taking such action – against the continued threats on home US soil from Muslim terrorists – President Trump is in no way breaking new ground. Jimmy Carter, for example, during the Iranian hostages debacle in 1980, stopped virtually all Iranians from obtaining visas.

Another crucial point is that the list of countries in the Trump executive order is not new, nor was it even devised by Trump and his government.

Reacting to terror threats and plots from 2009 onward, the US government eventually passed  the Terrorist Travel Prevention Act of 2015 which stipulated and facilitated visa controls on seven countries Iran, Iraq, Sudan, Yemen, Libya, Syria and Somalia.

President Trump’s executive order actually mentions only Syria (in connection with the refugee ban) by name and simply adopts those countries already identified as serious terrorist threats to homeland security needing special legislation – by that BBC hero, Barack Obama!

The full framework of this complex picture is expertly laid out here by the US journalist Seth Frantzman, who recounts how he, too, was outraged at Trump when he first read of the new executive order (through the lens of the main news organisations) – and how he then uncovered the truth of its origins.

For the BBC, though, no such fact-checking, or balance. As Craig Byers expertly observes here, Radio 4’s The World This Weekend was admired in a tweet by Samira Ahmed (presenter of the Corporation’s so-called complaints programme Newswatch) as a  ’model of how to report unfolding events responsibly’.

Pardon? Over to Craig:

‘It met her criteria for responsible broadcasting by featuring only ‘responsible’ guests – namely, (a) an immigration lawyer, (b) a Democrat congresswoman, (c) an Iraqi activist, (d) a former Labour foreign secretary and (e) a Conservative MP, all of whom are opposed to President Trump’s executive order on refugees/immigration.’ 

Craig adds: ‘Last night’s (Saturday) PM on Radio 4 was just as ‘responsible’ in its ‘guest choices’, featuring three interviews in a row about President Trump’s executive order on immigration – one with an Iraqi politician, one with an American Muslims campaigner, one with a British MP – all of them appalled by the presidential order. Again, there were no ‘irresponsible’ balancing voices to be heard.’

Where next? Laura Kuenssberg, of course, opened another line of assault on Friday night with her question at the May-Trump press conference, and correspondents are making no secret of their total disdain in tweets. This open, unqualified hostility towards President Trump is totally unprecedented territory.

 

David Keighley’s BBC Watch: New boss Clementi faces uphill struggle against liberal bias

January 25, 2017

How totally hostile can the BBC’s coverage of the Trump presidency and Brexit actually become? Recent evidence suggests that the race to the bottom is well and truly on.

Exhibit A is the weight it gave on Tuesday morning to Kenneth Clarke’s utterly preposterous (and chilling) claim that the referendum vote is a reflection of the ‘tyranny of the majority.’ In the BBC’s world, that was worth Today headlines as part of the general Corporation-wide delight at the Supreme Court’s decision to put new hurdles in the way of Brexit.

Exhibit B in that same parallel BBC universe is that the prospect of a new free trade deal with America is no longer a potential benefit but a major threat to national wellbeing.

Mishal Husain (again on Today) suggested that such a deal would lead to a deluge of US Frankenstein chlorine and hormone-drenched foods on our supermarket shelves, bypassing (God forbid!) superior EU food regulations. In other words, to the BBC, trade with Trump’s America is a totally poisoned chalice.

Corporation chiefs claim with brass-necked obstinacy on their own tame ‘complaints’ platform Newswatch that they are justified in reporting in these terms because they are simply posing questions about unanswered details of policy.

Garbage. It’s an all-out war against what the Corporation sees as ‘populism’. The BBC is so locked in its £4 billion gilded cage of self-defined ‘truth’, ‘due impartiality’ and alleged fact-checking, that those who work there can’t even begin to see their grotesque bias against what the most senior among them so strongly dismiss – in lockstep with Kenneth Clarke – as the malign influence of demagogues.

Will it ever improve?

The Commons Culture, Media and Sport Committee last week grilled former Bank of England deputy Governor Sir David Clementi about his credentials to take over as Chairman of the BBC, in charge of the so-called Unitary Board, which is part of the Corporation’s new charter.

Merchant banker Sir David, though possessing no broadcast experience, is unquestionably a smooth and accomplished operator, light years away in his abilities from the incompetent and utterly colourless predecessor as Chairman of the Trustees, Rona Fairhead.

But what also emerged from the Commons hearing was, in parts, deeply disturbing.

On the one hand, he said something encouraging, that – in the context of the reporting of Brexit – he felt that the BBC’s Public Purpose Charter requirement to ensure impartiality needed, in effect, more rigorous policing. He indicated that he wanted to consider the introduction of ‘scientific monitoring’ towards achieving that.

This would be a welcome development in that for years, senior news executives have strongly pooh-pooed such rigorous monitoring and have maintained that their own internal editorial meetings somehow keep an overview of coverage.

But – and it is a big ‘but’ – there were also clear signs that Sir David may already have gone native and is in the maw of senior BBC executives – even before his appointment is formally approved.

Why? Well, when asked further about coverage of Brexit, he declared that he believed the Corporation had got it ‘about right’, then added that the Brexit-related ‘reality checks’ introduced by the news department during the referendum campaign were a step in the right direction.

Poppycock! The BBC’s coverage of the referendum campaign was not anywhere near being impartial. This paper about Newsbeat explains why.

Further, as Craig Byers of Is the BBC Biased? adroitly chronicles here, the checking unit is itself a mouthpiece of strident pro-Remain bias. Of the relevant EU-related rulings between November and January, seven were pro-Remain and none at all were pro-Brexit.

Sir David has thus, in effect, already endorsed the deeply-flawed internal BBC processes that over decades have made the BBC into a fountainhead of right-on bias.

Forces against Clementi’s plan for other ‘more scientific’ monitoring are in any case also already circling. Ray Snoddy, former Times and FT media editor who presented the BBC’s Newswatch programme, and has since become a mouthpiece of pro-BBC opinion, has forcefully attacked the concept.

He sneeringly dismisses all such work as being by right-wingers with stopwatches – despite the fact that the BBC Trustees themselves used such methodology by former senior BBC staff at Cardiff University to defend the Corporation’s output.

Clearly, Director of News James Harding is of the same mindset, as he showed when the BBC Trustees made a rare finding against BBC journalism. He simply dismissed it as wrong.

The reality is that until BBC journalists – including Harding – are subject to properly independent and highly-rigorous scrutiny in terms of impartiality, they will continue to inhabit their deeply biased, liberal bubble covering not just Trump and Brexit but populism in general, climate alarmism, multiculturalism, and much more.

Sir David Clementi, an outstanding operator with a sharply analytical mind, undoubtedly has a window of opportunity to transform things. But on the evidence so far, don’t hold your breath.

 

David Keighley’s BBC Watch: Panorama’s hatchet job on Trump completes its fall from grace

January 19, 2017

In its heyday, BBC One’s Panorama was the Corporation’s proud flagship current affairs programme. Politicians of every stripe quaked at its gaze. With ITV’s World in Action, it pioneered the art of television investigative journalism.

Its slump from that lofty pedestal was firmly underway by the mid-1980s when the senior echelons of the BBC current affairs department were so consumed by hatred of Margaret Thatcher that Panorama was used as a platform – in an edition called Maggie’s Militant Tendency – to mount sensationalist claims of Nazi-like right-wing extremists within the Conservative Party.

The allegations were built on sand, and the Corporation ended up losing in the libel courts for its bogus claims. Many also believe that it was the beginning of the end for then Director General Alastair Milne.

The descent to the pits of this once great programme was well and truly completed on Monday night with a scaremongering edition called Trump: The Kremlin Candidate? by so-called investigative reporter John Sweeney.

His conclusion? “Whatever the truth, Trump is locked in a strange embrace with Vladimir Putin, an ally that could so easily become an adversary. If…Donald Trump falls out with President Putin, to put it mildly, that’s not good. We face the prospect of a grand new Cold War, colder than ever before.”

So bad was this malicious offering that it does not deserve to be even remotely classed as journalism. It was a party political broadcast on behalf of the discredit-Trump-at-any-price party.

At its heart was the unsubstantiated claim that Donald Trump is not fit to be President of the United States because he is the catspaw of dictator Vladimir Putin.

Using every shady technique of the propagandist – including, incredibly, a crudely photo-shopped image of bare-chested Putin and Trump riding a horse together – Sweeney launched an all-out attack on Trump. He seriously cast the two men at outset of the programme as leaders whose main drive was that they saw themselves as comic book superheroes.

Sweeney insinuated that Trump was, in essence, a dangerous, delusional, corrupt Mafia loving, halfwit whose crude narcissism was so outrageous that he had conned America and was about to pitch the world – through a danse macabre with the equally idiotic Putin – into World War III and a possible nuclear holocaust.

The central strand of his evidence appeared to be that – despite its comprehensive debunking – the intelligence dossier revealed by Buzzfeed last week was fundamentally true. In Sweeney’s world, Trump had been the victim of a honey trap set by Putin, and was now totally compromised because he was being blackmailed by him. Putin, he also posited, had fiendishly used his intelligence services to sabotage the US election, thus illegitimately catapulting the hapless Trump into the White House.

What else? Well, of course, Trump’s aides and appointees, including his new secretary of state Rex Tillerson, and his director of strategy, Steve Bannon, are also Russian cyphers being manipulated by the sinister Putin Kremlin machine. Searching through the programme for actual evidence of any of this is like looking for a needle in a haystack. It is easy to conclude there isn’t any.

He brought in one commentator in an effort to substantiate his claims, the journalist Anne Applebaum, who stridently opposed Brexit. Her credentials? She has used her column in the Washington Post to relentlessly attack the Trump candidacy for the past year. She told Sweeney that Trump would bring the world closer to nuclear war. She said: “I think democracy is in trouble. I think the example Trump set in the way he conducted and ran his election campaign, his use of open lies, fake news, the hint of violence, I think all of this is incredibly damaging for democracy… I haven’t been sleeping well since the invasion of Crimea.

“I have since then began to worry what Russia’s aims are in Europe, and about the possibility of a nuclear or conventional clash of an incredibly dangerous kind in the Baltic states, in central Europe, and Ukraine. Having Trump in the White House does not make me feel better.”

The motivation? Sweeney suggested that Trump was locked in this unholy embrace with Putin because they both had the temerity to like ‘traditional (nationalistic) values’ and disliked ’scrutiny’. How very dreadful of them to love their countries. And maybe it has escaped his attention that Trump is actually considering expanding access to the White House by the media.

Sweeney is a man who wears his political credentials so clearly on his sleeve that in August last year – when an unfortunate Polish man in Harlow was killed in a sordid late night fracas in a pizza parlour – he included a quote that claimed Nigel Farage now had blood on his hands. This, in Sweeney’s world, was post-Brexit race hate in action.

This latest offering puts Sweeney’s anti-populist claims into the framework of a world-wide conspiracy by those on the ‘Right’. Fake news? Rather, David Icke, another product of the BBC’s current affairs department, immediately springs to mind.

 

David Keighley’s BBC Watch: Trump replaces Farage as Auntie’s new whipping boy

January 13, 2017

Is there anything the BBC won’t now do to discredit Donald Trump or figures on the so-called Right?

For years, their chief bogeyman in the ‘right-wing and ‘populist’ category was Nigel Farage, who was cast in interview after interview as xenophobic at best, racist at worst, incompetent, and venal.

The treatment was a form of painting by numbers in which the formulaic questions about his character and its ineptitude trumped – on almost every occasion – the need to investigate how important his core policies and ideas actually were.

After June 23rd, the Corporation could and should have produced a programme showing how, over almost two decades, Farage spearheaded, against all the odds and the relentless opposition of the media, the drive towards the Brexit vote.

Instead, they concocted a crude and seriously unfunny alleged ‘satire’ that regurgitated all the allegations they had been spraying against him throughout all those 20 years.

From the moment Donald Trump began pursuing his political goals, the same anti-populist approach was adopted. The charge sheet against him was that he was…well Donald Trump – (shock, horror) a businessman, a billionaire, ‘right-wing’, xenophobic and venal, and above all, not a Democrat or Hillary Clinton.

On Wednesday from dawn, that resentment was sharply evident. Using Buzzfeed’s so-called intelligence dossier that on the BBC’s own admittance they had not been able to verify, the President-elect came under all-out no-holds-barred attack from a bewildering array of BBC presenters and correspondents.

Their watchword? Never let the facts – or niceties such as the journalistic ethics covered in the BBC’s Editorial Guidelines – get in the way of a chance to kick this (in their estimation) dangerous buffoon.

So indiscriminate was the venom that US correspondent Jon Sopel even resorted to ridiculing Trump – on Today, the BBC’s so-called flagship news and current affairs programme – because he was a ‘man of a certain age’ who got up early in the morning, and had then to go to the bathroom.

On the one hand, BBC correspondents, typified by Nick Bryant, reported on Wednesday morning with eulogising obeisance Barack Obama’s farewell speech. He crowed that he was ‘one of the most gifted speakers ever to occupy the White House, the Poet Laureate of his own Presidency’, and then added:

‘Barack Obama is a leader who will have the word ‘Era’ attached to his name.’

On the other hand, ‘the intelligence dossier’ was used with undisguised glee. US reporter Paul Wood led the way by dismissing, in effect, Trump’s rebuttal and instead magnified its importance. As Craig Byers adroitly summed up in his observations:

“…he thinks the evidence of blackmail tapes is strong because his sources have told him that “there’s more than one tape; there was audio as well as video; it was on more than one date and in more than one place…”.

On that basis, the direct attacks on Trump continued unabated in main bulletins for a full 24 hours.

By Thursday morning, as well as the bathroom-related observations from Sopel, it was being said on Today that Trump was ‘at war’ with the intelligence community, that the Democrats were now talking about ‘impeachment even before his inauguration’. In the BBC’s world, there could be no doubt: a dangerous clown of the first magnitude was about to take command in the White House.

As the BBC’s 2017 Charter comes into effect, banker Sir David Clementi has this week been named as the first Chairman of the Corporation’s new unitary board.

Top of his agenda should be that the BBC has now abandoned any pretence of impartiality in the reporting of what is sees as ‘populism’. But pigs might fly. The reality is that almost every BBC Chairman has gone native from the minute they have assumed the role.

Yet, in the past six months, the Corporation has – in effect – declared war on both Trump and Brexit. The Conservative government is also under an all-fronts attack. These are dangerous, uncharted waters and unless Clementi does take swift, radical action, even the £4 billion-a year BBC could hit the rocks.

 

David Keighley’s BBC Watch: Tory ministers should be ashamed of strangling a free press

January 5, 2017

The United Kingdom, which led the way in establishing a free press as the central component of a robust democracy, is now slowly but surely choking it.

Karen Bradley, Theresa May’s so far colourless cypher who is now apparently in charge of the Department of Culture, is a prime cause.

Brexit, we are repeatedly told by the Government, means Brexit. So, similarly, should any regime of press regulation mean the vigorous, no-compromise upholding of a free press. Some Tories get it, but an awful lot of them seemingly do not.

The Leveson Inquiry into newspaper conduct – set up by David Cameron to please Nick Clegg – predictably turned into a multi-million pound witch-hunt against capitalism and populism.

The BBC set the framework for these ominous developments towards intolerance when the Trustees adopted from 2008 the doctrine of ‘due impartiality’. This severely diminished in national debate the role of ‘extremists’ – in effect, all those they regarded as right-wing  or ‘populist’ commentators such as so-called climate ‘deniers’, those who wanted to leave the EU, and opponents of mass immigration.

Then came the group Hacked Off!, led by figures such as Hugh Grant and Max Mosley and driven by a revenge agenda aimed mainly at the Murdoch empire and the Daily Mail.

Gunpowder was added to the mix by the adoption by the establishment, including David Cameron and much of the Conservative Party, of many of the tenets of the EU-related human rights creed, which is underpinned by Marxist dogma.

This has now put on the statute book ‘hate crimes’ on a gargantuan scale and has thus helped cast in legislative stone social divisions and acrimony where before – in the United Kingdom especially – there was a deep tradition of reasoned debate and tolerance, flowing back to the Civil War.

Next week (January 10), a Department of Culture ‘consultation’ on Leveson closes. On the table still is a measure which will force all British publications, including those on the web, to become part of a new State-run press regulation body called Impress.

Impress is the direct recommendation of Leveson. Visit its website and weep; within seconds its true repressive nature becomes crystal clear, if only from the biographies of those who are staffing it.

Its creation has been sanctioned by the Government and is funded largely by Max Mosley, along with a raft of left-leaning foundations and celebrities who hate press freedom and are intent on destroying it.

Every aspect of this organisation is a chilling threat to press freedom. The chief executive is Jonathan Heawood, who was previously chief executive of the Sigrid Rausing Trust, and a key lieutenant is the former readers’ editor of The Guardian, Chris Elliott.

Guido (among others) has recently chronicled their true ‘hate the press’ (especially the Daily Mail) motives and agenda. He noted:  “Likewise, Máire Messenger Davies – Impress Code Committee and Board of Directors member – openly spouts hatred of the Mail. She has promoted social media posts calling the Mail “Total scum” and its editor Paul Dacre “evil“. Her unhinged attacks on Dacre are personal in nature: she shared a mock up of a Mail front page with a picture of the editor next to the headline “This Hate Preacher Must be Stopped”.”

This madness has happened under a so-called Conservative Government, and Bradley sanctioned in the autumn that it will continue. She could have, as one of her first acts, nipped this regressive, sinister organisation in the bud, but chose not to.

Max Mosley, that paragon of virtue, crowed on Today on Tuesday morning, that a prospect still on the table is that (as Leveson decreed) any journalistic body that does not submit to regulation by Impress will be forced to pay for all costs in libel cases brought against it, irrespective of the truth of those accusations.

Mosley portrayed this as a chance for poor people to redress newspaper lies and untruths. Poppycock. It will inhibit massively what little investigative journalism that is still carried out in the UK, and be such a major threat to the already beleaguered regional and local press that they will effectively be neutered. And even sites such as TCW would be in danger of attack.

The reality is that virtually the whole Leveson exercise has been a crude attempt to muzzle press freedom and free expression by an unholy alliance of figures such as Mosley who fear (for a wide variety of self-interested reasons) the public gaze, and the Left, who are venting their long-standing hatred of the capitalist press. It is a disgrace that a Conservative government has presided over this farrago. And more so since, as 2017 begins, there is still a real prospect of press regulation by a mixture of quangocrats and nakedly sectarian interests.

A huge contradiction in the equation is that the BBC has emerged from a year of scrutiny by Parliament virtually unscathed and with its lavish funding guaranteed for a decade. By contrast, newspapers, especially local and regional ones, are fighting for their survival – effectively with a gun at their heads.

 

David Keighley’s BBC Watch: Tories have missed chance to quell cosseted mouthpiece of the Left

December 30, 2016

The BBC heads into 2017 almost unchanged – and unscathed.

Yet again during a cycle of so-called Charter renewal, the Corporation has repelled all boarders in terms of meaningful reform.

In effect, its partisan position as a political advocate of the liberal Left, facilitated by its self-serving concept of ‘due impartiality’, has been cemented. Its attacks on the Brexit vote, Nigel Farage, Donald Trump, and anything to do with ‘populism’ (aided last week even by Prince Charles) continue unabated.

The Corporation’s defence of uncontrolled immigration and unmodified multiculturalism – and in tandem with this, the systematic re-writing of British history and values to accommodate its visceral hatred of Western values – remains bloody-mindedly resolute.

Evidence of this plethora of bias, before, during and after the June 23 Brexit vote can be found in abundance on the News-watch website, and, of course, on TCW, itself.

During 2016, in the steps towards the renewal of the BBC Charter, former Culture Secretary John Whittingdale, made much of his desire for reform. But what he achieved before he was ignominiously sacked by Theresa May was derisory.

His replacement as Culture Secretary, Karen Bradley, has helpfully told the world she watches television, but so far has done nothing to suggest any change that will check the BBC’s arrogance and continual bias.

The year-end balance sheet is that the Corporation still enjoys a guaranteed income, of billions. Still in place is the BBC licence fee, a regressive tax that criminalises and disadvantages the poor. And the BBC remains an antediluvian gilded Behemoth of the public sector – despite massive changes in the broadcasting environment.

The only minor change is that during 2017, Ofcom will become final court of appeal in the handling of complaints against the Corporation.

But as the Ofcom content board is stuffed full of ex-BBC staff, and is currently chaired by Nick Pollard (who started his career as a BBC trainee, and whose handling of the inquiry into the Newsnight-Savile affair was a whitewash in terms of Corporation responsibility), the chances of significant change in the regulatory regime are zilch.

That means that the blizzard of publicly-funded bias on BBC News and across virtually every BBC outlet will continue unchecked – probably for the next decade.

Politicians (in the Conservative Party especially) should hang their heads in shame about this. Despite their parliamentary majority, they have allowed, in effect, the Corporation to continue to poison national debate, and to rubbish and undermine those with whom it disagrees.

 

David Keighley: BBC abandons impartiality over Trump’s assault on climate change zealots

December 10, 2016

President Barack Obama – frustrated by the pesky American voters who during his second term refused to give him a majority in Congress – has flagrantly tried to concentrate more powers in the hands of the presidency.

One of the measures he has rammed through using presidential powers related to the all-powerful Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) – whose 150,000 repressive regulations already cost the US economy overall a staggering $353 billion a year.

He issued a memorandum ordering the body to issue draconian carbon dioxide emissions limits for new and existing power stations. At a stroke, this effectively banned coal-fired power across the whole of the US and sentenced hundreds of coal communities to suffer, and many to a slow, lingering death.

Arguably, too, it was a significant factor that led to the election of Donald Trump because voters in the affected communities revolted strongly against the Democratic party. Obama’s  climate change zealotry was a step too far.

The appointment on Wednesday by Donald Trump of Oklahoma’s combative but brilliant Attorney General Scott Pruitt as head of the EPA, was clearly a sign that he is planning to tackle and perhaps reverse this unconstitutional and economically damaging climate alarmist zeal.

But it was cast by the BBC Today programme as a disaster.

The Corporation’s US correspondent Laura Bicker, talking to presenter Justin Webb, first posited that the appointment of Pruitt was (her words, but filtered through the phrase ‘seen by many’) ‘a terrible choice’ because he was a ‘climate change denier’, and (boo, hiss) ‘a friend and ally of many in the fossil fuel industry’.

Bicker conceded that Pruitt’s backers believed that in the war on coal, the EPA had ‘overstepped the mark’, but she put that in the context of President Obama being a ‘big and vocal’ opponent of ‘polluting industries’, who had been ‘successful’ in limiting fossil fuel emissions.

There was no doubt from the tenor and construction of her report whose side she was on – Pruitt, a ‘denier’, was a threat to the achievements of both the EPA and President Obama.

For good measure, to make sure her partisan message hit home with maximum effect, she threw in that this was being seen as a sign that Donald Trump, ‘who was once a climate change denier himself’, had not changed his spots.

Later in the programme, Justin Webb, conducted a second interview about the Pruitt appointment, with David Rivkin.

He was introduced only as a ‘friend’ of Pruitt, but in reality is a distinguished lawyer who had served in government under Presidents Reagan and Bush Snr.  Between 1990-2, he was associate general counsel at the EPA itself, where he took a lead role in deregulating energy markets. And since then he has carved out a major media role as a commentator on Republican party developments.

Webb’s combative mission with Rivkin was to challenge strongly any idea that President Obama had exceeded his powers through the EPA and to ram home through his questioning the message that Pruitt’s appointment was sabotage in the battle against CO2. Not only that, Pruitt ‘s approach to climate change was ‘against the balance of scientific opinion’.

To ensure that the audience understood what a grave crime against science and humanity that was, Webb (as a conclusion to this sequence) next interviewed US political journalist – and climate alarmist – Daniel Lippman. He duly warned that if Pruitt (and President Trump) tried to ‘backslide’ on Obama’s ‘carbon reduction targets’ there would be a backlash from ‘environmental groups’.

Thus overall, Today’s take on Pruitt’s appointment was that it put Obama’s achievements in limiting CO2 emissions seriously at risk, was against the scientific consensus, and would trigger an enormous backlash from environmentalists.

In BBC terms, of course, the war on coal makes Obama a hero, because in their book, the pursuit of climate alarmism is unquestionably the Highest Good. The Corporation’s Trustees said so in 2011, when they disgracefully declared that – in effect – climate alarmism is proven, incontrovertible science and cannot be challenged on BBC airwaves except on an extremely limited basis. 

Pruitt’s appointment could have been used by Today as a peg to discuss whether the anti-coal drive initiated by Obama is in the best interests of the US economy, whether it was a key factor in Hillary Clinton’s defeat, and whether the so-called ‘consensus’ on the negative impact of CO2 is justified.

Pigs might fly. The reality is that in this respect, the BBC long-since abandoned impartiality and now acts as – in effect –  a pimp-like conduit for the views of climate alarmist groups. The bandying about by Bicker of the provocative word ‘denier’ in connection with a serious agenda-setting move by Trump especially underlined that crude partisanship.

David Keighley’s BBC Watch: Complaints unit makes no apology for pinning Harlow killing on Brexit

December 7, 2016

At the heart of the BBC’s reform under its new Charter ­ due to come into effect imminently – is that for the first time, an outside body, Ofcom, will become the final court of appeal in complaints about impartiality.

The idea is that this will clean the Augean stables and the Corporation will end its rampant bias in favour of the EU, climate alarmism, the impact of immigration, multiculturalism and rafts of other issues.

This is looking increasingly like poppycock. For a start, the members of the Ofcom Content Board are drawn from exactly the same prejudiced background as the BBC Trustees. But putting that aside for one moment, the facts outlined below illustrate precisely why.

On August, 31, Arkadiusz Jozwik, a Polish man living in Harlow, was killed in a late night fracas in the pizza parlour where he worked.

In the immediate aftermath of the crime, police arrested six local youths (all under 16) but quickly released them on bail without charge. There were no further developments until this week when a 15-year-old from Harlow was charged with Mr Jozwik’s manslaughter. Of fundamental importance, it has also emerged that a race hate charge in connection with the death is not being pursued.

When news of the killing emerged, the BBC’s news operation went into hyper-ventilating speculative overdrive ­ despite the absence of proven facts.

On the BBC1 News at Six on the evening of August 31, reporter Daniel Sandford compiled a report in which the fulcrum was there were now fears that this was a ‘a frenzied racist attack triggered by the Brexit referendum’.

A few hours later, John Sweeney, on BBC2’s Newsnight ­one of the Corporation’s main investigative journalists­ took matters a step further in the editing of his report. He included as the conclusion so that it could not be ignored this inflammatory sounbdbite from another local Polish man:

“But I mean, Nigel Farage, I mean, thank you for that, because you are part of this death, and you’ve got blood on your hands, thanks to you, thanks for all your decision, wherever you are, er . . . yeah, it’s your call.”

Clearly in play and being reinforced to maximum extent by the Corporation was the central idea ­evident in other programmes, too, as is documented on the News-watch website here – that June 23 had unleashed a torrent of racist venom. In the BBC’s world the jackboots were now out ­and on the march.

The following Monday, Guardian columnist and political activist (sorry, ‘rights campaigner’) Garry Younge was allowed to put together for a BBC Radio 4 series a barrage of sensationalist allegations in the same vein: that Britain, overnight since June 23, had become a seething cesspit of race hate. Attacks were underway in terrifying, unprecedented volume.

On the advice of a senior BBC news executive ­ who claimed that the Corporation was listening to problems about post-Brexit coverage – News-watch submitted a formal complaint about the coverage of the Harlow killing to the BBC Complaints Unit, focusing principally on the Sandford report.

Over seven-pages, it detailed that his approach was sensationalist, deliberately contrived to give maximum impact to the race hate claims, and also pointed out that it was seriously irresponsible and premature ­in the light of the facts known to the police on August 31 and more generally about race-hate crime ­ to speculate so prominently either about race hate motivation or about the crime¹s possible link to Brexit.

The BBC’s response? A curt high-handed letter. It asserted that such speculation was legitimate because there had been a rise in reports of race hate crime since June 23, and because other possible motives for Mr Jozwik’s death had been included in Sandford’s report.

The letter – which was mostly in an obviously standard format, and was so slipshod that it even spelled the name of Sandford incorrectly, omitting the ‘d’ – glossed over with what can only described as haughty arrogance the key points.

In response, News-watch submitted a second complaints letter pointing out the omissions and stating that the reply was totally unsatisfactory.

That was on October 20. On November 30 (ironically, the day of the manslaughter charges were laid) came the Complaints Unit’s second reply.

It states:

We are sorry to tell you that we have nothing to add to our previous reply. We do not believe your complaint has raised a significant issue of general importance that might justify further investigation. We will not therefore correspond further in response to additional points, or further comments or questions made about this issue or our responses to it.’

The lessons learnt? The core BBC complaints process, which will remain as the conduit which will deal with most of the complaints submitted to the BBC after Charter renewal, is intrinsically and, irrevocably unfit for purpose. The Corporation remains the primary judge of what is deemed a ‘significant issue of general importance’.

The second Complaints Unit letter does point out that the BBC Trust, in some circumstances, does entertain appeals., But the fact is that ­ as Richard Ayre, one of the current Trustees, has admitted ­ it has not upheld a complaint on EU-related matters in its entire existence.

Will Ofcom change that approach? Don’t hold your breath. And meanwhile, the totally inaccurate BBC assumptions about Brexit and race hate continue to spew forth.

Disgracefully, the Corporation very short news report of this week’s arrest -­ carried only on their regional section – does not even mention the point that race hate is not included in the charges.

The handling by the Corporation of the tragic death of Mr Jozwik underlines that the BBC’s 8,000-strong £1 billion-a-year news operation is not fit for purpose. It is being used, in effect, to pursue an anti-Brexit political campaign without regard to the facts.

 

David Keighley’s BBC Watch: Today lauds a tyrant who nearly wiped out the planet

November 28, 2016

Let’s not mince words: in his vainglorious, tyrannical exercise of power, Fidel Castro took the world in October 1962 to the brink of a nuclear holocaust.

Because of that, Castro stands unique in world affairs. He wilfully, calculatedly, put his own people – and countless millions more – at risk of annihilation by accepting that a fearsome arsenal of Soviet nuclear warheads could be placed, ready to strike, on his island’s soil 90 miles from the USA mainland.

As he aligned his country increasingly with Cold War Russia – and thus became dependent on their aid – he was also systematically crushing Cuban press and political freedom, building what were, in effect, concentration camps for gays and a regime that was openly hostile to the black minority on the island.

In the intervening years until his death, hundreds of thousands of Cubans fled his oppressive regime, and the island’s economy – once the bright star of Latin America –  has languished at developing world levels. Its people –almost 80 per cent state employed – in 2014 earned an average of $17-$30 a month.

There is rationing of almost every kind of foodstuff and Cuba’s economy, even after many so-called ‘reforms’ in recent years, is judged to be one of the least free in the world.

John F. Kennedy, speaking to a group of Cuban dissenters in December 1962, summed up the developing excesses of Castro’s dictatorship:

Your conduct and valour are proof that although Castro and his fellow dictators may rule nations, they do not rule people; that they may imprison bodies, but they do not imprison spirits; that they may destroy the exercise of liberty, but they cannot eliminate the determination to be free…. 

The Cuban people were promised by the revolution political liberty, social justice, intellectual freedom, land for the campesinos. and an end to economic exploitation. They have received a police state, the elimination of the dignity of land ownership, the destruction of free speech and of free press, and the complete subjugation of individual human welfare to the service of the State and of foreign states.

Obituaries are clearly tough to get right. But in the BBC’s case on Saturday morning, as Today and the news operation wrestled with that task in relation to Castro, they characteristically got it disastrously wrong.

Paramount in the coverage was constant moral equivalence. Was he a dictator? In the BBC’s estimation – despite the words of Kennedy, and despite irrefutable statistics – it was a case of only some people said so.

The first Today programme guest to comment on Castro was former Guardian features editor Richard Gott, who resigned after admitting he had received money from the KGB.  His verdict? Castro was, in effect, a candidate for beatification; any negatives in the equation were because he had no choice – America and wicked imperialism forced him.

Just as egregiously – in line with the Corporation’s all-out assault on first the prospect and then the reality of the Trump presidency – the coverage quickly cast Donald Trump’s reaction as ‘hard-line’, ill-judged and – in contrast to that paragon of virtue President Obama – inflammatory.

Trump’s crime?  He called Castro a dictator, spelled out that he had oppressed his people and crushed dissent. He finally expressed the hope that Castro’s death would open up the way to genuine freedom for the Cuban people.  How very, very subversive!

Pride of place in Today’s running order was an assessment by John Simpson, the BBC’s grandly-titled World Affairs Editor. 

No mention of the missile crisis, of the continuing grinding poverty, the food rationing, the oppression of gays.  Castro, said Simpson, was a ‘magnificent figure defiant in his loneliness’, who had turned Cuba from being ‘a nasty, corrupt dictatorship to a proud and in many ways more decent society’.  He was surrounded by ‘impossible glamour’ – and, in conclusion, the world in general ‘is certainly poorer and more ordinary without him’.

To be fair, Simpson’s piece contained some less flattering description. Castro was more popular outside Cuba than he was at home; he had displayed a ‘dogmatic refusal’ to change; and had carried out ‘assaults’ on freedom of speech and action.

Times writer Tim Montgomerie immediately attacked on Twitter the contention that the world was now a ‘poorer place’.  Today presenter Nick Robinson leapt to Simpson’s defence on the grounds that what Simpson meant was that the world would be poorer because it had lost a colourful character, and there was plenty of criticism of his record elsewhere on Today.

No. The tone and tenor of Today’s coverage overall and Simpson’s eulogy especially were shot through with moral relativity, overwhelmingly fawning, and wilfully blind to Castro’s monstrous track record.  The only exception was that Mishal Husain gave Ken Livingstone a run for his money against his assertions that echoed those of Richard Gott.

Obituaries are tough; here the BBC showed yet again that in its obdurate support of what it sees as ‘liberal’ values, it is selectively deaf and blind. Even, when it suits, the opinions of one of its heroes, John F. Kennedy, can be airbrushed out.

 

David Keighley’s BBC Watch: Today’s top toff targets Trump

November 17, 2016

Sarah Montague, or, to be precise, Lady Brooke (her husband is a hereditary baron), has been a presenter of Radio 4’s Today programme from the tender age of 36 in 2002.

Apart from her BBC salary of probably around £250,000 a year, she doesn’t do badly in other respects, too. Her Ladyship levers her post as presenter of one of the Corporation’s most high-profile programmes to pull in what is almost certainly tens of thousands of extra pounds as a celebrity host of business conferences.

She is registered with a whole clutch of speaker agencies and examples of her outside gigs include the British Institute of Facilities Management, Food Matter Live or Soroptimist International and the NHS Confederation.

On Tuesday, from her lofty BBC perch, Montague had the chance to exercise the full range of her journalistic skills by asking some searching questions of an American Democrat at the heart of one of the biggest electoral debacles in the party’s entire existence.

Her interviewee? Bernie Sanders, the man who Hillary Clinton defeated by not much more than a whisker in the Democratic primaries. Quite a coup for the BBC, that. Forget Nigel Farage having an exclusive audience with President-Elect Trump; for the boys and girls at the Corporation, far more important and exciting was talking to wronged, cheated Democrats.

Said Lady Brooke must have thought long and hard about her opening fizzer in the pre-recorded joust. How to put him on the rack?  Why did so many Hispanics not vote for the Party? Ditto so many women, when the Democrat machine had blown tens of millions of dollars telling them that Donald Trump was the worst misogynist in the history of the world?

And had his party perhaps totally misread the national mood, ignoring the fact that millions of Americans were actually sick of the unrelenting doctrinaire socialism of Obama, Hillary and Sanders himself?

Er, no. None of the above. Said Montague instead:

When I spoke to him last night I asked about comments he made about the next President, and asked what he feared from a Trump presidency.

Our Bernie was not a bit phased by this Torquemada special. Without hesitation, he told the audience that the Democrat battle against racism, xenophobia and sexism was now at risk. Not only that, he was now very frightened. Why? That man Trump believed that ‘climate change is a hoax’. Shock, horror!

Where next for Sarah? Maybe a challenge about climate alarmism or the insane US dash to green energy? Or perhaps that 60 million Americans didn’t actually agree with him over his attack on Trump because, well, they had voted for Trump?

No, again. Like a flash, out came her yorker, aimed straight at Bernie’s middle stump. Her Ladyship shot back:

Some people have talked of him (Trump) as a fascist, and they’ve likened what’s happening now to what happened in the 30s. Would you go as far as that, as to say he is a fascist?

This was too much, even for our Bernie. Everything he had claimed in his first answer pointed that way, but he could not actually make the direct accusation. ’No’, he said. Why? Because our Donald was a ‘smart man’ – and that meant, of course, that he wouldn’t implement any of the policies he had campaigned on.

The point here is a deeply serious one. The whole interview can be heard here (at 7.31am). Montague in effect gave Sanders a platform to attack Trump, and in the rest of the interview – without a squeak of opposition or adversarial questioning – he outlined in great detail why the American electorate had, in effect, been deluded, stupid and wrong to vote for him, and really wanted the Democrat agenda.

The next day, her Ladyship was on the Trump trail again. The peg this time was the resumption of bombing in Aleppo. UN spokesman Justin Forsyth outlined that a fresh humanitarian disaster was unfolding with hundreds of children killed. Further, the city’s hospitals had been driven underground, water supplies were cut off and the winter cold was fast approaching.

Montague’s response? In effect, she asked only one question, that some people had attributed the resumption of the bombing to the election of Trump. Had it, she asked, ‘emboldened Russia’. Did he agree?

As it happened, Forsyth did not believe it had. But it was mission accomplished. Montague had linked directly the latest problems of Syria with Trump. The misery of those hundreds of dying children was his fault, even though he had been President-Elect for only a week. He had, she implied, ‘emboldened Russia’ already.

Last week, BBC Watch observed how Montague and the BBC machine had gone into funereal meltdown after the Trump victory. Montague’s approach this week is symptomatic of the fact that a full-scale Corporation attack on him is now in full spate. It is impossible to keep track. Monday’s Panorama – originally called America’s Most Hated President? – is one prime example. So was last Thursday’s edition of Question Time.

The BBC is now, in effect, at war – with her Ladyship Brooke/Montague in the vanguard.

 

David Keighley: Trump’s ‘Brexit plus plus’ is poor Beeb’s worst nightmare

November 9, 2016

For the boys and girls at the BBC, last night was deja-vu all over again. Another worst nightmare come true.

Clearly on their menu as the polls closed across the US was a night of election results coverage which, it was fervently hoped, would feature the beatification of St Hillary as Patrol Saint of Right-on Causes and smasher of glass ceilings everywhere.

This triumph was going to expunge dreadful memories of that devastating night in June when Nigel Farage helped unleash (in the BBC’s frequent estimation) the ‘catastrophe’ of Brexit.

It was a chance, too, to forget the tragedy of May 2015, when, despite months of BBC coverage that the Conservative Party was doomed, Ed Miliband was so unjustly rejected by pesky voters and condemned instead to go back to his bacon sandwich-eating lessons, his three kitchens and to ponder what to do with his miraculous pledge-stone.

Last night, an army of correspondents, as the results began to flow, told us confidently that here was democracy properly in action, and this time their approved candidate, that beneficent St Hillary, would definitely triumph. Pollsters said so.

But then – bang, suddenly! The Florida College was called. Panic stations! What to do?

For 18 months BBC journalists  and presenters had been warning – primarily in the UK, of course, but also through services received in the US – that Trump was the Devil incarnate, an abuser of women, a lover of Russia, and much more on the Dark Side.

The gears started grinding, expressions began to change. As more states swung to the Republicans, how could electors make yet another crass mistake and dare to elect him?

Hillary, their heroine, that breaker of the glass ceilings that Boudicca of climate change, was on the skids. And Trump, the nutcase wall builder, supporter of ‘extreme immigration’ measures, dispenser of buckets of vitriol, of division beyond anything in the world, ever, was….going to win!!!!

The shock was so profound that by 6am when the Today programmed the Corporation clearly had decided it was describing a wake.

Presenter Sarah Montague read the headlines in funereal tones normally reserved for a major tragedy, such as the death of Nelson Mandela.

As the show progressed, she interviewed one of the most pro-Democratic party figures that could be found, the historian Simon Schama, to ask how really, really bad things were. He obliged by suggesting that, in effect, Armageddon was now on the cards: war, an unprecedented economic crash, and the expulsion of the Innocents (sorry, immigrants).

But that was not enough. Montague next suggested that this was on a par with the election of Hitler. Even Schama was not sure about that.

Next up was Economics Editor Kamal Ahmed. He intoned that as exactly as with Brexit, the stock markets were crashing, the dollar was plunging, and investors were rushing with every sinew towards ‘safe’ currencies like the Japanese yen.

Business Editor Dominic O’Connell joined in the refrain, and found a succession of experts who obediently agreed with and amplified the Ahmad message of crash, bust and impending doom.

Still not enough. Today dug deeper into its contacts book to find another guest who would tell the audience what a world disaster was unfolding. On came Tony Blair’s favourite civil servant, Jonathan Powell, and he duly delivered: to him, this was undoubtedly the worst political event, on a par with Brexit. Under Trump, the US would become isolationist, dangerous, and belligerent.

And what about the poor immigrants? BBC World Service correspondent Nuala McGovern in Mexico had found some Mexicans in a restaurant. They were not happy bunnies. The Trump approach to border security was ‘very worrisome’ and already what he planned had caused the  peso to plunge at least 15 per cent in value.

On it went. Embittered Democrats joined in the refrain and made it plain that no hatchets were going to be buried anytime soon.  During the programme, Trump made his acceptance speech, but that was merely a punctuation mark in the deluge of disaster.

Perhaps there were odd words or phrases here and there in the programme that were less negative, especially from James Naughtie, but they were well and truly swamped.

This, without doubt was another edition of the BBC’s The Great Catastrophe Show, and it joins the Brexit morning coverage and that of the 2015 General Election as a classic of its kind.

 

David Keighley: BBC’s ‘satirical’ potshot at Farage shows contempt for democracy

November 5, 2016

Back in August, in the backwash of the referendum result, News-watch issued a challenge (during an off-the-record lunch) to a very senior executive of the Corporation: for the BBC to make a programme that properly celebrated Nigel Farage’s achievements as a politician.

The answer? None, directly, so far, but a few days later the Corporation announced the commissioning of Nigel Farage Gets His Life Back, described as a ‘sharp satire’ about the then ex-Ukip leader readjusting to his former life.

It was produced at great speed, broadcast on BBC2 at the weekend, and is now available on the BBC iPlayer.

How was it? A full review of the whole sorry car crash can be read here.

In summary, an alleged ‘satire’ that was not remotely funny. It showed that, without doubt, the comrades at the BBC think than man who many believe was a decisive influence in securing the Brexit vote is a racist, vacuous, inept, unfunny pub bore.

This was called ‘satire’ but in reality was the equivalent of taking gurning pot-shots at the disabled.  And it was exactly in line with how the BBC have been treating Farage ever since he rose to national prominence in the late 1990s as the then 30-something chairman of Ukip.

Proof of the stereotyping of Farage – together with the Corporation’s unwavering adherence to the importance of Brussels – can be found in the News-watch archives. A short interview from back in 1999 illustrates this perfectly, so much so that deserves a re-airing.

The underlying approach undoubtedly also throws light on why the BBC continues to treat the referendum result with bewildered, indignant disbelief.

In 18 years, the Corporation has not changed its reverence for the Brussels machine one iota. Farage said he simply wanted his country back on an amicable basis, and free trade; Humphrys’s stance was that this was ‘literally unthinkable’.

The exchange took place on May 20, 1999 in the build-up to the June 10 European Union Parliamentary elections. It was the only interview in the entire campaign by the BBC at national level of anyone from Ukip – even though the party went on to achieve its first electoral breakthrough with 7.7 per cent of the national poll (700,000 votes) and three seats.

The full transcript is included below. In summary, Humphrys did everything he could to attack the credibility of Ukip and asked nothing about the thinking behind the need for withdrawal.

His opening gambit was to observe that it was ‘funny’ (peculiar) and ’puzzling’ that Ukip was contesting seats in the European Parliament when it wanted to withdraw from the EU.

Humphrys then strongly challenged Farage’s assertion that opinion polls supported Ukip because they showed that up to 50 per cent of the UK population wanted to leave the EU; contended that the party, if it did win seats, would simply jump on the Brussels ’gravy train’; and then asked if Farage was worried that a big supporter of the party was the British National Party, because of a positive article in their magazine Spearhead.

In the opening sequence, Humphrys thus put firmly on the agenda Ukip’s credibility, and bracketed the party with racism and venality. Next came the BBC’s unwavering belief that leaving the EU, and Farage’s hope of ‘getting his country back’ was cloud cuckoo land. Indeed, it was ‘literally unthinkable’.

The sequence dealing with this has to be seen in full to be believed. Humphrys said:

…but of course it can’t happen can it? I mean the fact is that we are tied by innumerable treaties and it is literally unthinkable isn’t it?

Nigel Farage: No its not unthinkable – you may think its unthinkable but a growing number…

John Humphrys: (interrupting) … well I think in legal terms you know the turmoil that would be created is just, well it’s just extraordinary… (voice tails off) turmoil

Nigel Farage: (interrupting) I don’t think any turmoil would be created. Look, we’ve got countries like Norway, countries like Switzerland…(they) trade quite happily with France and Italy without being members of the European Union. All I am saying is that we want to divorce ourselves amicably from the whole process of the European Union and go back to the free trading agreement that the British people thought it was going to be in the first place.

Humphrys, clearly now lost in the fog of his own disbelief, finished by observing caustically that even if Farage did win a seat ‘he’d be there for a very short time’.

Back to the present, others are planning to honour Farage with a glitzy tribute event in central London next week. The BBC may not be prepared to do justice to Farage by examining his political achievements – but others are.

TRANSCRIPT:

John Humphrys: The UK Independence Party is launching its manifesto for the European elections today. The only one saying that Britain should withdraw from Europe entirely. The party Chairman is Nigel Farage. Good morning to you.

Nigel Farage: Good morning

John Humphrys: The thing that puzzles me about this is that you want to get us out of Europe altogether but you are standing for the European parliament and you will take seats if you win any in the European parliament – well that’s a bit funny isn’t it?

Nigel Farage: Yes, we will take seats in that Parliament and we will link arms with the other moderate groups from the other European countries who feel exactly the same as we do, and we will go there and we will find out what information we can about what is going on. We will expose further the frauds and corruption that are taking place within the EU. We will bring that back to this country and when we have elected representatives we will have a voice in the media. At the moment we’ve got 50 per cent of the country that agrees with the UK Independence Party’s point of view …

John Humphrys: Oh, well come on – if that was the case you’d have had an awful lot of votes last time around wouldn’t you?

Nigel Farage: Well no, I’m afraid that’s not the case. I mean, 46 per cent of people in recent MORI polls said they wanted to leave the EU immediately. Now, it takes time for political parties to get credibility and it’s taken the UKIP several years to get to this position.

John Humphrys: And once you’ve got a chance to get it – you will, as your former leader said, jump on the gravy train…

Nigel Farage: No, that is not the case at all – every one of our candidates has signed a declaration that they will take only genuine expenses allowances. All of that will have to be receipted and we will put our expenses up for annual inspection by producing an audit – excess expenses that we have,and there will be excess expenses because they will force us to take money that we don’t really need – will all be given to a fund which we are going to establish to help the legal expenses of victims of the European Union.

John Humphrys: Does it worry you that you have been singled out for praise – you particularly, incidentally – by the British National Party in their newsletter, Spearhead?

Nigel Farage: Well, I haven’t read the BNP newsletter Spearhead and all I would say about that is that we have no links or associations with the BNP whatsoever. We are an alliance of people from the right, from the centre and from the left – all we want is our country back.

John Humphrys: But of course it can’t happen can it – I mean the fact is that we are tied by innumerable treaties and it is literally unthinkable isn’t it?

Nigel Farage: No its not unthinkable – you may think its unthinkable but a growing number…

John Humphrys: (Interrupts) well I think in legal terms you know the turmoil that would be created is just, well it’s just extraordinary… (voice tails off) turmoil –

Nigel Farage: I don’t think any turmoil would be created look we’ve got countries like Norway, countries like Switzerland…they trade quite happily with France and Italy without being members of the European Union. All I am saying is that we want to divorce ourselves amicably from the whole process of the European Union and go back to the free trading agreement that the British people thought it was going to be in the first place.

John Humphrys: (seemingly sarcastic) So if you won a seat you’d only be in it for a very short time would you?

Nigel Farage: Hopefully, it will be the shortest job that I have ever had in my life – hopefully we will be so successful we’ll hasten the day at which Britain does leave the European Union

John Humphrys: Nigel Farage thanks very much.

 

David Keighley’s BBC Watch: Ofcom subs bench is as biased against Brexit as its appeals panel

November 2, 2016

Ten green bottles…

Two weeks ago, BBC Watch on TCW highlighted that large numbers of the Ofcom Content Board – 10 to be precise, out of 13 – which under the new BBC Charter regime will become the court of appeal for breaches of impartiality on the Corporation’s airwaves, had strong connections with the BBC.

Shortly after the blog appeared, Joe Smithies, Ofcom’s head of communications, wrote to point out that James Thickett, a former BBC Director of Business Strategy, was no longer a member, and had been replaced by Graham Mather, who, said Smithies, had definitely not worked there.

Nine green bottles….?

And, of course, not to be forgotten in the defenestration equation is that Bill Emmott, the EU fanatic who made The Great European Disaster Movie with a little help from the BBC (and EU), was mysteriously removed from his post as chairman of the Content Board after his EU favouritism was highlighted on TCW.

But hang on a second. Who is this Graham Mather? And how ‘independent’ is he? Googling confirms that he does not seem to have worked for the BBC.

But what about EU connections? That’s a crucial part of the independence-of-mind equation, because the BBC’s post-referendum deluge of anti-Brexit bias continues unabated.

And in the run up to the EU referendum, under EU-fanatic Lord Patten’s chairmanship, the BBC Trustees published the Prebble report, which purported to give the Corporation’s EU-related output a clean bill of health – but did no such thing. It was deeply a skewed, flawed whitewash from beginning to end, as this Civitas paper written by News-watch shows.

This was exactly the bias that the new BBC Charter is designed to fix, and Ofcom’s role as a completely independent arbiter of impartiality is vital.

So back to Mr Mather. Turns out that he was formerly a member of the Monopoly and Mergers Commission – but more crucially, for at least a decade he has also been involved in a body called the European Policy Forum, and is now its President.

And what is the European Policy Forum (EPF)? Like so many of the pro-EU bodies, it sounds almost cosy and definitely neutral. It isn’t.

Exhibit A is that it was founded by Lord Tugendhat of Widdington,  who as Christopher Tugendhat became one of the UK’s first EU Commissioners in the 1980s and now 35 years on, under the banner of the European Movement, is battling with – among others – Paddy Ashdown, Chris Patten, Kenneth Clarke, Lord Hesletine and Neil Kinnock to reverse the referendum and keep the UK in the EU.

Exhibit B is that in the run-up to the referendum, and its aftermath, the EPF has held (and is holding)  a series of seminars on the EU referendum. Perhaps predictably, there’s no sign on the guest list of Nigel Farage.

Rather, the key speakers at these events include Nick Clegg, Peter Mandelson, George Schopflin MEP (a key member of the EPP group in the European Parliament), and Sir Phillip Lowe, formerly Director General of the European Commission Energy and Competition directorates. There’s oodles more – the point is that none would seem to be an enthusiast about Brexit.

Oh, and EPF also has published a handy guide: European Consumers: The Benefits  Europe Brings. It’s an essential read for EU fans everywhere.

Andrea Leadsom, it should also be pointed out, has also been on the guest list – but her name sticks out like a sore thumb, and she was talking in her capacity as former energy minister.

And so there it is….nine (BBC-linked) green Ofcom bottles hanging on the wall, and now they have been joined by a nice, EU-loving chum. Essential qualities for judging impartiality at the BBC.

 

David Keighley’s BBC Watch: Purnell for D-G? No joke as impartiality over Brexit is junked

October 27, 2016

It’s challenge time on TCW!

When – if ever – will the BBC make and broadcast a programme that is genuinely positive about Brexit?

Not an uncritical one; simply, something that robustly explores Britain’s out-of-the-EU future from the perspective of potential beneficial outcomes, and also prominently brings into the equation the negative impact of the EU on Britain over the past 43 years.

Something that does not swallow the insidious EU we-are-responsible-for-peace myth, or see disaster round every corner, that does not automatically assume that all the negotiating cards are in the EU’s hands, and that shows – as this Civitas paper does – that ‘Europe’ desperately needs to continue exporting to us for its own economic interests.

This article in Standpoint, by Brian Griffiths (Lord Griffiths of Fforestfach), who was head of Margaret Thatcher’s policy unit, is exactly the kind of incisive overview analysis that the BBC has never translated into programme form. Surely, if it was an impartial broadcaster, it should be doing so.

John Redwood is among the prominent ‘out’-supporting MPs – others include Labour’s Kate Hoey – who have now reached breaking point because of the intensifying torrent of BBC bias against Brexit. Redwood wrote on his blog:

‘They still seem unable to grasp that there is no such thing as the Single Market detached from the full panoply of EU laws and policies which a state can belong to, nor that the debate is only about access to each other’s markets which should be relatively straightforward…. the BBC seem caught in a time warp. So often their idea of news is based on reheating old Remain stories and lines from the referendum debate.’

The Corporation’s negativity is so strong and so consistent that there is now speculation in Westminster that a group within BBC senior management have decided that they see their job as actively campaigning to thwart Brexit.

It seems that, in the Corporation’s warped estimation, leaving the EU is seen as such a threat to the nation’s economic wellbeing that ‘due impartiality’, the self-devised distorted framework through which the BBC interprets its approach to impartiality, regards those who think otherwise as dangerously unhinged – and thus not entitled to equal airtime.

Nothing else, it is argued, can account for the now relentless minute-by-minute search for story angles that suggest that Brexit is a dangerous gamble.

Last week’s confirmation of the appointment of former Labour Culture Secretary James Purnell to the £295,000-a-year job of director of radio – despite his lack of programming experience and the absence of a proper selection process – has added an extra twist of credibility to the speculation. Never in the BBC’s history has a former cabinet minister been appointed to such an editorially sensitive executive role, and he is now openly being groomed as the next Director-General.

Current D-G Tony Hall went ahead with the appointment despite concerns from the former Culture Secretary John Whittingdale, who warned that the appointment would set a ‘dangerous precedent’ and observed that there would be ‘howls of protest’ from supporters of the BBC if he (Whittingdale) made a similar transition to an executive role at the Corporation that included editorial decision-making.

Abundant disturbing evidence of the unmitigated BBC bias of the type that has fuelled this speculation about BBC plotting to derail Brexit can be found in the latest News-watch survey that can be read in full here.

The survey is based on detailed analysis of the Brexit Collection, a selection of BBC Radio 4 programmes placed on the BBC iPlayer and said to be a reflection of the channel’s post-referendum programming.

The News-watch report summary states:

‘Overall, there were no attempts in any programme to explore the benefits of leaving the EU, but conversely, Brexit came under sustained negative attack. This was reflected in the balance of contributions and comment contained within the items. Analysis by News-watch shows that only 23 per cent of contributors in the programmes as a whole spoke in favour of Brexit, against 58 per cent in favour of Remain and 19 per cent who gave a neutral or factual commentary.’

 What the programmes contain amounts to a barrage of negative comment about ‘exit’, including unchallenged predictions of rioting on the streets, the collapse of whole swathes of business, the flight of ‘art’ and artistic endeavour from the UK, a rise of xenophobia, unprovoked attacks on foreigners, escalating racial tension and worse. 

News-watch has also been further surveying elements of the BBC’s coverage of referendum issues during the campaign itself.  The Corporation’s coverage guidelines stipulated that both sides of the debate should have broadly equal treatment. On BBC Radio 1’s Newsbeat (the Corporation’s primary news programme targeting 18-25s), that certainly was not the case. 

Among the conclusions is that:

‘238 guest speakers contributed to the various discussions on the referendum. The analysis shows that 45 per cent spoke in favour of Remain, 30 per cent in favour of Leave, with a further 25 per cent giving a neutral, undecided or factual perspective. Newsbeat audiences were 1.5 times more likely to encounter a Remain supporter than a Leave supporter.

 

David Keighley’s BBC Watch: Independent oversight means stuffing the jury with ex-lackeys

October 19, 2016

At the heart of the BBC’s new Charter – due to be formally adopted within the next fortnight – is that the new ‘independent’ court of appeal for complaints against the BBC will be the Ofcom Content Board.

The end of the BBC being totally its own judge and jury on these matters is supposed to herald the dawn of a new, more rigorous impartiality regime.

A criticism of the BBC Trustees in this respect was that far too many of them were ex-BBC employees, such as (in the current line-up) Mark Damazer, the former Controller of Radio 4, and Richard Ayre, a former Controller of BBC editorial standards.

So how does this compare with the Ofcom line-up? Astonishingly, nine of the 13 board members have spent several years of their careers in direct employment by the Corporation, and one, Mary Anne Sieghart, is currently paid by them for semi-regular work as a presenter.

This is a complete list of the BBC connections of the Content Board:

Aled Eirug was, for 14 years, BBC Wales’s head of news and current affairs and a member of BBC Wales’s Board of Management.

Zahera Harb is now a university lecturer in journalism at City University, but earlier in her career as a journalist in the Middle East was a correspondent for the BBC Arabic service. Her first job in the UK was at Cardiff University, which has strong links to the BBC, and is commissioned by them to do most of the Trustees’ ‘impartiality’ reports.

Andrew Colman was, for 13 years, head of news and current affairs for BBC Northern Ireland, and was editor of all BBCNI’s election programmes between 1986 and 1998.

David Levy worked for the BBC from 1982 until 2007, and from 2000-2007 was Controller, Public Policy, which involved him leading the Charter renewal negotiations. He was Head of Policy Development and chief adviser and head of European Policy (1995-2000),

James Thickett was Controller of Business Strategy at the BBC, responsible for ‘all the BBC’s performance and measurement functions’, as well as leading editorial and business process change across the organisation. He was involved in the BBC’s Charter review process and Greg Dyke’s ‘Making it Happen’ culture change project.

Janey Walker, currently Deputy Chair of the Board of Governors of Brighton University, began her career at the BBC and worked there as a journalist from 1982-94. She then joined Channel 4, where she became managing editor for commissioning.

Nick Pollard began his broadcasting career in BBC Television in 1977 and worked there for around five years before joining ITN and then Sky News, where he became Head of News. He led the inquiry into the BBC’s handling of the Newsnight investigations of Jimmy Savile (appointed by the BBC).

Robin Foster, an economist, worked at the BBC from 1993 to c.2001 in ‘senior strategy positions’ and was responsible for developing its online and digital channel services.

Andrew Chitty has worked in software production at the BBC and has produced BBC2 programmes. More recently, he participated as a board member in David Puttnam’s report A Future for Public Service Television: Content and Platforms in a Digital World. This strongly defended the licence fee.

Mary Anne Sieghart, the journalist, has worked principally on newspapers, but also extensively over many years for the BBC as presenter of programmes such as Radio 4’s Start the Week, Profile, One to One and Beyond Westminster.

Those who do not appear to have employment links with the BBC are:

Tony Close, who is currently Ofcom’s Director of Content Standards. He joined Ofcom in 2003, and before that worked for the Broadcasting Standards Commission (which Ofcom superseded). There is no trace of his earlier career.

Professor Philip Schlesinger holds the Chair in Cultural Policy at Glasgow University. He has written about using communications to expand the legitimacy of the EU. During the Scottish referendum on independence, he warned that an independent Scottish broadcaster (envisaged by the SNP) would be inferior to the BBC.

Dame Lynne Brindley is a former CEO of the British Library (2000-12), and spent her career in that sphere. A connection with the BBC is that in 2009, she signed a wide-ranging deal with the BBC involving collaboration over digital rights and access to archives. Roly Keating, a former BBC executive, succeeded Dame Brindley as CEO of the British Library.

Overall, therefore, the Content Board has ‘BBC’ etched through it like a stick of Blackpool rock. Looking at the various affiliations of the members – for example Andrew Chitty’s membership of David Puttnam’s group or Zahera Harb’s board seat on the so-called the Ethical Journalism Network (which advocates that the Syrian war was caused in part by climate change) – it is not hard to see that they are likely to share the same biased mindset as their former BBC colleagues.

Joe, Smithies, a spokesman for Ofcom, has told TCW: “Ofcom is scrupulously independent and our track record shows that. Members of the Content Board, which plays an advisory role for Ofcom, have experience across the broadcasting industry including Sky, BBC, ITV, Channel 4 and S4C.”

Mr Smithies also pointed out that James Thickett has now left the Content Board. He has been replaced by Graham Mather, who, he says, has not ever worked at the BBC.”

 

David Keighley’s BBC Watch: Autumn schedule exclusive – wimmin’s football and non-stop climate change

October 12, 2016

Sharon White, the former civil servant, black head of Ofcom, the commercial media regulator which will in future become the court of appeal for complaints about BBC output, has been setting out her new stall in relation to the State broadcaster.

She has told the Financial Times that the Corporation is still not multicultural enough, and is ‘falling short’ in its duty to reflect ‘modern Britain’ and ‘the nation and its communities’ by discriminating against women because there are not enough older women presenters.

The evidence? A survey conducted by Ofcom that found 24 per cent of women viewers thought that major terrestrial broadcasters are not properly representing women over 55 in their programming, while 17 per cent of women over 55 thought they were portrayed negatively on screen (compared to 9 per cent of men in the same age bracket).

Well, golly gosh. What a relief. Ofcom is clearly going to respond to an overwhelming tide of concern to usher in a new, enlightened age on the BBC.

Never mind the daily deluge of anti-Brexit bias, the relentless propaganda about climate alarmism, the frequent pro-immigration sermons, the anti-Christian salvoes and the constant denigration of British culture.  There are clearly bigger fish to fry tackling the equality agenda.

News-watch can exclusively reveal that behind the scenes, a Sharon White working party has been hard at work devising the Ofcom strategy to implement these urgent changes. This is a sneak preview of what is likely to be in store for faithful BBC audiences, taking into account the need for ending ‘male domination’, to force more equality and greater diversity.

The new BBC schedules now include:

Match of the Day (new-style): Men’s football, of course, is far too aggressive, encourages Trump–like male chauvinism, and focuses far too much on impossibly-rich male footballers who are too good at what they do. This victimises and traumatises the members of the audience who are not so able, and, of course, offends women. So matches covered in future will be drawn from less-entitled sundry parts of the country, such as the Toolstation Northern Counties East Football League (top clubs Worksop Town, Goole AFC and Rossington Main), followed by highlights from the women’s FA Manchester league (featuring, of course, the Heyside Angels, Northend Ladies and Uppermill Ladies).

Science: Everybody at Ofcom (exactly as at the BBC) knows and accepts that climate change is the biggest threat to the world, ever. Because, in their estimation, this is without doubt an unprecedented planetary emergency, all future BBC science programmes will be focused on this theme. To ensure diversity and equality, they will be presented by Caroline Lucas (female and climate warrior). The new programmes will focus on the heroic efforts of climate change activists to stifle the nasty and unwarranted opposition to their views, to stop production of CO2-belching cars and aircraft, and revert us all as quickly as possible to the new Stone Age.

Religion: A major failure of BBC programming to date, say Ofcom, has been the unwillingness to show that Islamophobia and with it, terrorism, has grown because there is not enough equality in relation to the understanding of the religion of peace. In future, therefore, there will be regular programming from mosques (including those in Northern Ireland to ensure inclusion of regional concerns) featuring imams whose main focus will be to fill this vacuum and tell us all why Western civilisation should end. Here, of course, White and her working parties face a dilemma, because this aspect of presentation might well be somewhat dominated by men. But this is the religion of peace, so a side-report is being prepared to explain why this is not really a problem.

Transgender: Ofcom intelligence says that a failure to recognise the scale and urgency of gender-reassignment pressures is another major national emergency related to the equality agenda. The gender-confused young are being victimised. The BBC will thus add to their current barrage of transgender features with new programmes that show that genital mutilation and drastic intrusive surgery is not a problem, and that the pressures faced by reassignment candidate children are all unavoidably genetic, a simple question of lifestyle choice, and nothing to do with political, parental and societal pressures.

Immigration: Ofcom believes that the British public have shamefully still not understood – in line with incontrovertible expert opinion – that immigration is vital for the economy, is not at all threatening to British culture, or infrastructure, and enriches us all immeasurably. Therefore, in future, there will be even more programming emphasising the benefits of continuing high-volume influxes of peoples from throughout the world, presented as usual in pained, emotive tones by Fergal Keane.

Of course, the ‘equality’ agenda, is never satisfied. Outgoing BBC Director of Radio, Helen Boaden complained loudly in her farewell speech this week that she had endured a career battling unreasonable, scheming, ‘entitled’ BBC men. Bless her, she was paid only £340,000 a year out of the public purse and had to put up with that. Are these men the next on the Ofcom target list? Watch this space.

 

David Keighley’s BBC Watch: Broadcasting shake-up could curb anti-Brexit bias

October 6, 2016

Hallelujah! Quietly, a significant positive development in the broadcasting establishment may have occurred.

Might it be that the Government is at last waking up to the fact that the liberal figures who occupy the key regulatory posts are a menace to Brexit?

The current deluge of anti-Brexit propaganda emanating primarily from the BBC, but also from Ofcom-regulated services such as Channel 4, is the consequence of their current stranglehold over the regulation of broadcast services.

Back in January, the Department of Culture – as the referendum debate snapped into gear – incredibly appointed arch-Europhile and former editor ofThe Economist, Bill Emmott as chairman of Ofcom’s content board.

It meant he was in charge of investigations into allegations of bias in commercial radio and television’s coverage of EU affairs.

On TCW, I wrote that this was, in effect, appointing a fanatical fox as guardian of the hen house. Emmott, with funding from the EU – and in close collaboration with the BBC – had made The Great European Disaster Movie, which envisaged right-wing Armageddon if the supremacy of the EU was challenged or changed.

Not only that, through his Wake Up Foundation, Emmott was engaged in a full-scale propaganda exercise – with Richard Sambrook, a former BBC Director of News, and using the BBC film as ammo – around the universities of Britain and across Europe to brainwash students into believing that exiting the EU would indeed be a disaster.

Immediately after the piece appeared, however, Emmott’s appointment began to unravel. The News-watch website (where the blog also appeared), wrote:

‘After the publication of this post, an Ofcom spokesperson has contacted Newswatch with the following statement: “Any conflicts of interest involving non-executive Board members are managed appropriately and Bill Emmott would not be involved in discussions or decisions related to the EU referendum.” 

Ofcom thus formally acknowledged that – at a crucial time in the coverage of EU affairs – Emmott’s interests and pro-EU passions were a conflict of interest.

That was back in February. In the meantime, Analisa Piras, Emmott’s partner in the making of The Great European Disaster Movie, wrote to News-watch:

“.. the piece… (about The Great European Disaster Movie) is slanderous and full of falsities. Please remove the slanderous comments or take it down immediately.

Please note that in the absence of any action from you I will be taking legal action.”

That was back in June. News-watch replied robustly that the item was fair comment on a matter of public and national importance and there has been nothing back since.

There matters hung. It seemed that Emmott was gradually taking up his role at Ofcom, despite the contradictions and his unbridled campaigning pro-EU zealotry. But then – without fanfare – it has been announced that he is definitely leaving. The Guardian here discusses the reasons without – surprise, surprise – mentioning the elephant in the room, Europe, at all. Neither side is commenting ‘for legal reasons’ but it is clear that Ofcom finally woke up to the massive conflict of interest issues.

This begs the question of why the hell the Department of Culture sanctioned the appointment in the first place – it was plain as a pikestaff to anyone with access to Google that Emmott’s pro-EU passions were a central driving force in his life.

But could now it be that the new Culture Secretary Karen Bradley has seen – and is taking action on  – the crucial issue  that such appointments are the core reason why the broadcasting establishment is so fundamentally biased?

Ofcom will become the court of appeal for complaints against the BBC from next year when the new Charter comes into force. Meanwhile, BBC Trustee Chairman Rona Fairhead – drawn from the same mould and outlook as Emmott –  has also been given her marching orders. The crucial next phase will be the appointment of the new BBC management board. Watch this space.

 

David Keighley’s BBC Watch: Leavers are still racists in the eyes of our unyielding state broadcaster

September 29, 2016

James Harding, the BBC’s director of news, has fired a broadside against those poor, misguided souls who have dared to think that the BBC’s coverage of the referendum and its aftermath have been out of kilter.

His chosen medium for this homily? Why, where else but that neutral newspaper so loved by the BBC – The Guardian.

For those not versed in BBC obfuscation (otherwise known as complaints handling), this was a classic piece. His wheeled-out-a-thousand-times trebuchet defence was that he and his battalions of heroic, do-no-wrong journalists have received complaints from both sides in the referendum debate, so the coverage must therefore have been balanced.

For good measure, he also quotes BBC audience research, which he says shows that 90 per cent of the UK population tuned into BBC programmes – further ‘proof’ that everything in the impartiality garden was rosy. That’s alright then.

Never mind that the BBC audience domination is only achieved because of the enforced regime of the television licence fee.

Harding, in fact, takes up most of the space in his article in dealing with those on the Remain side who think the BBC gave too much prominence of the lies and distortions of the Brexit side. What does that say about unconscious bias?

His defence here is that the BBC (from dear Newsnight presenter Evan Davis to that nice economics editor Kamal Ahmed) made it abundantly clear that the weight of economic opinion overwhelmingly showed – just like the ‘consensus’ of scientists in the climate change debate – that leaving the EU was foolhardy.

In Harding’s book, the BBC had thus fulfilled its duty – and it was voters who got it wrong by having the temerity to ignore ‘the facts’.

Harding’s analysis of the Brexiteers’ complaints, in sharp contrast, take up only one paragraph, so little space that it can be quoted in full. He declared:

‘The Leavers’ complaint will, in no small part, be answered by what happens next and how we report it. The fact is that, since the EU referendum, there has been a revaluation of sterling, the Bank of England cut interest rates because it says the outlook for economic growth has weakened markedly and the Government’s plans for Brexit are unclear. But consumer confidence has bounced back and manufacturing and services sectors have rebounded accordingly. In the months ahead, our job is to understand what Brexit actually means – without relish or alarm.’

This is more obfuscation. Of course, no one can yet tell the outcome of Brexit, and the ‘Out’ side’s complaints are not rooted there.

The reality is that since the referendum vote, there have been mixed signals about the economy, but the IMF, the OECD , the Treasury and all those who the ‘Remain’ side wheeled at as ‘proof’ that Brexit would spell immediate disaster for the British economy have been proved wrong.

The nub of the ‘Out’ side complaints is that the BBC has been, at best, mealy-mouthed and begrudging about reporting this slow-motion car crash of economic forecasting. Night after night during the referendum campaign, Davis, Ahmed and Co trumpeted the predictions of doom with relish; the reporting of the retractions and the back-tracking have been delivered through gritted teeth.

The reality, too, is that since Brexit, there has been a torrent of BBC negativity about the consequences of Out, and all normal rules of reporting seem to have been suspended to ensure that those 90 per cent who Harding claims watch BBC bulletins can be in no doubt that they have made a grave mistake in ignoring the economic forecasters of the OECD and elsewhere in the BBC canon of approved sources.

Take, for example, the series of reports launched on BBC Radio 4’s PM programme called Brexit Street, which is supposedly a typical ‘Out’-voting area in Thornaby-on-Tees. The reality is that this is a hugely deprived inner city area with a highly atypical quota of asylum seekers. The purpose seems to be to show primarily that ‘Out’ voters are bigoted, bitter, irrational xenophobes.

And what of the killing of a Polish man in a Harlow pizza parlour at the end of August? BBC reports immediately speculated that there was a fear that this was is was a racial attack triggered by Brexit – even though police had made no charges, and had only confirmed that they had not ruled out such motivation from their inquiries. John Sweeney muttered darkly on Newsnight that Nigel Farage might now have blood on his hands.

Such sensationalist reporting gave European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker the ammunition to attack the Brexit vote and to insinuate it had unleashed a tide of racism.

James Harding has thus – as is usual for the BBC – ignored the elephant in the room. The BBC has never reported the EU impartially, fundamentally because they totally do not acknowledge or understand the case for ‘Out’.  Harding’s clumsy obfuscation confirms that – in spades.

Diane Abbott has reportedly asserted at the Labour Party Conference that those who voted ‘Out’ were racists. How much has the BBC led her to that conclusion?

 

David Keighley: Failure to tackle endemic BBC bias could derail Brexit

September 15, 2016

The abrupt and unexpected departure of Rona Fairhead from her post as BBC Chairman is interesting indeed.

David Cameron had appointed her Chairman for the first, crucial phase of the new Charter covering the abolition of the Trustees and their replacement by a souped-up executive board. But suddenly, seemingly as a result of intervention by Theresa May, she is toast.

Could it presage that the May government – as Brexit gathers pace – has woken up to that something urgent and radical needs doing to curb BBC bias?

This is a Corporation that is still treating Brexit as a major mistake, looking for every opportunity to rubbish the idea, and to link it with racism. Martha Kearney, for example, on Radio 4’s World at One on Wednesday, chose to pick up with relish Jean-Claude Juncker’s malicious claims that the Brexit vote was linked to a huge upsurge in race hate, including the murder of a Polish man in Harlow – when no such linkage has yet been established by the police.

David Cameron’s approach to the Corporation, from the moment he took office in 2010, was both lenient and laissez-faire – largely, it now seems most likely, because he saw the Corporation as a key ally in his battle to remain in the EU.

Lord Patten, Fairhead’s predecessor as chairman, was (and is) an EU zealot of the most extreme kind. He was appointed by Cameron in 2011. Patten predictably and obdurately resisted strongly any suggestion that the BBC’s coverage of the EU was biased, most notably by refusing repeated summonses to appear before the Commons European Scrutiny Committee in connection with its inquiry into whether the Corporation was adequately covering EU affairs.

After Patten suddenly stepped down because of ill-health, high-flying executive Fairhead, who had no broadcast experience, was parachuted in. Precisely why remains a mystery, especially as there were huge question marks about her conduct as a director of HSBC. Some have claimed a link with George Osborne, perhaps via her husband, a former Tory councillor.

The newly-appointed Fairhead did appear before the European Scrutiny committee, under duress. It became clear immediately that she had gone native. Under her regulatory regime, there would be no change in the dead-bat approach to any complaints about EU reporting. She sat smug-faced as her fellow Trustee –a former BBC employee of 30 years – Richard Ayre intoned nonsensically that he knew coverage of the EU was not biased because, well, he said so – his experience told him that it was impossible that his BBC colleagues could ever be biased.

Pardon? Ayre is a past Chairman of the Article 19 ‘journalists’ rights’ organisation which, under an alleged ‘neutral’ banner, campaigns vigorously for Palestinian rights, against Israel, and to ensure that women’s voices are heard in the ‘climate change’ debate. Here is an example of its ‘unbiased’ approach, to which Ayre presumably subscribed:

The threats from climate change are not gender-neutral and it is essential that gender be incorporated into strategies to address climate change. In order to reach adaptation strategies and policies that are truly gender-sensitive, women’s voices need to be heard. To make their voices heard, women need information about their rights and the policies that affect their daily lives. This ARTICLE 19 project seeks to foster the exercise of communication rights to challenge women’s vulnerability to climate change.

The BBC defence against EU bias (and everything that went with it at the hearing) amounted to similar baloney and obfuscation on a huge scale. The subsequent ESC’s report, written immediately before the 2015 General Election, was excoriating. Bill Cash, the chairman, concluded in his report about the BBC:

“Accountability to Parliament and proper impartiality must be a key factor in the forthcoming review of the BBC Charter.”

Since then, John Whittingdale – whose appointment as Culture Secretary was a huge surprise because of his known antipathy towards the BBC – prepared his Green Paper on the BBC’s Charter Renewal. The predictions were initially that the licence fee could be replaced by subscription.

But then George Osborne intervened. The licence fee would be set in aspic for another decade. That meant Whittingdale’s plans for major reform were in totally scuppered.  What emerged was a messy compromise: the abolition of the Trustees, their replacement by a new executive board with powerful outside, independent directors, and some elements of complaints handling handed to the ‘independent’ Ofcom.

Yet this will solve nothing. The left-leaning Ofcom content board is drawn from the same cadre as the BBC Trustees, and is chaired by the arch-Europhile Bill Emmott,who makes even Patten look tame.

In reality, the changes were only a rearrangement of the deck chairs, and a continuation of the status quo. Cameron’s appointment of Fairhead to oversee the so-called transition period confirmed that.

Today (Thursday), the unknown and untested new Culture Secretary Karen Bradley, an accountant with no previous experience of the broadcasting industry, is due to announce the main details of Charter renewal, following the White Paper in May. The key issue is whether she and the May government will grasp that until there is genuine rigorous, independent scrutiny of BBC content, heavy, left-leaning bias will continue.

And that could well derail Brexit.

 

David Keighley’s BBC Watch: Auntie battles Brexit like Japanese soldiers marooned in the jungle

September 7, 2016

So what is it that the BBC is trying to prove about Brexit?

It looks increasingly that, as the dust settles on the referendum result, they are mounting an all-out campaign to find evidence to support the Corporation’s long-held belief that those who support ‘out’ are motivated by xenophobia and racism.

Last week, on BBC2, Newsnight, reporter John Sweeney chillingly gave a platform to a Pole in Harlow – and indeed seemed to encourage him to say – that Nigel Farage had ‘blood on his hands’ in connection with the suspected murder of a local Polish man.

This was before an inquest has been held, and before police had properly begun their investigations. But in the BBC’s book, here was race-hate in action.

The Harlow allegations were re-hashed and claims of post-Brexit xenophobia and racism heavily embellished on Monday night on Radio 4, in the first of a two-part series presented by Gary Younge called Eastern Europeansin Brexitland.

Younge visited Bristol and reported evidence that since the Brexit vote, the lives of virtually all the Eastern Europeans living there had become, in effect, a living hell.

According to Younge, the streets of Bristol had, overnight on June 23/4, turned into an overt, seething cesspit of prejudice. Eggs were being thrown at immigrants, they were so terrified of being identified as Eastern European that they were afraid to speak their own languages, their cars were being vandalised, they were being spat at and their children’s hair was being set on fire.

So who is Younge? For the uninitiated, he is an equalities campaigner who, it seems, has a brother who is a senior BBC executive, and who works primarily for The Guardian. Of course, many fine journalists work there, and it may be that what he reported from Bristol was a fair reflection of what is going on out in the sticks (in BBC terms): in effect, a breakdown of civil society and tolerance.

But then again, maybe not. Go through Younge’s past articles, and this is what he wrote on June 30, a week after the referendum result:

‘This (the result) did not happen overnight, and the sorriest conduct of the referendum campaign was only the latest indication of the decrepit state of our politics: dominated by shameless appeals to fear, as though hope were a currency barely worth trading in, the British public had no such thing as a better nature, and a brighter future held no appeal.

‘Xenophobia is no longer closeted, parsed or packaged, but naked, bold and brazen and was given free rein. A week before the referendum, an MP was murdered in the street. When the man accused of killing her was asked his name in court he said: ‘Death to traitors, freedom for Britain.’

Despite such overt prejudice (and poor writing) and huge assumptions about the Jo Cox killing, he was commissioned by the BBC to make this Radio 4 series. It seems that the sole intent was for him to go out and collect material that confirmed his view that the Brexit vote was nothing more than the ignorant expression of deep, underlying hatred and malaise.

That exactly chimes with the treatment of the Harlow murder. A third element of this naked display of BBC xenophobia-themed bias also came on Monday, in the latest in the series of Radio 4’s PM reports from what they have dubbed Brexit Street (transcript included on the News-watch website).

The show’s editors have claimed that this street in Thornaby-on-Tees is ‘typical’ of areas that voted for ‘out’, but it most certainly is not. Houses there sell for a quarter of the national average, and it has very high numbers of asylum seekers, because the local councils on Teesside are the only ones in the North East to have volunteered to take a high quota.

In the BBC’s world, Brexit voters, of course, are almost invariably downmarket, prejudiced against immigrants, talk in difficult-to-understand local accents and are relatively uneducated.

Emma Jane Kirby’s latest report ticked all the requisite boxes. She has already concentrated heavily on the suggestion that asylum seekers are disliked by the locals, have been forced into isolation, and are generally being treated as sub-human. Their only solace is the local church and a heroic Somalian refugee who has set up an asylum seekers’ football team.

On Monday, her first guttural, angry Brexit Street interviewee, ensconced with a pint in his working men’s club, complained that asylum seekers received benefits but did not work.

Emma Jane was duly deeply indignant. She told the surly Teessider that in effect, he was ignorant;  they were asylum seekers so couldn’t work.

So let’s get this straight. The BBC commissions a series based on a street that it claims is ‘ordinary’ but most definitely is not, not least because an atypical, constant stream of asylum seekers has been housed there. It then highlights how badly these asylum seekers are being treated by the locals – and then starts to berate residents for, in effect, being intolerant and xenophobic, and then imputes that this is the reason for the Brexit vote.

BBC ‘impartial’ reporting in all its glory.

 

David Keighley’s BBC Watch: The BBC doesn’t bother to disguise its contempt for Farage

August 31, 2016

So finally, then, the BBC is going to make a programme about Nigel Farage.

Not – as might maybe expected from the UK’s main public service broadcaster – a documentary explaining his remarkable role over 20 years in triggering the UK’s exit from the European Union.

That’s not yet in the pipeline. The Corporation is still far too busy finding different ways of telling us what a mistake Brexit is. Monday’s Today programme, for example, had an Oxford historian commenting on whether it was a foreign policy disaster that ranked with Suez.

No, instead, the boys and girls in the BBC so-called comedy department – fresh from this week’s disastrous re-make of Are You Being Served? – have in mind something a bit more in keeping with their thoughts about the former Ukip leader.

For those who did not have the doubtful pleasure of seeing the Grace Brothers’ revival episode, Michael Horgan, the Daily Telegraph’s TV reviewer is helpfully to hand. Among his comments were that it ‘crammed innuendos into the script with a crowbar’, and he then noted:

‘It was 12 minutes before candyfloss-haired Mrs Slocombe (played by a gurning, hammy Sherrie Hewson) made the first reference to her pussy and 17 minutes until Mr Humphries (Jason Watkins) trilled “I’m free”. Both were greeted with cheers yet it wasn’t enough to save this turgid, interminable half-hour.’

What Horgan didn’t say was that the script, by Benidorm writer Derren Litten, also converted the department store’s Young Mr Grace into a nasty speculative, people-hating opportunistic, capitalist who could have walked straight out of the pages of Jeremy Corbyn’s ’nationalise everything’ policy manual. How very, very BBC.

So what do the comedy department plan for Farage? According to the Radio Times, it’s a jolly one-off ‘special’ called Nigel Farage Gets His Life Back, and it will feature ‘the former politician coping with life out of the limelight’.

Now, of course, it may be that something very funny is on the drawing board. And politicians must expect to be the target of satire and mickey-taking as part of being held to account.

The BBC news department – and especially presenters such as Evan Davis – have always faithfully delivered in this respect. They have with clockwork reliability in dozens of interviews treated Farage as something of a a joke, and mechanically – even maniacally – asked questions about him being the BNP in blazers, a one-trick wonder, and worse.

Former BBC perennial presenter Sandi Toksvig – whose mindset underpins much of BBC comedy – was also in on the act, though a touch less subtly. She compared Farage to Hitler at the Hay literary festival.

Something in this equation of Farage + the BBC + comedy sets special alarm bells ringing. One clue is that ‘insiders’ told the Radio Times that his character was already being described as a ‘cross between Basil Fawlty and Enoch Powell.’

A second flash of warning comes from Kevin Bishop, the actor/comedian who has been selected to play Farage. He told the Radio Times:

‘Nigel Farage is the gift that keeps on giving…there is the moustache and now the appearance at the Trump rally, it’s going to be fun’.

Now, of course that might be true. But somehow, in a ‘spoof’ project emanating from the BBC, that juxtaposition suggests that ‘fun’ is likely to be the perennial, wearisome innuendos about of racism and right-wing extremism that have been the hallmark of the Corporation’s entire treatment of Farage.

Craig Byers, of Is the BBC Biased?, has observed:

‘And yes, alas, apparently his wife really will be brought into the mockery too. Which other well-known politician would the BBC do this to? Astonishingly, reports even say, “If the episode is a success it could be given the green light to be turned into a full series”. Just imagine that with your ‘BBC impartiality’ hats on!’

Quite. The BBC would do this to no other politician. Not even Jeremy Corbyn.

 

David Keighley’s BBC Watch: Bias unconfined as Labour placeman Purnell is lined up for the top job

August 24, 2016

The prospective appointment of former Labour culture secretary James Purnell to one of the Corporation’s most senior editorial roles is a major cause for concern.

Purnell, it has been widely reported, is in line to become the BBC’s director of radio.

What on earth is going on? It looks as though the Government is standing by as a man once tipped to be Labour leader – and without programme-making experience – takes control.

His approach to policy as work and pensions secretary showed Marxian zeal towards forcing parents away from their children and into work, as this initiative of 2009 shows.

Without fanfare, the Corporation executive board has already give Purnell a clutch of new responsibilities, in charge of educational and children’s programming in addition to his existing role as director of BBC strategy.

That followed an interview by a fellow member of the BBC executive board: Alice Perkins, the wife of Jack Straw and a former high-flying civil servant of the right-on breed.

How very cosy.  Although, of course, the BBC insists she is totally independent.

This puts Purnell, at 46, in pole position to succeed Lord Hall as director general.

Previously, a gap in Purnell’s CV was editorial experience. This would have been a serious bar to him becoming DG because that role includes the responsibilities of editor-in-chief of all the BBC’s programme output. That shortcoming will now be remedied in time for Hall’s expected departure in a couple of years’ time.

The governance of the BBC is supposed to be in the process of being reformed as part of Charter renewal at the beginning of 2017.  These latest manoeuvres show yet again that the existing set-up is rotten to the core. The Corporation is a self-perpetuating hierarchy.

Purnell’s appointment over educational and children’s programmes has been approved by the Corporation’s little-known executive board, which is made up of the most senior full-time executives plus six outside directors. These are supposed to confer ‘independence’, but clearly do no such thing.

A moment’s perusal of their CVs indicates why. Alice Perkins may have her own outlook, but it’s not on the so-called ‘right’ of politics, and chimes closely with that of Purnell.  Recently-appointed Sir Nicholas Serota has spent his entire life in the public sector, and at the recent opening of Tate Modern’s new lottery-funded extension warned that  leaving the EU would seriously diminish the arts.

Dame Fiona Reynolds also represents a very clear mindset. She is a former civil servant, director-general of the National Trust and now – as well as a clutch of other lucrative directorships in the public/charity sector – is chair of the Green Alliance, a body which, like the BBC, is fanatical about climate alarmist policies and has an executive director who was a former Greenpeace activist.

Former chairman of Sony, Sir Howard Stringer, is a fellow green warrior. In this Guardian piece, it is explained how he had co-ordinated and was leading the charge towards ‘carbon reduction’.

With backgrounds like these, it’s obvious that these executive directors, working in tune with the BBC senior managers, are blind to the conflict of interest that Purnell’s elevation to editorial roles represents. MPs such as Damian Collins (on the Commons culture committee) and Andrew Bridgen (who is perennially concerned about BBC bias) have expressed concern,  but the quotes given in response by the BBC indicate that they don’t give a hoot.

Thanks to George Osborne’s craven caving-in over the licence fee, the Corporation is now secure for the next decade and this is evidence that it is proceeding as it intends to go on, irrespective of any changes proposed by new culture secretary Karen Bradley.

If Theresa May is serious about strengthening the Conservative agenda, a starting point would be to lean on Bradley to ensure changes in BBC governance that lead to the Corporation being run by a genuinely independent, beefed up executive board. Instead, Purnell’s elevation suggest that what is happening is almost the reverse.

If he did become DG, it would be the first time in BBC history that a former politician has run the Corporation. His approach to his role suggests that a leopard does not change his spots as back in August, 2014, this post on TCW noted (in reaction to the botched firing by the executive board of John Linwood, who was disgracefully scapegoated by the executive board for a failed technology project):

‘What’s equally clear is the James Purnell, the former Labour minister appointed by director general Tony Hall as his strategy director shortly before the sacking, played a pivotal role in the botched execution. It has Nu Labour-style fingerprints all over it.’

 

David Keighley’s BBC Watch: Radio 4 still fights the last propaganda war against Brexit

August 17, 2016

What could be the biggest threat to Brexit?

Tory back-sliding and plotting by remainiacs like Anna Soubry? Undoubtedly they will have spent much of the summer fomenting new lines of subversion. They are ready pounce on and exaggerate any dissension in party Brexit ranks, as last weekend’s Sunday Times story about the alleged turf-war spat between Boris Johnson and Liam Fox underlined.

Or could Owen Smith confound the whole Westminster village, win the Labour leadership election and, with a miraculously re-unified party behind him, force, as he says he will, a second referendum? Most Labour MPs still obdurately think that voters for Brexit, many of them their constituents, were deluded fools.

Pigs are more likely to fly of course than Owen Smith is to beat Jeremy Corbyn. But much stranger things in politics have happened in the bewildering battery of developments since June 23.

One constant in the equation, and perhaps the biggest threat of all to Brexit – through the corrosive propaganda they are continuing to generate on an industrial scale – is the BBC. Two months on from the referendum vote, they are still searching relentlessly for reasons why ‘no’ was totally a mistake.

It is impossible to keep track of this deluge. It’s suffused, for example, throughout the Corporation’s business coverage (best evidenced in Today’s 6.15am business news slot), has infected food, environment and comedy programmes, and of course, dominates news coverage. If you have doubts, take a while to browse the Corporation’s Brexit Collection on the iPlayer – almost every programme rams home hard the collective anti-Brexit meme.

Such is the scale of the effort that a whole new mythology is in the process of being forged. In BBC programmes, Brexit voters are mostly unemployed, usually almost inarticulate, and they speak in impenetrable northern or guttural regional accents. They are mostly old and despise the young. Above all, they hate strangers and immigrants to the extent that they are plotting and committing by the hour ‘hate’ crimes on unprecedented levels.

A further bedrock of this new BBC reality is that ‘out’ voters were duped by unprincipled, racist opportunistic politicians such as Nigel Farage who spun a web of fiendishly convincing lies.

Over-egging? No. A manifestation of these fables-in-the-making is being broadcast on Radio 4’s PM programme, Producers have built around a real, but unidentified ‘ordinary’ street on Teesside a series they have dubbed ‘Brexit Street’.

So far reporter Emma Jane Kirby has fronted five reports, each of which has brought listeners – through the views of local residents – what is claimed to be the reasons why people voted out.

In the right hands, this could be interesting, revealing broadcasting. But this is the BBC, and instead it is a caricature of Northern voters that is beyond parody.

For a start ‘Brexit Street’ is not ‘ordinary’. The exact location has not been revealed to listeners. All that has been said is that it is in the town of Thornaby-on-Tees, an inner city area sandwiched between Stockton on Tees in the west and Middlesbrough to the east.

A little digging from the facts presented by Kirby (it has terrace houses, a Salvation Army premises, a bookies’ and a supermarket) reveals that it can be only one local thoroughfare, Westbury Street. And once identified, a whole series of alarm bells start ringing.

First, the housing is mainly old inner city stock and a terrace house can be bought there for between £40,000 and £60,000, compared with the local average of around £100,000 and a regional North-eastern figure of around £120,000.  So it’s pretty downmarket, even in an area (Middlesbrough especially) which is facing very tough and exceptional times because of the closure of the local steelworks.

Second – and this is probably the killer blow to any pretence of balanced journalism – Kirby revealed in the opening report that ‘a large number of asylum seekers’ are residents. Further spadework reveals that Middlesbrough and Stockton town councils are the only two in the North-east which are accepting asylum seekers on a large scale. There are nearly 700 in the local government area covering Thornaby, equating to one in 280 local residents.

That said, Westbury Street has only 120 households, and the local average house occupation rate is 2.3 – so it would be expected that only one or two residents there would be asylum seekers. Kirby, however, says there are ‘large numbers’ living there (and of course she’s interviewed many of them) – suggesting that the local council is using the street for their re-settlement because housing there is especially cheap.

What this boils down to is that Westbury Street is not at all average and not at all ordinary. Kirby has focused in two of the first five reports on that the asylum seekers feel isolated and alone and are not integrated, mainly because of the views and implied prejudice of the locals who voted out.

Asylum seekers, of course, are nothing to do with the EU. But never mind the facts. Going there and projecting the alleged prejudice against these unfortunate people (one is a victim of alleged military atrocities in the Congo) as a contributory cause of the Brexit vote fits neatly with the new BBC mythology.

More reports in the series are a treat in store. What has been presented so far is a travesty of balanced journalism.

 

David Keighley’s BBC Watch: Auntie has new powers to haul the poor before the courts

August 10, 2016

Watch out! Are you about to be ‘packet-sniffed’ by the BBC?

The prospect of millions of viewers being snooped upon by Corporation licence-fee collectors in unprecedented ways is firmly on the agenda.

The BBC has denied that the actual ‘packet-sniffing’, which (for the uninitiated) involves breaking into private wi-fi networks using special software, and is illegal if used privately, will be involved in their collection activities, but their protestations are not fully-convincing.

Even their friends on The Guardian smell a rat. And definitely being deployed the length and breadth of the land by collection agents Capita from September 1 in order to catch miscreants who dare to access the BBC iPlayer via their computers – even if they don’t also have a TV set – are a range of new snooping measures that put the licence evasion operation even more firmly into the Big Brother league.

The BBC won’t reveal what these measures are, or what equipment they will actually use, but they have been granted extra enforcement powers under the Investigatory Powers Act, which was passed by the Blair government in 2000, and enables eavesdropping by authorised bodies using a vast array of sophisticated equipment.

Why is this deemed necessary in the run up to Charter renewal? Because despite pressure on the Conservative government to find new, less repressive and more modern ways of funding the Corporation – and dozens of well-argued options being out there – former Chancellor George Osborne decided instead to cave in to Corporation pressure.

Perversely, the BBC, an organisation that goes into indignation overdrive at the very mention of state intrusion in other arenas, thinks that mass spying and the criminalisation of 153,000 people a year are both justified and essential in pursuit of its own ends.

No matter that tens of thousands of these offenders are the least well off, Osborne ruled in 2015 – despite the advice of then Culture Secretary John Whittingdale – that the licence fee would not only continue but would be extended to viewing of catch-up services on the BBC iPlayer.

All this interference would be completely unnecessary if the BBC’s totally outmoded financing system, dating from an era when the broadcast spectrum was a scarce resource, was scrapped and replaced by subscription funding.

Audiences would then be able to choose which programmes and services they wanted to buy. This is a consumer model which applies to almost every other product, and which works perfectly well as a revenue model for Sky, Netflix, HBO and legions of other broadcasters.

Instead, the Government has gone completely the opposite way, and the UK is saddled with this regressive and repressive regime from September 1 until the next Charter review in ten years’ time.

The statistics on licence enforcement make for fascinating reading and underline that the agenda here is not at all straightforward. Nuts and sledgehammers come to mind. Is such massive intrusion actually required?

And the suspicion emerges that in play also might also be the Government’s desire to protect some of its own revenues rather than to open up broadcasting to normal competitive pressures.

Facts (gleaned from a variety of sources, including here):

The BBC, through Capita and the magistrates’ court system, pursues each year 170,000 cases a year of licence evasion.

The number has been rising at the rate of 4 per cent per annum. They (and Capita) are thus becoming increasingly intrusive.

Of these, 153,000 prosecutions a year are successful. The vast majority of ‘evaders’ are from low-income households, often those headed by a single parent.

This volume amounts to 11.5 per cent of total cases in magistrates’ courts, but the combined workload takes up only 0.3 per cent of court time because cases are rarely contested and hearings are en masse in special courts. This means that the cost per prosecution is only £28.

The average fine plus surcharges for non-payment (with offenders having to pay the licence fee on top) is £340. This means that the total yield of licence evasion to the Ministry of Justice is around £52 million. Astonishingly, that’s approximately 10 per cent of the total fines revenue imposed in UK courts (£550 million). Put another way, licence fee evasion is a cheap cash cow for the Ministry.

And yet, conversely, licence fee non-payment adds up to only a small fraction of the Corporation’s £3.7 billion licence-fee revenues. The £3.7 billion equates to 25.5 million licence fees – roughly in line with the number of UK households. Evasion is only £22.3m, or roughly 0.5 per cent of the total.

The law is the law, of course…but a central question here is whether ever expanding intrusion, with all the unpleasant elements such snooping entails, can be justified? Is it right that tens of thousands of the UK’s poor continue to be criminalised in this way? Netflix and Sky simply cut people off.

Whichever way you look at it, the system is outmoded, Orwellian and in some respects, plain ridiculous. George Osborne has a lot more than extreme europhilia to answer for.

 

David Keighley’s BBC Watch: Bradley must battle Auntie’s arrogance

August 3, 2016

These are frustrating times for those who want an end to BBC bias.

Post-Brexit, there has been a concentrated deluge of pro-EU, anti-Brexit broadcasting. The primary intent seems to be to force a second referendum and keep the UK in the EU. Evan Davis, as ever, is among those leading the charge.

The highly biased coverage of post referendum affairs shows that the Corporation is totally out of touch with the 17m who want out. Their version of ‘understanding’ them is to go to the backstreets in the most deprived areas of the country and patronise the locals.

But the malaise goes much deeper. The reporting of Hinckley Point saga last week showed that yet again, their only agenda in the thorny issue of energy supply is that of the Green Blob.

In the BBC universe, fantasy ‘climate’ targets (espoused by the High Priests of EU-funded Greenpeace) to keep temperature rises below 1.5 degrees centigrade are considered far more important than the urgent need to keep millions of pensioners and young families warm at affordable prices.

Add to that their extreme reluctance to attribute terrorism to anything other than ‘mental illness’, and the BBC’s bloody-minded drive to undermine whenever possible British culture and tradition, and the overall picture of bias reaches crisis proportions.    There is a rot at the heart of the Corporation’s outlook that only an Augean cleansing will achieve.

John Whittingdale’s White Paper on BBC reform was published back in early May. Thanks to George Osborne’s meddling over the licence fee, it was sadly a fudge. Instead of effective change, including funding by subscription, which as an Institute of Economic Affairs paper has adroitly pointed out, would have genuinely opened the Corporation up and made it sensitive to viewers’ needs, it perpetuated the licence fee for another decade.

The other changes were thoughtful and significant but nowhere near enough. There was scrapping of the failed Trustees, budgetary scrutiny by the National Audit Office, and the creation of a new, souped-up Executive Board made up of a mixture of BBC executives and independent directors (including the chairman).

Further changes involved overall regulation by Ofcom on the performance and delivery of services, and as the body of appeal in matters of impartiality. This was the most glaring mistake. An end to BBC bias will only come about when the Corporation content is opened up to genuinely independent scrutiny. Ofcom is run by former BBC staff, with their same outlook, and so in this respect the White Paper was a total dud.

All this was thrown into turmoil after Brexit when Whittingdale was unceremoniously fired in the Cabinet shake-up. In his place Karen Bradley – elected as an MP (for Staffordshire Moorlands) for the first time only in 2010 – was elevated to Cabinet level from her previous (and only government) role as ministerial support for May in the Home Office.

There’s nothing wrong with injection of new blood, but it means that the Culture department is now being run by an accountant with no experience of media management at all and very little too, of what Bill Clinton called ‘change-making’ at government level. She is an ingénue when it comes to the Gormenghast-politics of the BBC.

The BBC, by contrast, has years of experience of seeing off challenges to its so-called independence, and indeed has battalions of staff trained to pursue that end. This does not bode well at all. Director General Lord Hall and his main henchman in this department, James Purnell – himself a former Culture Secretary – must currently be feeling like cats who have found the cream.

Bradley, of course, may turn out to be a tough cookie, and there is no rule that says a minister of state must have previous experience of the subject matter of his or her portfolio. Indeed, a fresh eye and an outside perspective can be a catalyst for genuine change.

However, broadcasting is not just any brief, and the BBC not just any adversary. Politicians of every stripe are star-struck and mesmerised by the Corporation. They are terrified that saying the wrong things will incur Auntie’s displeasure and disfavour.

This, disappointingly, became sharply apparent this week when the Commons Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee published with very little fanfare its report on its reaction to the Whittingdale White Paper. The findings? They have tamely accepted most of the fudged changes, turning their fire only on a relevantly minor issue, the high level of pay of some BBC talent.

Most tellingly, there’s not a peep about complaints handling.

On that basis, as things stand, the Corporation could well be off the hook yet again (unless Bradley surprises us all). It looks that for another decade the BBC public will be saddled with the licence fee, the deckchairs will be re-arranged slightly. And BBC bias will carry on relentlessly.

 

David Keighley: Don’t rewrite history – we voted Leave because of Farage and mass immigration

July 26, 2016

Referendum history is being re-written. The official ‘out campaign’ – in an interview for the Daily Politics and a Brexit Britain Newsnight Special – has said that a key element was neutralising ‘the threat’ of Nigel Farage and presenting a more middle ground alternative.

Codswallop!  This is a simplistic and Orwellian re-writing of history. Most of the Conservative party, the BBC and the Left have always hated Ukip and Farage – and now that the dust is settling on the referendum are busy writing a hagiography that chimes with their contempt.

The reality is, however, that without Nigel Farage, there would have been no referendum. And there certainly would have been no ‘exit’ vote. It happened because of a crassly inept ‘remain’ campaign (analysed here) and a range of interlocking factors focused on an intense dislike and fear of the damage to British society and culture the EU has wrought.

Those hagiographers should take on board some basic, sobering facts. Holding the poll was adopted as official Conservative party policy in 2013 only because Ukip – guided by Farage – was making such deep inroads into the Conservative vote that David Cameron had no alternative. Up until that point – it has now emerged – he was a Conservative leader living a lie.

He had conned the Conservative party parliamentary rank and file and grassroots into backing him as leader in 2005 (against David Davis, a true ‘out’ campaigner) because he had told a huge porky – that he was ‘eurosceptic’.

The reality, as emerged in graphic detail during the referendum campaign, is that Cameron – and many of his supporters – is every bit a pro-EU figure as Kenneth Clarke, Michael Heseltine and Edward Heath. He was rashly, perhaps even recklessly, prepared to stake everything – and tell huge economic untruths – on ‘remain’.

Second, although elements of Vote Leave were based on smart online marketing techniques, there were glaring shortcomings in its approach from the outset.

For example, it failed to set up a proper unit to rebut BBC propaganda, and it failed to understand who to put up in the media to argue the Brexit case. The BBC coverage in response to this inadequacy nearly swung it for remain.  The Corporation could not believe its luck.

Vote Leave were also not clear about who they were targeting or what was likely to motivate ‘out’ voters. Control of immigration, for example – and the impact it was having, was scarcely mentioned until the final weeks of the campaign, and then only half-heartedly.

Farage, by contrast, after 25 years of campaigning at grassroots level – and putting up with name-calling, death threats from Scottish nationalists and the abuse of the BBC throughout – knew that the biggest issue for the 17m+ who voted ‘out’ was not how much money we give to Brussels, but that the EU socialist project was swamping our sense of identity, and was causing dislocation by allowing uncontrolled mass immigration on an unmanageable and unprecedented scale.

He knew because he had personally been there and spoken to thousands of voters, that folk in Boston in Lincolnshire, in Sunderland (despite the Nissan plant) and Middlesbrough, in Gravesend and Southend, in Ebbw Vale, in the Tory shires and the so-called ‘working-class North’, were sick to the back teeth of being patronised and lied to about the true nature of the EU project by politicians.

The hagiographers now say that the poster showing a snaking queue of ‘immigrants’ released by Farage on the Thursday before polling was ‘racist’. The BBC has amplified that message in dozens of contexts, and continues to do so. It is being disgracefully projected in lockstep with figures such as Baroness Warsi, Jeremy Corbyn and Eddy Izzard.

The reality is that the poster summed up exactly the frustration of the millions of voters who made Brexit happen, to defend their communities and stand up to the oppression and chaos unleashed on Britain by Brussels.

Of course, such a strategy ran risks. No-one could have foreseen the shooting of MP Jo Cox, and then the relentless and utterly cynical milking of the tragedy by ‘remain’, by Labour MPs totally out of step with their constituents, and the BBC, to suggest that supporters of ‘out’ – and above all, Farage – were all hate-filled racists. The reality is that the totally unforeseeable backlash unleashed by this tide of anti-Ukip/Farage certainly cost ‘out’ many votes.

That, however, was compounded by figures such as Michael Gove, who on the Sunday before voting, on the Andrew Marr show deliberately suggesting that he believed the Ukip poster to be racist and inexcusable.

The sobering, awful reality after the biggest democratic vote in British history is that elements of the Conservative party, aided and abetted by the BBC, are now back in control and are busy re-writing history in Animal Farm style. Such opinions suggest that Brexit is far from assured.

Yes, David Davis, is a genuine ’outer’, an immensely able politician. But he and his main lieutenant, Liam Fox, are surrounded by a party made up many for whom the lessons have clearly not sunk in. The British people did not vote for the Tory party on June 23. They voted with a roar to say that British cultural identity – in its many and tolerant guises – should be protected, and to get rid of the oppressive and destructive clutches of the EU.

Come what may.

 

David Keighley: Project Smear – BBC insists Brexit was won by the hang ‘em and flog ‘em brigade

July 18, 2016

Hang ‘em high. At last! Now we know why those misguided Brits voted for Brexit. It was the ‘hang ’em, flog ‘em’ brigade exerting their prejudices.

That, in effect, is what the BBC tells us in this prominent website story. In case the message isn’t rammed home hard enough by the copy, there’s a large headline picture of a hangman’s noose.

The central gist is that, according to new polling, the referendum was won by ‘traditionalists’ – cautious, non-liberal individuals who support the death penalty and also – it is heavily emphasised – publicly flogging sexual offenders.

This, of course, fit perfectly with the BBC’s long-term approach to the EU: that ‘remainers’ inhabit the enlightened, educated, multicultural uplands, while those who want ‘out’ are broadly xenophobic, uneducated, bigots.

In fact, the story is based on a fascinating survey by the British Election Study (BES), a research body funded by various universities and the Social and Economic Research Council. The reality is that the findings do not support the BBC’s sensationalist conclusions. Their use in this way is a gross distortion of the survey.

It should first be noted that this latest poll, part of a long-term survey involving 30,000 individuals, took place before the official campaigning period in early May, and so is not a snapshot of opinions after the actual vote.

That said, BES’s main findings are very clear (and offer fresh insight into the vote):

“Overall, our results suggest that the referendum campaign was not a fight about which side had the best argument on the issues: very few people voted leave to improve the economy and very few voted remain to reduce immigration. Instead, the fight was about which of these issues was more important.”

In other words, the ‘out’ side, as the vote approached, was concerned that not enough was being done about immigration and were judging this was a major political priority. They did not believe – despite Project Fear which was already in full flow – that the economy took precedence. The polling also shows that there was concern among ‘outers’ about a raft of other issues including sovereignty, border control (and ‘control’ generally), laws, and ‘the country’ as a concept.

In summary, putting it another way, ‘outers’ were approaching the vote with a complex set of issues under consideration. At the heart of their worries was the control of immigration, but they were also firmly focused on parliamentary sovereignty and national identity.

The remain side, in sharp contrast, was concerned most about the economy. Their other considerations included ‘Europe’ as a concept, trade, security, ‘rights’ (presumably more specifically human rights in the EU context) and stability. All these factors were themes being pushed hardest by David Cameron and by Britain Stronger in Europe, and clearly their messages were hitting home.

These core findings from BSE are the ones emphasised in their press release, and they clearly make a strong story, for example, that ‘leavers’ were not persuaded by Project Fear and wanted a Britain that could control immigration and with national sovereignty restored.

The BBC, however, took a completely different line. Finding where it came from is a detective story, and the most likely source emerges as The Fabian Society. The BES survey referred to above was released to the public on July 11. But the Fabian Society (for reasons that are not clear) were given the results on June 24. They honed in like an Exocet on the BES subsidiary questions relating to public flogging and ‘traditional’ views and decided this was the real reason for the ‘out’ vote, rather than a division based on ‘rich’ and ‘poor’.

Another left-leaning think-tank, NESTA the National Endowment for Science, Technology and the Arts – founded by David Puttnam and the Labour government back in 1997 – picked up the Fabian society’s spin and ran with it. They embellished matters by cherry-picking findings from some of the independent polling by Lord Ashcroft, which showed that some ‘leave’ voters did not also like the internet, feminism, the green movement and multiculturalism.

In other words, stick-in-the-mud, vengeful, misogynist, Luddite reactionaries.

This was deeply suspect extrapolation, but this is precisely where the BBC enters the fray. A bee to the honey. They picked up the combination of the Fabian Society findings and those from NESTA and amplified them. This is the central point of the BBC’s website analysis:

“The graph below, restricted to White British respondents, shows almost no statistically significant difference in EU vote intention between rich and poor. By contrast, the probability of voting Brexit rises from around 20 per cent for those most opposed to the death penalty to 70 per cent for those most in favour. Wealthy people who back capital punishment back Brexit. Poor folk who oppose the death penalty support Remain.”

The BBC attributes this to ‘Professor Eric Kaufman of Birkbeck College’. What it does not say is that he argued his ‘traditionalist’ line in an official release for the Fabian Society. The BBC report scarcely considers the core BES findings but hones in instead on both the Fabian and NESTA findings.

To round things off, there is a concluding quote from an organisation called Britain Thinks:

“… openness, modernity and other social-liberal values…were more popular among Remain voters. Often it’s (the leave perspective) about harking back to the past – sometimes a feeling that they don’t belong to the present.”

What the report did not say here is that Britain Thinks is run by Gordon Brown’s former pollster and a co-director whose other main activity is the Global Action Plan – an environmental group focused on an ultra-green agenda.

Overall, this was deeply biased report because it blatantly cherry-picked and then distorted the findings of an interesting piece of research. The deliberate intent was to underline that the ‘leave’ vote was based on reactionary prejudice. Graphs and graphics were used to amplify the message to maximum extent.

Reporting in this vein strengthens the impression that the BBC is on a mission to undermine the Brexit vote in every way it can. Yet again, it was emphasised that the ‘remain’ vote was forward-thinking and open. ‘Out’ was unenlightened and backwards.

 

David Keighley’s BBC Watch: The Brexit Collection reveals the depth of the Corporation’s pro-EU bias

July 13, 2016

BBC reform, like so many other issues, has been pushed off the agenda by the referendum hullaballoo.

But sorting out BBC bias as the Brexit process gets underway is surely an urgent and major priority for the new May government – that is, if she genuinely wants Britain out.

The Corporation clearly now sees its central mission to push at every opportunity the case for Remain, for a second referendum, for a general election to endorse the exit plans. Anything, in fact, anything to upset the referendum vote.

So great is their opposition to ‘exit’ that their bias is now arguably (for example Newsnight, here) a deliberate attempt to undermine the democratic process, and to reinforce the view (held by many in the Conservative and Labour party and those who mounted demonstrations at the weekend) that those who voted ‘Leave’ were basing their decisions on lies; that they were deluded and plain wrong.

The new BBC Royal Charter is due to come into effect by the beginning of 2017, and yet the changes so far proposed by culture secretary John Whittingdale – broadly putting complaints under Ofcom and creating a new management board – will scarcely scratch the surface of current malpractice.

And meanwhile, BBC bias is continuing on an industrial scale. So brazen has it become that it has posted on the BBC iPlayer the Brexit Collection, a selection of 15 Radio 4 programmes about the Brexit vote.

The bias across most of the programmes is so extreme that it is impossible to know where to begin in describing it. News-watch, will, in due course, publish all the transcripts together with a full analysis and report.

In the meantime, a good entry point is the edition of The Food Programme, first broadcast on Sunday July 3, and presented by Dan Saladino.

He assembled for the bulk of the programme a cast list of six guests who declared, between them, that Brexit could lead to food riots; that ensuring food security after Brexit amounted to the worst peacetime challenge that the UK had ever faced; that farms would be abandoned, agricultural jobs would be lost, that the Scotch whisky industry faced virtual ruin, and that immigrants in the food processing and production industry the length and breadth of the UK were now living in fear. The full picture is here.

A key mover in this blatant exaggeration and scare-mongering was Professor Tim Lang from the City University in London, the main ‘expert’ on food supply. What Saladino did not tell listeners, however, was that Lang also works for a greenie food charity called Sustain, which, their annual reports show, receives a significant part of its funding (at least 10 per cent and probably as high as 25 per cent) directly or from the EU.

Ranged against the six gloom-mongers was a lone fisherman, who said he wanted Brexit but little more – the diminution of the UK fishing industry under the Common Fisheries Policy was not on the agenda –  and Tim Worstall, from the Adam Smith Institute. The latter managed to suggest, against all the predictions of doom elsewhere in the programme, that Brexit would actually lead to a reduction in food tariffs, and that the UK could make better trade deals with partners throughout the world.

But Saladino clearly thought that any positive comment about post-Brexit prospects should come with a health warning. Unlike with Professor Lang and his link with EU funding, he carefully pointed out that Worstall had been a speechwriter for Nigel Farage. For a BBC presenter, that, of course is a dog-whistle hand grenade that any views from the contributor have to be treated with caution because of (in the BBC’s eyes) Farage’s ‘extreme’ political views.

Another programme in the Brexit Collection was How to Make Brexit presented by Carolyn Quinn, about Greenland’s decision to leave the EU back in the 1980s. The bias is so evident it’s almost impossible to know where to start. Close to the beginning, Quinn used an extract from a pro-EU rant on the Now Show to illustrate one of her key points. The tone was thus set.

Quinn’s linking commentary and choice of quotes was framed with only one aim in mind – to tell us how desperately complex a departure would be. The first quote in this vein from a contributor was:

“This is the largest scale legislation and policy exercise that has possibly been carried out ever…The trade options alone are staggering….” Quinn left absolutely no room for doubt: leaving the EU is something that only a fool would contemplate.

Further initial commentary about the Brexit Collection can be found on the Is the BBC Biased? website here.

The choice of these programmes shows above all that the BBC itself does not care about and does not even begin to understand the depths of its pro-EU bias. The new Secretary of State for Culture has a huge challenge on his hands. The task of dealing with it has scarcely even begun.

 

David Keighley’s BBC Watch: Farage’s successor needs superhuman strengths to withstand the counter-revolutionaries

July 6, 2016

So farewell, then, Nigel Farage. The BBC will miss you.

Hugely.

Since 1999, when he was elected an MEP, the coverage of ‘leave’ in the EU debate was conducted very heavily through and in reaction to him. In News-watch surveys of BBC news output, he was the ‘exit’ case spokesman in 36 per cent of all interviews about withdrawal between 2005-2015, and he was Ukip spokesman in 52 per cent of appearances by the party.

The Corporation cast him and his party – on the very rare occasions they considered the ‘exit’ perspective at all – as maverick, ‘a one-trick pony’, ‘the BNP in blazers’, disorganised and above all, xenophobic.

Now that he has gone, who will take his place? The favourites to succeed him – Steven Woolfe, Diane James and Paul Nuttall – are all able in their own right. But the main question, surely, before they can assume the mantle of leader is whether they have thick enough skins to endure the BBC vitriol that comes with the turf.

An example of the perennial BBC negativity against Farage can be found here, when during the general election of 2015, with support for Ukip in polls running at 20 per cent plus, Evan Davis explored every potential weakness in his character and moral stance, but nothing about policy. Or here – with only a week left to the referendum vote – when BBC1 News at Ten focused on the ‘racist’ claims of his enemies yet again.

Critics have said Farage has never presented a coherent exit strategy – he stuck too simplistically to that he wanted his country back – but at least he was a vivid focus and a totem for the ‘out’ side. Against the BBC’s barbs against him, those pesky voters up North and in the Tory shires knew that they wanted to leave the EU, and for millions of them, he became a hero, the only sure rallying point for British freedom.

Despite the Corporation’s constant negative barrage, and a concomitant failure to report the ‘exit’ case, those blue shires and those red Northern towns voted for him and Ukip in increasing numbers and ensured that ‘withdrawal’ could not be ignored to the extent that in January 2013 David Cameron was forced to develop the referendum strategy.

What is now clear as a result of the referendum campaign is that the majority of Tory MPs who claimed to be eurosceptics are actually strong Europhiles. They threw everything they had in trying to stay in. And at the same time, the vast majority of the Labour MPs – despite their dissolving  electoral base in urban areas – remain shackled to the EU like turkeys voting for Christmas.

The fall-out after the referendum has shown graphically, too, that Vote Leave was only a vinegar-and-brown-paper, tenuous alliance.

Now that the vote has been won there is no obvious leader of ‘exit’, whatever form it takes. Quite the reverse, it seems the very loose alliance that came together to meet the referendum challenge is dissolving before our very eyes into embittered factions.

Not only that, there is no clear ‘exit’ strategy, or no-one is articulating one. Every spokesman who hits the BBC airwaves seems to have a different vision and even a different set of priorities.

BBC coverage is taking advantage of that with a vengeance. Friday’s edition of Newsnight, for example, hit new lows of negativity. It was a continued full-on assault on Brexit.

First – in flagrant breach of editorial guidelines – it disgracefully distorted an Ipsos Mori poll to claim that vast numbers of ‘out’ voters had changed their minds. Then the programme gave pride of place to the Remains of the Day novelist Yazua Ishiguro to vent claims that the ‘leave’ vote was underpinned by Nazism and to demand a new referendum.

Next, a report from France focused on claims that the Brexit decision was a huge mistake linked to Marine le Pen. Finally, a panel of three ‘remain’ voters concurred that the way forward in the face of the disenfranchisement of  the 48 per cent who voted ‘remain’ was both the formation of a new political party to represent their views, and – surprise, surprise (again!) – a second referendum or a general election.

On Monday night the coverage of Farage’s departure on main BBC outlets credited him for his achievements relating to the referendum. Do not be deceived, however. This rare acknowledgement was actually an example of damning by faint praise.

Farage’s successor as Ukip leader, as well as rhino hide, will need superhuman qualities to deal with a huge challenge: a governing Conservative party still dominated by pro-EU sentiment and not committed enough to win a satisfactory ‘exit’ deal that restores UK sovereignty; a riven, at-war Labour party hell-bent on ignoring its anti-EU grassroots and blind to concerns about immigration; and a BBC leading the charge of all those who feel that ‘remain’ should have won the day.

 

David Keighley’s BBC Watch: The Beeb is on a mission to destroy the Brexit vote

June 29, 2016

Many – including the writers of a Daily Mail editorial and The Mail on Sunday’s columnist Peter Hitchens – claimed that the BBC had changed its spots during the EU referendum campaign, and was bringing impartial coverage.

Clearly, there was – for the first time – an attempt at least to talk to the ‘exit’ side. But since the result was announced, any semblance of balance seems to have evaporated.

News-watch’s BBC Complaints website has been inundated since Friday morning with a deluge of submissions, all saying broadly the same thing: the BBC now sees its mission to undermine Brexit in any and every way it can.

Project Fear might have been masterminded by David Cameron and the Tory high command, but something similar now seems to being pursued with vigour by the BBC as it seeks to bring to light every reason it can as to why the electorate was wrong, and even – as Today presenter Nick Robinson claimed on Tuesday – that the referendum itself was ‘unnecessary’.

Keeping track of the Corporation’s new mission is a major headache because almost every programme seems to have the same multi-pronged obstructive agenda:

  • The vote for ‘exit’ was ultimately based on a form of senile dementia, coupled with hatred of immigrants, and thus on xenophobia and racism;
  • That the young have been deprived of their EU birthright by selfish, reactionary pensioners;
  • That Nigel Farage was the prime mover in an unleashing of ‘hatred’. Presenters such as Martha Kearney now routinely dismiss his approach with derogatory adjectives such as ‘sneering’;
  • To report in close detail any sign of economic unease and magnify it to the maximum extent;
  • To root out with tireless zeal all those who say that ‘Brexit’ is so difficult to achieve and such an inconvenience that it will require at best a snap general election and at worst a second referendum to deal with the issues involved.
  • To support in every way it can the cause of those wanting a second referendum because basically the first time round the electorate did not know what they were voting for.

News-watch will write a full detailed report on this in due course. But meanwhile, Exhibit A in this barrage of negativity came on Newsnight last Friday night. It was the first edition to be broadcast after the BBC referendum guidelines were no longer in force. By golly, editor Ian Katz and his Guardian chums went to town.

Pride of place was given Kenneth Clarke, arguably the most ardent, embittered and vitriolic Europhile of them all (News-watch research shows that he has been delivering the same cracked messages for 17 years), to posit and push hard that the referendum result was not conclusive and had unleashed chaos.

The show was orchestrated by a hyperactive Evan Davis, who seized upon every opportunity to show that Brexit would not work. Star turns included Kirsty Wark, who emphasised that Scotland had voted ‘in’ because Scots were more multicultural and welcoming of immigration than England; and then ‘equality campaigner’ (and ‘transgender rights activist’) Paris Lees, who said it was clear that Britain was now being led down a ‘very dark path’.

There were ‘balancing’ guests such as ‘exit’ supporters Tim Montgomerie of The Times and Suzanne Evans of Vote Leave. They expressed differing views but there could be no doubt of what Newsnight’s overall goal was as the dust on the poll settled:  to establish that Brexit equals turmoil.

Exhibit B is an item written on Tuesday by James Naughtie – one of the Corporation’s eminence gris –  for the BBC website. It has to be read in full to be appreciated.  To cut a long story short, he compares the upheaval now underway to that when Henry V died, and en route betrays that he thinks the referendum ballot, in which 17 million Britons voted for ‘exit’ was a chance occurrence. A magisterial posting by Craig Byers of Is the BBC Biased? betrays the extent of his blatant bias.

Exhibit C is the pushing of the ‘Brexit equals racism’ agenda on multiple fronts. On Tuesday’s BBC1 News at Ten for example, it was stressed that the number of racist assaults had increased in the wake of the vote, and BBC reporter Ed Thomas went out on the streets of Leeds to show, first that local Latvian residents were under attack, and then, for good measure, found what he said was ‘a fascist’ with a swastika tattoo on his biceps to ram home that supporters of ‘out’ meant business.

In the same vein, Victoria Derbyshire assembled for her BBC1 show earlier in the day a cast of interest groups and campaigners who were angrily determined to show the level of racism in the ‘Leave’ vote. Shazia Awan – who it was said had faced ‘racist abuse’ – stated (over caption overlays illustrating the alleged extent of the abuse):

‘Now, Boris Johnson, Michael Gove and their alliance with Nigel Farage and taking donations from the BNP have caused this. Boris Johnson is not fit to be leader of the Conservative Party.’

Only time, and more detailed analysis, will show the full extent of this BBC bias. But these early signs are that for the Corporation, the poll last Thursday was an aberration to be fought on every possible front. The gloves are off.

 

David Keighley’s BBC Watch: How State propaganda linked Cox’s death to Farage’s poster

June 21, 2016

Last week in BBC Watch, it was noted that as referendum polling day fast approached, that in 17 years of monitoring the BBC’s coverage of the EU, one factor had scarcely changed: the casting of Nigel Farage and the party he leads as xenophobic incompetents.

By both implication and direct association, that means – as a core feature of the BBC’s worldview – those who oppose the EU are prejudiced and irrational.

The Corporation’s treatment of Farage this week has taken this negativity to a new, menacing level. It is clear, unequivocal evidence of deep prejudice against the ‘exit’ side. Last Thursday, Farage unveiled a campaign poster based on a picture of immigrants on European soil that was aimed at drawing attention to the problems caused by the EU’s attitudes towards the issue. Controversial? Yes. Unsubtle? Maybe. But without doubt, a depiction of a legitimate aspect of a debate in which control of immigration has played a central role.

Two hours later, 150 or so miles away, a gunman with mental health issues cruelly killed the MP Jo Cox. Despite the dangers of ascribing rational motives to the deranged, the Left instantly hijacked the murder to create political capital, and this has continued relentlessly to the extent that it now defines the ‘Remain’ case.

David Cameron, the Kinnocks, John Major, Jeremy Corbyn, George Osborne and legions more of that ilk, each in his own way – as (it seems) an official part of the ‘Remain’ campaign strategy – have shamelessly suggested that Cox was slain as a result of an intolerance and ‘hatred’ of a type that fires Farage’s opposition to immigration.

Any fair-minded analysis would say that this is arrant nonsense. Even if Cox’s killer was pursuing an extremist agenda, it would not mean – as the Remain side has now assumed and is projecting en masse – that the whole of the case against immigration is discredited and illegitimate.

For the BBC – with its clear statutory duty to be impartial – the Cox killing should have set major alarm bells ringing about the special need to achieve balance in the referendum debate. Article 5:1 of the Corporation’s referendum coverage guidelines was written precisely to cover this. It warns that very rigorous steps should be taken to ensure no side obtains a special advantage from a major news event.

So did this happen? Absolutely not. Totally the reverse. Over the weekend, Farage came gradually under fire in BBC coverage for unveiling the poster. BBC coverage subtly amplified the idea that Cox was a victim of EU-related prejudice.

On Monday morning and then throughout the day this became a crescendo against him.

Starting with Radio 4’s Today, editors seized on a story that they clearly then bracketed with the fall-out from the Cox murder (despite the 5.1 guideline): the alleged ‘defection’ from the Brexit camp by Baroness Warsi. A main fulcrum of the BBC’s writing of the story was the ‘xenophobia and hatred’ Warsi alleged Farage had displayed in the choice of the poster.

No matter that The Times story began to unravel before the ink was even dry on the first edition, as it emerged that Warsi had never been part of the ‘Leave’ campaign. This was an opportunity to kick Farage. It was not to be missed.

So first off, the headlines of Today made the Warsi claims about xenophobia the lead item. Then at 7.10 am, Warsi was interviewed by Mishal Husain. She put it to her that she (Warsi) had never really been part of ‘Leave’ but allowed her to wriggle off the hook and then gave Warsi ample space to ram home the nastiness and xenophobia of the Farage stance.

Nick Robinson interviewed Farage at 8.10am. From the outset the presenter’s tone was aggressive. Robinson’s rate of interruption was as high as it gets in such exchanges. The bottom line was that Farage was put firmly on the back foot. He mounted a vigorous defence, but Robinson relentlessly pushed that the poster was based on what amounted to racism and was designed recklessly to inflame opinions.

BBC-1’s  News at One continued the Farage attack. There was a quote from Farage. He stated:

“I will tell you what’s really going on here and that is the Remain camp are using these awful circumstances to try to say that the motives of one deranged dangerous individual were similar of half the country, perhaps more, who believe we should leave the EU and . . .

Deputy BBC political editor Norman Smith was almost apoplectic at this assertion. He demanded that Farage tell him who on the ‘Remain’ side had said that. Smith then summed up:

“Another incendiary intervention by Mr Farage, accusing the Prime Minister and the Chancellor of seeking to link the murder of Jo Cox to the way the Brexit campaign has pursued its arguments, suggesting that it has created an atmosphere which perhaps contributed to her killing. Now, privately those around Mr Cameron have reacted with contempt and fury to that suggestion; in public they are urging everyone just to focus on the tributes to Jo Cox this afternoon. 

“But, of course, Mr Farage’s intervention follows that poster, the ‘breaking point’ poster, which Mr Farage this morning expressed no regrets about, saying the only thing wrong with it was the unfortunate timing. He unveiled it just a couple of hours before Mrs Cox’s killing. And all that after the former chairwoman of the Conservative Party announced she was quitting the Leave side because of what she called its nudge-nudge, wink-wink, xenophobic approach. And you sense a real gulf is opening up on the Leave side between Mr Farage and the official campaign – their fear that they become seen as indistinguishable from Nigel Farage’s much more abrasive and inflammatory campaign, and that his interventions undermine their attempts to presents a more optimistic, outward-looking approach.”

That’s quoted in full because it illustrates the depths of the BBC bias. They decided to elevate the Warsi story to the main theme of the day, then gave her the headlines and a platform to chant her ‘xenophobic hatred’ line. Farage was given by Robinson a back-foot opportunity to try address some of the claims against him, but was severely constrained by the rate of interruption and Robinson’s clear aggression. During the morning, Farage explained that he believed the attacks against him were being in effect orchestrated by the ‘Remain’ side. There is clear evidence in Will Straw’s BSE conference call that that they were. But Norman Smith’s assessment side-stepped that point. Instead, he described Farage’s approach to the whole issue as ‘inflammatory’ and both pessimistic and inward looking.

To the BBC, from the very beginning, Farage has been regarded as a xenophobic, dangerous maverick. This week they fully reverted to type. How much has their treatment of this issue swayed the referendum result?

 

David Keighley: BBC traduced Cliff because he is not a hipster

June 18, 2016

The BBC’s sensationalist coverage of the South Yorkshire police ‘investigation’ of Sir Cliff Richard over alleged sexual impropriety stank to high heaven from the beginning. Now that the 75-year-old singer has been totally exonerated, it stinks even more.

The Richard saga began in August 2014, when – according to an official report by retired Chief Constable Andy Trotter, one of the country’s leading police experts on press relations – the Corporation pressured the South Yorkshire force to make a preliminary search of Sir Cliff’s home into a major primetime television news event.

It should be noted here that although Trotter was as thorough as he could be in reaching his findings, he was handicapped heavily by the conduct of the BBC. Though it had milked to maximum extent the high drama footage of the ‘raid,’ Corporation news chiefs refused point blank to give evidence to his inquiry.

When the report was published in February, this stonewalling was compounded. The only trace on the BBC website of the report is in the South Yorkshire section; in their eyes, therefore, it had only local significance.

In his report, Trotter said the BBC had, in effect, misled the police about the amount of information about the investigation it had, and had thus duped the press office into putting pressure on officers to allow them to witness – and, in effect, be part of –  the raid.

The way the two organisations acted together was, according to Trotter, totally unwarranted, and outside proper police procedures. Leading leftist human rights barrister Geoffrey Robertson – normally a natural ally of the Corporation – said the nature of the BBC’s coverage amounted to a ‘conspiracy to injure’ the singer.

In the aftermath of the raid, the Corporation’s then deputy director of news Fran Unsworth justified the massive intrusion into the singer’s life by blaming the pressures of the news agenda. In other words, an insolent ‘Not us, guv, we were only doing our job’. BBC home affairs correspondent Danny Shaw compounded this by alleging that if anyone was to blame, it was South Yorkshire police in ‘a deliberate attempt to engineer maximum coverage’.

Part of the Corporation’s stonewall response – and refusal to tesify to Trotter – was that it claimed that a hastily-convened Commons home affairs committee hearing held a few weeks after the raid by the pro-BBC chairman, Keith Vaz, had exonerated its conduct.

It did no such thing, because Vaz, in his haste to finger the police and let the BBC off the hook, reached his conclusions long before the full facts were known. It was Trotter, reporting the following February after a thorough forensic investigation, who – despite the BBC’s refusal to cooperate with him – brought to light the correct picture of collusion, incompetence and misinformation.

After this this sorry, obstructive saga, how did the BBC report this week’s exoneration of Sir Cliff?

To be fair, they have published prominently on the BBC website the singer’s statement about the investigation, which included his claim that he had been ‘hung out like live bait’ by the police investigation and his anguish over the fact that his ordeal had last almost two years.

That said, the Corporation’s official reaction to its own role in the events was this:

“We applied normal editorial judgements to a story that was covered widely by all media and have continued to report the investigation as it developed including the CPS’s decision today – which is running prominently across our news output.”

Normal editorial judgments? If this is so, then the BBC inhabits a different moral universe. The reality is that, as the Trotter report found, they deliberately chose from the outset to exaggerate the significance of the raid, and used their immense clout to manipulate and hoodwink an incompetent South Yorkshire police in their efforts.

What it boils down to is that in the pursuit of this story, the BBC did not give a damn for Sir Cliff or the laws and journalistic conventions that are designed to protect the innocent from being unfairly presumed guilty.

Why? Probably because, unlike the BBC’s rock-star heroes such as David Bowie – whose recent death was treated as a world tragedy in the Corporation’s coverage – Richard does not flaunt his sexuality, has never espoused drug use as an essential part of the creative process, and now appeals principally to a middle-of-the road, ageing, white, middle England audience. In other words, everything that the BBC abhors. That’s what made him fair game for this in-the-gutter journalism.

A principal issue here is that it illustrates yet again the BBC is impervious to criticism of its journalism and is a law only unto itself. Its guaranteed, lavish funding by a regressive tax allows it to be. In similar vein, as the EU referendum poll fast approaches, it continues to churn out biased pro-‘remain’ coverage for exactly the same reasons. The Corporation is a menace to both the democratic process and moral decency.

 

David Keighley’s BBC Watch: Farage is smeared as a racist to the very end

June 15, 2016

RAMSGATE, ENGLAND – MAY 08: UKIP leader Nigel Farage reacts as Conservative Party candidate Craig Mackinlay is announced as the winner of the Thanet South constituency on May 8, 2015 in Ramsgate, England. After the United Kingdom went to the polls yesterday the Conservative party are presumed winners of a closely fought general election which has returned David Cameron as most likely Prime Minister again with a slender majority for his party. (Photo by Carl Court/Getty Images)

Some things, it seems, never change in the BBC’s worldview.

To the Corporation, for example, the EU is a bringer of peace and a vital bulwark against the nasty excesses of sovereign states and the possibility of a Third World War. No matter how many times ‘Leave’ say that it is NATO that has kept the peace, up pops a BBC presenter or correspondent to tell us otherwise.

Latest in this long line was Radio 1 Newsbeat’s Greg Dawson, who on Monday evening warmed to the EU’s favourite propaganda line as he reported attitudes to Brexit in Berlin. In his pre-edited feature, a local observed:

‘The EU encourages peace all over Europe, so that’s basically the achievement of the whole European Union. And maintains this peace.’

That was clearly exactly the peg Dawson was looking for and he was off like a shot on the peace theme. He first told listeners that Berlin was a city with ‘lots of history, much of it bleak’.  Then came his key point:

‘The reminders of World War II are never far away, with memorials and even the shells of bombed out buildings.  People here think the decades of peace since then has (sic) much to do with the EU.’

There followed another vox pop contribution. This one observed:

‘If Britain would leave, I feel like this stability would not be guaranteed any more.  I think the UK at the moment is a very strong player in the European Union, if they don’t see it sometimes maybe.’

Bingo! Job done. The EU, the saviour of Europe, the bringer of peace. Cue Beethoven’s Ninth. Yet again. Dawson demonstrated that, somehow, the ‘EU equals peace’ assumption is in the BBC’s DNA.

Also never-changing in the BBC’s worldview is the treatment of Nigel Farage. News-watch has been chronicling this since 1999, and the painting by numbers approach to him in interviews – which involves the raising of charges of racism and incompetence – has seldom varied.  For example, here during the 2015 General Election, and here, earlier in the referendum campaign.

Many have observed that the BBC’s approach to the EU in general has improved since the start of the referendum coverage, and that for the first time, ‘outers’ are on occasions being given chances to put their case.

Among those now in this camp seems to be the Mail on Sunday‘s columnist Peter Hitchens, who – noting this week that he believed there could be a ‘Leave’ vote –  stated this:

‘I underestimated the BBC, which has, perhaps thanks to years of justified and correct criticism from people like me, has taken its duty of impartiality seriously.’

If this is the case (discuss!?) it is to be welcomed, of course. But much on the News-watch website suggests otherwise. And, guess what, Farage has somehow been left firmly out of the equation. Yes, the BBC now put him on programmes like Question Time, and when he does appear in such contexts, he’s a consummate media grown-up who can more than hold his own, even with the likes of the boorish Eddie Izzard.

But no matter what Farage does, the bracketing of him with racism and incompetence never varies by the BBC. Whenever he appears, this takes precedence over the exploration of policy – especially excluded are his views on exit from the EU.

Farage appeared last Friday in the series of interviews being conducted by Andrew Neil, and also in the ITV programme last week which featured sequences with him and David Cameron. Also interviewed by Neil was George Osborne.

BBC1’s News at Ten reported each of these appearances, but the treatment meted out to the respective interviewees was vastly different. After the ITV programme, it was mentioned that Cameron had faced a tough audience, but there were two sequences of him outlining his ‘Remain’ policies.

Not so Farage. Virtually the entire focus was on claims of racism against him by a particularly strident accuser. As a result, the contribution by him amounted to a few defensive words. Anything he said about the case to leave was left firmly on the BBC’s cutting room floor.

George Osborne’s appearance with Andrew Neil also made the News at Ten headlines, and the feature that followed contained more than 300 words from him about the ‘Remain’ case, covering more than half a dozen separate policy points. The programme chose to edit out almost completely Andrew Neil’s penetrating questions. The result sounded like a party political broadcast for ‘Remain’.

The equivalent treatment of Farage? You have probably guessed. Two minor policy soundbites, but the main thrust – emphasised also by comments within the report – was that he was still answering claims of racism from the Archbishop of Canterbury and incompetence over his remarks back in January that the New Year’s sex attacks in Cologne could spread to the UK.

In the Neil interview itself, Farage did put forward a range of policy points. But the programme had a relatively small audience. The millions more who watched News at Ten only heard a very narrow selection of what he said through the prism of habitual BBC bias that has applied with only minor variations since 1999.

David Keighley’s BBC Watch: Corporation colludes with Brussels to promote its censorship of free speech

June 8, 2016

BBC bias comes in many forms. One of the most insidious is bias by omission, when the Corporation chooses not to report key developments or perspectives in areas of major controversy.

It is a major issue in the referendum campaign. For example, the Corporation barely touched the story about a poster – ostensibly designed to encourage ethnic minorities to vote – which crassly depicted those who oppose immigration as a bullying skinhead thug.

The reason? Covering the story would have unavoidably opened a can of worms in the ‘Remain’ strategy.

Front-line presenters John Humphrys and Nick Robinson have both admitted that such bias has been particularly evident in BBC coverage of the immigration debate. The views of opponents of the unprecedented levels of mass immigration into the UK since 2004 have routinely been ignored by the BBC or, just as bad, dismissed as racism or xenophobia.

It has also applied for decades in the BBC’s general reporting of the EU. Until forced to change by the EU referendum rules, the BBC vastly under-reported the withdrawal perspective, and anything to do with the case against the EU, as Brexit The Movie so vividly confirms. Emphatically, you did not hear those arguments first on the BBC.

Although the BBC is now reluctantly giving the opponents of the EU some airtime, it is mostly through gritted teeth. The default position is still almost invariably Brussels good, Westminster bad.

Evidence of this? As Andrew Marr illustrated vividly at the weekend ‘Remain’ figures such as Sir John Major – who was given a platform to attack viciously his perceived opponents – often get much better treatment than ‘Leave’ supporters.

Such negativity to the ‘Leave’ case is abundant elsewhere. For example, Today presenters Justin Webb and Mishal Husain filed three-part special reports (from Cornwall and Northern Ireland respectively) about what were said to be the local ‘facts’ in the referendum debate. Both, it turned out, injected a central theme: the cardinal importance of ‘EU money’ to the deprived economies in each area.

Neither bothered to tell the audience in their relentless focus on EU benevolence the simple but vital fact that, in reality, ‘EU money’ is actually from the British taxpayer.

Compounding the glaring omission, Justin Webb seemed conveniently not to know that a recent official report commissioned on behalf of local ratepayers in Cornwall had found that the spending of £500 million of this ‘EU money’ had been so questionable and inefficient that, for example, it led to the creation of only 3,300 local jobs at a staggering cost of £150,000 per job.

Such blatant bias by omission by the BBC in the EU’s favour extends heavily into other areas.

Take for example, the reporting of one of Brussels’ latest highly controversial initiatives: to combine with Microsoft and other web giants in rooting out what the European Commission calls ‘hate speech and xenophobia’.

The BBC web story about this enthusiastically declared:

‘Microsoft, YouTube, Twitter and Facebook have pledged to remove hate speech within 24 hours, in support of a code of conduct drafted by the EU. The freshly drafted code aims to limit the viral spread of online abuse on social media. It requires the firms to act quickly when told about hate speech and to do more to help combat illegal and xenophobic content. The firms must also help “educate” users about acceptable behaviour.’

What’s not to like? But hang on.  Did no one in the 8,000-strong BBC newsroom think to check out the potential threats to civil liberty and journalistic freedom involved in such a move? Seemingly not. There’s not a peep about such issues in the web story.

The reality – as the Spiked! Website eloquently explains – is that phrases as vague as ‘hate speech and xenophobia’ and ‘acceptable behaviour’ are a legal nightmare and a lawyer’s paradise. They can be interpreted with deeply sinister intent, and, for example, can be used by the EU to attack and attempt to silence those who disagree with its free movement of people and immigration policies. Indeed, that may be the central agenda here.

The background of this new move also speaks volumes about how undemocratic and insidious the EU is.  The loosely-phrased laws against hate speech and xenophobia were first enacted by the European Commission in 2008. Has anyone ever been seriously consulted about them? No.

Yet since then, a vast continent-wide operation has gradually been set up to root these twin perceived evils out, including a European Commission against ‘racism and intolerance’.

The latest initiative with Microsoft, therefore, is arguably a very substantial intensification of the Commission’s assault on those who disagree with its policies towards free movement, as the reams of explanation in the press release about the development clearly show.

And the BBC accepts this without a murmur. Why? Because, it still instinctively supports the EU, and will publish derogatory views about Brussels only if forced.

In this referendum, the BBC should be grasping every opportunity to explore EU-related issues, and especially the controversy surrounding them. Andrew Marr will call Boris Johnson ‘abominable’ for daring to raise Hitler in connection with EU operations, but he and his colleagues ignore EU actions that are patently and blatantly a threat to our fundamental, hard-won freedoms.

John Wilkes? He will be surely turning in his grave.

 

David Keighley’s BBC Watch: Mardell buries impartiality with his funeral in Berlin

June 1, 2016

Former ‘Europe’ editor Mark Mardell plumbed new depths of BBC bias at the weekend,

His report for The World This Weekend about the German reaction to Brexit was so chock-full of warnings of doom that it filled programme guest Sir Vince Cable – arguably over many years the most fervent Europhile in the UK – with admiration.

After hearing Mardell’s report and on being asked by him to, in effect, amplify the dire warnings, Cable was momentarily temporarily lost for words. He then declared:

“Er…the conversation you had in Germany was actually very good. The only real heavy endorsement of the Brexit position came from that -ex, that, er, the MEP from the extreme right wing German party…” (the full transcript can be read here)

Does that observation open the way to a whole new category of media awards? “Ladeez and gentlemen of the BBC! Welcome to the Sir Vince Cable gong for reporting of the EU filled with sufficient warnings of disaster.”

So what was this ‘conversation’ that Mardell had in his extended report from Berlin?  Most of the media at the weekend were looking at the Remain side’s problems over immigration.   But the peg for yet another Mardell jolly – following his equally biased outings to Portugal and Lake Como –  was an exploration of what he said was ‘the other great debate’ within the referendum campaign, ‘what leaving would mean for the economy’.

In other words, he announced with glee that his aim was to take his own particular brand of ‘the conversation’ back away from the xenophobic Right to what he believed he had established in previous weeks as the ‘exit’ side’s vulnerable flank.

He spoke first to the Reuters Brussels correspondent, who confirmed that there had been secret talks by the EU to deal with Brexit and to head off the (associated) rise in ‘far right’ parties.

Next stop was Artur Fischer, CEO of the Berlin Stock Exchange, who warned that if the UK decided to leave the EU, it would not have the economic benefits it currently enjoyed.

Christian Ehler, from Angela Merkel’s ruling Christian Democrat party, said that a British exit would lead to a ‘nightmare’ – ’Mr Putin will laugh his butt off’. For good measure, he also claimed it would put lucrative contracts such as that of Rolls-Royce with Airbus at risk

Daniela Schwarzer, director of the ‘German Marshal Fund’s Europe programme’, an organisation that fostered stronger relations between the EU and the United States, warned that  was not ‘an easy game’ and that there was a ‘visible cost’ attached to leaving the EU.

Next up was MEP Beatrix van Storch, vice chair of the Alternative fur Deutschland (AfD) party. This, stressed Mardell, was ‘Germany’s hard right party’.  She, too, actually wanted the UK to stay in the EU because it paid so much cash into EU coffers. But she added that on the other hand, she wanted the UK to leave, to show that it could survive and not everything would break down.

Next stop was two students. One said it would be a shame if Britain left the EU, the other wanted to avoid the need for the re-introduction of visas to travel to the UK.

Mardell spoke to Artur Fischer again. It was Armageddon time. He warned first that nationalism was not a good thing. British exit would lead to Germany becoming nationalistic again, and that would lead to the ‘thin layer’ of civilisation collapsing. The EU created the chance of compromise; without it, he warned that Germany would instead look for ‘a winning’.  Gosh. More government contracts for Krupp?

Mardell’s final port of call was Jurgen Maier, the MD of Siemens, possibly one of the most pro-EU businesses in even Germany, which has been warning for many years about the acute dangers of any form of Euroscepticism.

Mardell asked him what sort of a deal the UK would get outside the EU, and then carefully coaxed him to spell out each of the various obstacles.  Maier duly warned that barriers to the imposition of tariffs would first be taken down, then that new rules that disadvantaged the UK would be written – without the UK being round the table – then that German companies, along with those in the rest of the EU, would find it more difficult to invest in the UK, and finally that it would take much longer than two years to negotiate any new arrangements.

In summary in this report from Berlin, Mardell produced two senior industrialists, one senior politician and two students to say that Brexit would be a more or less unmitigated disaster and nightmare for the UK and would lead to the rise of nationalism and collapse of civilisation. Against this torrent of Europhilia, he produced one AfD politician and stressed that she was from the ‘hard right’.  At various other points in the report, he underlined how much of a threat the ‘hard right’ was seen to be and how the EU was fighting to prevent forces such as the Front National in France.

Gisela Stewart, from the Vote Leave campaign was invited to comment before and afterwards, but what she said was totally swamped by Mardell’s update of Funeral in Berlin.

 

David Keighley’s BBC Watch: The pro-EU bias is still there but better disguised

May 25, 2016

When it comes to impartiality, which planet does Newsnight – the BBC’s television news and current affairs flagship programme – inhabit?

Over the past six weeks the programme has run six separately-themed referendum specials, a marathon six hours of broadcasting in which it has discussed sovereignty, the impact on the economy, security, immigration, how the EU works, and the options post-Brexit. The final one was on Monday night.

Each programme on the surface was carefully balanced with prominent politicians from both sides of the debate, together with a weekly sprinkling of pro-EU and pro-Brexit experts. A feature throughout was a panel of eight allegedly undecided voters chosen, host Evan Davis said, by the Ipsos Mori polling company.

Was the series as a whole properly impartial? Measuring bias across six hours of broadcasting is immensely complex and labour intensive.

News-watch has already noted in previous postings major issues of negativity towards the Brexit case, for example choosing Sealand, an obscure, decrepit ‘independent’ platform in the North Sea to depict what the UK post-Brexit might look like, and opening the programme on immigration from Boston in Lincolnshire with a heavily pro-EU selection of views.

Further bias problems arose in the final programme. Tory MEP Daniel Hannan presented a short piece to camera about what Brexit would achieve and look like. This was the first time in the series that a deliberate production effort was made to explain this perspective.

However, it clearly did not work as intended. Seven of the eight ‘independent panellists declared at the end that they favoured ‘remain’ (of which more later) and when asked by Davis said they had found Hannan’s film ‘unconvincing’.

Part of the reason may well have been the gut-busting production counter-effort put into establishing the ‘remain’ case. This was another piece of film shot in advance by Newsnight.  It was undoubtedly the centrepiece of the programme – if not of the series as a whole – and featured Tony Blair’s former chief of staff Jonathan Powell – who has come out strongly on the ‘remain’ side – in a staged reconstruction of what post-Brexit negotiations might involve. His ‘opponent’ in these talks was Antonio Vitorino, the (Italian) European Commissioner for Justice from 1999-2004.

What emerged in the tortuous ten minutes was that whatever the UK opted for, it would be very costly, would not work and would lead to economic disaster. The Norway option? Forget it. Switzerland’s? If you choose that, certain penury and an overwhelming tide of immigration. Canada’s trade agreement? Even worse. EFTA-style arrangements? Britain might as well jump into a pit of vipers.

This was weirdly compelling television, deliberately staged to be so. Every penny of the production budget was squeezed to maximum extent to show that ‘out’ was horrendous, and no matter what the UK said, or hoped for, the EU would undermine it or put obstacles in the way.

It was clear that Powell was not really trying, to the extent that Davis was forced to say so after the film was shown, but the point was made with a vengeance: ‘out’ for the UK would be worse than anything that Dante ever remotely imagined.

A further issue on Monday night was that one of the guest experts in the final programme was a prominent Norwegian campaigner against the EU, who led the relevant parliamentary group. But she was scarcely asked to contribute, and even then, her command of English was relatively limited, so her points did not come across as fluently as the ‘remain’ case.  Another reason why the Newsnight panel voted in.

Another big – and unanswered – question here is how Newsnight selected the so-called ‘undecided’ panel. How their status was established by Ipsos Mori was not revealed. Were they in any sense representative of the electorate? Three of the eight were obviously from ethnic minorities and one was an Irish national. There were three white women, but only one white man (the Irish national) and none was clearly over 65. Alarm bells ring here. Was the choice to meet the BBC’s version of ‘diversity’?

Analysis of what they said over the six programmes shows that they raised or made (unprompted) pro-EU points more often than Eurosceptic ones, and in the final edition, a typical contribution was this:

Undecided panellist: “Basically, I cannot see any, any (fragments of words, unclear) leaving the EU it makes us safer, it makes our economy stronger, and I can’t see any of that. In any case, I . . . I trust my Prime Minister with what he says . . .”

ED: “Okay.”

Panellist: “We have elected the government and he says, and he cannot make anything . . . make it up.  So I (fragment of word, unclear) put my trust in him, and what I hear (fragment of word, unclear)”

Those do not sound like the words of someone who was deeply ‘undecided’. Whatever else is involved in the referendum saga, David Cameron has been staunchly pro-EU throughout, and is now emerging – in his Project Fear utterances – as probably more fervent in his adoration of Brussels than even Edward Heath.

 

David Keighley: For the Beeb, loving Europe means breaking all the rules

May 19, 2016

The eagle-eyed people over at Heat Street noticed at the weekend that the BBC overseas website was running very prominent ‘remain’ banner ads, targeted on the 2 million ex pats in Europe, from the Britain Stronger in Europe group.

They contained the highly misleading Project Fear message from Chancellor George Osborne that exiting the EU would cost every British family £4,300 a year – a claim that BBC home editor Mark Easton was busy debunking on the Today programme as the ads ran.

The BBC took the ads down as soon as they were challenged about them by Heat Street. A BBC spokesman said they had been run ’in error’.  The statement in full was:

“This advert appeared outside the UK as the result of a third party error and was blocked as soon as we were alerted to it. We are investigating how this happened and we are taking steps to prevent this happening in the future.”

There was no further information, leaving unanswered how long the ads ran, how many page impressions they generated, and thus the extent of their overall impact.

And it also remains a mystery how the hell they ever saw the light of day. Surprise, surprise, the BBC slipped up in exactly the direction that its editorial output so strongly favours.

Important here is the background. BBC services in overseas areas (primarily BBC World News) are allowed to take ads, and they raise substantial revenues, a total of £72m from around the world.

This being the BBC, however, the precise information on revenue is not available. Efforts in the past have been made to get at the exact figure through freedom of information requests, but the Corporation has resisted on grounds of ‘commercial sensitivity’. The only information in the public domain is that around £20m of revenues was generated by relevant European operations in 2011.  The proportion of that from website advertising, as opposed to on television output, would almost certainly, of course, have been relatively small, but nevertheless significant.

The second important point, this being the BBC, is that advertising and sponsorship is regulated by a 28-page publication called Advertising and Sponsorship Guidelines for Commercial Services, last updated in 2015.  One look at it makes it very clear that the appearance of the BSE ad was a jaw-dropping breach of the codes.

Why? Well first of all, the main purpose is to ban very firmly numerous categories of commercials and to emphasise that any transgressions will be viewed very seriously. Paragraph 1.4 says (in bold red):

Any proposal to step outside these guidelines must be editorially justified. It must be discussed and agreed in advance with a senior editorial figure. BBC Director Editorial Policy and Standards must also be consulted.

It goes on (2.3):

Advertising must not jeopardise the good reputation of the BBC or the value of the BBC Brand. It should: a) be suitable for the target audience; b) meet consumer expectations of the BBC brand; c) not bring the BBC into disrepute d) not give rise to doubts about the editorial integrity and independence or impartiality of the BBC.

And 2.9 is this:

Advertisements in the following categories must be approved by a senior editorial figure before they can be accepted for broadcast or publication: a) political advertising (on services where this is allowed); b) advertising by governments and government agencies (except tourism boards and trade or investment boards); c) advertising by lobby groups; d) advertising for infant formula or baby milk; e) advertising for any product or service which shares a name or trademark with a prohibited product or service, sometimes referred to as ‘Surrogate advertising’.

And then there is 2.13 (also in red):

Any advertisements that deal with a controversial issue of public policy, or which raise doubts about the BBC’s editorial integrity, must be referred to a senior editorial figure.

Every page is filled with similarly strong warnings and prescription. What this boils down to is that whatever happened over the BSE advert, it was a major breach of the advertising code and hinged on management procedures at a particularly sensitive period when the EU referendum was underway. Almost certainly, there was also a breach of the BBC’s (separate) specially-devised EU referendum coverage guidelines.

The BBC blamed a ‘third party error’ for the breach. But how on earth was supervision allowed to be so lax during the referendum campaign?  This was a gaffe on a gargantuan scale. To blame a third party when the codes make it clear that decisions in this arena are of central importance to the reputation of the BBC is a total disgrace. But, then, at the very top (the BBC Executive Board) has got extensive form in blaming the wrong parties for its own mistakes.

Finally, an issue here is that it is impossible to gauge the likely impact of this breach on the referendum. How many expats did it actually reach? All the signs are that the poll remains on a knife-edge and overseas votes could well be crucial in determining the outcome. Tellingly, the ‘error’ was in favour of the pro-EU side, in line with much of the BBC’s other referendum output.

 

David Keighley: Brexit the Movie is a lost world to the BBC

May 17, 2016

Watch Brexit: The Movie here

This month marks the 17th anniversary of tracking by News-watch of the BBC’s EU-related output. The first survey was commissioned by a cross-party group of peers who were concerned that the case against the EU was not being aired by the BBC. It covered the build-up to the European Parliamentary elections on June 10, 1999.

The findings can still be read here. Key points relating to BBC bias are eerily familiar. They included bias by omission: election-related items on BBC television added to only 2.5 per cent of airtime. Jeremy Paxman on Newsnight described the voters’ reaction to the poll as an ‘outbreak of narcolepsy’.  In the event, only 24 per cent of the electorate voted, which still stands as the UK record lowest turnout in a national election.

Other points in the report were the virtual ignoring of the infant Ukip, despite the fact it came fourth,  attracted 700,000 (7 per cent) of the votes cast and won three seats; a totally-predictable crude comparison of Ukip to the BNP in the sole interview featuring the party; a heavy and disproportionate focus on the breakaway Pro-Euro Conservative Party, which despite all the publicity, polled only 140,000 (1.4 per cent) of the total turnout; a constant search for ‘Tory-splits’, even though – Michael Heseltine apart –  the evidence seemed to be that William Hague’s party was remarkably united, at least with regard to the EU; and virtually no exploration of either the overall Labour approach or potential splits within the party over the euro.

All of which brings Brexit the Movie – which, from today will have a permanent, prominent place on the TCW site – neatly into focus. For those of you who have not yet heard of it, this 71-minute feature by Martin Durkin is a must -see. It’s a total revelation because it is a first: it straightforwardly and vigorously presents the ‘Out’ case.

Facts prominently on display include that there are a staggering 10,000 European Union employees paid more than David Cameron; that Switzerland – despite being outside the EU – is one of the wealthiest countries in the world, with earnings double the average in the UK, and unemployment far lower; that the EU ‘Parliament’ is the only body with that name in the world which has zero powers to propose legislation; that although the EU claims to be a promoter of trade via the ‘single market’ , the reality is that for most of its history it has been a repressive force against the free movement of goods; and that far from promoting harmony, the fundamentally undemocratic structures of the EU are promoting unprecedented frustration and triggering the rise of extremist parties of both left and right.

This is a perspective and a range of information that News-watch monitoring shows beyond doubt that the BBC has never presented in a coherent form. Of course the BBC, it will probably argue, is not in the business of producing such material.  But why not? Last year, the Corporation commissioned and broadcast with great fanfare The Great European Disaster Movie, which showed at length the chaos and panic the makers claimed would ensue, if, God forbid, the UK exited the EU.

That film was made by former Economist editor Bill Emmott, a self-declared EU-fanatic, who has a set up his own ‘charity’ (with Richard Sambrook, a former Director of BBC News) to promote such propaganda. The BBC was so keen on his film project that it applied for (and obtained) EU funding so that it could be translated into as many languages as possible; the fruit of their efforts is that screenings are due in Geneva, Bologna, Cardiff University and Bucharest over the next month.

Continuing monitoring by News-watch during the referendum campaign shows that the BBC is at last – for the first time –  airing some detailed elements of the Brexit case. But at best this effort can only be described as begrudging and half-hearted. Craig Byers, for example, of the Is the BBC Biased? site has shown this weekend that  since April 14, the BBC1 News at Six’s coverage of EU-referendum related headlines have led with ‘Remain’ headlines 14 times, compared to the ‘Out’ side three times.

In the same vein, News-watch analysis of Thursday and Friday’s News at 10’s coverage of the Mark Carney, Sir John Major and Christine Lagarde intervention into the referendum debate was heavily skewed towards the ‘Remain’ case. And other long-term investigations have shown that Newsnight, World Tonight and The World This Weekend coverage of referendum matters is strongly similarly skewed.

What is certain is that – although it is impossible to frame a definitive verdict at this stage about BBC coverage – the facts assembled by Durkin have never been presented in such a way by the Corporation. Don’t hold your breath that they will. Watch Brexit: The Movie instead.

 

David Keighley’s BBC Watch: Whittingdale’s White Paper will be a whitewash

May 11, 2016

So finally, the BBC Charter White Paper is about to be published, on a timetable that will lead to renewal at the beginning of 2017.

The Corporation, working with its natural allies across the Left, and especially in The Guardian, have been orchestrating claims that nasty, Brexit-supporting Culture Secretary John Whittingdale is going to eviscerate the Corporation.

Their fear-mongering reached incontinent fever-pitch on Sunday night during the BBC’s coverage of the British Academy of Film and Television Arts Awards. Wolf Hall director Peter Kosminsky, an ex-BBC trainee, led a posse of luvvies (who earn their living working on BBC programmes) in angrily warning that Whittingdale’s projected reforms spelled the TV equivalent of Armageddon.

The tragedy is that this is blatantly untrue. The BBC in its current form is a beached, bloated relic from an era when television was a scarce resource. Yet emphatically, nothing so drastic as the Left claims is remotely on the cards. For that to happen, as The Institute of Economic Affairs cogently pointed out in a detailed audit last week, there would have to be a switch away from licence fee funding towards subscription.

George Osborne has already decreed that the current regressive tax which criminalises tens of thousands of deprived young families every year and clogs up the Magistrates’ Courts with needless prosecutions, is set in aspic for another decade, despite the fact that it is now completely outmoded.

In turn, that means that the BBC will remain entirely dependent on the State, a monolithic entity inhibited and constrained by the law of diminishing returns. Its entire output is dictated by its funding structure.

The Left claimed at the BAFTA Awards that the Corporation creates the best broadcasting in the world. Tommyrot. Its dramas, for example, have for decades been underpinned by trendy pscyho-babble, a hatred of anything deemed to be ‘conservative’, the rights agenda, and ‘diversity’. They are overwhelmingly and embarrassingly one-dimensional – today’s penny dreadfuls.

US series such as Breaking Bad, The Good Wife and House of Cards, all created and produced by what Kosminsky clearly believes are nasty self-interested commercial companies, deal with both moral complexity and the subtle incorporation of different political views. They are light years better.

The BBC news and current affairs output is also totally controlled by the BBC’s outmoded structure and financing. Those working for it produce programmes and copy that are under-pinned with a strong belief that what the state does is best, in line with the basic tenets of socialism. In that universe, capitalism is unequivocally bad; anything green is sacrosanct; diversity, multiculturalism and moral relativity are to be worshipped; and – perhaps above all – any measures that advance the nanny welfare state are to be championed.

That means, of course, that the European Union with its in-built, intrinsic goal to smash nation states is, along with the Labour Party, revered.

The only way of improving the BBC, as the IEA so cogently argued last week, is to open it up to subscription. If that happened, it would be forced to become responsive to what people actually want because it would have to incorporate and properly reflect their views in order to be able to sell its programmes and channels. In consequence, the Augean stables would be forcibly cleaned and the ‘auntie knows’ best ethos would be abandoned forever.

The huge problem at the moment is that everything that the Corporation does is dominated by its rigid defence of its current financing structure. Any criticism, including complaints about bias, are swatted away because any admittance of wrong-doing are perceived to threaten the whole house of cards.

The reality is that Whittingdale’s projected reforms, unless a massive bombshell emerges tomorrow, are unlikely to change any of that. If predictions are correct, yes, he wants to abolish the current BBC Trust, introduce a tougher, more independent management board, and hive off elements of complaints handling. All mildly positive.

But at the same time, the current chairman of the Trustees, Rona Fairhead, is expected to stay on, as chairman of the new management board. It is also predicted that elements of regulation will be handed over to Ofcom. If so, it will solve nothing, because Ofcom, as was noted here on TCW, is just as much part of the broadcasting establishment as figures such as Kosminsky and the BBC itself; it shares their instincts and outlook.

Above all, the licence fee is intact. The BBC has won – yet again; ten more years of intensified bias and state-sponsored politicking from the state’s broadcasting pampered, blinkered elite are already underway, as the Corporation’s biased coverage of the EU referendum vividly illustrates. Kosminsky’s remarks at BAFTA can be seen in a different light – they merely confirm what’s in store.

 

David Keighley’s BBC Watch: Radio 4’s Mark Mardell wears his EU flag on his sleeve

May 4, 2016

Mark Mardell was the BBC’s first ‘Europe’ editor, appointed to the role back in 2006.

The circumstances are very relevant to the EU referendum now underway.

Back then, the EU was trying to foist on the member states the so-called EU Constitution and many governments – including that of Tony Blair, as well as those in Ireland and France – promised referendums before it was adopted.

The BBC was facing – then, as now – strong criticism that its relevant coverage was strongly pro-EU. In response, acting BBC Chairman, the Conservative peer Lord Ryder decided to appoint former cabinet secretary Lord Wilson of Dinton to undertake a review.

History shows that this enquiry was unique in BBC history because it was genuinely independent, made up of Lord Wilson himself, plus two Eurosceptics and two Europhiles, although back then ‘Eurosceptic’ did not include a definite supporter of withdrawal.

The report can still be read on the former BBC governors’ archive. It was strongly scathing of the Corporation’s output on numerous grounds, and especially to the extent there was ‘bias by omission’, a failure to cover EU affairs sufficiently.

Mardell’s appointment was made by the BBC executive in response. It was a specially-created senior editorial post with the specific brief of ensuring that EU-related affairs were properly incorporated into BBC reporting.

Ten years on – in his relatively new role as presenter of The World This Weekend (TWTW) – his coverage of the EU referendum can thus be regarded as a particularly important indicator of how fair is the BBC reporting of the referendum campaign. Surely, of all the BBC staff, he would be expected to achieve balanced coverage?

News-watch has completed analysis of the 15 editions of programmes since January 24. The answer is a resounding ‘No’.

Three editions stand out as being particularly biased: one from Portugal on February 7, in which 11 pro-EU guests were ranged against Leave.EU funder, the business man Richard Tice; the second from Lake Como in Italy (10/4), in which Mardell carefully assembled a cast of impressive-sounding Remain fanatics, who denounced the idea of the referendum as ‘stupid’; and the third on the weekend of President Obama’s ‘back of the queue’ message (24/4). On this occasion, Mardell crowed about how popular and influential a figure the president was and how he had taken a ‘wrecking ball’ to the Brexit case.

There is not the space here to detail all of this failure of impartiality. But a couple more examples illustrate further the range of problems. One edition led on a warning from the UK’s sole European Commissioner Lord Hill that agriculture and farmers would be heavily caned by ‘exit’ (20/4). The programme on this occasion reinforced that message with extensive tweeting. Another programme, earlier in the year, before David Cameron’s so-called ‘deal’ had been reached, explored how the ‘British contagion’ was triggering ‘populist’ and ‘anti-immigrant’ reactions across Europe, concluding with a dire prediction from the lefty former Greek minister Yanis Varoufakis (now, predictably a firm BBC favourite commentator) that unless there was greater integration in the EU, the consequences would be the collapse of the EU itself, followed by 1930s-style turmoil and recession (28/2).

The overall point is that Mardell has been relentlessly keen to cover the EU referendum. It has figured in the majority of editions. The analysis shows that throughout, he has worked especially hard to promote the benefits of ‘Remain’, and to seek out polished contributors who can articulate that case. Their claims about the dire consequences of exit have been heavily prominent, and, indeed, have dominated many editions.

Conversely, there has been no programme since January 24 in which claims by the ‘Exit’ side have led the programme and have been projected editorially with equal vigour to the editions where the ‘Remain’ case has dominated.   An example of the Brexit side treatment was in the edition from Portugal – Richard Tice was given less than half the time of ‘Remain’ supporter Sir Mike Rake, the former CBI chairman.

In parallel with this, when supporters of ‘Out’ have appeared, they have been given a much harder time than their ‘Remain’ equivalents.

No edition has set out with claims from the ‘Exit’ side on the ascendant, or has sought as its main editorial thrust to push the ‘Remain’ side to justify their stance.

Another frequent editorial approach has also been the investigation of divisions over the EU within the Conservative party. There has been no equivalent exploration within Labour of issues such as the impact on the working class vote of the parliamentary party’s strong support of EU immigration policies.

All this boils down to that one of the BBC’s most experienced observers of the EU over the past decade seems to be working hardest to project the ‘Remain’ case, and on the occasions he looks at the Brexit side, to make special efforts to expose its weaknesses.

The Lord Wilson of Dinton report, with clinical precision, drew attention to the BBC’s failings in the reporting of ‘Europe’. A decade on, the man appointed to fix those issues seems be Carrying on Regardless. The central problem is that he and his colleagues seemingly love the EU as much as ever, and are almost entirely blind to their own journalistic shortcomings in reporting its true nature.

 

David Keighley: With the Chris Patten love-in, the BBC shows its pro-EU ankle

May 1, 2016

(This article was first published on News-watch)

One of the most extraordinary questions of the EU referendum so far was posed by Nick Robinson when he interviewed Lord Patten on the Today programme on Wednesday (27/4). In essence, it seemed that the Today presenter – having first noted how wonderful he thought the BBC was – invited former BBC Chairman Patten to say that the Corporation’s coverage was favouring too much the Brexit case.

The relevant sequence was at the end of the interview. This was it is full:

NR:  A last word on an organisation that you used to be in charge of, you were Chairman of this organisation, of course, which you . . . 

CP:         (speaking over) (word unclear)

NR:         . . . generously called ‘the greatest broadcaster in the world’ the BBC . . . 

CP:         Hmm. 

NR:         There are people on your side of the argument now who are in favour of remaining in the EU who, to paraphrase them, say ‘the BBC is bending over backwards to produce balance in this argument, and doing so in a way that does not produce the facts.’

CP:         Well . . . erm . . . I think the BBC has an extremely difficult job. Erm, it’s having to cover this referendum, er, with the shadow of a Charter Review and Mr Whittingdale hanging over it, erm, I think that may make people excessively deferential when trying to produce balance.  You have the Governor of the Bank of England on, or, or the IMF chief, so you feel obliged to erm, put up some, er . . . some Conservative backbencher that nobody’s ever heard of on the other side of the argument.  And it does, it does . . . occasionally raise eyebrows, but I think I would prefer the BBC to be being criticised for being so balanced, excessively balanced, than for, than for doing anything else. It’s a very great broadcaster, which is dedicated to telling the truth, and that’s an unusual thing in the world of the media.

Before considering in detail how seriously irregular this exchange was, the fundamental ‘explanatory’ or ‘contextualising ‘ points that the BBC needed to make, but of course didn’t, are:

  •  first , that Lord Patten is an ardent Europhile who served as one of the UK’s  European Commissioners, who is thus bound by the terms of his pension never to criticise the EU;

 

  • second, that while BBC Chairman, he vigorously resisted efforts by the House of Commons European Scrutiny Committee to investigate perceptions that the BBC coverage of EU affairs was strongly pro-EU and that he refused three times to appear before the Committee. It was only after he had resigned the post and Rona Fairhead had taken over that the Chairman did finally appear, in January 2015.

Against this background, a reasonable adversarial question to have put to Patten would have been whether – in the context of the blanket coverage by the Corporation of President Obama’s threat the previous week to put Britain to the ‘back of the queue’ for a trade treaty –  BBC reporting had been rigorous and balanced enough?

Instead, Robinson tamely asked what Lord Patten thought of the suggestion (from the ‘Remain’ side) that the BBC was bending over backwards to produce balance in the argument in such a way that it was distorting the facts. In other words, Robinson asked a strongly pro-EU figure whether the Corporation was doing too much to bring the ‘exit’ arguments to the audience. This gave Patten the opportunity both to agree with the main point,  then to be extremely condescending and dismissive of the ‘exit’ case – and to amplify the threat that Robinson suggested was an issue of concern. At this point, he cannot have believed his luck, and, indeed, he appeared slightly surprised (in his rather halting response) that he had been presented with such a wide open goal to attack his Brexit foes.

And here is how Lord Patten replied.  That was extremely difficult for the BBC to cover the referendum because of the ‘threat’ hanging over it from Culture Secretary John Whittingdale and the Charter Review..

His agenda was self-evidently political: that John Whittingdale was considered a threat to the BBC by the ‘Remain’ side because he had formally warned the Corporation that its EU coverage was considered in some quarters to be pro-EU. He suggested that in the face of this threat, BBC staff were being ‘too deferential’.

His next point stuck the boot in further and was both smug and condescending: against the high quality figures that the ‘Remain’ side could marshal, such as the Governor of the Bank of England, or the IMF chief, this deference meant that producers felt ‘obliged’ to scratch around and put on ‘Conservative backbenchers that nobody’s heard of on the other side of the argument’.

His parting point was that he would nevertheless prefer the BBC to be ‘excessively balanced’ in this way than to do anything else – which is why, he claimed, it was ‘a very good broadcaster dedicated to telling the truth’.

Robinson thus elicited an answer from Lord Patten that allowed him to vent in full his ‘Remain’ prejudices, to concur with his interrogator’s observations that the BBC was a very high quality broadcaster, to attack the calibre of of the ‘exit’ speakers, to imply the Charter review process was biased because it was in the hands of Brexit supporter John Whittingdale, and to air his belief that, if anything, BBC coverage of the referendum campaign was ‘excessively balanced’,  in other words, heavily biased, towards the Brexit side.

Nick Robinson, as well as being a Today presenter, is a former BBC political editor. It is an affront to journalism that this exchange ever happened, and – coming after his aggressive interview of Nigel Farage on the same day also noted on this blog – blatantly against the BBC’s referendum coverage guidelines.

 

David Keighley’s BBC Watch: Obama is the patron saint of the Corporation’s anti-capitalist crusade

April 27, 2016

President Obama’s deeply unpleasant warning that we have no choice but to surrender our national identity to Brussels accorded with the authoritarian outlook of increasing numbers on the so-called ‘Left’ in politics.

Astonishingly, David Cameron beamed and gurned with delight as this threat to our fundamental freedoms was delivered. Fortunately, this pre-meditated and carefully orchestrated exercise in bilateral bullying may have backfired. Lord Ashcroft’s polling suggests that many voters have been firmly turned off by his bully boy tactics.

Obama’s coercive brand of punitive, identity-crushing socialism is the hallmark of much contemporary political activism. Think for example, of the ‘no-platforming’ running rampantly through British and US universities; or the attempts to humiliate and silence anyone who deviates one iota from the LGBT-trans agenda. Another manifestation, as climate realist Matt Ridley has pointed out in The Times, emanates from bodies such as the so-called Friends of the Earth and Greenpeace, who now want to silence and even imprison anyone who dares to suggest that climate alarmism is a multi-trillion-pound international scam.

The BBC seized upon and amplified loudly Obama’s ‘back of the queue’ threat, as is evidenced here by Mark Mardell’s performance on Radio 4’s World This Weekend. The former ‘Europe’ editor could scarcely contain his delight as he outlined the president’s threats and crafted his programme to underline how important they were. His main guest, the Laski professor of politics at the London School of Economics, declared: “But the blunt, unsentimental job he (Obama) set himself was to take a wrecking ball to the Leave campaigners’ case.”

This gung-ho support for Obama – and against Brexit – is a symptom of a much deeper malaise at the Corporation. They are totally signed up to the Obama-style socialist agenda and increasingly zealous in its pursuit.

Strong claims, but the blunt truth is that whole rafts of BBC output have supported the pro-EU agenda for at least two decades now. No more is this better evidenced than in the Corporation’s climate alarmist coverage, which uncritically and unfailing accepts that the EU’s ‘emissions’ and ‘green’ policies are essential to save the world, and can only be achieved through the EU juggernaut.

On Sunday, as Radio 4 news bulletins also crowed Obama’s ‘surrender’ message, former India correspondent Mark Tully presented his regular half-hour programme called Something Understood. The format was designed to be gentle Eastern-inspired spiritual reflections on the meaning of life.

What was it that Tully had grasped and wanted to impart in his honeyed tones?

First, that the world was in severe danger because of ‘rising seas and melting Arctic ice’. There followed a barrage of mumbo-jumbo observations from him and his fanatical guests, that added up to that we face certain doom unless we mend and even end our evil capitalist ways.

The central messages included that the industrial revolution was an abomination, a rape of nature; bulldozers and chainsaws are implements of planet-destroying cancer; transport by car has to be severely curtailed, if not ended; restrictions on how far commodities can be traded must be introduced; Christians who believe they have been given dominion over the earth are guilty of tyrannical anthropomorphism;  energy consumption  has to be cut from the current 27,000 KW per capita  in the US to around 3000 KW that is the average elsewhere in the world. To assist in the dissemination of these profound truths, Tully’s economist guest Rajiv Kumar wanted to enlist religious leaders like the Pope; and, almost certainly, the EU.

He declared:

‘And then you notice, you know, all over Europe there is already this consciousness, and, and lesser consumption. So there is the beginning of awareness already.’

OK, he did not say specifically say ‘European Union’. But, of course, a new consciousness about energy is a central driving force of the EU in all its propaganda and in its lavish financing of groups like Greenpeace. In its book, it is a bringer of peace and it is fighting with all its sinews to end the carbon emissions menace. It is one of Cameron’s central arguments why the EU membership of the EU is essential, and has been (it is now clear) since his ‘Hug-a- Husky’ days soon after he was elected.

The reality is that if Tully and his cronies got their way, we would be pushed back into a poverty-dominated new Stone Age, with tens of millions dying from the effects of starvation, cold and the lack of proper shelter. Trade and consumption and enterprise have pulled billions of people out of deprivation, and is continuing to do so, but the warriors of climate change activism – in their zeal to change our wicked lifestyles – do not give a damn.

Tully’s programme, on the final day of the Obama pro-EU broadside, was a classic example of the framework through which the BBC now views the world. It is a constant feature of their output, frequently juxtaposed in bulletins and features with coverage of the EU debate. Such stories fit hand in glove with the menacing messages that Obama was so keen to deliver, and seamlessly with the new, coercive socialism of which he – in the BBC’s worldview – is the Patron Saint.

 

David Keighley’s BBC Watch: Juggernaut devotes four hours to Osborne’s pro-EU tome. Bias remains

April 20, 2016

Monday can be seen in referendum terms as the day that the Remain side produced what it believed was an Exocet.

Chancellor George Osborne released what he projected – to the point of pro-EU fanaticism – as a killer economic document which, on the basis of complex, algebra-led economic analysis, suggested that if the UK left the EU, every domestic household would be £4,000 worse off by 2030 and that income tax would rise by 8p in the pound.

How did the BBC do in covering this? That’s a tough question to answer because a News-watch transcript document covering everything that was reported and said about the Chancellor’s predictions on the mainstream news programme – starting with Today on Radio 4 and Breakfast on BBC1, and finishing with a 45-minute special edition of BBC2 Newsnight dealing with the economy in the event of a British exit – amounts to a boggling 36,000 words.

That, at an average speaking speed of 150 wpm is 240 minutes, or four solid hours of coverage. The issue in analysing this blizzard of coverage is where to begin?

One immediate point is that the BBC’s news judgment was that this was definitely a headline development in the campaign. They assigned immediate huge importance to the Chancellor’s report and freely suggested that it could be a defining moment in the campaign. From Today onwards, the Osborne document led the bulletins, and Today was crammed with references to it, for example in in the newspaper reviews and in the in business news. This was the BBC news machine in overdrive with all their big guns deployed.

In that sense, the Chancellor’s document was given huge credence. But was it properly scrutinised? The devil can often be in the detail. Early signs were not good. On Today’s business news, for example, Peter Spencer, chief economic advisor of the EY Club, and David Cumming of Standard Life Investments, were both asked what were said to be ‘quick questions’ about the report.

Their verdict? Spencer said that ‘it was not difficult to come out with figures like the Treasury have’ – suggesting the findings were credible – and Cumming, asked the loaded question  if the referendum itself was ‘already an economic drag’ replied that consumer spending was already being hit. He concluded:

‘I can see where the Treasury is coming from because the prospects for growth investment and profits would be poorer if we left the EU.’

There were no balancing comments, and these early verdicts thus stand out. So too, does the Today programme’s editorial decision to allocate 20 minutes at 8.10am to George Osborne’s advocacy of the report, against only around five minutes at 7.10am to John Redwood’s rebuttal. There is no doubt that Nick Robinson was robustly adversarial in the Osborne interview, but so too, was Sarah Montague in the exchange with Redwood.

Further question marks in Today’s coverage are raised by assistant political editor Norman Smith’s analysis at 6.35 am. He stated that the Osborne document was meant as the ‘Government’s big killer argument, that we will be poorer permanently if we leave the EU’. The bulk of his analysis focused on the key points of the report, and then, when asked about the likely repose from the Leave side, said that its reliance on attacking the reliability of past Treasury forecasts, for example, in supporting the euro, had ‘something slightly cobwebby’ about them. He contended that the problem they had was ‘being able to come up with a factual response’, then asserted:

‘And the reason they struggle there is because there’s nothing they can look at there’s nothing they can model it on, because no one has done this before. So they are in the realms of asserting that Britain would be more self-confident, we’d be more buccaneering, we’d be more entrepreneurial, we’d be more go-getting, but they have nothing to actually build a factual case.’

Almost 12 hours later – when the mighty BBC news machine had chance to analyse the report more fully, to talk in depth to the Leave side about the actual content of the report (the document was not released until 11am), Norman Smith’s boss, political editor Laura Kuenssberg was equally as attacking of the Leave case.  On the flagship 6 pm Radio 4 bulletin (clearly projected as the overview of the day’s events). Her conclusion?

‘….the weight of the establishment is moving more and more openly in favour of Remain leaving the politicians arguing for exit seem like rebels with a cause.’

In 24 hours, it’s impossible to come up with a definitive verdict on whether 36,000 words of coverage were genuinely impartial. But here, on what was a crucial day in the referendum coverage, there were, some very loud flashing lights indicating significant cause for concern. Yes, the BBC are putting on Brexit voices. Yes, they are exploring the arguments of both sides. But Kuenssberg and Norman Smith are key figures in the BBC’s interpretative voice. And here – in the close analysis of the detail of their coverage – is clear prima facie evidence that they believe the ‘Remain’ arguments are stronger.

 

David Keighley’s BBC Watch: The difference between Britain and a tiny ugly platform in the North Sea? Nothing in the eyes of pro-EU producers

April 13, 2016

News-watch’s monitoring of the BBC’s EU referendum coverage has now been underway for three months and this is a progress report.

In one sense, tectonic plates have moved. Speakers who support British exit have been invited on BBC news programmes to discuss the topic. For years anyone who was an ‘outer’ was completely ignored, or – in their rare appearances, as Ukip spokesmen regularly were – treated as xenophobic, or crassly inept, or worse.

But, as always with the BBC, the devil is in the detail. The reality is that the Corporation has no choice; it has had to change. Research so far indicates there is a very long way to go before anything approaching genuine impartiality is achieved, and the exit case treated with respect.

The World at One

Exhibit A is from Radio 4’s World at One starting on Monday. Presenter Martha Kearney introduced a new series, which she said would explain how the EU ‘actually works’. The first two were presented by Professor Anand Menon, who, Ms Kearney said, is Professor of European Politics at King’s College, London.

What she did not say is that her guest is not neutral about the EU. Far from it. He is also director of a think-tank called The UK in a Changing Europe which contains a raft of papers that, to put it mildly, are hugely critical of the Brexit case. The one about the Norway option, for example, is headed: ‘Norwegian model for the UK; oh really.’

Further digging yields that back in 1999 – when the entire European Commission of Jacques Santer was forced to resign because of a financial scandal – Menon wrote a long article for the London Review of Books defending the importance of the Commission and claiming that, in effect, the impropriety involved was inconsequential.

Menon’s first talk was about the Commission set in the wider context of the governance of the EU. Basically, he argued that the EU – despite claims to the contrary – is no more complex than any other system of governance; that the Commission is not made up of ‘unelected bureaucrats’; that the Parliament and the Council of Ministers acting in concert are a model of democracy in action; and that – although the Commission is the sole originator of EU legislation – this is a perfectly legitimate form of operations because it has the interests of Europe as its main objective. Europe.

In other words, he completely rubbished the ‘exit’ case and presented the Peter Mandelson view of how the EU works.

Newsnight

Exhibit B is a Newsnight special – one of six focused on the EU referendum – on Monday night which examined the issue of sovereignty. A full analysis of this programme will follow in due course, but one factor immediately stood out. Someone in the production team decided that the best illustration of what Brexit might look like was Sealand.

Where? Well it’s a very ugly pair of defence towers built illegally by the British government during the Second World War in North Sea international waters near to the Thames Estuary. Back in the 1960s the huge ‘fortress’ was stormed and occupied by an ex-army major called Roy Bates and he and his family have since turned it into what they claim  is an ‘independent country’.

Presenter Evan Davis was duly winched down to Sealand, and used this as a subtle-as-a-brick metaphor for how the UK would look if it was outside the EU: battered, totally isolated, totally eccentric, if not downright batty, completely on its own, a decaying hulk battered by the North Sea and outside the law.

That editor Ian Katz could not see that this was totally negative and totally inappropriate illustrates how far away from understanding the Brexit argument he and his senior BBC colleagues are. Light years.

The World This Weekend

Exhibit C was Sunday’s The World This Weekend. The presenter was former BBC ‘Europe’ editor Mark Mardell, and he chose to mount the programme from a rather select conference in Lake Como organised by a strongly pro-EU think thank called The European House – Ambrosetti.

They had gathered there, it was said, to discuss global economic problems including the possible impact of Brexit. Mardell produced an Obama adviser, a Chinese economist, a German government minister and the president of huge global investment fund (Allianz), all of who, with differing degrees of stridency, attacked the effrontery of such a ‘stupid’ (as one contributor said) prospect. In their collective eyes, membership of the EU was unquestionably absolutely vital to the UK’s future.

This carefully-edited sequence of pro-EU frenzy was followed by a live interview with Labour donor and Leave supporter John Mills, who Mardell introduced as ‘the founder of a mail order company’. Mardell’s tone and approach changed immediately. With his Ambrosetti guests, he had politely elicited their views. With Mills, he became sharply interrogative and sceptical.

To be fair, Mills was given a far crack of the whip in answering the points raised – and gave credible answers – but it was in a much narrower channel, and under far deeper scrutiny. And Mardell’s careful editing meant that every element of the pro-EU side appeared more authoritative and more polished.

Overall, the BBC may have upped its game in terms of the breadth of coverage in some respects. News-watch analysis has revealed big problems not only in the examples above, but also serially and cumulatively in programmes such as Newsnight and The World Tonight. The referendum campaign enters its final stage this week. The BBC is not yet mounting properly balanced coverage, and seems blind to its shortcomings.

 

David Keighley’s BBC Watch: Helen hasn’t just stabbed loathsome Rob. She has killed The Archers

April 6, 2016

I have, I confess, listened to a good proportion of the 17,930 editions of The Archers; some of my earliest memories date from the 1950s when we clustered round our Pye radio set each evening to hear the latest developments from the see of Felpersham.

I was delighted, therefore, when in the early 1980s, as a BBC publicist, I occasionally deputised during holidays on the Radio 4 patch. That meant writing the weekly Archers’ programme blurb for the press and sometimes taking part in press launches. I got to meet the faces behind the Ambridge voices. And a wonderful group of people they were, too – some going back to day one in 1950.

For many years the Archers Omnibus was a fixed point in my life, an oasis on Sunday mornings of a unique brand of gentle escapism that had just enough relation to reality to have validity and resonance.

Then, in 1991 Vanessa Whitburn took over as producer. It was an earthquake in Borsetshire; its landscape and texture changed forever. Gone was a gentle reflection of English rural life where the only vague echoes of national politics and tensions were between the comfortably-off Archers and the working class Grundies.

In its place was a politically charged, politically correct nowhere-land. The only certainty was that BBC values were at its core. Gay issues and female exploitation cheek-by-jowl with village produce and WI jam. I increasingly found myself switching off, or rather, not switching on.

Spooling forward to this week, the BBC publicity machine has gone overboard about the stabbing by Helen Tichener (nee Archer) of her monstrous husband Rob. After two years of physical and mental abuse and humiliation at his hands, Helen snapped – and brutally stabbed him.

He, it turned out, has survived. But I fear those knife blows have slain elements of Ambridge forever. The process set in train by Whitburn has reached its inevitable sad nadir.

The Archers is now a BBC drama like any other BBC drama, with all its flaws.

Exhibit A is the BBC website story about the Tichener stabbing. Clearly, the BBC believe they have written and broadcast a definitive guide to domestic violence that is at the highest level of public service broadcasting. Of this, there can be no doubt – it is evident throughout in the serious, smug, self-congratulatory, worthy tone.

All the stops have been pulled out: a special chart detailing the incidents that made Helen so desperate; links to charities that can help those trapped in similarly grim situations; and a special note that already, Archers fans have contributed thousands of pounds to a Facebook appeal linked to the stabbing that will go to the real-life charity Refuge.

What’s not to like? The problem is that this was not a real stabbing, this was not real domestic violence and it was committed inside the BBC values bubble. That means that, despite the BBC’s claims, this was not an authentic portrayal of domestic violence – it was the BBC’s Ambridge version, entirely dominated by the values of right-on feminism, with all the attendant dangers.

Erin Pizzey, the veteran domestic violence campaigner who set up the world’s first refuge for abused women in 1971, spells out exactly why under the headline ‘This plot could drive more women to kill’. She points out that the Archers’ plot line is stereotypically feminist, with the man painted as the one dimensional villain; a monster who deserves all he gets, including stabbing. She states:

The Archers sends out a simplistic, untruthful version: a black-and-white picture of one goodie (female) and one baddie (male). No one has ever asked in The Archers why Rob is doing what he does, apart from suggesting his manipulative mother is a factor. If the programme’s writers had seriously studied the issue, they would have explained that Rob’s terrible desperation to control Helen came from his own neediness; that this sort of man is totally dependent on his victim.

‘But that wouldn’t have been sensationalist enough. Instead, they came up with a fantasy storyline that will have one big, unexpected, unwelcome result: the continued demonisation of men and another supposed victory for the feminist movement. The pendulum has swung way too far against men. The storyline in The Archers sustains the old lie that it is only men who commit domestic violence, and we must always look at women as victims.’

And there we have it. The alliance of BBC soap – for that is what since Whitburn, The Archers has become, is a toxic mix that promotes the wrong messages, in the wrong ways inside politically correct agendas. It has become the enemy of true understanding.

David Keighley’s BBC Watch: Beware premature celebrations. Pro-EU bias is rife at Broadcasting House

March 30, 2016

How biased is the BBC in the coverage of the referendum campaign? News-watch research, documented on our website, has shown that until this year, the withdrawal case has been massively under-represented.

In fact, the bias question is impossible to answer with any certainty, because no-one, least of all the BBC itself, can properly keep track of their hundreds of hours each week of Corporation news coverage. Achieving a genuine overview of their performance is a near-impossibility.

That said, there are some encouraging markers that the ‘out’ perspective – for the first time ever on BBC airwaves – is being taken into the equation. Certainly ‘outers’ are being asked on to shows, and not just the usual suspects. Not all of them are being treated as extreme right-wing loonies.

And on Today last week, Justin Webb took on, with a sharpness previously only reserved for figures such as Nigel Farage, energy secretary (and EU-fanatic) Amber Rudd over her ludicrous ‘Project Fear’ claims that withdrawal would automatically lead to massive rises in energy bills. He’d done his research, and as Guido noted, she was left looking distinctly foolish.

It was this interview that probably prompted in the Daily Mail at the weekend a once in a blue moon event: an editorial congratulating the Corporation on its unbiased coverage.

But, watch out.  How the leader writer knew with such confidence that impartiality was now the hallmark of referendum coverage was not explained – and their apparent jubilation could soon turn sour. In this respect, the BBC has form.

Behind the scenes, the senior executives are already using the editorial as proof positive that they are getting things right. The Daily Mail has thus created a hostage to fortune. It means genuine complaints – already rejected in their thousand by the Corporation on the most spurious of grounds – have even less of a chance of succeeding.

News-watch is monitoring the BBC’s EU output during the referendum period with more intensity than ever before. We have set in place state-of-the art equipment which facilitates full tracking of all the news channels and programmes, and allows full transcripts of any of their relevant output to be made within minutes or hours of broadcast.

But unlike the Daily Mail, we have not reached any global judgments yet. What we have done is to look at elements of output in detail and systematically. Our work on 40 consecutive editions of Newsnight is an example, reported here. It found that the BBC leopard in one respect at least had not changed its spots.

There was a disturbing and pronounced bias against the Brexit case. While supporters of ‘leave’ were appearing regularly on the programme for the first time, they were heavily out-gunned by those who want to remain.

Another subject of early referendum coverage analysis has been one-off programmes specifically about Brexit issues. The findings are on the News-watch site. The latest in the line is of an edition of the environment programme Costing the Earth.

Making a half hour slot reasonably balanced should be relatively easy. But not in the BBC’s hands. It was massively and crudely skewed to the ‘remain’ side, and made it sound that remaining in the EU was vital in the interests of wildlife conservation, the UK farming industry and to ensure that windfarms continued to be built in preference to nasty smoke belching coal-fired power stations. Ranged against the views of a farmer and a fisherman who wanted Brexit were eight experts who in their different ways worshipped at the Brussels altar, most at a national campaigning level.

The full report on the Costing the Earth programme is here.

News-watch has now also nearly completed detailed analysis of 20 editions of the flagship Radio 4 news programme The World Tonight since February 22, the Monday after David Cameron announced his Brussels negotiating ‘triumph’. Preliminary impressions are not good. As with Newsnight, there have been far more supporters of ‘remain’ than ‘out’ and the Europhiles such as Alan Johnson and former French Prime Minister Edith Cresson have had far more opportunity to put their respective cases.

The BBC knows that it is under close scrutiny. The danger evident in the Newsnight and World Tonight surveys is that its ingrained, long-term bias is so deeply entrenched that they cannot see it and cannot acknowledge the problems in a way that will allow change. The need is to exert constant vigilance and to apply pressure whenever bias is sensed.

 

David Keighley’s BBC Watch: EU funds TV plug for Obama. President plugs EU

March 23, 2016

As the EU referendum approaches, the BBC knows that its programme output is under special scrutiny for impartiality. All the signs though – as Kathy Gyngell outlined earlier today on TCW – is that it will rely on bluff arrogance to see it through.

Further evidence of this approach is a new four-part series called Inside Obama’s White House, which began its run last Tuesday. Astonishingly, at a time of acute sensitivity of such issues, it is funded partly by the EU – as the end credit in this link shows.

The timing could not be worse because exit campaigners fear that Obama will use his visit to the UK in about a month’s time as a platform to air his widely known pro-EU views and warn against Brexit. But the Corporation clearly does not give a damn.

The subject of EU funding of the BBC is already a very hot potato – it was raised by Tory MP Jacob Rees-Mogg, for example, with the Corporation’s most senior news executives at the Commons European Scrutiny Committee last autumn after it emerged that The Great European Disaster Movie (shown on BBC4 last March), a programme that envisioned dire consequences in the event of Brexit, had received EU funding. It was made by a company jointly owned the arch-Europhile Bill Emmott, the former editor of The Economist.

Regardless of such concerns, the Obama programme, made by independent producer Brook-Lapping in association with the BBC and a raft of other partners on top of the EU, has seemingly been deliberately scheduled to juxtapose with the Presidential visit.

What of the programme? On one level, it’s decent television – a fast-paced narrative designed to show that although American presidents have choices, they are constrained by the structures of American constitution.

But the main intent of the opening episode seemed to be designed to paint Obama in glowing light – its main thrust was that he has succeeded against formidable odds and complexity in reaching deals during the financial crash of 2009 and at the Copenhagen climate change ‘summit’. It’s not quite hagiography – but not far short.

The pro-Obama partisanship is compounded by the problems of both the EU funding and the timing. How on earth does the BBC feel it is OK to show it in the build-up to a presidential visit just as the EU referendum campaign approaches its final stages?

There can, after all, be no doubt of Obama’s views on the referendum. He told the BBC last year, for example:

“Having the UK in the EU gives us much greater confidence about the strength of the transatlantic union, and is part of the cornerstone of the institutions built after [the second world war] that has made the world safer and more prosperous. We want to make sure that the United Kingdom continues to have that influence.”

It’s abundantly clear, too, that many of those who support leaving the EU, have warned against the president peddling those views in April. A cross-party group of leading politicians supporting exit have written to him demanding that he should not discuss issues of British sovereignty at such a pivotal time.

Does showing this programme at this sensitive time amount to bias? In reality, the EU connection to the programme is relatively limited – the relevant EU Creative Media fund has a cap of 20,000 euros to each production.

But that’s not the point. The most important factor about the BBC in this referendum is perception – it must be seen to be scrupulously impartial. In showing this EU-funded pro-Obama hagiography, it looks as if the Corporation are promoting the president and all he stands for. The series could easily have been held until after the referendum.

It’s not certain yet, of course, that Obama will utter any expressly pro-EU messages during his UK visit, but David Cameron is using every weapon in his arsenal to curry favour for the remain camp, and it is extremely unlikely that he will miss out on the chance to milk Obama’s unqualified pro-EU stance in every way he can.

The BBC’s 200-strong press office is paid to sniff out potential trouble in advance. There is no doubt that they will have discussed this issue at length. Their calculation must be that this issue is not a problem. Evidence, yet again, that the Corporation is trapped in its own bubble – and is so certain of its own rectitude that it does not care what those on the outside think.

David Keighley’s BBC Watch: A propaganda blitz from the man who hates Britain

March 17, 2016

Coming soon to a wall near you: a new black plaque, courtesy of the BBC – and with it an extension of their headlong mission to misinform and to distort British history out of all recognition.

Under production in what the 200-strong BBC press office calls ‘an ambitious new series’ are four programmes called A Black History of Britain, written by is the ‘acclaimed historian and broadcaster’ David Olusaga.

As part of this ‘fresh approach to history’, 20 black plaques will be unveiled, including one to John Blanke, who, it seems, was a trumpeter in the court of Henry VIII; since, then, according to internet sources, there had been a conspiracy to conceal his racial origins – until the BBC, mounted firmly on its white charger, enters the scene.

Of course black people have often been ignored and massively mis- and under-represented in the records. Olusaga’s impressive book on the 1880s German massacre of indigenous people in their South-West Africa colony (now Namibia) makes this very clear. His effort in linking this to the rise of social Darwinism – the underpinnings of the justification for Hitler’s Holocaust – is an important work.

But in the hands of the BBC, the quest for a better understanding of our history becomes something else: the series is already clearly framed as a right-on, full-blown crusade to substitute one distortion with another – and above all to undermine and re-fashion our national and cultural identity.

Clue number one is this link. The BBC has put the release about the series as a key part of its Diversity site; primary links are to its own lavish Diversity document and to a new cross-media initiative, the ‘Creativity Diversity Network’, the goal of which is to show that ‘diversity is vital for innovation’.

Clue number two is in the hyperbolic press release blurb:

‘Drawing on new genetic and genealogical research, original records, expert testimony and contemporary interviews, David will skilfully build a dazzlingly different national narrative…We will learn of the African soldiers who guarded Hadrian’s Wall in the third century, the black sailors who fought under Nelson at Trafalgar…

‘The series will sit alongside other programmes…whose shared theme will be to uncover lost, distorted or forgotten stories of Black Britons and the Black British experience. The range of bold and vibrant stories will cast fresh light on historical and contemporary Black British life,’

The Hadrian’s Wall reference sets the alarm bells well and truly clanging. The goal, as chronicled on TCW here, is for the BBC to re-cast the whole of British history – on the slenderest of foundations – to incorporate immigrants of different ethnicity as a fundamental and integral part of British development. Immigrants were vital to our existence from the Roman conquest, and that’s the new reality.

Chris McGovern has chronicled on TCW how The Blob has re- written British history so that pupils are taught more about Jack the Ripper than Disraeli or Gladstone, and so that Mary Seacole is revered whereas Florence Nightingale is reviled and her achievements deliberately underplayed. The BBC has been fully complicit in that, as this item on the schools section of their website about Mary Seacole illustrates.

Of course, the Olusaga’s programmes are not yet made, and there is always a danger in pre-judging. But impressive as he may be as a historian of colonial Africa, there are signs that his main activity is as a polemicist against those nasty Brits. Surprise, surprise, there’s immediately a Guardian connection here.

In a recent column dripping with contempt about British colonialism, he wrote:

‘The British empire, like every empire in history, was created to enrich the imperial mother country, not to realise some vague civilising mission… Yet we still, somehow, convince ourselves and expect others to believe that this nation set aside its own financial interests, ignored the desperate plight of the British poor and dispatched great fleets of ships and vast armies of soldiers and administrators across the oceans to attend to the material welfare, educational aspirations and future mass transport requirements of the indigenous peoples of Asia and Africa.’

This uncompromising negative judgment makes abundantly clear the real agenda of the BBC in commissioning the series. They have allied themselves with a man whose hostility to Britain is a main driving force. Not content with their propaganda on climate change, on immigration and the EU, here is prima facie evidence that the BBC are extending their efforts to what amounts to a major project to re-engineer British history.

Is this – above all – so that it fits their rhetoric that immigration is good for the UK and was always part of our history?  And even, maybe, that membership of the EU is vital for the nation to continue in that vein?

 

David Keighley: A fly has more chance against an elephant than a complainant against the BBC

March 1, 2016

As the crucial referendum vote looms, how DO you complain about the BBC?

The reality is that the Corporation is its own judge and jury in dealing with complaints and has neatly-honed putdowns for almost every eventuality.

The odds are particularly stacked in the EU debate, as the News-watch submission to the DCMS consultation on BBC Charter renewal outlines.  In the nine years since they were formed, the BBC Trustees have never upheld a complaint about EU coverage – even though senior BBC figures have admitted at various times that this aspect of their output has been biased.

Tough cookie MP Andrew Bridgen explained in The Daily Telegraph that he is the latest to try registering a complaint – only to be swatted aside like a tiresome bluebottle.

He very reasonably noticed that in the kick-off to the referendum campaign, the Corporation, as usual, is favouring the ‘remain’ side by, for example, allowing them to dominate the guest list on Newsnight; that coverage is representing David Cameron’s agreement as legally binding when it is not; and that business news on Today is regularly inviting  pro-EU commentators to say what a vital and wonderful institution it is. All of which has been evidenced elsewhere.

Surprise, surprise, BBC Director of News James Harding disagrees. On what basis? Well primarily, it seems that because what poor, naïve Bridgen has observed is only the early days of the campaign and it will all even out in the ‘ebb and flow’ of events. Well silly him for not realising.

Of course, balance is not a precise daily calculation and James Harding is right that there are days when almost inevitably, one side will receive more exposure than the other.

But the problem here is that – as Ryan Bourne of the IEA pointed out on the TCW – the BBC has got form in this respect, lots of it. For example, over 11 years of Today’s output, in monitoring by News-watch  that covered almost half the programmes transmitted, only three Labour or other left-leaning guests favouring Brexit appeared. Was that down to the ‘ebb and flow’ of events? – or was another factor, such as outright BBC bias, in play?  More examples abound on the News-watch website.

What Harding’s letter also underlines is that the BBC has got a neatly worked out answer to almost every situation. Another favourite is that both sides have complained, so the offending item must be balanced. Today editor Jamie Angus recently used this on Radio 4’s Feedback programme (which is supposed to represent listeners, but is mainly a conduit through which BBC executives rubbish them). He stated:

‘It’s a bit glib in a way to say if both sides are complaining volubly then we’re just about in the right place but I do sometimes fall back on that…..Genuinely, my perception is that I’m getting a pretty balanced mailbag.’ 

Any academic researcher would tell you the pitfalls of such crass generalisations.

Another is the ‘find the lady’ approach. When News-watch complained about Newsnight’s coverage of the David Cameron’s Bloomberg speech back in 2013 because the programme that evening contained 19 pro-EU guests ranged against only one definite withdrawalist (Nigel Farage, of course), the response was that we had missed that the previous December, there had been an edition which had debated the exit option and both sides had been evenly balanced.

This was bunk – in reality, the programme did not give the out camp a fair shout – but it was a classic BBC response which is wheeled out regularly: the complainant is wrong because somewhere in the thousands of hours of BBC output is something that miraculously balances the offending item.

James Harding has recently deployed yet another of his classic arguments. Here, the complainant alleged that on Today, Sir John Major had not been challenged firmly enough by James Naughtie (on December 16 last year) when he claimed that Brussels would become hostile to the UK, if God forbid, the electorate decided they wanted to leave the EU.

Harding’s response? He stated:

‘The ebb and flow of political discourse cannot, I think, be reduced to a check list of rebuttals’. 

Clearly, ‘ebb and flow’ is a favourite phrase – but in other respects, too, this was a perennial favourite defence: it boils down to that in the BBC’s book, and especially on EU issues, presenters can do whatever they want, even when a pro-EU guest is getting away with blue murder.

What has now emerged through the response to Andrew Bridgen is that Harding and the high command at the BBC are likely to persist in this stonewall denial against Brexit complainants throughout the referendum campaign. He, Tony Hall, the Director General, and David Jordan, the Director of Editorial Standards, told the European Scrutiny Committee last year that this would not be the case.

Pigs, it seems, might fly.

 

David Keighley: Cameron’s claim he has banished “ever closer union” is a legal fiction

February 22, 2016

(This blog was first published on News-watch).

At the heart of David Cameron’s renegotiation claim is something deeply contentious and what many believe to be a bare-faced lie: that he has secured for Britain an unqualified opt-out from the ‘ever closure union’ ratchet clause in the treaties that underpin and drive the EU project.

The BBC – as the UK’s main public service broadcaster – ought to be subjecting the claim to thumb-screw scrutiny, as it does when anyone has the temerity to suggest that immigration might have disadvantages. Early signs are that this is not going to happen – and at least one pivotal feature on the BBC website suggests that it is tamely going to repeat the claim and trumpet it as a ‘Cameron victory’.

The PM’s pitch on this subject sounds highly attractive, if not irresistible; one of the main fears among British voters about the EU has seemingly been legally banished forever, leaving the UK to get on with ploughing its own furrow separate from the federalists across the water.

But there is mounting evidence that this is blatantly untrue. A leading authority on EU affairs says the decisions taken by the EU heads of state last week were not at the level of binding treaty change because it is a fundamental principle of international law – especially so in EU treaties – that governments cannot define what future treaties will be, or commit future governments to decisions at this level. If you doubt this, here is a quote from the arch-federalist lawyer and former Liberal Democrat MEP, Andrew Duff:

‘But there is another argument as to why a formal promise of the European Council to change the treaty in the future – even if put into a Council decision and tabled at the UN – can never be ‘legally-binding and irreversible’. This is because the Lisbon treaty, now in force for six years, has changed the constitutive procedures of the EU by adding in the wild card of the Convention (Article 48(3) TEU). The Convention is made up of the European Council, the Commission, the European Parliament and national parliaments. Its job is to propose amendments of the treaties to an intergovernmental conference. So while the member states can still lay claim to being the ultimate ‘masters of the treaties’, their prerogative is not unqualified: they cannot change the treaty, or even promise to change the treaty, left to their own devices. And it’s the European Parliament, not the European Council which gets to decide on whether to call a Convention.’

David Cameron and his pro-EU lackeys must be aware of arguments like this (they have been circulating the web for months) and so it suggests they may be deliberately projecting an untruth; they are dressing up the low-level, aspirational agreements reached so theatrically on Friday as a cast-iron triumph in the hope that, dashing for a quick-as-possible vote, they can hoodwink voters.

There’s an irony here: the EU is intrinsically fiendishly complex in its rules and its intent, and for those reasons, is fundamentally undemocratic. Cameron – who promised to reform that in his Bloomberg 2013 speech – is now relying on that complexity to ram through his so-called ‘deal’.

Why is the BBC complicit in this?

Exhibit A is a feature on the BBC website which, with the headline ‘What Cameron wanted and what he got’, purports to give a balanced overview of what is now on offer. It states: 

‘This has to go down as a win for Mr Cameron, with the commitment to exempt Britain from “ever closer union” to be written into the treaties.’

So, in other words, accepted at face value in this key article, and without subsequent qualification, is that Cameron has secured an opt-out from the notorious clause, and that future treaties can be manipulated in this way. There’s not a peep that others, including leading jurists, and experts on EU procedures, beg to differ.

Exhibit B was Sunday’s Andrew Marr Show. Marr raised the subject with David Cameron, and suggested that there were those disagreed that the opt-out was binding without actual treaty change. But Cameron flatly contradicted him and there was no further response from Marr.

The BBC has a special duty because of its public service remit and its massive taxpayer-funding to present impartial news, and to get at the truth. Here, at the start of the dash to the referendum, is clear evidence that it is failing in its mission. The newsroom has at least 5,000 journalists and 3,000 further staff in support roles. With those numbers comes massive capacity to investigate, and yet it is seemingly conveying basic untruths that are government spin.

Back in 2004, when the prospect of an EU referendum was looming over the Lisbon Treaty, the then BBC Governors commissioned former Cabinet Secretary Lord Wilson of Dinton to undertake a survey of the Corporation’s EU-related output. In retrospect, it stands as the only genuinely independent survey of the BBC output ever undertaken, and it was only commissioned because former Conservative Minister Lord Ryder of Wensum was appointed stop-gap chairman following the ignominious resignation of Gavyn Davies in the wake of the Hutton inquiry. Lord Ryder persuaded Davies’ permanent successor Lord Grade (also a Eurosceptic) that such an inquiry was essential.

Lord Wilson, when he submitted his report at the beginning of 2005, was coruscating about aspects of the poor quality of the BBC’s EU output, its inherent bias, and especially about the overall lack of level of knowledge at all levels of the Corporation of EU affairs. The report observed (section iv para 16):

‘Journalists are unlikely to be able to explain the issues (of the EU and a possible referendum) clearly unless they understand them themselves. There is much evidence that the public do not get the clear and accurate explanations they need because there is a lack of knowledge of the EU at every stage of the process from the selection of an item to the conduct of the interview.’

The BBC promised in response to devise special training courses to remedy this major defect, but the evidence of dozens of subsequent News-watch reports, in revealing serial and consistent bias in the coverage of EU affairs suggests that this was a totally ineffective exercise.

James Harding, the current Director of News, acknowledged this, in effect, when he appeared before the Commons European Scrutiny Committee last December. Committee members – worried about referendum coverage – had strong reservations that there remained an all-pervading Corporation ignorance about EU matters. In response, Harding promised that before the referendum all newsroom staff would get a further half day’s training.

Has this happened? The BBC has not said. But it appears not to have done, if the reporting of the Cameron deal is anything to go by.

 

David Keighley: Biased BBC will load the dice against Brexit

February 20, 2016

Alarmingly, the BBC’s coverage of the referendum will almost certainly be a key component in determining the results. For more than 60 per cent of the population, the Corporation – despite its incessant liberal left bias – remains their main source of news.

Polls this week, for example from Comres, show that more than 40 per cent of the electorate might still change their mind about how they will vote, and are looking for guidance about what has been achieved in terms of concessions. Their decision will be based substantially on what they hear on the BBC.

Against this background the BBC Trustees slipped out on Thursday, without fanfare, their editorial guidelines on the rules of coverage. They are absolutely crucial because they lay down how ‘fairness’ between the two sides will be determined.

Their publication followed a so-called public consultation exercise, in which observations were invited on the draft guidelines, which were issued in the autumn. The BBC claims in this way to be in touch with audiences and responsive – in reality the whole process was a sham. The guidelines that have emerged are no different from the draft.

One of the key concerns was submitted in a private capacity by veteran Eurosceptic MP Sir William Cash, who argued that in order to know that impartiality was being maintained, the news department must keep track of output through detailed monitoring that could be scrutinised.

He warned that failure to do this could result in criminal charges being brought against BBC journalists if coverage intentionally fell short of the requirements for balance. Monitoring, in an organisation which for almost 20 years has covered EU affairs without ever properly discussing the withdrawal case, and projecting it as xenophobic tosh, sounds like common sense and vital – the need was echoed in other submissions, including one from News-watch.

But this is the arrogant, patronising world of the gilded-cage BBC, and any sense of logic does not apply. The Trustees dismissed the request out of hand, using condescending, spurious and inadequate arguments hinged on that something superior, ethereal, beyond challenge, namely ‘BBC editorial judgment’ is all that is required.

Bombastic director of news James Harding is undoubtedly the source of such resistance. He recently told MPs on the European Scrutiny select committee (of which Sir William Cash is chairman) that any attempt at checking output through monitoring was mere ‘metrics’ and therefore irrelevant and inappropriate.

And thus the Corporation has steamrollered through referendum guidelines which are inherently inadequate, and will mean that that coverage remains totally biased.

If you doubt this, listen to Thursday’s edition of the Today programme as the Brexit summit got underway. At its heart, in the 8.10am slot, was an interview with the former European Commissioner Lord Kinnock, who, unchallenged by presenter Sarah Montague, uttered 900 words about the disaster that would engulf the UK if voters chose Brexit.  He had plenty of space to put his case.

A so-called balancing interview at 7.35am with Daniel Hannan MEP, was not equivalent. For a start, he was confined to only 650 words – almost a third less than Kinnock – and Montague’s question pushed him from the start into dealing with ‘Conservative splits’ rather than the meat of the summit or the Brexit case. Hannan did a credible job with what space and time he had, but there was no doubt Kinnock had pride of place and could air key arguments of the sort that influence voters.

Further imbalance was created in the programme, for at 7.11am, Montague conducted a vox pop with what she projected were typical students in Brussels. All of them – surprise, surprise – thought that the EU was wonderful, was about sticking together, and fairness – what David Cameron wanted was out of kilter with the rules of a club.

Then at 8.42am, in a report from Colchester, Matthew Price spoke to rafts of people who all supported staying in the EU for a range of reasons – ‘it’s better being in a collective than an island on our own’; there were ‘cultural benefits’ in being in a club of 28; outside the EU the UK would be a weaker ally to the US; and that there was ‘safety in numbers’.

Finally, at 8.55am, Montague spoke to the Europe editor of (the fanatically pro-EU) The Economist, and Ryan Heath, an associate editor of the Brussels federalist publication Politico. The latter warned that if Britain opted for Brexit, the EU would make it as painful as possible; the former argued that David Cameron’s demands could lead to ‘contagion’, paving the way for right wing organisations such as France’s Front National to demand the same.

Thus, to summarise, on the day that the summit started, the BBC self-declared news and current affairs flagship programme Today was totally dominated by pro-EU opinion. It showed yet again that the BBC does not have the faintest understanding of what balance in the Brexit debate is, and it has now set in concrete – in the referendum guidelines – its prejudice.

 

David Keighley: MPs fluff the chance to hold the BBC to account

February 16, 2016

The Commons Culture, Media and Sport select committee has spent six months considering reform of the BBC in connection with the imminent renewal of its Royal Charter.

Its report – published last week with little fanfare – contains some half-decent proposals, such as abolishing the current Trustees and replacing them with a regulatory Board with real teeth, including checks on the currently unfettered powers of the Director General.

That said, the strength of such a body would depend on the appointment of members with genuine independence and a real desire to make sure the Corporation is properly impartial and provides distinctive programmes that justify the £4.5 billion public funding.

And the reality of British public life now is that taxpayer-funded bodies are staffed and run by individuals who are to a man and woman followers of liberal-left, right-on ideology. Nothing the Conservatives have done over the past six years has changed this one iota; if anything David Cameron has made things worse.

What is being recommended, therefore, is likely to lead to more of the same: an expensive and fruitless exercise in re-arranging the deck-chairs.

In one fundamental respect, too, the culture select committee might never have bothered with their inquiry. They have totally botched their approach to complaints handling. What they propose in this vital arena will make matters worse, not better.

The rot at the heart of the Corporation is that every aspect of its output is locked in liberal-left thinking. The staff are virtually all so like-minded that they incapable of seeing it.  As a result, the BBC is on an unrelenting, no-holds-barred crusade to ram down our throats the importance of the EU, multi-culturalism, feminism and a whole lot more.

This is massively obvious to anyone who listens or watches. But the BBC, from the Trustees downwards, deny it, and they justify their stance using bizarre rules of ‘due impartiality’ which allow Corporation executives and editors to interpret balance entirely on their own terms.

The current complaints-handling system is a department of the BBC. The vast majority of what they receive is rejected. It defies belief that the culture committee have recommended this continues in its present form.

The only proposal for change is in dealing with complex complaints that are currently pushed upstairs to a unit of the Trustees, the Editorial Standards Committee. This is chaired by trustee Richard Ayre, who worked at the BBC for 30 years. A key lieutenant is Mark Damazer, a former controller of Radio 4 who made it the temple of right-on orthodoxy that it has become.

The culture committee has accepted the blindingly obvious, that this is the equivalent of having foxes in charge of the hen house, but their solution defies belief. They propose that responsibility is passed over to the content board of Ofcom, the body which regulates commercial broadcasting.

How can this improve things? – if anything, it will make matters worse. For starters, the Board is chaired by European Union fanatic Bill Emmott, who is so determined to prevent Brexit that he makes propaganda films showing the nasty outcomes that he believes will inevitably occur if the British electorate has the temerity to disagree with him. Ofcom itself is so worried about his fanaticism that they can’t trust him; they have stated that he will take no part in discussions about anything to do with the EU.

Scratch the surface, and it also emerges that almost every member of the Ofcom content board has worked in some way for the BBC. This TCW item observed:

‘What makes Emmott’s appointment so utterly damaging is that the rest of the Ofcom content board – in step with Quango Land generally, are like minds and like spirits; right-on ‘liberals’ to the core. The full list of 10 is here. What leaps out from their CVs is that all but two have worked for significant parts of their careers at the BBC. They write papers about how wonderful and important the BBC is. Many are closely linked to a BBC-favoured propaganda organisation called the (Reuters) Oxford Institute of the Media – which last November held a seminar about ensuring ‘fair’ coverage of the EU. Guess who chaired it? Bill Emmott!

One of the two content board members who has not worked at the BBC is Dr Zahera Harb, who began her career in journalism in the Lebanon, and is now a board member of the worthy-sounding Ethical Journalism Network. Don’t be deceived by such Orwellian double-speak. Its main concerns include attacking the ‘hate speech’ of Donald Trump and ensuring that the Palestinian Authority – along with immigration generally – gets better coverage in the media.’

And there we have it. The culture select committee’s proposal can only be described as bonkers. It is also a dereliction of duty. Their report only mentions ‘complaints’ 13 times, contains no discussion about the shortcomings of the current system, and no suggestion that they looked at alternatives.

What they propose won’t make a whit of difference to the BBC’s output – if anything, it will reinforce the already blatant bias because in future, editors and senior management will claim they are ‘independently’ monitored.

What’s doubly concerning is that no-one in the media has seen the need to comment on this. Charter renewal is a once in a decade opportunity to reform the BBC. It’s now clear that MPs aren’t prepared to tackle – or worse, don’t understand – what is required to halt the unrelenting stream of propaganda that is poisoning our culture, our civic life and our politics.

David Keighley: Does the BBC play Europe straight these days? A leopard doesn’t change its spots

February 14, 2016

There’s growing evidence that as the EU referendum approaches, BBC is increasingly inhabiting a weird alternative universe where any concept of support for British interests seems to have all but vanished – together with all normal journalistic principles.

Some out there seem to believe that because a few figures who support Brexit have made unprecedented BBC appearances, the Portland Place leopard may be changing its spots. Fat chance!

Former Europe editor Mark Mardell – now the presenter of The World This Weekendwent on a lovely jolly to Lisbon and came back with a report that in BBC terms was supposedly a balanced assessment of that country’s attitudes to David Cameron’s so-called reform package.

In reality it was 11 voices who loved the EU and almost everything about it – including Sir Mike Rake, the former President of the CBI, as well as an army of Portuguese – ranged against one Eurosceptic, Richard Tice, an investment banker who is now a guiding light in the Leave.EU camp.

Mardell’s chosen spokesman from the Portuguese government (a coalition of socialist and Marxist elements who are fanatical supporters of the EU) felt that not only was David Cameron’s idea of reform of benefits for immigrants an impertinence, but also that it was imperative to create a Europe-wide approach to welfare so that the idea that individual states could have choice in such matters would be put to bed – for ever.

Then the interview with Sir Mike Rake added up to almost three times the length of that with Richard Tice. Rake had the time and space to advance a wealth of reasons why the United Kingdom was far better off in the EU, why immigration was vital to the British economy (completely unchallenged, of course) and why the Cameron reforms were perfectly pitched.  The main question to Tice, by contrast, was whether exiting the EU would be ‘a leap in the dark’.  He had less than a minute to cobble together a coherent reply.

Mardell could, of course, have found a few Portuguese people who are less content with how the EU has treated the country, and given Tice – in the interests of basic and obvious fairness – at least as much time as Rake to put across the Brexit perspective. But this is the BBC….and normal journalistic rules do not apply.

Veteran broadcaster Ed Stourton was also in the same territory with his programme in the Radio 4 strand Analysis (h/t Craig Byers from Is the BBC Biased?).  First off, the programme blurb was positively bizarre and seemed to ignore that Ulster, Northern Ireland, call it what you will, still exists. Rather there is a country called Ireland, with an inconvenient border that would become an even bigger problem if – God forbid – Brexit happened.

Stourton proceeded as follows (Craig’s words):

‘The first section (the first 15 minutes) dwelt on the possible negative consequences of the closing of the presently ‘open’ border. The second section (some two and a half minutes) dwelt on the possible negative economic consequences of a Brexit, especially for Northern Irish farmers. The third section (around four minutes) dwelt on possible harm to the peace process from a Brexit. The fourth section (two minutes) looked at the position of Irish passport holders in the UK, some 500,000 of whom will be able to vote in the referendum. The fifth section (a couple of minutes or so) looked at the damaging uncertainty a Brexit might cause. And the final section (two minutes) looked at how the UK might fracture constitutionally as a result of a Brexit.’

And there we have it. The programme specially crafted five strong arguments against a UK exit. Not only that, the two Eurosceptic guests, Kate Hoey and Nigel Dodds, spoke for only eight minutes in a programme of almost half an hour, and had ranged against them eight anti-leave figures.

The BBC claims to everyone who will listen that it is getting its EU act in order as the referendum nears and the campaign unfolds. It is true that they are broadcasting programmes that – almost unprecedented on BBC airwaves – are exploring EU issues and the case for and against leaving. But the more they broadcast, the more it appears that the Corporation’s version of impartiality is a million miles from fairness.

 

David Keighley: Cash with no questions asked. BBC lets Camila’s Kids Company off the hook

February 10, 2016

Even when the BBC has a major scoop, it cannot any more deliver a programme that reflects the truth or commands any form of authority. Give it an open goal and it misses by ten miles.

That’s because in the world of the Corporation, its own right-on version of social justice, the primacy of public spending and the hackneyed Marxist narrative of the downtrodden underclass swamps every element of its journalism.

Programme maker Lynn Alleway was given unique, close access to Camila Batmanghelidjh as her charity, Kids Company, collapsed last summer. This self-declared saviour of the juvenile downtrodden was in such a narcissistic, self-righteous bubble that she sought to justify every element of this slow-motion car crash as it unfolded. In her eyes, her cause justified anything.

Alleway thus had the kind of direct access for her BBC1 programme Camila’s Kids Company; the inside story that journalists dream about but rarely attain. Her cameras were allowed in as Camila was about to be relieved of her chief executive role; as her battalions of employees wailed in despair as the collapse unfolded; and as Camila, in her wheedling, whining words, sought to stretch the law to keep her disaster of an organisation afloat by juggling finances in every way she could.

Being dramatically close to these events meant that in basic respects, the programme could not miss and in that sense, what emerged was a gripping tale; Camila, in her eyes, could do no wrong because her cause as she defined it justified almost anything.

But since last August, evidence has emerged in spades that whatever Camila was doing, she was incontinent financially to the point of recklessness, and that the claimed caseload of the charity was deliberately and systematically exaggerated, probably, it seems, by tens of thousands. The charity said in its annual reports that it was helping 36,000 children, but the files so far given to social services are around the 2,000 mark.

Not only that, the charity’s main line of effort seemed to be handing out – entirely at Camila’s discretion – wedges of cash each week, in effect providing a private welfare benefits operation. It was a form of patronage designed to make Camila herself look like the Mother Theresa of South London.

From the outset, it was clear that in these crucial areas, Ms Alleway was going to probe – but not too deeply. She accepted at face value Camila’s crude anti-government, anti middle-class, anti-establishment rhetoric that Kids Company was providing a vital service for children that our wicked, cuts-dominated society was not.

For right-on lefties like major donors Coldplay and chairman of the Kids Company Trustees Alan Yentob, this was a cause that therefore could not be resisted and could do no wrong – and Alleway accepted all this with barely a flicker of doubt, despite everything that has since emerged.

She appeared to be totally blind to the fact that her programme’s prime example of a woman Kids Company had helped – a Jamaican artist in her 30s ensconced by Camila in a very comfortable London flat and handed hundreds of pounds each month without question – actually underlined why the charity was totally out of control and distributing on a gargantuan scale the kind of largesse that almost inevitably is a breeding ground for corruption and financial dependency.

There can be no doubt that in today’s Britain, thousands of kids are suffering deprivation. But to ascribe this simplistically to poverty and the lack of public spending is arrant nonsense. At least equally to blame is poor parenting – in all social strata – engendered by factors such as pressures by successive governments and feminists to push as many women away from care of their families towards the workplace and reliance on childcare.

The bottom line is that Kids Company gobbled through £42m of public money and perhaps £100m of cash from a variety of glitzy donors – an astonishing amount, for a charity that was operating primarily in only two London boroughs.

What has now emerged is that despite warning signs going back for years, no one – and especially not Alleway – had ever challenged or scrutinised properly how this money was spent. Basics like who, precisely, was it helping and how?

All we know for certain about outcomes after Alleway’s programme is that kids were fed in the drop-in centres, they received every week envelopes filled with cash and travel vouchers, and Camila thought nothing of using charity resources on anything that took her fancy, including the rental on a £5,000-a-month splendid Art Deco house where Camila appeared to be living. Alleway was indignant about this, but that appeared to be all.

 

David Keighley: Not the BBC news. Norway is very rich and very outside the EU

January 26, 2016

Anti-Brexit group Britain Stronger in Europe has started its propaganda push with a £1.5m leaflet drop. It focuses – with hackneyed predictability – on threats that outside the single market, three million UK jobs will be at risk.

News-watch research shows that for years, BBC presenters and reporters have been allowing Europhiles to get away with these totally unfounded claims – devastatingly debunked by the Institute of Economic Affairs in March – virtually without challenge.

It is now becoming increasingly clear that nothing is going to change in BBC coverage in the run-up to the EU referendum.

Why? In effect, a Radio 4 programme broadcast on Thursday was a clear declaration that the Corporation will be actively campaigning to amplify such messages – especially those about the single market.

Perhaps there is no surprise in this – after all an ex-BBC strategy chief, Carolyn Fairbairn, is now director-general of the fanatically Europhile Confederation of British Industry and  has been declaring her referendum plans to the Guardian; and Sir Roger Carr, a former president of the CBI, is now deputy chairman of the BBC Trustees. The Corporation is so steeped in the importance of Brussels that it cannot see or think outside that bubble.

At what point, however, does biased BBC reporting tip over into being deliberately untrue?

According to many EU experts, that divide was crossed by the programme in question, an edition of the In Business slot which, in essence, on the basis of what can loosely be called unchallenged misinformation, purported to show what it claimed was the hugely negative impact on Norway of daring not to be a member of the Brussels club.

Hot on the heels of a similarly massively anti-Brexit programme by Carolyn Quinn – described here on The Conservative Woman – reporter Jonty Bloom conveyed to listeners without qualification or counter opinion a central untruth: that even though Norway was not in the EU, it was forced to follow EU directives, with potentially disastrous consequences. He suggested that being on the outside entailed vast expense for the Norwegian economy and meant it had no input into policy-making.

To illustrate this, he put centre stage in the programme an interview with a spokesman from an Oslo boiler manufacturer (called Oso, no doubt also chosen partly for its ardently ‘green’ agenda) which, it was alleged, had faced near disaster. Bloom said that the company had been doing very well until an EU directive covering tough changes in the regime around safety and ecological requirements of water-heating equipment suddenly appeared on the horizon.

He contended that the company had only been saved from ruinous new costs of up to £10 million by last minute intervention by France, which had used its offices to secure an opt-out for Norway from the new regulations.

He larded the tale with dark warnings about other costs and pitfalls of being outside the single market – exactly in tune with the Britain Stronger in Europe leaflet and the direst warnings of the CBI. The full transcript of the programme is on the News-watch website.

Bloom’s programme opened with almost-reasonable interviews with Norwegian fishermen and farmers. He explained that opposition to the EU was rooted in these core economic areas.

But then the rot set in. According to website Leave HQ, what followed about the boiler-maker and Norway’s involvement with EU rules and the single market was ‘a pack of lies’, essentially because it most certainly does have influence, through its participation in the European Economic Area (EEA) and membership of EFTA (the European Free Trade Association).

The EU Referendum website explains:

‘In fact…right from the very start, the heating world exploded in outrage (against the proposed regulations). Not only did Norway object, but the issue was taken up by the Nordic Council of Ministers….It took until August 2013, more than three years after the draft regulations had been published, for the highly revised regulations, during which period the Norwegians were fully consulted.

‘To allow a claim that it was simply “blind luck” that prevented the original, more Draconian proposals coming into force is a travesty. It simply isn’t true.’

There is not the space here to go into everything that Bloom got wrong – or about subsequent alleged highly dubious tampering with copy on the BBC website – but at its heart was the parading of a blatant untruth: that Europhiles from David Cameron downwards want us to believe: for countries outside the EU, and especially Norway, there is only darkness and despair.

There are dozens of different sources that Bloom could have approached to obtain a different and more realistic picture why up to 85 per cent of Norwegians do not want to join the EU and why it is, in consequence, one of the richest countries in the world. One is Kathrine Kleveland, leader of the Nei til EU campaign, who explains admirably here the advantages for her country of being outside the EU. To her, it is emphatically not a second best, involves no loss of national sovereignty or control, and allows Norwegians at every level a better and fuller say in trade negotiations because they are not funnelled through the EU.

This underscores that with EU affairs, nothing that the Corporation broadcasts can be trusted; everything is crafted with one end – to show that life outside the EU is, for the UK, and every other European country that is not yet a member, an unsustainable impossibility.

 

David Keighley: Another referendum stitch-up? Pro-European Emmott to rule on broadcast bias

January 18, 2016

(This article was first published on News-watch)

Opinion polls at the weekend gave the EU ‘out’ camp the edge. But it has now emerged that supporters of Brexit will be fighting the battle to win hearts and minds as the EU referendum approaches with their hands tied behind their backs.

That’s because new developments at the BBC and the independent sector regulatory body Ofcom mean that complaints about unfair coverage of the EU debate on television – still the most crucial medium in influencing public opinion – don’t have a cat in hell’s chance of succeeding.

It paves the way for a constant barrage of pro-EU propaganda with the opposition neutered and unable to get a fair hearing for their concerns.

The most astonishing development came last Thursday when the Department of Culture, Media and Sport announced that an EU fanatic with little professional experience of broadcasting is to chair the content board of Ofcom, the body ultimately responsible for ensuring impartiality in news coverage across ITV, Channel 4 and Sky News.

Unbelievably, the press release announcing his appointment claimed that he had not been involved in any political activities for the past five years, and therefore (by implication) could be trusted with this crucial role.

But a moment’s investigation on the web reveals that this is utter cobblers. As his self-trumpeting website shows, Bill Emmott, a former editor of The Economist, is fighting an all-out political war on several fronts towards his revered dreams of slaying nationalism, allowing the free movement of peoples and of greater EU integration.

At the core of his campaign is a slickly-produced TV programme called The Great EU Disaster Movie, which his production company Springshot made last year in association with the BBC and Franco-German television channel Arte. It posits the collapse of the world as we know it if, God forbid, nasty nationalist factions such as Ukip have their way and the EU weakens its iron grip on the body politic. Predictably, the programme had its first network airing on the BBC. It has since been established that, disgracefully, the Corporation stealthily took substantial funding from the EU to ensure that it was translated into other languages.

Emmott’s so-called charity, Wake Up Europe – a trustee of which is Richard Sambrook, a former Director of BBC News – is in the midst of a major pro-EU propaganda drive at British Universities with the film at its heart. If that isn’t ‘political activity’, the definition needs changing.

The show’s joint producer has claimed in The Guardian that the programme is a neutral examination of the potential problems that would be caused by the UK’s exit. Her stance cuts to the heart of the entire problem of the Brexit debate in that those who want to remain simply cannot see or even begin to accept that they are biased.

What makes Emmott’s appointment so utterly damaging is that the rest of the Ofcom content board – in step with Quango Land generally are like minds and like spirits; right-on ‘liberals’ to the core. The full list of 10 is here. What leaps out from their CVs is that all but two have worked for significant parts of their careers at the BBC. They write papers about how wonderful and important the BBC is. Many are closely linked to a BBC-favoured propaganda organisation called the (Reuters) Oxford Institute of the Media – which last November held a seminar about ensuring ‘fair’ coverage of the EU. Guess who chaired it? Bill Emmott!

One of the two content board members who has not worked at the BBC is Dr Zahera Harb, who began her career in journalism in the Lebanon, and is now a board member of the worthy-sounding Ethical Journalism Network. Don’t be deceived by such Orwellian double-speak. Its main concerns include attacking the ‘hate speech’ of Donald Trump and ensuring that the Palestinian Authority – along with immigration generally – gets better coverage in the media.

The second important media development was on Friday: the closing date for submissions to a so-called ‘public consultation’ by the BBC Trustees’ in connection with their draft editorial guidelines covering the EU referendum campaign.

Those who favour Brexit should be afraid, very afraid. For all the 16 years that News-watch has monitored the BBC’s EU output, the Corporation has been massively biased against the withdrawal case. It has crudely but pervasively cast EU opponents as racist far-right xenophobes, Conservative Eurosceptics as hopelessly ‘split’, and at the same has totally underplayed or ignored the solid, consistent support for withdrawal from Labour figures such as veteran MPs Kate Hoey and Kelvin Hopkins.

The Trustees’ proposals for ensuring impartiality, which no doubt they will adopt – because such exercises are only fig leaves to accountability – are a farce. The main problem is that as usual, the guidelines put the BBC in the driving seat in terms of what is fair, under their definition of ‘due’ impartiality. That gives them massive leeway, and the proof is that the BBC Trustees have not upheld a single complaint about EU coverage in all their existence.

Even more disturbing, the final judgment on what constitutes bias in the run-up to the referendum will, in effect, be left to the only two Trustees who have any substantial journalistic experience. Both – surprise, surprise – are ex-BBC career journalists.

Step forward Mark Damazer, former Controller of Radio 4, under whose tutelage it was confirmed as the national channel of right-on causes; and Richard Ayre, a former controller of editorial standards who is an ex-chairman of an organisation called Article 19 which is similar to the Ethical Journalism Network mentioned above, with the addition that another of their obsessions is climate alarmism.

The News-watch submission to the BBC – for what it’s worth, because there is no chance that it will be heeded – is in full here.

A remaining question is who sanctioned the Bill Emmott appointment? Eurosceptic John Whittingdale is ostensibly in charge at DCMS. It seems scarcely credible that Emmott would have been his choice. Did David Cameron or George Osborne force the appointment through as part of their frantic drive to stack the cards as highly as possible against an exit vote? They both know that the BBC is firmly already on their side. Now Ofcom is sewn up, too.

 

David Keighley: Drugs, sex and rock ‘n roll. No wonder the BBC adored Bowie

January 12, 2016

Many a tear has doubtless been shed for the iconic David Bowie.

He was an outstanding and hugely influential musician, actor and performer – throughout his long career, he worked hard to innovate and entertain.

But for the BBC he was something else – and that’s why yesterday’s news of his tragically early death from cancer elevated him to the level of sainthood – from the Today programme onwards.

For the chums at the Corporation, music is not just about entertainment, it’s about politics and right-on causes. If you doubt this, take a look at this compilation of Top of the Pops from 1981. Never mind the music, the news footage has been selected to make it an all-out attack on the recession and despair generated by Margaret Thatcher.

So for David Bowie – who allegedly experimented with bisexualism and took, at some stages of his life, industrial quantities of illicit drugs – that meant instant beatification on Today.

From the moment of the announcement, the running order was ditched, Jeremy Corbyn’s botched reshuffle was bounced down the running order and presenters Justin Webb and Nick Robinson adopted reverential tones. All normal rules of journalism were suspended. All that mattered was establishing how good and how influential he was.

Not since the death of Nelson Mandela have such large chunks of the Today programme been dedicated to a single person. The Bowie adulation later spread to other parts of Radio 4, with the setting up of a special page to collect stories about him.

The Corporation’s deep love affair with Bowie began in 1973/4 when Alan Yentob, the BBC’s recently-resigned ‘Creative Director’, filmed a documentary about him during his Diamond Dogs tour that was shown in the Arena series under the title of Cracked Actor.

When he shot the programme, Yentob must have known that at this stage of his career, what dominated Bowie most was not performance or his craft – but drugs. He was heavily addicted to cocaine and it is obvious from almost the minute the programme opens that this was a man in a fragile, precarious mental state.

Bowie said himself a decade or so later:

“I was so blocked…so stoned…It’s quite a casualty case, isn’t it. I’m amazed I came out of that period, honest. When I see that now I cannot believe I survived it. I was so close to really throwing myself away physically, completely.”

To the BBC and Yentob, of course, that doesn’t count. They bracket heavy use of illegal drugs and the whole drugs culture with ‘creativity’ in the music and arts arena. It’s a love affair that is also manifested every year in the millions of pounds that are spent in covering Glastonbury. More programming effort is put into the festival than almost anything else in our cultural or civic life.

Cracked Actor also dwelt heavily on Bowie’s professed bisexuality. Back then, of course, gay ‘liberation’ (as it was then called) was in its relative infancy along with its close twin in the liberal agenda stakes: women’s lib. The fact that Bowie’s approach and persona seemed to encompass both was no doubt viewed by Yentob as a Lottery Rollover bonus: a one-man full-scale, all-frontal assault on prejudice.

That clearly was the lens through which Webb and Robinson viewed Bowie’s career yesterday morning. He was a man who was an exceptional hero, not just for his music, but because – above all – he fought battles against stultifying establishment prejudice.

One thing you did not hear on Today, however, is that Bowie said later in his career (after the Yentob programme) several things that raise doubts about the persona he projected and the BBC so willingly amplified.

First, in a Rolling Stone interview in 1983, Bowie admitted that his public declaration of bisexuality was “the biggest mistake I ever made” and “I was always a closet heterosexual.”

Then David Buckley, in his biography of the singer, noted in an interview conducted for the book that Bowie had said his interest in homosexual and bisexual culture had been more a product of the times and the situation in which he found himself than his own feelings; he said he had been driven more by “a compulsion to flout moral codes than a real biological and psychological state of being”.

For the BBC that’s an inconsequential footnote. Bowie is above all a drugs and gay icon – and that’s all that matters.

 

David Keighley: Want to quit the EU? First you have to get round Carolyn Quinn’s biased BBC report

January 8, 2016

With the campaigns to secure exit from the EU now launched, the BBC knows its Europe coverage is under unprecedented scrutiny.

Before Christmas, Rona Fairhead, the BBC Trust chairman, appeared before the Commons European Scrutiny Committee and swore blind that systems were in place to ensure impartiality in the run-up to the EU referendum.

And – pigs maybe do fly! – the Corporation has now boldly gone into unknown territory, and finally made a programme about what exit for the UK might entail. How to Make a Brexit, compiled and presented by veteran political reporter Carolyn Quinn, was first broadcast on Radio 4 on Tuesday and is repeated this Sunday.

News-watch has been monitoring BBC output for 16 years and this is the first dedicated programme on this subject that has crossed our radar.

So how was it? The transcript is on the News-watch website here and the programme can be heard on YouTube. But don’t hold your breath. The reality is that from beginning to end it was a travesty that showed only that those who work for the Corporation are so pro-EU that they don’t even begin to comprehend the depth of their bias.

Evidence for that is so thick on the ground that it’s almost impossible to know where to start, but a favourite moment was when, close to the beginning, Quinn used an extract from a pro-EU rant on the Now Show to illustrate one of her key points. The tone was thus set.

Quinn’s linking commentary and choice of quotes was framed with only one aim in mind – to tell us how desperately complex a departure would be.  The first quote in this vein from a contributor was:

“This is the largest scale legislation and policy exercise that has possibly been carried out ever”.

Ms Quinn then added: “…as we’ll discover there would be all sorts of things that would need to be finally negotiated.  The trade options alone are staggering and then there’s what to do with EU legislation, citizenship, even devolution.”

Thereafter, almost every element of the programme fitted with the pro-EU propaganda the BBC has been broadcasting for years. It left no room for doubt: leaving the EU is something that only a fool would contemplate.

The most serious and obvious bias was in the treatment of contributors.

The pro-EU speakers who wanted to make exit sound impossibly complex were Charles Grant of the Centre of European Reform – a perennial BBC favourite – and Jean-Claude Piris, a former director of EU legal services. Both EU cronies were afforded clear space to make their respective arguments and were edited to make them sound coherent and persuasive. Their contributions amounted to more than 800 words, and their stance was made crystal clear.

By contrast, ‘Eurosceptic’ contributions, for example from Ruth Lea, the political economist from Business for Britain, and Ukip MEP Diane James, were fragmented and edited in such a way that if they provided Quinn with any clear arguments in favour of exit, they were not obvious to the listener. Negotiating separate trade deals was made to sound impossibly complex.

A word count of contributors shows that the clearly pro-EU side, essentially from three main contributors, amounted to more than 1200 words and those from the Brexit and clearly Eurosceptic sides added up to 800 words – spread across eight speakers. Of these, only Ruth Lea had more than 100 words.

Of course, bias is not solely about numbers but here there was a clear weighting towards the EU perspective and this was compounded by Quinn, whose main editorial intent both in her own contributions and her editing of comments, was to illustrate her central contention that this whole prospect was a fool’s errand.

Other problems? There are legion. Why the choice of Greenland as the peg for the programme? Its experience (a territory with a population of only 57,000) was so long ago as to be almost irrelevant because the rules are now entirely different.

Quinn kept in the programme without challenge – and indeed emphasised them – views from Jean-Claude Piris that suggested that pressing the exit button would mean that British citizens in EU countries would face severe difficulties because their status would change. Others, such as EU expert Richard North, strongly disagree.

Much more than that, however, was the whole tone of the programme. Everything about it emphasised that an EU exit would be problematical. There was no attempt to look at benefits – the Greenland experience of enjoying integrity of its fishing waters was almost totally glossed over.

Of course, a programme featuring such a perspective that is chock-full of genuine supporters of withdrawal allowed to put their case might be somewhere in the BBC pipeline. But don’t count on it. Those campaigning for a Brexit have a mountain to climb in countering such blatant propaganda.

David Keighley: Meet our most toe-curlingly lefty bishop. Rachel puts her pale and male counterparts to shame

December 15, 2015

The Rt Reverend Rachel Treweek is Britain’s most senior female bishop – in charge of the Gloucester see – and the first female lord spiritual to sit in the House of Lords. She is, therefore, arguably the most important woman in the established Church and is clearly on the rise with multiple agendas.

Not many of them are directly to do with her faith, however.

She told the Guardian a few weeks back that she wants God to be thought of as either he or she;  she wants the church to pursue a multicultural and equal-gender approach (there are, of course, far too many ‘loud and domineering’ men in  the Church); she wants ‘social justice’ for refugees, and many more of them to be accommodated.

Her over-arching approach to her new ministry? To ‘shake up’ what has hitherto been a ‘male, middle-aged’ role. Watch out, you old fogeys of Gloucester!

Her Grace is also apparently – like so many of her fellow clergy – a fully paid up member of the church of climate alarmism. As the COP21 talks in Paris opened, she tweeted reverentially to her new flock:

‘As pilgrims head for Paris for climate change talks, may we be yet more aware of our wounded earth and broken humanity. Lord have mercy.’

The right-on Lord Treweek, as a member of the House of Lords, can no longer vote in Parliamentary elections, but it is not hard to imagine which way she did so before her elevation. It certainly was not for Ukip.

She has this week taken up another cudgel. In her sights now, for a seasonal bah! humbug attack, though, is a much tougher nut to crack. It’s the BBC.

Her Grace’s beef with the Corporation is that it is not Christian enough. She has complained that there are only four hours of new Christian programmes over the Christmas period.

In her diocesan Christmas message, she declares that she found the Corporation’s ‘scant’ religious television offering ‘offensive’ and claimed that scheduling decisions were ‘presumably taken in order to reduce the possibility of offending people with too much God stuff over the holiday’.

Well golly gosh. In fact, the BBC’s religious programmes have halved as a proportion of the total output over the past thirty years, and religious coverage is now, of course, headed by Muslim Aaqil Ahmad, who has stated that Christianity – despite it being the established religion of this country – will be treated no differently from any other.

That, of course, is an outright porkie. Christianity – unlike Mr Ahmad’s own religion – has been subjected to years of full-scale assault from its enemies on the BBC airwaves, especially from followers of the LGBT agenda – as the attacks against Tyson Fury have shown this week.

Newsreader Clive Myrie was the house spokesman for the Corporation’s main onslaught. With all the elegance of a jackhammer, he called the boxer a ‘dickhead’ for daring to say that Christianity had concerns about homosexuality and paedophiles.

Comedians who appear on BBC programmes from Have I Got News For You to the Now Show on Radio 4 lampoon the Church itself and Christians in general mercilessly; and those who present factual science programmes treat the idea of God as a mental illness worse than schizophrenia.

Her Grace is thus protesting well after the horse has bolted. She could always complain, of course, but the BBC complaints process is so rotten to the core and self-serving that she would not stand a cat in hell’s chance of success.
The other side of this coin is that figures from the Church of England such as the Lord Treweek and Thought for the Day presenter the Reverend Giles Fraser, (who believes that Christianity should adopt a jihadi-style approach to social campaigning) have for years been massive supporters of the BBC’s multicultural agenda.

What we are seeing in the slashing in the numbers of Christian programmes is a logical outcome of that approach. Christianity is now officially in the eyes of the Corporation the same as all religions in the UK, and deserves no special treatment. Those such as Her Grace who sup with the Devil cannot expect favours. Or put another way (King James Bible Galatians VI):

“Whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.”

And a woman, too, your Grace.

 

David Keighley: You’re nicked! Climate change joker Letts has collar felt by BBC thought police

December 7, 2015

Outrageous. That is the only way to describe respectably the latest impartiality ruling by the BBC Trust.

This band of climate change crusaders – led by the Trust’s Richard Ayre, chair of the Editorial  Standards Committee (ESC) – have ruled that a show that was a light-hearted dig at climate fanaticism by the Daily Mail’s Quentin Letts on Radio 4 back in August amounted ‘a serious breach of editorial guidelines’.

The crime? According to Ayre’s ruling – himself a former chairman of a group that campaigns on climate change – the producers failed to allow the Met Office totally to spoil the programme by being assigned acres of space to tell listeners that Letts was talking a load of rubbish because it was not in accord with the prevailing science.

Letts’ programme was in the humorous series What’s the Point of?…Specific criticisms levelled at it by the ESC also included that it had dared to suggest that the Met Office – which for years has been stuffed full of climate change zealots – was (shock horror), involved in political lobbying (over its own views), that it was not impartial about climate issues, and that it was alarmist (in the way it was trying to terrify us all into believing that the world would end soon because of our wicked capitalist ways).

For starters, the ruling is an affront to science and to basic intelligence because science does not and has never worked on the basis of ‘prevailing views’. Scientific theories aren’t reached by voting.

It proceeds by continually testing theories; the essence is that at any moment a whole edifice of accepted belief might come crashing down. There are thousands of scientists who do not agree with the Met Office’s and the BBC’s alarmism, as, for example, Jo Nova’s site regularly shows. They assert that the idea that the science relating to meteorology is settled is utter nonsense. And they point out that the UN’s process of inquiry into the science is totally flawed and designed for political purposes rather than reaching the truth.

But beyond that, the ruling also demonstrates that the BBC has descended into operating like the thought police in its attitudes towards almost every sphere of national life and culture. It has adopted a self-serving definition of ‘due impartiality’ to assess editorial balance.

Such judgments about who and who should not be heard now operate in coverage not solely related to related to climate, but also covering the environment, immigration, multiculturalism, religion, sexuality, Islam, the EU, the state-sanctioned killing of those who wish to die, family life, the British Empire, slavery, British history, morals, and much, much more.

Universities have rightly been condemned for operating the ‘no platform’ policy with increasing zealotry and bigotry. The ruling against the Letts programme confirms loudly and clearly that the BBC now has its own version of this. Those it disagrees with are banned from the airwaves completely, simply ignored, or, on the rare occasions where they are not, forced to offer their views in such a suffocating framework that they are effectively neutered.

Investigations have shown that the Trustees’ entire process of upholding impartiality is rotten to the core, and for years has been operating only to protect the BBC from criticism. This latest ruling confirms yet again that the Corporation’s governance is not fit for purpose.

Rona Fairhead, the Trust chairman, made yet another BBC-serving speech last week in which she argued that any changes to the BBC being made in connection with the charter renewal should be evolutionary rather than revolutionary. Let us hope that Culture Secretary John Whittingdale totally ignores her simpering pleas.

 

David Keighley: Worldwide climate change zealots threaten millions of lives. But you won’t hear that on the BBC

November 30, 2015

The main point of this prime piece of biased reporting  was that at this week’s Paris climate talks, there are hopes of a ‘deal’ – for the West to pay the developing world £100bn a year in perpetuity because of its alleged role in triggering rising temperatures.

Climate alarm reporter Matt McGrath, together with the BBC news machine, are clearly rooting for this outcome. The story contained not a breath of a suggestion of opposition.

The BBC’s coverage of climate issues has, of course, been totally and formally biased since 2006, when it held a meeting of around 30 alarmist activists who told the news department that there could be no doubt that the science is totally settled and incontrovertible; that those who disagreed were deluded right-wing bigots in the pockets of big oil.

That approach was confirmed in 2010/11 when the Trustees appointed, as part of a so-called impartiality review, another climate alarmist – actually a geologist – to write a report about the BBC’s science coverage. Very predictably, he concluded that ‘deniers’ were getting far too much airtime, by which he meant that once in a blue moon, someone from their ranks was asked to make a comment about the relentless tide of alarmist propaganda.

On one of the few occasions that a ‘denier’ has since appeared on the Today programme – Nigel Lawson, who outlined the real cause of the winter 2014 Somerset floods – it triggered a major BBC internal inquiry and a subsequent declaration that such views would in future only very rarely ever be allowed to sully the BBC airwaves.

The real scandal is that the Government’s bigoted, zealous pursuit of climate alarmist objectives under the 2008 Climate Change Act is leading to massive negative consequences in Britain and throughout the world – but you won’t hear about any of them on the BBC because they do not fit with the alarmist propaganda drive.

Matt McGrath and the army of BBC climate zealots such as Roger Harrabin and David Shukman, should be reporting, but are not:

POWER CUTS: Britain, for the first time since Edward Heath, is facing the real prospect of national energy black-outs. This is because the UK’s coal-fired power stations – regarded here as ‘dirty’, but being built in Germany, China and India at the rate of at least two a week because they provide cheap energy – are being closed down because of EU diktats. The irony is that if the lights do stay on it will only be because massive numbers of diesel generators have been surreptitiously put in place as back-up. When they are used, it will be at a rate of up to 50 times the normal National Grid tariff – and the firms who will benefit most are energy companies, which are already growing fat on lavish public subsidies for ‘renewables’.

INDUSTRY MELTDOWN: This Conservative Government is presiding over, and not lifting a finger to stop, a major and highly alarming new twist in the industrial decline of Britain. Because George Osborne introduced in 2011 a ‘carbon’ market, energy costs to industry have soared. As a result, since the general election, some of the last deep coal mines in Yorkshire have been shut, the UK’s main aluminium-smelting plant has gone, the Redcar steel plant has been closed down for good (ending 150 years of steel-making in the area) and now a further 4,500 jobs in steel manufacturing are under threat in Scunthorpe. Opponents of the Climate Change Act warned that this would be an inevitable consequence of such lunatic legislation and what we are now witnessing is a slow-motion car crash at the heart of the British economy that will seriously impact future levels of national prosperity. It’s tough enough already to compete on the international stage. We have now been forced to do so with hands tied behind our backs.

THOUSANDS DEAD IN THE UK: The biggest climate-related killer is the cold. Before the Industrial Revolution and the advent of cheap power, people died by the thousands every winter because of it. The green-freak impact on the energy industry is so complex that it is almost impossible to unpick the extent to which subsidies have distorted the market. What is certain, however, is that the Government’s energy policies – and its obscene emphasis on ‘renewables’ have jacked up energy prices so that for the most vulnerable adequate heating is not affordable. It’s widely known that up to 40,000 deaths a year among the old are directly attributable to the cold. But insanely, the emphasis of BBC reporting is that energy costs must be driven upwards in order to reach green objectives.

…AND MILLIONS MORE OVERSEAS: In India, 300 million people are still without electricity. In Africa, there are tens of millions more. Because of this, countless numbers die each year through inhalation of wood and dung-smoke that is used to generate heat for cooking. All the so-called aid agencies – led by the constant propaganda on the BBC about the dangers of ‘carbon’ – are focusing their efforts on providing these desperate people with ‘renewables’. In doing so, they are, in effect, condemning millions to death. What is needed is cheap, reliable power generated by coal-burning. ‘Renewables’; are incapable of providing electricity on the scale required. The India government thinks the views of Greenpeace are so dangerous to the nation’s well-being that they have been banned.

Under those four headings are the real economic and environmental challenges facing Britain and the world. But you won’t hear about them on the BBC. For them, the science is settled.

 

David Keighley: London a multi-ethnic city for 2,000 years? Only in the madhouse of BBC propaganda

November 26, 2015

The BBC’s claim – trumpeted by a gurning-with-delight Fiona Bruce on news bulletins – that analysis of skeletons from Roman London showed that the capital was ‘’ethnically diverse from its very beginnings’’ (BBC code, of course,  for multicultural)  is an affront to journalism, a huge distortion of the historical record, and an indefensible misuse of statistics.

Where to begin? The item was clearly only elevated to major bulletin status because the 8,000-strong news department is currently engaged in a full-on political campaign to tell us that those who disagree with mass immigration are right-wing bigots.

In line with this, the Corporation is engaged in re-writing our history to make us a nation of settlers and of constant ferment. If such was the case for two millennia, how can complaining about the current level of 350,000 immigrants a year be anything but irrational, racist, xenophobia?

A major rule of ethical journalism is to use statistics, as with all sources of evidence, wisely and judiciously. ‘There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies and statistics’, was popularised by Mark Twain as a warning for good reason.

The BBC pays lip service to this cautionary principle; the Trustees are currently going through another of their (sham) ‘impartiality reviews’ focused on that theme.

It is clearly much overdue. The story that was broadcast about the skeletons was so risibly a misuse of statistics that it is hard to know where to begin.   This DNA study, by the Museum of London on its own collection of skeletons, was of just FOUR individuals. Two were of ‘non-European’ origin, one was from Europe and one was a native Briton.

From that, reporter Pallab Ghosht trumpeted the claim of the museum’s curator that this showed that London was a ‘cosmopolitan’ city from the moment it was created 2,000 years ago’.

Excuse me? The Romans occupied London for roughly 380 years (43AD- 410AD). The average population was around 30,000 (with a peak of around 60,000). Assuming a birth-rate similar to that in Africa now (around 40 per thousand per annum), this means that around half a million individuals were likely to have been born and died there.

On that basis, four skeletons out of 500,000 prove absolutely zilch about the ethnic make-up of the population. BBC reporters and museum curators should damn well know better than to make such preposterous claims. Yet Ghosht was so ecstatic about the findings that he tweeted that it would ‘literally change history’.

What utter, ignorant codswallop. His crass words are sure evidence that the true intent of such claims is to spread propaganda.

The story is also rubbish in archaeological terms.  The fact is that Roman London was founded by Roman invaders whose social structure was based upon forced and slave labour drawn from throughout its immense Empire.  It would have been astonishing if some of the settlers in London were not drawn from faraway places. But that does not mean it was a ‘cosmopolitan’ city in the current sense of the word.

Nor was it ‘ethnically diverse’ in any modern sense. There were different races, but each would have been treated in accordance to their social status. The majority of non-Romans were viewed as inferior vassals.

BBC reporters, it now appears, don’t have any knowledge of British history. After the Romans left there is a huge gap in the written and archaeological record. What is certain is that only a few thousand souls lived there. The capital of Anglo-Saxon Britain shifted to Winchester for large parts of the Anglo-Saxon era, and only reverted permanently to London after the Norman Conquest.

The population did not reach the peak Roman level again for more than a thousand years – until 1500. The idea that it was ‘cosmopolitan’ during this thousand-year stretch, as is implied by Ghosht’s feature, is utter nonsense. Extensive sampling of skeletons from these periods shows that there was an impact on our DNA from Anglo-Saxon settlers, but little else…not even from the Vikings.

In the last 500 years, until after the Second World War, the only significant influxes into London were the Hugenots after the edict of Nantes, and then significant large numbers of settlers from Germany and Eastern Europe. Yes, as a port with a merchant fleet that traded with the world, London had  a significant of foreign-born nationals – but at most only 3 per cent or so of the population.

The massive changes happened after the Second World War, first with war refugees, then from the Commonwealth and finally from the EU. The 2011 census revealed that 3 million foreign born nationals are now living in the capital.

To compare crudely that level of influx with Roman Britain – as Bruce and Ghosht so clearly tried to do – is dishonest reporting on a gargantuan scale.

 

David Keighley: Alf Garnett may have been a bigot but we laughed with him as well as at him

November 17, 2015

Rest in peace, you old bastard!

The death of Warren Mitchell, the consummate Shakespearian actor equally at home playing Shylock as Alf Garnett, one of the most memorable characters ever created on the BBC, is a sharp reminder of how bigoted and biased the Corporation is.

It is now possible to buy almost every programme you can remember (and many best forgotten) from the BBC Store, but not Till Death Do Us Part, writer Johnny Speight’s brilliant satirical evocation of British life and perspectives from the 1960s.

The show was no penny dreadful. Mitchell, Tony Booth, Dandy Nichols and Una Stubbs, the main cast members, were all accomplished actors at the top of their game, so much so that Mitchell won a BAFTA award for his portrayal of Alf in 1967.

The BBC Store is ram-full of foul-mouthed ‘entertainment’ galore, much of it crass and unfunny, from pygmy comedy ‘stars’ that the BBC has elevated beyond their talent because they propagate the Corporation world view – but no Alf. Some of the early black and white shows were wiped, but many still exist.

Let’s not mince words – that’s censorship. The high command at the BBC has decided that we cannot see it, even though it was one of the best loved shows of the 1960s and 1970s, reaching peak audiences of 16 million, far in excess of programmes that are lionised because of their anti-establishment approach, such as TW3.

Why? It’s true that times have changed, and some of the observations made by Alf on racial themes are hard for modern ears to tolerate. But we have judgement. And let’s not forget that Booth’s character Tony Rawlins was just as prejudiced the other way.  Abortion? Bring it on. Work? To be avoided at all costs.

The show – curses and all – reflected an aspect of East End working class life and attitudes, and the generational shift that was underway in the Baby Boomer era. Alf’s rants against immigration, in favour of British values and the rule of law and against the iconoclasm of Harold Wilson’s Labour government can now be seen as one of the last stands of a world we have lost.

The reality is, of course, is that Johnny Speight – an ardent socialist – created Alf to ridicule him. Perhaps, too, Mitchell had the same goals, because from his Oxford days onwards –a contemporary who persuaded him to become an actor was Richard Burton – he identified with left-wing activism.

Without doubt, the BBC only allowed the show to be developed for the same reason. This was the era of director general Hugh Carleton Greene (1960-9) who first took the Corporation firmly into the liberal-left territory that now so dominates public service broadcasting generally and particularly the BBC.

An irony is that Mary Whitehouse hated the show because of Alf’s perennial foul mouth. In retrospect, it’s possible to see that Carleton Greene probably defended Alf precisely for that reason – this was, despite Alf’s so-called reactionary views, a Trojan horse way of battering down lines of taste and decency.

The comedy shows that now populate the BBC Store in fact make Alf sound tame in the swearing stakes.

Another point relates to Charles Curran, Greene’s successor as BBC director-general, who alarmed at the show’s continued popularity, commissioned research about the audience’s reactions. No doubt, in true BBC fashion, he wanted to show that Alf was challenging and changing people’s conservative views rather than encouraging them.

He was in for a rude shock. ‘Significant numbers’ agreed with Alf.  The archives were released a couple of years back, and this is what the Daily Mail reported:

‘At a meeting on July 18, 1973, BBC director-general Sir Charles Curran said the report had diminished his confidence that it was possible to make ‘anti-prejudicial comedy’. The survey involved more than 700 people – regular and occasional viewers, and people who had never seen the show.

‘They were asked to consider some of Alf’s pronouncements, including ‘Women’s lib is a load of rubbish’; ‘Bloody foreigners come over here and sponge off us’ and ‘If we want a proper democracy here we’ve got to start shooting a lot of people’.

‘The report concluded that the survey supported the idea ‘that the series may have reinforced existing illiberal and anti-trade union attitudes’.’

In other words, the BBC high command justified the programme only because it was ‘anti-prejudicial’. In the Corporation’s world, then – as now – their mission to ‘educate’ (as well as to inform and entertain) was interpreted to mean that their comedy was acceptable only if it rammed down people’s throats liberal views.

Of course Alf Garnett was brimful of prejudices. Johnny Speight made him as vile as he could when he expressed them. But even a full-blooded socialist like Speight could not disguise that the so-called prejudices of the working class were also based on common concerns about integration and threats to services and jobs, and fears that old values were being destroyed by shallow, vapid liberalism.

The biggest tragedy is that Alf was so successful and so popular that now, when the working class is portrayed at all on the BBC, they are one-dimensionally useless. You can say what you like about Alf, but – overt racism apart – he had passion, he loved his country and he was not afraid of saying so. Who from the East End speaks like that now?

 

David Keighley: BBC blows £600,000 of your money defending the indefensible

November 12, 2015

Is there anything that the BBC does that is fit for purpose?

Last year, an employment tribunal found that the Corporation’s most senior management had treated disgracefully John Linwood, its ex-chief technical officer who had been ignominiously fired and cast as incompetent. He was blamed for a disastrous attempt at creating a new BBC digital archiving System.

I noted at the time: “The 66-page employment tribunal ruling on the illegal sacking by BBC executive board of… John Linwood is an astonishing read.

“It makes forensically clear that due process was completely disregarded and Linwood was disgracefully and ridiculously made a scapegoat for systemic, multiple management failure within the very highest echelons of the BBC.”

The tribunal specifically attacked the BBC’s disciplinary procedures, which they said were ‘wholly inadequate’.

Now, begrudgingly ­ – and only after a freedom of information request – the Corporation has revealed that its bull-headed defence of the sacking by the executive board cost licence-fee payers a whopping £498,000. That’s 3,422 licence fees down the chute defending gross incompetence. Given the weakness of the BBC’s case, this can only be described as cavalier profligacy.

And that’s not the only cost: the employment tribunal also ordered the BBC to pay Linwood compensation. The Corporation will not disclose the figure involved, but it’s likely to have been at least £80,000.

To add insult to injury, it has also emerged that Linwood’s lawyers offered to reach a settlement over the dismissal before the hearing went ahead for £50,000.

Earlier in the week, I reported that the BBC news management had rejected monitoring of EU content to ensure impartiality partly because it was regarded by David Jordan, the Director of Editorial Standards, as ‘too expensive’.

The costs involved in the Linwood ruling show how disastrously out of kilter the BBC’s priorities are. Transparency in the measurement of impartiality? That doesn’t matter a fig. Its only true purpose is the bloody-minded defence of its own interests.

 

David Keighley: The BBC has no intention of being impartial in its EU coverage

November 9, 2015

David Cameron is gearing up this week for another attempt at telling us that leaving the EU will be disastrous for the UK and to outline more of his sham ‘renegotiations’.

Meanwhile, under far less media scrutiny, the House of Lords has been debating much more crucial work: whether special steps should be taken to ensure that the BBC is impartial in its coverage of the EU referendum.

Here, there was a bit of a surprise. Baroness Anelay, the government spokeswoman, responding to the calls for tough new measures, was unexpectedly tough on the BBC.  She acknowledged that the Corporation’s EU-related coverage is a major cause for concern, and also that in the past there had been justification for worries about the BBC’s impartiality. She added that on that basis Culture Secretary John Whittingdale had written to the BBC in June, and revealed that he had now received a reply outlining the BBC’s approach to coverage which promised great vigilance.

But don’t hold your breath. Baroness Anelay did not reveal to their noble lords what the steps were, but it’s likely that they are on similar lines to the approach outlined by News Director James Harding when he appeared before the European Scrutiny Committee last month.

Basically, Harding risibly said that talking to audience councils, having a referendum hotline for campaigning groups, and a programme of half-day seminars for BBC journalists will do the trick. At the same time, he set his face against any kind of independent academic monitoring of BBC content. He and David Jordan, the Director of Editorial Standards, claimed that such methodology was ‘unhelpful’, expensive, confusing, and too much based on number-crunching for their liking.

How could something as sacred as BBC journalism be subjected to such unrefined analysis was their indignant tone. Harding also went so far as to claim that the conducting of such research threatened editorial freedom and hem editors in. He did not outline why. Did he mean that if editors knew that they were being watched, they would not be able to perform their duties?

If so, that’s astonishing. The whole point of the public service journalism broadcast and published by the BBC is that it is continually subject to scrutiny in terms of fairness and balance. If editors feel constricted by that, they should be doing something else.

Harding’s and Jordan’s snooty claims about monitoring, however, are, on further investigation, frankly bizarre – because they are sharply at odds with existing BBC practice. Why? Well, for years, the BBC Trustees, and before them, the BBC Governors have been holding what they call ‘Impartiality Reviews’.

That’s actually a total misnomer, because the reality is that most – like the 2011 review of Science coverage, or the 2012 Prebble Report into the EU, or the 2014 equivalent into rural affairs – are actually conducted by BBC lackeys who confirm what the Trustees want to hear: that almost everything in the garden is rosy.

Putting that aside, however, considerable effort is made to making these exercises look genuine. It is here that where academic monitoring of output comes in. And in at least nine of the Reviews since 2004, such surveys, conducted usually by university media departments, have been an integral component of the review process.

Moving up to the present, a Trust review into the use of statistics in news coverage is currently underway, and in that connection, content analysis from Cardiff University has been commissioned.

The various surveys have been clearly used by the Trustees to convey to the outside world that the Reviews are conducted on an impartial and independent basis, and then to bolster the claims of overall impartiality. For example, in the most recently published Review, into rural affairs, the BBC Trust, after the official panel report had been received, declared:

Overall, the BBC’s coverage of rural areas in the UK is duly impartial. There is no evidence of party political bias, and a wide range of views is aired.

Analysis of the various review documents shows this claim can only be based on the academic survey work, in this instance conducted by Loughborough University.

That is why Harding and Jordan’s remarks about monitoring can truly be described as bizarre. The Trustees, who are the ultimate guardians of BBC impartiality, use such surveys as proof of editorial balance. But the News department think and do otherwise.

In fact, investigation of the archives reveals more contradictions. A key finding in the Lord Wilson of Dinton Impartiality Review (2004) was that rigorous monitoring of output was essential to achieve impartiality. The then news management (under Helen Boaden), responded that they agreed, said that internal monitoring systems were already in place, and pledged that they would be upgraded.

Similar promises about monitoring were made after three further reviews (covering business, Israel-Palestine and the four UK nations) between 2005 and 2008.

Jordan’s response to the European Scrutiny Committee confirmed that these promises have now been jettisoned by the news executive.

This was BBC business as usual. It boils down to that Harding and the rest of the BBC arrogantly believe that the only people who can measure news impartiality are those from the BBC itself through what they call ‘editorial judgment’.

John Whittingdale may have a letter from the BBC pledging impartiality in coverage of the EU referendum. It’s not worth the paper it is written on.

 

David Keighley: Is Cameron morphing into an EU fanatic like Heath?

October 29, 2015

Earth maps courtesy of NASA: http://visibleearth.nasa.gov/

The more David Cameron’s approach to the EU takes shape, the more bewildering it appears. Is he becoming as fanatical about the EU as Edward Heath?

His speech on Wednesday – in which he claimed that Norway would be better off ‘in’ the EU than with its present access to the EU trading area – indicates that he is now aggressively trying to shut down proper consideration of an exit.

Instead, he could easily have called for an audit of the Norway position in the light of current circumstances, thus allowing people to reach their own verdict as part of the overall debate – but his mind is already made up.

Indeed, he appears so keen to stay in – and to want to rubbish the consequences of coming out – that perhaps he puts in the shade even the pro-EU zeal of Michael Heseltine or Ken Clarke.  His gung-ho reasoning, dubbed as ‘project fear’ in some quarters, is actually strangely negative – primarily that exit would leave Britain ‘without a voice’ in key areas of policy.

Yet this is utterly specious. The reality is that inside the EU, Britain emphatically does not have a say over vast areas of crucial policy.  The fundamental lack of democracy inherent in the EU project is one of the main reasons for entering the ‘no’ camp.

Figures here show that Britain’s MEPs lost 98 per cent of finance resolutions in the past five years and 92 per cent of those relating to constitutional affairs.

Cameron’s bloody-minded, Canute-like pro-EU stance comes at a time when the strategic electoral reasons for supporting wanting to stay in are weaker than ever before. This survey, for example, by the polling organisation NatCen Research, found that almost two-thirds of Britons (64 per cent) do not feel ‘European’ at all – their patriotic allegiance is to the United Kingdom. By contrast, 75 per cent of Germans and 64 per cent of the French feel ‘totally European’.

That negative finding in the UK about the EU comes on top of other opinion polls,  such as this last week by You Gov and commissioned by the BBC, which found that nudging 50 per cent of respondents are now considering voting ‘leave’ when the in-out referendum is eventually held.

In his stubbornness to stay in, Cameron is also putting two fingers up to those in his party and the electorate who want genuine, tighter controls on movements of people across Europe.

The most recent EU ‘summit’ showed how desperately out of touch he and the EU ruling class are. Because of their doctrinaire, socialist attachment to free movement, they decided  this week they are going to bludgeon all EU states to accept massive numbers of immigrants – with all the social and political consequences – whether they want to or not. The decision led Hungary’s Prime Minister, Victor Orban, to state that in foisting such policies on Eastern Europe, Angela Merkel was guilty of ‘moral imperialism’.

Former Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott, speaking at the second annual Margaret Thatcher lecture in London’s Guildhall also waded into the immigration debate, by illustrating vividly the gulf between Cameron’s support for EU policies and what the electorate truly desires.

He warned European nations that they must introduce much stricter Australian-style border controls or risk ‘catastrophic error’ in not standing up for themselves. If they did not, ‘Western civilisation’ would be at risk.  He urged leaders and countries to emulate Thatcher’s style because she had shaped the world rather than passively responding to events.

David Cameron won’t make such speeches, and now seems to accept that at least 318,000 immigrants arriving in Britain each year is the norm, so it was left to an Aussie to illustrate what the Thatcher tradition is actually about. Elements of Abbott’s speech deserve a full airing because the power of his argument – and the sharp contrast to Cameron’s stance – was so strong.

He said:  “Implicitly or explicitly, the imperative to love your neighbour as you love yourself is at the heart of every Western policy … but right now this wholesome instinct is leading much of Europe into catastrophic error.”

He added that that once refugees arrive in Europe and in Australia, they had crossed a number of borders and “however desperate, almost by definition, they are economic migrants.

“…people smuggling is a global problem, and because Australia is the only country that has successfully defeated it, twice under conservative governments, our experience should be studied.”

Abbott added that Australia’s border policies required “some force”.

“It will require massive logistics and expense; it will gnaw at our consciences — yet it is the only way to prevent a tide of humanity surging through Europe and quite possibly changing it forever,” he said.

“We are rediscovering the hard way that justice tempered by mercy is an exacting ideal, as too much mercy for some necessarily undermines justice for all.”

He added: “No country or continent can open its borders to all comers without fundamentally weakening itself. This is the risk that the countries of Europe now run through misguided altruism.”

Abbott’s speech also underlines that in nailing his mast so firmly to the ‘in’ camp, and hence to EU policies, David Cameron is digging himself into an elitist, left-wing, anti-voter hole.

Because of Jeremy Corbyn, he may not face a true opposition. But increasingly, he seems as determined as Ted Heath was to sabotage true Conservatism at the altar of EU supremacy.

 

David Keighley: Kids Company was a cult centred on Batmanghelidjh’s giant ego

October 21, 2015

Who really is Camila Batmanghelidjh, the former boss of Kids Company?

She certainly is a woman with powers of persuasion. For 14 long years, Alan Yentob, one of the BBC’s most senior managers – in his role as the charity’s chairman, was her door opener to corporate funds and gave her a gloss of establishment respectability.

His support allowed Kids Company to raise tens of millions of pounds, including £30 million of government cash, and helped made it one of the most successful and high-profile charities in the land.

In their joint appearance before the Commons Public Administration committee, Yentob bull-headedly maintained that Batmanghelidjh was both brilliant at running Kids Company and had done no wrong , despite mounting  evidence suggesting there had been poor stewardship,  elements of profligacy and exaggerations of the impact of the organisation on a substantial scale.

In consequence of this seemingly totally unquestioning loyalty – which also led Yentob to trying repeatedly to influence BBC coverage of the Kids Company bankruptcy – he could now, if the Trustees for once fulfil their role properly, lose  his job as Creative Director.

A BBC career which began in 1968 could end in ignominy, though his £6.3 million BBC pension pot would no doubt ease the blow. So what was it that persuaded Yentob to embark on this kamikaze course?

Batmanghelidjh certainly had a seductive vision. She wanted to help what she claimed was a huge feral underclass of children in our inner cities who had had been on the one hand excluded by their families and, on the other, had slipped through the net of formal child protection measures. To do so, she had built a network of around a dozen drop-in centres where she claimed 36,000 children every year received food, cash, travel passes, key-work therapy support and above all, love.

Kids Company – however chaotically – undoubtedly in some ways met a need. Government policies – including those of George Osborne and Nicky Morgan – have been systematically undermining the cohesion of family life for decades.

But was Kids Company handling 1,500 or so genuine cases a year or 36,000? That remains to be seen. The latter is the number in Kids Company annual report claimed to be helping; it emerged at the Commons hearing that only a thousand or so records  had actually been passed on to social services after the charity went bust.

As always, in the face of such evidence, Batmanghelidjh  argued that she was right and everyone else – and especially the nasty prying reporters like Miles Goslett who did not do her bidding and conspiratorial civil servants who withheld a £3 million grant – were  wrong.

But how reliable is she? Remarkably little has been written about the huge contradictions and omissions in her life story. Scratch the surface of what she claims and you are in a kind of Narnia.  According to Camila, she is a woman of remarkable powers of caring who, forced out of her native Iran by the Ayatollah Khomeini, overcame astonishing odds to fulfil her pre-destined purpose to save millions of children. But to put it bluntly, it simply does not add up.

Examples of self aggrandisement saturate every page of her autobiographical book Shattered Lives. In the first page of chapter one, as a taster, she tells us that she seemed to have been born with a ‘profound knowing’ (about children’s problems) and that by the age of nine, in her native Iran, was both reading complex psychiatric journals and being entrusted with the care of a class of 90 nursery-age children.
She then recounts her education. There is one specific qualification – a Master’s Degree in psychotherapy from Regent’s College London. Most of the rest is placements with social services, jobs in nurseries, and the like. Read quickly it all sounds very convincing and impressive – a woman with a mission and in a rush – but none of it is verifiable.

Another question here is whether Batmanghelidjh is actually a properly-qualified psychotherapist. Yes, she is specific where she took the degree, but most of those who go on to practise psychotherapy then register with one of the two professional bodies, the British Association of Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP) or the UK Council of Psychotherapists (UKCP).

Bernard Jenkin, chair of the Public Administration Committee, specifically asked her if she was a member of a professional body. Her only response was that she was ‘talking to’ UKCP – whatever that meant – and she then did not seem able to know what the initials UKCP actually stood for.

Another huge question mark here is that the basic MA which Batmanghelidjh says she took does not encompass expertise in counselling children, or identifying and coping with their special needs – child psychotherapy is a complex specialised field that requires years of extra study. That leads to a suspicion that this self-styled Pied Piper has no specific qualifications at all to be working with vulnerable children.

Other massive doubts about Batmanghelidjh are raised by this article in Glamour magazine. It’s the type of puff-feature for she would have had ‘copy approval’, which means in effect, it was written largely to her specification.

Every assertion – as in the autobiography – seems to be calculated myth-building, constructed to explain and justify her lack of qualifications.

First, though, comes a touch of messianic modesty. She claims she is brilliant because her abilities are a fusion of the spirituality of one grandparent and the entrepreneurial genius of the other –a multi-millionaire by the age of 22.

She then tells us that her empathy for children was there from birth because she was born two and a half months prematurely and nearly died.  As a result, too, she became so ‘dyslexic’ that she can’t write. Hey presto! That therefore absolves herself of the need to have formal qualifications. And if you doubt her, you are being anti-dyslexic, and attacking her on the grounds that ‘there’s something medically wrong with me’.

Her realisation that she was ‘good with toddlers’ comes next. She had no money and chose child care as the least bad way of making some. The nasty rich people she worked for were so callous as parents that their children were desperately unhappy. Her charges self-harmed by cutting their hands, then wrote on the walls with their own blood, cut up Persian carpets, too and also stepped through ‘Francis Bacon paintings’(!).

There follows another convenient problem: when she was finding her way in London as a student she had to ‘hide her name’ because if she didn’t, the Ayotollah Khomeini would find her and have her killed. That meant she had to adopt a series of assumed names based on colours.  Most of her work experience in the childcare field was in this period. Hey presto again! That means for a very good  rabbit-out-of-the-hat reasons none of her work history can be verified.

In summary, the more you probe, the more elastic and seemingly preposterous the written information about Batmanghelidjh becomes. It feels like a weird Hall of Mirrors.

If she can prove I am being a nasty suspicious journalist putting two and two together to make five, I would be delighted to hear from her. But from what I have read, the only way of describing Kids Company is that it was a cult based on her own giant ego. More fool Yentob for believing her.

 

David Keighley: BBC apologises shock. But only to a climate change fanatic

October 9, 2015

Hold the front page… because the BBC complaints department has actually apologised to someone.

Not, of course, to the battalions of folk who have been saying for years that coverage of topics such as feminism, multiculturalism, the EU and immigration is beyond the pale.

The response to them – as my organisation News-watch chronicles in its submission to government review of the BBC that closed yesterday (October 8) – is ‘brickwall negativity’, combined with a liberal dose of bone-headed obfuscation to defend the Corporation at  all costs.

The document notes that, according to Complaints Unit figures, only around 6 per cent of complaints are ever upheld by the Corporation – and those that are usually revolve around marginal points.

So, step forward instead to collect this rare-as-hen’s- teeth apology a certain Dr Andy Smedley. Who? Well, he pursues a career publishing obscure papers on snow, ice and (of course!) renewable energy at Manchester University. And, if his Twitter feed is to be believed, he spends most of his time telling the world that we are all going to fry.

The good doctor complained that Daily Mail columnist Quentin Letts had the temerity, in the Radio 4 series ‘What’s the Point Of…?’, to dare to criticise the forecasts of the Met Office and to include a range of contributors who – shock, horror – even mocked  the Met’s  inaccurate forecasts.

Those who earn an estimated $1.5 trillion from governments round the world for pursuing their sacred mission of alarmism clearly don’t like their gravy train being threatened. Dr Smedley, it seems, was particularly incensed.

The Complaints Unit grovelling response to him was:

‘…we do not consider the programme met our required standards of accuracy or impartiality in its coverage of climate change science. As previously stated, we also recognise that in giving voice to climate change sceptics, it failed to make clear that they are a minority voice out of step with the scientific consensus – which we would normally expect on the occasion when we include such viewpoints.’

Then in chilling Orwellian vein, it added:

‘Since writing to you originally, we have carried out an examination of the programme’s productions processes to discover how it (sic) went wrong. We are confident that the programme came about through an unusual combination of circumstances which we have now rectified to avoid any repeated problems.’

Put another way, the BBC has decided that the science is settled and that’s it. Quentin Letts and his chums are dangerous deviants because they do not agree with the ‘the consensus’.  The programme’s production team is going away on a BBC indoctrination course to be told about their extreme folly in inviting them to speak. And in future, Letts et al won’t be allowed back on unless an army of Dr Smedleys first gets the chance to say they are talking rubbish.

Those of you who have followed the BBC’s bigotry in this arena will not be surprised by the approach – a similar torrent of alarmist bile was unleashed when,  after the 2013/4 Somerset floods, Lord Lawson of Blaby, the former Chancellor of the Exchequer was asked on the Today programme about the causes and possible remedies.

It illustrates graphically that the Corporation is bursting its sinews to limit free speech in an area of science that is highly complex and far from settled. The Cameron government confirmed two weeks ago that it was continuing to waste billions of pounds a year on the assumption that climate alarmism is warranted, so this is a matter of massive public concern.

One ray of sunlight is that Culture Secretary John Whittingdale told the Conservative party conference this week that, in connection with Charter renewal,  the Corporation will no longer handle complaints against its output because it had not ‘always been as fair and impartial as it should’.  He declared:

“I know from the many letters and conversations that I have had that you have sometimes felt that the BBC has not always been as fair or as impartial as it should….

“…what is important is that the public should have confidence that complaints are examined independently and carefully. And that it is no longer the case that if you make a complaint against the BBC, the decision on whether it is justified is taken by the BBC”.

Let us hope that in this vital area, he delivers. Handing such complaints to an outside body which is both robust and genuinely independent will put an instant check on the Corporation’s rampant bias.  The News-watch submission to Whittingdale shows in graphic detail how far the rot has taken hold – and the ludicrous contortions the Corporation performs to stifle free speech.

 

David Keighley: The BBC had women in top jobs long before the feminists started moaning

October 8, 2015

Yesterday Kathy Gyngell rightly debunked Professor Joan’s Seaton’s misleading feminist interpretation of women in BBC history. It is also worth pointing out that long before Sue MacGregor’s meteoric rise, was the formidable Grace Wyndham Goldie, who joined the BBC Talks department in 1947 after working in print journalism and in an 18-year career at the Corporation became the brightest star in the national television news and current affairs firmament.

She was quickly promoted to Talks department  head, was instrumental in defining the BBC’s election coverage throughout the 1950s, launched Panorama, and hired Robin Day, Cliff Michelmore, Donald Peacock, Huw Weldon and legions more. It is no exaggeration to say that she was a key figure in shaping modern British television news and current affairs. She also was responsible for appointing and training a generation of senior BBC management. Her name was still revered by the senior current affairs editors in the 1980s when I worked at Lime Grove, the then HQ of BBC current affairs television.

How very convenient for Professor Seaton to forget that in her feminist diatribe.

Also long before MacGregor was Margaret Douglas, a policeman’s daughter from Islington. She joined the BBC as a secretary in 1951, rose through the news production ranks  and by 1959, aged only  25, was a key figure in the BBC’s general election coverage (alongside Wyndham Goldie – so a female  management double act even before the Swinging Sixties) against the new challenge afforded by ITN. Programmes that Douglas went on to edit also included Panorama, Gallery and 24 Hours.  Subsequently, she was in charge of general election and party conference coverage, and then was chief political adviser to three director generals. During her tenure of that office nothing connected with political coverage at Lime Grove or the wider BBC moved without her knowledge and say so.

Yes, there was still  old fashioned ‘sexism’ at the BBC when I was there between 1978 and 1985. But such tiresome behaviour was almost everywhere else, too. Women at the BBC who got off their backsides and worked could and did rise through the ranks with often dizzying speed. Other success stories – not in the news department – were Biddy Baxter, the formidable editor (from 1962) of Blue Peter and then of all the BBC’s children’s programmes. Also in 1962, Verity Lambert was appointed the first producer of Doctor Who and became one of the nation’s most famous and respected drama producers.

Women weren’t in the workplace in the same numbers back then because they weren’t being forced there by the socialist policies of the type now being pursued by George Osborne. Those who were had the opportunities to go far and they did. Professor Seaton’s historical analysis is bunk.

 

David Keighley: BBC Drama revives anti-capitalist Priestley in a not-so-subtle hymn to Corbyn

September 18, 2015

J.B Priestley, who in the 1930s and into the Second World War set himself up as the BBC’s master of socialist propaganda in his regular radio talks – so much so that Churchill believed he was undermining the war effort – must be smiling from on high today.

A new bells-and-whistles version of his play An Inspector Calls – written in 1945 and actually first performed in Stalin’s Russia – was chosen by the right-on comrades at Portland Place to go out on a Sunday night BBC1 primetime slot to mark the election of their hero, Jeremy Corbyn.

Coincidence, do I hear you cry? Not a chance. The BBC has a promotions unit whose job it is identify and head off scheduling clashes that might cause offence to the politically correct. Have no doubt, the timing was deliberate. What a lovely wheeze to celebrate the election of the most left-wing Labour leader in a generation.

But, then again, maybe even Priestley might be turning in his grave about how the BBC comrades mangled his most famous play.

His masterful plot – in which a mysterious inspector arrives to tell a mill owner’s family of the death of a poor hapless woman who, it transpires, they had all in different ways abused – reveals their moral culpability and shows them to possess almost every negative human characteristic imaginable.

The inspector, by contrast, emerges as  a brilliant, incisive sleuth who exposes and nails every aspect of their selfishness, nastiness and hypocrisy. The working class heroine, Eva Smith,  only referred to but never actually seen in the stage play, was mistreated in different ways by each member of the family. Because of their amoral self-interest, she is first sacked for union activism, driven  into poverty, then forced into prostitution, and finally denied the charity she seeks. They, in effect, force her into agonising suicide by swallowing disinfectant.

Gosh, how the BBC went to town on her on Sunday night..

In  a massive hijacking of the original text of the play, they decided to bring Eva directly into the plot in a series of flashbacks.

We saw Eva, a solid, flesh and blood character, descend into hell thanks to this evil, rich family. In this subtle-as-a-brick change, the intent was for the audience to see and empathise with the capitalist exploitation of her, and to witness her transformation from a porcelain, stunning beauty to an emaciated wreck.  The manufactured additional scenes were scripted and shot  for maximum  impact so that there could be no doubt that the upper/middle class tyrants who tormented Eva were unambiguously bad.

This was a subtle and  disturbing tale of 19th century morality, conscience and class transformed into a crude anti-capitalist  rant. All traces of subtlety were smashed to smithereens.

Is this over-egging the pudding in terms of claims of BBC bias ?

Well the BBC’s chums at The Guardian clearly got the message. Its television drama critic Sam Wollaston said the plea to the audience by the inspector at the end of the play to heed the plight of the working class could today be substituted using the word Syrians instead of Eva Smith and made direct reference to the little boy found drowned on a Turkish beach:

“There are millions and millions of Alan Kurdis left with us, with their lives, their hopes and fears, their suffering and a chance of happiness, all intertwined with our lives and what we think and say and do. We don’t live alone. We are members of one body. We are responsible for each other.”

Did the BBC press office maybe suggest this to Wollaston behind the scenes?

Every aspect of this beautifully shot, directed and acted production worked in similar vein. Ken Stott, as the mill-owner, and Miranda Richardson, his wife, used all their formidable acting talent to emphasis just how thoroughly, deeply vacuous, unpleasant and unprincipled this capitalist couple were.

In other words, an ode to Corbyn mania. Elsewhere, too, the  BBC has been bigging up the message.

 

David Keighley: BBC lets lefty actress run riot over climate change

September 10, 2015

(This article was first published by News-watch)

An interview on Newsnight featuring the actress and Labour-supporter Emma Thompson has taken the BBC’s handling of climate alarmism to new depths of shoddy and biased journalism.

Under the editorship of ex-Guardian man Ian Katz, this type of celebrity interview – in which the subject is given virtual carte blanche to put across highly questionable leftist views – has become a regular feature. Here, for example, it was Russell Brand.

For years, the Corporation’s approach to climate reporting has been deliberately and systematically skewed against those who are sceptical about alarmism.

The grossly biased stance was decided by the BBC Trustees and became official editorial policy back in 2011. Since then, the output in all programmes, from news and current affairs to drama, has been hinged to a massive extent upon the mantra that unless we massively curb carbon dioxide output we are doomed.

The policy is so absolute that one appearance by a ‘sceptic’, such as that by the Daily Mail’s Quentin Letts, when he dared to question elements of the prevailing orthodoxy, is met with an internal inquiry and fits of apoplexy by those – such as the BBC’s former ‘environment’ correspondent , Richard Black, now a prominent eco-campaigner- who claim to know with certainty that we are all going to fry.

Meanwhile, as another indicator of how deeply alarmism is engrained in BBC reporting, the Corporation’s overseas aid charity arm,   Media Action, is engaged in extensive operations throughout the world to spread climate alarm in every way it can, while at the same time encouraging developing countries to resent Britain and the West generally for causing the alleged problem.

The latest example of this BBC worship at the altar of climate alarmism was the appearance last Wednesday by Ms Thompson.

Thompson, it should first be said, has become one of the most prominent media supporters of the law-breaking ‘charity’ Greenpeace, as is evidenced here in the pages of The Guardian. She is also a declared life-long member of the Labour party, supports Action Aid, a development charity that is as strident as Greenpeace in its climate alarmism, and is also strongly pro-Palestinian (and thus anti-Israel).

The peg for her appearance was an event that was scarcely reported elsewhere, the decision by Greenpeace to place a giant polar bear outside the HQ of Shell in London in their bid to try prevent the company from drilling for oil in the Arctic.   She did not deign to come live into the Newsnight studios, and rather, presenter Emily Maitlis treated her throughout the recorded exchange as if she was a highly respected dignitary with immense status.

The full transcript is below.

The first question was if Thompson thought she could negotiate with the ‘oil giant’. The essence of Thompson’s answer was that Shell were liars, there was no point in negotiating and ‘if you look at the science’ their drilling for oil would lead to a 4C rise in temperature by 2030.

Maitlis then asked whether there was a path for Thompson ‘to the president of the US’. She replied that she could try, but it would be pointless because governments were in the pockets of big oil.

Next was whether it would help the Greenpeace Arctic campaign if she got arrested. Thompson agreed that arrests were useful publicity for Greenpeace. But she was sure it wouldn’t happen because the legions of Shell PR people ‘in their big buildings’ would bust a gut to prevent it.

Ms Thompson didn’t say it, but she clearly believed they had battalions in the wings ready to do anything to avoid the ruinous impact of a ‘Thompson arrest’ pic.

Finally (in questions about climate), Ms Maitlis wondered how she could choose to demonstrate for Greenpeace when the refugee ‘crisis’ was so pressing. Thompson said the two topics were profoundly connected. She asserted that if climate change was allowed to ‘go on as it’s going’, the current refugee crisis would soon look like a tea party because ‘there are going to be entire swathes of the Earth that would become uninhabitable, and where are those people going to go? We are looking at a human disaster of proportions we can’t imagine’.

Even by the BBC standards this was bad journalism:

In summary, the BBC’s self-declared flagship television news and current affairs programme broadcast inaccurate preposterous propaganda from a woman who is a self-declared activist. There was no effort to challenge her views even though they were obviously extreme.

Of course, the BBC has a duty to give voice to all parts of the sides of public debate. The reality in the climate alarmism stakes, however, is that those in favour are given free rein – to the point of absurdity – while those who think differently are simply not invited to take part.

ruling last year by the BBC complaints department said that Lord Lawson should not be allowed to discuss climate change on an equal footing to ‘experts’ who believed in alarmism because he himself was not a climate scientist. On which grounds was Emma Thompson, an English graduate from Cambridge, allowed on Newsnight to spout utter nonsense?

Because her views chime with those of Ian Katz?

Transcript: 

EMILY MAITLIS:     Well, one voice unambiguous in her support of this country bringing in more refugees is the actress, Emma Thompson, whose own adopted son was a refugee from Rwanda. She was about 4 o’clock this morning helping bring life to a giant polar bear, Aurora, who she and some 60 other Greenpeace campaigners took to the Shall Centre on London’s South bank to protest against Arctic drilling. I caught up with her earlier and asked whether she believed she could negotiate with the oil giant.

EMMA THOMPSON:           No, because we’ve been negotiating with Shell for years, and there’s been so much obfuscation and so many lies actually, and so much green-wash, they’ve absolutely put lip-service to ‘Yes, yes, we’re interested in renewables, yes, yes, yes’, but they’ve continued without cessation to extract, and they’ve continued their plans to drill in the Arctic. They have plans to drill until 2030, and if they take out of the earth all the oil they wanted to take out, you look at the science, our temperature will rise 4°C by 2030, and that’s not sustainable.

EM:     Is there a path for you straight to the president of the US?

ET:      Well, I could try ringing him . . . I suppose. But I don’t think that that would help, I think that successive governments including his have been too much in the pockets of the big oil companies. I think it’s very difficult for governments to break away from that.

EM:     Would be useful for you, on a matter of the Arctic for example, to get yourself arrested? Does that sound useful?

ET:      It depends I suppose, I mean, today, I would have been, I suppose, a good news story Greenpeace, and arrests are useful to them. I could just hear the sort of distant sound of all the PR people in the shell offices in the big buildings, going ‘Don’t arrest her, do not arrest the big mouth, please don’t (words unclear) don’t do that.’ So they didn’t.

EM:     How do you choose? I mean, there will be people watching this saying there are currently thousands of people drowning in the Mediterranean, what odds timing to go and talk about Arctic and oil, and the environment?

ET:      Hmm.

EM:     As opposed to, you know, what Britain has to do about the refugee crisis.

ET:      No, I’m really glad that you’ve brought that up, because of course it’s profoundly connected. Our refugee crisis which, let me tell you, if we allow climate change to go on as it’s going, the refugee crisis we have at the moment will look like a tea party compared to what’s going to happen in a few years’ time, because if we allow climate change to continue, there are going to be entire swathes of the Earth that will become uninhabitable, and where are those people going to go? Where do we think they’re going to go? We are looking at humanitarian disaster . . . of . . . proportions we simply can’t imagine.

EM:     So, is that still the answer to the refugees drowning in the Mediterranean today, this week?

ET:      Today, this week, the answer to the refugees drowning in the (slight laughter in voice) Mediterranean is that, is not that, no, it’s to do with bringing in, we have to open our doors certainly to more refugees. The idea of 3000 people in Calais you’ve been through unspeakable things, I mean, makes me feel very ashamed.

EM:     So why do you think we’re not doing it, (words unclear, ‘this time round’?) I mean, you’ve got Germany who seems to be opening its doors and you’ve got . . .

ET:      (interrupting) 800,000.

EM:     The UK . . . that isn’t.

ET:      No. It’s not good enough. And also where not even meeting our quotas, that’s really shaming. Erm, so . . . I think it’s got a lot to do with racism. I think if these people were white, Europeans, that were coming from some dictatorship in Bosnia or somewhere where . . . if they were coming, turning up, I think we would feel quite differently about it. And I think that it is the mark of a civilised and . . . a skilful and humane society, and I use the word ‘skilful’ advisedly because we’re so unskilled in our responses to strangers on our shores.

EM:     Who needs to be the powerful voice that says, erm, what’s happening now . . . is not working?

ET:      Well, you know, it’s a very good question, but I mean, I would hope that there were statesmen and women out there with the kind of . . . sense of decency . . . of common humanity out there, who would find it possible and indeed incumbent upon them to stand up and say ‘We need to help these people’, they’re not just . . . coming over here because they want an easy ride, they’ve been through hell. There’s 3000 of them in Calais – that’s nothing. We’ve got plenty of room for them.

EM:     You’re on record as being a Labour supporter, clearly your heart is with a lot of green issues, is this a moment where you feel more pulled towards the Labour Party than the Green Party?

ET:      I’m very torn . . . I mean the Labour Party have been . . . useless actually on green issues, but I think Corbyn’s quite, quite sound on them. We can’t open the mines again, sorry about that, but it’s the dirtiest energy there is, but, but I think he is very sound and that he would be very, erm, intelligent and face . . . he would be willing to face the transition that we are all going to have to face.

EM:     And do you think Labour could get into power with Jeremy Corbyn?

ET:      Erm . . . yeah. I do.

EM:     Emma Thompson, speaking to me earlier.

 

David Keighley: BBC coverage of the migrant crisis is the gospel of the liberal left

September 7, 2015

One of the key points of the BBC’s style guide is the need for terminological exactitude.

But that’s exactly what we are not getting in the BBC’s coverage about the huge tide of humanity currently surging into Europe.

The chances of hearing concern about this on the BBC are virtually zero. The incursion is being projected one-dimensionally as a humanitarian crisis. Jonathan Munro, the Corporation head of newsgathering has laid down coverage guidelines on that basis. At the same time, in many reports, those who oppose the influx are cast as xenophobic and possibly racist.

Typical is that Newsnight on Wednesday night gave liberal luvvie Emma Thompson an open goal to spell out her “racist” chant.  And, of course, for her to declare her undying love for Jeremy Corbyn. In these pressing times, those are the issues that count to Guardianista Ian Katz and his Newsnight team.

Despite what the Left say, the reality is that Britain has a long and compassionate tradition of being a safe home for thousands of unfortunate people of myriad nationalities who have genuinely been forced to flee war or tyrannical regimes. In doing so, the authorities honour far beyond the letter of the law the UN, the EU and Geneva Convention requirements to accommodate such souls.

Many of those who have arrived here in such dire straits have contributed richly to the economy and culture of their adoptive country.  Others, of course, have not, taking long-term advantage of our generous benefits and our housing welfare system.

It’s plain that many if not most now camped out in Budapest and Kos and Calais are not ‘refugees’ or ’asylum seekers’. Because of the EU’s open borders, no one seems to have a clue about their point of origin or their reasons for being here.

The suspicion is that a high proportion are economic migrants; pictures suggest they are mostly male and they are desperately trying to queue jump in order to get what they want.

This is potentially worrying because it suggests the beginnings of the complete disintegration of border controls. The EU’s ‘free movement’ principle has seemingly transmuted into a total free-for-all.

The BBC could and should be investigating issues like these in parallel with the hardship stories. But it chooses not to do so, instead assuming simplistically that everyone coming here is a victim of oppression.  They have developed into a fine art the ways of expressing their plight.  News-watch found in an investigation for Migration Watch that this has been an historical characteristic of the BBC’s coverage of ‘immigration’. It seems that nothing has changed.

Ethically, it may be difficult to reject or to resist these people because they are clearly desperate and many are suffering hardship. Our heartstrings urge us to act.

Yet whatever is actually happening, the scale is unprecedented. Richard Littlejohn adroitly pointed this out in this Daily Mail article. And the brutal horrors of 7/7 and the Charlie Hebdo massacre are clear evidence of the dangers of alienated immigrant communities. Should we ignore these warning signals in a headlong rush for compassion?

A primary reason for the crisis is the open borders EU policy introduced by the Schengen agreement. The rationale by the comrades in Brussels was that this would lubricate trade. Blinded by socialist ideology, no-one envisaged that it would pave the way to an influx at the levels now underway.

Many commentators strongly disagree with the BBC’s narrow approach. Craig Byers, of the Is The BBC Biased? website, for example, has noted points such as:

  • On the BBC1 Six PM news, the emphasis was on showing heartrending  pictures of babies to underline the migrants’ plight.
  • There  was a deliberate attempt in other programmes to suggest that the peoples involved were genuine refugees from the Syrian conflict rather than, say,  economic migrants from Kosovo and Albania (who seem also to be on the move in huge numbers)
  • That BBC correspondent James Reynolds followed a completely atypical example of a wealthy highly educated Syrian woman’s journey from Syria to Sweden with the clear aim of suggesting that this was somehow the norm.
  • That the BBC correspondent in Hungary has been virtually welded in his reports to a highly articulate Hungarian woman charity worker who has produced an endless stream of equally articulate female migrant ‘victims’, while ignoring the thousands of men there.

Other commentators have suggested other types of bias are involved in the BBC approach. For example, when Nigel Farage, was interviewed on the Today programme, Sarah Montague’s main focus was to suggest aggressively that he might have to water down Ukip’s approach to border controls and take in more ‘refugees’. The underlying insinuation was that the policy was wrong-headed and (probably) inhumane.

By contrast, the Labour spokesman on this subject that day, Chuka Umunna, was given a much easier ride, as was the spokesman from the of the EU who was wheeled out to articulate the usual mantra that EU rules are EU rules and must in all circumstances  be obeyed, especially by xenophobes in the UK.

Also on Today, James Naughtie’s simplistic line when he interviewed Baroness Warsi was that Britain has always taken refugees in, and should surely honour the tradition. Naughtie pointed to the example of the Huguenots.  They were welcome so why not Syrians now?

Such generalisations and manipulation of history are all too common on the BBC and are  actually an editorial mechanism to justify deep bias.

What Naughtie conveniently did not include in his crude comparison was the important qualification that the arrival of an estimated 40,000 Huguenots in England after the revocation of the Edict of Nantes by Louis XIV was the only mass re-settlement of foreign nationals in the UK in the whole of the seventeenth century.  East India Company employees from various parts of Asia began to settle here, but in much smaller numbers.

What we are facing now is the influx of equivalent (in terms of proportion) numbers of the Huguenots every single year.

Shame on the BBC. Their duty, as defined by the public purposes, is to offer balanced reporting that reflects all sides of this massive story. Instead, we are getting the Gospel according to the Liberal Left. On Friday night, elements of coverage were actually accompanied by epic movie music. This was not news reporting. You could call it instead what it actually was: propaganda.

 

David Keighley: The BBC might ditch the Met Office but not its obsession with climate change

August 26, 2015

It is reported that the BBC is in the process of ditching the Met Office as its £30 million-a-year supplier of weather forecasts. But this will not make an iota of difference to the Corporation’s wildly skewed presentation of our weather.

A new weather contract has not yet been confirmed, and this could well be another example of Corporation sabre-rattling to draw attention to  the fact that the nasty Tories are suggesting that there might have to be cutbacks in Corporation spending – especially as one of  the first squawks of indignation about the possible switch was from former BBC reporter-turned-Labour MP Ben Bradshaw.

Yet whatever happens will not make a whit of difference to the Corporation’s seriously biased coverage of anything to do with climate or weather that was set in stone by the Trustees back in 2011. The full story is brilliantly told by Andrew Montford here.

The reality is that the Met Office and Auntie have conspired in tandem over the past 25 years in delivering a relentless propaganda stream that even Goebbels would have envied.

The goal has been to convince audiences that unless we dismantle capitalism to reduce our carbon dioxide-belching ways the world is doomed.

This item by alarmist reporter Matt McGrath on the BBC website is a typical example of this tsunami of misinformation and deceit.  He presents a totally one-sided picture of allegedly record temperatures in July as if it is undisputed, unchallengeable fact. The authority for this is, of course, the Met Office.

What the BBC always avoids is that other authorities present a very different picture from this deliberate doom-mongering, for example here on the  WUWT site.

The underlying ideology is a bigger scam than even the cod sociological dynamics devised by Karl Marx. It has given BBC presenters and reporters at every level and in every department the licence to attack and label as ‘deniers’ those who disagree.

This deceitful, systematic distortion saturates almost every orifice and pore of BBC output, and has also been facilitated by a massive manipulation of the language that means virtually every meteorological development is now shot through with menace and potential catastrophe.

Forecasts – with the ludicrous disproportionate emphasis on major ‘warnings’ and ‘alerts’ – are deliberately apocalyptic in tone.

Nature and geography programmes – from Country File to Coast – are framed with massive inbuilt assumptions that warming is causing irreparable damage and that the only way forward is to abandon or seriously curtail any activities that generate ‘carbon’.

News and current affairs gives acres of space to climate alarmists such as Greenpeace and deliberately mostly exclude those who dare to disagree. Stories that promote the creed are regularly and systematically elevated to the top of running orders, while scientific papers which undermine the rigid orthodoxy are seldom, if ever, covered.

Another consequence of this in news and current affairs coverage is that bodies such as the EU and the UN, which want more ‘action’ to limit climate change, are treated with deferential reverence.

The Warming Creed also permeates entertainment programmes. The crude propaganda in these short films made as a collaboration between the Open University and the BBC illustrate the vast range of what is involved. NO propaganda opportunity is being missed. BBC World Service, with its so-called charity arm, World Service Action, have adopted as their central mission the mobilisation of the developing world to fight climate change ‘injustice’.

Who might supply the weather for the BBC next?  Well it’s rumoured to be a commercial offshoot of the New Zealand national weather service, Metra, or the Dutch national weather provider. The reality is that most of these bodies have a similar outlook to the Met Office, because all of them derive significant chunks of their revenues from alarmist sources.  .

Whoever it is will have to fit in with the Corporation’s views about climate alarmism.

The BBC Trustees are entirely complicit in this deceit. Scratch the surface of their biographies and climate alarmist connections abound.  For example, Aideen  McGinley, who is the Northern Ireland Trustee, is also  Co-Chair of the Northern Ireland division of the Carnegie Trust.

This body – like many so-called philanthropic foundations – has BBC-style climate alarmism as its underlying driving force for its grant-making.  This animated graphic shows that its major mission in terms of civic society is  to get everyone clamouring for ‘renewables’,  to foment  major demonstrations against companies who  dare to use or emit ‘carbon’, and to campaign for vast new swathes of legislation and regulation in pursuit of these goals.

This exactly chimes with the deeply biased and deeply warped mission of the BBC in this arena. Reform of the BBC should tackle this serious structural malaise, but as things stand, there is not the slightest sign of a will to do so. Met Office or no Met Office, BBC will carry on regardless in its mission to deceive.

 

David Keighley: Ofcom shoots down Rona Fairhead’s smug defence of the BBC

August 21, 2015

Chairman of the BBC Trustees Rona Fairhead, appointed last year to safeguard licence-fee payers’ interests, has proclaimed in the pages of The Independent that the Corporation is damned near perfect.

Her protectionist pro-BBC polemic is, in effect, a warning to nasty Tory MPs and the Government – as the consultation on Charter renewal gets underway – to back off from any attempts at significant reform, changing in funding arrangements or cutting back.

The core message is that the splendiferous, fabulous, marvellous BBC knows what the public wants and is delivering it in spades. Auntie might be a tad bureaucratic and may need a slightly different form of governance,  but hey!….anyone who does not believe it is the pinnacle of national achievement is deluded, unpatriotic, and blind to the multi-layered £8 billion bonanza the Corporation brings to the country.

Her medium of choice for the delivery of this smug, self–regarding sermon?  A left-wing newspaper, which regurgitated with awe the political points she made in the chapter in a forthcoming book published by an outfit called Abramis, whose titles are written by ‘meejah’ academics who mostly idolise the BBC. Oh, and, of course, the EU.

Leaving aside why the Chairman of the BBC should choose such a partisan conduit, a central assertion of her homily is this:

‘We have set – and effectively policed – the highest editorial standards in broadcasting, putting complainants and the BBC on an entirely equal footing in the hearing of appeals’.

Excuse me?  These scrutiny processes are set by the BBC to favour blatantly the BBC. Every aspect of the BBC complaints process is set in the BBC’s favour. The claim is risible even by Fairhead’s gone-totally-native standards.

With splendid timing, a very rare example of the BBC output being subject to outside scrutiny was published the following day.

For technical reasons to do with the labyrinthine world of public service regulation, Ofcom were allowed to investigate whether current affairs programme codes were breached by hundreds of programmes broadcast by BBC World News (the inquiry was narrowed to a few sample claims, presumably for reasons of cost).  The report in full is here.

The Ofcom inquiries are inextricably linked to a Politburo-style ruling by the BBC Trustees that, in effect, there is no doubt that alarming and potentially catastrophic climate change is happening, and that it has been caused by filthy capitalistic enterprise. BBC output should and must therefore reflect that.  This declaration was made in 2011, and is now pursued with zeal by every BBC outlet as an integral part of Fairhead’s ‘high journalistic standards’.

BBC World News (BBCWN) adopted the climate alarmist creed with particular relish. As it is a 24/7 service, it had a voracious appetite for cheap content that also reflected the right-on international development agenda.

The television service turned to a range of outside producers, including an outfit called TVE (The Television Trust for the Environment). They could offer  their wares at very little cost because they receive buckets of cash to make their propagandist bile from sources such as the EU and the World Wildlife Fund. Is it a surprise that TVE’s managing director is a former BBC journalist?

The accusation investigated and upheld by Ofcom  was that these films  breached programme codes because they were ‘funded factual programmes’ – that is, paid by a range of sponsors with axes to grind – and viewers were not told. In other words, the BBC seriously misled their audiences about a key component of what purported to be current affairs output.

The BBC’s defence against the charge in a section about one of the TVE programmes shows how bull-headed, bigoted and closeted the Corporation’s ‘high editorial standards’ actually are.  In effect, in the Corporation’s holier-than-thou universe, climate change is beyond doubt; it is proven science and not, therefore, current affairs. It stated (p57 of the rulings):

“In 2009 (when the programme was transmitted), as now, there was broad international consensus (both scientific and governmental) that global warming exists and that it is linked to carbon dioxide emissions. In regulatory terms this has consequences for both current affairs and impartiality… In this programme global warming is not dealt with largely as a political or international governmental matter. It is examined very much from a scientific angle (e.g. the consequences of burning peat and its effect on carbon dioxide emissions) and the battle for saving the environment…. Dealing with a programme that accepts, as its basic premise, that global warming and its effects exist does not mean that the programme becomes current affairs…”

Ofcom most certainly did not agree. Its frustration that the BBC did not understand such elementary journalistic principles – and defended its actions in this way – is evident in every word of its damning verdicts.

Fairhead’s claims about those ‘high editorial standards’ are shot to smithereens. So is her claim that the BBC complaints procedure is fair. The reality is that, because of how the Trustees interpret their role and issues such as balance, huge swathes of BBC output (In controversial fields such as climate change) are just as untrustworthy and biased as TVE’s programming was judged to be by Ofcom.

When complaints are made to the Corporation, the vast majority of them are dismissed by BBC staff using exactly the same lame defences as they also deployed with Ofcom.

This was a rare example of the BBC being subjected to rigorous outside scrutiny. What price Fairhead’s claims of perfection now?

 

David Keighley: Why did Yentob not see Kids Company was an accident waiting to happen?

August 10, 2015

Alan Yentob’s behaviour in the Kids Company saga, even by the standards of the shameless we-can-do-no-wrong BBC executives, has been outrageous.

His evasive and belligerent responses in his interview by former BBC reporter Matt Frei on Channel 4 News last Thursday evening  were an appalling spectacle. His performance was such that it could be used by PR crisis management companies as a training exercise in how not to be interviewed in such circumstances.

It also defies belief that one of the Corporation’s most senior managers did not understand that his elevated position as its creative director generated a massive conflict of interest when he rang the BBC’s flagship television investigative programme Newsnight to influence a story about a charity of which he was chairman.

Good on Ian Katz and his right-on Newsnight team that on this occasion they did not accede to his self-interested request.  But had they done so – as happened under a different Newsnight regime with the Savile programme in 2011 – the Corporation’s battalions of press officers would no doubt have found excuse after excuse why this was OK.

Irrespective of that, it looks increasingly like Yentob, as chairman of the Kids Company Trustees since 2002 – and therefore for most of the charity’s history – was guilty of something else much more fundamental.

A charity which had raised around £130m, and attracted £30m of government funding, spectacularly collapsed under his watch as chairman – and he did not see it coming.

Further revelations like these in the Mail on Sunday suggest that he and the rest of the Trustees had major shortcomings in the way they supervised the running of the charity.

As the Guardian points out here with a forensic examination of  Kids Company  finances, they failed in the most basic ways. In effect, they presided over an unsupported and unsustainable ballooning of activities, salaries and staff numbers. Above all, they did not build upcash reserves that would ensure that the charity could weather temporary setbacks in fund-raising efforts.

Yentob risibly claimed in the Channel 4 interview that all this was above board. The charity’s problem was not such profligacy, but rather, it was a victim of its own success: there was unpredictable demand, the number of children in its alleged ‘care’ was rising so steeply and so unpredictably that it was swamped.

But this does not ring true. Loud alarm bells have been sounding about Kids Company finances for at least six months, and rumours of financial profligacy and incontinence have been swirling around the care sector for much longer than that. Tim Loughton, when he was children’s minister, tried to block the government grant to the charity because he was dissatisfied how money was being spent three years ago, but he was over-ruled by David Cameron.

Then, back in February, the journalist Miles Goslett published a very well researched and seriously disturbing article in the Spectator. It highlighted fundamental concerns about lack of accountability over the numbers of children being helped, how they were being given inexplicable cash handouts, and how at least one major donor was deeply troubled about how her money was being spent.

This cut to the heart of how the charity was being run. A more responsible board of Trustees would there and then have ordered an immediate inquiry and provided evidence explaining why such claims were wrong.

Instead, Goslett’s allegations were arrogantly and airily dismissed, with former Kids Company boss Camilla Batmaghelidjh telling staff last week that he was a ‘fantasist’.

From the outside, it is deeply puzzling why the Trustees did not act at this stage. Under very clear Charity Commission rules, they are required by law to ensure tight financial management .They are personally responsible for misspending if it occurs.

But an examination of their backgrounds could give clues why.   The Trustees listed on the Kids Company website are:

  • Yentob (chairman);
  • Richard Handover, chief executive of W H Smith
  • Sunetra Atkinson, ex wife of the entertainer Rowan Atkinson, a former BBC make-up artist
  • Erica Bolton (2005), an arts world PR.
  • Jayne Tyler, a law firm partner who lists herself as an expert in EU law and company acquisitions
  • Francesca Robinson – a recruitment firm principal.
  • Andrew Webster – who has been a Trustee of the Astrozeneca Pension Fund, and worked earlier in his career as a HR manager for an engineering company.

The outstanding point here is that, although there is a clear range of business experience, not one of them has any qualification in, or experience of, work in the child protection arena.

How on earth could this be? Such work is both deeply complex and highly specialised. It requires the best standards of professional expertise.  A charity operating in a similar field, The Wave Trust, for example, has at least one trustee who is a a leading academic expert in child care.

Yentob had been in his post as chairman since 2002, and he (and his colleagues) must surely have understood throughout that time that the charity’s reputation was based not on the amount of money it raised, but the robustness and integrity of the services it delivered.

Or did he?  What has happened over the last month, culminating in the car crash of closure, indicates that something in the equation was deeply rotten and that it took the Trustees completely unawares.  The Charity Commission is now investigating, and if it sticks to its own rules and holds them properly to account, they must surely be in for a rough ride.

What does this say about Yentob? First and foremost that he may be a very senior and very experienced BBC executive but it seems that he does not understand conflict of interest and he seems not to have the faintest idea how to run a complex real-world operation.  Time and time again, the BBC has been shown to a lousy steward of public money.  Here is yet another illustration of this.

And what does it reveal about David Cameron’s government?  Kids Company was a flagship ‘Big Society’ project and because of Cameron’s generous support, Batmanghelidjh assumed major status, raking in more than £160m in funding.  Real charities, of course, need cash, but their key attributes are having genuine vision, people of integrity and a real deep connection with the communities they serve.  The services delivered by Kids Company, by contrast, now look to have been an elaborate house of cards.  Cameron holds at least some of the responsibility for that and shovelling government cash into Batmanghelidjh’s maw both undermined its integrity as a charity and inflated its problems.

And Kid’s Company itself? Clearly there are many investigations to be undertaken before the full picture emerges. But what is now certain is that it was a frail construction, it had inadequate supervision, and that there are serious concerns about the level, quality and volume of services it was actually operating.

How much of the blame for this lies at the door of its founder…and her celebrity chums, aided and abetted by a Conservative government ethos that seems to put form above substance?

 

David Keighley: Obama’s green energy plan is a suicide note for the US economy. But you won’t hear that on the BBC

August 7, 2015

Obama’s so-called Clean Power Plan is a Kamikaze suicide note for the US economy by one of the most divisive presidents in US history.

A nation that has grown gloriously prosperous because of cheap energy prices based on a vast abundance of fossil fuels – the latest being shale gas – is now throwing away its competitive advantages and opting for fuel sources that are massively more expensive and unreliable.

A normal journalistic response to such blind, doctrinaire madness would be to ask why?

This expert  assessment from Australian commentator Jo Nova suggests that the Obama vanity project will cost the American economy a staggering $2.5 trillion, put a million people out of work…and for what? At best, it will achieve a reduction of 0.1 per cent in world CO2 emissions and not change the temperature one iota.   Another economic assessment of the massive true cost of ‘renewables’  is here.

That different perspective, of course, is of no consequence to the 8,000 journalists at the BBC. Under their bonkers ‘due impartiality’ rules propagated and enforced by the BBC Trustees, they barely even acknowledge that views that challenge climate alarmism have any validity.

Under this McCarthyite regime, speakers on outlets such as the BBC’s Thought for the Day are emboldened and authorised by BBC editors to call those who disagree with climate change alarmism simply ‘deniers’ and ignore them.   The insult by deliberate linkage to Holocaust deniers is fully intended – and sanctioned at the highest levels.

The upshot of this rigid mindset is that across the BBC, the Obama plan has been reported with reverence. This article is typical. The main question is not whether the spending of billions on wind and solar farms is lunacy – but instead, why the same cannot happen here? Oh, and whether the plan is enough to meet the demands of the arrogant law-breakers at Greenpeace.

This is therefore yet another peg to attack the Conservative government. Amber Rudd, the Energy Secretary, has had the temerity to announce plans to limit the huge subsidies that go to the companies that have made countless millions out of building wind and solar farms. To so-called BBC reporters like Roger Harrabin, that’s seen purely as massive attack on climate alarmism.

In reality, the new Conservative government is every bit as fanatical as Obama. It is still rigidly wedded to the Ed Miliband 2008 Climate Change Act, arguably the most costly and unnecessary measure ever passed by a British government.

Despite the Rudd changes, the core reality is still that it costs the UK taxpayer billions in needless subsidy every year, and inflicts endless hardship on the poor and the old by jacking up their energy prices and transferring their meagre cash to renewable energy spivs.  David Cameron and his minions believe the Obama Plan, along with the EU’s own equally restrictive measures to keep temperatures down, are necessary.

Because of this ideological zeal, dozens of efficient coal-fired power stations have been closed down since 2010, to the extent that experts are warning that the ability to meet full winter demand for energy via the National Grid is seriously at risk. At the same time, the last vestiges of the British coalmining industry are also being forced to close because without coal-fired power stations, there is no market for their output.

Cameron’s cabinet is determined to fight later this year at the Paris climate ‘summit’ for an international agreement on CO2 that will force the rest of the world to follow the same idiotic and dictatorial  path as the UK and now the US.  The one shaft of sanity that will probably prevent agreement is that China and India are having none of it – their energy plans are rooted firmly in the reliability, relative cheapness and efficiency of coal.

 

David Keighley: The BBC’s ‘religion’ is the promotion of equality not Christianity

August 2, 2015

Shine a torch on any part of the BBC’s operations and disturbing creatures start scuttling out from under the rocks.

Take the religious output.   Even the high command in the Church of England – long since wedded to the same right-on meme as the BBC on issues such as climate change and the support of food banks – is worried that the Corporation is anti-Christian in its treatment of faith.

Feedback, R4’s show which purports to give an airing to listeners’ concerns, tackled religious content in its latest edition.  The most senior BBC contributor was Christine Morgan, who is head of religious coverage for the whole of radio.

In the most crucial section, Ms Morgan was asked by presenter Roger Bolton  – currently also engaged via the programme in a mission to protect the BBC licence fee – what the purpose of BBC religious output was?

How did she handle this? By explaining that the United Kingdom is a predominantly Christian country, or that the Church of England is the State Religion?  No.

She stated instead: ‘Part of it is helping people to articulate what they want to do, part of it is explaining this fantastic multi-faith, multi-cultural society that we have…’

And there we have it. Put another way, in BBC-land, religious output is not any more primarily focused on thinking about Christianity and religion itself or faith; it’s a medium through which the multi-cultural agenda can be pursued and amplified.

In fact, Roger Bolton himself has flagged concerns about the direction of the BBC’s religious coverage, noting in this article, for example, that those who oppose abortion on religious grounds are often presented in BBC coverage as ‘plain barmy’.

What the article also said is that Bolton believes that BBC journalists tend to see the debates over gay marriage and women priests in the context of equal rights, while from the religious perspective they are matters of scripture and theology.

It noted Bolton and others felt that conservatives on these subjects were often treated  by BBC interviewers as throwbacks who are damaging the Church and dragging it back into the past, rather than people who simply have a different view about the tenets of their faith.

Of course the BBC still does still cover Christian services – for example every Sunday morning on Radio Four – but this is not the point. The Corporation increasingly sees its main duty as pushing the equality agenda and that favouritism towards any creed is the greatest sin. That inevitably means a dilution and a diminution. Just as Jenni Murray despises the word ‘mother’, so those who handle religious issues avoid whenever they can ‘Christianity’.

 

David Keighley: Big business and big broadcasting. How the establishment stitches up the Europe vote

July 3, 2015

Carolyn Fairbairn, the newly-appointed director general of the Confederation of British Industry, will play a crucial role in the EU referendum campaign.

The CBI has access to massive resources, works very closely with the high command of the European Commission, and is fervently determined that there should be a ‘yes’ vote to continued membership.  Already they are involved in both overt and covert propaganda campaigns.

The CBI’s latest full-blooded endorsement of EU membership can be read here. Outgoing director general John Cridland claims that members also want reform, but is wilfully blind to the fact that the changes he outlines are virtually impossible unless the UK leaves.

The BBC – not normally distinguished by its love of banks or ‘big business’ – treats the CBI with conspicuously soft kid gloves. Every word uttered in favour of the EU is seen as the Holy Writ and given headline status. Latest research by News-watch during the election period confirms this.

It should perhaps come as no surprise, therefore, that one of the key points in Ms Fairbairn’s glittering CV is that she spent seven years as strategy director of the BBC between 1997 and 2004.  Did the CBI éminence grise who recently interviewed her for the post perhaps see this as the perfect training for the key propaganda role she has now assumed?

During her time at the BBC, as Peter Oborne noted in this CPS paper – in a sequence analysing the coverage of the introduction of the euro back in 2001 – the BBC was so pro-EU and  pro joining the euro (as, of course, was the CBI) that  Today’s James Naughtie rhapsodically compared the change to a Biblical event.

In her task of maximising BBC propaganda, Ms Fairbairn will be assisted by the current CBI deputy director general, Katja Hall.

Her training and background?  Well she has spent most of her career at the CBI, apart from a spell with one of the biggest taxpayer-funded corporations – yes, you’ve guessed it – the BBC.   Ms Hall declares on her CBI profile that she worked in ‘change management’ for the Corporation, whatever that may mean.

What a very cosy prospect: A dynamic duo of pro-EU propagandists who honed their skills with Auntie persuading us with all their organisational clout to vote ‘yes’ to that lovely EU.

Should anybody who hears the BBC’s pro-EU propaganda want to do something about t, they can always, of course, complain.

In which case, they have the safeguard that at the top of the BBC as guardians of journalistic standards and impartiality is a body of Trustees. Except that, of course, the two main journalistic members are Richard Ayre and Mark Damazer – both of  whom spent the bulk of their careers at the BBC in senior editorial posts and are thus fully signed up to the pro-EU agenda.

Still, no matter. The newly-appointed vice-chairman of the Trustees Sir Roger Carr also has a glittering background in industry and commerce. Perhaps he could help? Well maybe not. Apart from the BBC, his most recent role between 2011 and 2013 was as – president of the CBI.

Sir Roger is also chairman of BAE Systems and so fervent in his pro-EU beliefs that on the day after the general election (May 8 )he was already on his soapbox urging the pro-EU deluge should begin without delay.  This is what Sky News reported:

‘Speaking to Sky News, the chairmen and chief executives of several FTSE-100 companies said it was crucial that efforts to promote the benefits of EU membership began straight away even if a referendum would not take place until 2017.

‘Sir Roger Carr, chairman of BAE Systems, the defence contractor, said that companies had a responsibility to speak out on the issue.

“There will now be certainty on the process [of a referendum], and it is important that the business community that believes in the UK being part of Europe steps up to make the case at the earliest opportunity,” he said.

Behind the scenes, the EU referendum ‘yes’ and ‘no’ campaigns are busily shaping their strategies.  The BBC will have a crucial role in disseminating the respective arguments.  Elements of the ‘no’ side are already firmly convinced that changing the BBC before the vote takes place is a near-hopeless task.  With background facts like this, the signs are not good.

 

David Keighley: Eurosceptic Tories have been duped into swallowing Cameron’s continental stitch-up

June 9, 2015

One month into his new administration, David Cameron’s referendum on EU membership seems increasingly  pointless. The idea – now amazingly two and a half years old – always had the air of a grubby, smoke and mirrors compromise, something dreamed up on the back of an envelope to keep his revolting backbenchers at bay.

But now, as details of his strategy begin to emerge, every element of his EU-related utterances add up to a blatant stitch-up of the eurosceptic camp.  It’s fool’s gold – tons of it.

First, he’s rigged the spending rules so that the full government apparatus will be used as a propaganda machine to support continued membership.

Second, unlike in 1975, he’s making it as difficult as possible for government ministers to vote according to their consciences on the issue.  Of course,  there just might be men and women of principle among them, but whatever Cameron actually meant in his briefing at the G7, don’t hold your  breath that many ministers will be spea