BBC Digest

BBC Bias Digest 17 July 2020

BBC ‘FACES FRESH IMPARTIALITY QUESTIONS’: Paul Revoir, noting that Guido Fawkes had found evidence that BBC community affairs correspondent Rianna Croxford had made a series of pro-Labour and anti-Boris Johnson tweets, said the Corporation was facing fresh questions about its impartiality. Mr Revoir said that Conservative MP Andrew Rosindell had observed that it was hard for people to have confidence in BBC staff when they made such blatant political points, and urged that  the Corporation should pick people who were more neutral in their politics to gain respect and trust. Mr Revoir noted that the BBC had said Ms Croxford had expressed her political views  while still at university and were ‘completely irrelevant’ to her current role.


HATRED OF TRUMP ‘IS WARPING NEWS’: John Sopel, the BBC’s Washington reporter,  had warned British broadcasters that they must resist adapting the adversarial tone of US cable news networks ‘that had been driven mad by the hatred of Trump’ (Is the BBC Biased? 17/7). It was also reported that Mr Sopel had claimed that if people in the UK turned on the BBC, they would get a ‘pretty fair and balanced view’.  One commenter on the site responded: ‘Sopel just quite blatantly and openly extracting the Michael here. Every one of his reports from the US, in which he invariably dances about like some sort of performing monkey, is an open attack on President Trump. His Twitter feed is just a litany of hatred for the man.‘

BBC Bias Digest 16 July 2020

BBC ADMISSION ABOUT ‘EGREGIOUS TWEETS’  WAS ‘JAW-DROPPING’: Mick Hume (Daily Mail 16/7) said that the admission to the House of Lords communications and digital committee by David Jordan, the BBC’s director of editorial standards, that Corporation staff had been guilty of sending ‘egregious’ tweets, was a ‘jaw-dropping’ moment for those like himself who had been complaining for years about ‘the pernicious impact of Auntie’s recent displays of bias’.  Mr Hume noted that Mr Jordan had also admitted that the BBC ‘had issues’ with tracking the rise of Euroscepticism and the growth of concern about immigration, and claimed this was unsurprising  because it was what happened when reporters and newsreaders became more interested in promoting their own political leanings and agendas and increasing the number of their online followers than unearthing facts.  Mr Hume opined:

“By seeking validation on Twitter, BBC staffers confine themselves to an echo chamber where their minority worldview is reflected and reinforced. According to its warped narrative, Leave was bound to lose the EU referendum, Hillary Clinton was a shoo-in for U.S. President and Boris risked being thrashed by Corbyn in the 2019 election. With such an unrivalled gift for misreading public opinion, it’s clear that many of its journalists simply don’t understand who their audience is.”

Mr Hume suggested that some senior journalists had ‘flagrant disregard’ for BBC impartiality, and instanced as the prime offender Newsnight presenter Emily Maitlis, as well as BBC One newsreader Huw Edwards.

Breitbart London (15/7) also covered David Jordan’s evidence to the House of Lords. Victoria Friedman, noting that Mr Jordan had acknowledged ‘issues’ in the coverage of Euroscepticism, said he was perhaps the most senior BBC figure in post ‘to admit the broadcaster’s bias’. Ms Friedman reported:

“However, claims of political bias are nothing new. In 2010, former BBC Director-General Mark Thompson said that 30 years prior when he joined the organisation, it had a “massive bias to the left”.

“The organisation did struggle then with impartiality. And journalistically, staff were quite mystified by the early years of Thatcher, Mr Thompson had said. Recently retired journalist John Humphrys, a veteran of BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, had said the BBC had failed since the 1990s to adequately cover people’s increasing concerns about rising immigration. Mr Humphrys said that during the 2016 referendum on European Union membership, BBC bosses “could simply not grasp how anyone could have put a cross in the Leave box on the referendum ballot paper”.

“Leave had won — and this was not what the BBC had expected. Nor what it wanted,” he said in 2019.

She added:

“Breitbart London has reported on studies that found by analysis the BBC elevated anti-Leave bias in their news coverage.

“News Watch said in 2017 that the Today programme, BBC radio’s flagship news broadcast, was “strongly biased against Brexit” in the week when the UK triggered Article 50, the mechanism for formally leaving the EU. In one example of bias, analysis by the news monitoring group found that only eight out of 124 guests on the subject of Article 50 were allowed to articulate the benefits of leaving the bloc. Think tank Civitas concluded in 2018 that the Today programme had suppressed Eurosceptic voices between 2005 and 2015, with only 3.2 per cent of guests being pro-independence. The broadcaster had also kept listeners “in the dark” on the left-wing and Labour arguments for Leave, angling the question of Brexit as a purely conservative position.

“When opinion in favour of leaving the EU has featured, the editorial approach has – at the expense of exploring withdrawal itself – tended heavily towards discrediting and denigrating opposition to the EU as xenophobic,” the authors had written.”


BBC ‘DENIES AXING ANDREW NEIL’:  Jack Wright (Daily Mail 16/7) reported that the BBC – which had cancelled Andrew Neil’s BBC Two interview show in a round of financial and job cuts – had denied axing Mr Neil and had said he was in talks over a new television presenting role which could be in the schedule of BBC One.   Mr Wright highlighted tweets which suggested that the decision to cancel Mr Neil’s BBC Two show showed that the Corporation was now fully dominated ‘primarily by left wing pro Remain establishment elitists’. Mr Wright quoted Fran Unsworth, the BBC director of news. She said:

“During this crisis audiences have turned to BBC News in their millions and I’m incredibly proud of what we, as a team, have been able to achieve. But if we don’t make changes, we won’t be sustainable. This crisis has led us to re-evaluate exactly how we operate as an organisation.”

Mr Wright also reported that Ms Unsworth had also announced that BBC News – which was cutting 520 jobs – would concentrate on fewer stories, with journalists pooled in centralised teams rather than working for specific programmes.


BBC ‘APPOINTS CORBYNISTA’: Guido Fawkes (16/7), noting that the BBC had appointed Rianna Croxford as a community affairs correspondent, claimed that she had in the past been a ‘diehard campaigner’   for Jeremy Corbyn at the 2017 general election, and had called on Theresa May to sack Boris Johnson as foreign secretary because he was ‘a clown’.  The article said that Ms Croxford’s tweeting record suggested she believed the entire press was a ‘pro-Tory echo chamber’ and saw that righting that was her mission.


BBC Bias Digest 15 July 2020

BBC CUTS ‘WILL HOBBLE WEBSITE’:  Charlotte Tobitt (Press Gazette 15/12) said that cuts in BBC England (providing local and regional journalism) of £25 million by the end of 2022 would lead to the loss of 450 jobs, with a BBC ‘insider’ also claiming  that the BBC News website would ‘cease to function in its current state’. Ms Tobitt said that the insider believed that the axing of a central web team in Birmingham that acted as a quality control filter, together with numerous operations staff, would mean that there was no longer the capacity to produce a properly comprehensive regional news service. She also reported that the BBC had responded to the criticism by stating that news generated by BBC England would become more localised and more efficient.


BBC ANDREW NEIL SHOW AXED:  Paul Withers (Express 15/7) said that as part of BBC cuts in journalism which in total would lead to the loss of 520 jobs, the Corporation had announced that it was permanently axing the Andrew Neil Show, which had been taken off air at the beginning of the pandemic lockdown. He added that Mr Neil would continue to present on an occasional basis the Politics Live programme and that the presenter was in talks about a new BBC One interview show.  Mr Withers claimed that ‘furious Britons’ were now calling for the licence fee to be scrapped in response the news as this was evidence that ‘the lefties are getting their way by stealth’.


BBC TO INVESTIGATE STAFF ‘TWITTER ADDICTS’: David Jordan, the BBC’s director of editorial standards, had told the Lords communications and digital committee – in a hearing about the future of journalism – that the ‘seductive’ Twitter website had sucked a number of its people into becoming ‘addicts’ who then broke editorial standards in ‘egregious ways’ by posting their own content (£ Daily Telegraph 15/7). He asserted that staff had not upheld the Corporation’s editorial standards and sometimes disciplinary action had been taken. Mr Jordan also confirmed that Richard Sambrook (a former BBC Director of News)  was investigating the use of Twitter by BBC employees.

Matthew Moore (£ Times 15/7) also reported that David Jordan had told the committee that BBC staff had become addicted to the ‘toxic’ Twitter platform, and warned that the desire by some to ‘go viral’ was undermining the Corporation’s reputation for accuracy. Mr Moore added that Mr Jordan had assured the committee that not all BBC journalists read The Guardian, but had acknowledged that the broadcaster had succumbed to liberal-left groupthink in the past. He had said: “We had issues, for example, about tracking the rise of Euroscepticism. Across the BBC, did we do that adequately? No, we didn’t. We had issues  around tracking the growth of concern about immigration”.  Mr Moore also said the committee had heard evidence from media minister John Whittingdale, who had said that metropolitan broadcasters including the BBC had failed to understand the strength of feelings on certain issues, including Brexit, outside the capital.

BBC Bias Digest 14 July 2020

BBC ‘DIVERSITY’ AGENDA IS ‘IDEOLOGICAL UNIFORMITY’: Charles Moore (£ Daily Telegraph 14/7), urging over-75s to revolt against being “mugged”  by being forced to pay BBC licence fees, stated:

“An agenda of recruitment and programming has promoted ‘diversity’ – by which, I suspect, is meant ideological uniformity – as a higher value than truth or news, education and entertainment . That agenda is actively hostile to the attitudes of most of the elderly. Spending is being splurged on the indifferent young’.

Mr Moore also argued that the BBC had chosen – during a pandemic – to launch a cultural revolution against being white, being British, being male, and taking pride in our history and culture.


BBC “NO LONGER MEETS ITS REMIT”: Helen Dale (CapX 13/7), noting that a mannequin of Jimmy Savile with a sign reading “None of them stopped me, and your licence paid for it”    had appeared on the plinth of Edward Colston statue in Bristol, claimed that the BBC was no longer fulfilling its mission to ‘inform, entertain and educate’.   Ms Dale said that as a result, she was no longer paying her licence fee, and added that she had written about wars more amusing than BBC comedy. She declared:

“Every Sunday, I’m reminded the less BBC imbibed, the better. Instead of God and Gardening, soothing and useful by turns, we’re treated to endless three-minute, multi-guest ding-dongs directed to Twitter’s politics tragics and no-one else.”

Noting that the Corporation had stopped exempting most over-75s from paying their licence fees, she said it was likely when the first prosecution of a pensioner occurred, the BBC would blame “Tory funding cuts’, despite legislation allowing it to recoup losses elsewhere. Ms Dale said that most of the 140,000-a-year prosecutions for non-payment of the licence fee were of women who were already struggling financially and their fines of an average of £176 made things worse for them.


IS BBC ‘ULTRA WOKE?’: Craig Byers (Is the BBC Biased? 13/7), noting that the BBC had issued advice to its many thousands of employees that, to avoid causing offence to transgender employees, they should use ‘their pronouns’ to identify themselves in online correspondence, opined:

“This wasn’t something the BBC had to advise. It was their choice. And, thus, the BBC took sides again in a matter of public controversy at a highly sensitive time – and, worse, on the side of a highly vocal, hyper-aggressive, unreasonable, small minority of people who (very wrongly) think they’re on the side of the angels.

“There are some 400 transgender people at the BBC, some 2% of the total. That’s hugely above the UK average. As in so many other ways, on this, the BBC is demographically very different to the UK as a whole. By being massively over-representative in one respect the corporation becomes massively under-representative in other respects.”

Mr Byers concluded:

“But is any of that what’s going on as far as the BBC’s concerned, or are they just being knee-jerk, ultra-pro-‘woke’ over this? I actually suspect that the number of BBC people discomforted by having such hyper-‘progressive’ folly forced upon them will outnumber the 2% of BBC staff it’s aimed at – albeit probably not massively, given that the BBC is a very PC organisation and, thus, many of its staff will be cringingly willing to bend every part of their/its/hers/his anatomy to signal those largely vicarious virtues.”


BBC POST-BREXIT PESSIMISM ‘DISMANTLED’:  BBC political editor Laura Kuenssberg had come under strong attack from Brexiteers over her claims on the Today programme that post-Brexit, UK mobile phone owners could face a surge in prices when using their phones from EU countries (Daily Express 13/7).  Alessandra Scotto Di Santolo said that Brexiteers on Twitter had lambasted her ‘doom-mongering assessment’, with Paul Staines, the owner of the Guido Fawkes website, stating that no UK network was planning to raise charges after Brexit. He had also claimed that increases would be ‘suicidal for market share’. Ms Di Santolo also noted that a listener to the programme had asked why Today presenters had not challenged ‘Remainer propaganda points’.

BBC Bias Digest 13 July 2020

BBC ‘INTENT ON COMMITTING SUICIDE?’: In an opinion feature, Clare Foges (Times £ 13/7) stating that she was a lover of the BBC as a national ‘unifier’, argued that the Corporation seemed almost intent on committing suicide because it was alienating its core audiences through its excessive focus on ‘wokedom’ issues such as cultural diversity.   Ms Foges instanced a number of factors which illustrated the BBC’s  concern about such issues, including the decision to spend a further £100m on cultural diversity, even though black faces on screen were already beyond the proportion in the population as a whole; an instruction to staff that they should now add a he/she, they/them pronoun to their email signatures to make their transgender colleagues feel more welcome; the announcement that free licences would be withdrawn for the over-75s; and a podcast which advised white women that if they wanted to avoid being knows as ‘Karens’, they ‘should read some books’, ‘get out of the way’ and ‘stop being so loud’.  She asserted:

‘In short, the BBC is already very diverse, and yet its obsession with diversity persists. While endlessly trying to please the woke lobby, the high-ups in the BBC are alienating and irritating the rest of us. And now they are to remove the licence fee from millions of over-75s who do not receive pension credit. Was there really no other way?’.

Ms Foges argued that a BBC rescue plan would include salary reductions with its highly paid talent and a concentration on what it did best, ‘news, quality drama, music, the arts. It would have as its lodestar the values of small ‘c’ conservative England, not the values of of protest movements such as Black Lives Matter (who stated aims include abolishing the police and dismantling capitalism)’. She added that the aim should be to serve the over 55s who were the most loyal audience for the BBC and not teenagers who were off watching TikTok videos.


DEFUND THE BBC CAMPAIGN ‘RAMPS UP PRESSURE’:   The Guido Fawkes website reported (13/7) that the campaign group Defund the BBC had launched an appeal for £100,000 via the Go Fund Me crowdfunding site.  The article said that the goal was to keep pressure up on the government as reports suggested that decriminalisation of non-payment of the fee was ‘on the agenda’. It also observed that Defund the BBC was now the largest group ‘pushing to end the BBC’s stranglehold over UK media’.


BBC Bias Digest 12 July 2020

BBC LICENCE FEE PAYMENT ’TO BE DECRIMINALISED’: David Maddox (Sunday Express 12/7) said that, following a public consultation announced earlier this year, government sources – said to include ‘a minister’ –  were suggesting that payment of the BBC licence fee would be decriminalised, meaning that the Corporation was facing a ‘black hole’ in its finances of up to £1 billion over five years. Mr Maddox, also noting that a Defund the BBC campaign had attracted thousands of followers, said that critics of the Corporation believed the figure could be even higher. He also suggested that the government could be ready to act because of the outrage generated by the decision by the BBC this week to renege on its  pledge to provide free licence fees for the over-75s.

Mr Maddox also noted that the Conservative MP Andrea Jenkyns, writing in the Sunday Express, had outlined wider concerns about the BBC amid continuing  allegations of biased news coverage. She had said:

“Arguably the single biggest threat to the BBC is not it going back on its word about the licence fee, but rather its own internal bias. The BBC is meant to be an impartial organisation, but despite this, even figures that we consider faces of the BBC acknowledge this is not the case.

“The BBC’s handling of recent events has only served to reinforce this further. Who can remember a time where the majority of a Question Time panel voted to leave the EU, despite the majority of the British people voting to do so? Who can forget the openly biased attack launched by Emily Maitlis against the Government on Newsnight a few weeks ago?”.


FARAGE: ‘BBC’S DAYS ARE NUMBERED’: Nigel Farage, the leader of the Brexit party, had warned in a social media video that the BBC’s days were numbered because trust in it was collapsing, according to a posting on Breitbart Europe (11/7).  Victoria Friedman reported that Mr Farage had said:

“. . . trust in the BBC, according to the Reuters Institute, has fallen by another 20 per cent since 2018. There is a massive change going on in this country. Whilst the BBC may be respected all over the world. . . the BBC with every crisis that we face shows it to be totally London-centric, as far away from middle England as ever it could possibly be.

“I think its days are numbered. I think the idea that we’re all going to go on paying over £150 a year for this thing is for the birds. It’ll take time for it to go because the status quo is a very powerful thing. Trust in the BBC is disappearing. I think what you’re going to see are media challengers to the BBC and others that will spring up over the course of the next year or two.”

Ms Friedman also reported that most Britons now said they do not trust BBC journalists to tell the truth, with some two-thirds thinking the broadcaster was biased. She added that a Civitas study (by News-watch) from 2018 had found that Eurosceptic voices had been suppressed over the years on the Today programme, BBC Radio 4’s flagship news programme. `further, half of Britons thought  that the BBC should earn its own money either through advertising or a subscription service, while another poll had said that nearly three-quarters of Britons want the TV licence abolished entirely.


BBC ‘HASTENING ITS OWN DEMISE’: Madeline Grant, writing in the Telegraph (£ 12/7) under the headline ‘The BBC decision to snub its core audience will only hasten its demise’, attacked the Corporation’s ‘mind-boggling priorities’.  She instanced a range of problems, including the decision to slash local and regional journalism jobs, announced on the same day as the spending of £100m extra on diversity targets, even though BAME contributions onscreen were already at 23 per cent when the proportion of BAME people in the national population was only 14 per cent; a No Country for Young Women podcast – said to be part of a ‘vapid identitarian drift’ – which had featured three millennial contributors advising white women how to avoid being ‘Karens’ by ‘educating themselves and avoiding being loud’;  the decision to scrap free licence fees for the over 75s and focus instead on ‘yoof’, exaggerating the sense of skewed values; and a sense of sanctimony in news and current affairs, drama and comedy, with Newspeak masquerading as impartiality, for example in the description that a bus ‘exploded’ (rather than being the subject of a terrorist attack)  during the 7/7 London Islamic terrorist attacks. Ms Grant concluded:

“Is the BBC beyond redemption? Appointing Tim Davie as Director-General – a conservative numbers man, not a typical programme-making exec – suggests some, at least, in the corporation understand the scale of the problem…Ironically, supporting robust local journalism would probably do more to foster the type of diversity the BBC lacks (ideological, regional and class-based) than any number of gimmicky internal audits. The corporation’s London focus has already created a mandarin broadcasting clique that tends to play to its peers, rather than to the rest of the country. The cushion of the licence fee, though designed to protect public service journalism, has more often generated complacency and given producers carte blanche to ignore majority opinion. Insiders may claim that, like the NHS, the BBC still enjoys an iconic place in the national psyche. They forget that, to endure, loyalty and respect must continue to be earned.”


BBC NEWS “AGGRESSIVELY BIASED: Stephen Daisley (£ Spectator 10/7) argued that, in its reporting of race in particular’,  the BBC had become openly and  aggressively biased and the mouthpiece for ‘one side of a culture war’. It was not merely taking sides, but also ‘failing to realise that there is another side’. Mr Daisley laid out that this was especially manifest in an episode of the podcast No Country for Young People (also mentioned above), in which it was asserted (without balance) that white women who were ‘Karens’ – whose greatest sin was that they were white – wanted to be treated in a special way and should refrain from attacking black voices. He also noted that the historian Dinyar Patel was part of a series in which ‘white privilege’ had gone from campus supposition to the status of a ‘universal truth’.  Mr Patel had also asserted that the current crop of Asian MPs included ‘recalcitrant Brexiteers with muddled perspectives on Britain’s imperial history’.   Mr Daisley concluded that unless the BBC changed, it would end up alienating the mainstream with the result that support for the licence fee would be lost.


BBC SERIES ‘TRASHES MURDOCH”: Chris Hastings (Mail on Sunday 12/7), in an article about a three-part BBC Two documentary series about the Murdoch family due to be shown from July 14, said that the Corporation was under fire for ‘allowing three controversial critics of Rupert Murdoch to trash his reputation’, without including balancing opinion from figures more sympathetic to the media tycoon or explaining properly the dubious backgrounds and track records of his critics.  Mr Hastings said the critics were former Labour deputy leader Tom Watson, Max Moseley, the son of fascist politician Oswald Moseley, and the actor Hugh Grant.


GERVAIS: ‘BBC TOO POLITICALLY CORRECT”: The comedian and writer Ricky Gervais, speaking on Talk Radio, has said that programmes like his 2001 mockumentary series The Office would no longer be commissioned by the BBC because – as a result of pressure from Twitter and social media ‘outrage mobs’ – it had grown more ‘politically correct and cautious’.   Kurt Zindulka (Breitbart 12/7) said that Mr Gervais had also hit out at online ‘fascists’ who were shutting down freedom of speech on the false pretext of preventing so-called hate speech, and had noted that someone who was mildly conservative was now branded as Hitler.

BBC Bias Digest 10 July 2020

BBC ‘FORCES OVER-75s TO PAY LICENCE FEE’:  According to Breitbart London, the BBC had announced it would scrap fee licence fees for the over-75s from August 1, thus boosting its income by £472.5 million a year. The article noted that the ‘kick in the teeth’ to pensioners had followed an announcement by director general Tony Hall that the Corporation would spend £100 million to boost ‘diversity’ both on and off-screen.


In the Daily Express, Simon Osborne reported that the Help the Aged charity had appealed to the government and the BBC to continue with the free licence scheme because  and had claimed it would disproportionately impact the millions of pensioners on the poverty line. Help the Aged had also claimed that those who could claim exemption because they received pension credit would be put at heightened risk of contracting Covid-19 because they would have to leave home to claim it.

BBC Bias Digest 9 July 2020

BBC ‘SOWS HATE: Academic David Sedgwick, whose latest book about the BBC is called ‘The Fake News Factory’,   claims that the Corporation , which sees itself as a ‘national unifier’, is actually more concerned with sowing dissension and hatred in its blatant partisan support for the Black Lives Matter movement. Under the headline ‘ Can Britain endure seven more years of the BBC?’ on Comment Central (July 6, 2020),  he compares the BBC’s current zeal for multiculturalism with McCarthy’s hunt for Communists in the 1950s.


OBFUSCATION: On Breitbart London, James Delingpole, attacked what he called (among other words)  ‘a mealy-mouthed, evasive, slimy, politically-correct, issue-ducking’ tweet issued by BBC South-east, in which it was said that a victim of the 7/7 London terror bombings died ‘when the bus he was on exploded’.  Mr Delingpole noted a comment under the tweet which asserted: The bus did not explode. The rucksack being carried by an Islamic lunatic high on religious zeal … exploded on his back’.


BBC ‘BLACKMAILS GOVERNMENT’: Guido’s blog (July 7) suggested that the decision by outgoing BBC director general Tony Hall to spend £100m on a cultural diversity drive has led to exert alleged ‘blackmail’ on the government by threatening to axe Poilitics Live and also to dispense with the services of presenter Andrew Neil.


CULTURAL DIVERSITY: Fraser Myers, writing on Spiked! , claimed that in culling one in six regional programme and local radio staff and threatening to axe Politics Live, the BBC had lost the plot.  Like Guido (above), Mr Myers linked the decision to the increased concentration on cultural diversity, and pointed out that this was despite the fact that internal surveys showed that employment levels at the Corporation of ethnic minorities were above the percentages in the population as a whole.  He noted that a clutch of programmes that were an embodiment of public service broadcasting were being chopped. Mr Myers asserts:

“It’s been clear for some time that the BBC has struggled to marry its coverage of the culture wars with its commitment to impartiality. But its output in recent weeks has been extraordinary, and the lines between reporting and analysis versus opinion and activism seem to have disappeared entirely.”


WOKISM “DOMINATES BBC OUTPUT”: Doublethinker, on Biased BBC (9/7), claims that no area of BBC output – not even Gardeners’ World, of Antiques Road Trip – is now free of ‘nauseating levels of Wokism’.


NEW TODAY EDITOR: The BBC corporate press office has announced that Owenna Griffiths, currently editor of BBC Radio 4 programmes PM and Broadcasting House, has been appointed to be editor of the Today programme in succession to Sarah Sands. The press release says that Ms Griffiths has spent most of her career at the BBC, including a nine-year stint as a Today producer. She is the daughter of Lord Griffiths of Fforestfach,  a Conservative politician and former adviser to Margaret Thatcher.