Monday, October 09, 2006

The BBC & Incontestable Truths

In yesterday’s Observer Nick Cohen commented on the difference in attitude BBC news presenters show when interviewing those who oppose or support the liberal consensus:
Although they subject opponents of, say, abortion to rigorous cross-examination, their lust for ferocious questioning deserts them when supporters of abortion come on air. Far from being tested, they treat upholders of the liberal consensus as purveyors of an incontestable truth.
This morning’s Today programme provided a perfect example of this. To discuss North Korea's nuclear test Ed Stourton introduced Joseph Cirincione from the Centre for American Progress, an advocacy group with the following aim:
Every day we challenge conservative thinking that undermines the bedrock American values of liberty, community and shared responsibility.
It claims to be non-partisan but is in fact stuffed with Democrat supporters (just click on the bios of the senior staff for proof). Had this been a conservative think-tank it goes without saying that the term “right wing” would have been mentioned, but no equivalent warning was deemed necessary here. Cirincione got a free run to blame the North Korean situation on the Bush administration, encouraged by a leading question from Stourton on the situation in Iraq. Cirincione’s solution:
“If the US is smart they’ll settle for a sharply-worded verbal condemnation and the agreement to impose limited sanctions on North Korea.”
And if that doesn't work, maybe they could put their sharply-worded condemnation in writing.

Nothing Cirincione said was questioned; as an upholder of the liberal consensus he was purveying an incontestable truth.

Update. The line of questioning was a little different when John Humphrys interviewed Republican congressman Dana Rohrabacher later in the programme:
Rohrabacher: We have been spending 100 million, probably upwards of 100 million dollars over the last ten years feeding the people of North Korea while they use their own resources to develop this nuclear weapon. That is an insane policy and we are now reaping the results of it.

Humphrys: So you’d starve them?

Rohrabacher: We’d starve them? It would be their own government starving them.

(Hat tip The Pedant-General)


Blogger The Pedant-General in Ordinary said...


You didn't hear the later interview with a more steadfast Republican type (didn;t catch the name).

Naughtie hostile from the start - treated the chap as though he was basically itching to nuke the place.

Interviewee finally got his key fact in: The US gave USD 100 million in aid to NK last year to feed the population. This, he said, is insane: giving money to a country to allow it to ignore its population and spend its own money on nuclear weapons.

Naughtie response: "So you would leave the North Koreans to starve?"

Sickening. Absolutely sickening.
Just how much of an apologist do you have to be to get a job in the BBC?

1:18 pm  
Blogger DFH said...

I've just listened to the interview - thanks for pointing it out. (It was Humphrys, not Naughtie, btw)

I'm beginning to think that BBC journalists treat accusations of liberal bias in the same way young toe-rags treat ASBOs - as a badge of honour.

2:10 pm  
Blogger AntiCitizenOne said...

I'm so pleased I ignore the TVLAs' extortion letters.

2:30 pm  
Blogger james968 said...

OK. in the US we have no such thing as a TV License.

In the UK, the License was put in place when there really weren't any broadcasters and it needed one.

Today its not really needed. Has anyone in the UK tried calling (or organized a call in effort to) their MP and asking them to phase out the license fee. Then it is up to BBC to sink or swim on its quality.

In the US, FOX News has become the most popular News Service.

Sorry, just a silly question from a colonial.

2:59 pm  
Anonymous johnm said...

Even if Cohen's recognition of the problem is correct, his solution is nonsense. More journalists out in the field isn't going to make any difference to the bias - you will just have more Orla Guerrin and Frances Harrison.

I think Nick Cohen is currently at c1992 on the Melanie Philips conversion trail. I find it quite edifying to note that "we" don't have to do anything to bring him over - once he started to venture outside left-wing orthodoxy, all the pushing is done by the left. Based upon the Observer comments, those people seem to be rather intolerant of apostates.

2:59 pm  
Anonymous johnm said...

USS Neverdock has identified a rather selective timeline on the BBC website, that shows the problem was all the fault of Bush.

3:22 pm  
Anonymous verity said...

James 968 asks: "Has anyone in the UK tried calling (or organized a call in effort to) their MP and asking them to phase out the license fee. Then it is up to BBC to sink or swim on its quality."

Well-known people like ex-Sunday Times columnist Jonathan Miller, have put themselves on the line with well-publicised cases of refusing to pay their licence fee. There are several websites devoted to the destruction of the licence fee. Biased BBC is concerned about the hard left bias of the Beeb, but they also address the licence fee issue.

People write angry emails to their MPs. But the government staggers on under the illusion that the world is breathless with admiration of the BBC and bangs on that the British are so lucky to have a broadcaster that is "the envy of the world". It isn't, of course, but a lot of people believe it.

It gets around £2.5bn (around $4bn)a year and pays some talk show hosts over a million pounds a year in fees. It pumps out an endless stream of socialist propaganda and biased reporting.

People, including old people on tiny incomes, are forced to pay under threat of imprisonment. The largest percentage of women in prison today are there because they couldn't pay their licence fees - many of them single mothers. They have no hesitation in breaking up a home and putting the frighened children into "care" and imprisoning the mother.

I'm not a big fan of single mothers, but these is an obscenity. They imprison old people, too. This is why people pay up. Some brave people simply throw away the notices and wait for the inspectors to come round, at which point they don't open the door. Some people manage to hold out, but they are very brave and very few and far between.

In other words, yes, the problem is being addressed with great vigour and has been for years.

4:28 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Verity: "the envy of the world".

They used to say that about the NHS too, now look at it.

6:50 pm  
Anonymous verity said...

Yes, anonymous 6:50, I wrote it ironically, intending to produce an echo of the NHS which was actually never the envy of the world, any more than the Soviet medical system was the envy of the world. This was and always has been government (any government) propaganda. It was always second/third rate compared with systems where people chose their own insurance packages and paid for them themselves.

The only country that seems to carry off a national health system with great credit, is France. It is constantly in the top two medical providers of the world - sometimes No 1 with the US second; sometimes second with the US first. It is nationalised, but it operates as a market. The patient chooses which lab can do his lab work, which lab will do his xray or mammogram, which hospital he will go to for treatment. The facilities bill the government.

Therefore, they vie to offer very good service so they'll get more patients. When I had an xray, the doctor gave me a prescription, and I chose the lab, according to its reputation and what friends told me. After you get dressed, you get your results right then, with the technician explaining the results to you; then they give them to you to take back to the doctor. OTOH, like healthcare everywhere, it is costing the government too much money ...

8:41 pm  
Blogger The Pedant-General in Ordinary said...


"The largest percentage of women in prison today are there because they couldn't pay their licence fees - many of them single mothers. They have no hesitation in breaking up a home and putting the frighened children into "care" and imprisoning the mother. "

That, if true, is gold dust. Can you email me a source?

ThePedantGeneral AT sign Thingy Gmail dot com

Or stick it here: I suspect that one or two others would like to have that up their sleeves...


Thank for the H/T. It was an astonishing retort from Humphries.


4:15 pm  

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