Tag Archives: BBC News

The ‘Strong Economy’ Soundbite

For the best part of 20 years, soundbites have become the lingua franca of careerist and dishonest politicians. We can see this whenever the subject of the National Health Service or public services is raised in an interview with a Tory minister: they’ll trot out the familiar soundbite of “in order to have a properly funded NHS, we need to have a strong economy”. What this actually means when it’s translated is “we’ll keep running down the NHS, until we get it into such a position that we’ll have to sell it off”. When it’s unpacked, the ‘strong economy’ soundbite is actually an admission that the economy is actually weak and not as “strong” as the Tories suggest. The Tories will then contradict themselves by telling us that the economy is “strong”, even though many of us know this is not the case. Why? Because we can see the evidence of a weak national economy with our own eyes.

If the economy is so “strong”, then why are working people forced to go to foodbanks? If the economy is so strong, then why are public sector workers having their pay effectively cut year on year? If the economy is so “strong”, then why are people put into a position where the only jobs available to them are casual and short term jobs?

So, if  the Tories are to be believed and we have a weak economy, does that mean we can’t have an NHS? Nonsense. After the Second World War, Britain was broke and its economy was weak, yet we still managed to have an NHS.

The mass media – especially the BBC – is failing the public by refusing to challenge Tory politicians on their claims and their meaningless soundbites. They are helping to undermine, not just the democratic process (the election), but our flimsy democracy too.

We deserve better from our politicians and our mass media.

 

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Filed under BBC, General Election 2017, Media, Yellow journalism

BBC Complaint

The BBC must think we’re all as stupid as their journalists. I recently complained about a puff piece that Newsnight ran on Theresa May a couple of weeks ago, and Laura Kuenssberg’s appallingly biased Tweet. Naturally, the BBC saw nothing wrong with either of them. Here’s their reply to me:

Dear Mr Hell

Reference CAS-4338575-LYC8NX

Thank you for contacting us about BBC News output.

I understand you feel a recent interview with Theresa May in ‘Newsnight’ amounted to a ‘puff piece’ and Laura Kuenssberg’s post on social media regarding Jeremy Corbyn’s campaigning in Scotland and the Prime Minister’s absence in comparison displayed bias against Mr Corbyn.

We were naturally concerned to learn of your unhappiness but we’d explain that all BBC correspondents, reporters, presenters and editors are very well aware of our key commitment to impartial reporting at all times.

All staff are expected to put any political views to one side when carrying out their work for the BBC, and they simply try to provide the information and context on the story or issue using their professional insight to allow our viewers, listeners and web users to make up their own minds.

BBC News aims to show the political reality and provide a forum for discussion on issues, giving full opportunity for all sides of the debate to be heard and explored. Senior editorial staff within BBC News and the BBC Board keep a close watch on programmes to ensure that standards of impartiality are maintained.

The key point is that the BBC as an organisation has no view or position itself on anything we may report upon – our aim is to identify all significant views, and to test them rigorously and fairly on behalf of our audiences.

We always strive to be robust and consistent in our dealings with politicians and figures of public interest. The interviewer’s role is to put the questions that audience members want to know the answers to.

Our journalists seek to hold politicians and public figures to account by asking them pressing questions on a variety of topics, however the nature and tone of these questions may well be different depending on the programme or juncture the interview is broadcast on.

As the BBC’s Political Editor, Laura can’t publish ‘personal’ views on politics. Her role instead brings a professional and informed insight to events, based on her specialist knowledge and experience in the field.

This tweet conveyed the contrast in the two leaders, reflecting the tactics and mindsets in each party’s campaign. Laura was making the point that because of the conflicting positions on Trident within the Labour party, the Conservatives had made a conscious decision not to engage on the issue at that time. Senior staff are engaged in making sure that all BBC News output, including social media, is in line with our editorial guidelines.

Please be assured we do value your feedback about the points raised. All complaints are sent to senior management and in this case the BBC News team every morning, and I included your points in our overnight report of audience feedback.

These reports are among the most widely read sources of feedback in the BBC and ensures that your concerns have been seen by the right people quickly. This helps inform their decisions about current and future programmes.

Thank you again for contacting us.

Kind regards

Nicholas Bannon

BBC Complaints Team

First, I put it to the BBC that if they were going to run a puff piece on May, were they going to do that same for the other party leaders. The silence, as this reply illustrates, is deafening.

As for Her Ladyship’s tweet, you will notice how Mr Bannon swats away my complaint by telling me she (Kuenssberg) “can’t publish ‘personal’ views on politics”. Oh? So why did she take to Twitter to air them? She certainly wasn’t doing that in a personal capacity.

The BBC’s claims to “impartiality” don’t stand up to scrutiny. Indeed, Mr Bannon’s reply to me amounts to little more than gaslighting.

I will be escalating my complaint to Ofcom.

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Filed under BBC, Media, propaganda

Britain’s press and the race to the bottom

The King Rat of sewer journalism

Last Thursday, the starting gun was fired in the British press’s race to the bottom. Just when you thought Britain’s media couldn’t sink any lower, up pops the BBC’s Ben Brown with possibly the worst interview ever conducted on television this year.

This descent into the gutter has been in progress now since the BBC opted to run a 24 hour rolling news channel that it likes to tell us is “award winning”.   On BBC Breakfast, the following day, the snide Bill Turnbull and his on-screen ‘spouse’, the simpering and gushing Sian Williams, repeated the same line of questioning. Turnbull and Williams, it should be remembered, infamously allowed Stephen Pollard to talk over Ken Loach in the day before the Iraq invasion took place in 2002.  The BBC wanted to compete on near-equal terms with Murdoch’s Sky and its US counterpart, Fox News, which offers nothing that can be described as ‘real news’.

Brown’s insensitivity was defended by Toby Young, who says in his Telegraph blog,

Watching the above clip, I don’t think Brown did anything wrong. He may look a bit callous for not making allowances for the fact that McIntyre suffers from Cerebral Palsy and just treating him as he would any other interviewee, but that’s exactly how the interview should have been conducted. For Brown not to hold McIntyre to the same standard as he would any other person on the programme because he’s disabled would be deeply patronising. After all, there’s nothing wrong with McIntyre’s brain.

But that isn’t the point, Tobes, it’s the fact that Brown insinuated that McIntrye could use his wheelchair as a “weapon”. McIntyre’s cerebral palsy is not the issue. Young offers a wee concession at the end of his blog but this is quickly followed by a boot in the face.

I’m horrified by the way in which McIntyre was treated – this really does seem like an open and shut case against the police officer concerned. But if only he had understood the policy properly – realised that it would actually make higher education more accessible to children from socially deprived backgrounds, not less – he wouldn’t have been on the street in the first place.

Young, like so many other soi-disant journalists makes the usual point of missing what the protests are all about. He, like the others, continues to labour under the misguided assumption that the demos are about tuition fees alone. Wrong. They’re about the cuts that his beloved government are about to make on public services.

The Telegraph’s John McTernan tries to make amends by saying,

My esteemed colleague Toby Young makes a brave attempt to stand up for Ben Brown’s interview of Jody McIntyre on BBC News 24. He really needn’t have bothered. The clip speaks for itself. To be honest, Brown looked like a police stooge when he repeated their claim that prior to the clip on YouTube McIntyre was rolling his wheelchair towards them. “Aw, diddums, did the man with with Cerebral Palsy scare you, and you in your riot gear and all” would have been the right response to whichever Metropolitan Police flak had the chutzpah to offer up that nonsense

But McTernan soon reveals his true colours towards the end of the blog,

While Frank Field was asked to “think the unthinkable”, today Iain Duncan Smith is going one better – he is “doing the unthinkable”. I look forward to many more blogs from Toby Young explaining precisely why the protesting public have got the wrong end of the stick about a change to the system which is really in their own best interests.

By far the worst offender in this race to the sewer, is the Daily Mail’s Richard Littlejohn. To tell the truth, Littlejohn is a long-term resident of the sewer (having moved there from the gutter years ago). He’s merely there to welcome the others to his world of turds, spent condoms, used baby wipes and discarded tampons. What’s worse is that he’s commissioned the Mail’s resident cartoonist to create a sort of Little Britain-inspired image. The suggestion here is that Jody McIntyre is ‘faking it’ because he isn’t four square behind the government’s misguided plans for higher education

The text that accompanies the cartoon isn’t any better – as one would expect.

I want to go to the demo…

Wheelchair-bound Jody Mcintyre has complained that he was beaten and manhandled by police during last week’s student fees protests.

But if he’s looking for sympathy, he’s come to the wrong place.

A man in a wheelchair is as entitled to demonstrate as anyone else. But he should have kept a safe distance.

Mcintyre put himself on offer and his brother pushed him into the front line. It’s not as if he didn’t know there was going to be trouble.

He was also at the last student demo in London and persuaded friends to hoist him on to the roof of the Millbank Tower. If his brakes had failed and he’d gone over the edge, who would he have blamed then?

Jody Mcintyre is like Andy from Little Britain.

‘Where do you want to go today, Jody?’

‘Riot.’

‘Are you sure? Wouldn’t you rather go to hear Bob Crow speak at the Methodist Central Hall. You like Bob Crow.’

‘Yeah, I know.’

‘So, we’ll go there, eh?’

‘Riot!’

‘Ken Livingstone will be there, too. He’s your favourite.’

‘Riot!’

‘All right, then.’

Five minutes later at the riot . . .

‘Don’t like it.’

I wonder how long it took Littlecock to dream up the idea that Jody was really Andy in diguise? Not long, I should think. Littlejohn lives in a world where he imagines himself to be under siege from the ‘polticially correct-gone-mad’, liberal do-gooders, lefties, feminists, gays, blacks, Muslims, lesbians…in fact anyone who doesn’t support Littlehjohn’s distorted version of reality is an ‘enemy within’. 9 years ago, Littlejohn had his first novel published. Titled To Hell in a Handcart, the book was roundly condemned by critics as well as those who understand real literature. The Guardian’s Stephen Moss had this to say,

To Hell In A Handcart is racist, sexist, xenophobic, homophobic trash. Now, Richard Littlejohn should be satisfied. He said recently that if the Guardian dismissed it in those terms, he would put it on the cover as a recommendation. Littlejohn, you see, hates the Guardian.

Christ, that sounds worse than Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged.

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Postcards From the Barricades (Part 6)

I can only report on yesterday’s demonstration from the comfort of my home. I’ve been doing some work. Trying to catch up with a lot of stuff that I’ve been neglecting. Like organizing my notes. They’re in a real mess. I had the telly news on and was receiving updates from the #demo2010 and the #DAYX2 Twitter feeds for most of the day. I’ll be there for the next one. The above photograph came from here.  It was posted by a ‘concerned citizen’ who stormed “I hope the organisers are going to condemn this”.  Others piped in with the usual stuff ranging from “Marxists”  to “skagheads”. How imaginative.

This Tweeter who calls himself WatTyler_Thinks describes himself as,

Sceptical, angry, cynical young man, Libertarian, Rants in less than 140 characters

Okay, we get the picture. Wat Tyler as any kid will tell you was the leader of the Peasants Revolt. This guy isn’t a peasant and most certainly isn’t revolting – well not in the revolutionary sense at least. There seems to be no real historical connection with his namesake either. Here’s one of his tweets on #demo2010

Dear Marxists – have you realised the irony of you being in Trafalgar square, an imperial war memorial

Quelle drôle. But I’m willing to bet that he’s overlooked something here. Can you see what it is yet? In fact, he and a couple of others remarked on this ‘wonderful’ monument to British imperialism and demanded that the culprits be transported to the colonies. I always worry when I hear people talk about the Empire and who publicly lament its passing because I know that underneath this sentimentality there lies the beating heart of a fascist.

Television news channels looked very desperate and did all they could to inject some ‘excitement’ into their reportage. BBC News kept talking about the crowds playing “cat and mouse” with the police. Sky repeated the same line with the addition of “there have been several scuffles” adding words like “violence” whenever a bottle was smashed. Eventually the BBC abandoned its rolling coverage and concentrated on the snow. “Let’s go north to our reporter Fiona Trott who’s in Rothbury in Northumberland. What’s the snow like there, Fiona”?  Rothbury was where Raoul Moat was holed up before he shot himself. The villagers must have thought “Oh, no, not again”!

This morning there was nary a comment on the protests. BBC Breakfast opted to report on the arrests and the “vandalism” citing the graffiti that was left on Nelson’s Column. I didn’t bother with Sky this morning. BBC Breakfast is bad enough. Today’s newspapers talk about the 155 to 170 arrests (none of them seem to agree on the exact number) as though the protests had suddenly spilled over into the following day. The Bristol Evening Press led with the by now familiar “Non students to blame for trouble”. Apparently the police said,

“BE CAREFUL who you follow” – that is the warning to students from Avon and Somerset police, who said a second mass protest against university fees and spending cuts was disrupted by non-students who were intent on causing chaos.

Chief Inspector Mark Jackson “called for someone from the student body to come forward so they could better co-ordinate what he referred to as a “leaderless protest””. The CI added,

“I think that should be a warning to the students – be careful who you follow because the person you follow isn’t always genuine.”

Yesterday’s protest was set up via a group called Bristol Against Education Cuts, set up on social networking site Facebook.

The Evening Post contacted the group for a comment but had not received a reply last night.

Naturally the Chief Inspector failed to comment on the numbers of police who were seen without their ID numbers. Remind me again, who’s looking for trouble here?

This morning the bloggers at the Telegraph were noticeably quiet. Most unusual. I guess there was no violence to report. That didn’t stop Sky from trying to inject some into the reports.  I read one tweet from a Sky reporter who allege that “news crews were being attacked”.  It’s likely that if any news crew gets attacked it will be a Sky crew. Of course, no mention was made of this in the news bulletins.

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