Tuesday, January 13, 2004

BBC Nik-ed

So anyway, having failed to convince anyone that it's racist to claim Saudi is less democratic than, say, Sweden, the L3 have chosen a whole new reason for firing Robert Kilroy-Silk (incidentally, wasn't it one of the L3s main jibes about Princess Tony's Iraq campaign that he kept changing his reasons for the invasion as events unfolded ? Obviously a whole different thing).

The excuse d'jour is that by speaking out on a controversial issue RKS has impaired his ability to act as an impartial host dealing with such highly-political issues as "I Married A Horse", "Help, My Husband's A Vampire" and "Where Do We Dig Up These Freaks ?". Leaving aside the question of who it is who thinks it's a controversial claim that the Arab world goes through ballot papers like the Vatican goes through condoms, this marks quite a change in BBC policy.

Take the case of Nik Gowing for an example. Here's a guy who really is a BBC employee (remember RKS has his own production company which sells his show to the BBC). Plus he's really is working on the factual, rather than the freak-show, side of the biz. So you might think that if Captain Sunbed opining about Arab culture in a Sunday paper bars him from moderating debates on transvestite OAPs then the BBC would take a view about one of their employees who claims that Israel and the US routinely murder 'difficult' journalists. After all, RKS was writing as himself - but, if you check the blurb at the bottom of the article, Nik Gowing is identified as a employee of BBC World and that is a serious matter. Disclaimer or no disclaimer, Gowing is a BBC journalist writing about journalism. His job gives him, and his accusations, a cachet he would not have if he was identified as Nik Gowing, ordinary citizen. Equally, the flipside of that is that by allowing him to use their brand image to promote these views the BBC is implicitly supporting them. Yet there's a deafening silence from the soi-dissant guardian's of objectivity - such as the Guardian, for example.

So there you have it: pointing out that Syria is no Silicon Valley means you're too extreme for 'Mum, I'm A Cannibal' but claiming publicly that the US and Israel hunt down journalists is a perfectly normal thing for an objective BBC journalist to do.

No bias there!

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