Thursday, July 29, 2004

Dixon At The Beeb

For a snapshot of where the Beeb is today, look no further than this article by Roger Mosey, the so-called head of BBC "television" news. Proof positive that even in an article supposedly trying to rebut charges of bias, the Beeb's brass can't manage to string a thousand words together without exhibiting their most infuriating tendencies. Hey - they can't even get past the title without resorting to one of their favourite tricks, the fatuous strawman. The headline assures us that 'The BBC was no cheerleader for war' - like, really ?

Mosey gives an almost textbook example of what's wrong with the Beeb today. Even in an article supposedly reaching out to the critics, Mosey can't help but patronisingly comment about wacky websites, which 'froth about BBC bias'. He perfectly exemplifies the Beeb's characteristic attitude of smug superiority - Auntie smiling patronisingly while the youngsters have their wacky little tantrums. That the critics may - just once or twice - have a point is beyond his comprehension. Instead, Auntie wants us to know that she's above it all, while all her critics are partisan hacks:

Take this example:

An American general appears on Newsnight and expresses the view that the next stage of the Iraq conflict will be a street-by-street battle for control of Baghdad - and he mutters the word "Stalingrad". My hunch is that most counting operations would define the general as pro-war because the assumption is that senior members of armed services are keen on bombing and the like.

In reality, the same interview could be cited by our friends at the Daily Telegraph as being another instance of the whingeing leftie BBC inciting gloom on the home front.

Leaving aside the fact that, again while supposedly eschewing bias, Mozza can't help but take a swing at those nasty righties at the Telegraph, all this really proves is how much fact-yoga is required to 'prove' a pro-war bias at the Beeb. You can show an excess of pro-war comment, but only if you ignore what the commentators actually say. Isn't it the right which is supposed to be prejudiced ? Who knows ? But we do know that Cherie Blair is a lawyer and so was Ann Coulter so, to adopt Mosey's dingbat idea, they're natural allies.

More to the point though, Mosey's point itself is symptomatic of a Lefty worldview. Look, he says, some folks claimed we were too pro-war. Well, yes, but they probably think Al-Jizzum was to too pro-war. I, myself, am really rather fat. That would still be true even if I was sitting next to Michael Moore. The fact I am gravitationally-challenged is a fact - you can be as post-modern as you want, but I really should cut down on the pies. Ditto with the Beeb. That the Beeb is forced to mine the outer limits of Greater Moonbatia to dig up critics of its 'pro-war' coverage speaks for itself. More to the point, there is such a thing as a matter of opinion, but there either was or there wasn't a massacre at Jenin. There either were or weren't US tanks at Baghdad Airport at the precise time the Beeb was reporting that they'd been stopped cold. And, since Mozza raises the point, there either was or wasn't months of brutal street fighting to capture Baghdad. To maintain that all these events are somehow open to various interpretations is itself symptomatic of years of Kool Aid abuse.

That's what's so infuriating about the Beeb. They take out onions for non-existent massacres or heavily-armed wedding parties then when they get caught it's back to Mosey and his fellow hacks rolling their eyes as though expecting the BBC to report truthfully was somehow evidence of nerdy, trainspotterish tendencies.

That's why even when Mosey should be on his best behaviour, he can't resist dealing off the bottom of the pack. We're told to ignore evidence of pro-EU bias since these studies are often commissioned by eurosceptics yet Mosey cites a study by Cardiff which showed the BBC was well-regarded without mentioning that it was commissioned by...the BBC. Similarly, Mosey comments jeeringly about eurosceptics noting 'another wicked pro-Euro interview for the next "official" expose of BBC bias'. Clearly, those counting up interviews to show a pro-war bias are sober researchers, but those using the self-same technique to show pro-EU bias are nuts. Ditto, it's hard to take seriously the sarcastic reference to an 'official' report, whatever that might be, from an employee of the organisation which proclaimed that evidence of misconduct by a handful of boneheads at a north-west training centre was proof-positive that the Filth were practically the same as the KKK.

Talking of the Bill, it is enlightening to consider the differences between these two arms of public service. After all, the Beeb has no hesitation jumping on the bandwagon when the Police were accused of institutional racism. Let's see how the Beeb stacks up under the self-same metrics. Take the question of recruitment. As it happens the Beeb has been anxious to recruit more blacks, hence it advertises in The Voice, the self-proclaimed 'black newspaper'. Yet, look where the rest of their recruitment advertising goes. After all, if they advertise in a black newspaper to hire blacks, who are they trying to attract with the other 90% of their advertising that goes in The Guardian ?

How would the Beeb report on a Chief Constable who'd made a jeering reference to 'our friends in the black community' ? Or who referred to websites carrying stories of Police racism as 'wacky' and 'frothing' ? Does anyone think they cover it as evidence of his witty and amusing nature ? Or would it be further evidence of system-wide prejudice ?

If having a percentage representation of ethnic minorities in the Police lower than in the general population is evidence of racism, what can we say about the Beeb's hiring practices ? In the last two general elections the Conservative Party went into meltdown, which is to say it only got 30% of the vote - or, to put it another way, if you picked three names at random out of the phone book, you'd probably find at least one person who voted Conservative. Does anyone think you could do the same with the Beeb's staff roster ?

Let's kill one strawman right now. No one is claiming that there is any kind of conscious conspiracy at the Beeb. Then again, MacPherson had the most awful difficulty saying what he felt was specifically wrong with the Police. The term 'institutional racism' was (appropriatly) something of a cop-out, meant to convey that the Police as a body provided a worse level of service to blacks rather than whites. The Beeb thought that verdict was simply wonderful, so how about putting its own house in order ? After all, that's what sets the Beeb apart from other public services. A pacifist may not agree with the country having an Army, a Libertarian may hate the NHS while a sane person would despise the Arts Council, but at least the Royal Artillery hasn't shelled CND's HQ. Only the BBC has the arrogance to tell a huge chunk of the people it supposedly serves (and who've already paid for that service) that not only does it have no interest in meeting their needs but that it is positively hostile to them.

That brings us back to Mosey. The reason he's so plain obnoxious even in an article supposedly refuting charges of bias is simply because he has no conception of it not being the funniest thing in the world to sneer at Britain's biggest selling broadsheet or the majority of the population who oppose adopting the Euro. How can he ? He has no experience of either. That's what's wrong with the Beeb, not that they sit around thinking 'hey, how can we spin this to make Dubya look like a fascist moron ?' but that they never consider that POTUS could be anything else. The BBC resembles nothing so much as a cult, barricaded in its compound on the banks of the Thames, it's members working each other in ever-greater frenzies, sure that they, and they alone, have the truth, while all those people on the outside are the crazy ones. That, at least, gives us some grounds for hope: if Dubya wins again, there's always the chance of a mass suicide.

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