Wednesday, November 02, 2005

We Lied Because We're So Honest

Speaking personally, I loved the BBC’s coverage of the Birmingham riots. Plenty of folks may not know any better than to swallow the BBC's line about events in Iraq or Israel but the cat is well and truly out of the bag as far as Birmingham goes, and no amount of Beeboids interviewing each other about these totally inexplicable disturbances between unknown groups of people will put it back in again.

Perhaps sensing a sudden run on their credibility, the BBC has launched a counter-offensive to try and rescue themselves from public ridicule. To sum up their line: we lied because we’re so honest, or as the BBC puts it:

Journalists at the BBC want to report fact, they want to be accurate. They don't want to be in a position where they report every rumour that springs from the rumour mill.
Hey, anyone got an up to date body count for the New Orleans flood ?

Even if we assume that BBC policy has suddenly changed since they were reporting 10 000 floating dead in the French Quarter, we’re talking about information that was being reported by virtually every other MSM outlet and which has not been seriously questioned by anybody: just how does the BBC define ‘rumours’ ?

This is the key point. The BBC really does believe that it’s creating the first draft of history. Indeed, one of the main excuses for the licence fee is that it’s the only way we’ll have a broadcaster that can provide truly comprehensive coverage. An organisation that undertakes that kind of commitment then refuses to report facts it doesn’t like is defrauding the viewer just as much as if they’d gone the other way and invented stories out of whole cloth.

To find out what’s really wrong with the BBC, consider this comment by BBC editor Marek Pruszewicz:

There is no culture of political correctness, there are no edicts given. I was in charge of TV news at the weekend and I didn't lay down any edict, quite the opposite, in fact.
OK, let’s not assume that this is a bad faith attempt to set up a strawman and assume that Pruszewicz really does believe that Conservative critics are claiming Michael Grade sends out an e-mail every morning telling BBC journalists what line to take. Surely even Pruszewicz must see the problem with his defence ? He seems to be saying ‘why, there’s no party line – everyone at the BBC just naturally adopted exactly the same angle’. But that’s exactly what Conservative critics are saying - that the BBC is a political monoculture. Is anyone really surprised that every one of their reports independently took exactly the same line. ? Seems to me that the BBC lacks a certain, what's the word ? Ah yes, 'diversity'.

For an example of that monoculture in action, we need only consider the opening line from that article:

Reporting on violence such as last weekend's rioting in Birmingham can be difficult for news organisations.

Really ? Doesn't that beg the question ? But no - there's apparently no one around to suggest that a news organisation only has to report the news without fear or favour.

Again, we’re back with the BBC’s implied commitment to provide full news coverage. Now, we have BBC employees claiming that they do slant the news but it’s all in a good cause. That is what all this talk of ‘great care’, ‘sensitivity’ and the like boils down to: lying for the cause.

After all, it’s not as if the Abu Grahib channel has ever worried about inflaming opinion before. Doesn’t the BBC keep telling us that all these atrocity d’jour reports are inflaming Muslim opinion and leading to more terrorism ? How come all this sensitivity disappears when they’re reporting from Gitmo ? Then again, considering that Googling site: for ‘Anthony Walker’ returns 150 hits, it looks like the BBC has no problem reporting on other cases of racially-motivated violence.

The bottom line is this: the BBC reporting from Birmingham had more holes than a polo factory. Now it’s attempting to justify itself by citing standards of proof and sensitivity that it has applied to no other stories. That’s the final proof that the BBC is living in a bubble: how else can they imagine the public will swallow this ?

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