Sunday, August 27, 2006

How The BBC Does It

"A lie gets halfway around the world before the truth has a chance to get its pants on" - Winston S Churchill

Well, we do what we can - The BBC

It’s worth remembering that bias isn’t just about the what, it’s also about the when. Consider the reporting of the Monarch Airlines incident. Needless to say, the BBC leapt at the chance to whine about Islamophobia. In fact, so anxious was the BBC to race to air that they left some of the facts behind.

A day later, the BBC tried again. Unfortunately, those pesky facts just got away again. They did, however, manage to include critical comment from MP Khalid Mahmood to go with the first article’s comment from Tory homeland security spokesman, Patrick Mercer. If you were waiting to hear the other side of the incident, you would have had to wait another 24 hours before the BBC got round to carrying anything more than the most perfunctary comments from someone who was on the actual plane, featured in an article helpfully entitled ‘Malaga passenger defends actions’ with the none too subtle implication that these actions needed defending. Lest you have failed to pick up the subtle hint that he’s a bad guy, we’re also told ‘He denied this reaction had been racist.’ Well, quite. In so far as the BBC has failed utterly to provide any actual evidence for a racial motivation, the line has absolutely no purpose other than as a sly innuendo.

See, that’s the thing. The BBC would no doubt claim that by including comments from a passenger, they were being balanced, but were they ? For 48 hours the BBC was happy to spin the whole incident as racial in nature. It was only when that meme was firmly lodged in the public consciousness that they gave one of the targets of that smear a right to reply (and even then they couldn’t resist taking shots at him).

The point is this: for forty-eight hours the passengers on this plane were denounced as racists, paranoids or morons. Now, the BBC has graciously allowed one of the passengers to put his side of the story, they’ll no doubt claim they’re providing balance, but that’s a ludicrous claim. By giving one side a 48 hour head start, the BBC allowed them to set the terms of the debate – which is why, for example, when you see a headline like ‘Malaga passenger defends actions’, you just know it isn’t going to be Abdul of the Antarctic explaining his zany bomber shtick.

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