Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Say, Does Anyone Know If Alan Johnson's Been Released ?

I can't speak to the whole of the BBC's coverage of Johnson's release, having only seen the first 45 minutes, but so far: ugh! Seriously, here's the BBC, a company which claims it can't take sides between western civilisation and terrorists, running coverage which makes the average company newsletter look like penetrating journalism.

All things considered, this is hardly an uncontroversial matter. The 'fiercely independent' BBC has been carrying water for Hamas all day. As far as I understand the BBC's line, it's that a group of Islamic fundamentalists kidnapped Johnson, until a larger group of Islamic fundamentalists told them to free him, thereby proving we're too hard on Islamic fundamentalists. Couldn't they get Andrew Gilligan to check that story out (preferably on-site) ?

For that matter, isn't one of the defences of the licence fee that it prevents the BBC being hijacked by special interests ? I'm thinking that line of argument might have died somewhere around the time we had the seventeenth case of one Beeboid interviewing another Beeboid. No doubt there's some deeper Conservative point in the case of a broadcasting company whose funding model is designed to avoid it being captured by unrepresentative minorities instead being captured by the broadcasters themselves, using public money to produce the televisual equivalent of vanity publishing. Certainly, the same kind of coverage hasn't been given to other kidnap victims.

That's the other thing about the BBC: not only is there the outright bias, but there's also the enormous arrogance of a bloated, near-monopoly. It comes out not only in today's decision to give blanket coverage to what is, at best, a human interest story, but in their decision to cut off Tony Blair's last PMQs rather than disrupt their precious schedule and - incredibly - to set off a series of explosions in a city centre just hours after a series of terror attacks. It might not be the bias that gets them after all, it may just be this swaggering sense of entitlement and sneering contempt for the public that sinks the BBC.

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