Posts Tagged ‘ITV’

Lib Dem Politico Bullied into Coming Out as Gay by Mail on Sunday

January 7, 2020

This is absolutely disgusting. I really do wonder how the alleged ladies and gentlemen of the scumbag British press sleep at night. Zelo Street this afternoon reported that Layla Moran, the MP for Oxford West and Abingdon, came out last week. She revealed that she was pansexual, and was in a loving, supportive relationship with another woman. Moran’s a contender for the Lib Dem leadership, and her announcement that she was gay was on ITV news. Moran says that their relationship started six months ago. So naturally, Zelo Street raises the obvious question: why is she telling us all this now?

It’s because, according to Hacked Off, the group representing the victims of press phone hacking, Moran was put under pressure by hacks from the Mail on Sunday.  The organisation said

 “Ms Moran has described how several reporters have been asking questions, door-knocking neighbours and even offering payment to a former partner seeking information about her personal life over the last few months. Ms Moran writes that the Mail on Sunday threatened to publish details relating to her sexuality last Saturday, and that she herself only decided to reveal her sexuality publicly last week because she feared the newspaper would go on to publish”.

She did so on social media, which really annoyed the MoS, who were reduced to running a piece about Mumsnet showing bitterly critical posts of her by its users. One of these accused her of ‘weaponising’ her relationship with the Lib Dems former head of media, Rosy Cobb.

The Street then quotes Nathan Sparkes of Hacked Off on the squalid cruelty the MoS has shown:

Newspapers have no business revealing an individual’s sexuality against their will, far less a politician who has devoted much of her career to date to furthering the cause of LGBT+ rights and equality … The decision of the Mail on Sunday … to publish an article attacking Ms Moran based on a handful of abusive tweets on a social media site speaks to the vindictiveness and cruelty of parts of our unregulated press”.

The Street concludes ‘Our free and fearless press’ attitude to sexuality stinks. And that has to change.’

See: https://zelo-street.blogspot.com/2020/01/layla-moran-bullied-into-coming-out.html

I think I saw something in the I written by Moran about her experience of ‘coming out’. It had the title ‘In the 21st Century Coming Out Shouldn’t Be An Issue’, or something along those lines. I didn’t read it because quite frankly I wasn’t interested. So many public figures have come out over the past decades – pop stars, sportsmen and women, actors, politicos – that you get used to it, even bored. With many public figures, whether gay or straight, who they’re romantically involved with is the least interesting aspect of their lives. What’s more interesting is their talent, or issues such as whether they have an unusual personal background, skill or medical condition. Such as, for example, whether they can speak an exotic language, have mastered an arcane science or intellectual discipline like quantum physics, or are able to fly an aircraft. Or have overcome personal misfortune or a medical condition like autism or depression. For a politician, what really matters is how hard they work for and represent their constituents, and their policy positions. Like where they stand on Brexit, the destruction of the welfare state, rising inequality, racism, the privatisation of the NHS and so forth. Provided that they’re not breaking the law and their partners are consenting adults, who they share their private lives with is their own business.

I grew up in the 1980s, when the gay rights organisations were aggressively outing politicians, who kept their sexuality hidden. I thought that this was pretty shabby, until a gay friend of mine told me that the politicos they targeted were hypocrites, who publicly opposed homosexuality and its toleration. There was a serious point to their actions. But there doesn’t seem to be anything like that here, just a simple desire to boost sales figures through scandal.

And unfortunately, the press has got plenty of previous in trying to bully people into revealing their sexuality in this way. Way back in the 1990s the ‘Street of Shame’ column in Private Eye carried a story about an attempt by one of the tabloids – something like the Scum or the News of the Screws – to blackmail one of the pop stars of the day into coming out in its pages. Wisely, he decided to thwart them by going to one of the other papers instead to make the revelation.

And stalking celebrities in order to find out if they’re gay or not is pretty squalid anyway. A few years ago there was a programme on how the Mirror got that story about George Michael going into a gay toilet in Beverley Hills or wherever. That was when it was edited by Piers Morgan, now adorning ITV’s breakfast news. The photographer was there for a week staking the place out waiting for a celebrity, any celebrity, to come and use it. The photographs he took from a car parked over the road were worth tens of thousands. Which itself shows the squalid morals of the newspaper business. I’ve no doubt his family and children were well fed, clad and educated by the profits of his job, but it’s not exactly something your children can boast about in school. After hearing from all the other children how their parents are builders, engineers, scientists, business people,  artists or whatever, what child really wants to answer the question ‘What does your mum/dad do?’ with the reply, ‘He/she hangs around gay toilets hoping to catch rock stars getting arrested by the rozzers’?

As for Mumsnet, they’ve been described as ‘4chan with prosecco’. From what I gather of 4chan, it’s an internet platform seething with racism, sexism and vicious trolls, so that’s hardly an endorsement.

The Mail on Sunday’s treatment of Moran, and the British press’ treatment of innocent people just trying to live their lives in peace is deeply shameful, and shows why it really does need to be subject to a press watchdog with teeth.

ITV Misrepresents Stormzy Racism Comment

December 23, 2019

Yesterday Mike put up a piece reporting that the Grime artist, Stormzy, had been misrepresent by ITV as claiming that Britain was totally racist. One of the broadcaster’s hacks had asked him if he thought Britain was racist. ‘Yes,’ he replied, ‘100 per cent’. Now it should be obvious even to the meanest intelligence that what he meant was that he believed 100 per cent that Britain was racist, not that Britain is 100 per cent racist. But we live in a ‘post-truth’ age, where the media is feeding us all kinds of lies, half-truths and distortions. Stormzy was pro-Labour and pro-Corbyn, and after the Beeb and its lead smear merchant, Laura Kuenssberg, had spent the election belittling Labour and promoting the Tories, it seems that ITV had decided it was their turn. There was an immediate backlash which resulted in the broadcaster releasing a statement retracting their claims about Stormzy, but which significantly did not include an apology.

The peeps on Twitter were not impressed. Mike has put up a number of tweets attacking ITV for this from people like Another Angry Voice, Laura Murray, the comedian and I journo Shappi Khorsandi, and Novara Media’s Ash Sarkar. Murray and Sarkar both noted that Stormzy was being smeared after Britain had elected Boris Johnson as Prime Minister. A racist, who talked about ‘picanninies with watermelon smiles’. Sarkar noted that Johnson also says he runs away from Black boys, Nigerians are obsessed with money and uses the N- and C- word for Blacks. Oh yes, and Britain is a country that illegal deported Black British citizens. But Britain isn’t racist, and it’s extraordinarily offensive to say that it does.

And after the Tory election victory that put Johnson into No. 10, I really wouldn’t have blamed Stormzy if he did believe that Britain was totally racist. Because as Murray and Sarkar note, 14 million people elected one. And it also looks like the broadcaster was using the same trick on Stormzy that the Sun in 1987 used to try to put the public off voting for Diane Abbott. They put a picture of her up in a feature on Labour MPs with left-wing or otherwise dangerous or offensive opinions, at least according to the Scum, claiming that she had said, ‘All White people are racist’. And now they misrepresented Stormzy to make it look like he had said something similar. The right-wing media in 1987 as part of their campaign against the Labour party deliberately misrepresented Black discontent not as resistance to racism, but as Black racism. And this looks very much the same tactic. Stormzy’s political views could be discounted, because he was yet another Black anti-White racist. That was the impression given.

Stormzy himself issued a very forthright attack on the smear. He declared, in language that in Star Trek IV: the Voyage Home is described as ‘colourful metaphors’, that all the publications and media outlets distorting his words could perform oral sex for him, and should not bother asking for anything from him in the future.

Mike comments on this affair

The mainstream – Tory – media will take every opportunity to mislead the public about the opinions, actions and philosophy of those of us who want a better deal for everybody, rather than a bigger slice of pie for the few who are already grossly obese while everybody else is starving.

They’ll do it in the knowledge that most of the people they are misrepresenting do not have the means to challenge them.

And when they are exposed, they’ll simply change their headlines, happy in the knowledge that the damage is done.

See: https://voxpoliticalonline.com/2019/12/22/fake-news-row-as-itv-misrepresents-stormzy-comment/

And now today Carl ‘Sargon of Akkad’ Benjamin is chuckling over a hashtag campaign calling Stormzy a ‘bellend’. Sargon is, of course, the man, who killed UKIP along with Mark ‘Count Dankula’ Meechan and Paul Joseph Watson. A man so right-wing, racist and sexist that the UKIP branch in Swindon asked him to be deselected as one of their candidates for the south-west in this year’s Euro election. Gloucestershire UKIP disbanded when they heard he’d been selected, and he was greeted with anti-racism demonstrations when he turned up in Bristol as part of his election tour, and had milkshakes and fish thrown at him Truro and other places. Sargon’s support of this hashtag campaign tells you all you need to know about the racists supporting ITV’s smear. It comes after a similar hashtag campaign against Owen Jones yesterday by supporters of Rachel Riley and the Alt Right. Which reveals exactly who some of her supporters are.

And with this latest attack on Stormzy, it shows how Johnson’s victory has emboldened the real racists in this country.

Aide Swears and Boris Runs into Freezer to Avoid Interview with Morgan and Reid

December 11, 2019

More weird, buffoonish behaviour from the unfunny clown pretending to be our Prime Minister. Boris and the rest of the Tories, it has been remarked many times, don’t like giving interviews. They don’t like them so much in fact, that they actively run away from them. Andrew Neil has tried several times to get Johnson on his show to no avail. Jeremy Corbyn has been vilified by the Tory press as a coward for supposedly running away from interviews, but he has in fact consistently turned up for them. Johnson’s fear of being interviewed by anyone not carefully selected and trusted to lob him soft questions was graphically shown this morning on Good Morning Britain when he ran away and hid from Piers Morgan and Susanna Reid.

BoJob appeared to be shown around a dairy when the programme’s roving reporter finally caught up with him. He greeted him, and asked him if would appear on the programme. Boris’ aide, Rob Oxley, turned around and appeared to mouth ‘For fuck’s sake’, to the astonished gasps and faces of the two in the studio. Someone else told the reporter that he wasn’t going near Boris.  The hack continued following Johnson, asking him about his promise to talk to Piers and Susanna, and telling him they were ready to go. Boris carried on moving around on his little tour, leaving him behind. The reporter also said that he was being pushed and shoved by BoJob’s minder.  When they finally catch up with Johnson, it’s outside the dairy’s freezer. The hack repeats the question, our comedy Prime Minister says, ‘One moment’, and then disappears with his aids and guides inside the freezer, closing the door. Morgan then praises the hack, telling him he was ‘truly heroic’.

Here’s the Guardian’s video:

Zelo Street in its coverage of this farce makes the point that it demolishes the Tory claims about the respective strengths of Johnson and Corbyn as protectors of this country’s security. Corbyn, they claim, is a positive security risk. Johnson, however, is a truly Churchillian figure who will defend our island from all the evil foreigners out there, as well as driving a hard deal in the trade negotiations with Trump. But this incident shows it all to be a sham. Tim writes

‘Not only did the Fridgegate incident show that Bozo is so yellow that he would never keep the UK safe, it has also showed that when it comes to intolerance and thuggery, it is the Tories and their entourage who are the ones really doing it.

You want to rid the UK of this entitled shower? You know which way to vote tomorrow.’

See: https://zelo-street.blogspot.com/2019/12/fridgegate-uk-not-safe-with-bozo.html

 

Boris Was a Terrible Speaker with or without a Secret Earpiece

November 24, 2019

Questions are being asked about After Boris’ performance on the Question Time leader’s special on Friday. According to Zelo Street, the peeps on Twitter are wondering whether he was secretly being coached in his answers, as there he seems to have had what looks suspiciously like an earphone. Will Black posted images of Boris’ right ear, which may show the device. Cathy Higgins called on Johnson, Cleverly and Tory HQ to clarify if it was an earphone. Matt Buck suggested it could just be for the studio’s sound system. But  Zelo Street observed that it raises the question why it was so discreet. Suzy Williams, however, complained about it to the Beeb by telephone and email. And even if it was an earpone, it did Johnson no good whatsoever. Julie-JC4PM-Stevenson observed that if he was wearing an earpiece, it didn’t help him much. Paul Usher expressed the same view, that even with it in he was ‘incredibly shit’. And Rinders declared that “I reckon he had Cummings shouting, ‘GET BREXIT DONE’ (sic) down his earpiece every 5 seconds. Johnson was ridiculous”.

See:  https://zelo-street.blogspot.com/2019/11/bozo-and-question-time-earpiece.html

Some idea of how terrible Johnson’s performance was can be gleaned from the rage from the Tory press, who started screaming that the Beeb was biased against him. Thus the odious Sarah Vine, Gove’s missus, declared that the audience was a labour stitch-up. Allison Pearson announced that she was complaining about the Labour bias of the BBC audience. Darren Grimes moaned about how the BBC behaved typically and there weren’t any pro-Tory, pro-Brexit voices. Murdoch hack Tim Shipman complained that Johnson was interrupted 45 times, far more than the other leaders Corbyn, Swinson and Sturgeon. The Daily Heil’s Andrew Pierce complained that the audience was packed with ‘Corbynistas’ and wondered if there were any Lib Dems or Tories in the audience. He didn’t know, as he hadn’t seen the programme because he was presenting his LBC show. Ian Dale made the same complaint, and also made a cheap sneer about whether Daniel Blake, the titular character of the film of that name, would appear. Along with another sneer about Momentum packing the audience. The Scum’s political editor, Tom Newton-Dunn, and Guido Fawkes’ invertebrate Tom Harwood Tom Harwood both complained about Kate Rutter, an actress from the film I, Daniel Blake and Coronation Street being in the audience.

Zelo Street concluded of Johnson’s wretched performance that

‘Bozo The Clown failed to live up to the hype once again. That is not the fault of the BBC, but those who put him in 10 Downing Street and his press cheerleaders. End of story.’

In addition to his account of the proceedings, the commenters on his story also made some very good points. ‘Mirandola’ and ‘Mark’ both pointed out that a South African, Ryan Jacobsz, appeared at the very beginning of the programme to ask Corbyn questions. Jacobsz had definitely been on Question Time four or five times before. Jacobsz was a Conservative, who the Tory hacks had somehow overlooked in their moans about Labour bias.

And Andy McDonald commented on the Tory mentality behind these complaints. They took it for granted that they would win, and when they don’t, they start whining about bias.

What’s interesting is the assumption, the default expectation that their side is going to win. That any criticism isn’t just the natural way arguments work, but an aberration. That it has to be a “stitch up”, because they cannot conceive of anyone naturally reaching the conclusion that Labour might be better for them.

Says an awful lot about the Oxford debating club mentality driving the Tories (what larks, all a big game, call daddy’s lawyer if shit gets a bit real).

See: https://zelo-street.blogspot.com/2019/11/question-time-tories-whine.html

In fact, as Zelo Street, Mike and various other left-wing blogs have pointed out numerous times, Question Time has a massive Tory bias both in its guests and the audience, so it’s massively hypocritical for the Tory hacks to complain of bias in their turn.

Martin Odoni also put up a piece describing how terrible Johnson was as a speaker at the ITV leaders’ debate, filmed near him at MediaCity in Salford Quays. Martin was part of crowd determined to give our farcical Prime Minister the benefit of their opinions on his squalid, malicious government and character. He points out that BoJob has all of May’s faults as a speaker. Both of them repeat meaningless catchphrases. With May it was ‘strong and stable’, with BoJob it’s ‘getting Brexit done’. They both stutter and stammer. And they both run away from hostile crowds. Martin describes how Boris took one look at the mass of protesters, and order his driver to go in the back way. Corbyn, by contrast, came out to talk to them. Martin comments

I must remind everyone once again though, evading the public was a dreadful weakness May showed for most of the spring and summer of 2017. I criticised her myself for refusing to speak to the public, given that, in a country that likes to call itself ‘a democracy’, politicians should be accountable to the people, especially during a General Election. How can that happen if the Prime Minister refuses to speak to them? It looks arrogant, high-handed, and cowardly, and yet Johnson is now emulating it almost daily, after his embarrassing experiences on visits to hospitals during the Autumn.

Martin also discusses how Johnson also shot himself in the foot by declaring that the monarchy was beyond reproach, at a time Prince Andrew is in serious trouble about his relationship with convicted paedophile Jeffrey Epstein.He’s also shown how hopelessly out of touch he is through his frequent remarks about how the rich deserve sympathy as they are a ‘put-upon minority’. As for the Tories trying to rebrand their HQ as ‘Factcheck UK’, Martin states

Now, it is insulting enough that the Tories would imagine significant numbers of people would be stupid enough to fall for this. But if it had worked, that would be worse, because once again the Tories have shown a pathological willingness to corrupt the democratic process to advance their power. If the Tories had actually been seeking a way of convincing the public to trust Corbyn more than their own leader, they could have found no more certain way than this.

https://thegreatcritique.wordpress.com/2019/11/20/whos-the-chicken-really-boris/

Boris fancies himself as a statesman of truly Churchillian stature. But it’s becoming increasingly apparent that, literary ambitions as the great man’s latest biographer aside, he is nowhere near. And the more he speaks on television and in public, the clearer it is. Zelo Street remarks that if the object in his ear was an earphone, ‘then it tells you all you need to know about the Tories’.

Exactly. They don’t believe they can win except by cheating, and that includes whining about BBC bias. They’re a danger to this country, it’s people, and to democracy itself. Get them out, and Corbyn in!

Real Fact Checking Organisations Attack Tories for CCHQ Deception

November 21, 2019

This is yet another brilliant piece from yesterday’s I. The Tories’ decision to rebrand Central Office as a fact-checking centre, in order to mislead people into thinking that their tweets claiming Johnson won the ITV leader debates were objective, journalistic fact, has been condemned. And not just by the folks on Twitter, as a reported yesterday, but also by the real organisations doing the job. The article runs

The Conservatives were accused of misleading the public last night by renaming their Twitter account ‘factcheckUK’.

The party used the account to carry out “fact checks” on the ITV debate – with all of Boris Johnson’s claims rated true and Jeremy Corbyn’s rated false.

Full Fact, an independent fact-checking charity, called the ruse “inappropriate and misleading”. Toby Perkins, Labour’s candidate for Chesterfield, said: “Just fundamentally dishonest.” Hundreds also reported the account to Twitter.

Zelo Street yesterday also posted a piece about this odious deception, He quoted Full Fact  as saying

It is inappropriate and misleading for the Conservative press office to rename their twitter account ‘factcheckUK’ during this debate. Please do not mistake it for an independent fact checking service such as [Full Fact], [Fact Check] or [Fact Check NI]”.

Matthew Thompson of LBC said that the Tories’ stunt was ‘unbelievable’, and Zelo Street also quotes the Sun Apologies Twitter account, which asked Twitter if CCHQ would be losing their verified status because of it. But unfortunately the Tory site still retains it for now.

https://zelo-street.blogspot.com/2019/11/tory-fact-checking-dead-cat-backfires.html

The Tories’ deception didn’t prevent Corbyn beating Johnson hollow at the debate, but it has added further confirmation that they can’t be trusted about anything.

Terrified Tories Now Brand Press Office as ‘Fact Check Centre’ to Deceive Journalists

November 20, 2019

Well, boys and girls, and children of all ages, here’s more proof that the Tories are really running scared of Corbyn. Despite all the claims that they’re 20 points ahead of him in the polls, this latest trick seems to show that they’re afraid the opposite is true. Last night after the Labour leader apparently utterly trashed Johnson in the debate on ITV the Tory Press Office took the unusual step of rebranding their Central Office as ‘factcheckUK’. As Mike says, this was presumably so they could tweet false claims that Johnson had won the confrontation. In fact CCHQ announced that Johnson was the clear winner, putting a video about it up on Twitter. Presumably they thought we’d forgotten about how they’ve got form editing videos to present a false impression of their opponents. Like the way they inserted a pause into a video they put out of Keir Starmer’s interview on the Andrew Marr show, to make it look like he hesitated and couldn’t answer a question.

But the folks on Twitter weren’t impressed, and the attacks on Tory Lies Central came thick and fast. Mike’s put up a few of them. Jess Brammar posted this tweet, responding to a post stating that this rebranding was so dystopian, Charlie Brooker had taken a leaf from Orwell’s 1984 and declared war on East Asia.

So, let’s get this straight…in this election campaign, journalists have to engage with a Tory press office that thought it was ok to pretend to be a fact checking service to deceive members of the public on twitter during an election debate. https://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/entry/tory-hq-

@RalfLittle posted a satirical piece calling the Labour Party a bunch of pussies and stating that food banks rock under the heading ‘Conservative Press Orifice’. He also posted this piece under the same heading

The Conservative Press Office would never appear to be something it isn’t in order to spread disinformation. We resent the accusation. Also Boris Johnson has loads of kids but won’t say how many. https://twitter.com/AdamMarkDavis/status/1196897520905048065 

Technically Ron declared that Corbyn intended to put Thatcher’s ghost into a jar and hurl it into the Sun, and reminded us that David Cameron had had carnal intercourse with a pig, and we were now leaving the EU.

Mike concludes

Way to go, Tories. Not only did your man mess up his big TV appearance…

But you’ve also ensured that nobody will believe another word to come out of your publicity machine.

See: https://voxpoliticalonline.com/2019/11/19/tories-pretend-their-press-office-is-a-fact-check-organisation-public-ridicule-is-hilarious/

The Tories already have a very unenviable reputation for lying. Apparently on the debate last night Johnson started to bang on about ‘transparency’, at which point there was laughter from the audience. I think Cummings and his other advisers might have to wake up soon and realise that their party has a ‘credibility gap’.

As for their party election broadcasts, perhaps they should give them the title of one of the Police Squad movies as they’re so desperate. How about ‘The Smell of Fear’. That would accurately sum up their claims about Labour.

Beeb’s John Sweeney Attack Parliamentary Lobby System as Source of Fake News

November 14, 2019

Very interesting article in next week’s Radio Times for 16th-22nd November 2019. John Sweeney, a former journo with the Corporation’s Panorama, has written a piece attacking the parliamentary lobby system, ‘Time to name your sources’, on page 9. The subtitle states very clearly why he objects to it ‘Why are political reporters feeding us fake news?’

The article runs

As the country gears up for a general election, TV viewers and newspaper readers are being lied to from within a secretive system that reduces political journalists and Westminster correspondents to underbutlers, protects power and poisons our democracy. It’s called the lobby and its two most powerful players are a career psychopath (Conservative) and a neo-Stalinist (Labour).

The lobby was created after an Irish terrorist bomb in 1885 caused MPs to lock out the journalists who used to mingle freely inside Westminster. Reporters complained and a permitted few were allowed back, so long as they followed rule number one: when a source says a story is on lobby terms, you don’t identify that source. 

The lobby’s most elegant defender, Andrew Marr, wrote in his book, My Trade: A Short History of British Journalism, “Sophisticated social animals are necessarily hypocrites… who really wants to know less?”

But Marr wrote that before King Brexit turned everything it touched to Novichok. So where do those political stories based on anonymous oft-quoted “sources close to…” come from?

The PMS (the Prime Minister’s Official Spokesman) is a many-headed beast, but one set of jaws is snapped by James Slack, who, as Nick Cohen pointed out in the The Spectator, in a previous life wrote the words underneath the infamous 2016 Daily Mail headline “Enemies of the People”, attacking three judges. Another set of jaws are those of Rob Oxley, Boris Johnson’s press secretary, but the sharpest teeth belong to “career psychopath” Dominic Cummings. David  called him that five years ago. It was an understatement.

Cummings, Slack and Oxley jointly and separately use reporters in the lobby system to tell unattributable whoppers while the system as a whole is given coverage by BBC, ITV, Channel 4, Sky and the papers. Veteran political reporter Peter Oborne nailed a series of lies about Brexit on “lobby terms” recently. Perhaps the most poisonous was the “lobby terms” claim, reported in the Mail on Sunday in October, that Remainers Dominic Grieve, Oliver Letwin and Hilary Benn were being investigated by the government because of their involvement with foreign powers. The story was a lie. The BBC, etc, didn’t tell that lie. But they prop up the system in which the lie could be told.

That system also encourages acquiescence among political hacks. If you don’t toe the line and ask awkward questions instead you are excluded from the regular drip-feed of anonymous briefings. It was reported that Boris Johnson when Foreign Secretary was considered a security risk by MI6 because of his dodgy private life. But has the lobby asked if Boris will launch an inquiry into himself? Nyet.

Another potential security risk is Jeremy Corbyn’s spin commissar, Seumas Milne. He oversees Labaour’s lobby operation but the system shields his shenanigans behind the arras. In 2014 Milne appeared on a panel at a summit in Sochi alongside Vladimir Putin. Milne, a former Guardian journalist, has in the past bigged up both Stalin and East Germany. Creepy.

Has the lobby asked Putin’s pal Milne if he is a security risk? Again, nyet.

In these toxic times, the lobby has become a lie factory. We need to scrappy “lobby terms”. If power speaks with a forked tongue, we need to know whose tongue it is that’s lying.

Okay, Sweeney’s correct to call out the lobby system. I’m irritated myself by stories that begin ‘sources close to the Prime Minister’ or ‘Ministers are considering’, as quite often this means that the source is sounding out a policy. And that policy is quite often something monstrous. I remember a story in the Sunday Express back in the early 1980s, when AIDS first appeared and everyone really was afraid it would decimate the global population like a new Black Death. It was so strongly associated with gays that a Beeb science documentary on it had the title ‘AIDS: The Gay Plague’. In this climate of fear, the Sunday Depress announced that ‘ministers’ – who were never named – were considering a radical solution to the problem. This was the construction of an ‘AIDS island’ following the Swedes’ example, where AIDS victims could be isolated and treated. It harkens back to the location of lazarettos – leper hospitals – on islands. But it was also frightening coming as it did from a government that had very far right tendencies and a reputation for aggressive homophobia. Maggie had just tried to introduce her law banning the positive teaching of homosexuality in schools. To many people, this seemed like the beginning of a campaign against homosexuals and the left which would end up with internment camps. The nightmare Fascist Britain of Alan Moore’s and Dave Lloyd’s V for Vendetta, running in the comic Warrior, seemed all too possible.

Others have also challenged the very close relationship between the press and the political class. When David Cameron was PM, it was pointed out that many leading journos, including editorial staff at the Guardian, I believe, also lived in Cameron’s village of Chipping Norton. Over on the other side of the Pond, some of the left-wing news shows on the Net, like The Young Turks, Sam Seder’s Majority Report and the David Pakman Show, have also commented on the way the press is content to parrot stories and claims by right-wing politicians, because they’re afraid that if they start challenging them, those politicians will simply stop talking to them and they’ll lose their stories. The result has been a decline in journalistic standards, as papers no longer attempt to hold politicos to account, but simply repeat their lines and lies. I’ve no doubt that this also partly accounts for the utter complicity of the press in repeating the claims and assumptions of the neoliberal right over here.

But this also doesn’t exonerate the Beeb. Despite the protestations of its political editor, the Beeb does platform right-wing figures over the left. Mike put up a graphic from Tory Fibs a few days ago, which showed very clearly how massively biased the Beeb was in its inclusion of figures and spokesmen for the right on its news shows and panels. Its newsroom is stacked full of Conservatives, like Nick Robinson, and Fiona Bruce and her producers on Question Time scarcely hide their right-wing bias. And the Beeb is still under investigation for the massive bias in its Panorama documentary on anti-Semitism in the Labour party.

The lobby system is a major part of the problem, but not the whole. The whole journalistic system and its cosy relationship with right-wing politicians is rotten, and needs to be overturned. And the Beeb is very much part of it.

Biased Fiona Bruce Reassures Tory Chairman Brandon Lewis on Question Time

September 20, 2019

Can the Beeb’s political bias get any more blatant? This is a piece of news that Mike covered on his blog last Friday, and it’s important. I’m afraid it’s taken me a week to cover it myself here, because I’m afraid I’ve been unavoidably busy. But this does need further scrutiny, as it’s part of a mountain of evidence showing just how blatant the Beeb is in its outright bias towards the Tories. On last Thursday’s edition of Question Time, host Fiona Bruce asked Tory chairman Brandon Lewis a question he couldn’t answer. After Lewis struggled to say something, Bruce decided to reassure him by saying that she was ‘only teasing’.

https://voxpoliticalonline.com/2019/09/13/more-question-time-bias-as-fiona-bruce-pats-brandon-lewis-im-just-teasing-you/

As Mike asked in his article, how is that impartial? It contrasts very strongly with the way the show and Bruce herself treats left-wing guests. Bruce gaslit Diane Abbott when she appeared on the show, telling her that she was wrong even when she was perfectly right. She allows right-wing guests time to answer while cutting left-wing panellists short when they give a reply she doesn’t like. The producers also suddenly sprang right-wing mouthpiece Isobel Oakeshott on Carole Cadwalladr when the Guardian journo was due to appear on the show in order to embarrass her. And in a glaring show of massive journalistic cowardice, QT’s producers pulled out of appearing with Cadwalladr at an event at the Edinburgh Television Festival. Despite having agreed to appear with her, they suddenly found that unavoidable events meant they couldn’t.

The Sage of Crewe over at Zelo Street has also pointed out how the Beeb regularly packs the panel and audience with people from Conservative and right-wing organisations to the exclusion of the left. All while claiming impartiality, of course.

And then there’s the massive bias on the mainstream news programmes. This was shown yesterday by Laura Kuenssberg revealing that Omar Salem, who had criticised BoJob to his face for his destruction of the NHS, was a Labour activist and gave his twitter handle. Salem was the father of an ill seven-day old child being treated at the hospital the Comedy Prime Minister was visiting. He was supported in his comments by a doctor at the hospital, who was appalled at the low standards of patient care due to government policies. But Kuenssberg’s action had the effect her Tory masters were no doubt hoping for: Salem was deluged with abuse by right-wing trolls. Kuenssberg has rightly been criticised for this, and defended on ITV by the odious Piers Morgan in a demonstration of the kind of boorishness and plain bias that has made him notorious.

Kuenssberg the troll: She started a Twitter dogpile on the father of a sick child

https://zelo-street.blogspot.com/2019/09/piers-morgan-attacks-father-of-sick.html

Kuenssberg, like her mate John Pienaar and the rest of the BBC news team, has hardly wasted any opportunity that has come her way to attack the Labour party. She has vociferously and aggressively promoted the anti-Semitism smears, as has a recent Panorama special. And there have been any number of the news team, who have left the Beeb to take up residence as Tory spin doctors. And several them have come to the Beeb from the ranks of the Tory party. Like the Manchester Goebbels, Nick Robinson, who was head of his branch of the Young Conservatives or whatever.

It looks to me very strongly like there are only two questions that mean anything in any application to the Beeb’s news service.

  1.  Did you go to public school?
  2. Are you a member of the Tory party?

If you answer ‘yes’ to both questions, you’re in.

Japanese Scientist Obtains Permission for Animal-Human Hybrids

August 1, 2019

This is very ominous. A Japanese scientist has been granted permission to create animal-human hybrids, according to yesterday’s I. The man intends to use them in research for the possible creation of organs in animals, that could be used for transplantation into humans. There are limits to his research, however. He states that at the moment he will not keep them alive for longer than 15 and a half days, so it isn’t like he’s going to produce complete animal-human hybrids, like the chimpanzee-human creature developed by rogue scientists as a new slave animal in the 1990s ITV SF thriller, Chimera. But it is a step in that direction.

The article, ‘Human-animal hybrid research is approved’, by Colin Drury, on page 22, runs

Human-animal hybrids are to be developed in embryo form in Japan after the government approved controversial stem-cell research.

Human cells will be grown in rat and mouse embryos, then brought to term in a surrogate animal, as part of experiments to be carried out at the University of Tokyo.

Supporters say the work – led by the renowned geneticist Hiromitsu Nakauchi – could be a vital first step towards eventually growing organs that can then be transplanted into people in need.

But opponents have raised concerns that scientists are playing God. Critics worry the human cells could stray beyond the targeted organs into other areas of the animal, creating a creature that is part animal, part person.

For that reason, such prolonged experimentation has been banned or not been financed across the world in recent years.

In Japan, scientists were forbidden from going beyond a 14-day growth period. But those laws were relaxed in March when the country’s education and science ministry issued new guidelines saying such creations could now be brought to term.

Now, Dr. Nakauchi’s application to experiment is the first to be approved under that new framework.

Human-animal hybrid embryos have been made in countries such as the United States, but were never brought to term. The US National Institutes of Health has had a moratorium on funding such work since 2015.

“We don’t expect to create human organs immediately, but this allows us to advance our research based upon the know-how we have gained up to this point,” Dr. Nakauchi told the Asahi Shimbun newspaper.

He added that he planned to proceed slowly, and will not attempt to bring any hybrid embryos to term for several years, rather growing the hybrid mouse embhryos to 14.5 days, when the animal’s organs are mostly formed, and the hybrid rat embryo’s to 15.5 days.

Such caution was welcomed by bioethicists in the country.

There was also a little capsule, containing the comment that

Some bioethicists are concerned about the possibility that human cells might stray, travelling to the developing animal’s brain and potentially altering its cognition.

Which seems to be a concern that this research could unintentionally also result in animals acquiring some form of human intelligence accidentally.

The British philosopher Mary Midgley attacked that part of the biotech industry and those scientists, who looked forward to bioengineers being able to redesign whole new forms of humans in her book, The Myths We Live By (London: Routledge 2004). She writes

That ideology is what really disturbs me, and I think it is what disturbs the public. This proposed new way of looking at nature is not scientific. It is not something that biology has shown to be necessary. Far from that, it is scientifically muddled. It rests on bad genetics and dubious evolutionary biology. Though it uses science, it is not itself a piece of science but a powerful myth expressing a determination to put ourselves  in a relation of control to the non-human world around us, to be in the driving seat at all costs rather than attending to that world and trying to understand how it works. It is a myth that repeats, in a grotesquely simple sense, Marx’s rather rash suggestion that the important thing is not to understand the world, but to change it. Its imagery is a Brocken spectre, a huge shadow projected on to a cloudy background by the shape of a few recent technological achievements.

The debate then is not between Feeling, in the blue corner, objecting to the new developments, and Reason in the red corner, defending them. Rhetoric such as that of Stock and Sinsheimer and Eisner is not addressed to Reason. It is itself an exuberant power fantasy, very much like the songs sung in the 1950s during the brief period of belief in an atomic free lunch, and also like those in the early days of artificial intelligence. The euphoria is the same. It is, of course, also motivated by the same hope of attracting grant money, just as the earlier alchemists needed to persuade powerful persons tthat they were going to produce real, coinable gold. (p. 166).

She goes on to argue that such scientific hubris comes from the gradual advance of atheism with the victory of the mechanistic model of the universe introduced by Newton in the 17th century. As God receded, scientists have stepped in to take His place.

On the clockwork model the world thus became amazingly intelligible. God, however, gradually withdrew from the scene, leaving a rather unsettling imaginative vacuum. The imagery of machinery survived. But where there is no designer the whole idea of mechanism begins to grow incoherent. Natural Selection is supposed to fill the gap, but it is a thin idea, not very satisfying to the imagination.

That is how the gap that hopeful biotechnicians now elect themselves to fill arose. They see that mechanistic thinking calls for a designer, and they feel well qualified to volunteer for that vacant position. Their confidence about this stands out clearly from the words I have emphasised in Sinsheimer’s proposal that ‘the horizons of the new eugenics are in principle boundless – for we should have the potential to create new genes and new qualities yet undreamed of … For the first time in all time a living creature understands its origin and can undertake to design its future.’

Which living creature? It cannot be human beings in general, they wouldn’t know how to do it. It has to be the elite, the biotechnologists who are the only people able to make these changes. So it emerges that members of the public who complain that biotechnological projects involve playing God have in fact understood this claim correctly. That phrase, which defenders of the projects dismiss as mere mumbo jumbo, is actually a quite exact term for the sort of claim to omniscience and omnipotence on these matters that is being put forward.

One of the most profound artistic comments I have found about the implications of this new biotechnology is the sculpture ‘The Young Family’ by the Australian artist Patricia Piccinini. This shows a hybrid mother creature, bred for organ transplantation, surrounded by her young. Curled up like an animal, her human eyes peer back plaintively at the spectator. It’s a deeply disturbing work, although Piccinini states she is not opposed but optimistic about scientific progress. She says

In terms of the real world, these are some of the key issues that I am trying to question and discuss with my work. I’m not pessimistic about developments in biotechnology. We are living in a great time with a lot of opportunities, but opportunities don’t always turn out for the best. I just think we should discuss the full implications of these opportunities.

So if we look at The Young Family we see a mother creature with her babies. Her facial expression is very thoughtful. I imagine this creature to be bred for organ transplants. At the moment we are trying to do such a thing with pigs, so I gave her some pig-like features. That is the purpose humanity has chosen for her. Yet she has children of her own that she nurtures and loves. That is a side-effect beyond our control, as there will always be.

That is what makes the question of breeding animals purely for organ-transfer so difficult to answer. On one hand we need organs to help people in need, on the other hand we are looking at an animal that wants to exist for the sake of itself. I can’t help but feel an enormous empathy for this creature. And, to be very honest, if it would save the life of one of my children, I would be will to take one of these organs. I know it is probably not ethically right but sometimes honesty, emotions, empathy and ethics don’t always line up.

I am not nearly so optimistic. For me, this sculpture is a deeply moving, deeply disturbing comment on the direction this new technology can go. And I fear tht this latest advance is taking us there.