Posts Tagged ‘Question Time’

Question Time Makes Tory Bias Official Policy

January 18, 2020

Yesterday, Tracy Keeling over at The Canary posted up a piece reporting that the Beeb had finally come out and made a public statement about the way they were selecting the audience for Question Time, as revealed on the show the night before. Apparently, they aren’t going to choose audiences to represent the broad views of society as a whole. No! They’ve decided that audiences members will be selected according to ‘the current political picture’ in the country in which it is held. This means that, following the Tory election victory, the audience in Liverpool Thursday night was mostly composed of Tories. Even though the city had returned only Labour MPs.

Fiona Bruce, the show’s nauseatingly biased presenter, tried to pass this off as normal, stating

As usual, our audience has been selected to reflect the current political picture, depending where we are. So here in England that means there are more Conservative than Labour supporters plus a smaller number from other parties.

Keeling points out that this is very definitely not ‘as usual’, as the Beeb’s own webpage on Frequently Asked Questions stated

Question Time selects local audiences which reflect a broad range of political views. … This is to ensure a range of views are represented in the audience. …

As with the make-up of the panels, Question Time is aiming to achieve due impartiality in the membership of the audience across the series as a whole, rather than being confined to an exact mathematical formula for each programme.

The article then goes on to discuss a number of instances where the audience seemed to be mostly Tory plants. One such case was a show in Scotland, where only 7 members of the audience out of 80 in shot raised their hands to show they were supporters of the SNP. At the time the SNP had 40 per cent support up there.

Then there was the Youth Question Time for the under-30s, which made the split between Remainers and Leavers 50-50. But 70 per cent of people under 30 voted Remain. Admittedly this was at the time of an election, so there were laws dictating their treatment of the issue. But even so, it delivered a Tory win. Femi Oluwole was so outraged that he complained about these instances social media, and told the Beeb it would be simpler if they just confessed to being a Tory propaganda machine. Rho, another poster, asked where all the Scousers were last Thursday’s edition, and wondered if they’d had to bus the Tories in from outside.

Keeling says in her article that the Tories have little regard for the Beeb, just as the Beeb has little regard for the Left and Labour, and it seems that the Corporation is running scared of them. This new policy on Question Time was announced after Johnson declared that his government would consider scrapping the license fee. She also pointed out that the programme had already been subject to complaints of pro-Tory bias. However, this policy on audience selection is new, whatever Bruce and the Corporation claim to the contrary.

The outrageous new audience selection policy BBC Question Time revealed last night

I put up a piece the other day from Lobster about the way the Tories had turned the corporation into a channel for the propaganda. The Corporation’s anti-Labour bias has been acutely obviously for years, particularly in its vilification of Jeremy Corbyn. Now it’s become overt and undenied, at least on Question Time, and at least as regards the audience. I’ve no doubt that the Corporation will continue to huff and puff about how its political broadcasting and reportage is impartial, and try to wave away allegations of bias as simple mistakes. But they aren’t mistakes, and the bias will become even more extreme and acute.

At the moment, only 44 per cent of people trust the Beeb’s news according to a recent poll. If the Beeb carries on like this, that’s going to be a lot less. And the left-wingers they used to rely on to defend them from privatisation will be well and truly alienated and sick of them by the end of it.

I’m heartily fed up with the Beeb’s newsroom. There’s hardly one of them now that I trust with truthfully reporting the news. There should be a mass sacking, beginning with Fiona Bruce.

Lobster on How the Beeb Became Tory Propaganda Outlet

January 13, 2020

Robin Ramsay has begun putting up articles on the latest issue of Lobster, no. 79, for summer 2020. In his ‘View from the Bridge’ section he has posted this piece, which was written  posted on Facebook by the former Beeb journalist, Marcus Moore, on how the Tories turned the Beeb into their own pet propaganda mouthpiece.

‘A number of changes made during the last seven years or so, spearheaded by David Cameron, have led to the corporation’s news and politics departments becoming little more than ventriloquists’ dummies. Of particular note are the following:

a) important posts at the BBC being filled by pro-government figures from the private sector (Rona Fairhead, David Clementi, James Harding,Robbie Gibb etc)

b) direct links with the manipulative tabloid press being strengthened by Downing Street giving important positions to dubious characters like Andy Coulson and Craig Oliver

c) the subsequent recruitment of people like Alison Fuller Pedley (of Mentorn Media), who is responsible for choosing who gets to be in the Question Time audience, and Sarah Sands (formerly of the Telegraph, Mail and Evening Standard) who now edits Radio 4’s Today programme

d) all of the above follows Cameron’s appointment, in June 2010, of John Browne (Baron Browne of Madingley) to the post of ‘Lead NonExecutive Director’ for Downing Street, his role being that of ‘recruiting business leaders to reformed departmental boards’ – Browne’s questionable history at BP notwithstanding (remember Deep Horizon!)

e) how all of this quiet, underhand activity has been largely unreported,but has given the current Conservative government immense power within fashionable and influential circles.’

See: https://www.lobster-magazine.co.uk/free/lobster79/lob79-view-from-the-bridge.pdf

All of which means that the Beeb isn’t remotely an impartial broadcaster, as it purports to be and should be by law. I’ve said that the Beeb makes some excellent programmes. It does, and this season’s Dr. Who has been a case in point. But its news reporting is irredeemable.

As far as I’m concerned, everyone in it should be sacked, and especially Laura Kuenssberg and Nick Robinson.

Trust in Beeb Falls Below 50 Per Cent

December 19, 2019

A few days ago Zelo Street put up an article commenting on a letter Joel Benjamin sent to the Beeb’s Director-General complaining about the corporation’s massive pro-Tory, anti-Labour, anti-working class bias. Benjamin had taken the step of writing to Tony Hall directly because he didn’t trust the Corporation’s complaints service. He stated that it was

a private contract administered by criminally negligent outsourcing company CAPITA. Experts in dull, pro-forma response letters, which fail to address the complainants concerns and a symbol of much that has gone awry at the BBC and in neoliberal, corporatist Britain. 

He also listed the following specific examples of the Beeb’s bias towards the Tories.

To which Zelo Street added a few more of their own.

‘(a) the use of newspaper columnists, editors and press hangers-on in paper reviews, allowing the press to mark their own homework and therefore perpetuate right-wing bias,(b) the blatant use of the BBC’s Sunday Politics by veteran presenter Andrew Neil to push climate change denial, and (c) Neil and political editor Laura Kuenssberg, along with Robbie Gibb, orchestrating a resignation from the shadow cabinet live on the Daily Politics just before PMQs to the benefit of the Tories…(d) Ms Kuenssberg effectively taking dictation from Vote Leave’s Matthew Elliott over the campaign breaking electoral law, (e) Refusal to discuss the misbehaviour of Cambridge Analytica, to the extent of having Carole Cadwalladr shouted down during a paper review on The Andy Marr Show™, (f) a whole string of instances where the Question Time audience has been infiltrated by Tory plants, and (g) loading panel shows with right-wing pundits and other hangers-on.’

Benjamin particularly resented the Beeb’s dismissive attitude towards criticism. He wrote

Instead of BBC management being responsive to public criticism this election, licence fee payers were subject to Francesca Unsworth, the BBC’s Director of News and Current Affairs – publishing a letter in the Guardian – framing complainants as peddlers of “conspiracy theories” in the wake of a highly visible series of self-ascribed “mistakes,” each, coincidentally, benefitting Boris Johnson and the Conservatives, whilst harming the Labour opposition. Despite the pushback to Unsworth’s article, you then chose to to double down, blame licence fee payers, and cry conspiracy

He also remarked that the Corporation’s bias was

clearly unacceptable, yet a natural consequence of a broadcaster answerable not to the public, but directly to an increasingly brutalising, fact free, and tone deaf Government, that ultimately wants the BBC abolished. In this context, your servile, pro-establishment political coverage looks to fee payers like feeding Conservative crocodiles, in the vain hope the BBC get eaten last.

See: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1T55oQGHV1bJUzljHSE3akPlguzrmZCYcTDZ53WBGdGs/edit

But what is also remarkable is the extent to which people share this dissatisfaction with the Beeb. Zelo Street reported that a poll by YouGov at the start of this month – December 2019 – had found that trust in the BBC had fallen to 44 per cent. 48 per cent, on the other hand, distrusted the Corporation. This was a marked drop from October, when 51 per cent of respondents to the survey trusted the Corporation, and 41 per cent didn’t.

The Street remarks that not everyone will share Benjamin’s views and his wider analysis, but they may understand his frustration, particularly at the Corporation’s refusal to listen to the people that actually support it by paying the licence fee.

He also warns that the Tories are determined to inflict further damage on the Beeb in order to create an utterly compliant media landscape. And if that happens, Hall and the rest of them may find themselves out of a job. Unless they actually start listening to their critics, and realise that there is a problem.

https://zelo-street.blogspot.com/2019/12/bbc-charge-sheet-looks-grim.html

Now I dare say that many of those, who distrust the Beeb come from the Right. People who think that the Beeb really is biased against the Conservatives, because Johnson tells them it is while running away from interviews, his comments echoed and supported by the right-wing press. I’ve come across complaints from those on the extreme Right, who despise the Corporation because it generally supports multiculturalism, feminism and gay rights. Which in their view makes it anti-White and anti-British.

But the Left have every reason not to trust the Beeb. Joel Benjamin and Zelo Street are right: the Corporation has been massively biased. And not just in this election either. One commenter to Zelo Street’s post reminded readers how the Corporation was also biased in the referendum on Scots independence.  They were. I remember how Nick Robinson was so dissatisfied with Alex Salmond’s very full answer to a question on the effect independence would have on the Scottish financial sector, that it was progressively cut down during subsequent news bulletins with Robinson claiming that Salmond had made an unsatisfactory answer. Finally it disappeared altogether, and Robinson claimed the-then leader of the SNP hadn’t answered it. Which is a piece of newspeak worthy of Orwell.

I despise the corporation’s political bias and its knee-jerk contempt for its critics. Any and all criticism of the Corporation is met with the same response: that the Beeb is criticised for bias by both Left and Right, with the implication that the Beeb isn’t biased and it’s all somehow in the critics’ imagination. But studies cited by Benjamin in his letter show that isn’t the case. And in some of the recent instances of glaring bias, the Beeb tries to excuse them by claiming that it was all a mistake.

This won’t wash. Not any more.

The Beeb does make some excellent programmes. But I’m sick and tired of its massive political bias to the point where I’d happily see nearly all their newsroom sacked. Johnson has said that he’s considering decriminalising nonpayment of the licence fee. And the Tories and their donors, particularly Rupert Murdoch, have been clamouring for the Beeb’s privatisation for nearly four decades.

The Beeb may soon find it needs all the help it can get. But it’s rapidly losing them on the Left, and may well end up regretting this.

 

 

Johnson Turns on BBC Complaining of Bias

December 17, 2019

Despite the Beeb’s massive pro-Tory bias – all those stories it ran pushing the anti-Semitism smears, the packed, right-wing panels and audiences of Question Time and Fiona Bruce favouring the Tories, gaslighting Diane Abbott, and Laura Kuenssberg’s breach of electoral law about the postal vote, BoJo still isn’t satisfied with the Corporation. He announced yesterday that he was boycotting Radio 4’s Today programme, claiming it was biased. An article about this in yesterday’s Metro, ‘Johnson boycott of BBC Today ‘Bubble”, ran

Boris Johnson has turned up his attack on the BBC and ‘withdrawn engagement’ from its Radio 4 Today programme.

A No. 10 source accused the corporation of speaking to a ‘pro-Remain  metropolitan bubble in Islington yesterday’.

No minister were put up for interview on the programme in the 48 hours after the election, following a campaign in which the PM was criticised for refusing interviews to the Today programme and Andrew Neil.

Dominic Cummings – the PM’s chief adviser – told colleagues he ‘never listens’ to the programme, which has lost 1 million listeners since 2017. 

It also emerged the PM has asked aides to explore whether non-payment of the TV licence fee should be decriminalised.

He threw doubt over the future of the £154.50 annual charge during the campaign.

A BBC spokesman defended its election coverage and said it was ‘fair and proportional’. 

Zelo Street comments on the twitter debate about this, beginning with former Guardian editor Alan Rusbridger’s tweet

A clever moment for Dominic Cummings {if it’s him} to pick off the BBC [and thereby delight Murdoch and many others]. If my timeline is representative, many of the Beeb’s natural defenders are shrugging and/or too cross to protest.

Even if they think the BBC had a poor election, that’s like abandoning the NHS because it struggled over one winter. By all means call for improvement/reform. Privatisation will lead to a form of UK Fox News. And then how we’ll miss it.

The Tories have been steadily running down the BBC for years. They resent it because it’s a state industry. Hence the legislation passed under Major’s government demanding that more programmes should be made outside the Beeb by private production companies. Boris’ attack will also please Murdoch and the Americans. Murdoch has been attacking the Beeb for years in order to promote his wretched Sky channel, and the Americans are buying up British broadcasters. Nothing would please Murdoch and the Americans more than to have the Beeb abolished or privatised.

As for Fox News, it’s dire. Its slogan, ‘Fair and balanced news’ is an outright lie. It has a colossal right-wing bias to the point that one media investigation found that people would be far better informed if they didn’t watch it because of the massive falsehoods and lies peddled by the channel. It also has a very restricted audience. Its demographics show that most of its viewers are over 70, so much so that it has been described as a television retirement home. Yet I can remember an article by one of the hacks in the Radio Times pondering if the BBC shouldn’t emulate it.

Zelo Street also shows a number of other tweets by people, who do feel betrayed by the corporation. While they don’t support its privatisation, they feel that their criticisms aren’t taken seriously. This feeling is summed up in a tweet from Matt Prescott:

I used to love the BBC and would have died on the barricades to defend it. Now I feel utterly betrayed by the daily failures to ask hard questions and call out lies.

Tim concludes

‘The Tories have played the BBC like an obedient fool. And in pandering to them, the Corporation has left itself fatally vulnerable.’

See: https://zelo-street.blogspot.com/2019/12/tories-turn-on-bbc.html

Yes, they have. If the Corporation thought that a pro-Tory bias would stave off further attacks, they have been gravely mistaken. The Tories won’t be satisfied until they are privatised, just as they want the media in general to capitulate to them and their wishes utterly. As history has shown, those broadcasters that anger them in power have their stories spiked or their broadcasting licences withdrawn.

The Beeb does make good programmes, which is partly why the Tories hate it. As an institution, it’s genuinely popular and so prevents private broadcasters completely taking over British television and radio. But through its pro-Tory bias it has alienated many on the left, who would otherwise be its most staunch defenders.

But Johnson’s attack on the Beeb is only going to be the beginning. He wants the other broadcasters to submit. The attack on the Beeb is also a veiled threat to them.

The Tories are directly attacking freedom of speech and opinion on the airwaves. This looks very much like the beginning of massive state control of public broadcasting, in which the only voices permitted will be pro-Tory.

 

 

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!

Johnson’s Brexit Deal So Bad That Brexit MEP Urges Us to Remain

November 18, 2019

Things are not looking good for BoJob’s Brexit deal, and they certainly aren’t looking any better for Farage’s wretched party. Farage has gallantly ordered his candidates to stand aside in constituencies, where the Tories have a chance of winning, not wanting to split the right-wing, Brexit vote. But this hasn’t satisfied BoJob’s crew, who will take a mile if you offer them an inch, and they’ve been screaming at Farage to give them the rest. The pressure they were placing on the remaining Brexiteers was so severe that Farage has complained that it was aggressive intimidation. He and his lieutenant, Tice, have also claimed that the Tories have been offering them and some of their members peerages if they stand down, which is illegal under electoral law.

https://zelo-street.blogspot.com/2019/11/farage-and-tory-bribe.html

But not everybody has been as impressed with our clownish prime minister’s deal as Farage. Ben Habib, the Brexit Party MEP for London, is so massively unimpressed with it that when he appeared on Sophie Ridge’s show on Sunday, he stated that the withdrawal agreement was subjugation of the UK and much worse than remaining in the EU. He made it very clear that one of the reasons he believed remaining was far better than leaving as the latter would leave Northern Ireland bereft.

Mike’s article about this draws the proper conclusion, and urges Brexiteers to take Habib’s word for it, and vote against Johnson’s withdrawal bill.

Brexiters: take this Brexit Party MEP’s word for it and vote AGAINST Boris Johnson and his Tory Brexit deal

And many Brexiteers haven’t taken kindly to being told to stand down by Farage. Wayne Bayley, the prospective Brexit candidate for Crawley, was understandably annoyed. He and the other candidates had put their own money forward, and now they were told that they had wasted their money and that there would be no refunds. Farage made that very clear when speaking to Eddie Mair on LBC. Bayley stated that he had personally employed a full-time campaign coordinator on a two month contract, and had an outbuilding full of Brexit party leaflets and signs. He estimated that the Fuhrage owed him £10,000. Fed up with Farage’s treatment, he announced that he and others like him would be open to returning to UKIP:

Hi [UKIP] there are a large number of EX Brexit Party candidates looking for a new home since Nigel has sold us all down the river in exchange for a peerage”.

See: https://zelo-street.blogspot.com/2019/11/farage-on-roll-backwards.html

Other former Brexit candidates made it clear that they were considering suing. Essex Brexit announced on Twitter

We are taking legal advice on the matter so cannot comment too much at this stage. What we will say however is there are many across the UK who have invested in the Brexit Party PLC and demands answers and refunds. Fast”.

The former prosecutor Nazir Afzal said exactly what this looked like – a pyramid scheme:

How many other Brexit Party Ltd candidates, promised a campaign have lost thousands like this guy … They paid to be considered, selected & contracted I presume … Should seek legal advice on claiming their losses from Farage & Co … Hallmarks of a pyramid scheme … All legal of course”.

The problem is that it may well be all legal. As another commenter on Twitter pointed out, the Brexit Party isn’t a party. It’s a company with Farage and Tice as directors. It has no members, no votes and no manifesto. Farage isn’t going to refund its 3,000 or so members their money, and by charging them a £100 membership fee has made himself a tidy £300,000.

But what is particularly annoying is that even as his party moves ever closer to dissolution, Farage was still being pandered to by the Beeb. Last week they invited people to join the audience at the first of the Question Time leader election specials which is being filmed today, 18th November 2019. And this would be on Farage. An annoyed Labour voter commented

He’s not standing; his PPCs are probably getting legal advice to sue him; there probably won’t be a Brexit Party by the end of the week! But why is he, yet again, being given special privileges by the BBC? I swear you’d have had Hitler on QT!

https://zelo-street.blogspot.com/2019/11/brexit-party-lawyers-called-in.html

We’ve seen this before. Buddy Hell over at Guy Debord’s Cat has commented on how the Beeb goes easy on the Far Right, and many of the left-winger bloggers noticed all too clearly that the Beeb seemed to be boosting Farage when he was head of UKIP. From their coverage you would have been forgiven for thinking that Farage was about to storm the nation’s polls and get into government, even though their gains were far more modest. He was certainly given much more favourable coverage than Labour. This is more evidence to back up the conclusions of the media academics at Cardiff, Glasgow and Edinburgh Universities, very clearly shown by Tory Fibs’ graphic: the Beeb are massively biased towards the Right.

Even when that part is on the verge of breaking up, its members are considering suing their leader and defecting to another party, and others are urging everyone to vote against its only central policy.

 

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.

BBC Denies Political Bias and that Politicians’ Views Are Their Own

November 5, 2019

Ah, the allegations that the Tories are massively biased in favour of the Tories are clearly starting to upset the Beeb. The Corporation’s Director of News, Fran Unsworth, has appeared in the pages of today’s I newspaper for Tuesday, 5th November 2019, denying that the Beeb is biased and saying that allowing politicians to give their views is not platforming them. The I’s article by Richard Vaughan, ‘Political views are not our own, BBC tells viewers’, which reports her comments runs

The BBC news director has been forced to remind audiences that interviewing politicians does not mean the corporation endorses their political opinions.

Fran Unsworth told viewers that “interviewing is not platforming” and said that audiences will have their beliefs challenged as the country prepares for five weeks of generation election campaigning.

Journalists have been regularly booed and jeered at political events by audiences objecting to the line of questioning of a political leader.

Last week, an audience member at the launch of Labour’s election campaign catcalled the BBC’s political editor Laura Kuenssberg, blaming her for the party’s failure to win a majority in the 2017 election.

When Ms Kuenssberg pointed out Jeremy Corbyn did not secure enough votes to gain a majority in 2017, an audience member shouted, “No thanks to you, Laura.”

During the Conservatives leadership campaign Sky’s political editor Beth Rigby was subjected to booing by Tory activists for asking Boris Johnson a question.

Ms Unsworth told audiences to expect a range of political opinions to be given air time by the BBC. She reiterated that airing political opinions is not endorsing them, and the BBC will not seek to create a false balance in its general election reporting.

She wrote: “We have one simple priority over the next few weeks – our audiences. They have a wide range of views, and political allegiances, and we are here to serve all of them, wherever they live, whatever they think, and however they choose to vote.

“We do not support ‘false balance’. There are facts and there are judgments to be made. And we will make them where that is appropriate.”

Ms Unsworth has cited Ofcom research indicating that audiences tended to shy away from spaces or programmes in which their opinions will be challenged.

Just who does Unsworth and the Beeb think they’re kidding? 

There is an abundance of evidence that the Beeb is extremely biased against Labour. I’ve blogged before about how the media monitoring units at Glasgow, Edinburgh and Cardiff universities found that the Beeb was far more likely to talk to Conservative politicians and spokesmen for the City about politics and the economy than Labour politicians and trade unionists. And Barry and Saville Kushner, the authors of  Who Needs the Cuts? attacking austerity, state that the Beeb and the media generally far prefers talking to Tories and other politicians and economists, who support the wretched Tory policy. They won’t have on trade unionists or politicians that oppose them. When these voices do appear, they are shouted down or rapidly cut short in what they have to say. The Beeb is very definitely platforming the Tories. Only the other day I reblogged a graphic from EL4JC showing just how biased the Tories were in their selection of guests for their news and politics panels. These are mostly Tory, but Centrist politicians are also included more than the Left. To deny that this is not platforming the Tories is ridiculous.

And then there’s the issue of the bias of the interviewers. Like regarding the anti-Semitism smears. In fact, Labour is the party with the least anti-Semites within it, as I’ve said. The witch hunt to root out anti-Semitism isn’t about Jew hatred at all. It’s a cynical ploy by the Blairites to purge the party of Corbyn’s supporters, which they’ve tried to do on risible, trumped up charges. As they’ve done to people like Ken Livingstone, Jackie Walker, Tony Greenstein, Martin Odoni, Marc Wadsworth and Mike. The right-wing Zionists hate Corbyn and his supporters because they criticise Israel for its brutal treatment of the Palestinians. The Tories and the political and media establishment, on the other hand, are simply using the accusations as a useful tool to smear Labour, because they’re really afraid of a government that will overturn Thatcherism and actually help ordinary working people. Which naturally include Jews.

Hence whenever a Labour politician is interviewed, as John McDonnell was on Sunday, there are questions about the anti-Semitism issue. But the Tories have a higher level of anti-Semitism in the ranks, and a vicious strain of Islamophobia. But this is certainly not subjected to the same scrutiny.

And then there’s the insulting treatment they give ordinary Labour politicians, and the stunts they pull for the benefit of the right. Like the mass resignation of Blairite Labour MPs, which was announced on the Andrew Marr show, appears to have been planned with the show’s producer. Fiona Bruce has disgraced Question Time by gaslighting Diane Abbott and falsely claiming that the Leave campaign did not break electoral law. And when she did ask a tough question of a Conservative panelist, she tried to soothe it all over by telling him she was ‘just teasing’. And so on ad nauseam.

Unsworth’s comments about Ofcom don’t cut any ice either. Not when the Beeb has received a massive number of complaints about the flagrant bias of their Panorama documentary about anti-Semitism in the Labour party. Mike’s posted an extensive critique of this journalistic travesty, as have very many other left-wing blogs. And a complaint has been made to Ofcom or the relevant authorities. There’s even a documentary being made and about to be released about the programme’s bias.

Unsworth is, I believe, simply lying through her teeth when she claims that the Beeb is not biased. It is, and provably so. And she insults us by telling us that isn’t. But the fact that she has had to try to defend and rebut the accusations show how they’re biting.

Good. Let’s continue until every last shred of credibility the Beeb has for its news reporting is gone and the Corporation is forced to admit its bias and correct it.

If that’s possible.

EL4JC Video Showing Just How Impartial the Beeb Isn’t

November 2, 2019

Mike over on Vox Political has reproduced a series of tweets showing a video produced by EL4JC. This is a graph showing the cumulative proportion of left, right and centre guests on various Beeb news and politics programmes. The columns in the graph increase as the figures for each day and programme is added to the sound of Greig’s ‘In the Hall of the Mountain King’ from the Peer Gynt suite. This ends by showing how massively biased the Beeb is in its selection of guests. Here’s a shot of the last image.

Embedded video

As you can see, the Beeb is massively biased in favour of the Right. Those guests, who are not from the Right are drawn far more from the Centre than the Left. One of those, who retweeted the image, Julie Houghton, commented

this is appalling. Retweet everyone and share. Sick of seeing right wing nutters having such a biased platform. Handed to them on a plate by the BBC & don’t get me fucking started on right wing lying newspapers, distorting the truth. Something has to change.

Yes, it does. And this analysis of Beeb bias won’t surprise anyone – not on the Left at least. Barry and Saville Kushner in their book, Who Needs the Cuts, tell how the Beeb on its news programmes always featured people supporting austerity to the exclusion of trade unionists, Labour politicos and protesters arguing otherwise. When these dissenting voices were allowed on, they were quickly silenced, or in some cases actually shouted down by the presenters. The media research departments at Glasgow, Edinburgh and Cardiff universities have also produced reports into Beeb political bias. They concluded that the Beeb is far more likely to have speaking on their programmes Conservatives and spokesmen from the City than Labour politicians and trade unionists.

But why this massive bias now? Mike also reproduces this image, containing a tweet from a former BBC newsman, Marcus Moore, and a graphic about the career of Sarah Sands, now editor of the Radio 4 Today programme.

View image on Twitter

View image on Twitter

Moore’s statement that this all follows Cameron’s decision to appoint John Browne, formerly of BP, to the government department responsible for recruiting management and senior executives from private business to reformed government departments also deserves comment. I don’t doubt that Moore’s absolutely correct in that the ultimate responsibility for all this lies with Cameron. But Tony Blair was also keen to have the BBC parrot lines spouted by New Labour. And the appointment of private business people to the heads of government departments was not only a New Labour corporatist policy, but also that of the Nazis in their promotion of private industry. Not that the Beeb wasn’t biased in favour of the Tories long before that.

So where should people go for proper information?

Mike suggests that people would be better served taking it from social media, and the independent sources that so terrify the establishment media. So much so that there are now groups like Stop Funding Fake News, who adopt a spurious concern to prevent people getting their news from extremist sources. By which they mean websites like The Canary, which supports Jeremy Corbyn, but is not ‘extremist’ nor does it retail false information. The establishment claim that people taking their information from online sites like The Canary is not only fueling extremism, it is also destroying the ideological consensus built by people all reading and watching the same newspapers and news programmes. In other words, they’re afraid that people are moving away from them and their influence is being undermined by their online competitors.

Good.

The lamestream media are all pushing, to a greater or lesser degree, the same Thatcherite policies that have done so much damage to our country, and have destroyed so many lives – of the unemployed, the poor, and the disabled. It deserves nothing but our contempt, and people are far better advised looking at excellent left-wing blogs and sites like The Canary, The Skwawkbox, Novara Media, Evolve Politics, Vox Political, Zelo Street, Another Angry Voice, the Disability News Service and so on.

But Mike’s piece also concludes with a tweet from Mike Smart, warning people only to take their anger out on Beeb news programmes. Otherwise they will play into the hands of the right-wing and corporate shills wishing to privatise the Beeb altogether.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Establishment Media Bias and the Cheltenham Literary Festival

September 23, 2019

Someone really ought to do a study of the way the big literary festivals – Haye-on-Wye, Cheltenham and the others – select the books and media celebs they want to push and the way they try to manipulate public opinion towards the establishment consensus. Because, believe me, it is there.

In a couple of weeks’ time, right at the beginning of October, it’ll be the Cheltenham Literary Festival. As it’s booklet of coming events tells you, it’s been proudly going for 70 years. I think it was set up, or given a great deal of assistance when it was set up, by Alan Hancock, who owned a secondhand bookshop on Cheltenham’s Promenade. It was a fascinating place, where you could acquire some really fascinating, valuable academic books cheaply. But it had the same internal layout as the fictional setting of the 1990’s Channel 4 comedy, Black Books, but without Dylan Moran, Bill Bailey or Tamsin Grieg.

The festival’s overall literary stance is, very roughly, broadsheet papers + BBC, especially Radio 4. It pretty much shows what’s captured the attention of the newspaper literary pages and the BBC news team, several of whom naturally have books coming out, and who are appearing. In past years I’ve seen John Simpson, Simon Hoggart, Quentin Letts, Giles Brandreth and John Humphreys talk or appear on panels. This year they’ve got, amongst others, Emily Maitlis and Humphrey’s again.

Much of the Festival’s content is innocuous enough, even praiseworthy from a left-wing perspective. For example, there are a number of authors talking about their books about empowering women and ethnic minorities. These include Yomi Adegoke and Elizabeth Uviebinene talking about their book, Slay in Your Lane: The Black Girl Bible, which is what it says: a guide for Black girls. Other topics and books discussed are on how empowered Black men are, and various feminist works about how gynaecological problems should be discussed openly, and the changing nature of the female muse. Rather than being passive creatures, modern muses are active, liberated women conquering business, sports, the arts and science. There’s also a piece on the future of masculinity, titled ‘Will Boys Still Be Boys’, which asks what will happen to boys now that the idea that there is a natural realm of masculinity, such as superiority and aggression, has been disproved. The concern with ethnic minority authors has always been there, or at least since the 1990s. Then, and in the early part of this century, a frequent theme of the Festival was ‘crossing continents’, which gave a platform to prominent literary authors from outside Europe and the West. It also gave space to Black and Asian literature from the UK. I can remember too, how one of the events staged at the Festival was a celebration of Black British poetry, much of it in Caribbean Patois.

The Festival also caters for more popular tastes. In the past it had speaking the Fantasy author, Terry Pratchett, along with the approved, heavyweight literary types. It has events for children’s books, and this year features such media celebrities as Francis Rossi from Status Quo and Paul Merton. So, something for everyone, or so it seems.

But nevertheless, the Establishment bias is there, especially as so many of the speakers, like Maitlis and Humphreys, are drawn from the mainstream media. Back in the 1990s the Festival was sponsored by the Independent. Now it’s sponsored by the Times, the Murdoch rag whose sister paper, the Sunset Times, has spent so much time smearing Corbyn and his supporters as Communist infiltrators or vicious anti-Semites. Maitlis and Humphreys are BBC news team, and so, almost by definition, they’re Conservative propagandists. Especially as Humphreys is retiring, and has given interviews and written pieces for the Heil. Any chance of hearing something from the Cheltenham Festival about the current political situation that doesn’t conform to what the Establishment wants you to hear, or is prepared to tolerate? Answers on a postcard, please. Here’s a couple of examples. One of the topics under discussion is ‘Populism’. I don’t know what they’re planning to include in it, but from previous discussions of this in the media, I’m prepared to bet that they’ll talk about Trump, possibly Boris Johnson, the rise of extreme right-wing movements in Europe and elsewhere in the world, like Marine Le Pen former Front National in France, the AfD in Germany, Orban and so on in Hungary, Bolsonaro in Brazil and the Five Star Movement in Italy. All of whom are definitely populists. But they’ll also probably include Corbyn and Momentum, because Corbyn is genuinely left-wing, challenges the Thatcherite neoliberal consensus and will empower the masses. All of which threatens the Establishment. There are also individual politicians speaking this year, but the only one I found from the Left was Jess Philips. Who isn’t remotely left-wing in the traditional sense, though she is an outspoken feminist.

The other topic is about what should be done with Putin. Now let’s not delude ourselves, Putin is a corrupt thug, and under him Russia has become once again a very autocratic state. Political and religious dissidents, including journalists, are being attacked, jailed and in some cases murdered. Among the religious groups he’s decided are a threat to Mother Russia are the Jehovah’s Witnesses. I’m not a member of the denomination, and find their doorstep campaigning as irritating as everyone else. But they are certainly not a dangerous cult or terrorist organisation. And they have stood up to tyrants. They were persecuted by the Nazis during the Third Reich, with their members imprisoned in the concentration camps, including a 17 year old boy, because they wouldn’t accept Hitler as a secular messiah. For which I respect for them. The Arkhiplut has enriched himself, and rewarded his cronies with company directorships, while assassinating the oligarchs, who haven’t toed his line. And I still remember the genocidal butchery he unleashed in Chechnya nearly two decades ago, because they had the temerity to break away.

But geopolitically, I don’t regard Putin as a military threat. In terms of foreign policy it seems that Putin is interested solely in preserving the safety of his country from western encirclement. Hence the invasion of the Ukraine to protect the Russian minority there. If he really wanted to conquer the country, rather than the Donbass, his tanks would be in Kiev by now. I’ve blogged before about how Gorbachev was promised by the West that in return for allowing the former eastern European satellites to break away from the USSR, they would remain neutral and not become members of NATO. That’s been violated. They’ve all become members, and there are NATO military bases now on Russia’s doorstep. The Maidan Revolution of 2012 which overthrew the previous, pro-Russian president of Ukraine was stage managed by the American state department and the National Endowment for Democracy under Hillary Clinton and Victoria Nuland. There’s evidence that the antagonism against Putin’s regime comes from western multinationals, who feel aggrieved at not being able to seize Russian companies as promised by Putin’s predecessor, the corrupt, drunken buffoon Boris Yeltsin. Putin also seems to be quite genuine in his belief in a multipolar world, in which his country, as well as others like China, are also superpowers. But the Americans are interested only in maintaining their position as the world’s only superpower through ‘full spectrum dominance’: that is, absolute military superiority. The US’ military budget supersedes both the Russian and that of the four other major global countries combined. Arguably, Russia ain’t the global threat. America and NATO are.

Festivals like that of Cheltenham are important. They’re business arrangements, of course. They exist to sell books. But they also encourage literacy, and allow the public to come face to face with the people, who inform and entertain them through the written word. Although here the books’ pages of Private Eye complained years ago that the Festival and others like it gave more space to celebrities from television, sport, music and other areas, rather than people, whose primary living was from writing. But the information we are given is shaped by the media – by the papers and broadcasters, who give the public the news, and the publishers, who decide which books on which subjects to publish. And then there’s the bias of the individual festivals themselves. And in the case of Cheltenham, it is very establishment. It’s liberal in terms of feminism and multiculturalism, but other conservative, and increasing Conservative, in others. It’s through events like Cheltenham that the media tries to create and support the establishment consensus.

But that consensus is rightly breaking down, as increasingly more people become aware that it is only creating mass poverty. The Establishment’s refusal to tolerate other, competing opinions – their demonisation of Corbyn and his supporters as Communists, Trotskyites and Nazis, for example – is leading to further alienation and disaffection. Working people don’t find their voices and concerns reflected in the media. Which is why they’re turning to the online alternatives. But Festivals like Cheltenham carry on promoting the same establishment agenda, with the odd voice from the opposition, just like the Beeb’s Question Time. And this is going to change any time soon, not with lyingt rags like the Times sponsoring it.