Posts Tagged ‘Utrecht’

‘Three Right Wing Dinosaurs’: Dutch Economist Rutger Bregman Attacks Poor Journalism of Beeb’s ‘This Week’

March 25, 2019

Ho Ho! More criticism of the Beeb’s late night politics show, This Week, hosted by Andrew ‘Brillo Pad’ Neil, former editor of the Economist and the Sunset Times. Neil has already found his career cut short as BBC bosses consider axing one of his politics shows after Owen Jones raised the issue of the increasingly extreme Right-wing slant of his magazine, the Spectator. This was during a debate on one of his shows about the role the media plays in boosting the rise of the Fascist Right. Neil is chairman of the board of the company that publishes the arch-Tory Spectator, one of whose contributors is the noxious Greek playboy, Taki Theodoracopulos, otherwise known to readers of Private Eye as ‘Taki Takealotofcokeupthenos’ because of his conviction for cocaine possession some time ago. Taki’s columns are often racist, with a real streak of anti-Semitism. And in once recent issue of the Speccie, he praised the Greek neo-Nazi Golden Dawn as just patriotic young people, who are bit rough about the edges. Which is a lie. The Golden Dawn are outright Nazi thugs, who beat up illegal immigrants. One of their leading members was arrested for murdering a left-wing activist. An clearly agitated Neil told Jones that he wasn’t responsible for the magazine’s content, but Jones carried on and pointed out that he was responsible for the appointment of the editor, Fraser Nelson. Neil tried changing the subject and talking over him, but Jones carried on, even when an exasperated Neil asked him if he was trying to get him sacked. The announcement that the Beeb was cancelling one of his shows came a week or so later, and may not be unconnected, despite the Beeb’s statement about it coming with professions of effusive pride in Brillo and his journalistic performance.

Brillo’s professionalism as a journalist, and that of his co-presenters, was cast into severe doubt a few days ago by the Dutch author, Rutger Bregman. Bregman’s best known for a viral video telling the super-rich at Davos to pay their taxes. Bregman’s written a book on how Utopia may be attainable, Utopia for Realists, and was invited on to Brillo’s show to discuss it with Michael Portillo and Alan Johnson, who were presumably the three dinosaurs Bregman described in a devastating Twitter account of his experience on the show. Bregman was colossally unimpressed by Neil and co’s complete lack of interest in his book. He stated they hadn’t read it, and didn’t even have a copy. Before they went on air, he was asked if he could say something about the EU. He refused on the grounds that it wasn’t his area of expertise. So he was asked to say something about the terrorist outrage in Utrecht. He refused to comment on that either, for the same reason. So the produce returned to asking him to comment on Brexit again, and got the same reply as before. He was then asked to make a two-minute video summarising his ideas. This, badly edited, was then played on the programme. He then found the three right-wing dinosaurs, two of whom were from the Stone Age, ganging up on him. They blatantly made up facts, telling him that inequality hadn’t grown and that the economy had never been better, changed the subject every ten seconds and hardly let you finish a sentence before it’s over. Bregman said

This was the worst experience I’ve had with UK media, but after quite a few interviews in different countries, I think I can say that, on average, British journalists are the least curious of all. So often, being ‘critical’ is just a pose.

He contrasted this with an interview he gave to Trevor Noah in the US. He also said that the good news was that there were new media in the UK filling the gap. The sharpest questions he had that week came from Aaron Bastani of Novara Media.

This criticism clearly stung Brillo, who tweeted back about how discriminatory towards old people it was to call them dinosaurs, and compared it with talking about Black or gay people in the same context. He was just asking legitimate questions, and as for being a dinosaur, he accused Bregman of reviving policies from Eisenhower in the 1950s and Milton Friedman in the 1960s.

Zelo Street pointed out that ‘dinosaur’ referred to a state of mind, and that his disparagement of Milton Friedman seemed also dismissive of his former idol, Maggie Thatcher, who was also a fan of Friedman at one point. As for policies from the 1950s, this was America under Eisenhower, which suggested that Ike was a Keynsian or an secret economist.

Brillo then roped in a few others to support him, but Zelo Street remained unimpressed, concluding:

Kicking off like that and justifying his behaviour by Retweeting sympathetic voices from the right – David Jack and Iain Martin, for instance – is not going to help either the BBC, or those wanting the Corporation to somehow accommodate Brillo, rather than just bin his late night show. And it won’t help The Great Man himself.
The age of Andrew Neil at the BBC was for a time, but not for all time.
http://zelo-street.blogspot.com/search?updated-max=2019-03-23T09:29:00Z&max-results=20
Mike in his article concluded with the observation that Ofcom might find it informative to watch the show. He said
This Writer sincerely hopes that Ofcom, which is currently investigating whether the BBC is honouring its obligation to be impartial in its news reporting, has been paying attention. If not, I would encourage Mr Bregman to get in touch with that organisation.
See: https://voxpoliticalonline.com/2019/03/23/is-ofcom-reading-euro-economist-bregmans-twitter-takedown-of-this-week-is-a-revelation/
I’m not surprised that Brillo and his fellow presenters or guests and the production team behaved like that. Media monitoring organisations have said for years that the Beeb has a pronounced pro-Tory bias, which has become increasingly explicit. Question Time has become particularly notorious for Fiona Bruce’s biased treatment of Diane Abbott, by the fact that the audience for the show have been repeatedly packed by Tories and Kippers. From Bregman’s account of his experience, it seems very clear that neither Brillo nor any of the others were remotely interested in the book, only in talking about Brexit, the EU or terrorism, issues which they felt they knew about. And they clearly didn’t know anything and didn’t want to know anything about Bregman’s ideas. Shows like This Week often book more guests than they can use in case someone drops out. John Spencer, a UFO researcher, described a similar experience he had back in the 1990s in one of his books. Looking at Bregman’s description, it’s possible that the person Brillo really wanted on his show was unavailable, so they brought on Bregman instead. Or it may be that they felt they needed to tackle his book, but idleness and right-wing complacency made them utterly uninterested in reading it and seriously discussing his ideas.
Either way, not only does This Week seem biased, it also looks extremely shallow in expecting him to present his ideas in two minutes, and actually dishonest in making up facts to assert against him. If you believe the Beeb, Neil is a master broadcaster with a keen grasp of the facts and able to get to grips at the real heart of the issues he is discussing. This would suggest otherwise.
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