Saturday, April 17, 2004

Bias and Dishonesty are Bedfellows. That's part of the problem with the media today, and in particular the BBC. Earlier in this blog I pointed to the Daily Ablution's pursuance of the BBC over a dodgy [specifically, rigged against the US] poll. It seems that Scott wasn't the only one on the case of the BBC over the bizarre terms under which the poll was presented to the public. Michael Morris of The American Thinker (a new arrival on my blogroll, btw) wrote in several times to protest as well, but

'When “The American Thinker” emailed Jeremy Nye (twice) and explained in clear unambiguous language why the poll was rigged, he completely ignored our request for a copy of the original poll questionnaire, in order to ascertain if the methodology involved had been scientific and impartial.

Read what Michael thinks about it all, here. Meanwhile, even while backtracking on their poll, the BBC have behaved in a sneaky manner. Scott and the helpful PJF have still been watching, and they've noticed some more of the BBC's famously stealthy editing.

Friday, April 16, 2004

Rounding Up The Barbarians. Yes, this is a post about the heathen hordes who make BBC criticism their sport, and sometimes that means taking on the spirit of Bill Shankly : 'Some people believe football is a matter of life and death.
I'm very disappointed with that attitude.
I can assure you it is much, much more important than that.'

It's been a quiet week for BiasedBBC, although DumbJon was very impressed with this post. BiasedBBC take the whack-a-mole approach to BBC bias- if you see it, whack it; if you don't, lie low until you do. They never lie low for very long.

Contrastingly, Last Night's BBC News , when roused, lays out the law regarding a particular issue- the preemptive approach- and then explains how godawfully unfair the BBC has been, including all the nods and winks and locutions where it's essentially whitewashing something. It's been a busy week, with some great writing about the BBC's adoption of the Palestinians as Aunty's Chosen People.

Meanwhile, the Daily Ablution (*not an avowedly anti-Beeb blog) takes what I would call the cultural approach. Scott wows you with a historical perspective or a cultural understanding of where the BBC is an institutional failure. It's lusciously sarcastic on occasions (see 'cultural understanding' for fresh unmissable stuff), and there have been a few occasions this week- including a priceless engagement with a tentative BBCWorld editor.

I'll sum up with the three most recent additions, which include this blog. Each, like the aforementioned blogs, is unique. USS Neverdock is the product of former US Navy man Marc. As you might expect, it's full of news. I'd define it as the blog of what the BBC isn't telling you, and may not want you to know. Useful- and he's been busy (random good example here), as ever, this week. The UN Special Commissioner is a riot (is that an oxymoron?), but he has had a quiet week, which is odd really considering the rich pickings available from the unilateral actions of that despicable Sharon and his sidekick Dubya. I hope he'll be up and dishing out fatwas, sorry, UN resolutions, sometime soon. It's what Denis Boyles called an 'attitudinal weblog'. And then there's me, old Hoarsely. What am I? Who am I? Maybe I'm a hopeful dabbler in the murkey world of institutional bullies- of which the BBC is the fattest, most swaggering, least often challenged that, on balance, on average, I've known. I've dabbled long enough this evening. Good night.

Immoral cartography. I was curious (like most people) to hear about this French journalist who'd been taken hostage in Iraq. This BBC report is entirely predictable, apart from the, forgive me, amusing bit where he said he was 'sleeping in the brush with frogs'. The key drama that the report brings out is when 'The militants accused him of being an Israeli agent and demanded proof of the nationality he claimed by drawing a map of France'. This is just such a vivid image of national politics dictating individual fates that it can only be seen in the sense of a propaganda technique; even more so in the light of the tragedy of the Italian who was murdered when similarly taken hostage. Unfortunately the BBC doesn't scrutinise this angle, either for political significance or moral outrage. Update: A Model response

'Bin Laden' Offers Europe Truce. So ran the BBC headline yesterday. To be honest I've been waiting for this, and it half amused me that Beeb correspondent Bridget Kendall thought that 'the timing of the tape's release - if it is Osama Bin Laden - is significant, emerging shortly after US President George W Bush gave a major news conference defending US policies on Iraq and met Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon in Washington.' She's possibly right there, although this message was clearly aimed at Europe, not the arab world or the US, and she was raising, in a way, stereotypical views of Al Qaeda's understanding of our psyche. Personally I was thinking more about the acute issues raised by hostage taking in Iraq, or the symbolism in the fact that Mo Mowlam has recently been about the first significant British political figure to raise the question of negotiating with Al Qaeda, a coincidence which either says something about the scheming London-connected Islamists, or the scheming Ms Mowlam, or the perverseness of life generally. Nice for Mo though (you go girl!)- to be back in the limelight after her years in poor-health induced political purdah.

Thursday, April 15, 2004

Bringing in a Decisive Note, Nicholas Vance gatecrashes the smug assumptions of the Ten O'clock News. I've followed Nicholas for as long as he's been blogging: today was vintage Vance, strong meat for strong minds. Says Nicholas,
' "Controversial" is apparently a code word at the BBC. It means: "we here at the BBC disapprove of this policy but in order to appear impartial we can't overtly say this, so instead we will communicate our displeasure by using the word 'controversial' over and over". '

Says Nicholas,
'Yasser Arafat is quoted saying that President Bush's support for Sharon's disengagement plan will "wreck all hopes of peace".

This, er, "controversial" statement is left to stand without comment by the BBC.

Asks Nicholas,
'What is more controversial I wonder: a security barrier to stop Palestinian terrorism (my word), or Palestinian terrorism (my word)?'

Asks Nicholas (changing tack slightly),
'Here is another question: If politics is indeed 90 per cent about perception, rather than reality, might not this have something to do with the sort of surreal journalism practised by the BBC?'

And so, powerfully and caustically, on.

Enter Johann Hari with his Doubts and Dreams (via Harry's Place). Now I really don't see eye to eye with Johann in his general sense of things, but people like him illustrate the fact that the wisdom of pursuing Bush senior's unfinished business was manifest to anyone not bamboozled by the notion of actually doing something about the evildoers (remember Bush's much mocked language?) to protect, preserve and nurture the innocent. 'Oil' was, if you'll excuse the phrase, a smoke screen, because Saddam wouldn't have been the kind of dictator (note to BBC: DICTATOR) he was without his oil reserves to play with. Anyway, Hari, young (23), and idealistic (he's a socialist), saw the human angle along with a sizeable minority of the Left, and he still does. He might not like to be echoing (different figures, same analysis) the neo-conservative Steyn quite so closely, but as the cookie crumbles...

'The Human Rights Centre (HRC) in Kadhimiya has been set up by Iraqis themselves from the ashes of Baathism. They have been going methodically through the massive - and previously unexplored - archives left by the regime, which document every killing in cold bureaucracy-speak. The HRC have found that if the invasion had not happened, Saddam would have killed 70,000 people in the past year. Not sanctions: Saddam's tyranny alone.'

In Case You Doubted, Mark Steyn, replying to a reader's letter ('I'm sure that you are right, but can you back that up with some statistics...'), tallies up some reasons for proclaiming the Iraq invasion a great humanitarian success:

'On the matter of deaths during Saddam's rule, Tony Blair said before the war that the total figure was 400,000. Since then the Documental Centre for Human Rights in Iraq has compiled documentation on over 600,000 civilian executions. This sounds high, but Human Rights Watch reports that Saddam's men killed 100,000 Kurds just in the Anfal operation (not included among that figure of 600,000). For the sake of argument, let's exclude the 500,000 Iraqi civilians who died during the pointless war with Iran. Averaged out over the 24 years of Saddam's formal reign (he was a member of the ruling Baath elite for much longer), that works out at 80 civilian deaths per day, and broadly conforms to the anecdotal evidence I heard on my own travels in Iraq, where very many families had lost so many uncles and brothers and sons that demographically they skewed heavily female. Assuming that Saddam would have continued killing at roughly his average rate, that means that as of now, a year after his removal, 29,200 people are alive who wouldn't otherwise have been. Even factoring in the civilian deaths of the last year, that's a huge net gain.'

There had to be more to the BBC's incredible failures over the Gilligan affair than just the corporation's inbuilt slackness and political biases. Norm quotes an extended chunk of an article by Tom Mangold that suggests that Greg Dyke was pursuing a personal leftwing vendetta with his erstwhile friend, Tony Blair. It makes sense to me, and shows how our national broadcaster has become the plaything of ideologues. (via Andrew Sullivan).

Wednesday, April 14, 2004

Doesn't Sharon Love It when a plan (simple registration required) comes together (8.33am post)?

Poetry and Politics? You don't often find them together these days, apart from the bandwagon that was Poets Against the War, but this poem from TechCentral by Fred Turner was written to mark the departure of the spirit of Spain from the coalition of the willing. If you know some Spanish landmarks you might find it interesting. It certainly has a grandeur about it, but for copyright concerns I think I'll just quote a few lines:

He has renounced his captaincy
and given up command;
For who is there to stand with him
who loves his native land?

You can find some rollicking discussion of it, and the politics behind it, here.

The excellent Scott Burgess has been chasing the BBC, and, in his insistent way, getting results. It's the first time I've actually seen a BBC hierarch come out of the woodwork and respond online to a point raised.

Over-Eager BBC. I think Jon Leyne must have been in the field too long. Being a leftist in the US of A must send a person right into the arms of the moonbat fringe and trying to keep a straight face with nostrils full of bromide can't be easy. In this analysis he gives all the signs of having been at George Bush's press-conference on sufferance only; heck, he did Bush a favour being there at all. In the first four paragraphs of Leyne's 'anal-ysis' we have (surprise?) four opportunites to hear that Bush was there with selfish motives of his own: 'He was set on showing himself', 'he wanted to confront', 'more theatre than substance', 'he sought to calm...he stands to lose'.

That being our intro, it's a relief to hear 'The press conference was not without some news'. Great! No more bleating Jon Leyne's 'impressions', his evening spoilt, his Dem-feathers ruffled. Well, not quite. Even in this factual section Leyne cannot resist adding that Bush 'played the tough, decisive leader, repeating again his ideological message that it is America's duty to spread freedom in the world. ' This freedom ideology's a real curse, isn't it?

One of the things that never ceases to amaze me is the audacity of BBC journalists when they turn a story on its head to satisfy their notion of reality. Leyne gives a classic example when he says that Bush 'believes that his greatest danger is if he is seen as flip-flopping on the issue' (of Iraq). This is Leyne's revenge for the way his friend John Kerry has been hurt by that very expression. 'Flip-flopping'- a silly term to express some of Senator Kerry's silliest actions/nonactions- is the preserve of JFK, and Leyne doesn't think that's fair. He follows it up by reiterating his basic contention, that Bush 'wanted to maintain his image as a clear, decisive leader who knows where he is going and knows where he wants to lead.' The image mind you, not the reality. Like Kerry, the BBC believe that Bush is a fake, a man of straw. And not just a fake, an incorrigible fake, because 'it was very clear that he did not want to offer any mea culpas, any explanations on what he did wrong' on the other callumny du jour, that Bush failed the US over 9/11. Here endeth the Leyne lesson. Amen. For a more nuanced take (drawing in a far wider perspective, and not instinctively oppositional), see Instapundit here

Tuesday, April 13, 2004

Being Mean to Moonbats. This delicious photo-account of a moonbat (sorry, what else should I call them?) gathering in Washington comes via Armavirumque. On display is the distinctly unfair behaviour of the various and colourful moonbats themselves, the aggressive rudeness of the media, and a well-timed and tightly focussed emigre Iraqi intervention, stealing the show:

"everything is fine, everyone has food, there are 200 newspapers when there were once only two"

History the Teacher:

'in the Colonial Office memoranda of the day, certain phrases recur like the haunting refrain of a gloomy chanson on an old 78 with the needle stuck'

There speaks a man who reads and appreciates the lessons of history well enough to understand how the present differs.

Russian rebukes Kennedy for being leftwing defeatist. That's the refreshing scenario in this article in the Moscow Times (cheers Glenn), where Sen Ed Kennedy's sense of history is taken to task. What's even more refreshing is that Russian military tactics in Grozny are freely contrasted with those of the US in Fallujah- with an overwhelming thumbs up for the Marines and a thumbs down for Putin's paltry platoons.

Monday, April 12, 2004

Media-master Denis Boyles writes very well indeed. I should really subscribe to NRO, but since I don't I have to wait until the scraps fall from some rich man's table down to pauvre yours truly. Boyles has the rare art of being able to condense intelligent observation into diamantine phraseology: I think it's called literature. In the latest thing I've read of his he describes Merde in France (from whence this link) as 'the champagne of attitudinal weblogs'. 'Attitudinal weblogs', eh? that may not be coined by Boyles in this article, but it is certainly descriptive. Other almost randomly selected gems include 'In war, the guys who work tirelessly to get you to surrender may reasonably be called your enemies', and 'We must learn the lesson of Madrid: Terrorists are people, too'. All these little gems when strung together make a kind of media necklace that's quite brilliant to see.

Unraveling the Media. Despite Mark Steyn's obvious scepticism about the media's Jeremiac approach to events in Iraq (see 'something to read' below), he did let drop an interesting comment that shows a certain amount of anxiety. He said,
'The passivity of the Arabs, the sensitivity of the coalition and the defeatism of the media is a potentially disastrous combination'.

Interesting then to find Wretchard identifying a pattern in some of the journalistic 'scoops' that have been emerging in reputable papers from the most dangerous areas in Iraq at the moment. His suggestion is that the jihadis are targeting journalists with a practised kidnap routine intended to emphasise the 'muhajideen' struggle that the US are facing. It reminded me of Saddam Hussein's hackneyed novels that played on certain stereotypes of strength and heroism. This kind of approach touches all the buttons: the passivity of the Arabs with their tendency to accept posturing bullies; the sensitivity of the coalition as they glimpse the depth of hatred their opponents have for them; and the defeatism of the media as they project images of a battle-hardened and defiant enemy. For examples of the defeatism of the media of course, we need go no further than the BBC.

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