BBC Complaints: The link you need!

Monday, 13 July 2009


One type of media bias has been called 'Bias by Labelling'. Part of this involves labelling a person the reporter or commentator disapproves of as, say, 'right-wing' but, conversely, not labelling someone the commentator approves of as 'left-wing' but instead, say, describing them as 'independent' or an 'expert'. (Thanks to John Horne Tooke for this information).

There was a textbook example of this on tonight's 'PM' programme.

Kenneth Jost, Law Professor at Washington University and author of 'The Supreme Court A to Z', was invited on to give a short talk about the appointment of Sonia Sotomayor to the Supreme Court, & the Senate hearings that will scrutinise and approve her appointment. This was a lecture-in-miniature. No alternative viewpoints were sought. No questions were asked.

Is he the impartial, dispassionate academic 'PM' would have us believe?

Here's the passage that gives the game away:

"Republicans and conservative advocacy groups are calling Sotomayor 'a liberal judicial activist'. Independent experts say her decisions stick closely to the facts and to precedent."

A little look around the internet leads you to a recent article by Professor Jost, which confirms that he is opposed to the 'Republicans and conservative advocacy groups', & on the side of the 'independent experts', on this issue at least:

Jost's bias, then, is matched by the BBC's bias. Just as he would have us believe that those in favour of Sonia Sotomayor's appointment are 'independent experts', so they too would have us believe that Professor Jost is an 'independent expert' too. (In a sense - his own sense - he is!)

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