The Today programme reported this morning on the intensifying battle over Obama's plans for health-care reform. Jim Naughtie discussed the story with BBC Washington correspondent David Grossman in a way which typifies the organisation's ill-disguised bias.
Jim Naughtie began the segment as follows: "Barrack Obama's out campaigning for his health care reforms in an atmosphere of some summer political frenzy in the United States. Opponents of changes to the system are packing meetings and have organised well-funded advertising campaigns against the administration and its plans, which are on Capitol Hill now."
The use of "well-funded" casts an insinuating shadow over than campaign. It leads me, though, to a question? Is the pro-reform side of the argument not organising its own well-funded advertising campaigns? If it isn't, that would be interesting to know. If it is, then why make the point?
Then came the incredulous tone in David Grossman's voice as he said "There'd even be something called 'death panels' that would decide whether elderly people qualified for care." From that point on it became clear that Grossman was only going to give us the most extreme positions expressed by the opponents. Yes, it was going to be one of those reports. Wild errors - however unrepresentative - would be highlighted and mocked and Obama's enemies presented as a bunch of irrational, stupid wingnuts.
The dim view these 'stupid' Americans hold of our NHS was ridiculed, much to Naughtie's amusement, before there came this noteworthy exchange:
Naughtie: "And there's a fairly wild atmosphere around. I mean, the Congressmen and women going to these town hall meetings and facing really quite extraordinary demonstrations".
Grossman: "They are indeed. I mean there are swastikas being held up. One of the banners said 'Obama lies, Grandma dies'".
So, there are Neo-Nazis among the opponents of Obama's health-care plans? Neo-Nazis! No-one listening to Grossman saying what he said would have had drawn any other conclusion.
I'd like to quote from GCooper from the Biased BBC website:
ISTR is was Nancy 'Loony Tunes' Pelosi who said in an interview that protesters were neo-Nazis, carrying swastikas into town hall debates.
This is a pretty good illustration of the way the Leftist mind uses propaganda, actually. Some protesters actually were carrying swastikas - but with a line printed through them to show their opposition to what they regard as a step towards totalitarianism.
So does the BBC tell the truth about Pelosi (one of the vilest politicians the US has produced in a long, long while)? Not at all. Clearly, they support her tactics. After all - they are using them, too.
This casts things in a very different light - and one infinitely more favourable towards Obama's opponents. Not Neo-Nazis after all. If GCooper is right, this casts the BBC in a very bad light, engaging in either shoddy journalism or smear tactics. Or scare tactics.
Grossman went on to describe the stoking up of fear in many Americans about the president's plans before ending with this statement: "President Obama is trying to counter those scare tactics."
This is typical BBC editorialising. Grossman simple tells us that they are scare tactics. Hence Obama must be doing the right thing in countering them.
Obama's health care plans may well be a good thing. His opponents may well be wrong. I don't think the BBC should be telling America - or us - what to think. Nor should they be taking sides.
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