BBC Complaints: The link you need!

Sunday, 31 January 2010

MANDY GETS THE SOFT SOPEL TREATMENT

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Well, Jon Sopel's two big political interviews on today's The Politics Show could not have been more different.
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We had a strange, strange interview with Peter Mandelson, in which Mandy mounted his high and hypocritical horse and charged repeatedly at David Cameron and George Osborne over their 'unpatriotic' behaviour at Davos. He was helped by Jon Sopel, who offered his Lordship a string of questions asking about the Conservatives - Tory policy on homeowners' rights, Tory dealings with the Unionist parties, David Cameron's personality - which were nothing more than invitations to attack them even more (which Mandelson did with relish). Sopel was oddly passive throughout. The interruption coefficient was 0.5 (so 'high' primarily due to two last minute interruptions).
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Sopel's encounter with David Cameron was a world away from this in character. The interviewer was back to his old hyper-animated self and was, if anything, even more excitable than usual. There were no questions here that invited Mr C. to attack Gordon Brown! The resultant interruption coefficient was 1.2, which doesn't quite do justice to the interview's tone and content, with criticisms lacing most of the questions.
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Clear bias.
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BLAIRCASTING HOUSE

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Julie (pictured right) at Julie's Think Tank (http://puschiii.wordpress.com/), a new blog dedicated to opposing Blair-bashing, especially anti-Blair media bias, will have been gratified and relieved by this morning's Broadcasting House with Paddy O'Connell, where Tony Blair was lauded at some length by one of his most devout supporters Tim Allan, deputy spin doctor to Alastair Campbell. Paddy handled him gently.
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The BBC may have hated the Iraq War but they loved/love New Labour. Their early uncritical adulation of Tony Blair (so like their attitude to Barack Obama now) was replaced by a deep ambivalence - which is still much in evidence today. In 2003 they shifted their support to the anti-war Lib Dems and the anti-Blair Gordon Brown.
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(P.S. This post was not just an excuse to publish the above photo of Julie.)
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DO YOU WANT WAR, FAMINE AND PLAGUE LORD DARTMOUTH?

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This week's Record: Europe with 'widely respected' Shirin Wheeler began by discussing further EU enlargement. As soon as I saw the panel she'd lined up - a Romanian Socialist, a British Labour MEP, a Slovenian Liberal and a member of UKIP - I thought straight off that the interruptions would soon be flying, and flying towards just one member of the panel. Can you guess which one?
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Yes, it was the Romanian Socialist.



Only teasing.
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It was of course the UKIP MEP, William Dartmouth. His interruption coefficient was a stonking 2.4 (with 5 interruptions), whereas that for the Labour MEP Richard Howitt was merely 0.4 (with 1 interruption). Shirin really does not like UKIP, and this showed up in more rude behaviour towards Lord Dartmouth.
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Mr Howitt's only interruption came after an answer that had lasted without previous interruption for 59 seconds (his second answer lasted uninterrupted, with Shirin's protection from Lord Dartmouth, for 1 minute 14 seconds and turned into a highly rhetorical speech).
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Compare that to her treatment of William Dartmouth. His first answer was interrupted and contradicted by Shirin after just 13 seconds. She interrupted him again 5 seconds later, then again 7 seconds later. His second answer was interrupted after just 2 seconds (joined by another later)!!! His second answer was not allowed to reach its final cadence without Shirin gesturing at Richard Howitt to begin speaking and saying "Well let's hear from Richard." When Richard immediately attacked UKIP and Lord Dartmouth responded, Shirin stopped him and said again, "Let's hear from Richard". When the Romanian Socialist (Adrian Severin) attacked UKIP (and the absent British Conservatives, like Mr Howitt before him) and Lord Dartmouth tried to respond, Shirin interrupted and said "You've had your say" and handed the discussion over to the Slovene Liberal (Telko Kacin).
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But had William Dartmouth had his say? Not really, as he got least time to speak:
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Telko Kacin (Liberal) - 2 minutes 59 seconds
Richard Howitt (Labour) - 2 minutes 49 seconds
Adrian Severin (Socialist) - 2 minutes 31 seconds
William Dartmouth (UKIP) - 2 minutes 12 seconds
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What's more, Shirin's tone towards Lord Dartmouth was markedly more unfriendly, and she asked him this straw man question about the accession of Serbia: "Do you want to see stability and peace in the Western Balkans?". As soon as he said he did, she interrupted and asked "Do you not see this as the key to bringing that?"
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Another of her interruptions/contradictions came when William Dartmouth warned of the risk of massive immigration from Serbia and Turkey should they accede to the EU. She simply interjected "or vice versa".
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Shirin Wheeler is never nice to UKIP. She has to talk to them now, as they won a substantial number of seats in last year's European elections. She may want to ignore them, but UKIP can't be ignored.
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Here are my other posts on Shirin's bias against and rudeness towards UKIP:

http://beebbiascraig.blogspot.com/2009/12/bias-with-brown-eyes.html
http://beebbiascraig.blogspot.com/2009/11/but-shirins-at-helm-actually.html
http://beebbiascraig.blogspot.com/2009/11/two-against-one-twice.html
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Saturday, 30 January 2010

THE WISDOM OF GAVIN ESLER

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Gavin Esler gave us the benefit of his 'wisdom' again on today's Dateline: London, sounding off (as no neutral presenter should) on the controversial topic of paying Taleban fighters in Afghanistan to give up fighting. He's in favour: "The thing that interests me about this (London) conference was, at last!, you know, in other words, it's not rocket science to think it's probably better to offer people jobs and a bit of money if you can stop them shooting at you." This is typical Beeb-think - appease, don't fight (because "nobody's going to win this war in a classic way", he said - as the BBC always used to say about the civil war in Sri Lanka prior to the Sri Lankan army's victory over the Tamil Tigers.) As Gav's Indian guest hinted though, it's not rocket science either for the Taleban. They can (and quite probably will) take our money, pretend to give up the fight, but then start fighting us again (perhaps using the money to buy new weapons). That's the Afghan way, by the sounds of it.
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Old Gav was full of opinions today, and completely unafraid to breach BBC guidelines and share them with us. He clearly takes a dim view of the Chilcot Inquiry into the Iraq War, slamming it again and again. Here are a selection of his (impartial!) views on the subject:
"This inquiry, they ask a question, they get an answer, they move onto something else, and that seems a bit feeble."
"There are all kinds of problems I've suggested here. There are people who watch this, who just want...who already loathe Tony Blair, and who just want to see that he's got fangs, horns and a tail, and all he said was 'this was a decision, it wasn't a conspiracy, I said pretty much public what I said privately'."
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It was plainer than the nose on a plain person's face that Gavin Esler still holds a candle for Tony Blair, a candle he shares with ultra-Blairite panelist David Aaronovitch. The Canadian journalist Laura Lynch of the CBC brought up the issue of the illegality of the war and this provoked Gavin into an extraordinarily passionate defence of Blair's position - a defence that saw our normally easy-going host become remarkably animated and agitated. He repeatedly interrupted her and adopted a sarcastic tone of voice at one point (while saying "Well, there's a British law that says 'no regime change'".) Even ultra-Blairite David Aaronovitch had to correct him here (clearly out of conscience), and that prompted Esler's most passionate intervention of all: "But all I'm saying is, I'm sorry to interrupt, but it's not an exact science. It's absolutely not an exact science." All he needed to add was, "It's not! It's not! It's not!" I must admit that I'm somewhat in sympathy with the point he was so ineptly trying to make (as I supported the invasion of Iraq) but he is supposed to be a neutral presenter not an opinionated guest and should not have been making any of these points. Also I suspect his reason for coming from this position was merely pro-Labour sentiment (something I do not share) rather than any lingering support for the Iraq War.*

JUST FOR THE SAKE OF COMPARISON...

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I'm outlined quite a few of Jim Naughtie's aggressive, occasionally downright rude interviews with centre-right politicians (many readilly accessible if you click on the label Naughtie at the bottom of this post!). Just for the sake of comparison, here's an outline of his far gentler interview on this morning's Today with Chris Huhne of the Lib Dems. This is typical of his interviews with centre-left/left politicians. The issue was Sarah's Law, prompted by a protest in Weymouth which wants this piece of anti-paedophile legislation rolled out nationwide. The interruption coefficient was a very low one, 0.3. http://news.bbc.co.uk/today/hi/today/newsid_8488000/8488822.stm
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1.11 An exchange of 'good mornings'.
1.13 Q1: "First of all, what about this protest and the idea that this demonstrates it should happen elsewhere?"
1.20 A1
(2.19 An abortive interruption, "In other words...", which Naughtie pulls out of letting Huhne continue till the end of his answer. He doesn't do this with Tories.)
2.34 Q2: "So the law that pretends to improve the situation actually makes it worse." This picks up on what Huhne has just said and supports it. (The choice of "pretends" strongly suggests where Naughtie stands on the issue. He's against.)
2.40 A2 (beginning, as you might expect, "That's absolutely right.")
3.06 Interruption 1/Q3. Listen to the clip here and you'll hear that Naughtie's interruption is an accidental one. He thinks Huhne has finished, having reached a firm end to his sentence: "The trouble of course is if you hear somebody like Mr Riggs there (a leading demonstator) you can understand what they're saying. They're saying "look, especially in a seaside town awash with children, in the summer especially obviously", they say "hang on, this is a sort of paradise for paedophiles, and it seems reasonable that we should, you know...so you can see where he's coming from?" This, you will have noticed, is Naughtie first (and only) question that puts the opposing case to Chris Huhne. If this were an interview with a Conservative or UKIP politician you can be certain that nearly all - if not all - of the questions came from an opposing stance. Moreover, this was not a forcefully put, challenging question. Centre-right politicians face those from Naughtie whenever they are interviewed by him.
3.29 A3 (an answer of 1 minute 6 seconds, uninterrupted).
4.35 Interview ends, politely (unlike so many of those frosty ends to interviews with Tories.)
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Incidentally, Evan Davis's interview with Alistair Darling did ask somewhat more probing questions, but was (all in all) even gentler, scoring a puny 0.2.

WHY OBAMA'S CRITICS ARE STUPID AND EMOTIONAL

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I missed the Radio 4 programme 'Turkeys Voting for Christmas', but the BBC News website writes it up, introducing it thus:




The Republicans' shock victory in the election for the US Senate seat in Massachusetts meant the Democrats lost their supermajority in the Senate. This makes it even harder for the Obama administration to get healthcare reform passed in the US. Political scientist Dr David Runciman looks at why is there often such deep opposition to reforms that appear to be of obvious benefit to voters.

Dr David Runciman, who writes columns for the Guardian, argues that President Obama's healthcare reforms are sensible but that, paradoxically, those most enraged by his plans are those who would benefit from them most: "Why are so many American voters enraged by attempts to change a horribly inefficient system that leaves them with premiums they often cannot afford?"
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Dr Runciman interviews two experts (and only two experts), and both are Democrat supporters. Why? Why no Republican experts? Why no thought of fairness or balance?
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He begins with "psychologist Drew Westen, an exasperated Democrat" who "tried to show why the Right often wins the argument even when the Left is confident that it has the facts on its side." An example from the Bush-Gore debates of 2000 is used, and this conclusion drawn: "Mr Gore was talking sense and Mr Bush nonsense - but Mr Bush won the debate. With statistics, the voters just hear a patronising policy wonk, and switch off."
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Dr Runciman's second expert is "Thomas Frank, the author of the best-selling book What's The Matter with Kansas" who "is an even more exasperated Democrat". "He goes further than Mr Westen", says Runciman - and he's not kidding! "He believes that the voters' preference for emotional engagement over reasonable argument has allowed the Republican Party to blind them to their own real interests. Right-wing politics has become a vehicle for channelling this popular anger against intellectual snobs. The result is that many of America's poorest citizens have a deep emotional attachment to a party that serves the interests of its richest."
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The arrogance of the Left is breathtaking.
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*******************UPDATE
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Please check out Natalie's excellent fisking of this same article on the Biased BBC website:
http://biased-bbc.blogspot.com/2010/01/those-crazy-republicans-explained-bbc.html#comments
And the ever-alert (and often very funny) Martin has a comment that shows the sheer dishonesty of this article, which is worth quoting in full (and he reaches the same punch-line as me!!):
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Martin
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The article also has another distortion. Here's a quote he used. He uses the following exchange from the first presidential debate between Al Gore and George Bush in 2000 to illustrate the perils of trying to explain to voters what will make them better off:

Gore: "Under the governor's plan, if you kept the same fee for service that you have now under Medicare, your premiums would go up by between 18% and 47%, and that is the study of the Congressional plan that he's modelled his proposal on by the Medicare actuaries."
Bush: "Look, this is a man who has great numbers. He talks about numbers."
LISTEN TO THE PROGRAMME Turkeys Voting for Christmas BBC Radio 4, Wednesday 27 January at 2045 GMT Or listen via the iPlayer

"I'm beginning to think not only did he invent the internet, but he invented the calculator. It's fuzzy math. It's trying to scare people in the voting booth."
Mr Gore was talking sense and Mr Bush nonsense - but Mr Bush won the debate. With statistics, the voters just hear a patronising policy wonk, and switch off."
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However, the full comment given by Bush was not included (funny that).
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GOV. BUSH: Look. This is a man who's got great numbers. He talks about numbers. I'm beginning to think not only did he invent the Internet but he invented the calculator. (Laughter.) It's fuzzy math. It's a scaring -- trying to scare people in the voting booth. Under my tax plan, that he continues to criticize, I said a third. The federal government should take no more than a third of anybody's check.
But I also drop the bottom rate from 15 percent to 10 percent, because by far the vast majority of that help goes to people at the bottom end of the economic ladder. If you're a family of four in Massachusetts making $50,000, you get a 50 percent cut in the federal income taxes you pay. It's from $4,000 to about $2,000. Now, the difference in our plans is I want that $2,000 to go to you.
http://www.pbs.org/newshour/bb/election/2000debates/1stdebate1.html
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If you take a quote out of context or don't include it all no wonder it makes no sense. I just love liberals, they are SO arrogant.
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No Beeboid (or BBC-sponsored academic) can escape Martin's eagle-eye for bias! He's caught Dr Runciman red-handed!
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HEALTH FASCISM ALERT!

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Just before 7.00 on yesterday's Today we had another descendent of Oliver Cromwell's puritanical Major Generals on the programme to discuss alcohol policy and demand even tougher government action on drinking, including minimum pricing. The topic under discussion was underage drinking, but it quickly broadened out to embrace adults too.
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She was Rachel Seabrook (not pictured left) of the 'charity' The Institute for Alcohol Studies, which (with European Commission funding and backing from the teatotal Alliance House Foundation) advises all and sundry on the evils of the demon drink, purely on health and social grounds of course.
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Such voices are everywhere on the BBC's current affairs output.
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Where's Sir Toby Belch when we need him: "Dost thou think, because thou art virtuous, there shall be no more cakes and ale?"
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BACK IN THAT PARALLEL UNIVERSE

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Three posts ago I moaned that The World Tonight of all the Beeb's main current affairs programmes was the only one to feature interviews with only opponents of the Iraq War (on its Wednesday night edition). Astonishingly, it did the same last night.
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In the wake of Tony Blair's big day at the Chilcot Inquiry, Robin Lustig interviewed anti-war campaigner and bereaved mother Rose Gentle, then Blair biographer and critic of the war Professor Anthony Seldon and, finally, former advisor to Robin Cook and critic of the war David Clark.
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Only on The World Tonight!
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Friday, 29 January 2010

MORE DIMBLEDATA

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Last night's Question Time was an unusual one indeed. It featured three right-of-centre panelists - Lord Lawson, Douglas Murray of the Centre for Social Cohesion and Jane Moore of the Sun. (When did this last happen? Has it ever happened before?) All three, moreover, were excellent (especially Jane). Even the audience contained a decent number of non-nutters for once! The main lesson I took away from watching it was that the Lib Dems hold opinions I find even less to my taste than Labour's. I can't think of a single thing I agreed with Baroness Tonge over (and much the same can be said of Sarah Teather last week). Our liberals are so left-wing.
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Quantifying last night's Question Time reveals the following stats:
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Who got most time to speak?
1. Nigel Lawson - 12 minutes 51 seconds
2. Jenny Tonge - 8 minutes 46 seconds
3. Douglas Murray - 8 minutes 25 seconds
4. Ben Bradshaw - 8 minutes 4 seconds
5. Jane Moore - 6 minutes 19 seconds
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Who received the most interruptions from David Dimbleby?
1. Nigel Lawson - 10
2. Jenny Tonge - 7
3. Douglas Murray - 6
4. Jane Moore - 5
5. Ben Bradshaw - 4
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Who scored the highest interruption coefficient?
1. Jenny Tonge - 0.8
1. Jane Moore - 0.8
1. Nigel Lawson - 0.8
4. Douglas Murray-0.7
5. Ben Bradshaw - 0.5
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Who was asked the most supplementary questions by David Dimbleby?
1. Jenny Tonge - 10
2. Nigel Lawson - 8
3. Ben Bradshaw - 7
4. Jane Moore - 2
5. Douglas Murray - 2
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Yet again it was the Labour politician who had the easiest ride from the 'famously impartial' David Dimbleby!

WE LOVE OBAMA!

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The BBC News website has a page devoted to its American readers' reactions:
Americans give verdict on Obama's State of Union speech
BBC News website readers in the United States assess President Obama's first State of the Union address.
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/americas/8485810.stm

There are four short articles from each reader.
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First up is a pro-Obama university student:
Obama was amazing last night, he reduced me to tears. I think he's too good for Washington. I voted for him in 2008.
He's got this ability to tell people exactly what he is thinking. Bush gave a ton of rhetoric and lied to us for eight years - that's just my view of course - but Obama laid it out plainly.

Next an anti-Obama self-employed lady:
I voted for the opposition, not Obama. I live in a town of very high house repossessions and unemployment - and it hasn't improved.
The speech sounded like he was still campaigning instead of telling us what has been done over the past year.

So far so balanced. Then the BBC reverts to type. Next up is another critic of Obama, but a Republican-hating critic from the Left:
Many of us progressives who worked for his election feel we have been conned. He's great at speeches, but nothing ever happens.
I don't see any difference with the Republicans.
No-one is standing up to the big business interests.
It's wonderful to see a black man running the country. The Republicans damaged the country so badly he was able to get elected, but he's squandering it all.
And finally it's back to another pro-Obama reader:
What struck me most about Obama's speech was his reaching out across the
aisle to get Congress working.
Republicans so far would rather see him fail than achieve anything that would help the country.
The Republicans are holding the nation hostage. Obama has been very diplomatic and tactful, but it's time to take the gloves off. I think he was starting to do that last night.

The BBC is simply incapable of being fair to the American Right. They are so instinctively pro-Democrat and pro-Obama that they doubtless think this selection is a fair and balanced one.

Thursday, 28 January 2010

SOMEWHERE IN A PARALLEL UNIVERSE...

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Yes the Today programme has a strong left-liberal bias but it cannot hold a candle to The World Tonight, which has turned the sidelining (almost to the point of exclusion) of all right-of-centre opinion into an art form.
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And it goes beyond that. The programme always opposed the Iraq War and last night, running true to form, invited on two guests to discuss the issue. Unlike Newnight and PM (for example), which granted some space to supporters of the war, The World Tonight interviewed one critic of the war, Dr Mark Weller of Cambridge University, and then another, Sir Alan Beith of the Liberal Democrats (I.C. of 0 for Robin Lustig, unsurprisingly.)
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This programme floats along in its own parallel universe.

YES MR BROWN SIR

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Jim Naughtie (pictured right, devouring a Tory) was on his knees, tugging his forelock, before Gordon Brown and President Karzai of Afghanistan. The interruption coefficient for his interview with Brown here was 0.4.
http://news.bbc.co.uk/today/hi/today/newsid_8484000/8484648.stm
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There was nobody from the Right of the political spectrum on today's Today (again).
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The picture is really of Sinosauropteryx, a meat eating dinosaur (or 'meatosaur' as Naughtie called it!) that lived in China, and has been found to have had orange and white stripes on its tail. A fascinating story potentially. Unfortunately, the scientific reasoning and the trail of evidence behind this finding were very quickly passed over so that Today could talk about pictures of dinosaurs in children's book instead. I am not interested in the latter, but very interested in the former. Dumbing down?
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'TODAY' TICKS ONLY THE BOXES MARKED 'LEFT WING'

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The left-liberal bias of the BBC is seemingly bottomless, and that of the Today programme in particular is a virtual black hole from which no right-winger can escape.
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Following on my my last post (and nearly all my others!), this morning's Today programme discussed the use of tick-boxes - a story prompted by a report from a left-wing think tank. It's usually the Labour-aligned Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR), and today was no exception.
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That's not all. Who was this discussed with? Someone from the Left and someone from the Right? Of course not. It was discussed with one of the report's authors, the left-wing comedian Simon Fanshawe and Claude Moraes, a Labour MEP. Justin Webb fitted in perfectly.
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/news/8484708.stm

CRAIG'S STATE OF THE 'TODAY' PROGRAMME ADDRESS

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President Obama's State of the Nation speech to the U.S. Congress was discussed on this morning Today programme.
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First came Mark Mardell's description of the speech with clips. Bizarrely, the Today programme website mis-described his report again (as they did yesterday): "North America editor Mark Mardell watched the speech with US voters." Well, listen to the clip for yourself. Where are the voters?
http://news.bbc.co.uk/today/hi/today/newsid_8484000/8484575.stm
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The discussion came at the end of the programme. James Naughtie presided. Who was invited? A Republican supporter and a Democrat supporter perhaps? A right-leaning journalist and a left-leaning journalist maybe? That would seem fair and proper. This though is the BBC, who find it quite hard to be fair and proper. First we got a Guardian journalist Jonathan Freedland (or "Jonny", as Naughtie called him) - so that's the Democrat-supporting leftie taken care of. The other guest, however, was no Republican-supporting rightie but Gavin Esler's friend from Dateline: London Stryker Mcguire of Newsweek. Stryker is no partisan, but he too inclines leftwards (writing many articles for The New Statesman, Guardian and Observer). That's not balanced, is it? Especially when Naughtie himself was hardly a neutral, making noises supportive of Obama and raising tough questions only for the Republicans. If a pro-Republican reporter had been present, Naughtie could have asked him about the latter and found out how the party would respond to Obama's challenge. Instead, all we got was 'Jonny' attacking the Republicans. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/news/8484741.stm
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UPDATE
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For more of this please read DB on the Biased BBC website, who has noticed this too: http://biased-bbc.blogspot.com/2010/01/sotu-on-today.html

WHAT PESTON DOESN'T PICK

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The BBC News website well merits the nickname of Pravda. If a story is embarrassing to the Labour government and can be ignored, it will be ignored - however big a story it is. And this story is a big story (political dynamite you might say): "A top investment advisor has described Britain's economy as a 'must to avoid' and says 'gilts are resting on a bed of nitroglycerine'". (Sky News)
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Labour's criminal mishandling of the economy, leaving us languishing precariously at the rear of the world's recovery, along with its unwillingness to start acting now to cut the deficit, has prompted Bill Gross, manager of the world's biggest bond fund Pacific Investment Management Co, to warn investors to shy away from Britain over our Everest of government debt.
(http://news.sky.com/skynews/Home/Business/UK-Economy-Warning-As-Investor-Bill-Gross-Says-Gilts-On-Bed-Of-Nitroglycerine/Article/201001415536628?lid=ARTICLE_15536628_UKEconomyWarningAsInvestorBillGrossSaysGiltsOnBedOfNitroglycerine&lpos=searchresults) *
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As you can see Sky News reports this alarming story.
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As does The Times: http://business.timesonline.co.uk/tol/business/economics/article7004213.ece
And The Daily Telegraph:
http://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/news/geraldwarner/100024048/uk-gilts-are-resting-on-a-bed-of-nitroglycerine-so-what-are-the-tories-saying-about-this/
Even The Guardian (which describes Mr Gross's comments as 'headline grabbing') reports it (and comments on it too):
http://www.guardian.co.uk/business/2010/jan/26/uk-economy-debt-bob-gross
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Guess who ignores it however? Type in "Bill Gross nitroglycerine" and you will get this from the BBC News website: "Sorry. There are no results for your search."
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Wherever you look on the site you won't find the story there - whether it's under 'Politics' or 'Business' or 'Stephanomics' or 'Peston's Picks'.
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Pravda strikes again.
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Wednesday, 27 January 2010

WAS THAT RICHARD D. NORTH I HEARD?

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With all today's talk on the BBC about inequality, it was left to Eddie Mair's PM to offer (in Eddie's words) a platform for "an alternative view" - a view which to me sounded like nothing more than good sense - from Richard D. North (http://richarddnorth.com/). He said what Theresa May should have said this morning, but wouldn't never have dared say in a decade of sundays: Inequality is not necessarily a bad thing. Poverty is.
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PM didn't push the boat out too far however, as all Richard got was an almost derisory 1 minute 23 seconds to speak! Talk about giving with one hand and taking with another.
http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b006qskw

THEY'RE 'AVING A LARF, AREN'T THEY?

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Here's something to make you laugh. Go to page 3, the Contents page, of the newest edition of The Radio Times (30 Jan-5 Feb) and you'll see this gem:
David Dimbleby p18
The famously impartial presenter climbs off the fence to talk art, politics, money and society.

WHERE'S THAT TRADES DESCRIPTIONS ACT?

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Here's the blurb on the Today website for Mark Mardell's latest report:
President Obama is to deliver his first state of the union speech tonight, and is expected to explain why unemployment is so high despite billions of dollars being pumped into the economy.
Some Americans believe that the money is not being spent properly and that government-led solutions do not work.
North America editor Mark Mardell reports from Baltimore.
http://news.bbc.co.uk/today/hi/today/newsid_8482000/8482377.stm
I thought on reading this that Mark Mardell might actually be going to be fair today, letting us hear the voices of people who oppose what the Obama administration is doing - without criticism of them! - as well as voices who oppose statist solutions in general. Take a listen for yourselves, and you'll find that the product bears little relation to the packaging. There are no voices that argue that "government solutions do not work", and the harshest criticism of Obama we get is one brief comment from a "man in a hard hat" who wants "something more from the president" - some "actual factuals", not just words. Elsewhere, we had a policeman and a policewoman grateful for some gizmos "courtesy of the stimulus", then Scott Peterson from the (Democrat) mayor's office also praising the gracious gift of the gizmos ("As the president's always said, it's about innovation") and a trained nursing assistant at a job centre who "thinks the president is doing a good job" though "she'd like to hear him get tougher on the banks".
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Mark Mardell is clearly a worthy replacement as North America editor for Justin Webb. He's just as bad and just as biased.

INEQUALITY IN THE 'TODAY' STUDIO

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Today's Today was driven by a report on inequality from the National Equality Panel, set up in 2008 by Harriet Harman. This organisation is headed by John Hills, Professor of Social Policy at the BBC's beloved London School of Economics.
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There was certainly a great deal of inequality about the amount of time each of the political parties got to make their cases on the issue. Theresa May (pictured left and right) for the Conservatives got least (3 minutes 42 seconds). David Laws for the Lib Dems did slightly better (4 minutes 8 seconds). Taking the lion's share, however, (and some of the leopard's too), was Labour's Harriet Harman (7 minutes 5 seconds), getting almost twice as long to wow the nation as Mrs May.
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You might have expected that Harriet Harman would have been given a rougher ride, if only to balance out this inherent unfairness. Not a bit of it. The respective interruption coefficients for the three politicians were 0.6, 0.5 and 0.6.
*
Sarah Montague did the interview with Theresa May. Here's one of her questions: "But what's clear from this report is that it's been a problem of the last forty years, that at the time when the Conservatives were in power, it rose, the gap between top and bottom, from 3 times earnings in the '70s, rose to 4 times in the '80s, and the report makes it clear that there are things that the Labour government have done which have made a difference, they just haven't on the scale required." Mrs May's attempt to answer this was soon interrupted by an "OK, what would you do?". Theresa bridled a little at this, saying "Well, that's what I'm just about to come onto, thankyou." A lot more of that attitude is needed! She then began to list what the Conservatives would do but was interrupted again with another abrupt question, "And the abolition of inheritance tax?" As Theresa May immediately pointed out (and how can Sarah Montague really not have known this?), "Well, nobody's abolishing inheritance tax. We will be raising the threshhold on inheritance tax." That was a pretty simple error for a top interviewer to have made - if error it be.
*
Neither Harriet Harman nor David Laws had to face anything like that. They were interviewed by Justin Webb. Both got to attack the Tories - and were not interrupted while they did so.
*

A FEW CRUMBS

*
Just a few more brief vignettes from Radio 4's coverage of the recovery yesterday:
*
At 6.35am you would have heard Nils Blythe on the Today programme talking up expectations of 0.4% growth when the figure came. Well, not quite Nils.
*
Both Nils (on PM) and Stephanie Flanders (on The World Tonight) were suggesting that a revision upwards of the 0.1% (rather than a revision downwards) was not unlikely. We'll see, and we'll remember these pronouncements if they're proved wrong yet again.
*
The expert on Andrew Bomford's report on the recovery for PM was a Professor Paul Gregg of Bristol University (and a former advisor to James Purnell), who talked on the "lost generation" of the 1980s (Mrs Thatcher, booo!!) and said everything must be done to make sure that doesn't happen again.

MY WALLET TREMBLES

*
Whenever I listen to a Jonty Bloom report on The World Tonight I start to feel anxious about my wallet. Jonty's always after more public spending, and that means he's after my money.
*
Last night he was on about 'green growth', visiting the North East of England, one of the government's 'low carbon economic areas'. Midway through his report came this from Jonty: "But Roy Stanley (owner and chairman of a renewable energies company) says that while the government is giving his fledgling industry as much help as it can (all praise glorious Labour government!) it's nothing compared with the money the Obama administration (all praise glorious Obama!) is throwing at research and development in America."
*
Jonty wants some of my money thrown at this too - and soon: "Other countries are well ahead of us in green technology or are spending billions in order to catch up. We have to get the skills, facilities and industries in place very quickly."
*

FELICITOUS QUESTIONS FOR LORD MANDELSON

*
On last night's The World Tonight Felicity Evans discussed the recovery with Philip Hammond for the Conservatives and Lord Mandelson for Labour. The contrast between the tone of each interview was striking, with Felicity flinging criticisms of the Conservatives and praise for Labour at Mr Hammond (asking 9 questions) but taking a far less aggressive line with Lord Mandelson (only 5 questions in an almost identical length interview). Moreover, interruptions flew at Mr Hammond (4 in total) but not at Lord Mandelson (only 1). The interruption coefficients, therefore, work out at 1.3 for Philip Hammond and 0.3 for Lord Mandelson. This is not the first time Felicity has been caught praising Labour too much.
*

Tuesday, 26 January 2010

IT'S MY PARTY AND I'LL CRY IF I WANT TO

*
Well Labour's Big Day fell a flat, didn't it? The BBC got its bugles out for the much anticipated announcement (an announcement they've been taking for granted for days) that we've finally broken free from this horrible recession and into a Labour-generated recovery. They were all ready to blow those bugles at 9.30. Listening to Ed Stourton's build-up on The World at One you could hear all of this anticipation, and from his excited tone I was half expecting to hear him to pop open a bottle of champagne and toast Labour as soon as the result was announced. Then came the disappointing news of a miniscule 0.1% growth, subject to revision upwards or downwards. Yes, we are out of recession, it seems, but we've scraped out by our fingertips - and, if any revision takes the figure down again (as it might), we may not even be out of recession at all. All that money printed, all that money borrowed, all that money spent by this government (every penny from us now, or from us in the future) - and still we're the last major economy to recover (if we really are recovering). The sound of a balloon deflating is a fair analogy for what happened to Ed's tone in the wake of this news.
**
The same happened in the following report from Michael Buchanon, which was a work-in-progress. Michael was journeying throughout the morning up the M1, stopping off to talk to companies that were "helping Britain recover from recession" (one of which, naturally, was a renewable energies company) and asking them "when did you notice things improving?" He was then heard listening to the announcement on the radio, and clearly went ahead with his next sentence regardless (after all, if you've prepared one for the big moment why not use it, even if it rings a little hollow?): "Where were you when you heard that Britain was technically out of recession?" Then, as it sunk in, the report audibly deflated in mood. Michael Buchanon admitted the recovery was "anaemic" and he found himself stuck in a traffic jam!
*
Britain's day will come again, without this government hopefully.
*

TODAY TODAY

*
This morning's Today programme was noticeably left-liberal in its orientation again.
*
At 7.09 John Humphrys discussed British social attitudes with sociologist Alison Park of the National Centre for Social Research. The results show that "Britain has become more liberal over the last 25 years with greater tolerance of homosexuality and co-habitation. The report also found that for the first time in 20 years more people identify themselves as Conservative and not Labour supporters." John Humphrys chose to focus the interview on the former (especially attitudes towards homosexuality) rather than the latter, though not before Alison had chose as examples of the "recent swing more towards the right" the fact that "people have become less sympathetic towards the poor, less accepting of the need to reduce inequality between rich and poor." That this lady is also a Fabian is hardly surprising.
*
The greater tolerance towards homosexuality was discussed with another left-winger, high tribal Labour MEP Michael Cashman, former Eastenders actor and gay rights campaigner (I.C. of 0.5 for John Humphrys), though here he was joined by former Sun editor Kelvin MacKenzie.

The issue of climate change (meaning 'global warming') was dominant. There were plenty of weasel words over the IPCC's discredited claims over the alleged melting glaciers of the Himalayas from Professor Jean-Pascal van Ypersele of the IPCC at 7.12. He claimed (counter-intuitively) that the scandal "could increase the credibility of the IPCC." That was not strong enough however for the Today programme's website who ignore the "could" in the professor's statement and go not just for dead certainty but also for a completely unwarranted use of the past tense: "Professor Jean-Pascal van Ypersele, vice chair of the IPCC, told Sarah Montague that the IPCC had gained credibility from its ability to admit its mistakes and argued that the other claims in the report were "very strong"." That is not what he said.
*
This issue was revisited later in the programme (8.53) with an environment campaigner and a leading climate sceptic. Only joking! Of course there was no 'climate sceptic'! Instead we had Mike Hulme, professor of climate change at the University of East Anglia, and a highly intolerant Tony Juniper, climate change campaigner and former director of Friends of the Earth (and a Green Party parliamentary candidate). Both backed the IPCC. The discussion was presided over by John Humphrys. (Would that Andrew Neil had been in charge of it instead!!)

(Even this wasn't enough, so we had a report from Tom Fielden (at 8.44) on 'ocean acidification', "an issue biologists have dubbed the "elephant in the corner" of the climate change debate", according to the Today programme's website.)
*
Assisted suicide was discussed (at 7.16) by Sarah Montague with a Labour peer, Lord Joffe, "who has campaigned for a long time to get the law on assisted suicide changed" - of course in favour of a more liberal approach (I.C. of 0.3)
*
Mark Mardell reported on the rise of the Tea Party movement in America (at 7.23). The 'elephant in the room' in American politics is no longer being ignored (as it no longer can be ignored, even by the most dogged Democrat supporter at the BBC). This being Mark Mardell a totally straight, totally unbiased report was out of the question. He asked a Tea Party-goer this deeply loaded question: "How much is it a movement of 'the people' or how much is it a movement of largely white, largely quite well off people?" Are there strong grounds for that allegation, or is it just a smear?
*
EXTRA: Please have a read of the wonderful David Preiser's comments on this on the Biased BBC website: http://biased-bbc.blogspot.com/2010/01/open-thread_23.html#comments
**
Who's "not helping the talks today" in Northern Ireland, according to Nick Robinson (at 8.20)? The Conservatives and their 'secret talks' with the UUP and DUP, that's who! Robinson reported on the suspicions and 'anger' of Labour and their allies the SDLP (and the Alliance Party) at David Cameron, with Sarah Montague pushing those suspicions even further forward. You can bank on old Nick to act as a faithful mouthpiece for Downing Street. For some good sense on this, please red Benedict Brogan: http://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/news/benedictbrogan/100023701/david-cameron-is-a-unionist-remember/
*
All in a morning's work at the Today programme.

THE STRANGE CASE OF THE MISSING TORY

*
Over to Not a Sheep here for more outrageous bias from Radio 5Live:
Denying the Conservative Party the 'oxygen of publicity'

BBC 5Live has been promoting the 'recession is over' and Conservative cuts would 'put the recovery at risk' all morning so when I heard that Gabby Logan was going to discuss this with MPs I was expecting her and the Labour and Lib Dem representatives to gang up on the Conservative MP. The reality was even more bizarre: Liam Byrne for Labour and Vince 'Saint' Cable able to pour scorn on Conservative economic policy, encouraged by Gaby Logan, and no Conservative there to respond.

When I blogged about the new 5Live schedules for this general election year, I predicted left-wing bias, it seems I was correct to do so.
http://notasheepmaybeagoat.blogspot.com/2010/01/denying-conservative-party-oxygen-of.html

PAXO HAMMERS HAMMOND AGAIN

*
Unlike Radio 4's The World Tonight, which characteristically discussed the economy with Vince Cable only, Newsnight gathered Lord Myners, Philip Hammond and, yes, Vince Cable to chew over banking reform. Jeremy Paxman's interruptions (as ever on such occasions) were not fairly distributed, as the interruption coefficients show very clearly:
*
Philip Hammond - 10 interruptions, I.C of 3.2
Vince Cable - 3 interruptions, I.C. of 1.3
Lord Myners - 4 interruptions, I.C. of 1.2
*
This had followed a bank-bashing report by Paul Mason, featuring a new BBC favourite, former high-flying banker and 'City Boy' author Geraint Anderson (son of Labour MP Donald Anderson), now a sharp critic of the bankers.
*

OH NO, IT'S ETHICAL BUSINESS MAN!

*
Intesting promotion on Newsnight: "our new business correspondent Justin Rowlatt reports". Ah, 'Ethical Man'! Another leftie business correspondent (to join 'former' Trot Paul Mason) on Newsnight! That's just what the programme needs to free itself from its left-liberal mindset and to guarantee greater profundity! (Where's that new sarcasm-alerting punctuation mark when you need it, as I'm running out of exclamation marks?)
*

Monday, 25 January 2010

JOHN HUMPHRYS REFUSES TO BE AWAY WITH THE AIRY FAIRIES

*
The tendency of the Today programme to base its stories more on the findings of left-of-centre think tanks than their right-of-centre counterparts was in evidence again today.
*
At 6.49 John Humphrys discussed economic growth with Andrew Simms of the New Economic Foundation, a red-green think tank. Mr Simms's central point was this: "We've looked at how much economic growth the world can get away with while it stays the right side of dangerous climate change and the results are not good. It's extremely difficult if not impossible to square the circle." We have to free ourselves as much as possible from the need for fossil fuels, he said, and we should re-order our economy, giving up on the idea of perpetual economic growth.
*
The programme's producers may have been on board with all this guff but, to his credit, John Humphrys was having none of it, calling it "airy-fairy". Being very much an Old Left man, JH is not in tune with the wishy-washy utopianism of the New Left. He wasn't much in tune with Mr Simms's line of analogy either (which was funny!).
*

ALL HAIL THE UNITED NATIONS!

*
Here's a clear example of the BBC's everlasting pro-UN, anti-US line (a line that has even survived the election of the sainted Barack Obama), courtesy of Sarah Montague on this morning's Today programme (in an interview with Labour's Douglas Alexander): "When you see the American troops on the ground and the criticism of them, this fear that some people immediately voiced about their role there, did you think that perhaps that was a role that should have been done by a United Nations standing army?" Well at least she didn't ask for an EU standing army!
*

MORE FROM THE NORMAN YOKE

*
The previously-mentioned section on Westminster Hour was followed by the weekly politics panel. The Conservatives and Lib Dems have taken a turn in missing a go, so this week it was Labour's turn not to be there (though Kevin McGuire is Labour through and through). So it was Charles Walker for the Conservatives, Jeremy Browne for the Lib Dems and Lord Pearson, leader of UKIP (hurray!).
*
Norman Smith began this section as he ended the last section: "Charles Walker, let me start with you and just pick up on that last point by Kevin McGuire. While it's probably true to say that the Iraq Inquiry is bad news for Labour, it's hard to see it as particularly good news for the Conservatives." Talk about a glass half-empty!
*
Smith then asked two questions to Jeremy Brown, neither of which asked anything specifically about the Lib Dems. Mr Brown's uninterrupted answers lasted 1 minute 1 second and 37 seconds respectively. That matters because when Smith then turned to Lord Pearson, asking him a question specifically about UKIP of course (its opposition to the war), the UKIP leader was interrupted within 13 seconds!!
*
Smith moved quickly onto Tuesday's expected announcement that we are out of recession & began Tory-bating again: "I was struck last week when the job figures were out and unemployment was down for the first time in 18 months, the difficult position it seemed to put many Tories in because, on the one hand, you obviously had to welcome the fall in unemployment but at the same time it causes you a little bit of a problem, doesn't it, if the economy starts to turn just in time for the election?"
*
Smith's immediate rudeness towards Lord Pearson continued. His second answer was swiftly interrupted and criticized: "But the problem with that argument is that you can't simply get that money back by pressing a lever. If we were to withdraw it would take time. So what are your proposals short of full withdrawal, because that is obviously a long-term objective?" Then Smith cut off one of his later answers to ask Mr Walker another question.
*
The subject then changed to the child torturers of Edlington & David Cameron's comments on it. Guess who Smith asked first about this. Yes, the Lib Dem. That was an invitation to aim at an open goal - an invitation Mr Brown took gleefully. Here's Norm's question: "Jeremy Brown, one of the other things which has been percolating around this weekend is this whole idea of Broken Britain, which a speech by the Conservative leader suggesting that it wasn't, the case in Doncaster, wasn't an isolated case but symptomatic of something with deeper roots and more widespread. Erm, do you think he's right and do you also think he was right to cite the Doncaster case?" Mr Brown's anti-Tory answer went on for 1 min 11 secs uninterrupted!
*
Smith finally turned to the burqa and back to Lord Pearson. You can probably guess what followed: A hostile question, then a hostile interruption. This in turn was followed by the second instance of Norman Smith cutting Lord Pearson off, as he was attacking Islam: "Ok, well let me bring the others in." Guess who he brought in first? "Jeremy Brown, what are your thoughts." Jeremy did not approve, and Smith let him express his disapproval of UKIP's position for over a minute.
*
The interruption coefficients are clear:
*
Lord Pearson - 0.9
Charles Walker -0.2
Jeremy Browne -0.1
*
The whole thing was a travesty of any idea of BBC impartiality. Norman Smith should be banned from Westminster Hour. I never thought I'd say this but 'Bring Back Carolyn Quinn!'
*

UNDER THE NORMAN YOKE AGAIN

*
Radio 4's Westminster Hour (as you may have noticed) is getting well beyond a joke.
*
Following on from my last post, the programme began by reviewing and previewing the political scene with Kevin McGuire of the Daily Mirror. Unusually, the political journalist is interviewed alone, but this week he had company - the Lib Dem Mike Smithson of politicalbetting.com. To say that presenter Norman Smith's line of questioning was pro-Labour/pro-Lib-Dem in tone would merely be a statement of reality:
*
"First I asked Mike Smithson if the polls showed any sign of Labour narrowing the Tory lead?"
"Mike, is there any sense that people are willing to re-appraise Gordon Brown because here at least he does seem to be performing better, certainly at Prime Minister's Questions, and on a few occasions seems to have wrong-footed David Cameron. Now that seems, I don't know, greater confidence in his own abilities but he does seem to be moving forward. Is that feeding through?"
"And presumably Kevin, from Labour's point of view, what they're really looking for is some turn-up in the economy and this week we get the growth figures and all the expectations are that we will be out of recession. Now how important is that to Labour's prospects?"
"And Kevin I suppose the wild-card in all this is the Lib Dems & there is a sense that Nick Clegg, after a relatively slow start as Lib Dem leader, actually is beginning to have much more impact now. There's a sense he's cutting through, isn't there?"
"I suppose on the plus side for Labour, Mike, they can draw comfort from the fact that probably most people have already formed up their views in their minds on Iraq?"
*
He asked no questions that offered any 'plus sides' for the Conservatives.
*
This man, like Jo Coburn, is one of the BBC's main political correspondents, reporting daily on the goings-on at Westminster. As with his performance on the programme last week, this pro-left line of questioning hardly fills me with confidence about this impartiality as a day-to-day reporter.
*

MIRROR HOUR

*
It's Monday morning, so that means its recycling time again. Here's another update on something I blogged about a couple of weeks ago. This is (again) what I wrote in its entirity:

Most editions of Radio 4's Westminster Hour feature a political journalist,
who usually casts an eye over some key event or other in a one-to-one chat with presenter Carolyn Quinn. On 30th November it dawned on me that the featured journalists seemed to be coming disproportionately from the UK's left-liberal newspapers. So I began to note down who was getting the invitations.
* This is the story so far:
*
10/1/10 Nick Watt of the Guardian
3/1/10 Michael Savage of the Independent
27/12/09 no programme
20/12/09 no journalist
13/12/09 Andrew Miller of the Economist
6/12/09 George Parker of the Financial Times
29/11/09 Toby Helm of the Observer
22/11/09 no journalist
15/11/09 Nick Watt of the Guardian
*
Case proven?

Well, the trend continues unabated. Last week (17/1/10) it was Andrew Grice of the Independent. He was, unsurprisingly, much more critical of the Conservatives than of Labour. This week (24/1/10) it was Kevin McGuire of the Daily Mirror, who talked up Labour and talked down the Tories (as he does).
*
Last week I added, "Any chance of someone from the Times or the Telegraph getting a look in any time soon?" Well, not this week.

Sunday, 24 January 2010

GLENN'S UNDER THE MICROSCOPE AGAIN

*
Though I know I'm treading a very lonely path here (as not even Scots are interested in it), I do find The Politics Show: Scotland really intriguing as concerns political bias. Its presenter Glenn Campbell is so shamelessly pro-Labour and, conversely, so clearly anti-SNP and (when he can be bothered to interview them) anti-Conservative that it stands out not just a mile but several miles. A re-built Tower of Babel in the Netherlands would be less obvious! Perhaps because the show doesn't get high viewing figures (probably only me and a few MSPs), Glenn thinks he can get away with it unobserved.
*
Today he interviewed a UK Labour minister (who I'd never heard of) called Ann McKechin. He interrupted her only once, and then only for factual clarification. The resultant I.C. was a paltry 0.3. Amazingly for this highly assertive interviewer, there were even pauses after several of her answers, so respectful was he towards her. I had to smile at that. She shared the interview with an SNP MSP called Anne McLauglin, who Glenn interrupted four times, cutting her off twice (I.C. of 1.3). One of those interruptions was a cheeky contradiction, which put her off her stride and made the Labour MP laugh at her expense.
*
Useless SNP minister Fiona Hyslop also came under Glenn's fire. The interview began with Haiti and there were, as would be expected here, few interruptions. However, in the final couple of minutes the conversation turned to Scottish affairs & the interruptions piled in (overall I.C. of 0.8).
*
There were no Conservative guests this week (and no UKIP guests, but then again there are never any UKIP interviewees on this programme!!), so no harm came to them.
**
As I keep saying, I look at this with complete scientific detachment (strongly disliking both Labour and the SNP). I can't help but wonder though why the feisty Alex Salmond isn't tossing a caber at Glenn Campbell even as I write?
*

THE RIGHT ON 'NEWSNIGHT'

*
Following the example of Not a Sheep and the Biased BBC website, I must link to this fine article by David Hughes, chief leader writer of the Daily Telegraph. His comments on left-wing bias at Newsnight are well worth a read:
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/tvandradio/7055460/The-30th-anniversary-of-Newsnight.html

But the programme today has a drawback for political junkies and that is its general view of the world. If you took all the trendy liberalism that makes up the BBC and bubbled it over the Bunsen burner until you were left with the purest residue, the irreducible core of metropolitan Left-wingery — well, that’s Newsnight.
It regards Right-wing politicians as some alien species, necessary (just) to the political process but viewed with either curiosity or contempt, depending on their demeanour. I’m sure this is not deliberate, that people aren’t consciously trying to present politics from a Left-wing standpoint (what, not even Michael Crick?). It happens because that’s the programme’s mindset.
Take last year’s stunt by the programme to set up a panel to identify candidates for public spending cuts. The four members were Greg Dyke (a former Labour donor); Deborah Mattinson (Gordon Brown’s pollster); Lord Jones of Birmingham(a former Labour minister), and Matthew Taylor (a former adviser to Tony Blair). Didn’t it strike anyone, anyone at all, that this looked just a little rum? Probably not.
This is never going to change, of course. As long as the BBC is a publicly-funded state broadcasting organisation, its leading current affairs programme is going to take a Leftist view of things. It’s the way of the world, pointless complaining about it. But it’s still a shame. Imagine how good it could be if it broke out of its comfort zone occasionally.

DON'T STOP THERE, PADDY!

*
Here's Paddy O'Connell beginning the paper review on this morning's Broadcasting House. You'll see there's a difference in how he reports the anti-Conservative comments and the pro-Conservative comment:
The papers are not much impressed by what politicians have said about the causes of the shocking violence (in Edlington, Doncaster). 'The Mirror' furiously rejects David Cameron's attempts to relate the crimes to claims of a more general breakdown in family life. "Everyone wants a happy family", it says, "but life isn't like that." 'The Observer' sees the Conservative policy as either "big rhetoric or little ideas and a black hole in the middle", but Janet Daley in 'The Sunday Telegraph' is more supportive.
And that's all we hear of Janet Daley's views - nothing!!

POLITICS SHOW 24/1/10

*
Today's Politics Show featured an 8-minute-long, one-to-one interview between Jon Sopel and Harriet Harman (I.C. of 0.9), mirroring last week's 12-minute-long, one-to-one interview with Ed Balls. Poor Chris Grayling, however, had to share his interview with a critic of his policy, barrister Michael Wolkind, thus only getting 5 minutes of interview time (and an I.C. of 1),. This mirrored the fate of Nigel Farage last week, who had to share his interview with a critic of his policy, Salma Yaqoob of Respect. Is this a new trend? Mr Wolkind got away with not answering Jon Sopel's question about whether his client Munir Hussain favours a change in the law (unlike himself). He does, as does Mr Hussain's solicitor Razi Shah.
*
Elsewhere there was an interesting report from David Thompson on the Conservative's 'free school' policy. The aim, as emphasized by David's commentary, was probably to highlight 'Tory splits' (a running theme in his reports for The Politics Show).
*
Credit where credit is due though. Unlike Westminster Hour (see elsewhere), The Politics Show is (so far) being fair in its use of journalists to preview the week ahead. Last week it was Allegra Stratton of The Guardian. This week it was Julia Hartley-Brewer of The Sunday Express. A similar pattern was discernable towards the close of last year. I will (of course) be watching to see if this continues. (I will be listening to Westminster Hour too. Not even they would dare to feature yet another Guardianista-type tonight, surely.)
*

WE ARE ALL TO BLAME!

*
This morning's Andrew Marr Show featured a 21-minute interview with David Miliband, which contained a unexpectedly high number of interruptions (22) and resulted in an I.C. of 1. While it's true that a full 6 of those interruptions were concentrated in a less-than-2-minutes burst (when the topic focused on what Miliband knew about the Hoon-Hewitt letter), the interview was a little tougher than might have been anticipated given Marr's previously record (I.C.s of 0.8 and 0.3). So fair dos to Marr for that. That said, this is his third interview with David Miliband since I began my survey last June, whereas his Conservative counterpart William Hague has only appeared once, and his I.C was higher than any of those for Miliband, being a pretty high 1.3!!
*
No Andrew Marr wasn't the problem this morning. That was another BBC presenter, Kirsty Young, invited onto the paper review with Rory Stewart, former deputy governor of a province in Iraq and a prospective parliamentary candidate for the Conservatives. Kirsty is currently presenting a left-winger's take on the family for BBC2 (see http://beebbiascraig.blogspot.com/2010/01/bbcs-house-mag.html). Her left-wingery goes much further than that, as she revealed here. (Fancy that, yet another BBC leftie spouting off!)
*
Here are some of this morning's thoughts from Chairman Kirsty:
*
On the election of Scott Brown in Massachusetts:
*
"It means that probably for 40 million Americans who are not currently covered under health care they might still not be covered under health care because this man could hold the votes that means Obama's health care reforms will not get through."
*
On Obama:
*
"I wonder as somebody who is hugely impressed by Obama - as so many people who live abroad are - what the Americans expected of him in a year. I think he's done quite a lot."
*
"But actually what he has done, when you read any reasonable analysis, is he has done a lot more than most politicians in his position previously have done, but the expectation was artificially high".
*
I love the 'when you read any reasonable analysis' bit! Where? In the Guardian maybe, or the Independent, or - even more likely - on the BBC News website?
*
On the Doncaster child torturers:
*
"My concern is that I'm worried about the way that the newspapers and the press are treating this story, and I think by calling them 'Doncaster devil boys' (a phrase featured on the front page of any self-respecting leftie's least favourite paper 'The Mail on Sunday'), these are the boys who perpetrated the hellish crimes against the two boys ('hellish crimes'? crimes committed by the citizens of Hell, aka 'devils', therefore 'devil boys'? - spot the lapse in Kirsty's language where she commits the same 'mistake' she is haranguing the 'Mail' for without realising it!!!) ...Horrific! My worry is that by calling them 'devil boys' we somehow distance ourselves from the fact that they are human beings who were brought up in our society. This was not, in my view, this was not something these boys were born with. (That is indeed her view. Many religious and non-religious people might disagree, albeit for very different reasons.) These boys are the product of their environment (a clear a statement of Marxist belief as you could ever get) and I think as long as the press uses emotive phrases like this then we get no closer to understanding ourselves (ourselves?) and understanding why an appalling problem (problem?) like this happens."
*
When I was young I used to laugh at Peter Simple in the Daily Telegraph & his daft sociologist Dr Heinz Kiosk, who ended every lecture with the phrase "We are all to blame!". I wish I'd fled the room (like Dr Kiosk's unlucky audiences always tried to do) before hearing Kirsty Young's Kiosk-like conclusion:
*
"It's society, it's what it is. And 'devil boys' doesn't even begin to cover it. I think it's irresponsible."
*
Don't forget you can see Kirsty Young's programme on the family tomorrow night on BBC2. She's going to be discussing the 1980s, and Mrs Thatcher and consumerism. I've fled the room already!!

Saturday, 23 January 2010

ESLER DOESN'T QUITE GET IT

*
Opening question from Gavin Esler on today's Dateline: London: "First of all, why is he (Barack Obama) in so much trouble, because people outside the United States don't quite get this, I think?"
Well if all they'd been listening to (over the last couple of years) is the BBC, it would be hardly surprising they don't 'get it'. The Beeb's coverage of Barack Obama has been almost completely favourable, at times nearing adulation.
* '
There's an excellent take on the BBC's inability to 'quite get it' from DB on the Biased BBC website, prompted by an article by John Lloyd: http://biased-bbc.blogspot.com/2010/01/john-lloyd-on-bbc-obama-bias.html. DB links to this excellent article by Brian Micklethwait, which was provoked by an Obama love-in on Kirsty Wark's new Review programme: http://www.samizdata.net/blog/archives/2010/01/bbc_thoughts_an.html. Brian points out, along the way, the sheer lack of competence in Kirsty's interviewing technique (something I've noted here before): "My third impression was that the chairing of this discussion was incompetent to the point of being ridiculous. Kirsty Wark should be giving a real talking-to. She was far too keen on joining in the discussion with her own opinions, instead of ensuring that all the other people present refrained from all talking at once." 'Far too keen on joining in the discussion with her own opinions' reminds me of Gavin Esler himself, though he is a far more competent interviewer than Kirsty Wark.
*

THE WORLD TONIGHT (SORRY CAN'T THINK OF A PUN AT THE MOMENT)

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The horrifying case of the Edlington child torturers was covered on last night's The World Tonight. http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b006qtl3.
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If you want a classic example of the BBC's innate tendency towards bleeding-heart liberalism, this is it. The whole tenor of Robin Lustig's questioning to his first guest was of how the poor torturers could be reformed, after all they've suffered. "The adjective that is often used of children who behave in this way is that they are 'damaged'. The opposite of 'to damage' is 'to heal'. You are saying that children can be healed?", he asked finally. "I believe than children can be healed," his guest replied.
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That first guest was introduced thus: "I asked Pam Hibbert, who used to run a secure children's' home for violent offenders, how will they spend the coming days and weeks." He repeated these words at the end of the interview. But that's not all Pam Hibbert is, if you google about a bit. She's was also a director of policy at Barnardos and now heads the Standing Committee on Youth Justice. I'm puzzled as to why Robin introduced her as if she were a just someone who used to run a secure children's' home.
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She was followed by the usual sort of liberal criminologist who also pops up at these occasions, invited to react to David Cameron's speech about the case being another example of Broken Britain: Professor John Pitts of the University of Bedfordshire. He doesn't believe in 'evil', obviously. Unlike Mr Cameron, he sees them as 'extremely rare' 'isolated incidents', not indicative of social change taking place, unlike many other things. Here's Prof. Pitts from an interview with the Guardian (with a little censorship on my part!) to show where he's coming from:
"The idea that the market won - that it's beyond the power of government to intervene to affect the kind of social change [necessary] - ultimately, it's all predicated on a belief that if only you can link these places or these people back into the market, 'Bob's your uncle'. The current economic crisis tells you the market doesn't sort it. It f**** it up unbelievably."
http://www.guardian.co.uk/society/2008/jun/04/youthjustice
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This same edition ended with another of its trademark paeans to Latin American lefties, this time Bolivia's communistic president Evo Morales (Hugo Chavez's mini-me, pictured above being sworn in as the country's 'spiritual leader'). Reporter Andres Schipani heard from some of Morales most passionate supporters and his finance minister Luis Arce and presented the president's achievements in glowing terms. To be fair, a few seconds were given over to a more sceptical Harvard professor Gonzalo Chavez but the report's character can be best summed up by how it ended, with the sounds of crowds of Morales supporters crying "Evo! Evo!" Schipani might as well have joined in.
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NAUGHTIE GOES BONKERS AGAIN

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There was an amazing example of James Naughtie's open bias on this morning's Today programme.
http://news.bbc.co.uk/today/hi/today/newsid_8476000/8476407.stm
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BBC reporter Flora Watkins went to Canary Wharf to find out what the City thinks of President Obama's (post-Massachusetts) steps against bankers. She talked to the ever-excellent David Buik, who was unimpressed. Flora was keen to get Mr Buik's views on someone else too: "So with George Osborne saying that an incoming Tory government would like to do what President Obama is proposing, how does that make you feel?" Mr Buik replied diplomatically, "I'd like to discuss that with them."
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Then James Naughtie interviewed banker Clark McGinn. During the course of the interview came an extraordinary question/editorial from Labour-supporting Naughtie, beginning like this: "You see David Buik makes the point that he'd like to discuss this with George Osborne, who said what he said on this programme yesterday. We know what that means. He thinks he's bonkers."
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I noted Naughtie's earlier use of the word 'bonkers' in connection with those wrong-headed Conservatives (or Tories, as they are known at the BBC) on Tuesday:
http://beebbiascraig.blogspot.com/2010/01/bonkers.html
Naughtie used it in his very rude 5th Jan. interview with Nick Herbert, and deployed it again during an aggressive interruption against Chris Grayling. I added, half-jokingly, "I think I might have to keep a 'bonkers' tally for Jim Naughtie!" Well, here's number three then already!!!
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Friday, 22 January 2010

THE FLAGSHIP TILTS TO PORT (AS EVER)

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A Conservative politician and a Labour politician appeared on this morning's Today programme. The Conservative (George Osborne) faced Justin Webb and was determinedly interrupted (9 times, resulting in a I.C. of 1.3), whereas the Labour Party spokesman (Phil Woolas) faced James Naughtie and was not interrupted at all (I.C of 0).
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Just another day at Radio 4's left-wing flagship.
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DIMBLEDATA

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Quantifying last night's Question Time reveals the following stats:
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Who got most time to speak?
1. Liam Byrne - 11 minutes 7 seconds
2. Richard Madeley - 8 minutes 34 seconds
3. Sarah Teather - 8 minutes 25 seconds
4. Caroline Spelman - 8 minutes 7 seconds
5. Andrew Roberts - 7 minutes 30 seconds
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Who received the most interruptions from David Dimbleby?
1. Caroline Spelman - 15
2. Sarah Teather - 11
3. Liam Byrne - 7
4. Andrew Roberts - 3
5. Richard Madeley - 1
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Who scored the highest interruption coefficient?
1. Caroline Spelman - 1.9
2. Sarah Teather - 1.3
3. Liam Byrne - 0.6
4. Andrew Roberts -0.3
5. Richard Madeley - 0.1
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Who was asked the most supplementary questions by David Dimbleby?
1. Caroline Spelman - 17
2. Sarah Teather - 9
3. Liam Byrne - 6
4. Andrew Roberts - 4
5. Richard Madeley - 1
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Not a bad night out for oily Liam Byrne and the Labour Party was it?