Over on the Biased BBC blogsite The All-Seeing Eye (prompted by that other all-seeing eye, George R) draws our attention to another instance of bias in the BBC's choice of headlines.
The issue at hand is Gordon Brown's latest dodge with statistics. He's been caught out again, this time spinning migration figures. Who's caught him out? Well, Channel 4 News for starters. Here's Cathy Newman:
Gordon Brown has done it again. The statistics he used for 2009 are an under-estimate, because they don’t include all migrants. The figures he used for 2007 and 2008, however, do. So he’s misled the public by comparing the most flattering data for the latest year with the most unflattering data in the previous years.
The full year figures for 2009 aren’t yet available, so until we see them, we won’t know for certain if the prime minister’s claim that immigration is falling is true or not.
But he doesn’t have the figures to make that claim either. And in the meantime, the
statistics we do have so far show that after falling in 2008, immigration is on the way up in 2009.
The first point to be made here is that this again shows Channel 4 to be performing a greater public service role than the BBC. Channel 4 News's Fact Check blog is turning up all sorts of fascinating abuses of statistics by all the parties. Why isn't, say, Newsnight or Today performing 'fact checks' on politicians' use of statistics? I suppose though that in some ways it's no bad thing they aren't as if they did they would doubtless concentrate heavily on the Conservatives' use of statistics. (See Mark Easton!)
Now, as the all-seeing eyes at the Biased BBC site note, this is how the story is reported in some of the papers:
"How Gordon Brown's podcast turned an immigration rise into a fall" - Daily Mail
"Gordon Brown accused of fiddling immigration figures" - Daily Telegraph
Neither paper quotes Channel 4 News as the source of the story, but instead present the discovery of Brown's latest dissemblance as the work of MigrationWatch (which it may well be, as great minds often think alike and MigrationWatch are unlikely not to have noticed such fiddling!)
The BBC however (discreetly tucking the story away beneath a much more prominent article on its Politics page) headlines it: "Row over PM migration figures". This is a far less interesting headline & it distorts the story. The story is that Brown got it wrong again, not that there's a row.
The article that follows then tries to mislead its readers into thinking that the allegations of dishonesty originate with the Conservatives:
The Conservatives have accused Gordon Brown of "dishonesty" over immigration figures used in a Number 10 podcast.
Mr Brown said net migration into the UK fell from 237,000 in 2007 to 163,000 in 2008 and provisionally 147,000 in 2009.
The Tories said the figure for 2009 was only for the year up to June, and excluded asylum seekers and people overstaying their original visas.
A Downing Street spokesman said the prime minister had made it clear he was using a provisional figure for 2009.
The Conservatives' interpretation of the figures has been confirmed by the Office for National Statistics.
Shadow Home Secretary Chris Grayling called it "another extraordinary example of Gordon Brown's dishonesty".
Nowhere is either Channel 4 News or Migration Watch mentioned. Any reader would assume that the figures were initially disputed by the Conservatives. This might very well tempt readers to dismiss it as just another superficial party political row - Tories accuse Labour, Labour accuse the Tories - rather thatn see it for what it really is. That's dishonest reporting from the BBC.
The underlying intent is clear. It's to say "Move along, nothing to see here."
Not a sheep is getting more than fed up about this sort of thing. Please have a read and see if you don't share his rage: