This Is London
18 Doughty Street interviews Robin Aitken, author of Can We Trust the BBC?. Excerpt: "I mean in our office there’s a picture of Bush as Hitler. I don't know where they got it, but yes, Bush as Hitler. It’s quite a serious thing comparing Bush to Hitler! So did anyone in the newsroom in question object? No. Nobody did." But that wasn't the worst thing about the American President. "Dammit, he even had a religious belief. How antideluvian can you get?" Aitken said.
Here's some unsolicited advice. Maybe Bush should convert to Islam and in all probability, he will never hear another gibe about religion from the BBC again. But at any rate, here's a video clip of the Aitken interview:
Since then, the BBC has refused to interview Aitken, who worked for the corporation for 25 years, which I think it entirely the wrong approach. They should display a portrait as Bush as Hitler right next to their corporate logo. I don't think the BBC audience would mind the network's biases at all for as long as they put it up front. Then listeners could allow for it in the same way a shooter allows for windage.
This would serve two purposes: first, it would allow us to "trust" the BBC in the same way we trust sources who openly reveal their associations or financial arrangements. Second, it would alert the audience that in cases where the stated bias might materially affect the content it would be prudent to seek collateral confirmation. There is nothing unusual about this. Intelligence analysts very often seek to discover the biases of their sources, not because they have anything against them, but in order to understand how their reports might be skewed.
But because the BBC is publicly funded, they may be unwilling to state their biases for the record, preferring to pretend that as a broadcaster of the British government they are magisterial and neutral. Given everything that the BBC is -- the model for George Orwell's Ministry of Truth and a state-funded organization -- neutrality is the last thing one would expect from it. After all, does anyone expect the Pentagon press office to be neutral? Yet somehow the BBC can pretend to be. Aitken's remarks describe something that should not be news. And you can treat it instead as a description of one of the most successful impersonations of all time. Perhaps the greatest production of the BBC has been the long running drama of itself playing a news organization.
As for myself, I will continue to read the BBC -- and Xinhua -- remembering for my own benefit that in their newsroom hangs a portrait of Bush as Hitler. Seig Heil.