Friday, March 09, 2007

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:


Commentary

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.

11 Comments:

Blogger Don Cox said...

The BBC is _not_ a "broadcaster of the British government". This is why it is funded by a license fee and not through general taxation. It has been a constant complaint by governments as long as I can remember that the BBC is biassed against them. As being anti-Bush is considered in the UK to be the same as being anti-Blair, it seems this is still true.____However, such an organisation is bound to attract people with media degrees, with soft left-wing views, and with little knowledge of the real world. And similar people do abound in politics. On the whole, I think this is probably better than a strong right-wing bias. There is bound to be some kind of bias.

3/09/2007 02:08:00 PM  
Blogger wretchard said...

It's those little touches that make the BBC's identity really hard to pin down. The license fee is mandatorily collected on everyone who buys a television set, with a discount if your set is black and white, or legally blind. A substantial number of people are prosecuted for the illegal possession of an unlicensed television set.

The question of whether the BBC is fish or fowl appears everywhere in its history. Before the Second World War, producers who wanted to evade it established a pirate radio station in Luxembourg, producing such subversive programming as Sax Rohmer's Fu Manchu and it was actually an offense against the Wireless Telegraphy Act to listen to the saga of Nayland Smith hunting down the Devil Doctor. Fortunately Hitler came to the BBC's rescue and occupied the Continent, but after the war the battle continued, with pirate radio being broadcast from ships offshore and from old channel forts. Today it is no longer illegal to listen to pirate radio. But really the nature of the BBC itself must rank as one of the greatest dramas of its existence.

Nor is the BBC purely a quasi-autonomous Public Corporation operating as a public service broadcaster. The BBC World Service is funded by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. Quite an organization, is the BBC. People will keep listening to the BBC because it is such a fascinating organization, able to churn out compelling programming and absolute drivel at one and the same time. But truth in packaging suggests the Bush as Hitler portrait should be in the lobby.

3/09/2007 03:30:00 PM  
Blogger Robert said...

"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."

Active support of the forces that would turn it into a 24 hour Koran chanting service and behead everyone who used to work there seems almost inexplicable.

3/09/2007 07:19:00 PM  
Blogger 3Case said...

Main Entry: feck·less
Pronunciation: 'fek-l&s
Function: adjective
Etymology: Scots, from feck effect, majority, from Middle English (Scots) fek, alteration of Middle English effect
1 : WEAK, INEFFECTIVE
2 : WORTHLESS, IRRESPONSIBLE


as in: BBC feckless

3/09/2007 10:05:00 PM  
Blogger starling said...

I started to leave some comments on this post and then they ran kind of long (about 500 words). To prevent hogging space here, I created a post on my own blog. It is entitled "Three Peas in a Pod." It begins thusly:

"I moved to Doha, Qatar in January of this year for work. There are three English-language international news networks on the cable package at my place- CNN International, BBC World, and Al-Jazeera International, the English service whose offices I drive past everyday on the way to work."

The post continues with some observations about how similar the networks are and why I think that's so.

It can be read here.

thoughtfully,
starling

3/09/2007 11:40:00 PM  
Blogger Lord Acton said...

And, of course, if Bush were to decide to pull all of the troops out a.s.a.p. tomorrow, we would be deluged with the MSM and the Dems and the Euros suddenly howling with outrage, their new arguments 180 degrees opposite to their current whining....like when the official enemy kept changing in Orwell's 1984. CNN and the NYT would sound like Fox News and the Weekly Standard; Obama and Murtha would sound like Guilliani and McCain telling us why George Bush's pln to pull out of Iraq would be a horrific mistake!

As they have demonstrated so thoroughly with the Environment (global warming is threat numero uno, but no nukes, no hydro damns, no bird killing/view killing wind turbines, etc.), they exist to whine and oppose. And their East their North their West and their South is to oppose whatever the U.S. is for, no matter what the U.S. is currently for.

If Bush signed on the Kyoto tomorrow, we'd finally here what a piece of shit that is and probably most Dems in the Senate would oppose ratification!

3/10/2007 03:49:00 AM  
Blogger David M said...

Trackbacked by The Thunder Run - Web Reconnaissance for 03/10/2007 A short recon of what’s out there that might draw your attention.

3/10/2007 07:22:00 AM  
Blogger RWE said...

One often wonders why dictatorial regimes without even token freedom of the press seem so attractive to so much of the Western media - and then I realized something.

In such societies the Press is not merely looking for news scoops so to better peddle soap and potato chips but is part and parcel of those who control everything. Such regimes rely very heavily on the media to get their message across. The media is not merely a tool to be used but is right in bed with the dictators.

Certainly this sounds like it is less demeaning than "And now before we go on to the next news item, a few words from Pabst Blue Ribbon.." Being an actual part of the government must sound so nice. No competition. No questioning of the media's competence. You don't have to get the story right because if you say it than it IS right. A chance to be a real player rather than just a paparazzi. It’s the difference between being Clark Kent and being Superman.

I must admit that with experience I have come to conclude that money and power are the primary motivators today. The End of History translates into the End of Ideology. The Me Decade of the 70's became the Me First Movement. This is a sad explanation of the BBC's and the rest of MSM's panderings and attitudes but seems to be the only logical one.

3/11/2007 11:27:00 AM  
Blogger unaha-closp said...

Maybe Bush should convert to Islam and in all probability, he will never hear another gibe about religion from the BBC again.

Keep on thinking this would be the perfect "troll" to construct. A white conservative who has converted to Islam. Just to see how it plays on Kos and friends.

Not that I condone trolling of course.

3/11/2007 05:57:00 PM  
Blogger the mad fiddler said...

Dymphna at Gates of Vienna directs our attention to a new novel by DC Alden Titled "Invasion," depicting the final D-Day-style invasion of Britain, already weakened and ready to be overwhelmed after an Islamic empire has unified the disparate countries bordering the Med.

website: www.invasioneurope.com/

It will be interesting to see how well distributed this novel will be, considering the breathtaking cowardice shown by so many publishers in the last decade.

How is Salman Rushdie these days?

3/11/2007 09:53:00 PM  
Blogger Paardestaart said...

INVASION is nowhere to be found; accept for 80 pounds for a second hand copy, and it is out of print..Already!
Does anybody has a copy that he might want to sell??

1/03/2008 09:46:00 AM  

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