Defend the BBC !
“The BBC News Service is the worst in the world, except for all the others.”
The BBC’s director of news, Helen Boaden, and her deputy Steve Mitchell have been asked to “step aside” pending the outcome of an internal review (Here).
The fall out from the Newsnight report which led to former Tory treasurer, Lord McAlpine, being wrongly accused of child abuse in north Wales in the 1980s continues.
This is of great importance. The BBC is under attack by the usual quarters. The aim of some of them is not just to discredit the Corporation to hide their own faults (Murdoch) but to pave the way for its break up and privatisation.
There is little to add to comments on the McAlpine scandal.
Except that Michael Crick pointed out in the Observer yesterday that Newsnight had not contacted the former Tory Treasurer to put the allegations to him.
This contrasts with the normal procedures of the programme.
They have an absolutely rock solid and deserved reputation for solid investigation.
For example, earlier this year a Newsnight producer contacted me about a programme they were doing on Work Experience. We spoke for nearly half an hour on the Work Programme in general. Some of my concerns were reflected in the broadcast.
Thousands of other people will have had the same experience.
But the present crisis is not just of the BBC’s own making.
It is being fuelled by the long-standing attitude of political figures towards the BBC.
- Conservatives have long disliked the Corporation’s ‘liberal’ agenda. The Tory Cabinet resents the BBC’s refusal to let their opinions define its centre of gravity rightwards. Hysterics like Peter Hitchens blame it for moral decline. There is more mainstream resentment. Ipswich Conservative MP Ben Gummer whined recently when the BBC put his plan to give business people an extra vote and say in local politics on-line.
- Many on left are hostile to the BBC. Sometimes there is the sweeping claim that it represents ‘Wetsern values’. A more serious (and in my opinion, well-founded) objection is that it that it is biased against anything outside the ‘centre-left’. The coverage of Jean-Luc Mélenchon during the French Presidential election, was unremittingly hostile. Trade union action, above all strikes, are, as Le Monde has noted, considered in terms of “disruption”. The justice or otherwise of union demands is rarely considered.
- Politicians of all sides always want to ‘correct’ reports about them and their parties. The Malcoms of this world will say that they respect the right of journalists to report and comment. They, however, just want the ‘facts’ (that is their views) to be given.
Political creatures are naturally news addicts.
Much of what’s cited above are ways of saying, “we want the news we agree with” (I include my own reactions).
Today you can see others news channels.
Not just the respected Channel Four but Sky, Russia Today and Al Jazeera, are available on digital free-view.
Sky is piss-poor and bland. Russia Today is made up of faux ‘anti-globalisation’ reports which are at the limit of any kind of objectivity.
Al Jazeera by contrast is serious. It carries investigations into subjects, such as the discrimination against Egyptian Copts, that confound criticisms of Islamic bias. But is owned by the Qatari State, in which the unelected Emir holds supreme power.
For these reasons, for all Al Jazeera’s merits there are always bound to be controversies about its coverage. I have yet to see a documentary on the poor conditions for immigrant labour in Qatar.
The BBC faces no such objections.
This, then, is my, unasked for, opinion.
If anybody fucking thinks that attacking the Corporation is going to be an easy touch know this: many many of us have great respect for the institution and will back its independence to the hilt.