L'Ombre de l'Olivier

The Shadow of the Olive Tree

being the maunderings of an Englishman on the Côte d'Azur

31 December 2008 Blog Home : December 2008 : Permalink

The Relentless BBC Bias

Since I've been stuck in the UK, I have of course been subjected to endless Radio 4. Over the holiday season there has not, to be honest, been much news so the various Radio 4 news and current affairs programs have been quite interesting to listen to. I'll have some more detailed thoughts below but first here's my summary of BBC Radio 4's biases
There may be some others. I suspect that there is one about Britain joining the Euro and another about the great wonderfulness which is the EU. What I did find somewhat surprising though is that R4 comes across, at least at Christmas, as a very Christian radio station. Secularism may perhaps rule for 50 weeks of the year but during the Christmas/New Year holiday season this year there has been a lot of positive messages about mainstream, primarily Anglican and Roman Catholic, Christianity. The various "Thought for the Day" bits have been pretty good at getting across the Bible's basic message and there hasn't been the knocking of religion elsewhere that I was rather expecting.

To go back to my list. The current bombardment of Gaza has been fascinating because even the BBC has found it hard to find a positive thing to say about Hamas. They have even mentioned numerous times that it was Hamas that broke the previous cease-fire and that Hamas had refused to sit down and negotiate with anyone, be they other Palestinians, other Arabs or Israelis. Indeed, just today they managed to get a lady on from a nearby Israeli town that has been bombarded with rockets for years and, amazingly, they didn't interrupt her or ask the usual slanted questions.

Of course the BBC is still convinced that a ceasefire should occur now and that aid should be given no matter what. They have repeatedly claimed that overwhelming armed force will not stop Hamas, which may well be true, but they also fail to observe that nothing else has worked either. It seems to me that the BBC journalists are beginning to come to terms with the idea that just maybe Hamas actually means what it says regarding the total destruction of Israel and so on. I don't think this will be an easy thing for many of their Middle East experts to sign on to as the tenor of interviews etc. from London based folks have been significantly more anti-Hamas than those on the ground. Still it is a potentially heartening development.

One of the more interesting series of reports over the last few days has been coverage of a Russian TV vote to decide who was the greatest Russian in history. The BBC reported more than once that Stalin was one of the front-runners as the list was gradually whittled down and they had at least one interview segment where various "Russians in the street" were asked about Stalin and his greatness. The one thing that struck me most strongly about all this is that Stalin was not in fact Russian but rather was of Georgian ancestry, having been born in Gori - a tawn more recently in the news thanks to Russia's invasion of Georgia earlier this year. It truly amazed me that none of the BBC reports mentioned this factoid, even though they discussed the fact that this TV show was undoubtedly something that Putin & co were in favour of as a way to build up national pride etc.

The "Today" program has been having a series of guest editors to help fill up the program given that there isn't much news. Many of these have been interesting - in particular the editorship of Cardinal Conor of Westminster - however today's one - Jarvis Cocker from Blur - was interesting more because it showed how stupid he was and yet how easy it was to mouth the usual duck-billed platitudes and standard biases (see above). Anyone who has actually done a little bit more studying in maths and/or quantum physics than a couple of coffee table books (e.g. anyone who gets the Abstruse Goose jokes) would have quickly realized that the Cocker bloke was trying to use Quantum Physics as a sort of secular god and mindlessly repeating stuff about Schrödinger's Cat without grasping the underlying physics. The level of credulous idiocy in display there meant that I found it hard to take seriously the other bits where Cocker tried to go on about climate change. Now clearly the today presenters weren't going to rock the boat too much with their guest but they let this idiot musician get away with utterly uninformed statements about capitalism, the free market economy, global warming and so on which cried out to have someone ask him to justify, if not have someone actively poke holes in.

It occured to me that had, by some fluke of fortune, I been on the program with my rather opposite views on these subjects the presenters would have been rather less deferential.