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Censorship by the BBC?

On Friday the 13th of January I listened to BBC Radio 4’s Any Questions, The first question was “Can we trust President Bush over Iran…?”

Now I am no fan of President George Walker Bush (on his watch there has been the biggest increase of government spending since President Johnson and the biggest increase in domestic government spending since President Nixon), but it was an odd to hear someone clearly regard President Bush as worse than the President of Iran (a man who has denied the Holocaust, pledged to wipe Israel off the map, and has supported suicide bombers, in various parts of the Middle East, for many years).

The audience cheered and clapped the various anti Bush comments of Clare Short M.P., and the (rather milder) anti-Bush and pro-UN comments of the Liberal Democrat MP Simon Hughes present.

The Conservative party person on the panel (Mr Ian Duncan-Smith) did not really try to defend President Bush (although he did say we should not exclude the United States from world affairs). So that left the last member of the panel.

This man (whose name I can not remember) is the new editor of the ‘Financial Times’. Now this newspaper has (perhaps surprisingly, given its name and target readership) normally been on the left of British politics (it tends to favour government spending and regulations, and it favours the statist European Union) so I did not hold out much hope for balance.

And indeed, later on, the editor turned out to have some very standard statist opinions – for example he supported a total ban on smoking in bars and restaurants (almost needless to say, the audience was wildly in favour of a ban “by 98%” – most likely they would have supported any bit of statism that was put in front of them). However, I was surprised as the editor started a pro Bush story of how he had met the President some time ago and…

Then the BBC suddenly went off the air. The broadcast of the show started again when the story was over. At the end of the programme the BBC blamed “technical difficulties” for the break in transmission.

So I listened to the repeat of the show (today Saturday the 14th of January) in order to hear the editor’s story of his meeting with President Bush. It was cut out of the programme – even the start of the story that had been broadcast on Friday night. It seems that the BBC will not tolerate any pro-Bush comment.

Of course it is not a simple of hatred of President Bush as a man (indeed if the B.B.C. people bothered to find out about his policies they would be surprised to find that they support some of them – the bad ones, “No Child Left Behind”, the medicare extension, and so on). They hate President Bush as a symbol of certain American characteristics that they, as members of the ‘liberal’ (i.e. illiberal) left hate – opposition to higher taxes, opposition to ‘gun control’, a belief that crime is caused by evil human choices (not poverty), belief in the family, and in tradition (including traditional religion), national pride and resistance to would-be world government institutions (such as the U.N., the various international ‘rights’ treaties, and the ‘World Court’).

President Bush may not be up to much, but as long as he serves as a symbol of all the BBC hates about the United States (i.e. all the good things in the United States) I find it hard to totally dislike him.

54 comments to Censorship by the BBC?

  • chuck

    …although he did say we should not exclude the United States from world affairs

    How very kind and generous of him. It is wonderful to see that those who possess great power recognize that it entails great responsibility ;-)

  • Verity

    Please send this to (Link) They allow off topic posts if there’s nothing currently running that covers your case.

    This will spark a lot of comment, and there are people at the BBC who monitor that blog.

  • Julian Morrison

    You know, it is possible that the off-air segment didn’t record either, and they cut it later because there’s no point retransmitting a monologue that ends in the middle.

    At least, that seems more likely to me than some sort of KGB ideology monitor with his finger over a big red switch marked “cut”. BBC was never that blatant.

  • klu01dbt

    Question Time is filmed about an hour before it is broadcast.

    Had there been technical difficulties during the recording it would be usual for the continuity speaker to announce the problems. The lack of this and the convenient time of the break is at the very least suspicious.

    Question time is pointless anyway. The audience are effectively hand picked and during the unrecorded warm up questions anyone with contrary views is picked out and ignored.

  • Perry E. Metzger

    As much as I’d like to assume the BBC was doing something underhanded here, I have a lot of trouble believing it.

    Of course, here in the US, NBC is openly known to have cut out an unfavorable comment about the president during a Hurricane Katrina relief telethon, so who knows.

  • I’m not sure that Kanye West’s outburst during the Katrina telethon constitutes an ‘unfavorable comment;’ I think it tends to come closer to something like slander. I have a hunch that the comment was cut not because of its unfavorable characterization of the president (NBC broadcasts that sort of thing all the time) but because it had teh effect of pissing off a bunch of people who might otherwise have donated to their cause.

  • Exguru

    There is no rational reason for the British leaders to dislike Dubya. I think European leaders are so accustomed to having amenable U.S. Presidents, that they don’t know how to react at this odd time when the Americans have elected someone to advance their own interests for a change, and someone who cannot be led astray, at that. It’s irrational because Brits should favor cleaning house at the UN, say, as much as Americans, and Brits should favor new democratic states in the Middle East, too, not to mention the detoxification of Col Kaddaffi, the new peace between Pakistan and India, the “outing” of Dr. Khan — some of Bush’s other overseas accomplishments–and perhaps — the next campaign which will turn Iran into yet another triumph, either via regime change or by turning the place into an oil slick.

  • West’s comments were also off the script he was supposed to be following. I seem to remember him saying something along the lines of Bush intentionally let black people die. One can understand why NBC decided to cut this out.

    I absolutely do believe the BBC is capable of purposely censoring pro-Bush comments. They have lost all sense of objectivity and now that they aren’t allowed to disagree with the government, Bush is their only outlet.

    Britain has reason to be sceptical about Bush. The one sided extradition treaty he has pushed is unfair, the 30% tariffs on steel hurt UK industry, the decision to allow the only US citizen held in Gitmo to be prosecuted in the US while refusing the same treatment to British citizens paid no heed to the interests of the only nation to support the Iraq war.

    It is fine for Bush to pursue the US national interest but he should expect others to do the same. The US will fight the war on terror whatver anyone else does so their is no incentive for any country to support him. If he wants other nations to make concessions in favour of US interests then he will have to make concessions to their interests (I only mean allies, he owes the French nothing).

  • “their is no incentive

    *there is no incentive

    Sorry, it’s 1:05am

  • Chris Harper

    Mark,

    refusing the same treatment to British citizens paid no heed to the interests of the only nation to support the Iraq war

    Well, there is a statement of contempt for Australia at the very least, which had troops on the ground from the very beginning. If not also for the thirty or so other countries who supported the three fighting allies either diplomatically or materially.

  • Robert Alderson

    klu01dbt,

    Question Time is a program on BBC TV. Any Questions is on Radio 4 and is broadcast live (or with no more than a seven second delay.)

  • Verity

    ‘Question Time’ is ridiculous. There is no spirit of enquiry or political debate. It is ‘Reinforce Socialist Dogma Time’.

    With a pre-screened audience. This is surely against the BBC charter?

    Oh! Silly me!

  • Sheriff

    here in the US, NBC is openly known to have cut out an unfavorable comment about the president during a Hurricane Katrina relief telethon, so who knows.

    Red herring. NBC is privatly owned, ergo it cannot censor. BBC is owned by the Crown, it has therefore censored.

  • Verity

    The BBC’s owned by the Crown? The Monarchy owns the BBC? What madness is this?

    The BBC’s an independent, although deeply corrupt, corporation, paid for by forced subscription by anyone who owns a television, even if they never watch the BBC. It is an obnoxious parasite, but I do not believe it has anything to do with the British monarchy.

  • guy herbert

    I second Julian’s comment. Any Questions is rebroadcast in a slightly shorter slot, which gives them a chance to edit out the more incoherent bits and dead air from the live broadcast.

    The most surprising thing about this episode was the utter banality of the FT editor’s opinions on current affairs and his inarticulacy. One assumes he is much better on financial matters. But I’m not surprised if he bore more than his share of the cuts.

    Any Questions audiences are a self-selected subset of Radio 4 listeners who are interested in current affairs and willing to go to the location on a Friday night, so they are from a narrow segment of the population, and it should be expected they show less variety in opinion on any one occasion than the general public. But AQ audiences are not uniformly statist. On each of the several occasions they were asked last year, they were overwhelmingly against the government’s Identity legislation.

  • guy herbert

    Perhaps it is worth reminding Samizdata readers that most people do not use the category ‘statist’ at all. They assume the extensive presence and involvement of the state in their lives and do not think of it as either good or bad.

  • The FT’s editor was also surprisingly weak in his support for freedom of speech.

  • I often read here and elsewhere that the BBC hand-picks audience members for Question Time and Any Questions. I would love to believe that as I don’t wish to accept that their weedy submissiveness to our nanny state is typical of my countrymen. Can anyone, as a public service, substantiate those allegations? Surely someone has real evidence of such outrageous behaviour?

    PS: on a point of information, “the Crown” is not the same as “the Monarch” or “the Queen”. “The Crown” is the shorthand, in our constitutional monarchy, for what might in other countries be called “the State” or “the Republic”. Thus “Ministers of the Crown”, “Crown Property” etc. etc. Perhaps British statists should really be called “crownists”? B^)

  • Chris Harper,

    It is not a statement of contempt. The UK and US
    accounted for 98% of forces in the Iraq war. It may have been an overstatement to say Britain was the only nation to support the US but I was trying to be pithy and it is no more of an overstatement than to describe my comments as contemptuous of Australia.

  • James

    I thought one of the pillars of libertarianism was rational thought?

  • I often read here and elsewhere that the BBC hand-picks audience members for Question Time and Any Questions. I would love to believe that as I don’t wish to accept that their weedy submissiveness to our nanny state is typical of my countrymen. Can anyone, as a public service, substantiate those allegations? Surely someone has real evidence of such outrageous behaviour?

    Anyone can apply for tickets for Any Questions via their website. We applied once and got two tickets. So I believe the tickets are awarded either randomly or on a first come first served basis.

    When the audience arrives at the venue they are asked to write down one question each (if they so wish). The producers then look through the questions and select the ones to be used during the show; they also select the order. The audience is encourage to be heard and you find that sometimes the clapping starts off by only a few people and others start to join in.

  • Johnathan Pearce

    Slightly off-topic but I have to say the FT is a surprisingly weak paper in a lot of areas. It is banally pro-Blair, tends to adopt the conventional, centrist wisdom on many subjects. Its coverage of markets and companies remains first class, however. I definitely prefer the Wall Street Journal.

    The only really good thing about the FT is Sam Brittain, who remains an incisive advocate of free markets and liberalism, a rare voice of sanity in its comments section.

  • guy herbert

    Tom Paine,

    I can, as a public service, rebut the allegations. They admit people first-come, first-served. What are hand-picked are the questions, which has to be done to get a broad coverage of the week’s events. How it works for Question Time is that people with questions submit two, and if one is picked may be helped to make it more concise. Then the chairman calls on the preselected questions with some idea of the running order, though the pannellists don’t know what’s coming.

    As it is, the live audience-participation element of the shows indicates what would happen if questions were random. There’s usually at least one stary-eyed nutter who tries to wrench the discussion off towards their own idee-fixe. Very rarely someone doesn’t play fair and tries to ask a different question from the one agreed. This causes chaos, because it may then mean conflict with something later, quite apart from being less likely to be comprehensible. Fortunately for viewers the researchers appear to be quite good at winnowing out the utter crazies.

    The shows that do get hand-picked audiences are those with some kind of debate or lecture element. Debates where the audience is to be polled usually involve a preselection to try and get a representative cross-section of the public, though that’s a bit doomed, because it is ‘representativeness’ imposed on a self-selected group who are aware of the programme. Lectures with a responsive audience usually involve spiking with great-and-good experts, the idea being to get questioners who are at least well-informed. As listeners to the Dimbleby Lectures in particular will attest, being informed doesn’t necessarily save such audiences from being incapable of engaging with new ideas.

    Moonbattery of blogistan to the contrary, BBC bias is in my opinion fairly slight compared with most media – never mind the aforementioned blogs. And it is a cultural and institutional bias not active dishonesty, or confirmation bias mediated by hopeless sloppiness about sources.

    The Beeb struggles to maintain impartiality, and is a under a duty to be politically ‘balanced’. This is an impossible task, and in the case of ‘balance’ a conceptually flawed one, too. One should not be too distressed if therefore the cultural attitudes of metropolitan media types are favoured. Is this really so much worse than the alternatives: its becoming a brutal vox populi (Fox populi?) as the tabloid press, or a state broadcaster that promulgates government propaganda directly and fawns on politicians and bureaucrats?

    Most people (including me) are under the impression that their views are uniquely reasonable. That someone permits the expression of views that don’t match one’s own, or a manner of expression that isn’t the one one would choose, is not evidence that they are promoting a hidden agenda.

    People like us Samizdatistas, whose views are on the fringe, need to be very careful when throwing around accusations of ‘bias’. It is easy to move from having unusual views that are well-supported and engage with the world, to living in a solipsistic universe where you only listen to people who agree with you and discount all alternative understandings as bias or false consciousness.

  • GCooper

    guy herbert writes:

    “The Beeb struggles to maintain impartiality, and is a under a duty to be politically ‘balanced’.”

    The latter is true – the former, impossible to assess, though my (few, these days, I must admit) spies inside the corporation who are not committed Left-liberals assure me that the struggle is pretty half-hearted, at best. According to them (and I am talking about news people here – not R4 drama commissioners, who are clearly beyond redemption) the Guardian/Independent worldview is so prevalent that what they are able to consider a neutral, balanced view is already some way to the Left.

    That notwithstanding, suggestions that the BBC is party politically biased are almost always wrong. More to the point, they are irrelevant. It is quite easy to avoid party political bias and the BBC usually does quite well in this respect (remarks like John Humphrys’ unfortunate, ‘when we win the next election’, aside). It is not, however, so easy to avoid once clear party distinctions are absent. Thus, on the current US administration (Hail To The Thief posters on the newsroom walls), on Israel (tears over Arafat) and (as Rod Liddle memorably reminded us) on the EU, the prevailing BBC line is very far from unbiased.

    That said, Mr Herbert’s comment about the BBC’s bias being ‘slight’, even were it true, is rather beside the point, while it remains the case that we are forced to pay for the BBC and can walk past a pile of unsold Suns and Mails with our noses in the air and our coins in our pockets.

    As for the audiences on QT and AQ, it is clear that Mr Herbert is right when he says these are self-selecting, though (as with phone-in polls and campaigns) it seems very likely that there are degrees of orchestration involved from time to time and that, in any case, eco-moonbats, Leftist agitators and the like are notoriously easy to get out on a rainy Friday night. Clearly the BBC is aware of this and, equally clearly, does not appear to trouble itself unduly to counter the effect.

    Finally:

    “It is easy to move from having unusual views that are well-supported and engage with the world, to living in a solipsistic universe where you only listen to people who agree with you and discount all alternative understandings as bias or false consciousness.”

    Which is precisely the BBC’s problem. Opinions held, it would seem, by a majority of the population on subjects such as immigration are so far from the common view at Wood Lane that it is deemed impossible that anyone but a BNP supporter could possibly hold them. It may well be a cultural bias, as distinct from an outright political one – but it is hardly to be brushed aside when it is so pronounced, so influential and funded on pain of imprisonment.

    It would be interesting to read Natalie Solent’s views on this – she being both a Samizdatista and, one gathers, a major player at Biased BBC. While some of the commenters on that blog are self-evidently located east of Barking, several are not and as the weight of evidence mounts, it seems unreasonable to suggest its fundamental accusation of bias is ‘moonbattery’.

  • esbonio

    I do not recognise Mr Herbert’s benign view of the BBC. It is as simple as that.

  • pommygranate

    Johnathan

    The FT is two papers in one.
    i) An excellent Companies section with by far the most detailed analysis of the previous days main business events

    ii) A main news section full of pro-European, Blairist, anti-US dirge that would make Independent readers blush.

    However, the availability of real-time information from Bloomberg has made the Companies section irrelevant. No-one bothers with yesterdays news anymore.

    I stopped buying the FT about two years ago. At least i can read some football and cricket on my way to work now.

  • Paul Marks

    The Moonbat (as Guy seemd to be calling me) replies.

    Let us say (for the sake of argument) that I believed that the B.B.C. lost transmission just as the pro Bush story was starting.

    This is a very strange coincidence, but it is possible.

    But then to get transimission back just after the story ended (they had not even gone on to the next question), that was rather quick work.

    And then (in the next days broadcast) they failed to put the story of the meeting back in.

    There was a lot of trivial crap they could have cut out. Such as when the panel talked about what sort of animal they would like to be. And what politician had the “wow” factor.

    As for the bias of the B.B.C. being only mild.

    That is nonsense Guy.

    Even if you go back more than 40 years you will find that the B.B.C. had a leftist bias.

    “That Was The Week That Was” was a show created to attack conservatives (this was admitted by Sir David Frost on the B.B.C.s own “Desert Island Disks” show – I know I heard him say it). It was not some even handed political satire programme – it was biased (as all such shows are) and was meant to be biased (ditto). When the B.B.C. mock Mr Blair (and co) they mock him for being “right wing” or “really a Conservative” (and so on).

    Almost every day from 1979 I heard B.B.C. radio and television talking about “cuts” in government spending. When every year government spending (whether measured in nominal or in real terms) went UP.

    The B.B.C. people lied and lied and lied – almost every day for year after year.

    Nor is government spending the only matter they lie about. In fact it is a difficult to think of a political issue that they do not lie about.

    They even lie about mass murder.

    Only a little while ago I heard a programme about the collapse of the Republic of Vietnam in 1975. The show talked about how people feared there would be mass killings – but (the show said in passing) the feared mass killings did not come to pass.

    That is right “the Boat People” (or rather the type of regime they were fleeing from) have already gone down the memory hole.

    However, I agree with Guy that one can find leftism in all parts of the British media (and that of other nations to).

    Take the review of the recent production of “The Quiet American” shown on the B.B.C.

    The “Daily Telegraph” called the G. Green’s story “highly moral”.

    This would be the “highly moral” story where the English main character (both in the book and in the recent film) knows it can not be the Communists who killed the civilians in the village – because they do not do things like that.

    The vast majority of civilian murders in Vietnam (and in Laos and Cambodia) were done by the Communists and that was true right from the end of W.W. II.

    The evil filth broadcast by the B.B.C. every week (and often praised by newspapers like the conservative Daily Telegraph) is hardly an invention of this Moonbat.

    Of course I do not claim that I.T.V. or C4 or much better.

    Indeed C4 is also financed by the threat of violence (a levy on the I.T.V. companies).

    Actually conservative (let alone libertarian) documentaries and current affairs – news programmes are seemingly unlawful in Britain, as broadcasting must be “unbiased”.

    “Unbiased” meaning (of course) a tissue of leftist distortions and (often) actual lies.

    Most people do not know what “statist” means. O.K. – it means “big government”, I should have written that. I made a mistake and I apologize.

    Most people accept statism – I agree. However, as the education sytem (both school and further and higher education) and the broadcasting media (and much of the print media – including sections of conservative newspapers) do their best to condition the public into accepting it, I can not say I am wildly surprised.

    Indeed I am surprised that so many people reject the docrtrine that ever more Welfare State spending is good, and that there should be “laws” (regulations) to deal with every problem.

    The percentage of resistors (i.e. people whom the conditioning does not seem to greatly effect) in the population (whilst, I agree, nowhere near a majority) is much higher than I would expect.

    I often hear antistatist comments from members of the general public.

    For example, I often hear attacks on the “antidiscrimination” statutes from people (including black and brown people on the race statues and women on the sex statutes – quite a lot, not a majority I admit, of the favoured groups totally reject these statutes).

    Not exactly the sort of thing the B.B.C. would like.

    There seems to be a type of conservative (Peter Hitchins is the most notable example) who hold that because something has been in existance a long time it should be defended (that is why Mr Hitchins supports the existance of the B.B.C. – although he would like it to be less leftist, i.e. he wishes the cat would bark).

    This is a form of conservatism that I reject.

    If an institution or practice is evil it should be attacked. Whether it is one week old or a thousand years old.

  • A. Pearce

    “Is this really so much worse than the alternatives: its becoming a brutal vox populi (Fox populi?) as the tabloid press, or a state broadcaster that promulgates government propaganda directly and fawns on politicians and bureaucrats?”

    The BBC already does all this! It panders to ‘pressure groups’ and labour luvvies and doesn’t allow proper debate on issues that it has it’s own agenda on, I’m thinking of the proposed smoking ban for starters. It reflects the narrow views and ideals of the London chattering classes and is becoming increasingly isolated from, and disinterested in, the opinion of it’s audience.

  • pluck

    ‘Of course it is not a simple of hatred of President Bush as a man…’

    I am honestly not sure if this is correct.

    During the 2000 Presidential Election, the BBC went for Al Gore. The conventional wisdom was that the US economy was strong, the employment figures were good and there was no point in jumping from a Democrat administration to a Republican one.
    The BBC treated G W Bush’ campaign as a joke and they treated the man himself likewise.
    While following G W’s campaign, the BBC broadcast an extremely dismissive item, effectively calling Bush an idiot.
    I guess G W found out about this piece of ‘journalism’ because he retaliated by refusing requests for interviews with the BBC.
    (there was also a bit of name-calling by the Presidential Contender but my memory fails me as to what he actually said)

    I don’t know if G W Bush bears grudges, but the BBC certainly appears to.
    I think this is an old fashioned feud.

  • guy herbert

    GCooper:

    … remarks like John Humphrys’ unfortunate, ‘when we win the next election’, aside…

    Jim Naughtie, I thought. John Humphreys keeps his political leanings very much to himself and is (perhaps consequently) often thought to be on the right.

  • Verity

    pluck – George Bush may well bear grudges – I don’t know – but if he does, surely it would be against an opponent that has some resonance in his life or his country’s life? There must be few things in the Western world less relevant to George Bush’s life than the British Broadcasting Corporation.

  • GCooper

    guy herbert writes:

    “Jim Naughtie, I thought”

    You’re right – a confusion of Celts, mea culpa . It is, incidentally ‘Humphrys’, – apparently changed from Humphries when he was on the Western Mail . More trivia.

  • President Bush may not be up to much, but as long as he serves as a symbol of all the BBC hates about the United States (i.e. all the good things in the United States) I find it hard to totally dislike him.

    The fascists and the commies hate each other, too.

    – Josh

  • xj

    a confusion of Celts

    Ah, so that’s the collective noun. I always wondered…

    Re Paul’s comment that “conservative (let alone libertarian) documentaries and current affairs – news programmes are seemingly unlawful in Britain”: am I right in thinking that FOX NEWS was denied the right to broadcast in the UK, on the grounds that it showed bias against terrorists?

  • Moonbattery of blogistan to the contrary, BBC bias is in my opinion fairly slight compared with most media – never mind the aforementioned blogs.

    This makes me laugh and its so patently untrue. The BBC’s tendency to report with almost glee any time a Jew Isreali dies is a good example of their bias. Have you ever seen the BBC say anything good about Israel? Have you ever seen them criticise a suicide bomber who kills Isrealis? If you think the BBC does not have bias check out Honest Reporting.

  • Guy Herbert – “GCooper:

    … remarks like John Humphrys’ unfortunate, ‘when we win the next election’, aside…

    Jim Naughtie, I thought. John Humphreys keeps his political leanings very much to himself and is (perhaps consequently) often thought to be on the right.”

    For what it’s worth, about four years ago I found myself sharing a (company-paid) business class flight with John Humphries from Nice to London. He was seated some rows behind me. He got up to leave when the plane landed and walked past my seat, among those first to get off, with a copy of the Grauniad under his arm.

    Whether that was his preferred leisure reading or, it being late in the afternoon, that he had, per his job, finally got around to reading the paper he least enjoyed, I cannot say.

  • Craig

    Some thoughts on Question Time as I have been on the programme within the past year or so. Guests were among others, David Aaronovitch and Clare Short. The programme was almost live with a delay of 3-4 minutes at most. Tickets were obtained by applying on the BBC website. I was telephoned by a researcher and asked some general political/current affairs questions. I was asked who I voted for and declined to answer that one. It would have been reasonably difficult to tell my political affiliations from the small number of questions which I was asked.

    My impression is that the audience reflects the nature of the people who apply rather than anything more sinister. The process was also time consuming involving arrival at Stratford in East London at 6 p.m. and not finishing until 11.30 p.m. This will certainly limit the number of people who can attend and tends to give an inbuilt bias towards students, part-timers, the unemployed etc.

  • esbonio

    Craig

    Your comments reinforce my suspicions about the programme including the self-selecting element.

  • Paul Marks

    xj is basically correct about Fox news – there were (and is) and are attacks on it in the U.K.

    For example, it is often a target of the B.B.C. (both in the “satire” shows and in the “documentaries”). And yes there have been efforts to forbid it to broadcast in the U.K. – although I believe that people with access to satellite television can still see it.

    President Bush did not call the B.B.C. anything (as far as I know), but he did call a New York Times man an “arsehole” (in aside to D.C. – an aside that the media gleefully picked up and broadcast).

    Actually it is difficult to think of many New York Times types who are not arseholes

    Media bias is also strong in the U.S. of course. With Fox the only network one is likely to hear pro Republican words on.

    For all the talk of N.B.C. cutting out the bit when one of its reporters said that President Bush was happy the black people died (and I bet they did that because they feared that such attacks would create a backlash in favour of President Bush), both it and A.B.C., C.B.S., and C.N.N. are clearly anti Republican.

    Harldy a surprise – after all the networks (like the mainstream newspapers) are made up of “school of journalism” people – and these “schools of journalism” (like the education system generally) are there to support “liberal” big government ideas.

    Recently there was an effort to make taxpayer financed broadcasting in the U.S. less leftist – but this effort was ruled unlawful.

    The money has to be handed to the leftists of P.B.S. to be spent on their ravings (without any control from elected policitians).

    There is only one solution – defund P.B.S. (and the B.B.C. and the rest) and end the control of the F.C.C. (are the similar organizations in Britain).

    No more “unbiased” (i.e. leftist) requirment.

    Let there be television and radio stations supporting various points of view (including leftist ones).

    Of course, the left’s control of most of education will mean that even conservative newspapers (such as the Daily Telegraph) will often reflect leftist attitudes – but at least such attitudes would not be complusory.

    Political action can acheive things.

    Remember it was a personal intervention by Ronald Reagan that allowed talk radio “shock jocks”.

    Without such intervention it is quite possible that by now leftist control of the United States would be absolute.

    Paul.

  • GCooper

    Paul Marks writes:

    “Without such intervention it is quite possible that by now leftist control of the United States would be absolute.”

    Agreed. It is hard to overestimate the importance of ‘Talk Radio’ to the US political scene. And equally hard to underestimate the importance of the Leftist hegemony in UK broadcasting to ours.

    Its reach is even more deadly when it is spread, like an invisible gas, through drama, too: the constant propagation of collectivist values, taken up by osmosis with each episode of soap or (even) the endless cop shows.

  • Winger

    Paul Marks: It was Vice President Cheney who referred to NYT guy by his proper identifier. Mr. Bush would have classified him by a creative reducer such as “little buckaroo” or “Mano”.

    Kanye West is an “entertainer” (I love these BBC-style quote marks), not a reporter.

    From my view point here in the USA, the BBC is highly biased against all things Bush in particular and the US in general. That’s why I quit watching it.

    That they are isn’t surprising as I found from my time living and working in the UK that most Brits don’t like anything “Septic”. I think the most recent bout of it started back in WW1 when Gen Pershing wouldn’t let the Imperial General Staff dispose of the American Expeditionary Force in the same manner as they had executed their own troops.

    WW2 didn’t help either. All those Over & Under comments merely pointed to the underlying resentment of having to accept the help of those they considered inferior.

    What you have to understand is that, in my experience, a vast majority of Americans really couldn’t care less what the BBC thinks. Just ask anyone in Clark County.

    Sorry.

  • rosignol

    President Bush did not call the B.B.C. anything (as far as I know), but he did call a New York Times man an “arsehole” (in aside to D.C. – an aside that the media gleefully picked up and broadcast).

    I recall hearing a radio interview with a journalist shortly after that incident, and the interviewer asked the interviewee why the press was’t jumping all over Bush for that.

    The interviewee tried to dodge the question, and when the interviewer pressed the issue, responded with something to the effect of “well, it’s true”.

  • Winger

    My apologies to all regarding the first paragraph of my last post (above). Mr Bush did indeed call the NYT guy that name. He said it to Mr. Cheney, not the reverse, as I remembered it.

    Interestingly, when I finally Googled it as I should (I know, I know), the BBC’s report was first in line.

    The remainder of my comments stand.

  • Paul Marks

    I liked the Clark county example.

    Yes the B.B.C. did visit Clark county Ohio to ask the local people how they could be so stupid, evil….. (etc, etc) as to support President Bush.

    Indeed the Guardian newspaper (the leftist newspaper that the B.B.C. puts adverts in to recruit its staff) had a special project of British “intellectuals” writing to people in Clark county and explaining to them why they must not vote for President Bush (that he has gone alone with increased Welfare State spending was not one of the reasons they gave).

    I would love to think that these B.B.C.- Guardian efforts increased the vote for President Bush.

  • guy herbert

    Edward Lud,

    I wouldn’t have thought it betokens anything. If you see an unidentified commuter with a copy of The Guardian at 9 am, that’s one thing. Most people do only read one paper and most of them choose a paper consistent with their worldview.

    However, I read several, including the Guardian and have never found a good fit with my views. Whereas, I once had to listen while a scouse Labour councillor held forth to me for 15 minutes in a pub on what a good newspaper The Telegraph is.

    A top journalist (who probably under normal circumstances reads all the serious press plus The Mail and The Sun at least), getting off at the end of a flight, might be carrying the only or the best newspaper he could get, or the last one he was reading. (I have been stuck with Le Soir or Le Monde on francophone flights.)

    It might be his choice too, but for any number of reasons other than political. The Guardian does currently have the clearest layout of any British paper and is pleasantest to read as a matter of form rather than content, which certainly makes it holiday reading in my book.

  • Paul Marks

    I have no idea what Mr Humphrys’ politcal opinions are (although Guardian readers are not often Conservatives).

    I do not regard him as a good interviewer (although most people think is) because he never seems to have enough background information to ask the right questions (but that could be simply lazyness – rather any indication of a certain political point of view).

    I do know that people whose political opinions do not fit the B.B.C. party line are weeded out. Although few conservatives or libertarians are likely to have been reading the Guardian to see job adverts for the B.B.C. in the first place.

    One does not have to be a left “liberal” (as most B.B.C. people are) as many Socialist Worker party (etc) “comics” are allowed on B.B.C. shows.

    However, “rightwingers” are not normally allowed.

    The fate of Robin Page (of “One man and his dog”) was a clear case of people with anti E.U. opinions not being allowed (it would have been alright if he had thought that the E.U. was a “capitalist club” or something like that – the B.B.C. will tolerate dissent from its party line, as long as that dissent is not “right wing”, some examples exist of tolerated “right wing” dissent, but they are rare).

    Recently the official papers on the lie campaign to get British acceptance of what was then the E.E.C. (what the leftist Noam Chomsky would call the “manufacuturing of consent”) came out.

    As was wildly suspected, there was a large scale campaign (on top of the open campaign) that inculded the B.B.C.

    The then main person on the “Today” programme (Jack D… – I can not spell the man’s name) was indeed forced out because it was felt he would not go along with the lie campaign that Britian was just joining a “Common Market”.

    Shows like “Today” have either to be staffed with people who will lie to support the line – or people to stupid (or to lazy) to find out that a line is being pushed.

    One of the things that amused me about the pro E.E.C. (now E.U.) campaign was the American involvment.

    The C.I.A. has a long record of supporting “moderate”, “pro American”, leftism, which then turns out to be antiAmerican.

    Dircector Goss may sort it out – but it really has been a joke organization for many years.

    Perhaps this is what we must expect of a government agency.

  • Mike N

    Winger

    That they are [BBC] isn’t surprising as I found from my time living and working in the UK that most Brits don’t like anything “Septic”.

    For a start, we don’t refer to Americans as “septic”, in my 31 years of living in England, I have never heard that term used. “Yanks” is what you are referred to as.
    I’d love to know what town/city you lived in while over here, and how long ago it was.

    And in truth, I think you have it the wrong way round, if America is portrayed in a certain manner i.e. Big, Bad, aggressive, fudumentalist christian, dumb etc by a news source that is ‘trusted’ i.e. Al-BBC, then it is going to rub off on people.

    There is some anti-americanism in Britain, but its pretty low level i.e. ‘you are too loud’, ‘whooping yanks’ etc
    Nothing like what you get from the French, who really, really dont like ‘anglo-saxons’, and yes that includes us.

    I think the most recent bout of it started back in WW1 when Gen Pershing wouldn’t let the Imperial General Staff dispose of the American Expeditionary Force in the same manner as they had executed their own troops.

    Hmmm, may I say sir, in the politest possible fashion, that one is talking out of one’s rectum. 99.9% of British people will not even have heard about this, including me.

    WW2 didn’t help either. All those Over & Under comments merely pointed to the underlying resentment of having to accept the help of those they considered inferior.

    Eh, what planet are you from? The vast majority of the British (at least 30+) are greatful for what America did for us, helping us remain free, we didn’t just accept help, we asked for it!!!!! (what took you so long huh ;-) ).

    What you have to understand is that, in my experience, a vast majority of Americans really couldn’t care less what the BBC thinks. Just ask anyone in Clark County.

    Aye, same can be said of the British, I couldn’t care less about it, its just a shame we have to pay for the BBC on pain on imprisonment.

    Have a nice day.

  • Paul Marks

    “spectic tanks – yanks”.

    It seems that Winger knows cockney slang better than Mike does (although I agree that usage went out of style some time ago – especially as many of the people in inner London now tend to be from Asia or Africa, cockneys are a bit thin on the ground these days).

    Yes Black Jack Pershing’s stand was resented. Of course going to war with Germany was hardly in American interests anyway (it was not really in British interests either – but that is another story).

    The jumping up and down by President Wilson over German U. Boats somehow overlooked the fact that the Royal Navy had mined international water as part of the hunger blockade of Germany (a hunger blockade in 1919 – in spite of the armistice of 1918).

    But then W. Wilson wanted to make the world “safe for democracy” – that actually made it safe for the absurd Weimar Republic in Germany and the Marxists in Russia (although Imperial Germany had subsidised Lenin and supported him other ways – this was meant to be war tactic, it was the collapse of Germany that left the Marxists in control of Russia).

    As for “what took you so long” I think you will find that the Roosevelt Administration was supporting the British war effort (in violation of American law) from 1940. The United States navy even hunted U. Boats (it later came out that F.D.R.’s claims that the German U.Boat’s had fired on American warships first were lies).

    Of course this does not excuse the suicdal choice by Adolf Hitler to declare war on the United States in 1941.

    As an Englishman (and a part Jew) I am, of course, greatful for American assistance. But (contrary to what one reads in British newspapers such as the “Daily Mail”) it certainly was NOT a matter of United States national interest.

    It was not in American national interest to deliberatly provoke Japan into war (which was the policy of the Roosevelt Administration – true it was a war that Japan had no chance of winning, but many tens of thousands of Americans died in the Pacific war, partly because F.D.R. considered the Pacific a low priority and refused to give the commanders in the area all the resources they could have had) and nor was it in the interests of United States to go to war with National Socialist Germany (vile though this place was).

    The idea that Germany could somehow invade the United States is only plausible if one assumes that Germany could have taken over both Britain and Soviet Russia and intergrated them peacefully (i.e. without having to hold down hostile populations) into its economic system.

    Of course the best way to prevent both Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union (with its tens of millions of murders) and Maoist China (with its even greater number of murders) would have been for the United States not to get involved in World War One.

    Imperial Germany did not really have the means to successfully invade Britain, but the allies (without the United States) did not have the means to totally crush Imperial Germany.

    So a compromise peace would have to have been made – as many people suggested at the time.

    Of course that would have raised the question of whether almost a million British and Empire deaths had been worth it as a response to the German invasion of Belgium – a question that politicians did not wisk to face.

  • Mike N

    Paul,

    I’m well aware of where the term ‘Yanks’ comes from, but as the term “septic” was quoted, the inference is that this is what we refer to Americans as, which is not the case. I have never heard this term used. Cockney is very rare nowadays, but I speak Estuary English which is similar to Cockney. (My dad was born and lived in the Isle of Dogs area for most of his life, and he has never used the term “Septic”).
    And besides, the East End is now predominantly asian, as you point out (Londonistan).

    As regards to the “what took you so long ;-)” comment, that was of course tounge-in-cheek… but I guess I didn’t make that clear enough… no offence meant.

    Fascinating stuff…… but the point was, no-one cares about world war I/II anymore (apart from bragging rights over Germans… sadly)… and that is certainly not the source of anti-americanism. The source comes from our dear media (specifically, the BBC), and perhaps a healthy slice of envy. Often, the bias in the media is not so much what they say, but what they don’t say, as the orginal topic perfectly demonstrates.

  • Paul Marks

    My own father sometimes denied being an Eastender (as he was born in the City of London – there were ordinary houses there before Would War II) and he disliked the term “cockney” – but he certainly had a London accent (although he refused to use the rhyming language, he claimed that it originally came from criminals – “hardmen” he tended to beat up whenever he came across them).

    I recall finding out that the bullet marks on him (that I had assumed came from W.W.II.) in fact came from Eastend criminals (shooting him did not do them any good – perhaps if they had learned to shoot straight things would have been different).

    Still I agree with you that people do not care about the World Wars – the source of AntiAmericanism is as you describe (the media and education system – plus envy).

    One of my father’s lasting regrets was never going to live in America.

    Somehow he wanted to make it in Britian first. However, making it in Britain (particularly for a man who would never make a moral compromise and had an explosive temper) was never very likely.

    And when he did make money he tended to give it away (for a man who regarded himself as cynical he seemed to have a strange inabilty to see through a hard luck story)

    Such men do not often prosper in any land. But they are good to have with you if things ever get really bad.

    Of course I made typing mistakes in my last comment (as I so often do) – the hunger blockade CONTINUED in 1919 (it started years before).

    “wish” not “wisk” – and so on.

  • Mike N

    ‘Old skool’ Londoners are a strange breed (in a good way), nothing quite like them anywhere, very dry sense of humour, hardworking, happy to ‘call a spade, a spade’,…. rough diamonds if you like. The are brutally honest I suppose, and in this PC, media driven anti-utopia, they were never going to survive and IMO we are all the worse off without them. OK, i’ll shut the hell up now..

    Not living in America is becoming one of my regrets, I cannot stand what is happening to Britain, yet there is nothing I can do… is there room for Libertarians in Britain any more? Tony, are you listening??

    Anyhow… good post, would never have heard about this, as I cannot pick up R4 where I am.

  • Winger

    Hmm, let’s see:
    Mike N,
    My apolgies if I’ve offended you. My experience is that most educated Brits do indeed show an appreciation of American assistance in WW2. The ignorant are no different than the ignorant anywhere in the world.

    That knowledge of the era is fading is inevitable. I’d be surprised if it’s taught in school in the UK as it sure isn’t here.

    My point was that the anti-Americanism shown by the BBC seems to be based on things past, things that may actually no longer exist. My British friends and I used to laugh about the fact that, except for accents, many of us were indistinguishable. Of course, when a shop keeper in Scotland asked a friend if he was “one of these mid-Atlantic Englishman” due to his fading accent (my fault), he got all plummy on us for a while.

    I never heard of Estuary English before. Thanks for some new info.

    That said, there always seemed to be a varible degree of resentment that we Yanks “didn’t know our place”.

    For example, I was told off one day on the Liverpool St-Norwich train because I was wearing jeans while riding in a first-class compartment. I was told that “you people have no sense of decorum and shouldn’t be allowed where you’re not wanted.” I was reading and hadn’t said a word. I excused myself and went to another compartment. This despite the almost irresistable urge to ask this rather nice looking older woman to commit a physically impossible act.

    We’re not all all that Louisiana sheriff in the James Bond movies.

    I lived in primarily in East Anglia – Norwich mostly (I know you leave the “w” out, too – except in Ipswich). Been to London and Aberdeen more than a few times also. And yes, it was a while back. “70’s,” he said, revealing his general age group.

    British soldiers I’ve dealt with tend to use the term septic or spam – usually without any idea where the Spam term comes from. Oddly enough, I never dealt with any British miltary while living there.

    Paul Marks: Great stuff. I don’t have time to really reply much but would say that no war was ever good but sometimes some action is necessary.

    I say that as a Vietnam veteran of the shooting kind. Stand by for what may be rationalization: It may have been a bad time but it was also the penultimate confrontation of the Cold War. A few years (and Afghanistan) later, the first leader of the Soviet Union who wasn’t invested emotionally in the Red Revolution, and couldn’t figure out why the Marist ideal couldn’t get the crops in, decided that progress supposedly achieved by resolving conflicts was crock of you know what. I believe they realized, finally, that the West just wasn’t going to roll over for them, or sell that rope.

    So maybe Vietnam helped.

    In any case, I hope I haven’t confused anyone.

    Oh, yeah – there’s always a place in this country for someone who is willing to work. We’ve got various strains of Anglos all over the place where I work. The Yanks are finally starting to brew some decent beer too.

  • Paul Marks

    I have read many works on the Vietnam war (I was only ten years old when the Republic of Vietnam – and Laos and Cambodia, fell to the Communists).

    However, some of the interesting material I ever came upon was in Wood’s “Born Fighting” (his general history of the Scots-Irish in America). It pointed to the falseness of the claim that the American miltary were cowards or that Black Americans bore a dispropotionate share of the casualties (of the relevant age group they did not).

    As for “rationalization” I am not sure what you mean.

    Surely the proCommunists have gone quiet (given the millions of murders by the Communists when they took over Indochina).

    As for civilian killings by American forces. As you know such things did happen.

    They have happened in every war.

    In the American case they happened in the War of Independence (on both sides) the Civil War (ditto) and every other war.

    The biggest example of the killing of civilians by American forces was in W.W.II (the terror bombing of Germany and Japan).

    I have long noted that people who jump up and down over the accidential killing of civilians (by bombs that went off target and so on) are oddly quiet over the deliberate (and it was deliberate by both British and American forces – that is what area bombing cities is about) killing of hundreds of thousands of Germans and Japanese civilians in W.W.II.

    As regards atrocities by infantry units. There were plenty of those (by all sides) in W.W.II

    However, the media were only interested in such events in the Vietnam context (where they were actually less common that in W.W. II and many other wars). Most infantry in W.W.II did not go around raping and killing civilians – and most infantry in Vietnam did not do these things either (but the media and academia were only interested in the men who did).

    I suppose it is more fun to scream “baby killer” at men returing (minus friends who did not return) when one does not support the war they were fighting.

    And (of course) the elite university crowd (with some exceptions) who make up those who dominate the media, largely sat out the war.

    One can question the good sense of fighting a war against the Communists on ground they decided upon (playing to the foe’s strengths is often poor policy). But the morality of trying to prevent the murder of millions of people and the enslavment of tens of millions can only be questioned by the ignorant.

    Sadly the “clever-clever” elite tend to be rather ignorant.

    That the Communist party governments of such nations as Laos and Vietnam are now (and have been for some years) abandoning a lot of their doctrines does not mean that what the Communists did in IndoChina (for decades before 1975 and well as in the years after 1975) should be forgotten.

  • Chris Chapman

    I know this may be a bit late to comment, but it is nice to see that the US has at least some support abroad. After dealing with so many of the wacko liberals, as I like to call them, it is nice to see people talking sense for once.