We are developing the social individualist meta-context for the future. From the very serious to the extremely frivolous... lets see what is on the mind of the Samizdata people.

Samizdata, derived from Samizdat /n. - a system of clandestine publication of banned literature in the USSR [Russ.,= self-publishing house]

“The reputation of the reputable media . . .”

Overheard on Newsnight last night, from the anchor-lady person, presiding over a discussion of the recent travails of the US mainstream media. It was in connection with the Valerie Plame story, whatever exactly that is. I have not been following that, and I missed the beginning of the Newsnight report about it.

Anyway, here is what Ms. Paxman said about the US mainstream media, word for word:

The reputation of the reputable media has sunk to a new low.

This is what I love about the BBC. They have their biases, of course they do. But they also genuinely try to report the truth.

Their biases mostly impinge by determining which truths they go after in the first place, and who they then have commenting on them (to discuss this matter they had Daniel Ellsberg balanced by a guy from the New York Times), rather than in the form of pure lying. After all, when the BBC features some grotesque report put out by some grotesque gang of health fascists, or some such, rather than proper news, it is true that the health fascists did indeed say whatever it was they said. It was stupid and repellent, but they did say it, just as the BBC said they said it.

The BBC prejudice is that the mainstream US media are indeed the reputable media, and that all those pyjama-clad right wing nasties sitting at their nasty computers agreeing with President Bush are disreputable. Yet these same pyjama wearers are the ones who have caused the reputation of those same reputable media to sink to a new low. That was the story here. So, that is what popped out of her mouth.

This is definitely different to living in the USSR and I greatly prefer it to that, not least because it is so much more entertaining.

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10 comments to “The reputation of the reputable media . . .”

  • Brian,

    To my knowledge, nobody has ever claimed that the BBC tell outright lies. If they did then they would continuously get caught out. Nothing they say or claim is actually untrue yet it is coloured and packaged in such a way as to leave the viewer with a definite impression of which is the ‘right’ view and the ‘wrong’ view.

    Take your example of health-fascists. Of course, they accurately report the things they say. Why would they ever do anything but? The problem comes with the other side of the debate which they rarely report at all and, whenever they do, they do so with sneering
    hostility and loaded questions which create a clear impression of which protagonist is on the side of the angels and which is merely a greedy, selfish, uncaring apostle of Satan.

    I agree that it is different to living in the Soviet Union but that’s not very much of a commendation, is it.

  • ena b sharples

    a beautiful paranoid-fantasist bit of commentary there, brian. and a very telling response from david (subsititute “samizdata” for “bbc” and read it again).

    sneering hostility, david?

    pyjamas, brian?

    bless.

  • “I agree that it is different to living in the Soviet Union but that’s not very much of a commendation, is it.” Different, but less than one might think. The Soviet media did not always tell outright lies, they also very often engaged in the good old practice of spinning the truth, just what the BBC and the rest of them do.

  • Oh, and BTW: “The reputation of the reputable media has sunk to a new low” is plain hilarious, of course. Thanks, Brian:-)

  • ena b sharples,

    No I will not substitute Samizdata for the BBC, thank you, as the two cannot be compared. This blog is not tax-funded and does not have any manner of commitment or pretence to impartiality. Instead, it is entirely self-sustaining and has a very clear and openly stated bias which readers are quite free to take or leave, love or loathe.

    Crystal? Good.

  • GCooper

    It’s ironic that Brian Micklethwait chose to reflect on Newsnight – perhaps the most partial and biased BBC television programme on at least one topic – the environment, its coverage of which comes a close second to that of the Independent for hysterical one-sidedness.

    The BBC’s bias isn’t (often) strictly political. It is more generally seen in its selection of news stories (the current manufactured fetish for all things African is a good example, the suppression of inconvenient data on ‘global warming’ is another) and the brazenly corrupt way in which different ‘sides’ of a story are portrayed, as David Carr points out.

    The process is typified by the ‘three Lefties and a Rightie’ panels on Any Questions (where the ‘Rightie’ is usually someone from the Shining Path wing of the Conservative Party) and the regular selection of former Clintonistas to put ‘the US point of view’, or justify some position adopted by the Bush administration.

    The problem stems from the fact that BBC staff are largely drawn from a single strand in society and live in a hermetically sealed world in which ‘everyone’ believes the same notions, reads the same newspapers and watches the same films. If you don’t vote Za-NuLabour, then that is simply because Labour is insufficiently Left-wing of ‘Green’. To the average BBC employee, people who believe anything else must be either mad, bad, or both. Their dissenting opinions are to be sneered at because they are ‘extreme’.

    Over the years I have come to believe that there is no single more pernicious influence on this country than that of the BBC – not even the education system. Nothing else drips poison in the public’s ear in such a relentless, largely unnoticed, way – nor does it while picking our pockets to pay for the medication.

  • Pete_London

    GCooper

    Hear hear.

    The problem stems from the fact that BBC staff are largely drawn from a single strand in society and live in a hermetically sealed world in which ‘everyone’ believes the same notions, reads the same newspapers and watches the same films.

    Ah yes, the fervent, preachy multiculti, diversity crowd, rigidly one-dimensional and the most homogenous bunch anywhere.

  • Edward

    FYI, Valerie Plame is the wife of a former US ambassador, Joseph Wilson. After Wilson publicly debunked the Bush administration’s Niger Uranium story, someone leaked Plame’s status as a CIA operative to reporter Robert Novak.

    There is an ongoing criminal investigation into the leak, possibly implicating people within the administration.

  • John K

    FYI, Valerie Plame is the wife of a former US ambassador, Joseph Wilson. After Wilson publicly debunked the Bush administration’s Niger Uranium story, someone leaked Plame’s status as a CIA operative to reporter Robert Novak.

    Yes, she did work for the CIA, but as an office wallah, it’s not as if her ass was on the line in downtown Baghdad. Her cover wasn’t blown, literally thousands of people in the DC area work for the CIA, just as many people in Cheltenham work for GCHQ. No big deal.

    Now in Klinton’s White House, Mr Wilson would have been found dead in a park with an unregistered pistol in his hand, so things are improving somewhat.

  • GCooper

    And further to my earlier comment, tonight we were treated to the mind-boggling spectacle of Newsnight’s ‘Science’ (sic) editor, Susan Watts curling her lip at the prospect of a ‘technological solution’ to ‘global warming’.

    Well, after all, no true scientist would support a technological approach, would they?