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Samizdata quote of the day – MSM’s involvement in lockdown hysteria edition

“What was most alarming was the alacrity with which the broadcast news media fell into line – with boundless enthusiasm – as they were given a key role in the day-to-day dissemination of government authority.”

Janet Daley, Sunday Telegraph (£). She was writing about the BBC’s conduct during the and after the lockdowns.

One of the many reasons why I regard the past few years of “Conservative” government is wasted is its failure to remove the BBC licence fee, and convert the Corporation into a privately financed operation, with some of its operations broken up. The Tories just aren’t strategically minded in removing embedded Establishment sources of opposition and building the groundwork for this. (Even Margaret Thatcher never quite pulled the trigger.)

19 comments to Samizdata quote of the day – MSM’s involvement in lockdown hysteria edition

  • Lee Moore

    To gut the BBC would require a spine. In the olden days when the Tory backbenches were peopled by retired military officers and country squires, there were backbones aplenty. Maybe not that many brains, but those were hardly required. Those days have gone.

    These days the Tory backbenchers are a mixture of Piers Fletcher-Dervishes and the passengers on Golgafrincham Ark Fleet Ship B. No spines to be had.This is how you finish up wih people like Matt Hancock as Tory Ministers.

    There is only one conceivable reason to vote Tory. They are not (quite) Labour. Set your expectations accordingly.

  • Paul Marks

    Conservatives have been complaining about leftist BBC bias since at least 1963 (“That Was The Week That Was” and other blatantly biased entertainment shows – and also news and current affairs programmes) but continue to push the BBC Tax – “license fee”.

    I have been a member of the Conservative Party since 1979 – but I can find no excuse for such behaviour, to see an evil (in this case BBC Collectivist propaganda) and have the power to end that evil, yet do nothing to end it (just play silly musical chair games by appointing this or that person as “Chairman of the Board of Governors” or “Director General” – as if that changes anything of importance) can not be honestly defended.

    And, in this case, it is actually worse than that – the government not only did nothing to oppose the BBC propaganda, it welcomed it – and the Collectivist propaganda of the commercial television stations as well (for this is far from being just a BBC problem – most of the commercial stations are just as bad, as it that weird hybrid abomination “Channel Four”).

    We are constantly told (by “friends of”) former Prime Minister Johnson that he “really” was against the lockdowns and-so-on, but I remember him coming on the television (again and again) defending these terrible policies.

    As for Conservative Members of Parliament – in private a some of them have a lot of support for Andrew Bridgen (who after at first supporting the policies, changed his mind when the evidence against the injections and so on became overwhelming) – but they will not support him in public.

    Lee Moore has a point – Country Squires had an independent income, they did not need to be afraid of being “cancelled”. But as for military officers – well they are a bit of a mixed bag, some are very good indeed – but some are like Tobias Ellwood MP Colonel of the 77th (Disinformation and Psyops) Brigade.

  • Paul Marks

    Still – again the commercial stations and Channel Four (it is unclear what Channel Four is – but “mutant abomination” will do as a description), were just as bad as the BBC.

    G.B. News were not around during the first lockdown – but when they eventually did come on the scene they did fine work opposing the terrible international policies, but the G.B. News knifed Mark Steyn in the back (just after the man had two heart attacks that almost killed him) over “Ofcom” (a censorship body in the United Kingdom) complains – even though Ofcom had not actually ruled against Mr Steyn.

    Just today I heard Dr David Starkey (on GB News) calling complaints about people killed or injured by the Covid injections – “Conspiracy Theories”, so with the exception of a few people (such as Neil Oliver) I do not rate the courage of the people on GB News very highly. Dr Starkey really needs to be introduced to families of some of the people who have been killed – perhaps it would find some sense of shame.

    “But he opposed lockdowns” – yes he did.

  • Paul Marks

    By the way – throwing Mark Steyn under the bus did not appease the left.

    They are now Ofcom complaints (including from a particularly despicable academic at University College London) against the documentary about mass child rape and forced prostitution in the United Kingdom. This is a story that Mark Steyn has reported on for years (long before GB News existed) – but GB News was careful to exclude him from the documentary (his work does not even get mentioned – yes I have watched it), in order to appease the left. But they failed to appease the left.

    It is “Ialamophobic” to oppose mass child rape and forced prostitution – and therefore “racist” (somehow a religion, a religion founded by a man who was pale – Muhammed, is a “race” and a non white race at that), as these are “marginalised groups” (very Herbert Marcuse).

    The trouble with he people running GB News is that they are bit thick – the left did not hate Mark Steyn because he was Mark Steyn, it was “nothing personal” to use the old Mafia terminology.

    The left hated Mark Steyn because of the stories he reported on – and if you get rid of Mark Steyn and still report on the same stories (such as child rape gangs) the left are going to carry on with the Ofcom complaints and the advertising boycotts.

    Anyone, other than a moron, would know this.

  • Martin

    One of my biggest complaints about the Conservatives has been their inability to strategically use their power to get rid of enemies within the state apparatus while rewarding their allies. Examples such as Hungary and Florida suggest a right-wing administration can do this with some degree of success (if never perfect), however the conservatives here just suck at such stuff.

    That said, I’m curiously less eager to privatise the BBC than I was, say 10-20 years ago. This is a bit ironic, because the BBC is a lot worse now than it was 20-30 years ago (there was a lot of BBC stuff from when I was growing up in the 1990s that was really good. Recently I had to do a lot of overtime at work doing pretty monotonous admin work so found some old BBC political documentaries from the 1990s to pass the time while working and they were surprisingly watchable, warts and all). However, unlike a few decades ago, the ‘private’ broadcast media is in most cases now just as bad if not even worse than the BBC. All the big streaming multinationals are completely fruitloop American leftist crazy. Privatising the BBC might simply make the BBC even more pernicious. This doesn’t mean I’d oppose privatising the BBC per se, I just aren’t sure any more if it would be such a big conservative ‘win’ now than if it had happened, say in 2010.

  • bobby b

    When y’all won Brexit, you didn’t win any guarantee of a more realistic conservative government. You got rid of the overarching progressive EU layer, but still had to deal with your progressive-at-heart UK government layers.

    But at least you then had a chance of affecting your own leadership, because it’s easier to change things locally than it is to drive change over the entire EU.

    I see your fight to get the BBC out of the government pot as the same basic thing. If you make the BBC a captive of the market instead of a captive of politicians, you still need to win over the market. But your chances of doing that and affecting change are much higher than if the BBC answers to progressive-at-heart government.

    Neither way – Brexit or privatizing the BBC – gives you a win. But you do get a better chance of progressing into that win with the changes.

  • Leon Stevens

    Why, if you are the State and dedicated to not only its preservation but also growth, would you get rid of your propaganda machine? Doesn’t matter if you are of the hard left or the slightly not-so-far left, pretty much where the Tories perch these days, the BBC is essential to whichever bunch is running the show.

    If nothing else, even if one avoids the so-called news, certain ideas in programmes get floated to gauge public reaction. After all, what’s the point in telling everyone to jump if you don’t know high they are likely to jump?

  • Johnathan Pearce (London)

    bobby b: Neither way – Brexit or privatizing the BBC – gives you a win. But you do get a better chance of progressing into that win with the changes.


  • Peter MacFarlane

    “The Tories just aren’t strategically minded in removing embedded Establishment sources of opposition”

    This. +many.

    Tony Blair didn’t make this mistake, with results were still suffering.

    But despair is a sin.

  • Paul Marks

    bobby b – the British government has agreed not to diverge with the regulations in key areas.

    Independence as long as we have similar laws, in key areas of economic life, is a bit odd – but at least we have the legal freedom to set our own tax rates. Although when Prime Minister Truss tried to diverge in tax rates from the other major financial centres, the lady was removed by a tidal wave of disinformation (some members of the public still believe that Prime Minister Truss “cost us billions of Pounds” – if a lie is repeated often enough lots of people believe it). So the unofficial tax cartel remains – and that includes New York, not just the major E.U. financial centres.

    Like Johnathan Pearce I support the independence of the United Kingdom – but I fear I will live to see it.

  • Paul Marks

    And now “Ofcom” (which sits without a jury and does not allow the defendant to defend themselves – essentially the textbook definition of a Kangaroo Court, or “independent regulator” which is another way of saying Kangaroo Court) has ruled against Mr Mark Steyn on his coverage of the Covid injections.

    This is in spite of the fact that Mr Steyn always inviting both the makers of the medications, and the ministers who supported them, onto his programme. Somehow he is to blame for them not turning up to make their case.

    Had it been me (rather than Mr Steyn) I would have kept an empty chair in the studio and turned to it from time to time asking “and what have you to say in response to that charge?” – but Mr Steyn thought that such tactics were a bit melodramatic.

    Mr Toby Young and his “Free Speech Union” have proved to be phony – as Katie Hopkins warned they would be. They talk a good game – but when put to the test they let people down (“Self Preservation” being the thing they really care about).

    Anyway I need a walk.

  • I had hoped that the Tories would grow a spine and gut the BBC License fee, so that it represents what people are willing to pay for it (maybe £50 a year) rather than what the BBC thinks it is worth (which is a whole other argument).

    Clearly, that’s not going to happen, because the Tories ain’t Tories but some Blue Labour / Blairite hash of which Tony B-Liar would be proud.

    Fortunately, there is another beast that is eating away at the BBC, a beast that cannot be ignored, mollycoddled or bargained with and that is demographics. The young simply don’t watch the idiot box and no amount of tinkering around the edges with how the license fee operates will change that. They ain’t watching and they ain’t paying.

    So, in the end, the strongest suit in MP’s armour is to do nothing. Keep the license fee capped, keep telling the BBC it needs to find other sources of funding and refuse their bullshit about adding it to the council tax or whatever.

    Starve the beast and let demographics = destiny.

  • Paul Marks

    John Galt – as I have said most of commercial television is just as bad as the BBC (in both the United Kingdom and the United States – in America entertainment programming has been leftist cartel of ABC, CBS and NBC since the Kennedy Administration changed FCC rules to keep out dissenting companies from editorial control of shows they financed, ironically that was done in the name of “creative freedom”).

    It is true that there is no special tax for commercial television – but the corporations are still paid for by ordinary people (one way or another).

    The corporations also work as a PACK – real life (sadly) is nothing like the Milton Friedman conception of how the economy should work (I agree it SHOUlD work in the way the late Professor Friedman described – it should, but it clearly does not).

    For example, Nestle will put on advertisement for its chocolate bar “Kit Kat” (originally that was a mutton pie after which the Kit Kat club was named, who helped bring about the Glorious Revolution of 1688 – but only nerds like me remember stuff like that) – so far just what would expect.

    But the advertisement is not really about Kit Kat – it pushes the (horrible) Amazon show “The Rings of Power” and contains a young lady in a wheelchair – girl power, disabled rights.

    Why associate your chocolate bar with the television show of a totally different corporation, – especially when that television show is awful, a total failure.

    In the Milton Friedman world that makes no sense – but where vast international Corporations do not give a toss about customers, and care only about spreading “The Message” (as “The Critical Drinker” on YouTube calls the Frankfurt School DEI stuff) it makes perfect sense.

    Money will come from somewhere – most likely the Federal Reserve and Bank of England (so why care about customers), what matters, to the vast international Corporations is pushing political messages.

    Pro Covid Lockdown, Pro Net Zero, Pro Covid Injections, Pro “Rings of Power” (which might as well be “Death to Tolkien”) and-so-on.

    This is what matters to them – not customers.

    Or – to put things another way. In an economy where there is unlimited funny money from the Central Bank and where vast Corporations dominate (Cantillon Effect – it is the Credit Money that causes the concentration), Corportions controlled by an “educated” manager class who do NOT own the companied they run – nothing-makes-any-sense.

  • Paul Marks

    There was a story in the Financial Times newspaper – “the United States takes the lead on regulation from the European Union”.

    Not deregulation – not getting rid of regulations. Adding MORE regulations – “not just on people as consumers – but as whole people” (i.e. total control of everything – all aspects of life) says some power-crazed American regulator – and the Financial Times purrs its approval.

    That is the attitude of international Corporate Big Business – the government (and the Corporations) are to control all aspects of life – reducing people to serfs (if even that), they do not hide it – they boast about it.

    If Covid is not the excuse, it will be C02 and if not C02, then it will be something else.

    There is always an excuse – but the objective is always the same, power and control.

  • Paul Marks

    Jeffrey Tucker has done some good work on how Covid revealed what was already going on in the world.

    Dr Tucker (head of the Brownstone Institute) is quite open about the fact that, although a libertarian activist and economist, he had no idea how phony the “capitalist” corporations had become – how hand-in-hand with government (as in the Corporate State vision of President Franklin Roosevelt – who the Financial Times loves so much) they were – Covid (or rather the reaction to it – including the endless lies, censorship and persecution) just revealed the rottenness, the institutional corruption, that was already eating away at society.

  • bobby b

    “Why associate your chocolate bar with the television show of a totally different corporation, – especially when that television show is awful, a total failure”

    My guess:

    If you aim the marketing of your candy bar to the entire world, you will sell some, but it will be based on the qualities of your product competing with many others.

    But if you can associate your candy bar with a tribal identity that 50% of the population worships, you will sell many more, to all of those who, even if they don’t like the bar itself, will want to signal their virtue to other like-minded people.

    You’re no longer selling a candy bar. You’re selling a flag. You’re selling a MAGA hat.

  • Schrödinger's Dog

    I’ve long believed the Conservative Party should be prosecuted under the Trades Descriptions Act (truth in advertising legislation, for American readers) for calling itself that.

  • Paul Marks

    I see bobby b – but I do not think it is 50% of the population (if it was they would not need to manufacture so many fake “mail-in-ballots” – which the Wall Street Journal, and the rest of the Controlled Opposition, pretends are straight), I suspect only a small minority of people like garbage like “Star Trek Discovery” (STD) or “Amazon’s Rings of Power” (the death-to-Tolkien show).

    But YES – in their advertisements the Vast International Corporations (VICs) make it clear (very clear) which side they are on. They are on the side of the people who are destroying Minneapolis, and other cities, and who want people like you bobby b, enslaved – or just dead. They hate us – and I am not wild about them either. We are where we are – and it is no good to cling to illusions such as “the VICs are just private business enterprises” – they have made it horribly clear that what matters to them is their international political and cultural agenda (world governance), “mere business” does not interest them at all, indeed they have a snobbish hatred of it.

    Imagine what looks a Corporate executive would get at Davos (or some other gathering) if they said “I am in business to make money – I want my business to make more money for me” – how “non-you” as the Mitford Sisters might have said.

    Schrodinger’s Dog – to be fair to the organisation that kicked me out for a year, and will (fairly soon) kick me out for ever (although “for ever” for me is not likely to be very long – for health reasons), they can claim that it goes all the way back to Disraeli – more spending and more regulations and all the rest of it.

    Disraeli hated Conservatives of the Lord Liverpool sort – people who cut government spending and taxation rather than increasing them to “help the people”.

    So the division has always been there.

    By the way – “Schrodinger’s Dog” is a brilliant name.

  • Nicholas (Unlicensed Joker) Gray

    Here in Australia, we have the ABC, which is supposed to represent all Australians, but you would have a hard time finding a right-winger in the establishment! I suppose New Zealand is the same.