Wednesday 27 November 2019

The BBC's Anti-Labour Bias

You could write a book about the BBC and its coverage of the 2019 general election campaign. Whatever was left of its reputation for balance and neutrality has been totally destroyed by a number of "honest mistakes", and the cringing behaviour of its chief political correspondent, our friend Laura Kuenssberg. Would you like a recap? Recently, we have seen:

The BBC apologising after using 2016 footage of Boris Johnson laying a wreath at the Cenotaph. The actual 2019 footage had Johnson looking dishevelled, and saw him place the wreath upside down.

The BBC apologising for editing the leaders' Question Time programme for its news bulletins the following day. Here, derisive laughter greeting Johnson's responses to a question about honesty was edited out to give him a more positive gloss.

The BBC was found editing an online report about a Tory candidate suspended for anti-semitic remarks. It went from a factual reporting of the specifics of the comments to merely branding them "unacceptable".

The BBC invited Jeremy Corbyn to sit down with Andrew Neil as part of their leaders' interviews series. They later admitted that Johnson isn't booked and, as of the time of writing, appears to be doing everything to avoid it. His previous outing didn't go well.

Following Labour's press conference about how the NHS is on the table when it comes to trade negotiations with Donald Trump, Laura Kuenssberg retweeted and then un-retweeted the following from Piers Morgan: "Wow. The breathtaking arrogance of this chump [Barry Gardiner} telling journalists what questions to ask. They should all ignore him and pummel Corbyn about anti-semitism." Fair and balanced, Fox News style.

Kuenssberg later plugged Dominic Cummings's racist blog, which for good measure invokes an anti-semitic trope. No "pummelling" for Mr Cummings.

And last of all, Corbyn gets scrutiny. And Johnson gets the fawning treatment.

We've talked about BBC bias so many times it feels dull to even write about it, but this behaviour cannot be swept under the carpet. Whether it's doing piss-poor hit jobs that flagrantly disregarded inconvenient evidence, to under-reporting Tory stories, or we're looking at the questionable framing of the BBC's top journalist, to suggest the BBC is balanced when the Tories never receive the same treatment is utterly untenable.

The BBC is biased. As discussed before, the BBC has always followed the lead of the establishment. And so whoever is in charge of the government are treated within certain parameters, and especially so since the Dr David Kelly affair in the aftermath of the Iraq War. The BBC has exercised its independence from the powers that be by not exercising its independence. Its political coverage of the centre right, the centre, and the centre left have been all of a piece. And so, when the Tories were troubled by a right wing insurgency arising from its own decomposition, they were treated with a mix of novelty and horrid fascination. UKIP was simultaneously of the establishment and a reaction against it, and was indulged for precisely this reason. And then when Corbynism broke through during the 2015 leadership contest, the BBC at first was enraptured by what they regarded as a fleeting appearance of a left thought long-buried, and once Jeremy has won the party leadership Kuenssberg and friends amplified every attack from ostensible Labour MPs. As the left consolidated its power and the reliables on Labour's right squeezed out so the attacks grew, and once the party became a contender in 2017 the BBC closed ranks and its fabled impartiality became increasingly threadbare. And that's how it's been since. The BBC remain biased toward the establishment, and with centrism routed in Labour and the LibDems set to deflate yet again, protecting the status quo means protecting the Tory party.

We shouldn't at all be shocked by this, as the BBC is the establishment. Or at least an arm of it. But the paradox of its behaviour over British politics these last few years is how it has systematically dismantled the base of mass support it has in the public at large. It is weakening itself, so if the Tories win they will come for it. Getting the BBC to stump up the cash for free licences for the over-75s is one of the few pledges the Tory manifesto contains. That means more marketisation, more precarity, and a pressure on mega salaries for stars, including well remunerated chief correspondents, and less money for interesting programming and well resourced journalism. And there won't be anyone outside of parliament willing to run to its defence. If the BBC wasn't so important to this country's cultural life, it would deserve everything coming to it.


Speedy said...

JC dug his own grave on Neil, no excuses.

Labour knew the rules of the game before it played - although your comments on BBC bias are valid, they do not excuse the incompetent handling of the most important election... at least since the last one.

All of this will be for nothing when Boris re-enters No10, and the UK will be OUT of the EU, and the demolition will accelerate. The 'not right' has once again been defeated by the clinical pragmatism of the right - whether it is avoiding Neil or not standing in Tory seats.

It always seems to care more about posturing than winning, which makes you wonder if it really cares about what it stands for at all, or was defeated before it had even crossed the start line. What is this lack of killer instinct? That's an interesting sociological question. The irony is that once out of the EU the realignment of UK politics will inevitably be to the right, so more of a Democrats/ Republican situation.

Phil said...

And we also have this.

Anonymous said...

And we also have this:

Tasker Dunham said...

On Tuesday, the Afternoon Live programme (BBC news channel 2.00 p.m.) began with a report about the chief rabbi's criticisms of Corbyn followed by a long interview with another prominent member of the Jewish community who under questions from Simon McCoy asserted that the rabbi was an honourable man, gave evidence of anti-semitism (the mural, the befriending of people who want to kill Jews. "and hundreds of other examples") and so on. So these very strong accusation of anti-semitism went on for around ten minutes. The programme then moved on to the next item. No mitigating statement or point of view was included.

Boffy said...

Chickens came home to roost for Corbyn because of the reactionary nature of his Brexit position, and the duplicity of Labour's position in trying to reconcile it. Similarly, Corbyn is not an anti-Semite, but his support for others, Hamas, Hezbollah, the Iranian Mullahs, who are means he is in a weak position to defend against attack. Moreover, when other sin the Party have come under attack over the last three years, instead of combining opposition to real anti-Semitism with exposing and confronting the true nature of the witchhunt, Corbyn/Lansman et al threw those being witchhunted under the bus. Its all part and parcel of a weak, duplicitous leadership whose own confused, reactionary nationalist positions means it can't defend a real progressive socialist internationalist position.

The same is true with his attitude to Chavez, Morales etc. Being an opponent of imperialism does not in any way commit you to supporting those that are even more reactionary, just as wanting to go beyond capitalism cannot be achieved by trying to go backwards by trying to line up with the more reactionary sections of society, holding back capitalist development, or siding with the backward small capitalists against the monopolies.

Corbyn suffers like most of that strand of the Left by its innate negativism, rather than any positive visions for the future. Its good at being vociferous about what its against, but its confused about what its for, and when it does express it, its usually for a return to the past, dressed up in radical verbiage.

Unknown said...

Do you live with your parents, Boffy?

Dialectician1 said...

The centre-left/centre-right perspective of the BBC is a consistent feature of their output from its Reithian inception. In brief, it's a top-down elitist, Platonist view of the world: they see their role as the 'Ubermensch' in Nietzschean terms, overseeing the masses and managing their 'resentment'. Thus the endless Voxpox interviews from marketplaces in Middle England, where the bleeding hearts bleat about Brexit, yet feel sufficiently relaxed with the inevitability of ruling class politics to refer to the PM by his first name. (not Alexander)

The BBC just don't get class. Sorry, the BBC do get class; they get it SO MUCH that its scares them shitless. Luckily for them postmodernism came to their rescue. Now, they can sit back and report the endless variations of ‘identity politics’ gone bonkers. (for example, Corbyn being seen as an anti-Semite, will always trump the marketization of the NHS, or the housing crisis, or child poverty).

When (in the era of pre-postmodernism) politics was all about class, it used to confound them. Their response was to send their top journalists to London train stations to interview tired and weary commuters, whose trains had been cancelled because of strikes and record the inevitable response. Or, during the so-called ‘winter of discontent’, Sue Lawley would invite into the studio a NALGO shop steward and accuse him of murder. They were the good old days, when the BBC was embarrassed about reporting about class conflict but played an exemplary establishment role in reporting it as ‘deviant behaviour’.

Boffy said...


Why do you ask?

BCFG said...

"for example, Corbyn being seen as an anti-Semite, will always trump the marketization of the NHS, or the housing crisis, or child poverty"

Another example being racist chants at football matches but ignoring prison population statistics, which have quadrupled in the past 20 years. So much for things getting better!

Typical of Boffy to come to the defence of the unfree press yet again, this is a guy whose go to quote is from CNN! marxism my arse.

Also typical that he sides with the fascists now ruling in Bolivia and speaks out against the trade unionist socialist who was actually elected by the people!

For Boffy anything that impedes 'capitalist development', including turning the maldeveloped nations into planation economies is to be destroyed.

From Vietnam to Indonesia to Iraq to Syria through to Russia, Venezuela, Bolivia and Antarctica everywhere Boffy sides with the uber economic nationalism that is imperialism and everywhere Boffy is against the people who fight back.

Boffy is no Marxist, in fact with his comment in this thread he has openly declared himself a fascist. And he is just another fascist explaining his hatred of the left.

Incidentally note to all leftists, it should be noted that the fascists now in charge of Bolivia have only taken one news station off the air, and that is RT Spanish.

If You were me you would have my views said...

Anyone who only watches the corporate and state media can only be stupid (that might explain speedy?).

Forget anti Corbyn bias,

Some things people who only watch the corporate and state media won’t know:

The elected leader of Bolivia was overthrown in a coup and subsequently the fascists now in charge of Bolivia has killed up to 40 protestors thus far (no one have been killed in Hong Kong incidentally, but a few have been critically injured, mainly those who dare speak up against the protestors!)

Chile, that model of neo liberal economic so beloved of Trump, Johnson and Boffy, has seen mass protests in which scores have been killed (no one have been killed in Hong Kong incidentally, but a few have been critically injured, mainly those who dare speak up against the protestors!)

In Iraq (you might remember them) the PM has announced his resignation after the biggest mass killing of protestors in a single day (40), this coming after weeks of protests in Iraq in which scores have been killed (no one have been killed in Hong Kong incidentally, but a few have been critically injured, mainly those who dare speak up against the protestors!)

The astonishing level of violence by protestors in Hong Kong includes them setting fire to man who simply disagreed with what they said (reminder: these people are supposedly fighting for democracy!)

Julian Assange continues to rot in a British prison for speaking the truth to power, Assange being a real journalist rather than a stenographer for the ruling class, which is what the so called journalists who work for the BBC, Sky etc are.

My issue with philbc is that is is only concerned by the anti labour bias of the media but isn’t concerned by its pro imperialist bias. Typical of the Yvette Cooper loving centre left.

Boffy said...

If You Were BCFG You Would Have The Same Views as DFTM, CAAC, TOSPOPE, Chris, Brian B, The Seninel, Dave, SIOB, and a multitude of other pseudonyms.

In other words, you would have no views at all, but only a desire to pump out endless crap, one day as a mindless anti-imperialist, another as a BNP supporter, in the hope that someone will engage in a flame war with you.

What a pathetic excuse for a human being!

Blissex said...

«It always seems to care more about posturing than winning, which makes you wonder if it really cares about what it stands for at all, or was defeated before it had even crossed the start line. What is this lack of killer instinct?»

It is in part the belief that "the good people" will win in the end. Methodism?

Roy Hattersley in 2001 on the infiltration of the Mandelsonian Tendency entrysts:
“Now that the Labour Party - at least according to its leader - bases its whole programme on an alien ideology, I, and thousands of like-minded party members, have to decide if our loyalty is to a name or to an idea. [...]
A Labour government should not be talking about escape routes from poverty and deprivation. By their nature they are only available to a highly-motivated minority. The Labour Party was created to change society in such a way that there is no poverty and deprivation from which to escape. [...]
The certain knowledge that the Conservative Party would be a worse government than Labour is not enough to sustain what used to be a party of principles.”