Wednesday 15 July 2020

The BBC's Leftist Bias

It's another victory for the advancing armies of Wokeism. Andrew Neil, scourge of ill-prepared politicians and upsetterer of the snowflake left is done. Along with 520 jobs set to go from the BBC, his show is not being renewed and when Politics Live resumes, he won't be hosting it. Pity then not the poor workers about to be left high and dry, but Britain's under siege right wingers. Still reeling from the government's decision to make face masks compulsory in shops, their favourite journalists are as cancelled as their civil liberties. Sucks to be them. Well, no one is sacking Andrew Neil. In fact, so keen are the BBC to see Brillo's back end that it wants to give him a new show.

It's curious. When you're on the left, it's not so much an article of faith that the BBC is biased toward the narrow range of establishment opinion but rather a fact of political life. The BBC's politics coverage takes its cue from the papers, who are overwhelmingly slanted to the right, and shares the same assumptions not just about newsworthiness, but the world too. Jeremy Corbyn was, of course, the outsider par excellence and got the treatment they thought he deserved. But to a lesser extent, Nigel Farage and Nick Griffin in their turns received the same.

Yet one thing that has always tickled are the accusations of bias that come from the right. These come in two flavours. Moaning whenever a Tory politician is asked a tricky question, or someone in the Question Time audience turns out to be a Labour activist or councillor. Which is funny because those times when it's a Labour politician caught like a terrified rabbit in the headlights of scrutiny, or a Tory activist or councillor in the audience gets to ask a pointed, party political question do not register at all. None are so blind as those who do not wish to see. And then we have those complaints claiming the BBC is structurally biased towards the left. How do they work that one out?

Over the years, professional shithouses and right wing commentators invariably booked for slots on BBC television and radio like to claim Auntie is run by liberal elites. You might as well call it Graun TV. And how does "leftism" manifest in their output? Not via socialist messaging (though howls out outrage accompany most episodes of Doctor Who) or the broadcasting of communism, but ... by ensuring women, LGBTQ+ folks and minority ethnicities get a fair crack. In the last 10 years, the BBC was at the forefront of pushing high profile and good quality programming centring characters who aren't your archetypal straight white men and does not revolve around their experiences. Shows as innocuous as Killing Eve or Luther are vanguards of liberal tolerance, which is always the outer shell of militant Cultural Marxism. This is nothing new. From the unlamented ex-Tory MP Aiden Burley getting sniffy over the "multicultural crap" of the 2012 Olympics ceremony to the racists who objected to Derek Griffiths appearing on Playschool in the 1970s and 80s, the desire our media should reflect society as it is instead of how they imagine it to be tips them into states of apoplexy. This, apparently, is left wing.

Stands to reason then a balanced and non-biased BBC would be racist, sexist, homophobic, and happily run gags ridiculing disabled people. In fact, insisting women and ethnic and sexual minorities be treated equally and that, for once, white men should fade into the background is the real bigotry. In other words, what drives ludicrous and increasingly hysterical accusations of leftist bias at the BBC is the brittle character of their privilege. It's almost as if the commentators who bang on about it know they're mediocre and wouldn't have got anywhere without the right connections, a word from Daddy, and the advantages afforded by their pale bodies. And in a world characterised by galloping anxiety, especially among those who have a stake in it, a female face or an Asian face at the BBC is a cultural reminder of how they are not forever. They shrink in fear before the advance notice of their obsolescence and lash out at those they hold responsible, such as pin up hate figures on the left, or the imaginary Bolshevists plotting the overthrow of Britain from Broadcasting House.

Leftwing bias at the BBC does not exist, it is not an everyday property of British politics. But then again, the right wing imaginary has never been much interested in the inconvenience of the real.


Anonymous said...

Derek Griffiths.

Braingrass said...

There are four academic studies of BBC News that I know of using media content analysis. They all conclude that the BBC is biased against the left and the Labour party. I know of none that conclude the opposite.

Andy DM said...

Terry Griffiths on Play School? That was the famously slow paced snooker player. I think you mean the God-Emperor himself Derek Griffiths, famous in this house for the 'Magic E' song.

Phil said...

Never, *never* blog late at night.

Anonymous said...

aren't you comparing apples and oranges? It is entirely consistent for the BBC's news agenda to be slanted to the conservative right, while other programme-makers and commissioners have absorbed the tenets common to their Guardian-reading milieu.

it is, therefore, possible for the BBC to be slanted to both 'left' (or liberalism) and the right.

watching Borgen on Netflix, I am struck by the (so-called) Moderate Party - the centrists - and the relative lack of centre-ground on offer in politics (anywhere) and the media. We are pulled toward the left tribe or the right tribe, when most of us would more happily live somewhere in the boring centre.

given its slant, the content of both news and everyday programming is rather unreflective of the ordinary experience of most people. Perhaps this tension is what keeps us entertained.

Anonymous said...

GraunTV? Give me a break! Their coverage has made me give up on them entirely. Why should I support a paper whose editors hold me in contempt: spending the last 5 years suggesting half their readership are dangerous anti-Semitic fantasists. No wonder they're struggling financially.

Think you mean Deryck Guyler, not Griffiths? Thought he was at his best as the Police Sergeant in the Beatles' film A Hard Day's Night.

Blissex said...

The BBC was thoroughly infiltrated during the Blair era, and in any case it is institutionally whig/centrist/thatcherist, like other organs of the state. Currently like so many others it is thatcherite on economic issues and socially progressive on cultural issues, so it gets called "right" (thatcherite) leaning by the left and "left" (identity politics) leaning by the right.
We have to remember that every non-trivial hire by the BBC used to be formally vetted by MI5.

Also many times since 2010 various tories have been threatening to defund it unless it becomes more "democratic" to support more the opinions of the voters who have elected the government majority, who constantly write to their Conservative MPs complaining about the socialist/EUSSR bias of the BBC.

Blissex said...

«We are pulled toward the left tribe or the right tribe, when most of us would more happily live somewhere in the boring centre.»

That's the enduring myth of english politics, that there is a significant centre. There used to be a centre, during the postwar years, when both right and left were mildly socialdemocratic (working class and lower-middle class politics), and centre-right or centre-left, but that evaporated with thatcherism (upper-middle and upper class politics).

There is currently no centre between property owners and buyers, between landlords and renters, between employers and ever more casualized workers, between investors and those who live on debt.

What many people call "the centre" is just the class politics of the affluent property owners of southern "Middle England" suburbs, which is the milder thatcherism of the original M Thatcher governments, rather than its more extreme current version. That type of class politics is well represented by the LibDems, and by the cameronians and mandelsonians in the other two parties.

Dipper said...

I have stopped watching BBC 'News' and am eagerly waiting for the day the licence fee ends so I can stop paying to be lectured by idiots.

What really irritates me about the BBC is the complete lack of awareness of its position as a compulsorily funded national broadcaster. This central fact of its funding should inform its every moment on screen. The Guardian is far worse, for example, but no-one makes you read the Guardian, if you don't want to pay for it you don't have to, so I don't object to it I just disagree with it.

I don't and didn't like Corbyn, I think most far left are delusional. But it isn't the job of the BBC to agree with me. It is their job to give people with a significant national following an opportunity to put their position and subject it to reasonable interrogation. It shouldn't have a 'line' which it clearly does, and which is effectively Blairite.

There has been much discussion recently on the BBC about 'Empire' without ever mentioning 'the 3C's'. I don't understand how anyone can form a rounded view on Empire if that isn't mentioned. Like discussing Socialism without mentioning redistribution of wealth.

Anonymous said...

"But no-one makes you read the Guardian", Dipper said complacently. In that moment, eight storeys down inside the Islington bunker, Katharine Viner nodded to her second-in-command, who pushed the button to initiate the launch sequence of the Domsday Satellite. The machine ran through its startup perfectly. Sure, mistakes had been made along the way - she should never have delegated branding to the subeditors - but inwardly she laughed. Did those idiots really think the Scott Trust had ploughed through all that money paying Owen Jones' salary?

"The Security Council is on the line," a second lackey informed her. Onscreen, the inside of the UN headquarters appeared.

"Ladies and gentleman," Viner said, "my terms are simple..."