If the freedom of speech is taken away then dumb and silent we may be led, like sheep to the slaughter.

- George Washington

Sunday, 12 July 2009

What do you make of this?

I used to be proud of the BBC - great British institution, utterly impartial, envy of the world, all that. Well worth the trivial licence fee.

Now I think it should be scrapped. It's not because of any overt bias - they can wheel programme controllers out ad lib whenever they like to 'prove' that the coverage is even-handed. It's because of the subtle mind-set which seems to pervade almost the entire output. It reads something like:

We all know what is good and what is bad.
We know that all our listeners (well, the ones that matter) agree with us
Therefore we can speak as if we were with friends
Anyone who disagrees is outside the consensus and can be dismissed as extreme.

It's conveyed by tone of voice and subtle gesture, by the choice of issue and speaker, and by the entire editorial approach to certain issues. The only way this could be done is if almost all staff were of the same bien-pensant centre-left mind - as evidenced by the reports of empty champagne bottles rolling about the corridors of Broadcasting House on the morning of 2 May 1997.

So the BNP are always referred to as 'right-wing racists' (they may be racists, but their politics are Old Labour). Eurosceptic viewpoints are always dismissed as swivel-eyed lunacy[1]. Any challenge to the theory (yes, it is still only a theory, not a proven fact) of climate change is either not given air time, or presented as a bull-headed refusal to accept facts that we all know to be right.

I've got used to the BBC being the mouthpiece of New Labour. But I have never, ever, seen anything as blatant as this. Watch it closely. See how she tries to attract his attention. See how he waves his hand - don't make it too obvious, love - before an aggressive onslaught to try to silence IDS. And look at the expression on her face as she does this.

The incoming Government should sell the BBC to the highest bidder. Let them see if there is a market for this kind of thing, or if it's only possible when you have a cosy relationship with the governing party, your paymasters.

H/t to Counting Cats.

[1] A reliable test of this is if the interviewer begins a question with the words "but surely ...". This is a way of saying "I know you are wrong, and the viewers know you are wrong; in fact, the world knows you are wrong. You surely don't expect us to believe the utter bilge I know you are about to come out with ...". You can almost see them looking over their shoulder at the camera and winking. Kirsty Wark and John Humphrys, I'm talking about you. At least Paxman doesn't hide his contempt; and he has the virtue of being funny.

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