Following a recent post on the furore over Dr Raabe’s appointment to the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs I was criticised, amongst other things, for the implication that a BBC journalist may have massaged his message. I have not reproduced the entire comment as it was as long as the original post, if you want to blog do it on your own don’t piggy back mine.
The passage concerning the BBC was: “Finally – your insinuation that Easton invented the threatened resignation from the ACMD is a baseless slander on his proffessional [sic] conduct, and a poor substitute for a real argument. It is also factually incorrect – as you will presumably learn in the coming days.”
There was no insinuation that Mark Easton had invented the threatened resignations, I merely refused to accept as fact unattributed statements emanating from a journalist with an axe to grind.
More than a week has passed and still there have been no resignations from the ACMD. Neither have there been any suggestion of threatened resignations.
What Easton, BBC’s home editor, did in his blog was to present as factual what was either unsubstantiated rumour, idle gossip or part of a power play within the ACMD. Even if there were to be resignations in the future it would not invalidate my contention that Easton was not reporting but rather revealing his own position on this matter. But after all that is what blogs are for.
What is interesting in the comment was the willingness to give the BBC a free pass. This is an organisation with form and to unthinkingly accept whatever emanates from Broadcasting House is at best naïve.
Mark Thompson, director general of the BBC, admitted last year that the Corporation had a “massive” left wing bias.
This was not an isolated admission. In June 2007 a year long inquiry within the corporation found it was particularly partial in its treatment of single-issue politics such as climate change, poverty, race and religion. It concluded that the bias has extended across drama, comedy and entertainment, with the corporation pandering to politically motivated celebrities and trendy causes.
In October 2006 Andrew Marr said “The BBC is not impartial or neutral. It’s a publicly funded, urban organisation with an abnormally large number of young people, ethnic minorities and gay people. It has a liberal bias not so much a party-political bias. It is better expressed as a cultural liberal bias.”
Robin Aitken a former BBC journalist for 25 years said “I mean in our office there’s a picture of Bush as Hitler. I don’t know where they got it, but yes, Bush as Hitler. It’s quite a serious thing comparing Bush to Hitler! So did anyone in the newsroom in question object? No. Noboby did.” No matter what you may think of George W comparing him to Hitler does reveal a certain bias.
It goes on, not only criticism from outside the organisation but reports of bias from deep within. If this was any other broadcasting organisation it would not matter any more than the evident bias in different newspapers. With newspapers we know what we are buying, you don’t purchase the Guardian and expect it to take the same line as the Telegraph.
But with the BBC we have no choice. If we want to listen to the radio or watch television in the UK we are forced to pay a licence fee which goes to the BBC. This being the case we should not just expect impartiality, we should demand it. Aunty has had a free pass for far too long.