June 17, 2007

It's Official: Bias At The BBC

Critics of the BBC have long complained of its liberal bias, contending that the political views of its management regularly seep into its reporting. Viewers and readers of the service have begun discounting its product as a result, and earlier formed a committee to investigate. They have returned a verdict that attempts to have it both ways:

The BBC has failed to promote proper debate on major political issues because of the inherent liberal culture of its staff, a report commissioned by the corporation has concluded.

The report claims that coverage of single-issue political causes, such as climate change and poverty, can be biased - and is particularly critical of Live 8 coverage, which it says amounted to endorsement. ...

After a year-long investigation the report, published today, maintains that the corporation’s coverage of day-to-day politics is fair and impartial.

But it says coverage of Live 8, the 2005 anti-poverty concerts organised by rock star campaigners Bob Geldof and Bono and writer Richard Curtis, failed to properly debate the issues raised.

Instead, at a time when the corporation was renegotiating its charter with the government, it allowed itself to effectively become a promotional tool for Live 8, which was strongly supported by Tony Blair and Gordon Brown.

In fact, the BBC turned themselves into the Africa network during the Live 8 period, and not just in its news programming. The BBC had its popular sitcom series The Vicar of Dibley adopt the Live 8 campaign as a story arc in which all of its characters endorsed the effort. It also aired a week-long series of documentaries by Sir Bob Geldof, and added a day-long celebration of the National Health Service to boot.

It got so bad that Sky News' political editor Adam Boulton accused the BBC of running government propaganda at a House of Lords committee hearing.

Given this ludicrous boosterism for pet causes, the overall conclusion that the BBC's news programming remains "fair and impartial" is equally ludicrous. An organization that thinks nothing of imposing its political agenda on its scheduling and its entertainment programming certainly wouldn't stop at just those portions of its broadcast. It makes it sound as if the only projects that BBC staff think about are Africa aid and socialized medicine.

The BBC should have itself audited by outside agencies. This report comes from a process managed entirely by BBC personnel. It admits the obvious while shielding the government-run network from the broader accusation of endemic political bias. An organization that could turn itself into a shill for Geldof, Tony Blair, and Bono at the drop of a hat is not one that delivers objective news on a regular basis. They got caught twice, and they're hoping that an admission on those points bolsters their denials on a myriad of other examples.

That makes them about as credible as the Vicar of Dibley cast and producers.


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Comments (10)

Posted by JEM | June 17, 2007 8:57 AM

I used to have a certain amount of respect for the Beeb, if only 'cause they seemed to go places the US operations wouldn't.

But their constant whingeing on climate change, to name just the one most grating example, has become in itself reason enough to shut them off.

There seems to be a sizeable number of Brits who seem to blindly embrace Great Causes - be they climate change, African poverty, land mines, nuclear disarmament, Palestine, blah blah blah - with such childlike faith that they're completely blinded to the notion that their cause may not be so Great as they think.

Posted by RBMN | June 17, 2007 9:34 AM

Anecdotally, from listening to the BBC Radio, I think their politics obviously influences who they talk to about America. From what I've heard, their range of American "experts" runs the whole gamut, from the far far left to the center moderate right. Michelle Malkin or Jonah Goldberg? Not so much.

It's a great resource if you want to hear from guys like Chomsky and Krugman. I don't.


Posted by TheGrandMufti | June 17, 2007 9:48 AM

The BBC has become the state propaganda organ of a non-existent Stalinist State.

Posted by pilsener | June 17, 2007 10:43 AM

The truly sad thing is that the BBC doesn't have to care about criticism. As long as it is an entity funded by a mandatory tax, there is no market pressure to reform.

Until the government forces the BBC to support itself, it will remain a well-funded leftist news/entertainment network.

Posted by Lew | June 17, 2007 11:45 AM

Gee, what a shock! A government funded media outlet that assiduously toes the government line. Who'da thunk it?

Does anybody really think that the source of one's funding could be ignored when it came to deciding what position to take on any issue that comes up? Is it just a coincidence that both BBC and NPR spout the same viewpoint and share the same funding source? If this is a revelation to ANYBODY, then we've got way more serious problems than a biased news source.

Posted by docjim505 | June 17, 2007 12:01 PM

I think Trent Lott is taking notes...

Posted by AnonymousDrivel | June 17, 2007 12:35 PM

Is there an authority of any size whatsoever, whether a singular person or a collective body, created by humanity that's receptive to outside scrutiny? It's antithetical to human behavior.

The media wants to be watchdog but dislikes being watched (well, except for its own commercialism) just as any entity, particularly one of privilege. If it can get by with watching itself and selling its conclusions to a critical audience, it can escape real scrutiny. That is its goal. Whether we accept that conclusion or not determines the degree of power the individual is willing to concede. Blogs, and posts like Ed's, serve as yet another check on man made institutions.

Power structure is dead! Long live power structure! Or something like that.

Posted by sherlock | June 17, 2007 1:28 PM

They are trying to pull a "Nifong" - admit the egregiously obvious blunders and hope you can avoid punishment for the far more serious purposeful crimes you commit. Unlike Nifong, however, they will probably get away with it.

Posted by Anthony (Los Angeles) | June 17, 2007 2:50 PM

This is news? I can't find the reference right now, but there was a BBC internal memo leaked about a year ago that criticized the organziation's Left-bias. It made quite a splash at the time.

Posted by Del Dolemonte | June 17, 2007 5:30 PM