Friday, 2 October 2015

Two Bad Boys - Different BBC Tones

There’s two ways to tell political stories, with, or without, bias. This is often a cause of disputes across the democratic world, so for example in the US, this discussion rages, along much the same fault lines as in the UK ....
In The US, Gallup Polls Often Record A Belief That The Media Is "Too Liberal"

..... whether with any real basis, is open to discussion.

Here in the UK, the BBC editorial guidelines state that 'Impartiality lies at the heart of public service and is the core of the BBC's commitment to its audiences', and the Agreement accompanying the BBC Charter requires them 'to do all they can to ensure controversial subjects are treated with due impartiality in their news and other output dealing with matters of public policy or political or industrial controversy'.

So they should show no bias in their reporting of political stories, and yet there are lingering claims from many groups, that the BBC editorial staff are generally left leaning, and act like the 'opposition’ on a range of social and political issues whenever the Labour party are out of office, which continue to be raised. But equally its fair to say that the paper press are generally anti left (with the exceptions of the Daily Mirror and Guardian). However two wrongs don't make a right ...
Now in the interests of fairness, I have to say up front that I agree to the view that the BBC are often perceived as anti-Tory, a legacy in many respects of the Thatcher years, and therefore the claims of biased political reporting can stick rather easily.

A fact that can in my opinion be backed up by a number of examples, but which is partly explained by their recruitment policies, which often seem to be nepotistic, and quota driven with regards to ‘the talent’ (as they coyly describe the entertainers, broadcasters and presenters) …. I mean is it biologically proven, that if your parents were any sort of celebrity, or a TV presenter, then you are more fitted for a TV presenters job, than some child from less august families? I don’t think so.

As for the directors/producers, programme developers etc, i.e. those who often go on to manage the corporation, well a red brick degree with some right on lefty credentials from the 1970's and 80's, seem to be the absolute minimum must for employment.

Fifty years of this sort of recruitment is bound to skew an organisation, especially one that often acts like the labour party, in many of its pet creeds. Of course by their very nature, multiculturalism and PC views, actually slant the reporting .e.g. whenever the latest Muslim Pakistani heritage rapists are convicted (and I admit it’s hard to keep of count of these outrages nowadays), they are usually described (when it was mentioned at all by the BBC), as ‘South Asian’. This presumably so as to a include millions of south Asian Hindu’s, Buddhists, and Christians in the mix, to both muddy the waters, and stop Muslim communities (where 99% of all these men are from), feeling ‘excluded’ or ‘victimised’ ….. noticeably, the same communities so called leaders, are never asked to explain why Muslim men think white, non-Muslim girls, are fair game for rape, or even why drugging and raping children is OK?

However this is all my opinion, and therefore could be part of my own personal belief in some bias in the BBC ….. so instead I will present two ‘political’ stories and their treatment as examples. The two figures involved are from a left leaning, and a right leaning political party, and both subjects have committed criminal acts (one financial, and the other involving class A drugs).

Two Bad Boys - Different BBC Tones.

The first is of course Lord Sewel … who? Yes that’s what I thought, so I read the story.

Lord Sewel, of Gilcomstoun in Aberdeen, is an ex University lecturer, who is in the House of lords. He was caught wearing a prostitutes bra, while allegedly snorting cocaine, and giving opinions on the current and past leadership of this country to the prostitutes. So what Party is he from? Well I had to read deep into this story (about ¾ of the way down) before finding that he is an ex Labour Party minister, who was Parliamentary under Secretary of State in the Scottish Office between 1997-1999, but who is now described as ‘not affiliated to any political party’.

In the second, it was an ex-MEP Ashley Mote … who? Yes that’s what I thought again,

So I read that he had fraudulently claimed almost £500,000 in European Parliament expenses and has been jailed. In the second paragraph he was described being elected on a Ukip ticket, but as having sat as an independent MEP for South East England between 2004 -2009 after being expelled from Ukip for benefit fraud. In other words he was never actually a Ukip MEP … a fact which was only confirmed in the very last paragraph of the story when the Ukip leader Mr Farage was quoted thus:

"He was never a Ukip MEP I'm pleased to say. He was elected on a Ukip list. I found out very quickly and thought he was a wrong 'un so I kicked him out of the party, and this will be his second prison sentence so there you are. He never took his seat as a Ukip MEP. He was a member of Ukip, who was elected and I kicked him out even before he took his seat."

Now to be fair, most other news media, particularly the newspaper press covered the MEP story with a mention of his Ukip connections in the headlines, so the BBC were more restrained than many, but the BBC has a duty of impartiality which the other media don’t. This means treating all scandals to the same standards.

The whole flavour of the reporting in the two stories is significantly different …… in one, the political affiliation is downplayed, and almost buried in other information. In the other, the name of his ‘party’ is mentioned early, and the connection maintained, even though it was clear that it was a tenuous link at best.

Although the BBC would no doubt find some way to justify the two different tones adopted, it’s the fact that they have two tones at all, that disturbs me.

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