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What did you do in the war?

Peter Barron | 12:01 UK time, Friday, 4 May 2007

Newsnight is under attack again from Medialens, the online group whose self-appointed task is to "correct the distorted vision of the corporate media".

Newsnight logoThey take issue with an interview Gavin Esler did recently with the US Under Secretary of State Nick Burns on Iran and Iraq. I don't think it was the greatest interview we ever did, and nor does Gavin, but does that make us, as some Medialens adherents have claimed, complicit in war crimes or agents in preparing for war with Iran?

Unlike some in the media who studiously ignore them, I've always thought Medialens make a noteworthy contribution. Along with other lobbyists and pressure groups they invite us to question what we do and when they make a valid point we should reflect it. But how many people do they actually represent?

We had a different complaint this week about our coverage of the Iraq war from Michael Gove, the Conservative front bencher. He said: "It is still the case that around one third of the British population believes, despite all the errors and horrors, that the decision to remove Saddam was right. But where, and how often, is that perspective presented on the BBC?" Should we listen more to that view than Medialens's? Gove at least represents Britain's currently most popular political party.

Where I do agree with Medialens though is that we shouldn't try to please everyone by adopting a safely uncontroversial stance somewhere in the middle. Our job is to ask uncomfortable questions reflecting views from right, left and centre and not just from those who shout the loudest.


  • 1.
  • At 01:48 PM on 04 May 2007,
  • csharp wrote:

what a rant of a website filled with psycho babble. i got as far as chomsky then i knew we were in wonderland.

they say media is not reporting the truth as if truth exists. all we have are versions. the best you can do is tell an interesting story. there are only 7 basic plots [or if you like 36].

why don't they do some original reports rather than backseat driving.

their big flaw is the belief that people need to be told 'truth' and cannot discern 'it' for themselves.

  • 2.
  • At 02:46 PM on 04 May 2007,
  • Dudley wrote:

Why don't you say here that medialens is a left wing pressure group? You are always keen to flag up any other group's right wing credentials.

  • 3.
  • At 03:17 PM on 04 May 2007,
  • Mark wrote:

I have noticed the consistantly poor quality of BBC interviews. I am convinced BBC doesn't even understand the purpose of an interview.

"We shouldn't try to please everyone by adopting a safe uncontroversial stance somewhere in the middle. Our job is to ask uncomfortable questions reflecting views from right, left, and centre and not just from those who shout the loudest."

NO! BBC should not be taking a "stance" at all. That is not the purpose of an interview. The purpose is to elicit the views and opinions of the interviewee to shed as much light on that individual and the positions he or she represents as possible to inform the audience, not to editorialize and not to debate. BBC interviewers are exceptionally confrontational with those interviewees whose views they disagree with while providing a platform from which to orate unchallenged to those it does agree with. This results in uniformly weak interviews which tells the audience little or nothing of value.

As an object lesson, here is an interview Charlie Rose conducted with Nicolas Sarkozy earlier this year on his show on PBS.

Rose elicited more pertinent information in one hour from Sarkozy and got more insight about him for his audience than most all other interviews I've seen combined. He was very knowledgeable about all of the important aspects of the questions he asked, very well prepared. The interview was completely non confrontational and as a result, Sarkozy opened up. The only time Rose challenged him was when he was initially reluctant to discuss how being raised by his grandfather had affected his life.

An interview is not a debate, it is an opportunity to learn about someone. And each time I hear one on BBC, it strikes me that it was a wasted opportunity.

  • 4.
  • At 03:32 PM on 04 May 2007,
  • merle wrote:

In the hierarchy of ethical journalism, MediaLens comes out on top. How many people do MediaLens represent, you ponder? As many as have been disaffected by the BBC and other mainstream media, which are seen to uncritically cheerlead US-UK military interventionism. If BBC journalists had acted like their MediaLens counterparts and exposed and challenged the lies of governments, instead of channelling and echoing them, the Bush/Blair attack on Iraq would have been untenable. MediaLens certainly helps correct the distortion of mainstream western media which tends to present foreign policy 'through a self-righteous, one-way moral/legal screen with positive images of western values and innocence portrayed as threatened, validating a campaign of unrestricted violence.' (Richard Falk, Professor of International Relations, Princeton).

  • 5.
  • At 04:09 PM on 04 May 2007,
  • Karma Llama wrote:

According to Medialens, Newsnight is 'once again preparing the way for mass killing' by conducting a television interview in a way they deem inappropriate. This immoderate, almost hysterical, language is the reason why this self-appointed group lose much of their clout. Too much of it comes across as self-righteous nit-picking - Medialens' approach comes too close too often to being the equivalent of flicking a speck of mud off the top of a midden, and I have limited patience with it. Of course you should be as prepared to listen to them as to Michael Gove but their claim that you are institutionally complicit in murder is risible. The media is not the furtive homogeneous collective that Medialens often portray, the 'truth' is far more complicated. There are inherent conflicts of interest for any group that is dependent on the perceived failings of others for its continued existence, and taking a high moral tone is not a satisfactory substitute for acknowledging that.

  • 6.
  • At 04:15 PM on 04 May 2007,
  • J M Deene wrote:

Many people feel the BBC slants towards the left: the being BBC criticised by aging Marxists and a Tory MP doesn't imply the BBC is in the middle. The BBC reflects the values and biases of the people that work there. Although I freely concede the BBC tries harder than any other broadcaster to be impartial.

I completely agree with Peter's post where he says the BBC should stop trying to find the middle ground and, instead, reflect left, right and centre.

My concern is that the BBC will further lapse into moral relativism where all views carry equal weight and the BBC refuses to take a moral stance because it has abandoned a (subjective) moral core in its pursuit of impartiality.

An example of this is the way Orla Guerin used to place the actions of Hamas suicide bombers on the same moral plane as Israeli retaliation.

Another is when a sadist blew himself up killing 70 Iraqi university students and the BBC dubbed him an 'insurgent'. Whilst this term is deemed by the BBC as politically neutral, its refusal to take a stance is a stance in itself.

In short: the BBC can only reflect the debates on fascism v. freedom; religious fundamentalism v. freedom of thought; Enlightenment v. medievalism; Modernity v. anti-Modernity if it decides where it stands on these issues. At the moment on the BBC, it's not at all clear.

  • 7.
  • At 04:31 PM on 04 May 2007,
  • Paul D wrote:

The purpose of an interview (Mark) - and especially one which is necessarily limited by time contraints - is to get as close to the truth as you can in the time available. I never cease to be astonished by the number of people who accept invitations to be interviewed and then simply do not answer the questions put. I suppose the classic example from the Newsnight archive is Michael Howard refusing to tell us whether Mr.Lewis jumped or was pushed. We still don't know and probably never will but at least Jeremy Paxman succeeded in making him look very stupid and you don't get much closer to the truth than that.

Mark is, with respect, confusing the carefully prepared hour or more long in-depth dialogue of the Sarkozy/Rose type with the short sharp interrogation which news programming demands. Putting up or shutting up is not an option in that situation. If the guests are unwilling to put up, they should not agree to appear in the first place. If they do, they deserve everything they get.

Confrontational interviewing should not confused with bias. Devil's advocacy is a legitimate weapon in the interviewer's arsenal.

  • 8.
  • At 04:38 PM on 04 May 2007,
  • J M Deene wrote:

I have just seem Mark's post and disagree. The BBC should reflect values in its interviews.

I remember Paxman questioning the BNP leader on Newsnight, with Paxo asking whether Mr Griffin would allow his daughter to date a non-white. His line of questioning was based on moral values and not on automatically taking the opposite position.

He did it again this week questioning Hazel Blears, exposing how politician's actions are motivated by political expediency and not political principles. Again, this was a line of questioning based on values and not automatically taking the opposite position.

I agree with your general thrust: sometimes BBC reporters just mindlessly disagree with interviewees for the sake of it, and sometimes in the process, will 'attack' the interviewee from some hideous political positions... especially if they're American.

  • 9.
  • At 07:46 PM on 04 May 2007,
  • Mark wrote:

The irnoy of extreme left wing organizations like Medialens is that were they ever to get their way and a society established based on their own distortions of words, events, and history, the new order they seek would see them as dangerous subversives and the first to be eliminated as a threat. This invariably happens in every totalitarian state as is being seen today in Venezuela whose government will surpress free speech in the press even by those who supported it should they speak against the Chavez goverment. Notorious left wing America bashers like Noam Chomsky who are so clever at redefining familiar words to mean whatever they want them to mean so that they command enormous emotional impact in service of their own cause are the kind of people who are the darlings of Medialens and the source of intellectual corruption and intolerance which is destroying academic freedom on college campuses across the United States. Their tactics denying freedom of speech to those they disagree with by shouting down speakers can be seen in may places routinely, especially on campuses like Columbia University in New York City. Chomsky was interviewed by BBC. In one sentence he said that the US was a rogue nation. Later he defined a rogue nation as one which acts in it's own self interest. Excuse me Mr. Chomsky, doesn't that include every nation on earth?????? Too bad BBC's interviewer didn't have the presence of mind to point that out and ask him about it.

  • 10.
  • At 12:47 PM on 05 May 2007,
  • Alex Swanson wrote:

Interesting that you should seriously consider the views of Medialens, which is explicitly aimed at "corporations", not publicly-funded bodies like the BBC, but I've never read a word about the opinions of the much more relevant anti-BBC websites such as

Or is it that one is left-wing, and therefore to be acknowledged, and one isn't, and is therefore to be ignored?

Where has Gove got his figure from? Or has he just made that up off the top of his pretty little head?

  • 12.
  • At 11:47 PM on 05 May 2007,
  • Karen wrote:

Medialens or not, I think the BBC is complicit to war crimes: Bending over backwards to provide the Bush Administration a stage to ram their lies down our collective throats, lying about 911 even though it's clearly obvious you know the truth (anyone with a brain should be able to figure that one out - perhaps you should stop lying and free the world of this injustice? Nah, you'll keep lying because your paycheck is worth more to you than a million lives - disgusting!). I could go on, but it's not likely you will pay attention. Hope to see you, Peter, on trial at the Hague.

I agree with Peter Barron - that Medialens are asking some important, if uncomfortable, questions.

I also strongly agree with Mark's comments about the purpose of interviews. Done well, an interview does not need to be aggressive in order to find out what someone thinks or advocates. This seems to me a neglected art.

  • 14.
  • At 07:08 PM on 06 May 2007,
  • ChrisR wrote:

Judging from their web-site MediaLens is a bunch of barking mad loony lefts. So worrying about pleasing them is the equivalent, but from the exact opposite end of the political spectrum, of considering what the BNP would think about your journalism.

  • 15.
  • At 01:03 AM on 07 May 2007,
  • Richard wrote:

"An interview is not a debate, it is an opportunity to learn about someone. And each time I hear one on BBC, it strikes me that it was a wasted opportunity."

True, but most often people are interesting in hearing the important, hard hitting questions being put to these key figures. Certainly, in any extended interview I would be most keen to see the intervewee's response to the criticisms commonly levelled at them.

If you want basic information on a politicians policies, then they have a website for that. What I'm usually interested in is hearing these people respond to their critics, or explain their controversial ideas. This is a key element of good journalistic coverage I feel, just as much as an even-headed airing of the basic facts. "Asking the uncomfortable questions," as it is often referred to.

When it comes to western media bias, it's undeniable that the mainstream media leans towards the US-UK viewpoint, but I dont think it's sufficiently biased to devalue it. You simply have to be proactive and seek out a broad range of news sources, and attempt to bring it all together in to your own understanding of the issues, because in practice impartiality is impossible to achieve. I recommend Al Jazeera and France 24 as interesting alternatives.

  • 16.
  • At 09:43 AM on 07 May 2007,
  • Sharad Sharma wrote:

Clearly most of the western media including BBC indulge more into propaganda than true journalism when it comes to dramatic events like Afghanistan and Iraq.

Still we don't talk about the issues in Afghanistan as much as we should do. That country has been left high and dry after the so-called ousting of Taleban and Al-Qaeda. The only country which needed cleaning up and reconstruction support in the aftermath of 911 has been left at the side lines with a puppet government in place.

As for Iraq, the governments of US and UK have committed crimes by what they have done to Iraq. It is no more a question of - was it correct to remove Saddam? or was it an intelligence failure?

This was a pure and crystal clear criminal act. Pre-planned and without justification what-so-ever.

If western media would have been really responsible and would have the intention of not allowing such criminal acts by their politicians in future, they would have been showing the real story and the genuine voices of their own populace which is restlessly against the proceedings in Iraq.

To be honest, both the US and UK governments involved in these criminal acts should be legally tried within the available legal framework and be made responsible for their criminal acts and the media, if caring for true journalism, could be very much instrumental in bringing about this in reality.

  • 17.
  • At 11:55 AM on 07 May 2007,
  • dave wrote:

The BBC is completely unforgivable for its slavish surrender to power. It goes beyond Iraq and embraces other issues: i.e. it saying nothing about the clampdown of civil liberties, as recently exemplified by the arrest of animal rights activists for holding anti vivisection, pro -vegan views. The BBC reports their arrest for "blackmail" without once daring to ask, what in fact this "blackmail" consists of (answer: once legal demostration).

  • 18.
  • At 12:04 PM on 07 May 2007,
  • Matthew Cummins wrote:

You present Gove's question/comment in that tiresome way that the BBC always does..."look we're constantly under pressure from both can we please everyone?" But this is to miss the point. ML's point is that the view apparently held by 1/3 of the population (a generous estimate by any standard) - which more importantly is the establishment view - is consistently represented as THE position and the view represented by 2/3 (at least, on Gove's estimate) is sidelined continually. Even Gove's idea - that 1/3 of the population believe "that the decision to remove Saddam was right" is left unchallenged. We did not go to war to, or take a decision to remove saddam hussein. We went to war because he would not disarm. But he could not disarm - he had no weapons. NOT to remind the British public of this is to skew the facts in the direction favoured by the establishment. It is not the truth. This is propaganda.

  • 19.
  • At 12:07 PM on 07 May 2007,
  • Darren McDonald wrote:

The +only+ thing you should be concerened about is reporting the truth. It is not importent who backs or hacks at this.

The whole point of producing 'flak' is to stop you reporting uncomfortable truths.

Your blog suggests you should balance all the views presented to you and then report on the middle ground to minimise 'flak'.

What you are actually saying then is that you are not able to report the truth.

And thats what I believe. Report the truth and you will lose your job.

  • 20.
  • At 12:31 PM on 07 May 2007,
  • David Traynier wrote:

Why should it matter how many people Media Lens represent? The pertinent issue is whether the points they make are correct or not. In some cases, that may be a matter of opinion but, time and again, they provide facts -often sourced from the mainstream media, which the BBC omits or ignores.

They also point to wider problems of professionalised journalistic culture -particularly the engrained, half-conscious assumption that, while they may be guilty of error, hubris, incompetence and occasionally corruption, 'western' governments and basically well-intentioned. This assumption is then used to interpret information -rather than using information to (in)validate the assumption. The most concrete illustration of this is way in which airy statements from politicians about love for freedom and democracy are assumed to be genuine and the motivation for foreign policy -even when the objective evidence belies this.

The invasion of Iraq is a case in point. The professed desire for liberation, freedom and democracy was taken as a given and evidence was then selected and filtered to conform with this assumption. Rhetoric -when it is 'our' rhetoric -is treated as evidence.

That's not journalism -something which becomes apparent when 'enemy' politicians are interviewed. If the President of Iran expressed a desire for freedom for all and a love of democracy, he would not be taken at his word and Iranian foreign policy would not be interpreted accordingly. Iranian policy would be evaluated and then a judgement made as to how seriously we could take his words. That's the correct thing to do and is what the BBC -and professional journalists as a class- almost entirely fail to do with our own leaders.

Media Lens is not perfect and it is not always correct but it has earned the support and respect that it has because it is meticulous and fact-based. Moreover, many of its subscribers have since learnt from personal experience how 'awkward' facts will be almost entirely filtered from BBC coverage or relegated to the background where they can do no harm. When this happens, the excuse will always be a 'lack of time' or the act that 'you can't pick them up on everything' or that some distorted formulation is 'journalistic shorthand'. I've seen this time and again from my own personal correspondence with BBC journalists.

The Iraq invasion brought this home to far more people than ever before because the action was so manifestly unjust and the veneer of justification so palpably thin. Any half-decent journalist should have torn Tony Blair et al to shreds over their lies and deceptions yet so-called 'rottweilers' like Jeremy Paxman failed repeatedly. It was taken as a given that Iraq had WMD despite the reams of evidence that demonstrated the contrary.

For example, it was left to John Pilger to find and broadcast (at close to midnight on ITV) the on camera statements of Colin Powell and Condoleezza Rice confirming, in 2001, that Iraq was defenceless.

It was the BBC that allowed, almost without exception, cabinet ministers to tell us that Iraq has 'kicked out' UNSCOM inspectors in 1998 when even the BBC coverage at the time made it clear that they were withdrawn by the US. Even today, Brigitte Kendall continues to repeat the falsehood, which Helen Boaden described to me as an acceptable 'journalistic shorthand'.

It was the BBC that took professed desires to 'liberate' Iraq as if they had been the motivation for the invasion all along when both Blair and Bush made it quite clear beforehand that they were only interested in disarmament and that, if that was delivered, Saddam's brutal and terrible regime could stay in place.

Now it is the BBC conveying US-UK propaganda against Iran. Huge play is given to their 'concerns' about the alleged nuclear weapons programme with seldom a mention that there is zero evidence of one. When was the last time the BBC mentioned that it was the US, from the 50s to the 70s who aided Iran with its civilian nuclear programme and, during the Ford Administration, was in the process of selling reactors to the Shah. It is was also the BBC who gave wall to wall coverage a few weeks ago of so called 'evidence' that Iran was supplying Iraqi 'insurgents' with enhanced IEDs but virtually ignored the remarks of the US's most senior military officer, Gen. Peter Pace, when he stated a day or so later that there was no evidence of Iranian Government involvement. Of course, there may have been something tucked away on the website but we all know how the bulk of the population get their news from the BBC: via the TV news, which may as well be an arm of the Foreign Office.

I could go on but I won't. Suffice to say, one of the joys of the internet is that all of this can be stored and retrieved -allowing diligent amateur researchers to do the job that BBC so signally fails to do.

  • 21.
  • At 02:29 PM on 07 May 2007,
  • Martin Johnson wrote:

Has it occurred to Peter Barron that Esler's deferential interviews are one reason some British people still believe this was a just invasion? How bad can the neo-cons be when our own 'rottweilers' treat them with such respect, and avoid the really important issues like civillian casualties?

And so what if some people still do think this was a moral conquest rather than an oil grab? Newsnight's obligation is to broadcast truth, not to propagate comforting misconceptions. This was not a moral war, public opinion doesn't come into it.

  • 22.
  • At 04:43 PM on 07 May 2007,
  • nick mallory wrote:

Why are Iranian Islamic fundamentalists who are intimidating students for the usual crime of insulting Islam described as 'right wingers' no less than six times in this report?

Is the use of the BBC's favourite political hate word designed to avoid any mention of the otherwise obvious role that Islam is playing in the persecuting of students by Islamic fundamentalists for the 'crime' of insulting Islam in some way? Is it all Nicolas Sarkozy's fault perhaps? After all we've been told he's 'divisive' several hundred times on the Today Programme today so anything's possible.

The use of the term 'right wingers' to describe the communist old guard in the collapsing Soviet Union (e.g. the hardest of the old left wing) was always good for a laugh and, in these eco conscious days, perhaps it's just as well that the same tactic is being recycled by the BBC now.

Are the suicide bombers in Iraq 'right wing' too?

  • 23.
  • At 06:23 PM on 07 May 2007,
  • Dr M Tasab wrote:

You miss the point by a mile Peter. Unfortunately you virtually always fail to ask uncomfortable questions to pro-war pundits although you appear to think you do. In contrast, anti-war interviewees rarely even appear on Newsnight. Medialens are essentially correct. You often grant pro-war or government officials the space to spout out official government rhetoric, without sufficient challenge as to the accuracy of their statements. The framing of the interview is always within narrow limits and always assumes that the USA and UK have legitimate aims in Iraq. They do tell lies you know. Remember the dodgy dossiers? Downing street memos? The fake nuclear angle? The 45 minute claim? It seems you all have very short memories at the BBC. Why do you assume that government intentions are benign? As for self-appointed, who do you want to appoint medialens as an official watchdog? The same government that illegally invaded Iraq and caused the butchery that goes on today? That is term often used by people to denigrate critics. Critics do not need appointment. They do a far better job of their work than you do.

  • 24.
  • At 01:38 PM on 08 May 2007,
  • Harold wrote:

Medialens have opened my eyes to the desperate situation the media in the UK finds itself in. The pressure from the government who in turn are pressured by the corporations who in turn are buying the media. We're just moments away from a media that's as honest as Russia's.

The mainstream media and in particular it's journalists could learn a lot form the walk out by the editor in chief of PC World magazine last week. He had principles and morals that obviously don't exist at the BBC or other national media.

By cheerleading the illegal invaision of Iraq you ARE complicit in the war crimes that have been committed. Futhermore you look perfectly happy to do it all again for Iran. You are looking for more war, more death and more terrorism. You only have to tell the truth (as hard as that may be) to stop the slaughter.

  • 25.
  • At 02:50 PM on 08 May 2007,
  • John Hilley wrote:

Hi Peter,

Thanks for your supportive comments on the value of Media Lens and the claims of “some Medialens adherents”.

You write:

"They take issue with an interview Gavin Esler did recently with the US Under Secretary of State Nick Burns on Iran and Iraq. I don't think it was the greatest interview we ever did, and nor does Gavin, but does that make us, as some Medialens adherents have claimed, complicit in war crimes or agents in preparing for war with Iran? Unlike some in the media who studiously ignore them, I've always thought Medialens make a noteworthy contribution. Along with other lobbyists and pressure groups they invite us to question what we do and when they make a valid point we should reflect it. But how many people do they actually represent?…Should we listen more to [Gove’s] view than Medialens's? Gove at least represents Britain's currently most popular political party."

Actually, it’s not a case of “listen[ing]” to either, as such. You should, as ‘reasoned’ and ‘observant’ journalists be able to see the truth of such war crimes, and the criminality of figures like Burns, for yourself. The evidence of lies, subterfuge, and conspiracy to enact mass murder is overwhelming.

Your latter remark neatly exposes the kind of slavish adherence the mainstream media has to mainstream politics. The opinions of the Conservative Party – and Gove’s rather reactionary version of Toryism within it - is, thus, deemed more important than what Media Lens supposedly represent. Yet, if you think about it logically, Media Lens’s anti-war sentiment is much more in tune with popular opinion than that of war-supporting Tories.

Does the failure to adequately expose and challenge those crimes make Newsnight itself “complicit” in those acts? Ultimately, yes, if, as has been so evident, figures like Burns and Bolton are questioned as if they have no actual part in such crimes. What other rational conclusion can be drawn?

It would be like interviewing the lieutenants of Pol Pot without asking them what part they played in the Cambodian genocide.

The continued media pretence that Burns, Bolton, Reid, Hoon, Lord Goldsmith and others had no direct part in the mass murder of Iraqis, and are, therefore, not subject to war crimes investigation and indictment, also draws that media itself into a serious form of complicity, given that it is serving to disguise those acts.

I appreciate that Newsnight have, from time to time, raised the issue of war crimes, but the fact remains that, in its treatment of Burns, Bolton et al, it remains completely unwilling to put such questions to these people. That, I’m afraid to say, is an act of complicity.

You say: “Our job is to ask uncomfortable questions” of politicians. Please tell me on the ‘discomfort scale’, 1 – 10, where you would put Esler’s questioning of Burns and Bolton.

The score in the latter interview might be ranged a little higher following the adverse reaction to the Burns piece. But not much. And why? Because, despite the accusations made by Esler to Bolton about policy failure and not winning the war etc, he never at any point threatened to ask him about his own criminality.

Even if we were to take your argument that Newsnight should be reflecting opinion from all sides, left and right, where is such reflection of the war crimes argument in these interviews and reports?

Newsnight recently featured an exchange between Philippe Sands QC and Julian Knowles on the issue, as part of their advisory participation in the play Called to Account (Newsnight, 19 April 2007).

Now, if, as outlined by Sands, there is clear and verifiable evidence to bring Blair to an international war crimes dock – a view now widely held by much of the public - why isn’t that very argument given, at least, an appropriate degree of prominence in Newsnight pieces?

The answer, quite simply, is the boundary; that understood line of deference across which journalists know not to wander – even if they were so inclined.

This is how Newsnight and other BBC reportage keeps safe house. It will question the policies, note the failures and sometimes conduct a deeper, more critical, report. But it will never routinely call into question the criminal intent of those in high political office.

‘Our’ politicians, through their ‘respected’ positions of state, have effective immunity from that line of questioning. It’s a no-go area; a deeply-rooted process of institutional protectionism – of elite politicians and the BBC itself. And with it comes a pavlovian response to anyone, individual or group, “self-appointed” or otherwise, who dares to question that process.

As ever, I offer these comments in a constructive spirit and welcome any response.

Best wishes,
John Hilley

For further discussion, please see:

  • 26.
  • At 07:38 PM on 08 May 2007,
  • Robert wrote:

If Medialens represents all people "disaffected" by mainstream media then, by the same (absurd) reasoning, so does David Icke. Both, in fact, represent tiny minorities.

I regard myself as being on the radical left, and highly sceptical of media coverage (including BBC). But Medialens doesn't represent my views any more than Icke does.

Everyone says sensible things occasionally. Even Icke. Even Medialens. But when Medialens uses the word "complicit", we see their equivalent of Icke's bizarre logic. "Complicit" is the word they use to link certain classes of people (eg all mainstream journalists, all Labour voters) to war crimes. It's a meaningless attenuation of blame. If "complicity" (in the Medialens sense) were a crime, and Medialens the prosecution witnesses, they'd be laughed out of court.

Thanks for all the comments on this topic, and apologies for the delay in many of them being posted. Not censorship, just a technical glitch.

Alex (10). I have written about Biased BBC on this blog before, and we have invited them to write here too as Medialens have done, but so far they haven't taken up the offer.


  • 28.
  • At 03:07 PM on 07 Jun 2007,
  • Ian wrote:

""Our job is to ask uncomfortable questions reflecting views from right, left and centre and not just from those who shout the loudest.""

Oh come on Peter,
If that statement of yours were true in anyway the BBC would not engage in a "no platform" policy against a legal & democratic political party in the UK - namely the BNP.

The BNP apparently fulfil all the criteria for a political party to attract members, collect donations & stand in British & European elections - though one would be forgiven for getting the impression from the BBC that they are an underground subversive organisation.

I believe that the institutional leftwing nature of the BBC is now so ingrained that you lot actually believe that you are "impartial".

Robin Aitkens book should be compulsory reading for the lot of you.

I vote UKIP, BTW.

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