Talk about Newsnight


BBC's Iraq coverage - biased or balanced?

  • Newsnight
  • 19 Mar 07, 10:47 AM

To coincide with the BBC's week-long examination of the situation in Iraq four years after the US-led invasion, Newsnight has invited critics of the BBC's coverage of the conflict and its aftermath to set out their arguments. Here, Media Lens, an online group that monitors mainstream media output, argues that BBC reporting too often follows the establishment lines. We're keen to debate the issue so read the piece and post your views and comments below.

The Bias In BBC 'Balance'

The BBC's claim that it provides balanced news reporting does not stand up to scrutiny.

Saddam's statue is toppled in BaghdadAs Baghdad fell to US tanks on April 9, 2003, Andrew Marr, then the BBC's political editor, hailed the invasion as a great triumph. Of Tony Blair, Marr declared: "tonight he stands as a larger man and a stronger prime minister as a result". (Marr, BBC 1, News At Ten, April 9, 2003)

This is the standard BBC version of objective news reporting. The UN secretary-general, Kofi Annan, took a different view of the invasion:

"From our point of view and from the [UN] charter point of view, it was illegal."

Indeed it would be hard to find a better example of the supreme war crime - the waging of a war of aggression.

Before the invasion, Bush and Blair insisted that the pretext was a "single
question": Would Iraq eliminate its weapons of mass destruction? As late as February 2003, Blair affirmed that Saddam could still save his regime:

"I hope, even now, Iraq can be disarmed peacefully, with or without Saddam."

When not a single weapon of mass destruction was found, the story quickly changed and BBC reporting changed with it: the liberation of Iraq, not its disarmament, we were told, was the guiding concern. The BBC's Washington correspondent, Matt Frei, said:

"There's no doubt that the desire to bring good, to bring American values to the rest of the world, and especially now to the Middle East... is now increasingly tied up with military power." (BBC1, Panorama, April 13, 2003)

Newsnight's Mark Urban described "President Bush's grand design of toppling a dictator and forcing a democracy into the heart of the Middle East."
(Newsnight, BBC2, April 12, 2005)

Roger Hermiston, assistant editor of the Today programme, wrote:

"I think there's a big difference between the aggressive 'invasions' of dictators like Hitler and Saddam and the 'occupation', however badly planned and executed, of a country for positive ends, as in the Coalition effort in Iraq." (Email to a Media Lens reader, November, 2006)

As the use of inverted commas suggests, BBC journalists find it difficult even to accept that Iraq is under occupation. The BBC's world affairs editor John Simpson described Iraqi insurgents as "opponents to what they see as the foreign occupation of their country". (Panorama, BBC1, January 30, 2005)

medialens.jpgIn June 2004, the BBC toed the government's propaganda line declaring that there had been a "transfer of sovereignty" from the 'coalition' to the interim Iraqi government. The death of a British soldier in Basra was particularly tragic, Middle East correspondent Orla Guerin noted, because he was "the last soldier to die under the occupation". (BBC1, 13:00 News, June 28, 2004)

Alongside this legitimising of the occupation, the BBC has sought to delegitimise the insurgency. In July 2004, Newsnight described how insurgents were "blighting US attempts to bring peace and stability to Iraq". (Newsnight, July 5, 2004) Imagine the BBC in the 1980s describing how CIA-backed Mujahadeen were "blighting Soviet attempts to bring peace and stability to Afghanistan".

The insurgency is currently being spun as merely "sectarian violence", with US-UK forces depicted as innocent bystanders. In a BBC online article titled, 'Iraq's spiralling sectarian strife,' Mike Wooldridge wrote last August that "The Americans [are] working with Iraqi forces in a new drive to reclaim parts of the Iraqi capital from gunmen and bombers," with the aim of "bringing a measurable improvement in people's lives... and reversing the flight from mixed areas."

The Americans were thus portrayed as a peace-keeping force, not as an invading army seeking to crush domestic resistance.

Two days after Wooldridge's article appeared, the New York Times reported that the number of daily attacks against American and Iraqi security forces had doubled since January. An analysis of the 1,666 bombs that exploded in July 2006 showed that 90 per cent were directed against the American-led military force and Iraqi security forces. Who would have guessed that from BBC reporting?

None of this should come as a surprise. The BBC has always protected the establishment of which it is very much a part. The BBC's founder, Lord Reith, noted in his diary of the government:

"They know they can trust us not to be really impartial."

After all, the BBC's senior managers are appointed by the government of the day. Before joining the BBC, the previous chairman Gavyn Davies was chief economist at Goldman Sachs where he was touted as the next Governor of the Bank of England. At the time he became chairman, Davies was estimated to have amassed a personal fortune of £150 million. His wife ran Gordon Brown's office. The chairman he replaced, Sir Christopher Bland, became chairman of British Telecom.

The overall strategic direction of the BBC is set by the BBC Trust. There are twelve trustees, mostly high establishment figures. Jeremy Peat recently retired as Chief Economist of the Royal Bank of Scotland. Dermot Gleeson is Executive Chairman of Gleeson Group plc. Diane Coyle is Managing Director of Enlightenment Economics, an economic consultancy to large corporate clients and international organisations. In short, the BBC is run by elites with fingers in any number of political and corporate pies.

The BBC does occasionally provide space for dissident opinions, but these are vanishingly rare moments of honesty swamped by an overwhelming pro-establishment bias.

David Edwards & David Cromwell
Co-Editors, Media Lens

Comments  Post your comment

What Medialens terms 'pro-establishment bias' is actually a pro democracy bias. I know this is hard for Marxists who don't recognise parliamentary democracy to understand, but things they only ever refer to as the 'establishment' or 'power' are people who were actually elected by the British people; it is very important that the democratic political classes take on issues of the day are given a high priority by the media in a democratic system, otherwise it leads to tyranny and fascism. Nick Robinson stands outside Tony Blair's house rather than Noam Chomsky's house, as Medialens would dearly love, precisely because Blair is the elected Prime Minister of the country. Medialens is unable or unwilling to grasp this basic concept.

In this piece, Medialens attempts to refute the BBC's 'establishment propaganda' by using clumsy propaganda of their own, using selected out of context quotes to assert hackneyed antiwar cliches. The context of Andrew Marr's quote, for instance, was that he was only reflecting the political reality for a short while after the invasion, accepted by everyone at the time, friend and foe of Blair alike, and the opinion polls. There is a long history of conflicts disappearing from the media as soon as the main battle has been won, due to the public losing interest, so it was therefore assumed by everyone that this would be the case with Iraq; few people would remember the towns and cities we had been focusing on during the invasion. Medialens themselves did a Media Alert at the time that heavily implied the big battle was over, and defiantly suggested that the millions of people who marched against the war were at least introduced to a new kind of politics which is good for the future. They won't forget that, Medialens hopefully insisted.

Then Medialens' offers a very simplistic portrayal of Tony Blair that gives a highly misleading impression of his remarks. If you want to familiarise yourself with the PM's speech at the opening of the March 18th 2003 debate in parliament, the first time in our history that parliament has had a say in whether the country should go to war, here it is:

[QUOTE] "I have never put our justification for action as regime change. We have to act within the terms set out in Resolution 1441. That is our legal base. But it is the reason, I say frankly, why if we do act we should do so with a clear conscience and strong heart. I accept fully that those opposed to this course of action share my detestation of Saddam. Who could not? Iraq is a wealthy country that in 1978, the year before Saddam seized power, was richer than Portugal or Malaysia. Today it is impoverished, 60% of its population dependent on Food Aid.

Thousands of children die needlessly every year from lack of food and medicine. Four million people out of a population of just over 20 million are in exile. The brutality of the repression - the death and torture camps, the barbaric prisons for political opponents, the routine beatings for anyone or their families suspected of disloyalty are well documented. Just last week, someone slandering Saddam was tied to a lamp post in a street in Baghdad, his tongue cut out, mutilated and left to bleed to death, as a warning to others.

I recall a few weeks ago talking to an Iraqi exile and saying to her that I understood how grim it must be under the lash of Saddam. "But you don't", she replied. "You cannot. You do not know what it is like to live in perpetual fear." And she is right. We take our freedom for granted. But imagine not to be able to speak or discuss or debate or even question the society you live in. To see friends and family taken away and never daring to complain. To suffer the humility of failing courage in face of pitiless terror. That is how the Iraqi people live. Leave Saddam in place and that is how they will continue to live.

We must face the consequences of the actions we advocate. For me, that means all the dangers of war. But for others, opposed to this course, it means - let us be clear - that the Iraqi people, whose only true hope of liberation lies in the removal of Saddam, for them, the darkness will close back over them again; and he will be free to take his revenge upon those he must know wish him gone.

And if this House now demands that at this moment, faced with this threat from this regime, that British troops are pulled back, that we turn away at the point of reckoning, and that is what it means - what then?

What will Saddam feel? Strengthened beyond measure. What will the other states who tyrannise their people, the terrorists who threaten our existence, what will they take from that? That the will confronting them is decaying and feeble.

Who will celebrate and who will weep?" [END QUOTE]

So, though not the legal reason for the war, Blair clearly did mention the humanitarian dimension to the conflict, and the democratisation angle was an ever present theme throughout the never ending pre-war debates. It is highly misleading for Medialens to suggest otherwise.

Lastly, Medialens ends with a set of completely unfounded attacks on BBC management that have long been discredited by events such as the Hutton inquiry. If anything, in this day and age of ratings battles to attract increasingly apathetic viewers, the BBC all too often joins in with the anti authority sensationalism of the rest of the media, where power is mocked and attacked as a method to boost ratings - precisely the opposite of Medialens' wild conspiracy thesis.

I am a regular reader of, and an occasional contributor to, the Media Lens web site. In regard to the Iraq war, the sheer awfulness of what has happened and the major culpability of the Blair administration, and indeed of an acquiescent and craven parliament, has never been truthfully reflected in the BBC reporting of this war, nor has the widespread popular condemnation. I am a mild mannered GP of 60 years of age, never previously very politically involved but I know that this war has been a disaster for the UK, never mind Iraq, and I also believe that Mr Blair, and Mr Bush, should be tried for war crimes. The Andrew Gilligan affair and the consequent Hutton enquiry appear to have emasculated whatever previous independent thinking the BBC possessed, and I thoroughly concur with the Media Lens assessment.

  • 3.
  • At 10:38 PM on 19 Mar 2007,
  • Terry wrote:

All true. But by far the worst thing about Newsnight coverage of Iraq, and of Middle East coverage in general, is that pundits from American Neo-con oufits such as The American Enterprise Institute and The Heritage Foundation are wheeled on and interviewed with deference as if they are founts of objective wisdom, instead of members of what are really fringe groups. The one time I've seen Noam Chomsky interviewed on Newsnight, there was an introduction that left viewers in no doubthe was a "controversial" figure. No such introduction has ever preceded the frequent appearances of, for example, the appalling Frank Gaffney.

Furthermore, in the article, Medialens complains that BBC reporters aren't even able to recognise that Iraq is under occupation, and have the nerve to often delegitimise the insurgency, proven they are pro-establishment stooges. But hold on. Medialens surely knows that, officially and legally, there is no 'occupation' - the International Security Force is in Iraq at the behest of the democratically elected, legally recognised, government of Iraq, endorsed by UN resolutions. Is Medialens seriously suggesting that BBC reporters should break international law? Moreover, the insurgency is highly illegal and therefore is illegitimate; again, is Medialens suggesting that the BBC should legitimise people who are trying to affect an illegal coup against a democratic government? This is the logic of what they are saying.

Every study shows that the main cause of violence in Iraqi today is by far the sectarian warfare that the coalition is trying to stop. Medialens should explain why they think BBC reporters should break the law be encouraging coups against democratic governments, legitimising illegal terrorism, and seeking to pretend that American troops are not trying to stop the main source of violence in that country.

  • 5.
  • At 07:51 AM on 20 Mar 2007,
  • Tony wrote:

"...officially and legally, there is no 'occupation' - the International Security Force is in Iraq at the behest of the democratically elected, legally recognised, government of Iraq, endorsed by UN resolutions."

Firstly, the invasion of Iraq was illegal. Thus it is not really possible for soldiers to now be in Iraq legally and that is why they are called occupiers. Secondly, the the government of Iraq is not even considered to be legitimate in the eyes of most Iraqis and that's what really matters.

  • 6.
  • At 08:35 AM on 20 Mar 2007,
  • Daniel Simpson wrote:

It's a bit murkier than the Media Lens editors suggest - the 15 February speech linked above may have included that line about Saddam being able to stay, but its utter meaninglessness was rammed home by the rest of the verbiage (which remained, like the quoted passage, carefully couched, given what was known, if not ultimately conceded, about the legal position):


BLAIR: The moral case against war has a moral answer: it is the moral case for removing Saddam. It is not the reason we act. That must be according to the UN mandate on weapons of mass destruction.

But it is the reason, frankly, why if we do have to act, we should do so with a clear conscience.

Yes, there are consequences of war. If we remove Saddam by force, people will die and some will be innocent. And we must live with the consequences of our actions, even the unintended ones.

But there are also consequences of 'stop the war'.

If I took that advice, and did not insist on disarmament, yes, there would be no war.

But there would still be Saddam. Many of the people marching will say they hate Saddam. But the consequences of taking their advice is that he stays in charge of Iraq, ruling the Iraqi people.

A country that in 1978, the year before he seized power, was richer than Malaysia or Portugal.

A country where today, 135 out of every 1,000 Iraqi children die before the age of five - 70% of these deaths are from diarrhoea and respiratory infections that are easily preventable.

Almost a third of children born in the centre and south of Iraq have chronic malnutrition.


Pure spin of course, given Blair's personal contribution to that suffering and his refusal to end it by any other means than upping the level of suffering by means of agressive war. Nevertheless, the Mike Clark worldview has long been articulated by Blair himself and regime change was openly being sold (in carefully chosen words) many months before the WMD were found not to be there to be found, as Colin Powell himself already well knew, two years before his UN slide-show performance:

[Saddam] has not developed any significant capability with respect to weapons of mass destruction. He is unable to project conventional power against his neighbours.

[FOR THE FULL SOUNDBITE, SEE REUTERS TV PACKAGE HERE - if the link doesn't show up, go to and type this code in the search box: 102240007 - the date of transmission was 24/02/01]

Why didn't the BBC air that particular nugget in February 2003?

Easy to ask after the fact, I suppose, but the substance of the question is this: why does the BBC so consistently allow official spin to crowd out facts in the public domain that refute it?

  • 7.
  • At 10:24 AM on 20 Mar 2007,
  • Rhisiart Gwilym wrote:

There's a famous John Updike remark which - quoting from memory - goes something like: "It's difficult to get a man to understand something when his income depends on his not understanding it."

He was speaking of a wider tendency in humankind, but he might have framed his aphorism specifically to describe the men and women who get their - often gold-plated, diamond-sprinkled - crusts by working in the modern Western corporate media.

Medialens has made remarkable inroads into this implacable obduracy of British corporate-medianiks by its simple strategy of constantly engaging any hack who would listen - and sometimes find the professionalism and courage to respond - in invariably polite, affable conversation, wherein sharp perception and relentless pointing up of dissonant truths are as thickly scattered as unexploded USukisraeli cluster bomblets in the villages of Southern Lebanon.

To their own surprise, the stalwart Davids at Medialens have discovered that, far from wiping the floor with two such amateur, shoestring upstarts, the heavyweight professionals of the corporate media have been reduced very often simply to frothing invective, or weak counter-arguments which the Davids found that they could also shred with ease. That's when the professionals manage to respond to Medialens critiques at all. Often, they just remain in craven silence. All this with one little blog. Talk about D(x2) and G!

(Sorry: on reflection, that word heavyweight in the previous paragraph should really be written 'heavyweight'. When looking for real heavyweight journalists, as opposed to upoals [useful poodles on a leash], you have to look outside the corporate media. Shhh! Nobody say the word 'Pilger' in this company)

Oddly, so far in this discussion no-one has mentioned oil. So let's get it clear: The Nuremberg Principles, which supposedly bind both the English and US signatories into relevant international law, state that aggression against a state which is no threat to the aggressors is the supreme international crime, inevatably generating as it does all the lesser war-crimes. This is especially true when the purpose of the aggression is simply to grab some prize which doesn't rightfully belong to the aggressors. The USukis criminal aggressions in South West Asia (with small contributions from a few other hangers-on) are all about gangster-grabbing control of the globally-crucial Caspian-Hormuz sweetoil corridor, wherein about 60% of the world's remaining easily-accessible light, sweet crude sits. That's why there are several US carrier battle groups, probably nuclear-armed, hovering just off those shores. That's why all the (mostly local) blood and treasure are being squanderd there, as the world goes through its petro-energy production peak, energy-scarcity and astronomical prices loom up on the near-term horizon, and the most Interesting Times in our species-history begin.

Oh sure, as a side-issue, the zionist ethnic-cleansers in Israel also have this mystical tosh about a deal with God (whatever that might mean) for a Promised Land for the allegedly Chosen People (bit of a whiff of apartheid racism there, perhaps?). And their US overlords allow them to pursue that murderous insanity in return for their steadfast support for US imperial strategy in the oil patch; rather as I might throw a malteser to my Pit-Bull for being such a good and faithful thug.

But as Chomsky says, if Iraq, or any other of the unfortunate victim countries thereabouts, only grew lettuce and pickles as their national assets, the Washington-London-Tel Aviv axis would be completely uninterested in them, and certainly wouldn't be up to their necks in their failing occupations. This is called realpolitik: the stuff of the real world. It's what hides behind the delusional moonshine in which corporate-media upoals and upoal greaser-politicians wrap themselves, and seek always to wrap us; and which astonishing naifs such as Mike Clarke (comments above) seem to swallow down whole without gagging.

Incidentally, Mike: the term 'establishment' refers precisely to those influential, self-perpetuating, wealth-and-power-hogging minority special-interest groups in society - especially in ruthless gangster-imperialists states such as England - who never have to submit themselves to any kind of elective scrutiny and winnowing by us commoners. Even in a joke 'democracy' like ours. They leave that empty charade to their expendable, wholly-owned greaser-politicians such as Blair, Brown, Cameron, and on.....

(No, contrary to the popular legend, the English empire didn't collapse and vanish in the middle of the twentieth century. After its exhausting near-defeat in WW2, and the subsequent humiliation of Suez, it attached itself as an abject crony to its saviour/humiliator/creditor, and is still up to its violent criminal world-looting, under its overlord's strategic control. See Mark Curtis below, in this post.)

And before any other naif trots out the famous 'non-commercial managerial independence' of the beeb (alleged), let me mention that just the other the day the corporation was being castigated by some spokesface for 'only' turning over about 200 million pounds in world sales of its products last year, which was deemed to be not enough. (Sorry, I didn't keep the reference, so I'm quoting from memory; could be wrong in detail, but not, I think, in substance) Not a commercial organisation? Not a faithful, unwavering servant of the WealthPowerStatus mafias who really run things behind the 'democracy' smokescreen? C'mon naifs: get real.

Let me recommend to all comfortably reality-shielded members of the pampered twenty percent of the world's people a study of the most famous work of the little cold-eyed Renaissance Florentine: 'Il Principe' is still as relevant as ever today as a primer on the bestial nature of gangster realpolitilk, five hundred years after it was written by a very clear-seeing observer in the thick of it. Zbignew Brzezinski, whilst less of a stylist, is also enlightening. Recommended to all naifs, especially if you work in corporate 'news'n'politics' media.

But more recommended still are two other truly enlightening studies: The masterly analysis of the highly-sophisticated propaganda function of 'free' Western media, contained in Chomsky and Herman's 'Manufacturing Consent' (probably fair to call it a masterpiece); and Mark Curtis's 'Web Of Deceit', also pretty masterly and a real eye-opener about the huge dissonance between what the gangsters-in-charge in USuk and their faithful-stenographer upoals say they're doing and why - always very noble and lofty, natch - and what they actually do.

When people have done their due diligence in that sort of intellectual self-defence, then they may hope to be taken seriously as commentators on public affairs. Until then, they come on like Mike. Good for a giggle, though.

  • 8.
  • At 11:32 AM on 20 Mar 2007,
  • The Editors wrote:

BBC journalists are not alone in having blood on their hands - the same can be said of virtually the entire mainstream media. We can dismiss this as hyperbole if we like, but that means accepting that we have no moral responsibilities as human beings, that the consequences of our actions do not matter.

We at Media Lens have tiny resources for tracking and challenging the media deceptions, distortions and outright lies that have led to the deaths of some 655,000 people in Iraq. Over in the United States, however, Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting have got a bit more muscle. They have produced a huge article documenting the immense role the US media played in taking America to war:

Read it and weep. And while weeping reflect on the near-identical examples that appeared all across the British media.

Why does it matter? In a March 8 report, the UN's IRIN news network reported that Um Abdallah, a 41 year-old Iraqi woman, had a difficult task ahead of her - she was learning how to use a gun and how to turn herself into a suicide bomber:

"Um Abdallah is one of thousands of Iraqis who have lost their relatives in the past four years. Her two boys and one girl were killed during a US military attack in her neighbourhood.

"'My husband was killed four months ago by Iraqi forces. Killed alongside him were my son-in-law and his two children. I cannot even remember how many bullets the children had in their bodies,' she said.

"She does not know exactly when she is going to detonate herself but she is sure she will be ready whenever she is asked." (IRIN, ‘Killings drive women to become suicide bombers, March 8, 2007)

The catastrophe we have inflicted on Iraq is beyond belief. If we can't learn the truth about ourselves, about the structural corruption of our journalism, even from this, then we have lost our humanity.

  • 9.
  • At 12:31 PM on 20 Mar 2007,
  • dicky wrote:

they seem to confuse reporting with comment. All their examples of 'bias' are examples of comment not news reporting.

news reporting is facts. Comment gives a perspective and the bbc usually gives two of those.

i don't find bbc biased. a bit thick sometimes but not biased. I remember a certain news programme [no names :)] during the Falklands war using phrases like 'if the british government is to be believed' and announcing the night before that a british attack was to go in at dawn the next day [how unbiased is that?]. Luckily the argentinians thought is was bluff so ignored it.

so their piece does not stand up to the facts. Why? Because they have taken one set of facts [comment] to try to prove the case that belongs to another set of facts [news].

In a multi channel news distribution there is no point being 'biased' and retain any credibility. Say Fox News and what image do you get?

The fact that the bbc gets banned by Israel, China, Zimbabwe etc shows whatever the bias is it is not to being biased.

media lens who must regard themselves as the self appointed priests of truth and standard of media reporting when in fact they are just back seat drivers and parasites living off the work of others shows by such articles their lens is a bit dusty and grimy and needs a polish and if they are so worried why don't they set up their own news service?

  • 10.
  • At 02:58 PM on 20 Mar 2007,
  • James Wilson wrote:

The BBC has gotten worse and worse over the last few years in terms of it's utterly craven approach to the USA and big business interests - and it is indistinguishable now from the worst of the rest, especially in that almost no dissenting voices are heard now even though they represent the views of more than half the population.
Medialens have taken the time and enormous trouble on behalf of all of us to challenge BBC lies and deceit and I hope that the comments expressed here are read by their Newsnight staff (though in fact the BBC does not produce one single news programme of any integrity whatsoever.
I have often wondered if senior BBC execs are being bribed to broadcast the nonsense they do and feel that the BBC should get it's money from Haliburton, Bechtel or Exxon - the people whose interests it so cravenly serves. It does not seem to give much of a toss about what British people think or how they are informed.
One also has to wonder why they unquestioningly broadcast the Bush conspiracy theory about 9-11 when just about everybody outside the corporate world can see it was clearly an inside job - pretext for US global domination at the end of the age of oil. Are the BBC even prepared to sacrifice their rapidly diminishing credibility in the cause of capital?
Our family, including younger members simply do not watch the BBC news now - it is just rubbish, we go and search out what we can from the internet and sites like Medialens are a credit to the 2 Davids whereas the BBC with it's huge corporate machine and hundreds of staff and electronic gadgetry and jingles and presenters with perfectly capped teeth - is worthless, except for football.
The problem for the BBC is - fewer and fewer people even believe them.
Give me DahrJamail any day over Andrew Marr

  • 11.
  • At 03:29 PM on 20 Mar 2007,
  • The Editors wrote:

Dicky, you write:

"they seem to confuse reporting with comment. All their examples of 'bias' are examples of comment not news reporting".

Don't take our word for it - here's Andrew Marr:

"Gavin Hewitt, John Simpson, Andrew Marr and the rest are employed to be studiously neutral, expressing little emotion and certainly no opinion; millions of people would says that news is the conveying of fact, and nothing more." (Marr, My Trade, Macmillan, 2004, p.279)

That's hardly to be taken seriously, but it's what we're supposed to believe is the case. Marr has also said:

"When I joined the BBC, my Organs of Opinion were formally removed." (Marr, The Independent, January 13, 2000)

You also write:

"media lens who must regard themselves as the self appointed priests of truth".

It's an interesting idea. Who do you like your sources of truth to be appointed by - the government? Big business? The idea that someone needs to be appointed to comment on the problems of the world has no meaning to us. The issue is not whether someone is appointed but whether their arguments make sense and their evidence is accurate and credible.

  • 12.
  • At 04:16 PM on 20 Mar 2007,
  • Rhisiart Gwilym wrote:

Re. Aiden's comment on Mike Clarke, at comment 8 above:

I'd no idea that Mike was behind 'Medialens Watch'. No wonder he smelt unconvincing right from the off in this discussion. And a user of multiple identities, Aiden says. Are we starting to get a whiff of a paid black-ops. stooge here, maybe? His cackhanded chop-logic certainly smells of it. And how does he come to be at the number one comment spot, right behind the Medialens opening comment? Did someone at Newsnight prime him........?

Whether or not, I can recommend a small, brief peek into Medialens Watch, just for its unintended laugh value. There's a Cymraeg word: 'Crechwenu' meaning to crack out laughing; to belly-laugh; to guffaw. A while back I went to ML Watch a couple of times, when I was feeling in need of a bit of crechwenu. I think Aiden is being too mild when he calls it risible. After a while, though, its obviously poisonous motivation begins to sicken you, and you decide to visit no more. On the other hand, I never tire of the Davids' much nobler motivations: buddhistic ahimsa and compassion; a powerful commitment to intellectual and moral honesty; a principled belief that however little you can do to help ease the mess the world's in, you have to keep doing what you can; that steely, compassion-driven commitment to remain friendly and courteous with everyone, no matter how vituperative they may sometimes be with you. Anyone can admire and support such behaviour, permanently, even if, like me, you're enough of a weak sister to find it difficult to emulate perfectly. There'll always be Mike Clarkes around. And they too, if you can discipline yourself to do it, deserve the same compassion as everyone else, possibly a little more, what with their special problems. But of course that doesn't mean that we have to take their tosh seriously. Just give it the crechwenu it deserves.

  • 13.
  • At 04:37 PM on 20 Mar 2007,
  • smb1971 wrote: opened up a new world of thinking for me. I was initially peeved when, in early 1991, my Soccer Night was interrupted by a news bulletin: 'The liberation of Kuwait has commenced,' said the newscaster. After that, I was completely transfixed. The tracer fire darting upwards, the distant bombs illuminating the night sky. 'Someone pass the popcorn.' I maintained that mentality for several years, feeding it with heroic tales of war. And the BBC was always there to assist. Andy McNab, 'Bravo Two Zero' shooting their way across Iraq, etc. Iraq was a country of twenty-six million people and they were all relatives of Saddam Hussein. One common joke was that they all shared the same moustache. Bravo indeed. It was all so bloody funny....and all seemingly true. Sanctions? Let them rot in hell. All sins are Saddam's sins. And then along came those wimps at Medialens. Actions have consequences and Iraq's invasion of Kuwait (not Iran, which we encouraged) was always going to elicit some kind of response. But, most importantly, we are also responsible for the anticipated consequences of our own actions, and as so often is the case, our actions were not proportionate or reasonable. In short, our government badly let down the Iraqi people. Like innocents caught in a siege, we owed them a duty of care, but for years our leaders trampled all over them. The sanctions were nothing less than criminal. The behaviour of successive British governments was nothing less than criminal. The BBC, in my experience, has rarely aired such compelling arguments -- and even then they appear not to be taken seriously or accepted. Instead I had to find them elsewhere, purely by accident.

  • 14.
  • At 06:04 PM on 20 Mar 2007,
  • Annette Ingles wrote:

The way the BBC ramped up the case for war in 03 was disgraceful.
There are 2 things one notices about BBC news - the first is how much news is omitted, what I think Orwell called the greatest censorship of all, huge areas of news are simply ignored, and secondly the fact that the BBC cannot get through a news programme without bringing on the Americans to tell us what we should think of a given situation .
The BBC illustrates perfectly just how hegemonised the UK has become over the last 50 years - we are completely under the strategic control of a malign - some would say out of control - foreign power.
I am sure most decent folk are sick of them.
Give us Juan Cole, John pilger, Medialens, UKWatch et al any day to the establishments tame propaganda machine.

  • 15.
  • At 06:06 PM on 20 Mar 2007,
  • Annette Ingles wrote:

The way the BBC ramped up the case for war in 03 was disgraceful.
There are 2 things one notices about BBC news - the first is how much news is omitted, what I think Orwell called the greatest censorship of all, huge areas of news are simply ignored, and secondly the fact that the BBC cannot get through a news programme without bringing on the Americans to tell us what we should think of a given situation .
The BBC illustrates perfectly just how hegemonised the UK has become over the last 50 years - we are completely under the strategic control of a malign - some would say out of control - foreign power.
I am sure most decent folk are sick of them.
Give us Juan Cole, John pilger, Medialens, UKWatch et al any day to the establishments tame propaganda machine.

Medialens continues to mislead their readers with its sloppy and simplistic propaganda on this thread.

No one is saying that Medialens do not have a right to their views, but what people find particularly odious about them is the way they try to edit the media so it agrees with them, intimidating and bullying journalists with their email bombing campaigns, and pretending that BBC journalists have blood on their hands without being able to give us a credible example, and just asserting that Blair lied without producing a shred of evidence. It's not good enough.

We know from events like the Hutton inquiry, where the corporate media were baying for blood and would have been happy for Blair to resign in disgrace, that the profit motive actually makes the media MORE hostile to the democratic process, not less. The BBC has to be slightly more restrained due to being funded by the tax payer, therefore cannot ignore the fact we live in parliamentary democracy altogether - contradicting the central thesis of the 'propaganda model' - but even here they are forced to compete with the rest of the media, leading to stories being hyped up beyond their status and maintaining the usual fashionable mocking tone that sells.

Medialens' view that the media's job is to override democracy, break international law and peddle Marxist propaganda that the vast majority of the country disagrees with, is just totally unrealistic and deluded. Stalinism just doesn't fly in this country.

  • 17.
  • At 08:01 PM on 20 Mar 2007,
  • Simon C wrote:

Mike Clark has clearly not spent much time on the Medialens site if he has seen no credible examples and proof of BBC and Blair lies and misinformation.

As was the case with smb1971 I too lived the first Gulf war as a video game until the David's clear arguments, proofs and examples won me over to the reality of the pseudo-democratic corporatocracy that rules us.

To claim, as Clark does that:

"Medialens' view [is] that the media's job is to override democracy, break international law and peddle Marxist propaganda" is crass hyperbole.

I imagine Clark has never actually followed through an entire alert, probably stopping after the first few sentences with a snort of irritation. Had he done so he would see that the Medialens goal is completely apolitical and is designed to promote rationality and compassion. They promote truth, not propaganda. And they do it politely - there is no bullying there.

Can the same be said about the BBC? I suspect not. They can still be trusted not to be truly impartial.

  • 18.
  • At 08:17 PM on 20 Mar 2007,
  • Aiden J Harvey wrote:

It should be pointed out that, despite what one might assume from reading Mike Clarke's posts in this thread, there are actually intelligent and coherent critiques of both Media Lens and the Herman/Chomsky propaganda model upon which it is based,

For the standard discussion of media models, I recommend 'Power Without Responsibility' by Curran and Seaton, which is the standard academic text.

  • 19.
  • At 10:50 PM on 20 Mar 2007,
  • Andrew wrote:


You said that MediaLens,

.."mislead their readers with its sloppy and simplistic propaganda on this thread."

Yet you find the time to accuse MediaLens of being 'Marxists' and 'Stalinists'.


mislead their readers with its sloppy and simplistic propaganda on this thread.

Mike, you really shouldn't pigeon hole people like that. Peoples views are profusely more, dare I say compassionate than your simplistic notion that MediaLens users are

  • 20.
  • At 10:52 PM on 20 Mar 2007,
  • Andrew wrote:


You said that MediaLens,

.."mislead their readers with its sloppy and simplistic propaganda on this thread."

Yet you find the time to accuse MediaLens of being 'Marxists' and 'Stalinists'.


  • 21.
  • At 12:41 AM on 21 Mar 2007,
  • M-RES wrote:

Mike, I'm a tad confused by your use of the phrase:

"bullying journalists with their email bombing campaigns"

which I presume is in relation to members of the Biritish Public contacting British journalists if concerned about an artical/report they may have written.

It would appear that too much time has been been spent by you, floating amidst your lofty ideals of our 'democratic' Britain wherein that dreamy haze brought on by our freedoms has caused you to lose sight of what participatory democracy and free-speech truly mean.

In your world view it is unthinkable to question the writings of a bonified professional journalist, or perhaps question their motivation for the viewpoint of a particular piece, but why is that? Are journalists infallable? Are they genuinely free from the interests of helping their employer to make money? No, of course they're not.

The people who take time out of their own professional careers to contact these journalists - excercising their free-speech no less, whilst not being qualified journalists themselves are quite often of a level of intelligence adequate to sensibly present a compelling and educated set of reasonings.

Very often the journalists do not feel they need to answer to their readership. Somehow they see themselves set on a pedastal - better than the rest of us, because writing is what they do for a living. How dare some pesky DIY investigative minion challenge their work?

Occasionally a journo will respond sensibly, although often the standard politician stylings of evading the question entirely are employed.

To summarise, I'd suggest that it's our DUTY as British citizens to question authority and the way it is reported. Therein lies the whole point of free speech and the most pure way for democracy to function through it's use.

  • 22.
  • At 11:24 AM on 21 Mar 2007,
  • Craig Mitchell wrote:

Labelling ML as Marxists?

Oh dear, oh dear when that’s the strength of the arguments you know you have hit a nerve and they have lost the argument. “What next threats to thump anyone who dissents?”

Not being allowed to question those in power or those reporting on their behalf.

Why not? As consumers of a commodity we have the right as customers to ask questions. I have found most reporters happy to engage with the public, some often conceding that there are better ways of reporting. Obviously some like their politics served on a platter, with a dish that has been pasteurised and sanitized of all possibility of flavour. “You can choose anything on the menu - we have burger and fries or fries with burger.”

Reporting "facts" only.

If only it was “facts” – like the Iraq dossier! Like the claims that it was about WMD or was it about Democracy or was it about Regime Change? Great facts!

  • 23.
  • At 01:53 PM on 21 Mar 2007,
  • John H wrote:

'there are actually intelligent and coherent critiques of both Media Lens and the Herman/Chomsky propaganda model upon which it is based'

Care to elaborate on these 'standard' alternate theories for the benefit of this debate, Aiden?

Mike's comments seem pretty much par for the course for all the unconvincing rebuttals I've seen so far. I'm afraid you'll have to do a tougher sale on 'Power Without Responsibility' before hooking me (and most of the above, I imagine)!

  • 24.
  • At 03:02 PM on 21 Mar 2007,
  • SB wrote:

I find it ironic that the webmaster decided to illustrate this piece with a picture of Saddam's statue being brought down. It is an incident that highlights one of the problems evident with BBC reporting.

There are many pages in describing the incident, but sadly none of them have the truth: that the 'spontaneous' decision of 'euphoric' iraqis was in fact a stage managed propaganda effort instigated by the US, as revealed by the LA Times. There is no discussion of this I can find on the BBC.

This is no isolated incident, as media lens has documented over the past few years of its existence. The BBC has a serious prediliction for taking the easy road - of accepting at face value the claims of people who have every reason to lie, if they are on 'our side', of extending to these people a strong and seemingly unending suspension of disbelief about what motivates them. 'Our side' or 'the establishment', however you prefer to call them, have only to assert their good intentions in words for the BBC to repeat them as fact. They do not even have to act upon them. Indeed, actions which give lie to these words will be overlooked, belittled, forgotten or unreported. This isn't contentious - it isn't hard to find examples.

We are in Iraq to liberate them (though we are configuring the exploitation of their natural resources to their lasting detriment, and our enrichment). We care for the Iraqi people (though we do not take the trouble to count how many of them we are killing). We are fighting terrorism (though terrorism in Iraq has been massively induced by our actions). I could go on. When Tony Blair boasts of bringing democracy to the dead, who challenges him?

Dissent from the BBC is so very, very safe - a few sneering comments or rhetorical flourishes. A brief challenge with no follow up questions (due to time limitations, of course).

Why is the BBC still repeating Ahmadenijad's 'wiped off the map' translation as fact? 6 months after asking the question we are fobbed off by a non-denial denial, as if saying "We will wipe you off the map" has its equivalence in "your regime must vanish from the pages of time".

I find it amusing to contrast the BBC's sports reporting with it's political output. The sport's reporters would never simply state what the FA, Ferguson or Wenger had to say without attaching their own assessment of the merits of their argument. They are unafraid to say when they believe someone is lying or talking nonsense. This is easy to do when it is something as unimportant as a football team involved.

Political reporters stay so much safer. Blair said this about terrorism. Brown announced this funding. No-one challenges Blair on why he alone believes terrorism hasn't increased as a result of Iraq. No-one asks Brown why he continually announces 'new funding' that is old funding with a bit of extra money icing.

When reporters are afraid to make value judgements when they are being lied to, or when they cannot call a spade a spade due to a spurious adherence to 'balance', politicians are let off the hook. When news organisations self select for reporters who are comfortable with this state of affairs, they become moribund.

  • 25.
  • At 03:11 PM on 21 Mar 2007,
  • Aiden J Harvey wrote:

John H,

I don't have time to go into detailed discussion but I can point you to some articles, which you should be able to find on the web and are useful to read. Much of that's in them I disagree with but they do have the virtue of being more intelligent that Mike Clarke's offerings.

Try Philip Schlesinger's 'From production to propaganda,' in Media, Culture and Society, vol. 11 (1989) for starters. You may also find Daniel Hallin's work interesting. He published a book years ago called 'Keeping America on top of the world' but his work is summarized well in the aforementioned Curran and Seaton and another of James Curran's books, 'Mass Media and Society'.

For a good reply to various criticism, read Edward Herman's essay 'The Propaganda Model Revisited'. I reccommend Curran & Seaton by the way, it's the definitive text on UK media history, structure and theory even if the most recent edition is about 7 years old now.

As someone else here noted, the best measure of Medialens's success is the level of upset shown by certain journalists and institutions in response to being scrutinised by an independent and objective source. Kudos to the BBC for entering the debate and inviting criticism, but the cynic inside reminds me that we're actually all taking part in an unpaid focus group. Now the PRs will know how to spin BBC recruitment to target the 'hiply disillusioned generation'.

I don't think ML is always on the mark, but their alerts are always an enlightening joy to read. It makes me think that this is what journalism should be.

With regards to 'email bullying campaigns', there is not the slightest whiff of campaigning. ML merely make it easy to hold those responsible for lazy/misleading journalism to account. I myself have been moved by only a small percentage of alerts to contact anyone directly. I hope anyone with half a brain would never send an email because 'David and David want me to'.

I think it's about time journalists - increasingly removed from objective reporting and becoming increasingly 'celebritised' - are forced to engage with the public at a very basic level: that of accountability.

ML has not only been massively educational, but has helped me view the BBC news and other media with a renewed vigour. I no longer listen or read passively, but think about why certain language is being employed, what the effect of that is, what is being insinuated, what is being omitted and what is being passed off as 'fact' that is nothing more than conjecture.

This is a bit off-topic, but the only problem that I can see with a service like ML is that it tends to scare people who are suddenly forced to confront the (admittedly) scary reality that government and supporting institutions, rather than serving the people (as supposedly happens in a democracy), are actually misleading and lying to the people in order to pursue an elitist agenda: the propagation of power and the nurturing of vested interest.

Knowing you can't rely on the authority structures you've previously been told you can rely on appears to send some people into some kind of conspiracy spiral where they display psychopathic glee at uncovering various plots that all invariably lead to Armageddon. This in turn tends to hijack debates like this, polarising opinion into two opposing camps: "Marxist Stalinists" (whatever that is) vs. "naif (sic) spooks spreading disinformation". In the extremities, there is no truth.

The question shouldn't even be "is the BBC balanced or biased", it should be "in what ways is the BBC coverage biased". You may say that's narrowing down the debate, but to try and pretend the media isn't biased (either to the right or the left - pick your preference) is to believe the news is written by robots or by people "with [their] Organs of Opinion [...] formally removed". It can't be done - you can't report any event, let alone a controversial one, without interpreting.

The truth, unfortunately, is slightly duller. There's no conspiracy. There's no one person, or institution, pulling the strings. There's simply the fact that self-interest dictates most decision-making in a capitalist society. That really shouldn't shock too many people. And it's this self-interest that is responsible for the indoctrinated bias of the mass media. All Medialens do is point this out with brilliant consistency.

The BBC (and others) are responsible for both excellent and appalling reporting. However, the weight of recent BBC reporting (and I'm thinking particularly post-Gilligan) is all-too-often unquestioning, lazy and, in the worst cases, (deliberately) misleading.

Sorry for the long post.

"There are many pages in describing the incident, but sadly none of them have the truth: that the 'spontaneous' decision of 'euphoric' iraqis was in fact a stage managed propaganda effort instigated by the US, as revealed by the LA Times. There is no discussion of this I can find on the BBC."

This is precisely the type of internet moonbattery, where people falsely think they are in on some amazing truth that the BBC isn't telling the people, that is a blite on our system.

There was indeed a report by Paul Wood, who was there, a year after the event duscussing the conspiracy theories,

Plus the man who started smashing up the statue has spoken of his regrets a few days ago - hardly a stage managed event then, was it.

We also know there were far bigger scenes of celebration all over the country that day in any event, making the whole thing rather silly.

  • 28.
  • At 07:07 PM on 21 Mar 2007,
  • Steven Martin wrote:

"Imagine the BBC in the 1980s describing how CIA-backed Mujahadeen were "blighting Soviet attempts to bring peace and stability to Afghanistan".

Indeed. The Russian equivalent of the BBC at the time was Pravda. If you look at Pravda's reports back in the 80s, they say how Russia has gone in to help the Afghan people and that terrorists are trying to ruin the altruistic mission etc. Does that sound familiar?

  • 29.
  • At 08:02 PM on 21 Mar 2007,
  • Aiden J Harvey wrote:

On the specifics of the Saddam statue incident, Maggie Cartwright on the Media Lens board linked to a very good article that shows that not only was it US psyops but that they also admit it. I have no idea whether I'll be allowed to link or not but the relevant passage is the following quote:

'As we approached the street leading into the Al-Firdos Square, we could tell that there was a very large crowd of civilians starting to form up. It looked like the infantry unit up there could use some support, so we moved our TPT [tactical PSYOP team] vehicle forward and started to run around seeing what they needed us to do to facilitate their mission.... There was a large media circus at this location (I guess the Palestine Hotel was a media center at the time), almost as many reporters as there were Iraqis, as the hotel was right adjacent to the Al-Firdos Square.

‘The Marine Corps colonel in the area saw the Saddam statue as a target of opportunity and decided that the statue must come down. Since we were right there, we chimed in with some loudspeaker support to let the Iraqis know what it was we were attempting to do [...]

‘Somehow along the way, somebody had gotten the idea to put a bunch of Iraqi kids onto the wrecker that was to pull the statue down. While the wrecker was pulling the statue down, there were Iraqi children crawling all over it. Finally they brought the statue down’

That's a direct quote from Staff Sergeant Brian Plesich, team leader, Tactical Psychological Operations Team 1153, 305th Psychological Operations Company, interview by Lieutenant Colonel Dennis Cahill, 31 May 2003 in Col. Gregory Fontenot, Lt. Col. E.J. Degen, and Lt. Col. David Tohn ‘On Point: The United States Army in Operation Iraqi Freedom’, Chapter 6 ‘Regime Collapse’

The article I've borrowed that from is called 'Firdos Square -giving them a show' from a webblog called "Many Angry Gerbils" [ ]

If they don't allow the hyperlink, I'm sure google will find it in seconds.

  • 30.
  • At 08:06 PM on 21 Mar 2007,
  • Nickolas Pickolas wrote:

Mike Clark is EXCELLENT craic, or should I be using a word that means something less humorous!!

The risible idea that because Paul Wood commented a YEAR after the event and now FOUR years after, someone admits their disappointment, that therefore it wasn't a stage managed event, is not just ludicrous but rather predictable of this most vapid of commentators.

But the best is yet to come, like Pollyanna at her best, he says with such lightness of tone:

"We also know there were far bigger scenes of celebration all over the country that day in any event, making the whole thing rather silly."

How do we know that? Who told us? Why do we trust who told us? What does the current state of the population, the regrets of the man that smashed the statue that Mike Clark refers to, tell us about the invasion and its aftermath?

If it wasn't so serious, it would be ever so funny...

Aiden J Harvey, I have seen that before; it's off the cuff boosting that is part obvious, part doesn't make a great deal of sense.

Of course the Americans wanted a good shot of the liberation - they'd be mad not to - but it was a real crowd of Iraqis who themselves started to pull down the statue - a scene repeated across the country - and the Americans only stepped in to help after it was clear the Iraqis wouldn't be able to do it on their own. We saw it on the live feed with our own eyes, and remember the interviews with troops around the square saying it was important that the Iraqis did it. Paul Wood was there. It was not "staged" in any way.

Why do you waste time focusing on such drivel?

  • 32.
  • At 09:29 PM on 21 Mar 2007,
  • Aiden J Harvey wrote:

Except Mike, that the passage excerpted in the article makes quite clear that it was the Marines who decided to pull down the statue and then told the Iraqis what they were going to do. If there's something there that says the Iraqis started to pull down the statue and then the marines decided to help, point us to it.

Either your reading comprehension is very poor or you're recklessly dishonest. Anyone reading your post can click on the article and read for themselves.

  • 33.
  • At 10:22 PM on 21 Mar 2007,
  • Huw Peach wrote:

Thanks for having the patience to make it to the bottom of this message board, through the mix of anti-ML-invective, mockery and thoughtful reflection.

The only points I have to add to the above are that Media Lens demonstrate what I think journalism should be all about; they are driven by what seems to me to be a sincere search for the truth, they investigate the context and history of media stories in admirable depth, and tenaciously go about the job of exposing the bias in the media generally and the BBC in particular.

Their exchanges with journalists are absolutely fascinating, and I feel they are asking questions which - at present -are not receiving satisfactory answers.

Apparently this makes me naif. So be it.

"Except Mike, that the passage excerpted in the article makes quite clear that it was the Marines who decided to pull down the statue and then told the Iraqis what they were going to do. If there's something there that says the Iraqis started to pull down the statue and then the marines decided to help, point us to it."

No, I pointed out that the remarks are not accurate; it's just quoting someone in conversation. If you saw the live feed at the time, you will know that the Americans stayed out of it for ages until it became clear the Iraqis couldn't pull it down. Interviews have been all over the media this week from the man who began trying to smash it down with the sledge hammer, saying he now regrets the war. Why has he never said he was told to do it? Why would all the journalists on the scene lie? Why would Iraqis repeat these scenes at smaller countries all over the country? Of course the Americans wanted a good shot, but it wasn't staged.

  • 35.
  • At 11:54 PM on 21 Mar 2007,
  • Rhisiart Gwilym wrote:

Sorry folks, let me try to be more precise: 'naive' - adjective; 'naif' - noun. Thus: Mike Clark, as it might be, is a naive naif. And I don't assert that he really is a black ops operative; just wondering. Though the more you read of his stuff the more you think: 'Surely not even the spooks would hire such a guy to try to blacken Medialens. They couldn't be that inept. Could they.....?'

Incidentally, there seems to be some unadmitted censorship going on on this site. That's unless my third comment appears before this one.

  • 36.
  • At 05:42 PM on 22 Mar 2007,
  • John H wrote:

[apologies if this appears twice - the first attempt doesn't seem to have gone through after several hours...]

Thanks Aiden

My brief online research wasn't very fruitful I'm afraid.
I had a chuckle when I found this page:

with fully 25 'Articles supporting the PM' (most of which were linked) and only Schlesinger's article 'critiquing the PM' (unavailable online as far as I can tell).

I read some of Herman's response to his critics over on:

and the ease with which he deals with the 'too deterministic' (is this a misrepresentation?) line of criticism doesn't fill me with confidence as to the strength of Schlesinger et al's position. I agree with Herman when he concludes:

'[The Propaganda Model] offers insight in numerous important cases that have large effects and cumulative ideological force, it is defensible unless a better model is provided. Usually the critics wisely stick to generalities and offer no critical detail or alternative model; when they do provide alternatives, the results are not impressive. '

Nevertheless I'll keep an eye out for Curran & Seaton. Unfortunately the last bookshop in my town just closed down, so I'll have to check the library or wait to see if it shows up in Oxfam or something(!)

  • 37.
  • At 08:00 PM on 25 Mar 2007,
  • Demetrios wrote:

I strongly agree with Medialens's mission statement and this article in particualr . It exposes the fact that an establishment is at work here with what some of us see as radical actions unsound world views and dangerous plans . Any alternative perspective that challenges this world view is seen as 'marxist' unpatriotic , subversive or outright risible.

The truth is that famous quote by Goebbels ; 'Yes it is only a lie (about the jews being Evil ) but if a lie is repeated often enough it becomes the truth '

The liars are running the world and endangering innocents all over . The sooner a credible alternative is given a mandate by a well informed politcially aware population the better. Well done Media Lens .

  • 38.
  • At 01:01 AM on 26 Mar 2007,
  • Mark wrote:

There was nothing illegal about the invason of Iraq. The cease fire which ended the UN sanctioned fighting to liberate Kuwait in 1991 was conditional on among other things Iraq's full cooperation with UN inspectors in discovery and destruction of its WMDs. Iraq used every subterfuge conceivable in the 12 years of the cease fire to resist cooperating. Its nuclear weapons program wasn't even know to exist until 1995 when Saddam Hussein's brother-in-law who headed the program escaped to Jordan and revealed it to the world. He was later lured back to Iraq and executed for his treason against Saddam. Every intelligence agency in the world believed Saddam Hussein had WMDs in his arsenal or was trying to acquire them and the means to manufacture them and it wasn't just the dogdy dossier which convinced them either. Even his own generals believed it. The real mistake occurred when the first show of resistance to the inspectors occurred. The US should have immediately flattened the building and warned Iraq that a repeat incident would result in an immediate resumption of the armed conflict and by the time it was over, the Republican guard would no longer exist.

The war in Iraq has served many very useful purposes, so many it's hard to count them all. Among them the US military now occupies a spot in central Arabia from which to strike any troublemakers such as Iran or Syria if they get too far out of hand. The whole Middle East applecart has been turned upside down and inside out. American weapons and tactics have been battle tested and where found wanting will be improved. And those who are actually America's enemies have revealed themselves for what they really are. The cost in American lives in four years has been less than the number of deaths on its highways in one month and the number of wounded, fewer than the number injured on its highways in 4 days. The economic cost to the US, less than one percent of GDP, the impact on the economy, negligable.

Oh and the Iraq casualties? Too bad about that, an unfortunate consequence of every war. The Americans would prefer to hit only military targets if they could, the civilians just get in the way. Hence the precision guided munitions. As for the insurgents, well it seems they seek out civilians because for the most part, that's all they can strike at.

BBC has consistantly broadcast anti American, anti Israeli pro terrorist propaganda for years, the reporting of the war in Iraq has been no different. I don't know anything about "media lens" but it must be a left wing radical group or pro terrorist group criticizing BBC from the the extreme left. Citing their criticism as a defense against accusations of BBC bias from the mainstream center will not work, it doesn't fool anyone. The New York Times reporter Stewart was right, BBC is anti Western.

  • 39.
  • At 09:04 AM on 26 Mar 2007,
  • Andrew wrote:

Mark wrote:

"I don't know anything about "media lens...."

I think you should perhaps take time to find out Mark rather than commenting on something you freely admit to having no knowledge about.

  • 40.
  • At 10:14 AM on 26 Mar 2007,
  • Rhisiart Gwilym wrote:

Bravo Mark! (comment 39) From your spelling of the word 'defence' I surmise that you must be (or maybe wannabe?) USAmerican.

You provide a textbook example in your post of the morally vicious - and hilariously deluded - dreamworld inhabited by far too many USAmericans, and their equally deluded hangers-on in other countries. Hardly surprising, I suppose, when one considers the spectacularly unreliable corporate 'news' media operating in your country (and ours). Certainly, what you describe isn't the real world which the Medialens guys and many others attempt to inhabit.

Luckily for your deeply unfortunate country, it also has world-class luminaries such as Chomsky and Herman, and very many others, who do inhabit the real world, and strive to do so with intellectual truthfulness and moral decency.

Despite the worst efforts of the Bush-mascotted coup junta currently usurping power to destroy your democratic Constitution, those respect-worthy USAmericans use the excellent freedom of speech, which for the time being still persists in your country to tell honest truth, massively founded on carefully-researched facts. Those Americans are as good as it gets, anywhere. The Davids at Medialens also strive to follow that great tradition.

In that same spirit, may I suggest that the facts - as distinct from hysterically-deluded jingoism - suggest a very different picture from the dreamworld which you sketch-in in your post. If you'd care to take a modest gamble, I'll bet you - let's say - fifty Euros (not USdollars; I wouldn't touch your illusion-based, crash-bound currency with a bargepole) that if we're both still alive in five years time, we shall have seen most, possibly all, of the following:

1) The US empire will have gone the same way as the SU, but deeper down the tubes, and harder, with less prospect of ever clawing its way back up again, as a chastened and reduced Russia has done.

2) One of the triggers of that decent will be a now-imminent US economic crash which in severity and persistence will make the Great Depression seem like a walk in the park.

3) The USuk aggressors will have been driven out of Iraq ignominiously by it's insurgent patriots, very much as the defeated US aggression was driven out of Vietnam by its native patriots. ('Wann wird mann jeg verstehen?')

4) Those of you who will still be able to afford to drive cars at all in the US will be paying fuel prices such as you don't imagine in your worst nightmares at the moment. What with the hyperinflation-devalued USDollar, and the huge upward lurch in global fuel prices as oil shortages take hold, shall we guess something over 50 USDollars a gallon? Possibly a lot more. (Of course, if your economy, and others dependent on it, crash hard enough, the demand destruction for fuel might even bring prices down for a while. But not for long, I suspect.)

5) Many of the cities of the US, especially in the hot, dry South West, will be resembling ghost-towns, as your profit-enslaved Rube Goldberg national electrical grid founders, and artificially-provided water in those places becomes a wistful memory of the receding past.

And so on. I could continue. But prophecy is a mug's game, and I'm worse at it than most. What I'm saying in a nutshell is that the arrogant, brutishly-fascistic, know-nothing US fantasy-world of which you give us a small taste in your post is rushing towards a head-on collision with reality which, I suspect, is going to leave a lot of you coping with cognitive dissonance such as you've never experienced before. It happens over and over again when empires crash. So good luck. Let me know if you want to take the bet. But strictly in Euros or Roubles.

And - truly - in spite of my ridiculing tone here, no real offence intended. You're in an unlucky situation, both in your country and in your head, and that deserves sympathy, I suppose. In spite of everything I hope it comes out humanely for us all, you deluded US fascists included. Cofion gorau, Rhisiart Gwilym

  • 41.
  • At 03:16 PM on 26 Mar 2007,
  • Rhisiart Gwilym wrote:

And by the way, censor, when are you going to put up my post addressed directly to Newsnight journalists? Or will you admit to doing censorship based on some unadmitted set of criteria about what's permissible and what's taboo.? In case it somehow got lost the previous two attempted postings, here it is again:

A brief further message specifically for Newsnight journalists:

In all sober seriousness, may I suggest that perhaps you should consider whether it’s worth going on as professionals within the belly of the corporate beast. There are two reasons, to do with wholeness of mind, and to do with personal danger.

Taking the second first: We really are entering Interesting Times such as our species has never encountered before. This isn’t something that’s coming soon. It’s already well in train, and picking up speed steadily. There are several interlinked and interacting worldwide crises: Climate change; the peak and subsequent unstoppable decline of global petro-energy production (round about now; rapidly-accumulating evidence suggests that with hindsight peak will prove to have been in 2005; the consequences of decline are enormous, to put it mildly); human population overshoot far beyond what the planet can carry naturally, as a result of a brief bloom caused by the era of cheap, abundant energy; and the Sixth Extinction, with its associated possibility of a runaway positive feedback perturbation that fries and sterilises the planet, like Venus.

Probably even nearer in time is the collapse of the US economy, and the disappearance of the US empire down the same tubes that swallowed the SU just twenty years or so earlier, from the same causes. The straws in the wind suggest that the US collapse may well be deeper, more severe, and more permanently debilitating even than the crash of the soviets. That‘s only a hunch, of course, I can’t put it higher than that, but that some kind of collapse is coming seems pretty clear. The end of the era of cheap, abundant energy, on its own, is enough to ensure that the country which gobbles a quarter of all the world’s energy output, and is currently on an unsustainable debt ramp, is going to take some serious stick. However, it has to be said that, whilst a crash of the US empire may cause considerable upheaval, particularly in its more abjectly dependent fiefdoms such as England and Israel, it’s the other dangers, mentioned in the previous paragraph, which are much more serious.

All these dangers point towards the possibility that there will be considerable changes within Britain, possibly quite rapid, and more far-reaching than we imagine now in the last months of deceptively calm ease, before we slide into the whitewater ride. There are sixty-plus million of us packed into these small islands, getting about half our food and other commodities on outrageously-advantageous, gangster-enforced terms from other countries, many of them desperately poor, and angry about the arrangements, by energy-gobbling long-distance air and sea transport. And then there’s the small matter of North Sea petro-energy. The British share is still very much in the hands of the transnational corporate gangsters who hold majority shares in Westminster Inc., and not being nationalised to save what’s left for our use, whilst its output bombs at about 8% a year now. And that’s to say nothing of the urgently-needed gas supplies which have to come through the increasingly energy-hungry territories of several of our continental neighbours from Russia (which has pretty well re-nationalised its petro-resources now) before it gets to us. Remember that little-noticed, first-ever warning last year that there was a brief but acute danger of short-fall in the natural gas input into the British pipeline system? Remember how Putin and co have been quietly bringing some of their dependent neighbours back to heel, by turning off the gas taps briefly? Remember how quickly they caved in?

Yeah, I know: another Chicken Little running around shouting: “The sky is falling….!” Let’s all be cool, sophisticated big-city men-and-women of the world and smile indulgently at this crazed old loon in the sticks……

But what if the sky is falling? Are you really certain that there’s absolutely nothing too much to worry about, after all that’s happened recently, and the gathering cloud of sober warnings from heavyweight public bodies?

What sort of unquiet dreams do you wake from suddenly at three in the morning? Have you children, or grandchildren whom you love, as poor eviscerated Umm Abdallah in David’s post above had until recently?

Now, suppose to yourselves another astonishing turn of events never before seen here in Britain, except for a few months around 1650: As a result of these accelerating world-shakings, already begun, there breaks out here soon a genuine, populist, egalitarian, glasnostic democracy. The real thing, rather than the detestable sham that we suffer now. Quite a lot of Brits would like to see that, and take part. Probably most of us, once the Permanent Bullshit Blizzard coming from the media and political upoals has stopped.

Should that happen, there might be a time of reckoning for the crew of blood-drowned, thieving gangsters and their henchpeople who run their criminal global operations out of our deluded country right now.

The upoals who staff the public-perception-manipulation media might well be sucked into that reckoning. I don’t believe in death-penalties or any barbarous punishments of anyone at all, on any pretext whatever. But it might be sobering for you to consider that at the Nuremberg Tribunals after WW2, there were journalists amongst the Nazis condemned and hanged. Just because lots of us don’t hold with such barbarities doesn’t mean that they can’t happen in a turbulent time of settling of scores. Remember the summary drum-head trial, and subsequent firing-squad executions out in the courtyard of the Ceauscescus at the time of the Romanian escape from the Soviet empire? Remember the grisly circus of the executions of Saddam, and now his deputy? A lot of people are very angry at that victor’s travesty of justice. Especially since Bush, Blair and their colleagues and immediate predecessors are considerably more culpable in Iraq than those homegrown killers. (About two million innocent Iraqis genocided over the past sixteen years by USuk aggressions and politicking over the oil, leaving behind millions more coldly vengeful Umm Abdallahs)

But the true ticking bomb here is the millions of still-sleepwalking members of the pampered twenty percent of the world’s people. Some millions of them live in Britain, and many millions more in the US. As the whitewater ride accelerates them out of their comfortable dreamworld and into a horrified awakening (lost homes, lost jobs, financial destitution, difficulty even in putting food on the table and clothes on their backs, as Dmitry Orlov saw in Russia just a few years ago; actual, real, grinding, long-term hardship with no prospect of rescue for you or your children; penury such as people I knew in Calcutta or Mumbai, for example, have struggled through for long periods as a matter of common daily experience) what do you think their reactions might be? Especially after they’ve had it so good for so long that they’ve come to regard it as a God-given entitlement? George H W Bush knows. He said a while back: “If people knew what we [the WealthPowerStatus mafias] really do, they’d be chasing us down the streets to lynch us.” Even world-league criminals of our time can see clearly and speak truly on occasion, it seems. Do you think that enraged citizens will somehow miss the complicity of millionaire-celeb media hacks? Or even of their more modestly-paid underlings?

Turn now to the other reason for a serious review of your position: Wholeness of mind and spirit. Once again, mahatma Chomsky has said it before me. Whenever he’s asked why he has been such a persistent, clear-sighted critic of the criminal schweinereis of the powerful, he always answers something along the lines of needing to be able to look himself in the eye in the shaving mirror without shame, without an unquiet, divided, self-deluding soul. The same motive, I suspect, which drives Quixote and Panza along at Medialens; what drove el Che, and still drives Fidel and Hugo Chavez; what drives millions - no, billions - more of us more obscure dreamers of justice and compassion and a healed planet.

Truly, my friends, for all the glittering baubles that seem to make your professional positions so alluring, I wouldn’t change lives with you at any price. My income is probably two or three orders of magnitude smaller than yours, yet I’d bet you anything I can afford that my life is more serene than yours. Chasing the glittering prizes, and giving your truth into the hands of the ruthless, urbanity-cloaked gangsters who control your careers isn’t worth a damn. On the other hand there’s plenty of space for you guys on this side of the fence, and an ever-more urgent need for pilgerised, genuine journalists with self-respect down to the roots of their minds and a real job to do, as the Interesting Times accelerate. Think about it, won’t you?

For further hard information not to be had from the corporate media, try the following sampling of websites, both current output and archives:

* * Anything by Dmitry Orlov *Anything by Richard Heinberg * *The priceless archives of *Stan Goff’s Feral Scholar and Insurgent American websites *Jim Kunstler’s Clusterfuck Nation website *Carolyn Baker’s Speaking Truth To Power Website *Michel Chossudovsky’s Global Research website *The many other reliable information sources which proliferate out from these sites.

Cofion gorau, Rhisiart G.

  • 42.
  • At 01:17 PM on 29 Mar 2007,
  • Glen wrote:

For all the jaw-jaw, this thread hasn't addressed the issue of bias in BBC and/or Newsnight reporting. For some reason it's turned into a Medialens critique. Which is of itself a classic comment about deflection of the debate from the salient issue. And if anyone can find a real genuine chink in the monolithic and implacable logic of any medialens alerts, I would like to hear about it.

The real question: is BBC reporting "balanced" or "biased" is meaningless without definition. Answering the question is actually a pretty straight forward exercise of measurment. FAIR ( do this on a regular basis for the US media in something approaching a scientific manner.

You define some parameters, you examine articles, broadcasts, texts over a period of time on a specific issue, you bucket each article in certain way (number of sources quoted, alignment of sources, party affiliations, sources of funding of spokepeople, alignment of think tanks, total time given to certain points of view and so on) and you measure it all.

This is actually an academic discipline - you can publish in peer reviewed journals on this - it's quite scholatic.

QUESTION: why don't the BBC put up or shut up? Get an independent, maybe even critical academic, to examine your news output on a regular basis, and release the study to the public. The BBC CLAIMS it produces balanced reporting, but has never to my knowledge actually shown it's true in a verifiable, PROVEN way.

In fact, it's quite the opposite. In every study that I've seen, and there aren't many, mainstream media outlets come out as overwlemingly pro-government. So for example, the Glasgow media group found that the BBC's coverage of the Palestinian-Israeil conflict was overwhelmingly biased in favour of Israel, not only that, but also overwlemingly biased against Palestinians (with very few sources quoted, negative images of Paelstinians and so on).

A recent study from the School of Jounrnalism at Cardiff University showed that during a peak reporting period in 2003 during the initial invasion of Iraq, the BBC was even more pro-government than Sky, when all television news channels were examined.

A German media group has also published a study showing that the BBC gave the least coverage of dissent against the invasion of Iraq of almost any television news network in Europe.

So: on balance, when you measure content and output over a reasonable period, on a specific issue, either the bulk of the reporting comes down as biased in one direction or the other. Even INTUITIVELY for crying out loud, only an extrememly innumerate and/or naieve person would guess that output and content could possibly be finely poised and BALANCED.

Its much more likely, even statistically, that coverage would be biased, one way or another. I mean think about it - the Telegraph, The Times etc - you EXPECT them to have a right wing bias. The Guardian, The Independent, you expect them to have a more left wing bias correct? And what, you think that the BBC (the "C" stands for corporation, by the way) is going to be any different in terms of it's corporate hierarchy, and the bias that inherently gives, than any of the afore mentioned?

If one were to hypothesise, and reflect realistically for a moment on the make up of the journalist class in the UK (recent study has shown they come mostly from a tiny handful of universities and schools, the same establishemnts that a lot of senior civil servants, and a lot of politicians come from) and on the make up of the senior management of the BBC, and the board, and those who set the tone of news reporting, the most reasonable expectation of the outcome of your measurement of content would be that it would be biased in FAVOUR of the whatever trumped up propaganda line the government is peddling on any one given day. And, sometime, it' snot even because the journalists believe the propaganda line, it's because they actually AGREE with their fellows in governemntcivil service.

You might say, "well what if it comes out 70-30 in favour of the governemnt on issue X - that's not too bad is it - there's still some dissent - you just have to watch out for those different views?". Problem is: most people form their opinions not on the specifics of news reporting, from any one article or any one broadcast item, but on the general tone of the reporting(there are psychological studies to show this). If the tone is 70% pro-governemnt, that informs people's opinions.

Everything else, everything comment on this thread, every rationale behind it's creation, every ad hoc empirical, anecdotal whine and moan is all just a grand waste of time deflecting you from what's actually important. Go and measure it for yourself.

  • 43.
  • At 02:27 PM on 30 Mar 2007,
  • Themos Tsikas wrote:

There is a very simple litmus test for the BBC. All you have to do is compare the BBC coverage of the refugee crisis precipitated by the NATO bombing in 1999 with the refugee crisis in Iraq today. In the first one, the government wanted the British public to be made aware of the refugees because they reasoned that this would help get public opinion behind the bombing. In the second case, the government did not want the refugee crisis to be highlighted because it would make the government's position look bad. As you can easily verify, the BBC has obliged even though the second crisis is far greater than the first.

  • 44.
  • At 06:45 PM on 31 Mar 2007,
  • Rhisiart Gwilym wrote:

Well said, Glen!

Don't think the issue really is whether the beeb 'news' output is biased and manipulative, though, nor whether Medialens supplies piercing and largely unaswerable shreddings of beeb and other corporate 'news' credibility. That's obvious to anyone who wants to look - with genuine intellectual honesty, a big if - at the analytical sources you mention.

The real issue, may I suggest, is breeching the corporate media's credibility with as large a segment of the public as possible, so that the opinion manipulation which you sketch in so persuasively ceases to be as effective as it has been. If the propaganda function of 'free, democratic' (hah!) Western media is crippled some time soon, then the bloody crimes of the gangsters who run the Western 'democracies' become that much more difficult.

The other big job of these critiques is to open the minds of any journalist within the corporate media who has sufficient honesty and decency to be reachable, to see these things which they have been so long prevented from seeing. Watching the quixotic journey of the Davids since their first appearance, I've been astonished at how much of that second purpose they seem to have achieved already. I can't offer you the kind of near-scientific evidence which you describe. I haven't the means. But the anecdotal feel of this journey has been one of remarkable impact. And in the end we are talking to fellow humans who are, in the main, decent and at least potentially humane people. Think of it as mole-breeding.......

Cofion gorau, Rhisiart Gwilym

  • 45.
  • At 09:03 AM on 07 Apr 2007,
  • Antony wrote:

Previously Glen wrote "You define some parameters, you examine articles, broadcasts, texts over a period of time on a specific issue, you bucket each article in certain way (number of sources quoted, alignment of sources, party affiliations, sources of funding of spokepeople, alignment of think tanks, total time given to certain points of view and so on) and you measure it all."

Thats been done Glen,

Studies by the Cardiff School of Journalism and the Glasgow University Media Group suggest that there is a serious and systematic bias among British broadcasters in favour of the government and its allies.




I can't find a direct link to it but a similair report was published in the a german publication Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung - The report is discussed here,,4652312-103674,00.html

  • 46.
  • At 09:10 AM on 07 Apr 2007,
  • Antony wrote:

Previously Glen wrote "You define some parameters, you examine articles, broadcasts, texts over a period of time on a specific issue, you bucket each article in certain way (number of sources quoted, alignment of sources, party affiliations, sources of funding of spokepeople, alignment of think tanks, total time given to certain points of view and so on) and you measure it all."

Thats been done Glen,

Studies by the Cardiff School of Journalism and the Glasgow University Media Group suggest that there is a serious and systematic bias among British broadcasters in favour of the government and its allies.




I can't find a direct link to it but a similair report was published in the a german publication Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung - The report is discussed here,,4652312-103674,00.html

  • 47.
  • At 02:59 AM on 11 Apr 2007,
  • Garth wrote:

Yes I believe the coverage to have been routinely biased in favour of those who took us to war. For example, the world's media filmed the statue of Saddam being toppled in 2003. Some months later, film footage emerged showing the camera panning around to reveal that there was hardly anybody there and that it was staged by Coalition forces. The BBC had reporters and cameras there at the time: why didn't they describe or show these scenes at that time so as to illustrate the sham of it? No, they wanted to give the impression of the 'momentousness' of the occasion. This I believe reveals a degree of complicity with those who took us to war.

  • 48.
  • At 03:46 AM on 11 Apr 2007,
  • Garth wrote:

The varying vocabulary for the actions of different 'sides' is so acute I have to conclude there is bias in favour of those who invaded Iraq. Newsnight, alongside other news programmes, routinely uses the word ‘atrocity’ when there is a terrorist attack against Britain and its allies, and this word was used a great deal to describe the London and Madrid bombings. On the other hand, never was this word used, except in rare and isolated incidents and always in an 'alleged' context, to describe the far greater number of Iraqi deaths in the bombings of Baghdad and Fallujah by American forces. There are other examples: Saddam Hussein’s regime carried out 'torture' but American activities at Abu Ghraib were mere ‘abuse’. Torture carried out on behalf of the Coalition in other countries is described rather harmlessly as 'rendition'. The choice of the word 'insurgent', though it means 'rebel', has the convenient ring of sounding like people who have poured in from outside - as in 'surged in' - when most are Iraqi citizens resisting foreign occupation. Why not therefore use the term ‘Iraqi resistance’ or even ‘freedom fighter’? It goes beyond Iraq: in the Israel-Lebanon ‘war’ last year, the Lebanese 'kidnapped' but the Israeli army made 'arrests'. Palestinian suicide bombers commit ‘atrocities’ but when Israel kills Palestinians with tanks it is an 'incursion'. Who makes these decisions about vocabulary and what are the reasons behind them?

I'd just like to refer again(see Terry above)to what must be the most scandalously under-reported/taboo pieces of TV footage of this decade: Colin Powell's press conference in Cairo on Feb 24 2001 - just 6 1/2 months before 9/11 (View the 5-Star rated taboo clip at
- you won't find it in the mainstream of course..)
"[Saddam] has not developed any significant capability with respect to weapons of mass destruction. He is unable to project conventional power against his neighbours."
It's a quote and footage that the corporate media - including the BBC - still avoids like the plague - it's dead and buried as far as they're concerned - but it clearly belongs at the heart of any and every serious, free and open discussion of Iraq War Lies and the media's silent and not-so-silent compliance, collusion and cowardly(aka 'pragmatic' or 'expedient') complicity.
Ah yes - "if only we'd known then what we know now", right?!
In short - adieu "old" media...

  • 50.
  • At 05:09 AM on 16 Apr 2007,
  • Phil P wrote:

As an ex-BBC employee (not in the news section mind) I can tell you that the BBC, as an institution, is prone to a lot of the same pressures that the corporate media sector are. It isn't quite the tax funded utopia it's made out to be in a lot of commentary. Finance plays a big role and you have to keep in mind that it has been on the run up to a Charter renewal. You simply have to remember what the C stands for. Particularly in the context of a market-led society/economy.

As early as 2001 (to the best of my personal knowledge) senior managers at the BBC were already making strategic decisions to influence the, possibly crippling, decisions the DCMS might have made about license fees and so on in 2006.

I'm a little wary of supporting some of the assertions made above about complicity. Some suggesting a conscious choice in supporting governmental policy. The people at the BBC, for the most part, are simply trying to do the best job they can, providing the best information they can.

These people are, for the most part, just members of public too. The fact that many of them are probably not aware of the origins of the PR industry, or quite how insidious it is, may lead them to be uncritical of the information they recieve from other institutional sources. They live and work under the same social and cultural assumptions that a large section of the country do.

How do you deal with this? Would it be unfair to make every editorial staff member write an essay on Bernays before commiting anything else to headed Corporation paper? Make them do an investigative piece into something like the nature of reserve banking or Production-Sharing Agreements? Something a little out of the mainstream and more than a little controvertial? As a part of the interview process perhaps?

I'm willing to bet that you're much more likely to find your average BBC employee reading Heat magazine than some Adam Smith or a Proudhon text.

BBC journalism can be relatively lazy (genuine BBC, not sourced second hand from Reuters, AP, etc, though those can be even more ridiculous). Certainly that which appears on the internet tends to be an appalling regurgitation of quotes from individuals with vested interests in the issue at hand (or their corporate PR cronies). That is to say, it is about as far from objective as possible.

One thing that does amaze me is that the BBC does not roll out its own archive footage to demonstrate hypocrisy in politician's behaviour or rhetoric.

I'm sure they could make a beautiful video montage (with datestamps) of all the changes in direction over the justification for the invasion of Iraq. (Though you'd probably struggle to find much on the changes between dollar and euro for oil trading.)

Then again, that would require dedicated individuals doing the research who are very well informed on the topic at hand and not just putting together 'content' (oh how I despise that word) which is relatively compelling between meetings, lunch, dinner, picking up the kids and so on.

It has also stunned me how quickly BBC television news coverage accepts and integrates rhetoric and metaphor unquestioningly into their reporting language. For instance, vilifying 'terrorism' and sanctioning 'Shock and Awe' when they could even be considered the same thing.

At home, as of last December, I've disconnected the aerial from my television. I find there to be little of any interest in the schedules. The radio news reporting and subsequent discussion seems of a much higher quality. Besides which, I'm really sick of being told how much I should make my living space look like an Ikea showroom or how we're going to help Bob the lawyer pick one of three £350000 houses so he can jump on the buy-to-let bandwagon.

I might have kept it plugged in if the BBC's political coverage were actually worthwhile. You have Michael Portillo as a political commentator and you don't challenge him aggressively over every 'defence' policy issue? He only resigned from BAE last year because it'd make his bias too obvious to keep him on the BBC payroll.

I quit my post at Aunty Beeb and now lecture on the media at a University. I find it fascinating that there's been so little coverage of issues that are of interest in my new career. Such as the recent student riots in Athens or the fact that the method of Higher Education funding has changed and now depends on participation in assessment (further discouraging academic rigour in favour of getting paid).

Whilst I think it's wrong to picture the BBC as governmental co-conspirators, it's very fair to accuse the institution of bias, particularly over matters of such import as going to war. The BBC cannot afford to upset politicians because the politicians are the ones signing off on the licence fee, it can't afford to upset the public too much because they validate its existance through viewing figures and, when all is said and done, the BBC is composed of a lot of individuals keeping their heads down, trying to get by.

Both Andrew Marr and Noam Chomsky have already been mentioned. There's a great clip from an old BBC interview ('The Big Idea') that has been uploaded repeatedly on Google Video where Marr asks "How can you know that I'm self censoring?". Chomsky's response pretty much sums up the big problems with BBC journalistic bias. Worth a watch if you haven't seen it already.

  • 51.
  • At 12:49 PM on 27 Apr 2007,
  • Steve D wrote:

Jim Carlucci - that is a great link. You're right, we're never likely to see this kind of reporting, when the people doing the reporting have their careers in the hands of the taxpayer (for taxpayer, read the government, because the taxpayer doesn't make any decisions regarding BBC funding - like most important decisions, their input is relegated to a vote between A and B once every four or five years; a vote coloured by the media presentation of them as the only two options, and the refusal to change our antiquated voting system which keeps both parasitical parties in power).

  • 52.
  • At 02:45 PM on 28 Apr 2007,
  • andy wrote:

Hmmm, something fishy about the first post being from someone who claims to be "correcting for Medialens's attempts to distort the vision of the corporate media". Grrrr.
If anyone from the Newsnight editorial team are reading this, count this as a tick in the box marked 'BBC is biased in the government's favour'

As far as my telly goes, I'm going to sell it and use the money to host a medialens watch watch site, dedicated to rooting out insane right wingers and their bovine postings.

  • 53.
  • At 07:59 PM on 01 May 2007,
  • DonS wrote:

I as an American, Bush has flagrant disregard to human life, has no understanding of history, and still thinks he can “speak” things into existence as a shaman. My hope is that the USA congress will stand its ground and deny war funds unless a reasonable time table is agreed to.

I think common boards as this, that track contradictions in the press, will help end war atrocities. We common people do not like being lied to, nor to be persuaded by misleading information.


  • 54.
  • At 06:09 AM on 28 May 2007,
  • rowland morgan wrote:

Regarding Jim Carlucci's post No. 50, I have posted on the topic of BBC archival clips several times, with particular reference to those Powell and Condi clips. It seems to me thatm since the public pays for the BBC, the news archive should be available on-line. Viewers could then post selected clips with their comments when responding to news and c/affs bulletins. News managers would then find it much harder to conceal political deception, the way they routinely do now.

  • 55.
  • At 06:42 PM on 01 Jun 2007,
  • Howard wrote:

One of the great streams no make that rivers a great big river of cowardice within the media as a whole BBC included is the whitewashing of the genocidal character of Tony Blair and Bill Clinton. The myth that it all went wrong with the puppet President Bush jnr and that Tony was a lovely fellow before getting mixed up with George. As if the Clinton/Blair sanctions and bombing genocide upon Iraq never happened. As if Clinton did not with immediate Blair praise bomb a medicine factory in Sudan cutting off essential supply that the German Ambassador would later say cost in the months that followed tens of thousands of lives. As if in the 90's they didn't facilitate the Turkish state to murder over 30,000 Kurds and ethnic cleanse over 1 million Kurds. As if Blair was not Indonesian dictator Suharto's chief arms supplier. As if the the so-called Clinton Peace Plan was not a fraud for start to finish that made the lives of the Palestinian people vastly worse and rewarded the Israelis for their attrocities. As if 705 of the unarmed civilians murdered in the conflict in Colombia during the 1990's were not murdered by the men Clinton supplied the guns and money to on the US tax-payers pocket. As if the Clinton/Gore record on climate, eco-systems and all things environmental was not a litany of rampant destruction... but hey!! give Gore an Oscar and portray him as the Jesus of Climate Change!!
If the BBC had any interest in informed and educated honesty that would have forewarned the British people what Blair's speech a year before he became Prime Minister really meant. In which he declared that New Labour heroes are not just Labour figures but Gladstone, Lloyd George and Churchill. Gladstone invaded Egypt to protect the investments of a few rich chums claiming it was for only a couple of weeks and for democracy. We retained possession of Egypt for over 70 years as a result. Lloyd George invented Iraq as a British empire client regime with Churchill as his colonial governor who tried to arrange a poison gas genocide of the Kurds but the RAF engineers told Churchill that the technology was not quite there yet. The same Churchill and Lloyd George cemented on September 11th 1922
the official British policy to rape Palestine from the Palestinians and to give it to European Jews. In 1937 Churchill described the Palestinians as a "dog in a manger" that no matter how long they have been there they have no right or claim in the face of a superior race IE European Jews. Churchill said it would be to British benefit to create a "Jewish Ulster" in the Middle East. Then there is the Lloyd George the man who scuttled an international conference in the early 30's that sought to establish the bombing of civilian cities as a legal war crime. Lloyd George boasted "WE INSISTED ON RESERVING THE RIGHT TO BOMB THE NIGGERS!"
TONY BLAIR declared these bastards as NEW LABOUR icons and heroes back in 1996!!
Everything Blair has done was plain to see before he even did it !!

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