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Talk about scepticism

Peter Barron | 13:15 UK time, Friday, 11 August 2006

On Newsnight we've long hankered after our own website forum. With an opinionated, argumentative, computer-literate audience it's a marriage made in heaven. So, as we launched Talk about Newsnight this week our correspondents queued up to expose themselves to your views.

Newsnight logoFirst up: Justin Rowlatt - already a successful multi-media figure as Ethical Man and the recipient of around a thousand clunky old emails this year. A bright new age beckoned.

"This 'ethical man' crap has got to be one of the worst ideas Newsnight has ever had. An entire year? That's not serious journalism, that's moronic daytime-magazine-programme s***e. Good luck with the blog though." wrote Kate, rather charmingly by the end.

"Welcome to blogging Justin", added our business correspondent Paul Mason, in what I think was solidarity.

We launched the forum properly on Thursday and the timing - coinciding with the huge news of the foiled alleged terror plot - could hardly have been better. As our deputy editor, Daniel "King of the Blogs" Pearl, spends his evenings discovering, the great attribute of the blogger is scepticism. Sceptics duly flocked to his posting (also here), Peter Simmons summing up the mood.

"It now transpires that bottles of pop are suspect, MI6 must have just seen the Tango ads and thought 'whoo, that looks dangerous'. This is sounding more and more like a farce, dressed up by the government to frighten old ladies into not flying. Meanwhile, in Lebanon...".

Don't the trusting or the gullible ever go blogging?

As I write I've just noticed this, from the improbably named Gully Burns of California. Is Gully gullible, or just sensible?

"I live in Los Angeles. People here respond to the news with immediate relief and support for the security services. There is almost no thought of the secondary implications, or having any sort of suspicion that the timing of the event is in any way related to Lebanon, Iraq or any other theatre of conflict. I personally feel that congratulations are in order to the police for this coup. All the complainants on this post would certainly be shocked and horrified if the events described today had come true, and they would then probably be complaining that the police didn't do their jobs."

In truth, one of Newsnight's aims in life is to be heartily sceptical, so we can hardly be surprised at our viewers' demeanour. But personally my favourite piece of the week displayed no edge, no cynicism, no controversy. It was the rediscovered gem of Harold Baim's travel film showing the beautiful place that Lebanon was in the more innocent age of the 1960s (watch it here) - now a tragic and poignant document.

Perhaps you hated it?


  • 1.
  • At 02:29 PM on 11 Aug 2006,
  • Andrew wrote:

Given the escalation of Israeli aggression, is the latest uncovered ‘terror plot’ part of a wider operation northwoods style calumny, designed to justify a strike on Iran?
The government says that a terrorist attack is imminent, when it occurs will we consider first the culprits for 7/7, British intelligence agents?
I am highly skeptical of this latest terror ‘plot’. Sears Tower, no bombs no plans uncovered. Toronto, sting operation according to Toronto Star. Canary Wharf, most likely a Home Office stunt according to the Independent.
Isn’t it time the real terrorists where exposed.

  • 2.
  • At 03:23 PM on 11 Aug 2006,
  • Nathaniel wrote:

So what's your opinion about the scepticism? There's not much point posting if all you're going to do is quote things that have already been posted.

  • 3.
  • At 04:02 PM on 11 Aug 2006,
  • Michael Angrave wrote:

This is my thought at this moment!

With regard to news reportage!

How is much is entertainment and how much is just hard news! Seeing the reports yesterday regarding terrorism! I can't help but feel that it is all entertainment! Style but no content! I find all terrorism quite frightening! But how much will be forgotten tomorrow?

I wish that, sometimes, I could see Ken Russell presenting the news and using his footage! Then I would never forget but perhaps have nightmares!

But it would stay in my mind! News reportage would rape my mind instead of deadening it!

Does the media really have any power at all?

I remain uncertain


Yes. But in Los Angeles, they also think that Arnold Schwarzenegger will protect them from any terrorists or robots from the future.

And don't forget that even in the 1960s, Israel was still attacking its neighbours. Plus ca change

"Don't the trusting or the gullible ever go blogging?"

Well yes, they sometimes do.
But we eat them - "washed down a nice beaujolais."

  • 6.
  • At 04:08 PM on 11 Aug 2006,
  • Julie wrote:

It is all very well showing travel book clips of "the way things once were" to me this is looking back through rose coloured glasses. Are people missing the point here? The 50s/60s/70s Middle East was still at war: iran/iraq war 1979-1989
Yom Kippur War - 1973
6 Day War - 1969
Suez Canal - 1956
The West (after WWII) left a major land dispute unresolved in the middle east between the Jews and the Arabs and what we are seeing today stems from this unresolved situation. The middle east has and always will be a wonderful holiday destination in most parts, but we must not forget that these days gone by had issues that the world is still trying to resolve today.

It's all very well and good to jump on the blogging bandwagon across the BBC, but all the different RSS feeds are starting to clog up my customised google homepage.

I've now got 4 BBC Blog feeds, and 3 BBC News feeds, it would be great if there was a single "RSS News Blog" feed that those who subscribe to "The Editors", "Nick Robinson", "Newsnight" and "Five Live" as I do can have a single feed, rather than the 4 at present.

Obviously not everybody would want to use that feed,so continue to offer the separate feeds as is currently the case. It's definitely technologically possible!

Bonus on all the blogs though, it's a great distraction from work!

  • 8.
  • At 04:12 PM on 11 Aug 2006,
  • Pantsman, Preston wrote:

I'm not convinced that there really is the level of skepticism suggested. I'm sure there is amongst the chattering classes and the Westminster Village set and, of course, our liberal intelligensia. But, go down the average boozer in a predominantly white, working class area of the country tonight and I think you'll find a lot more people who are pretty chuffed that these arrests were made and who are pretty clear that there is 'an enemy in our midst'.

  • 9.
  • At 04:16 PM on 11 Aug 2006,
  • JG wrote:

As usual, the BBC have missed the whole point of blogs. Blog writers do not just post a heading and then let the comments run on their own. The author should engage with the commentators, address the points raised and have an informed debate. At the moment these blogs may as well be 'Have your say' they are working in just the same way.

  • 10.
  • At 04:21 PM on 11 Aug 2006,
  • Andrew wrote:

My opinion is that the scepticism is wholly justified. Quite obviously, I'm PLEASED that the sceptics have spoken.

  • 11.
  • At 04:23 PM on 11 Aug 2006,
  • Ed wrote:

Why has the media just taken the events at face value? Why do they rarely examine ulterior motives in how such events are handled?

On a similar note, why doesn't the media cover the National Identity Register's implications?

I didn't hate it, but it was a little quirky and surreal. What I found most amusing was the crude 1960s-style sexual innuendo pointedly delivered with retro queen's English.

The trusting and gullible seem to be very quiet on the blogging front at least on the Newsnight pages!

Rather than moan like many of the other posters I will comment on them! The interesting thing about so many posts is that they believe the news of yesterday was part of some vast conspiracy to deflect attention away from greater perils. Conspiracy theories seem to conveniently ignore the fact that you need a lot of intelligent people to pull them off…
On Newsnight last night wasn’t there an ex-soldier claiming that 9-11 was the result of American military?

The lack of acceptance from the sections of community (even in the face of overwhelming evidence) of the probable cause of events in favour of grand elaborate conspiracy theories that suit their own world view is fascinating and is worth more exploration. While scepticism is one thing, downright disbelief is something else!

  • 14.
  • At 04:34 PM on 11 Aug 2006,
  • J E S Bradshaw wrote:

I'm more bothered about the thought that John Prescott is in charge. And if that's sceptical, or just plain cynical, ok...

  • 15.
  • At 04:46 PM on 11 Aug 2006,
  • alan eastwood wrote:

What a strange topic for the 'editor' of newsnight to place on the blog.

I have for a long time been convinced that Newsnight is dominated by people detached from real life and this fits the bill.

Last night that Kirsty woman was trying to get some feedback (no doubt then she would have ranted about racism) over President Bush's 'Islamic Facists' remark. It is a true remark. Why do Newsnight not invite someone, from the Mulim world or 'Kommunity' into their studio that will actually condemn unequivacally members of their community who are out to do us all harm?

I am sorry but your once great programme is just a
joke these days.

I thought the travel archive was quite interesting, although I couldn't help thinking what someone flicking through might wonder what had happened to newsnight.

I disagree with Kate's comments about Ethical Man, I think that the issue of climate change is one that newsnight really should be covering and by assigning a reporter singularly to the subject is a good way to study it, in fact I think that a year is far too short term for a issue that has much more long-term implications. I also quite like the Gonzo-like quality to Justin's reports.

In response to the almost hysteric cynicism and conspiracy on the terror plot thread I think people perhaps need to give the government a tad more credit, If they truly think that there's some great conspiracy to deceive or distract the public so that they can encroach on civil liberties or knock the Israel-Lebanon conflict off the headlines they greatly overestimate their leaders.

Quite frankly New Labour couldn't cook up a conspiracy in a cult meeting.

Other comments that the media have been lapping up all the press releases unquestionably seems a little paranoid, it's not as if they can go round checking it with the terrorists themselves at this stage and nothing hugely outrageous is being claimed by the government. The high risk/low payoff of lying or misleading at this point is laughably trivial.

Amongst all this hysteria I think the government should be given some slack, even if they do go and hang themselves with it later.

- JW

  • 17.
  • At 05:58 PM on 11 Aug 2006,
  • Jenny wrote:

Yes, I loved the footage of 1960s Lebanon. In the early '70s I was asked to go there and be the mistress of one of the then politicians, but I declined. His description of the place was obviously quite true. Quite a life I missed. But why was there a section labelled "Israel" stuck in the middle? Footage making that country look like some ghastly, squat, urban hell in comparison? An impression partially brought about by that section being stretched unnaturally wide. I'm sure you didn't want to foster suspicions that you were encouraging support of accusations that Israel's bombings and prevention of action on the coastal oil spill are taking the chance to destroy their main regional rival in the tourist industry.

Beside the beauty and style of the place, we tend to forget, because it has subsequently been misused by outside forces, how advanced, how multi-cultural was the structure of government the Lebanese invented for themselves back in 1943, seeking to show they deserved independence from France in order to avoid German Nazi occupation. With British military invasion from Palestine pushing them along.

And then think, if Lebanon had remained within the French fold it would today be within the EU, as all France's overseas provinces are. Just as Cyprus is. Within NATO too, as is Turkey. It's a shame how things turned out instead.

  • 18.
  • At 06:08 PM on 11 Aug 2006,
  • Paul Alker wrote:

Hi Peter,

Bloggers are a strange lot! Just to much scepticism, not enough content!

Please don`t let Newsnight fall under this self destruct rhetoric.

Hopefully Paxo, Emelio, Kirstio, Gavio et al are far better than that.

Yep, liked the old footage of Lebanon.


  • 19.
  • At 06:09 PM on 11 Aug 2006,
  • M. Fernandez wrote:

Please!!! The BBC has actively encouraged anti-government, (frankly, anti-British), anti-American and a 'conspiracy behind every event' thinking. Now that the blogosphere is populated by people who think the X-Files was a documentary series, you can't possibly be shocked by this 'skepticism'. It doesn't make for good ratings during this 'slow news summer' for the BBC, but sometimes a cigar is just a cigar.

  • 20.
  • At 08:06 PM on 11 Aug 2006,
  • carol alder smith wrote:

how come if flying is so dangerous Margret Becket flew to New York and mad Tony flies away on holiday! also there is no security check on entering an airport terminal...surely a determined bomber could carry in 60Kg of explosive into the milling crowds caused by one of these alerts? Perhaps they are more interested in protecting valuable assets like planes than mere people.

regards Carol

Happy to engage JG (No.9). Plenty more on this subject on Newsnight tonight.


  • 22.
  • At 08:43 PM on 11 Aug 2006,
  • Graeme Hampton wrote:

I was beginning to think that I was becoming the cynics cynic but that old Lebanon footage faily mellowed me out. A truly wonderful counterpoint to the goings on out there at the moment and perhaps a sign of what the people of the Lebanon have had snatched away from them in the last few weeks.


  • 23.
  • At 09:25 PM on 11 Aug 2006,
  • Doreen Richards wrote:

The "Ethical Man crap" is not the worst thing Newsnight ever did, remember THAT AWFUL WEATHER CHART !

  • 24.
  • At 10:34 PM on 11 Aug 2006,
  • JG wrote:

Great to see some engagement Peter (No 21). I have been following the BBC blogs and hoped it would be a chance for people to engage with the BBC. But I rarely see any sign of this. I know you and the other blog owners have many other things to do, but one of the main reasons blogs work so well is the great debates they bring forth. If the authors could at least try to answer some of the main points raised by the commentators that would be a start.

It's worth saying that, as well as Peter above, the editor of the BBC News website responded at some length to comments left on his post earlier this week.

  • 26.
  • At 11:05 PM on 11 Aug 2006,
  • Myron Bileckyj wrote:

I listen in disbeif to the emails read out on Newsnight criticising the recent actions and arrests. Has th4e whole of the UK forgotten July 7th when the police failed to make arrests prior to that date, what ensued.

Listening to these I sad emails I can only imagine, looking back at the potential outcry at the arrest of 4 muslims in Beeston and Luton on 6th July "Injustice- Human Rights etc etc." but...... no 54 dead.

  • 27.
  • At 11:10 PM on 11 Aug 2006,
  • John Nash wrote:

Obvious mistakes apart, the security services have to act at the plotting stage - they simply cannot wait until after people are killed.
And since mere plotting (without a gun or explosives) is not illegal in a society with free speech, how are we to measure their success or failure?
More importantly, Newsnight's Kirsty referred to arrests and releases as "cockups" tonight - but the people were released because there was not enough evidence to convict. It doesn't mean that the subjects were innocent, nor that the security services didn't do their job.
What is real and what is not? There is a PR war going on - terrorists will feed our security services with false leads, knowing that they will lead to action against innocents that Newsnight will dutifully report as cockups. Such a terrorist disinformation attack would thus have worked perfectly, with Newsnight delivering the weapon.
Welcome to the Matrix war.

  • 28.
  • At 11:59 PM on 11 Aug 2006,
  • Harlan Leyside wrote:

Lebanon was, from it's creation, a Christian Marionite dominated country, where the Muslims came off largely a poor second best, especially the Shia in the south.
In the 1960s, Beirut was awash with money as the banking centre of the Middle-East. But much of the country experienced severe poverty, lacked schools roads and other basics.
Shortly before the 1967 war, Israeli agents and Marionites plotted to undermine the major bank, INTRA, as it was controlled by a Palestinian.
Once the bank collapsed, the rot began to set in and the decline towards civil war.
Why do we hear almost nothing of the complex and divisive nature of Lebanon, of it's history of brutal Israeli backed Marionite dominance and the likelihood that this latest catastrophe was of Israeli and Marionite design?
I would like to see Newsnight delve beneath the media-politico cloud of obfuscation, stop giving all these mainstream politicians a chance to regurgitate their propaganda and concentrate on investigative reporting.

  • 29.
  • At 12:07 AM on 12 Aug 2006,
  • name wrote:

"And don't forget that even in the 1960s, Israel was still attacking its neighbours. Plus ca change"

You are now entering a fantasy world, where the history of this world is reversed. Ian will be your guide.

  • 30.
  • At 12:19 AM on 12 Aug 2006,
  • bristol_citizen wrote:

Twice this evening (Friday) you interviewed muslim blokes and put up a caption describing them as "Community Leaders".
Could you tell us what a "community leader" is?
Could you tell us if they are elected?
Could you tell us how they are selected?
Could you tell us who they speak for?
Could you tell us why the muslim community aren't represented by elected leaders?
Who are these "leaders" on my TV and how did they get there and why do you choose to give them credibility?

  • 31.
  • At 01:48 AM on 12 Aug 2006,
  • Roy Catton wrote:

Hi Peter
Scepticism has to have some empirical evidence to avoid just being judged as hysterical and strange conspiracy thinking, as bloggers no 16, 18 & 19 say. Paul Ewings (no 13) was a more thorough critic, also attending to the incredible difficulty of staging events, so doubting them becomes equally incredible. But I guess the sceptics point in the UK airports case is precisely that there is no evidence for things in existence (e.g. difficult-to-stage events) to disbelieve or believe – there is, in fact, no evidence for anything we have been told about it, just accusations about some peoples’ plans, or motivations even, based, we are told on ‘intelligence’. Why should we doubt that? Well, in the first place, it is the claim that there is any intelligence that must draw some scepticism. There are reasonable grounds for doubt about that from past history. This in two main forms: 1) false claims to be in possession of intelligence, from the innumerable claims that there was definitely WMD in Iraq, to the notion that the poor chap who had 8 bullets fired into him by the police last year was a terrorist; 2) clear failure to have intelligence when it mattered, as of the hi-jacked aeroplane attacks on the Pentagon and the World Trade Centre in the USA and of the suicide bombs on the transport system in the UK last year. These two forms have given us empirical proof both that intelligence is inevitably limited and can be all too readily claimed falsely. In the second place we should doubt accusations unsupported by any evidence if something gets hidden from us by the timing of its release. Thus we should investigate the question: Did the release of the news of the ‘discovery’ of the current terror threat mask any other information the hiddenness of which may have been in the interests of those releasing the news? Items that could have been in the news last night: 1) For all the time stalling for the last 20 days by the Bush/Blair axis, to prevent the UN order a cease-fire, and thus ensure that Israel finished off Hezbollah, there may have been something of a retreat begun last night by the Israelis. – Whereas Israel’s government had claimed to be about to put 30,000 more soldiers in the field, last night they looked to be holding off from doing that as Israelis come to realise that, whereas a month ago no civilians were being killed by Hezbollah rockets because the rocket threat had been ‘THEORETICAL’, since Israel’s attack on Lebanon, dozens of civilians had been killed, everyone in the north of the country is hiding in bunkers and scores of soldiers have already been killed in the fighting, and the only prospect of committing more troops in an attempt to deliver more violence was to have to take receipt of more of the same. 2) There looked yesterday to have been a reversal in US policy in Iraq – for all that the US has based its claim to be making progress in its aim of gradually handing over security to Iraqis, yesterday, 5,000 more US arrived not just in Iraq, but in Baghdad. 3) The UK yesterday seems to have reversed its policy in Afghanistan (the other way round to the USA’s reversal). Instead of carrying on with its policy of making the UK army’s presence felt in the dangerous South so that Afghan government forces can for the first time move in behind them, the UK is pulling out and letting the Afghans do the job by themselves! That there has been no room anywhere for much dissemination let alone discussion of these points is not an insignificant matter. It provides empirical evidence for some reflections, at least about the arrangement of the timing of the ‘terrorist’ news. Hence, there are good grounds for claiming well-founded scepticism.

  • 32.
  • At 09:08 AM on 12 Aug 2006,
  • Jennifer WATTS wrote:

I liked the film on Lebanon/Israel although it was a rather dated voice commentary. Maybe it will remind people for the 2nd time what the Lebanon has beeen through, surrounded by extremists, and how long, assumming there is some sort of peace, will it be before the next time, Perhaps you could show, if at all possible, the damage to Lebanon's beaches,now. Although the BBC is excelent in having feerless reporters, it must take courage to go there. Secondly, yes I think you ought to have a forum, all for it. I enjoy Newsnight though I cannot always watch the whole programme, because my master-servers in France are a trifle jealous of BBC reputation
For someone who has not watched BBC broadcast for a long time, please tell me what an URL stands for. I get on my screen 'This URL cannot be proxied,but no-one explains URL. Poadcasts and downloads I more or less understand... Enough of this stupidity, and Good Luck for your own Forum etc. J-JW

  • 33.
  • At 01:36 PM on 12 Aug 2006,
  • Jon wrote:

Dear Editor,

Wednesday night's Newsnight page is missing. I am seeking the online video clip of this, there was some excellent journalism down on the ground with local people arguing in High Wycombe.

Please could you get this clip back up!!


  • 34.
  • At 03:53 PM on 12 Aug 2006,
  • miika wrote:

Dan in post 7 might want to try Firefox with the Sage RSS reader plugin.

  • 35.
  • At 04:52 PM on 12 Aug 2006,
  • Brian Wright wrote:

I would be more inclined to believe the present warnings about the current terrorist threat if Tony Blair returned to the UK and honoured us with his presence. He might then do the job he is paid to do by the British public. However, if Dubya shouted 'Yo Blair' he would probably finish up in Washington

  • 36.
  • At 05:49 PM on 12 Aug 2006,
  • John Nash wrote:

Reading some of the blogs across the threads, perhaps your term "a wave of scepticism" should be changed to "a wave of therapy" or "Care in the Online Community".
How do you keep up your ratings when your news has to be objective but the viewers are all subjective?

  • 37.
  • At 04:22 AM on 13 Aug 2006,
  • Len Cullinane wrote:

Some points that seem to be overlooked and not investigated are as follows. Bear in mind that several nations are as guilty as the ones used as examples.
The problems nations and it could be said individuals have been having from the nuclear issues in Iran to the near civil war in Iraq could be said to have been back paged by the present encounters in the Lebonon.
If it is supposed that Iran is hand in glove with Hisbolah then they benefit in a number of ways by this current conflict.
1.The price of oil increases with the tensions that seem to be orchestrated each time the barrel price dimishes even slightly.
2. They, by proxy are attacking their enemy, Israel.
3. They are testing their weaponry and maybe even making some money for their weapon traders into the bargain.
4. Mass approval of their populace.
5. Expanding their influence and creditability in an unstable part of the region.
6. Their nuclear issues are firmly on the back burner with the U.N. and the U.S. firmly distracted by more pressing issues.

Lebonon needs to be seen to be running their country instead of letting armed groups take over by proxy and set up mini-states to their own agendas. With the news coming out that they intend to be part of the peacekeeping process in the south then perhaps they are beginning that process at long last.
I would wonder if the Lebonise could prosecute through some means for the damage inflicted through the invasion and bombing that is taking place.
The U.N. itself needs to become more firmly involved and get all the issues that create problems in this region firmly on the table and if that means the Iraelies and the Palestinians meet to resolve their issues and indeed governmental representatives who need to be involved, then so be it.

  • 38.
  • At 06:41 PM on 14 Aug 2006,
  • Ian Downing wrote:

Hasn't Israel had nuclear warheads since 1980 (The Times, Oct 1980), and no oil production?

Surely this is a reason for regional instability, or is it the US helping hand for Israel($3 billion per year)?

  • 39.
  • At 11:10 AM on 15 Aug 2006,
  • A Mulder wrote:

SKEPTICAL???? Maybe its because of this!!!!

According to news reports the British government and MI5 wanted to wait at least a week before busting the liquid terror cell that their agents had fully infiltrated, including planting a mole within the bomb squad. From the acknowledged timeline and admission that the real attack was scheduled for August 16th - little else can be deduced but the shocking fact that MI5 wanted the bombings to go forward - arresting the perpetrators only after the attack

This is a fabricated government nightmare dont blame those who pray to a different god, blame those who can benefit from creating a climate of fear and hatred.

Those who want us all to blindly trust and believe all the rubish that we are fed on a daily basis by the government controlled media sources.

I never used to question the validity of that which was broadcast or deseminated as 'truth'. But you would hAVe to be naieve and gulible to stomach the majority of the rubbish we arwe suposed to accept.

three important rules for assessing informstion

1. who said it

2. when it was said

3. where they said it

So BBC can you honestly say, your reports are unbiased and fair???? Certainly not since the Doctor Kelly debarcle, all I see from your once excellent news service, is recycled government propaganda. Its lazy journalism and a betryal of those who you claim to serve, namely us, the people who pay the licence fee. We deserve more. Reports that dont just act as a mouth piece for Blair and Bush, at al, but actually question and investigate. tHATS WHAT NEWS IS.

whats tat old phrase? 'The truth is out there' not if you watch the bbc it isnt!

  • 40.
  • At 11:23 AM on 15 Aug 2006,
  • mark richards wrote:

John Nash if there was nothing to question then no one would.

You seem to be keen on using words when you dont actually know what they mean:

Objective.....Balanced and unbiased just reporting facts.

Subjective....your point of view given as a personal comment from your stand point.

I see no objectivity in the reporting of government press releases with a couple of words changed by lazy reporters.

If you are naieve and gulible enough to believe without question all that you are told, then I have a nice car for sale one previous owner who was a vicar only been drivewn to the church and back! A lovely goer and a bargin @ only 1000 pounds. Dont make me laugh, just dont post comments belittleing peoples right to question.

  • 41.
  • At 12:27 PM on 15 Aug 2006,
  • Philipio wrote:

On a lighter note, a previous post referred to 'Paxo, Emilio, Kirstio, and Gavio..'.

Which made me think what would Martha's 'footballer name' be ?

'Keano' ? Now there's a thought..

  • 42.
  • At 05:33 PM on 15 Aug 2006,
  • Ian Downing wrote:

I used to think I was interested in the political process. The more I have looked the bigger the joke it all is. The con's, co-insidence and opotunistic revations seem to have more in common with a soap rather than politics.

The labour party seems to have just as much incompetance and sleaze as the conservatives ever did. Over the past ten years their ability to 'tough it out' when an obvious failure has occured has shown there is no accountability - possibly the knowlege that outside parliament many would be lucky if they got a job elswhere to look after the petty cash.

Top of the Pops has had its day - Newsnight shows up the liars, but still they remain in office. Shame just doesn't seem to exist anymore, even when it is made public. Its not just the villians who won't own up.

  • 43.
  • At 10:14 AM on 17 Aug 2006,
  • John Fee wrote:

Overall I think Newsnight does a pretty good job. But, like all the UK news media it is obsessed with America. I sit there waiting and wondering who it will be tonight and which variety of garbled, opinionated rubbish will arrive in my living room. Of course, there are exceptions. But why the obsession? Like all bullies Bush and his cronies (voted in by popular demand, twice) only want us when we agree with them. They care only for the so called Land of the Free. That much was clear from Bush after 9/11, "I will not forget this wound to our country or those who inflicted it. I will not yield; I will not rest; I will not relent in waging this struggle for freedom and security for the American people". That's what it's all about.

Yesterday the Bush administration contrived a situation where they came within an ace of shooting down an innocent United Airlines 747. The fanatics must be laughing all the way to Mecca!

  • 44.
  • At 01:43 PM on 17 Aug 2006,
  • Malcolm wrote:

What interests me about the BBC reporting on terror threats is how they like the the rest of world's newsmedia reinforce the notion that news of these events represent certainty. This puts the BBC at risk of manipulation by others. We need only be reminded of "Tanks at Heathrow", "45 Minutes", "The Ricin Plot", "The ManU Plot", "De Menezes", "Forest Gate" and now "Murder On An Umimaginable Scale Plot" to realise how easy that is. The BBC may see itself as having to compete with other news outlets, but sensationalist reporting can be blinkered to fact. The real danger is that scepticism will turn into full blown cynicism if the facts surrounding the latest plot do not match the headlines. If that were to happen then not only will people ultimately ignore the message they will pour scorn on the messenger.

  • 45.
  • At 04:24 PM on 17 Aug 2006,
  • Eric Dickens wrote:

In posting 43, John Fee mentions "obsessed with America". Britain has a curious love-hate relationship with that country. Because it speaks the same language as we do, we suck up to it. It is also a convenient wielder of the big stick when things get tough for us. We love its democratic system yet we hate all its policies, whether Republican or Democrat. A paradox.

Then, Europe. Considering we viewers get a dose of European cities two nights a week, through the prism of Kirsty Wark's eyes, immediately after Newsnight, it does indeed bring home to us viewers that there is a great deal more of everyday Europe which Newsnight could cover. Not just the fashion designers, as in Kirsty's programme, but the way some of the countries of Western Europe are better and worse than we are.

Chiefly: COMPARISONS. When discussing health care, education, immigration policy, crime, transport, housing, and many other things, comparisons should constantly be made on Newsnight with the club we belong to: the European Union.

Justin Rowlatt's Green spot is fine and educative; not crap. But it is a bit too Londony, middle-class twee family trying to do without a car-ish. How do the Dutch, the Scandinavians, the Italians tackle Green problems? That would be very interesting to know. I repeat: comparison with our neighbours. Brits live too much in a Brit-bubble. And Newsnight is no exception.

  • 46.
  • At 01:07 AM on 20 Aug 2006,
  • John Nash wrote:

Hi Mark (40)
Sorry not to have replied. I have left the blogging, only dropped in today to read through what's been said, and realised I missed yours earlier. It would be remiss of me not to reply.
I know precisely what the words "objectivity" and "subjectivity" mean.
Instruction 1. Read your definitions in (40) again.
Instruction 2. Pick up a mirror and look into it.
Instruction 3. Think (if possible)

Perhaps you see no objectivity in the work of "lazy reporters" because you have a totally subjective viewpoint and wouldn't recognise objectivity if it bit you on the arse.
I enjoyed your joke about the car - you should consider writing comedy for North Korean television.
Having provided you with the courtesy of an answer, let's leave it at that.

  • 47.
  • At 09:50 AM on 20 Aug 2006,
  • matt wrote:

"yeah, but no, but yeah, but no...oh - my - god ! i sooo can't believe you just said that, shut up, you don't even know what you're talking about"

...why, you ask ?

well, it seems to me that our government, like the conservatives before them, has achieved a political 'vicky pollard', whether by accident or design, they have alienated most of the population, much of the scepticism stems from labour sleaze, tory sleaze, and copious lorryloads of verbal crap from their mouths "40 minutes" and similar implausible fables, patently, the painting of red over blue signalled bugger all change at the sharp pointy end, the horny quarter and the money slot of downing street

the horn is really none of ours, but the sharp pointy bits and filthy lucre are very much in the domain to displease the electorate at the very least

and so, "the kaliedescope has been shaken, the pieces are in flux", still think that vicky pollard reference so ridiculous ? through this, (ahem), "kaleidescope in flux" (perhaps if you put the sodding thing down for a minute tones ?) we see glimpses of the great lie of modern british politics, that it doesn't matter if you vote jack johnson, or john jackson, it's all the same rubbish in the end

and when there are apparently only daily mail hunks (both wannabe tory, and tory wannabes) remaining in the world, as is clearly confirmed by the constant firing of newspaper rhetoric at anyone who attempts to air their own opinion "leftie", "liberal", "tory", "mary", what are the millions of people who can think beyond these simplistic tribal rantings supposed to do but get sceptical ? i mean, no-one's listening are they ?

in continuing parallel with vicky pollard, we are meant to be scared, whilst awestruck and confused by the type of thing we're being confronted with

...cynical ? me ?

"anyway don't listen to her 'cos she's gone all lezzy"

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