Category: Media

BBC Question Time and UKIP

Via this tweet:


I expect the BBC explanation will be that as UKIP is without MPs, the only source of UKIP performers is MEPs.  But that ignores the corrosive effect of only picking people who by definition denigrate the European Parliament to represent it.  It also ignores the booster effect of featuring the same faces repeatedly.  The BBC’s just out of its depth on this.

Later:  As expected.

US groups raise millions to support rightwing UK thinktanks

The Guardian:

Millions of dollars has been raised from anonymous US donors to support British rightwing thinktanks that are among the most prominent in the Brexit debate.

American donors are giving money to US fundraising bodies that pass the donations to four thinktanks in Britain. A Guardian analysis has established that $5.6m (£4.3m) has been donated to these US entities since 2008.

The Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA), the Adam Smith Institute, Policy Exchange and the Legatum Institute have all received financial support from US backers via this route.

The disclosure leaves the thinktanks facing questions as to whether wealthy Americans have undue influence in British politics, particularly over the form Brexit takes.

The UK thinktanks are some of strongest proponents of radical free trade deals with reduced regulation – positions likely to benefit big American businesses, which have opposed Europe’s tighter regulations since the 2008 financial crash.

They have a policy of not disclosing their donors, arguing they respect their backers’ right to privacy unless the backers wish otherwise. Critics say the lack of transparency allows unseen donors to influence political debate.

The charitable status of the thinktanks requires them to remain non-partisan, and they all insist they have not taken a line as institutions on whether the UK should leave the EU.

However, they have published or contributed to policy papers that advocate a Brexit deal that makes a clean break from European regulations.

This really does sound like an ideal topic to explore on BBC Panorama, BBC Newsnight or BBC Radio 4 Today.


Brexit and the BBC

Daniel Kawczynski, the MP for Shrewsbury, tweeted:
Now at Tescos in Shrewsbury. Please remember EU protectionist racket means inefficient EU growers preferred to other non EU Mediterranean growers,due to massive tariffs imposed by EU. This leads to you paying more for your products! No more after March 2019!
It was forensically demolished in a series of tweets.  The rebuttal (using er actual facts and, well, knowledge) was so comprehensive it was mentioned on the ITV website.   Where was the BBC in all of this?  Food is something everyone can relate to.  Cheaper food is a major – verifiable – claim of Brexit benefits.  This was the moment to go into it in detail.  Where was the Today programme?  It would be an opportunity for John Humphrys address his comment that it’s “all getting a wee bit technical and I’m sure people are fed up to the back teeth of all this talk of stuff most of us don’t clearly understand”.  But no, another missed BBC opportunity.

BBC Today and brexit

Given John Humphrys’s view that it’s “all getting a wee bit technical and I’m sure people are fed up to the back teeth of all this talk of stuff most of us don’t clearly understand” [ BBC Radio Four Today, 10 September 2018 at 2:12:20 in], why not substitute Duncan Smith for someone who can explain?


Reminder: BBC Sports commentators are meant to explain the game to viewers rather than just cheer on one side.


BBC Question Time and think tank political affiliations

A “left-wing” think tank:

But these don’t rate a “left wing” warning:

Here’s the guest list breakdown:

“Other panelists” is presumably where the think tank guests go – so it is a shame Question Time hasn’t broken the pie chart down further for the segment of “left wing” think tanks.  And there’s still no explanation as to how Farage is such a regular guest.

See also today’s BBC Brexit Coverage: Objective Truth, Relativism and Gaslighting.


The BBC’s bias against understanding

Stumbling and Mumbling:

Then yesterday John Humphrys prefaced a question about the type of Brexit Leavers want with the words that this is “all getting a wee bit technical and I’m sure people are fed up to the back teeth of all this talk of stuff most of us don’t clearly understand” (2’12” in).

All this (and you can no doubt think of more or better examples) is a symptom of a BBC bias – a preferences for reporting splits and divisions rather than detailed analysis of policy. This has nasty effects.

One is that, as Nick says, it creates a bias against understanding. The question: “what type of Brexit do you want?” is a vitally important one. The fact that one of the BBC’s best-paid journalists can dismiss it as “stuff most of us don’t clearly understand” is therefore an admission of colossal failure. Polls show that the public are wrong about many basic social facts. Our biggest broadcaster must surely take some responsibility for this.

Secondly, it generates a bias towards charlatans. Because the BBC doesn’t do policy detail, empty windbags who don’t have such policies get a free pass. Brexiters who don’t have a plan for leaving have gotten far more coverage and deference than they merit. This bias perhaps plays against the Tories as well as Labour. The fact that clowns like Johnson (the mere fact that journalists call him Boris in a way they don’t use first names for (say) Theresa May or Jeremy Corbyn is itself revealing. )  get more coverage than the likes of Rory Stewart, Robert Halfon, David Willetts or Jesse Norman surely puts the Tory party into a much worse light among thinking people than it would get from a reputable broadcaster.

By the same token, MPs who cultivate links with journalists (and share their posh backgrounds?) get better coverage than those with, say, technocratic backgrounds or links to trades unions. I suspect that one reason why the BBC has been so bad at covering Corbyn (especially soon after his election as Labour leader) is that it has been blindsided by the fact that he has much more support outside Westminster than in.


BBC and Brexit

The British media is a closed shop. These are the facts.

Owen Jones:

Nothing caused so much anger as my suggestion that the British media is profoundly socially exclusive. The journalists denying this are waging a crusade against undeniable fact, evidence and data — and, by doubling down, are helping to ensure that this profound injustice is not rectified.

Just 7% of the British population are privately educated. But according to the Sutton Trust in 2016, 51% of Britain’s top journalists are privately educated. Just 19% attended a comprehensive school — unlike nearly 90% of the population.

According to the ‘Elitist Britain’ report — published by the Social Mobility and Child Poverty Commission in 2014, 43% of newspaper columnists are privately educated; just 23% went to comprehensives. Two thirds of new entrants to journalism came from managerial and professional backgrounds: more than twice the level of the rest of the population.

According to another government study, journalists are second only to doctors when it comes to the dominance of those from professional or managerial parental backgrounds. In other words: journalism is one of the most socially exclusive professions in Britain.

The issue is not just class. A study in 2016 suggested that 94% of journalists are white and 55% are men. While 5% of Britons are Muslims and 3% are black, just 0.4% of journalists are Muslim and 0.2% are black. Women are paid considerably less, and men dominate senior roles.

How the Daily Mail covers news appears to depend on who’s making it

For example: