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Thursday, August 16, 2007 

Scum-watch: Another day, another bash at the BBC.

The old cliched saying is that those in glass houses shouldn't throw stones. The Sun, no matter how many smashed panes it has, just can't help itself.

THE BBC can’t even get its apologies right.

It admits it was wrong to screen old footage of John Redwood singing the Welsh anthem.

But it uses weasel words to deny political bias, brushing aside its crass conduct as “wrong in retrospect”.

That won’t wash. News is not satire and this wasn’t a silly mistake. It was arrogant — and biased — journalism.

This is based on BBC director of news Helen Boaden's blog post where she apologised for the use of a clip of John Redwood failing to remember the words to the Welsh anthem, which took up approximately 5 seconds of the beginning of the report. As Steffan pointed out, it's been such a while since we were treated to glimpses of the Vulcan on our screens, it's quite easy to imagine that non-politicos would have long forgotten who he was. It wasn't the best clip to have chosen, it could indeed prompt accusations of bias, but only from those who recognised the clip, and the BBC has now apologised. Case closed.

One has to wonder if the fact that the rest of Boaden's post, where she sets out exactly how the BBC did examine Redwood's proposals, which incidentally the Sun doesn't even bother to mention, might have something to do with its non-acceptance of the apology. While some might think that the Labour reaction was too prominent in some of the bulletins, it was the BBC trying to put impartiality into a story where all they more or less knew was that some of Redwood's ideas had been leaked and discussed. With news being hard to come by, what do the Tories expect the BBC to do in the circumstances? Present them exactly as the party would want? Not report what Labour said about them? Not report his proposals at all until they're released in full?

The BBC can in fact be its own worst enemy. A quick read of the comments following Boaden's post shows them overwhelmingly filled with those highly critical of the corporation. If the BBC were so biased, unaccountable and Stalinist, would it even allow them raise their concerns? It's a similar situation at times over at Comment is Free: huge amounts of criticism, which on other places such as the Sun, Mail or even the Times or the Telegraph would soon be removed. The more accountable you attempt to be, the more vitriol you usually get chucked at you.

Speaking of the use of weasel words in apologies, it's hard not to be reminded of the Sun's own feeble non-apology on the non-existent Muslim yobs in Windsor:

Barrack attack correction

Following our report ‘Hounded out’ about a soldier's home in Datchet, Berks, being vandalised by Muslims, we have been asked to point out no threatening calls were logged at Combermere Barracks from Muslims and police have been unable to establish if any faith or religious group was responsible for the incident.

We are happy to make this clear.

Their story wasn't wrong then, it was simply "inaccurate". No apology for such a misleading, inflammatory report, just the weakest possible correction it could make.

The Scum continues:

The Beeb has developed a built-in sneer towards those it disdains.

That includes all Tories except pro-EU fanatics like Ken Clarke and Michael Heseltine — to whom it fawns — and virtually everyone in the American administration.

How completely unlike the Sun! During the Labour deputy leadership contest, the paper tried its best to smear all of the candidates as "left-wing dinosaurs", even that noted socialist Hazel Blears, and it quoted George Osbourne as saying:

“Labour is retreating into its left-wing comfort zone. We are seeing Labour lurch to the left and abandon the centre ground.”

Perfectly OK when the Tories do it, beyond the pale when the BBC does something similar.

Such accusations are in any case errant nonsense: Question Time especially often features the rants of Peter Hitchens on the EU, while members of Open Europe, which wants a referendum on the the EU reform treaty have popped out across the BBC's news bulletins, both on BBC1 and on Newsnight. The American administration, or at least ex-members of it have also found themselves being given increasing leverage on Newsnight, with John Bolton featuring almost once a week if not more.

The BBC is supposed to be an impartial public service broadcaster. There is no room in its news coverage for infantile student posturing.

Quite. After all, that's the Sun's job.

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Sorry, this seems to have escaped your radar but...

The BBC is PUBLICLY funded and so should be impartial, or at the very least representative of the UK

The Sun is a partisan newspaper funded by it's readers.

Uh, except I pointed out that the BBC actually tries its best to be as impartial as possible but then gets it in the neck from both sides anyway.

It also seems to have escaped your radar, but far from being funded by its readers, the Sun is a partisan newspaper owned by a media conglomerate whose ultimate aim is complete control of the UK market, and the BBC happens to stand in the way of that goal. Nothing the BBC ever does could be good enough for the Sun. And anyway, does the fact the Sun's a partisan newspaper not mean I can't point how completely and utterly hypocritical it is? The Sun is a national disgrace while the BBC is one of the few shining lights we have left.

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