Thursday, August 25, 2005

BBC chats with TAE

Over the last few days, BBC World Affairs correspondent Paul Reynolds has been posting comments on the Biased-BBC comments pages, and has been taking on some criticisms that have been directed at the BBC. I have been lucky enough to engage him in an on-going discussion, not so much about particular instances of biased or poor reporting, but rather on the more general subject of institutional bias and how it might be measured so as to convince him of its existence at the BBC. To give you a small, although certainly not comprehensive, taste of our discussion here is a short excerpt from one of each of our posts.

Paul Reynolds: You raise a very fair point about how many examples of bad journalism you need to discredit the whole output.I do not think the examples put forward actually come close to reaching a critical mass. Some I agree cannot really be defended. But they are selected from hours and hours of coverage and some go back quite a long way.

TAE: While the “stunning” type of bias examples may not exemplify the general standard of BBC reporting, they are no doubt facilitated by this institutional bias. It is obviously possible, since it happened, that the BBC might produce a “woeful piece of work” about the Holocaust without mentioning the Jews. But it is darn near inconceivable that the BBC might ever produce a “woeful piece of work” about, say, the wonderful US prisoner of war facilities without mentioning Abu Ghraib. This is because its institutional sympathy with Palestine (Barbara Plett’s tears?) and hostility to Israel allow the first to sneak by, while its institutional hostility to US power (and GWB) and sympathy with whoever might be challenging the US (and GWB) would never allow the latter to sneak by.

Anyway, if you are interested in our exchange, this is a list of links to our comments, in order.

Paul Reynolds
Paul Reynolds
Paul Reynolds


Blogger Marc said...

Scott, I would maintain that the post I put together, the one Paul continues to fail to address, proves beyond a doubt that the BBC has indeed reached that critical mass.

Most of the issues I raised in that post and with Paul, stem from comments from BBC reporters or insiders themselves.

Issues like, the BBC's defense analyst Paul Adams charge that the BBC were lying in their reporting on the war in Iraq.

And this:

"The leaked e-mails sent by Hugh Berlyn, an assistant editor of BBC News Online, show that despite the furore surrounding the Gilligan report, dozens of "unvetted" stories appear on the internet every day. The result is a string of stories that are, at best, littered with errors and, at worst, inaccurate and potentially libellous."

Then there is BBC Washinton reporter, Jusin Webb:

"America is often portrayed as an ignorant, unsophisticated sort of place, full of bible bashers and ruled to a dangerous extent by trashy television, superstition and religious bigotry, a place lacking in respect for evidence based knowledge.

I know that is how it is portrayed because I have done my bit to paint that picture, and that picture is in many respects a true one."

There is much more in my post that, to me anyway, proves beyond a doubt that the BBC is anti-American and anti-Israeli.

For you and your readers the link is here:

There is no way Paul can defend or deny this and so he fails to address them.

9:21 AM  
Blogger Marc said...

Ooops. Washington. sorry

9:22 AM  
Blogger David said...

Have been enjoying the B-BBC comments for days now! Poor Paul - AKA rabbit-headlights-lion's den!

5:05 PM  
Blogger Joe Noory said...

Scott -
you forgot about Alan Johnston's theatrical, selective "breathlessness". It resembles children's theatre.

3:13 PM  
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