Monday, August 29, 2005

Pat, Cindy, and the Beeb

Just in case you forgot, the BBC reminded us yet again yesterday that Pat Robertson called for the assassination of Hugo Chavez. That makes six stories in 6 days. It is, at least, testimony to the creativity of the BBC that they manage to daily find a new angle to this foolish story to justify its presence. Yesterday's story was occassioned by the "propaganda coup" of Chavez meeting Jesse Jackson. Whether it was a coup for Chavez or the increasingly irrelevant Jackson, the BBC doesn't say. Which is too bad. I'd like to know on whose behalf the BBC is acting as publicity agent these days.

And speaking of the ridiculous Robertson, the BBC's treatment of him is instructive. Two days after Robertson placed himself in the limelight with his idiocy, the Beeb did one of its renowned profiles on him, dredging up all of his past idiocies, which, it must be said, are abundant.

Contrast this treatment to the Beeb's treatment of Cindy Sheehan, who, TAE readers will know, is certainly Robertson's equal when it comes to making objectionable comments (see here, here, and here.) To date, the BBC has yet to mention any of these kinds of statements in any of its outrageously numerous reports about Sheehan, much less having put together a profile of Cindy's greatest hits.

Now why do you suppose that might be? Anyone?


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear Scott,

Just so that you know over there in the UK, Katrina has doused Cindy on all the cable news channels it is all Katrina all the time. Our thoughts and prayers go out to the people of the gulf coast region. They will rebuild, they always do!


5:34 PM  
Blogger Marc said...

"Now why do you suppose that might be? Anyone?"

How about it Paul? Any answers?

5:37 PM  
Anonymous Mark Vassallo said...

Well, in the spirit of trying to make sure TAE isn't an "echo-chamber", I did a quick review of American newspaper websites. All of the ones that I tried with a search capability (including NYT, Washington Post, San Francisco and Houston Chronicles)had more than 6 stories in 6 days. Looks to me like the BBC were accurately reflecting the interest in the States on this story

9:21 AM  
Blogger Scott Callahan said...


That just shows that the bbc is reflecting the interests of US journalists, not the public. And, of course, as I mentioned in a previous post, the political inclinations of the journalists in the US are outrageously skewed to the left. The BBC has no monopoly on politically biased reporting. (Of course, I am not forced by law to support the New York Times!)

If it is the policy of the BBC to defer to the editorial judgments of the New York Times et al when reporting US news, it should make that known. Otherwise, it is no defense of the BBC to say that, well, everyone in the US is doing it.


9:49 AM  
Anonymous Mark Vassallo said...


your comment puts the BBC in an impossible position.

You don't think this subject is newsworthy. The rest of the American media thinks it is. The BBC thinks it is. Ah, clearly, it's all a mainstream media conspiracy and the american public aren't interested. Even worse the NYT has a lot of stories about it (at least double the BBC, but then they are American) therefore the BBC is slavishly following the NYT.

Isn't this just an example of, for you, regardless of the topic, the BBC can't win

11:18 AM  
Anonymous David Cockburn. said...

I'm wondering why it is that the BBC has made such a big deal of Katrina hitting New Orleans.
It might be just a normal disaster story but I think they want to imply that the Americans are sfuffering because they are 'global warming denyers'.
What do you think?

11:29 AM  
Blogger Scott Callahan said...


Four points, in reverse order.

1)I have no idea whether or not the American public is interested in Chavez/Robertson/Jackson. My point was that neither do you (nor does the BBC). I was merely countering your underlying presumption that what journalists in the US are interested in is by implication what the American public wants is interested in.

2)I have not implied, nor do I believe in, the existence of a mainstream media conspiracy. I have merely accepted the fact (as shown in poll after poll after poll) that members of the mainstream media in the US are, in their personal political views, overwhelmingly and significantly to the left of the populace at large. This, taken with the fact that it is, I believe, nearly impossible (and probably not even preferable) for an individual reporter to be completely free of bias, results in a general body of press coverage that exhibits a significant and pervasive bias to the left. In some instances it may be deliberate, in others, it may just be a fact of that impossibility I spoke of. I do not mark it as a conspiracy. I mark it is a failure of members of the mainstream media, particularly those that control it (ie editors) to accept the inevitability of their own lack of objectivity, and to take positive measures (hiring for diversity in thought rather than, say, diversity in skin color) to account for it.

3)I didn’t say the subject was not newsworthy. I said it did not merit the daily coverage is has been receiving, which raises the question of why it is receiving such daily attention. There have been two articles which to me seem worth reporting. The original, and the latest one (in which Chavez is spouting off about seeking legal action.) The rest were just fluff pieces to keep the story in the news. (Jesse Jackson going to give support to Chavez? Who cares and why should anybody?)

4) I don’t see how I put the BBC in an impossible position. I was merely responding to your defense of the BBC that they are just doing what media in the US is doing. The fact that the US media is doing something does not make it right, nor does it justify the BBC in following it, unless, as I said, the BBC is not reporting on events, but is instead reporting on events that are being covered by the US media, in which case it should simply say so.

The BBC can defend itself, or can be defended by supporters, by simply pointing out why it is of notable interest that, say, Jesse Jackson thinks Robertson is a clown and supports Chavez. Now, I grant you, making this case may be impossible, but it is the BBC itself, not I, who have put them in such a position.


1:44 PM  
Blogger Scott Callahan said...


I think any time a major city (or even a minor one for that matter) gets submerged in 15 feet of water, it's a big deal. I haven't seen any articles attributing it to global warming, although I wouldn't be surprised if there were some. But I think major coverage is warranted regardless.


1:49 PM  
Anonymous Mark Vassallo said...


1)If you or me have no idea what's interesting the american public, and, apparantly, neither does the american media or the BBC, then how does one judge on a day to day basis what is or is not newsworthy? You have a view, I have a view, the BBC has a view. It does not appear - measuring the BBC against the american media - that the BBC's view is that different to that of the american media. How else can we judge this? If we were to go to page hits, for example, we still couldn't say that is a level of interest as, obviously, it only gets hit because its on the BBC website. To criticise the BBC for being as interested as other parts of the media seems to me unfair.

2) OK

3) Your point about Jesse Jackson is an interesting one. Here we have a religious nut from the left to counter the religious nut from the right. It's a case of perfect balance. More seriously, it appears perfectly fine to me to have a few days of reaction to comments as 'interesting' as the one Pat Robertson made.

4)See answer to point 1


5:00 PM  
Blogger Scott Callahan said...


I agree that the BBC has a view. And I would argue that, not only is the BBC's view not so different to the mainstream media in the US, it is pretty much exactly the same.

So we agree on that. Can we also agree that, if the BBC has a view, it is at the very least possible that its view tends to reflect what those on the political left might consider to be newsworthy, while tending to ignore what those on the political right might consider to be newsworthy? Is it at least conceptually possible?

And if it is possible, is it fair to characterize such a tendency, if it exists, as a "bias"?


5:42 PM  
Anonymous JohninLondon said...

Most people in the UK don't have a clue who Chavez is or who Pat Buchanan is. And even if they know, they don't really give a damn.

This is NOT a sensible story for the BBC to be headlining aand revisiting.

But it helps them portray Americans as crazies - so they like it. Plus the only people in the UK who can give a toss about leftie South American Presidents are fellow-lefties. Including all those Guardinistas at the BBC.

10:49 PM  
Anonymous Mark Vassallo said...

Well, I think the BBC must be congratulated in performing its public broadcasting duties in ensuring that Britons everywhere have the chance to learn what's going on in the rest of the world. I guess we must also attack The Times for its coverage of the same news item. No doubt it too was infiltrated by 'Guardinistas'...

12:03 AM  
Blogger Scott Callahan said...


Unfortunately it is not ensuring any such thing. It ensures that Britons have the chance to learn a few selected things. Like about the lunacy of Pat Robertson, and the vague (if insignificant) association he has with Bush. But it does not ensure that Britons have the chance to learn about, say, the lunacy of Cindy Sheehan, and her not so vague (and, it seems to me, highly significant) associations with the radical left.

Why do you suppose that is?


7:58 AM  
Anonymous Mark Vassallo said...

Well, this is the problem with the whole debate. I think the BBC does more than let people learn about a few selected things. A random selection of pages from the Americas section would give you this (about federal agents searching an american home of the Nigerian Vice President): Or this about President Bush praising the work being done on the Iraq constitution: Or this about worries of inflation in the US:

All of these seem to be newsworthy, all of them (from a brief scan during my lunch break)appear reasonably objective.

Yes you can find idiocies across the site (and, in particular, anything done by Justin Webb)but to say that all the BBC allows Britons to now is a few selected things is just not borne out by the breadth of coverage delivered.

12:32 PM  
Blogger Scott Callahan said...


I don’t think you have addressed the point. Cleary the BBC reports on tons of things every day. But with regard to Cindy Sheehan, to take just one example, there is a great deal about her that it has not reported, and much of it seems to me to be very relevant to an understanding of her and her “movement”. In this sense, the BBC is only filling its audience in on selected aspects of the story. Why do you suppose that is?

Just to be clear about where I am coming from: It is not my position that the BBC always, or even primarily, produces complete rubbish. It is my position that the BBC has an institutional bias which favors the left, and that bias manifests itself in its reporting, particularly its reporting of overtly political events. This does not mean it never does a good job, or that most of its stories are not relatively objective. It does mean that it often fails to be objective, and when it does, that failure almost universally tends to redound to the benefit of the left (or certain other favored constituencies) and to the detriment of the right (or certain other disfavored constituencies).

You acknowledge that lots of idiocies can be found on the site. Do you honestly think those idiocies, however abundant or scarce, to the extent that they betray or result from a certain political worldview, are fairly balanced in terms of left and right “idiocies”? You may not find them as abundant as I do, but surely you do not think that, when and where they exist, the balance of them is politically neutral, do you?


1:57 PM  
Anonymous iman asole said...

I'm sorry, but I've never really got the point of this Robertson story. As far as I can gather Chavez has been making all sorts of noise about believing he's a target for a US assasination attempt. Pat Robertson weighed in with a comment to the effect that if he's so convinced maybe US agents should make his dreams come true with an aside, obviously in reference to the 'Iraq- it's all about oil' claims, that it'd be cheaper than having a war.
In the pub where I do my drinking that'd be called a J-O-K-E. You know joke, gag, quip, whatever. Along the lines of:
Q. Have you seen that blonde at the end of the bar?
A. What the one with the legs up to her neck-line - sure, I'd leave somebody else's wife for her.

Now that could get me a lecture in marital fidelity from the girl with the shin hair and the taste for heavy shoes but who else is gonna waste good drinking time arguing about it?
And that's the problem with the MSM. You can make a living spewing out venemous one liners about Bush, Rumsfeld et al but get stuck in to one of their darlings and they get all soggy and hard to light. A sense of proportion please. Robertson's a TV god-botherer. That's a comedy act in itself

10:56 PM  
Anonymous iman asole said...

By the way.
Any TV producers out there want to buy some unused Nelson Mandela gags?.... I've got loads of 'em and they're going cheap....No takers?......

11:04 PM  
Anonymous iman asole said...

And to typify the BBC's sense of humour Wednesday night's Radio 4 at around 11 o'clock gave us half an hour's worth of 'comedy' about 9/11 or the 9th of November as the idiot referred to it "in an attempt to reclaim the language". We were treated to humour linking people jumping out of windows to passing wind in a Spanish bar to much laughter & applause ( and I've a horrible suspicion this wasn't the canned variety)
If you really want the link it's:
But truthfully I wouldn't recommend it to those of a violent disposition.

9:32 AM  

Post a Comment

<< Home