Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Yes, let's put Webb's quotation into context

I think I have discovered where Mr. Reynolds has addressed the Justin Webb quotation which can be found at the top of this page. Paul says, in conclusion:
Now, you can agree or diagree with his analysis as to the state of play between conservatives and liberals in the US. But you should put the quote in context. Its context is one of respect for America.
Actually, its context is one of surprised and heretofore lacking respect for America, which is revealing in and of itself. Recall at the time of writing, Justin Webb had been a Washington correspondent for some 5 years, I believe. Yet he was totally unembarrassed to write that:
There is plenty of barminess and plenty of nastiness here if you look for it, but for me, the revelation of the Schiavo case was that there is plenty of good sense as well. Plenty of honest disagreement among reasonable people, religious and non religious, Republican and Democrat."
This comes as a “revelation”? From a guy who has spent at least 5 years in America? Such an admission is simply astounding. And what does it say about the BBC’s coverage of America over those 5 years that its main correspondent in Washington was unaware that there is “plenty of good sense” and plenty of “honest disagreement” among reasonable people, and that both religious and secular people, along with Republicans and Democrats, could be counted among those “reasonable people”? Webb should have been utterly ashamed to even admit to such gobsmacking ignorance. But he wasn’t. He seems to feel as though he has uncovered a great secret. And, no doubt to him it was, because he was (is) so steeped in his own prejudices, he his nearly blind.

And what does it say of the BBC as an organization that it continues to not only employ a man whose judgment and powers of observation are so weak that it took him 5 years to realize there were reasonable people on both sides of political debate in America, but it also continues to value his observations enough to give him his very own regular air time to broadcast his “personal reflections” on America?

The condescension and patronization in Webb’s article, quite beyond his open admission to having “painted” a deliberately negative picture of America, is palpable. “Can you believe it? The Americans are not so screwed up afterall!” This is supposed to be a compliment?

Paul Reynolds may choose to think that the article shows “respect” for America. I think, however, it reveals quite starkly the kind of perniciousness and/or incompetence that is allowed to thrive at the BBC.

(BTW - I won't get into it, but Webb's connection of the Schiavo case with "Jeffersonian democracy" is highly ironic, and betrays an ignorance of either the disposition of the Schiavo case or Jefferson's notion of democracy...or perhaps both.)

8 Comments:

Blogger Marc said...

Even in context, Webb admits he has painted a biased picture of America - deliberately.

And it seems Paul has decided not to debate my proof that the BBC is institutionaly biased.

Paul: "Marc

Thanks for the offer but I am simply not going to get involved in ticking off a list of your own postings. You and I can discuss some of these, as we have been doing on various sites, but I have stated several timnes that while I am happy to debate stuff I have written and to defend the BBC overall, it is not up to me to answer on behalf of the BBC for every complaint you have. "

He must have read my evidence and decided he couldn't defend the BBC.

5:34 PM  
Anonymous Paul Reynolds said...

Marc

I think that readers of these sites know that I am prepared to take issue with you and others on the basis that I respond to what I have written and more generally defend the BBC as a whole. I cannot however accept that you simply offer your shopping list without also offering any balance.

You appear to have difficulty with the concept of a debate. You cannot offer a debate and then in the same sentence say that you have "proof" (of BBC bias) as in "debate my proof". A defendant can contrest evidencee but if the court has already decided on guilt, then justice is not served.



This is what I said in full on your site, compared with the extract you give:

"Marc

Thanks for the offer but I am simply not going to get involved in ticking off a list of your own postings. You and I can discuss some of these, as we have been doing on various sites, but I have stated several timnes that while I am happy to debate stuff I have written and to defend the BBC overall, it is not up to me to answer on behalf of the BBC for every complaint you have.

I have responded to several of your comments, especially the larger claims about the BBC's assault on the West etc and will comment on some more in due course, but if you want to take up specific stories in which I was not invovled, you can do so through the complaints mechanisms which I sure you are adept at using. Scott has the e-mail of the BBC website editor and it should not be beyond you to get other BBC names as well.

You come from an organisation with a chain of command. You will understand.

May I however make a general remark about your list.

It exemplifies exactly the point I have been making about your site and others like it/ It simply lists the errors of the BBC as you see them and none of its virtues.

Your posting of the "No Jews in the Holocaust" completely ignores my own answer to this which is that this woeful failing was not the whole story and that BBC2 had a wonderful documentary on the Holocaust.

I am ready to admit failings by the BBC. I would like you to admit virtues.

Does it have none?

Even your colleague Scott admits that it is not uniquely evil.

with regards"

5:52 PM  
Anonymous paul reynolds said...

Now let me say this about Scott's response to my defence of the Justin Webb piece.

This was, if I may say so, a good example of how this debate should be developed.

I put forward a defence, Scott has now responded with an argument. And he has avoided below-deck language.

I cannot take it much further Scott in that I did not write the original piece but I would say that you now appear to accept that Justin Webb has indeed praised Amnrica. Your complaint now appears to be that it has come a bit late in the day and is condescending, which is something a bit different.

I now invite you to add to your motto at the top of your site Justin's praise of Jeffersonian democracy!

By the way he does not, nor does any BBC foreign correspodent, have
"his very own regular aiurtime" , as you put it. BBC correspondents are not guaranteed a space on From pour own correspondent.

with regards

Paul Reynolds

6:04 PM  
Blogger Marc said...

OT

Iraq stampede kills 'up to 1,000'

Leave it to the BBC to politicize this human disaster.

http://ussneverdock.blogspot.com/2005/08/iraq-stampede-kills-up-to-1000.html

6:41 PM  
Blogger Scott Callahan said...

Paul,

Yes, I admit that Justin Webb has praised America, in much the same way that a racist could be said to have praised black people by announcing with astonishment, "My goodness, they can read!"

My "complaint" (it is, in fact, an observation) has not changed, and is what it has always been...that Webb has openly admitted that he has deliberately and knowingly used his position as a journalist to paint a negative picture of the US for his British audience. Adding the context of his surrounding article does not change that observation. It merely adds the additional information that he had been an incompetent observer of America for 5 years as well.

And whether or not Webb has "guaranteed" airtime, 24 "From Our Own Correspondent" broadcasts in the last 4 years strikes me as pretty regular. My point stands, despite the semantic attempt to evade it.

I'm glad you saw this as a good example of how debate should go. Perhaps you could follow this example by responding to the questions I posed to you on the main page, instead of referring me to a BBC editor.

SC

7:19 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

PR By the way he does not, nor does any BBC foreign correspodent, have
"his very own regular aiurtime" , as you put it. BBC correspondents are not guaranteed a space on From pour own correspondent.


Does this imply some editorial control? How then did Webb's comment on the masthead of this blog ever find its way into public view?

The obvious answer is that it represents the BBC's editorial position on the USA, & as such, is a disgrace.

7:23 PM  
Blogger Scott Callahan said...

Paul,

BTW, I will not be adding Webb's "Jeffersonian Democracy" quote to my heading. As I said, for reasons I won't go into here (but am happy to do so for you if you desire, via e-mail), by saying what he did, he plainly showed an ignorance of the relationship between how the Schiavo case played out and what Jeffersonian democracy means.

SC

(Hint - Jefferson was very suspicious of, and not friendly to, the power of the judiciary.)

7:23 PM  
Anonymous JohninLondon said...

Justin Webb's stupid rant on Sheehan should have been spiked. It should NEVER have reached the airwaves. It was piece of lazy, sloppy and inaccurate political opinionating.

"No bias at the BBC" says Paul Reynolds. But I assert that Reynolds recognises the article as biased anti-Bush rubbish too, that is why he won't comment on it. He has commented on other articles by other people, but on this one he can't defend the indefensible.

Oh says Mr Reynolds, we can't leap to any such assumption. But a whole lot of BBC reporting is fabricated on assumptions, which mostly lean just one way.

They are now giving tons of coverage to Ken Clarke, their favourite for the Tory leadership because he chants a lot of the BBC mantrs. Let's hope that fox gets shot.

4:24 PM  

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