Tuesday, August 30, 2005

You know what we mean, Mr. Reynolds

The BBC’s Paul Reynolds asks his critic at USSNeverdock:

re: Cindy Sheehan. You ask if the BBC is deliberately ignoring the "negative" side of her story.

What does "negative" mean?

Your use of the words "positive" and "negative" are revealing, Marc. That is the world as you see it. The world as we report it is different. It is neither one nor the other but a lot of both and a lot in between.

Since this exchange was prompted by one of my posts, I would like to answer your question, Paul.

By negative I/we mean information that would tend to discredit her, and hence her “protest”, in the eyes of many if not most people. In short, we mean the type of information which has been publicized on this site and others like it.

You, of course, almost certainly know this. The very fact that you think the the world as reported by the BBC is both positive and negative means that you do recognize what is and is not negative information. It does not do you credit to play such semantic games in order to avoid answering the question. Better that you stick with your previous stance of refusing to get into every story that is raised than to wade into it by feigning confusion over what might or might not be deemed negative information about Sheehan.

And about that claim that the world as the BBC reports is a lot of both positive and negative. That is precisely the point regarding Sheehan: the BBC is absolutely not reporting both positive and negative stories about her. All of its many, many stories about her are very selective and narrow, and refrain from reporting information about her and her views which would tend to discredit the image that she and her rather experienced, not to mention radical, PR machine is trying to present to the public. If, as you suggest, the role of the BBC is to report on the positives and negatives and shades of gray in between that exist in the world, then it is plainly failing with regards to the Cindy Sheehan story. I don't see how you can possibly deny this.

I have offered plenty of information here about Cindy Sheehan that, I believe, is highly relevant to an understanding of what she and her well publicized protest is all about. None of that information has appeared on the BBC. If you believe the information is irrelevant, I would like to understand your reasons, as an experienced observer of events, for thinking so. If you believe it is relevant, then I would like your explanation, as a person with vast experience in and understanding of the workings of the BBC, why it hasn’t yet made an appearance on the BBC, despite the high profile that the BBC has given to Sheehan. If you cannot conceive of an explanation, then I would like to know how you can dismiss the possibility (indeed, in the absence of any other reasonable explanation, the likelihood) that the reason is an institutional bias about the way that Sheehan and her protest should be portrayed.

Please note that I am not asking you to comment on any specific story done by the BBC. I am asking you to venture an explanation as to why the BBC is failing to provide full and relevant information on an on-going story which the BBC itself, based on its coverage, clearly views as an important story.

I look forward to your comments.


Blogger Marc said...

Scott, good luck on getting an answer, at least a meaningful one anyway.

It has become apparent, at least to me anyway, that Paul is not interested in seriously addressing our concerns.

It appears more likely that he thought this would be some sort of vanity game. Paul thought he would venture into the blogsphere and take on these so called citizen journalists. After all, he's a "real" journalist working for the mighty BBC. These bloggers wouldn't stand a chance against a "real" journalist.

Faced with irrefutable facts and evidence of bias, most of it from the mouths of BBC reporters, Paul resorted to cherry picking issues he thought he had a chance of winning and offered lame excuses.

It's sad. Here we thought we might have a chance to work together and try and right some wrongs. Lofty ideas, but alas, I'm afraid it's not to be.

So, instead of co-operation it looks like we have to continue on the road of confrontation. Since we have truth on our side, I'm confident we will eventually prevail.

Keep up the good work.

USS Neverdock

2:51 PM  
Anonymous tired & excitable said...

Scott: Believe you're backing the wrong horse here, in that it doesn't have legs for distance and you're being played for a fool.

There's a badly dated singles bar glibness about Reynolds, very 1980's in a dispiriting polyester leisure suit and white belt sort of way. Pursuing him IMO is a waste of time, much like nailing jello to the wall.

When cornered, folks like Reynolds/Webb/Hawley/Guerin will always punt. The normal ploy after verbal sparring fails in the face of hard evidence is to go passive, perplexed and self-effacing: Aw-shucks-I'm a decent-guy-at-heart-just-doing-my-job... I'm just a hack going where my editor tells me...a harmless drudge...That's above my pay grade...blah, blah, blah. (Reynolds for example just tried a bit of this over at Biased-BBC).

The way to bring about change is to cut off the oxygen. That means hounding the news directors and producers and program managers -- often and directly and openly. It also means ending the license fee. A few firings along the way, to encourage the others, wouldn't hurt either.

Neither would real reporting. Why do I feel it unlikely that the BBC will enlighten us about who is paying for that very expensive, satellite-broadcast 18-wheeler w/ an anonymous paint job parked alongside Camp Cindy?

9:36 PM  
Blogger Scott Callahan said...


re waste of time...you're not the only one who thinks so. Time will tell.


9:53 PM  
Anonymous JohninLondon said...

That satellite studio van alone costs thousands a week to rent, before you start paying for the staffing and paying for any satellite uplink time.

This link gives more info on the well-oiled PR operation being funded for Sheehan. Which of course the BBC chooses to ignore.


10:42 PM  
Anonymous Paul Reynolds said...

Scott, Marc

You might be disappointed, because I have not agreed with everything you say. This is no reason to retreat behind your wagons.

I am still waiting for some responses.

For example, I gave evidence against Marc's claim that the BBC was "anti-American." Result? NO response.

I also dealt with the famous Justin Webb quote which Scott uses as his motto. Neither of you have answered that.

I pointed out that the Telegraph ( fairly right-wing) had concluded that Iraq was facing "meltdown", yet the BBC was attacked for saying something less. Response? Well, "the BBC is bigger"! This is an example of the trend I have criticised before -- that you do not range across the media and compare what others are saying. You believe that the BBC is uniquely evil!

Scott's insistence that the BBC and other media give "negative" information about Cindy Sheehan implies that the BBC should become a cheerleader for her opponents. We are not a cheerleader for them or for her. There is plenty of info about Ms Sheehan on the BBC website,including the fact that she had spoken against the war before.

"John in London" and "tired and excitable" (aptly named) asked about tv trucks. TV trucks work in a free market and charge market rates which the BBC pays along with everyone else. They are used only when necessary. Why single out one payer and not all?

BBC staff on these jobs usually stay at some cheapo motel...I have on many occasions.

By the way Scott a punt in rugby serves a very different purpose from its function in (American) football. A punt can be either offensive or defensive. It is a tactical kick, which is not the product of running out of other options. It can save a difficult situation or gain ground to set up an attack. If I punt, I punt in the rugby sense.

Don't give up just yet, guys.

with regards

Paul Reynolds
BBC Online

9:56 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm sure that Scott and Marc will both be along presently to whip you once again, but for the meantime I'm going to ask for a response to a complaint. I raised this complaint a while back through the proper BBC Website complaints mechanism and never received a response (despite asking for one). So, here we go:
A while back, Amnesty International released it's annual report. While I have little tolerance for an organisation which has strayed far from its roots and now deals in agit-prop and propagandist politics, I am aware that certain sections of people still hold it in some regard. The annual report dealt with 131 countries. How did the BBC choose to headline its articles about the report? Did they go for 'Amnesty releases annual report'? No, of course not. It's headlines were - "Amnesty accuses US over 'torture'" and "Amnesty slams Israel 'war crimes'". The articles then focused in some detail on the allegations of the report about the activities of those 2 countries. Now, of course, we could pretend that the BBC cherry-picking the US and Israel out of a report covering 129 other countries was sheer chance. We could also pretend that those countries are the worst Human Rights offenders on Earth so deserved to be singled out. But, of course, neither of these things are true. The BBC picked out those two countries because of its ingrained bias against them. The BBC and its employees can deny it and swear blind that they aren't biased, but the innumerable instances like this one belie them every time. It's insulting to be lied to so brazenly.

10:15 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh and Mr Reynolds - "Scott's insistence that the BBC and other media give "negative" information about Cindy Sheehan implies that the BBC should become a cheerleader for her opponents. We are not a cheerleader for them or for her."

Seriously? How precisely does asking the BBC to give BOTH sides of the story imply that they should give only one side of the story? Scott (and others) are asking for the real context and background of this woman to be made clear. That's hardly 'cheerleading for her opponents', is it? That is, unless you consider that the truth supports the position of her 'opponents'?


Oh and I think the BBC has done a fair bit of cheerleading for Ms Sheehan. Considering that it gives her the publicity she so desperately craves, hides her real character and intentions, and its reporters seem to almost wet themselves with joy at the prospect of being able to heckle and criticise the US government.

You're lying to us again, Mr Reynolds.

10:21 AM  
Blogger Marc said...

Mr. Reynolds, I don't mean to be rude but sometimes you have to call a spade a spade. You sir are a liar.

I answered you several times but you on the other hand neve answered me.

In response to your anti-American question I asked you to review my "Case Against the BBC", which is on my blogroll on the left of my main page.


In fact, I have asked you several times to read it and you have never responded.

Paul, using the evading tactics you do is one thing, but lying is another thing. I call it lying becuase it isn't some simple oversight. As I said, I've asked you several times to review that post.

Readers can review the comments at Biased BBC and see for themselves.

Your characteization of my comments about your Telegraph comment is just the kind of spin the BBC is well known for.

Here is what I said Paul.

"Yes sadly, the BBC is not the only media reporting doom and gloom in Iraq.

The Telegraph article doesn't excuse the BBC from its total bias in its reporting on Iraq.

A bit of a school yard excuse, eh Paul? "They were all doing it so I did too."

Remember the focus of the post and this site is the BBC and not the Telegraph."

And in a second comment:

"I single the BBC out because they are by far the biggest and the worst.

The BBC reaches millions around the world in many languages. The BBC is spreading its anti-American, anti-Israeli and biased message around the world.

And despite what you say Paul, I have two long posts that prove the BBC is what I say it is. Check out my "Case Against the BBC" on my blog roll."

You see Paul, the proof is right there that you are a liar.

Readers do a search in the comments section of this post on Biased BBC using the term "Telegraph" and you will see where Paul is lying.


Scott, I'm sorry but that had to be said.

10:58 AM  
Anonymous paul reynolds said...

To "anonymous".

1. I will look into your original complaint. But I will need details of when you sent it and under what name, if any.

2. It is the use of the word "negative" which indicates where Scott is coming from and where he wants us to go. If he had said what you said, fine. But he did not.

Paul R

10:58 AM  
Blogger Marc said...

Paul said:

"I also dealt with the famous Justin Webb quote which Scott uses as his motto. Neither of you have answered that."

Another lie Paul.

Go to this post on Biased BBC at 27.08.05 - 2:35 pm


And more on this lie Paul.

"For example, I gave evidence against Marc's claim that the BBC was "anti-American." Result? NO response."

You gave two links to slide show presentations of people in Iraq. Both of which contained some negative messages and we pointed that out to you in the comments.

I went further and described the kind of stories I was talking about. Stories about new schools, sewage, water treatment plants and roads being built. Stories about how the electricity and oil outputs are above pre-war levels. I even gave you a link to Chrenkoff's Good News Iraq series.

Paul: "This is no reason to retreat behind your wagons."

Er, no Pual that is what you are doing.


"You might be disappointed, because I have not agreed with everything you say."

Paul you haven't agreed with anything we've said even when confronted with proof.

Paul: "There is plenty of info about Ms Sheehan on the BBC website,including the fact that she had spoken against the war before. "

Really Paul? Then why didn't you give us a link to where the BBC reported on Sheehan's anti-war comments before her son died?

I doubt you can Paul because a search of the BBC website using "Cindy Sheehan" yields no such article where the BBC report on Sheehan's previous anti war comments.

Paul, did you not think we would check?

I'm glad you came here and posted today Paul, for it proves that you have no credibility at all - just like the BBC.

11:37 AM  
Anonymous Paul Reynolds said...

Well Marc.

I would make another plea, as Scott has before -- and this is his website -- not to use language like "liar".

We can sort out who said what to who and who replied what when in a calm manner.

In fact I see that I did not claim you had not responded to the Telegraph point. You did respond. It was the nature of your response that I questioned.

I have in turn replied to a number of your points, most of them from your first blog against the BBC, and will answer more from your second, under my usual umbrella of accepting that the BBC from time to time makes mistakes, gives a wrong emphasis etc but overall gives a reasonably fair account of our turbulent world.

Let me deal with some of your major claims:

1. You claim that the BBC is engaged in an "assault on the West." This is a very large claim indeed! One of the values of the West of course is the free exchange of speech and expression and the dissemination of those views, which is what we do. This is defending the values of the West.

2. "Aiding and abetting the enemy". Comparing the BBC to Lord Haw Haw, who broadcast from Germany in the war (to universal scorn and amusement by the way)is an odd indeed absurd comparison and supported by very few I think. Like who?

3. "No Jews in Holocaust". I have, despite what you say, actually discussed this before. I agree entirely that the children's website concerned was a woeful piece of work. But I also say that it was not the only work and certainbly not the major work on the BBC concerning the Holocaust at that time. Did you see the BBC2 series on Auschwitz? The book is currently being promoted I see. This was the definitive account on TV of the Holocuast. Why did you ignore it? I could send you the book.

3. "Enemy of the State". In this you state openly your "loathing" of the BBC. Criticism I can cope with. But is loathing an emotion conducive to debate?

4. "al-Qaeda doesn't exist". This in fact is another example of where I do not agree with a proposition put forward by a particular programme. But nor does Peter Taylor who recently investigated al-Qaeda on the BBC and said in that programme that he did not accept the Curtis thesis either. But you do not mention Taylor's programme.

Marc, I will deal with others later.

with regards

Paul Reynolds

11:42 AM  
Blogger Marc said...

Paul: "Marc, I will deal with others later. "

You didn't deal with these Paul, other than to give the title a broad brushing answer. You didn't deal with the substance of the articles.

Readers can judge for themselves here:


Paul you came on here and made two charges that I had not responded to you when in fact I had - sometimes several times. In fact I proved it was you who had not responded. If that's not lying I don't know what is.

Paul: "In fact I see that I did not claim you had not responded to the Telegraph point."

I never said you said that.

I said you mis-characterized my comments to make them seem to say less than what they did and I proved that.

On al Qaeda Paul said:

"But you do not mention Taylor's programme."

Wrong again Paul.

In fact I posted about it just after the 7/7 and 7/21 London attacks.


Paul, again not to be rude, but do you or anyone at the BBC know how to use Google, the search bar at the top of blogs or search within a webpage using control-F?

It appears not. Search my blog via the search bar on the top right using Taylor's name and you'll find the post.

Likewise search the BBC's website using "Cindy Sheehan" and you will not find an article quoting her previous anti-war comments as you claim.

Lying, spinning, mic-characterizations, bias by omission and failing to check basic facts are common at the BBC and you use them all Paul.

12:13 PM  
Blogger Marc said...

Paul, are you going to answer the subject of Scott's post here.

"Please note that I am not asking you to comment on any specific story done by the BBC. I am asking you to venture an explanation as to why the BBC is failing to provide full and relevant information on an on-going story which the BBC itself, based on its coverage, clearly views as an important story.

I look forward to your comments."

12:16 PM  
Anonymous Paul Reynolds said...


You did not respond to my comments on Justin Webb. You simply said: "Only someone from the BBC could turn that into a defense of America." "That" was a defence of "Jeffersonian democracy" from Justin Webb. What have you to say?

I have not found any comment from you on the "love letter" to America from another BBC Washington corr Rob Watson.

Again, you tend to ignore the good. For you it is only the bad and the ugly.

I seek reasonable debate. Let us end all this cat-squabbling.

If one side offers a critcism, it should not simply be met with a counterblast. There should be reasoned argument, supported by evidence and an avoidance of inappropriate language.

Paul R

12:19 PM  
Anonymous Paul reynolds said...

Add to Macrc( these coments overlap each othr):

Responding to Scott's query re Cindy Sheehan.

I have already said there is a lot about her on the BBC website, including a statement that she has raised these points with President Bush before.


I recommend to Scott that he takes this up with the editor whose e-mail address he has.

Paul Reynolds

12:23 PM  
Blogger Marc said...

Paul a suggestion:

I'll open a open thread on my blog where you can respond to my Case Against the BBC.

It's a bit off topic to do so here on Scott's blog and he deserves an answer to this post we're commenting on.

I've opened the thread on my blog here:


That's unless Scott would rather onpen a new thread here on his blog to host the discussion.

Either way works for me.

12:27 PM  
Anonymous JohninLondon said...

Paul Reynolds

You have totally misunderstood the point about the satellite studio truck. That was being paid for by MoveOn and others - NOT by the broadcasters. That is the scale of the PR effort behind Sheehan.

I still see the Sheehan matter as an acid test of the BBC's objectivity in its reporting on the US political scene.

And it has failed that test abysmally. Quelle surprise ! Nothing Mr Reynolds has posted here or elsewhhere redeems the BBC's INCOMPLETE and thereby BIASED coverage of Sheehan.

The BBC swallowed the MoveOn and CodePink propaganda hook, line and sinker. They KNEW the adverse FACTS about Sheehan's extremism, they chose not to report them. And they have failed to report that Sheehan was largely rejected or ignored in terms of US opinion. It was just a media bandwagon.

How are the mighty fallen. From being a beacon for freedom and truth to being a willing retailer of an obvious propaganda campaign run by peacenik extremists.

Shame, shame, shame.

Do the powers at the BBC ever realise that much of their "journalism" is now despised ? They are selling out their former good name.

4:45 PM  

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