Saturday, August 27, 2005

Stick around

As some of you may have noticed, BBC World Affairs correspondent Paul Reynolds, with whom I had a series of exchanges the other day on Biased-BBC, has contributed a comment to the previous post about Chavez, Bush, and embarrassment. I sincerely hope he returns and becomes a regular reader and contributor to the comments. Sites such as this run the danger of becoming little more than echo chambers of agreement. TAE will, I think, benefit from someone with an instictively different point of view of the BBC, and an insider is all the better. (Someone, that is, who is not named anonymous and whose critical vocabulary consists of more than just "moron".) And, naturally, it is nice to know that criticism aimed at the BBC is actually reaching it.

Now, if only I could get Emily Bell's attention....

Embarrassment at the BBC

Still trying to get as much anti-Bush mileage as it can out of the now nearly legless Pat Robertson/assassination story, today the BBC gives us a ‘new’ angle to this non-story.

Chavez swipes at 'assassin' Bush

One can imagine the titters of amusement at the BBC with Chavez giving them the opportunity to call Bush an assassin in a headline, although, strictly speaking, at no point in the text of the article is Chavez actually quoted as calling Bush an assassin. So perhaps it was less Chavez than a creative headline writer.

But the real problem with the article is this:

Earlier, the Rev Ted Haggard, president of the National Association of Evangelicals, said he was seeking a meeting with Mr Chavez to distance US Christians from the remarks.

He is in Mexico, where he is meeting a friend of Mr Chavez, and if all goes well he will travel on to Caracas for an encounter that could embarrass the White House.

In what possible way should such a meeting embarrass the White House? Unfortunately the BBC is keeping that a secret. Or perhaps even it doesn’t know.

Apparently no attempt to smear Bush with the taint of scandal is too ridiculous to find its way into the BBC.

Friday, August 26, 2005

A molehill

I don’t want to make too much out of this, but does anyone else find the subtle but distinct difference in presentation between these two BBC stories a little, I don’t know, interesting?
Male drivers more likely to crash

Young men driving in Hull are more than twice as likely to crash as women of the same age, research has shown.

'Men cleverer than women' claim

Academics in the UK claim their research shows that men are more intelligent than women.

Why is that, in the former, the research has shown something (which is a pretty standard BBC formulation), but in the latter, academics merely claim the research shows something? Couldn’t have something to do with what the research purported to show, could it?

Nah. Surely no significance at all.

What about this, Paul?

Today's latest in the BBC's endless drive to provide Cindy Sheehan with the publicity she seeks contains this remarkable claim:

Her arguments against the war have sparked a heated controversy, and conservative militants from California are on their way to Crawford to launch a tour called "You don't speak for me, Cindy!".

Conservative militants. Cindy Sheehan is an "anti-war protestor", but those who would protest against her are "conservative militants". Unbelievable.

Paul Reynolds would, no doubt, dismiss this as just another individual instance of poor reporting, totally unconnected to the corporate culture which is fostered at the BBC. Yet, isn't it strange that such instances of poor reporting always...always...end up with the same constituencies being placed in a negative light and not their opposites; conservatives, Republicans, Israelis, religious Americans, etc?

BTW, this is such an egregious example that I expect some embarrassed adult at the BBC will stealthily edit it out at some point without ever acknowledging that it was published in the first place. Watch for it.

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

The Guardian must love assassination stories

Yesterday The Guardian’s Julian Borger and Duncan Campbell covered Pat Robertson’s buffoonery, and did so fairly well. They presented the Bush administration’s blunt rejection of his comments for what they were, and although they waited until the very last two sentences to allow another religious leader to forcefully condemn Robertson, they did at least do so, and the article was factual, informative, and mostly fair.

However, Campbell has apparently decided that his previous article didn’t do quite enough to smear Bush with Robertson’s nuttiness, and so today he’s given it another go. The article begins thus:
President Hugo Chávez of Venezuela hit back vigorously at calls by an ally of President George Bush for his assassination by offering cheap petrol to the poor of the US at a time of soaring fuel prices.
Again, this is the introductory sentence. So, having failed to actually identify the person who made the assassination call, but noting that, whoever it was, it was an “ally” of Bush, Campbell clearly feels it is more important to implant the association between Bush and the assassination comment than to inform his audience who actually said it. It is only after this that we are introduced to Pat Robertson himslef.

Campbell then goes on to inform us:
The Bush administration tried to distance itself from Mr Robertson's views without upsetting the large Christian fundamentalist wing which the veteran evangelist represents.
What does he mean “tried to” distance itself? First of all, Robertson is a private citizen, and is not now, nor has he ever been, a spokesman for the administration in any capacity at all, either officially or unofficially. So there is no reason to presume that the administration would be “close” to Robertson’s views in the first place. But, lest there be any doubt, this is what the administration had to say about those views:
This is not the policy of the United States government. We do not share his views…Any accusations or any idea that we are planning to take hostile action against Venezuela or the Venezuelan government - any ideas in that regard - are totally without fact and baseless. – State Department spokesman Sean McCormack

Our department doesn't do that kind of thing. It's against the law. He's a private citizen. Private citizens say all kinds of things all the time.– Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld
The fact that the administration “does not share his views” and “doesn’t do that kind of thing” seems to put a distinct chasm of “distance” between Bush and Robertson’s views. But Campbell, who quotes only the second half of Rumsfeld’s statement and none of McCormack’s, presents it as only an attempt to create distance which, by implication, may or may not have succeeded.

Campbell also claims that, in disavowing Robertson’s comments, the administration was wary of “upsetting” his religious supporters. This is pernicious and deceptive for a couple of reasons. First of all, there is no ambiguity or shading in the administration’s statements that would suggest it is concerned about the consequences of distancing itself from the comments. Campbell has presented no reason at all for him believing that such a motivation existed. It is mere speculation presented as fact.

But far worse is the implicit presumption that the “large Christian fundamentalist wing” itself embraces Robertson’s comments, and would therefore be upset with Bush for condemning them. What evidence is there of this? Again, Campbell has presented no reason for thinking that anyone, let alone the entire “Christian fundamentalist wing”, supports Robertson’s view. Such a conclusion can only have come from his own personal prejudices, which he is attempting (consciously or not) to plant into the minds of his readers.

This is not particularly overt bias, and it may not even be intentional (although I am doubtful about that). But this is precisely the way in which The Guardian so often spins its stories and subtly impresses its own prejudices into its audience. It is also the type of thing that editors exist to ferret out of news stories. At responsible news organizations, that is.

BTW, speaking of calls for assassinations, I seem to recall a certain London daily publishing an article which itself called for the assassination of a country's president. It has since deleted the article from its site, and replaced it with an apology from the author, who claims it was all just a hilarious joke, and with which the daily says it "associates" itself. Of course, its "association" with a disavowal of any call to assassinate President Bush might carry a bit more weight if it had not itself solicited readers' views on the burning issue of "Is it time to assassinate George Dubya Bush?" a year earlier (now also deleted, albeit sans apology.) Anyone remember which newspaper that might have been?

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Harold Evans strikes again

You may remember that last week Harold Evans, the BBC’s man with an eye on America, weighed in with his thoughts on the intelligent design debate, in the process declaring that President Bush has a “disdain” for science. This week he’s dedicated an entire article to Bush’s “chilly indifference” towards science, and the “furious bewilderment” it is apparently causing in scientific circles.

Painting a picture of the US as a nation in technological decline, Evans cites as evidence the distressing fact that fewer Nobel prizes are being awarded to American scientists these days, “down to about half”, he says, from a peak in the 90’s. Frankly, even 50% doesn’t sound like too shabby a showing to me, but a quick look at the Nobel archive shows that Evans is playing a bit fast and loose with his facts. It is true that, out of the 12 prizes awarded last year, “only” 7 were awarded to Americans, which I suppose could be characterized as “about half”, although it is just as true to say that it is more than half. That, however, wouldn’t leave the audience with the appropriately sinking feeling Evans desires. Even more interesting, however, is the fact that two of the awards, the Peace prize and the Literary prize, are not awarded for scientific achievement at all, and both of those went to non-Americans. So it turns out that, of the 10 prizes awarded specifically to scientists, Americans won 7. And one of the remaining 3 winners, Economics prize winner Finn E. Kydland of Norway, actually lives in the US and won the prize for his work at a US university. So in fact when Evans says “down to about half”, what he really means is “nearly all”. This, no doubt, is what the BBC would call an honest presentation of the facts.

For Evans, of course, Bush is to blame for this, er, dreadful decline in scientific achievement. Castigating Bush for making budget cuts, he laments the fact that “this is the first time in a decade that federal funding [for research] has failed to keep pace with inflation.” Which means simply that even under Bush’s predecessor, Bill Clinton, the same thing happened. But again, putting it in such terms doesn’t quite supply the spin Evans is looking for.

Needless to say, Evans does not rely simply on his own assertions. He backs it up by seeking the opinions of SCIENTISTS. He cites “brave” Vinton Cerf (pioneer of the internet) who “risked disfavor” by daring to criticize the miserliness of Bush’s research budget. Cerf is brave because, as we all know, Bush “does not take kindly to anyone who has drawn a federal dollar being critical.” Whether this means Cerf can expect a midnight visit from Bush’s black ops agents, or simply no more White House Christmas cards, Evans leaves ominously unstated. And of course Cerf’s judgment on budgetary matters is considered by Evans to be impeccable. He is, after all, a SCIENTIST, and a renowned one at that.

(A point to ponder: Why is it that when corporations feed at the public trough, it is derided as corporate welfare, but when science researchers do the same, it is considered essential investment in the future of the country?)

Of course, not all SCIENTISTS are concerned with budgets. Evans tells us that many are also disturbed by Bush’s “well documented” readiness to “manipulate and suppress scientific finding” on a whole litany of subjects.
This is not just on global warming and stem cells, currently in the news, but on a whole range of issues - lead and mercury poisoning in children, women's health, birth control, safety standards for drinking water, forest management, air pollution and on and on.
Unfortunately, despite the “well documented” nature of Bush’s manipulations, Evans can’t himself be bothered to document a single one, making it rather difficult to check out for ourselves just what it is he is talking about. But that’s OK because Evan gives us the word of Professor Neal Lane that it is so. And, lest the fact that Lane happened to be an advisor to President Clinton raise questions about his objectivity, Evans assures us that, as “a former director of the National Science Foundation he cannot be dismissed as partisan.” Ah, of course. As we all know, SCIENTISTS, especially those who rise to prominence in professional organizations, are automatically above petty politics.

Evans also quotes Russell Train, a former administrator in the Environmental Protection Agency under Nixon and Ford, who is distressed by the fact that under Bush “we have moved away from regulation based on professional analysis of scientific data regulation controlled by the White House and driven by political considerations.” I guess, Ronald Reagan and his EPA chairman James Watt would certainly be happy to hear that the criticisms aimed at them during the ‘80s for, well, playing politics with environmental regulation, was unwarranted.

But really, who can take Train seriously anyway. Regulation has always been driven by political considerations. In considering any given piece of regulation, a president cannot ignore the social, economic and other such implications and focus strictly on the science (or the policy prescriptions of SCIENTISTS). Nor would he be doing his job if he did. Regulation, by its very nature, is political. If it wasn’t, it wouldn’t require politicians to implement it. Train is fooling himself as much as he has fooled Evans if he thinks regulation prior to Bush was not largely driven by politics. What Train really means is that it is not being driven by what he would deem the correct politics.

Perhaps sensing that the opinions of a couple of SCIENTISTS might not be quite enough for his audience, Evans concludes by breaking out the big guns. Claiming that these two speak for “a considerable body of alarmed and angry scientists,” Evans cites the calls of the “nationally well-regarded” Union of Concerned Scientists, which wants Bush to “restore scientific integrity to policy making.” Of course, what Evans does not tell you is that the “Concern” in the title of this group pre-dates the Bush administration by some 35 years, it having been formed in and pontificating on policy since 1969. Its original “concern” was the military uses to which scientific research was being applied. Those “concerns” have since morphed into largely environmental ones, although as its website documents, UCS has at various times professed “concern” over nuclear power, nuclear weapons, the strategic defense initiative, the B-2 stealth bomber, and SUVs. The group proclaims itself to be an “advocate” for the environment and acts to “shape” and “alter” government policies. It professes to have “advocates” not only in Washington but in state capitals across the country. It is, in short, a political lobby, with a political agenda, which operates under the guise of a scientific organization. (And, at least according to some, its “science” is not always what it is made out to be.) But Evans, either ignorant of all this himself or simply assuming that his audience will be, has the cheek to assert –with emphasis – that the UCS is “non-partisan”.

Yes, this is what passes for sage and forthright analysis on America at the BBC.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Hinsliff has nothing on Evans

On the back of my earlier post about Gaby Hinsliff’s Observer article, an anonymous comment has directed my attention to this BBC piece by Stephan Evans which also inserts a slam against the US totally out of the blue.

Evans is ostensibly addressing the merits of a comment by Lord Norman Tebbit, in which Tebbit claimed that “nowhere in the Muslim world has there been any real advance in science or art or literature or technology in the last 500 years.” Evans suggests that Tebbit has a point, at least with regard to technology, and attempts to put forward an explanation. Citing the work of a Harvard scholar, Evans says that, for cultures dominated by concern for God, there is little reason for curiosity about anything else. He then gives us this curious series of statements.

Of course, theocracies are not a Muslim monopoly.

The rulers of the Christian Catholic theocracies of mediaeval Spain and Italy had a deep suspicion of new knowledge - witness the persecution of Galileo after he challenged the view that the sun revolved around the earth.

And today, one wonders how much curiosity about evolution there might be in the American Bible Belt where evolution's scientific worth is denied.

In contrast, the countries of northern Europe with a different, perhaps looser set of attitudes produced many of the technological developments which were crucial to later industrial development - small developments with a big impact, like mechanical clocks or reading glasses that enabled craftsmen to make more detailed machinery.

To be honest, the comment about the US is so out of place and incoherent with the surrounding text (Is the US really an example of a non-Muslim theocracy? Does America’s technological achievements really compare unfavorably “in contrast to” those of northern Europe? I don’t think so.) that it strikes me as simply a snide comment inserted for the amusement of an editor, and it accidentally got left in the published piece. It does seem to me to be just the kind of contemptuous comment that would get a few yucks in the BBC newsroom. But, intentionally part of the piece or not, its presence does give us an insight into Evans’ thinking, which seems to be typical BBC condescension towards Americans with religious beliefs.

BTW, who strikes you as more incurious about the scientific value of evolutionary theory, those who seem interested in investigating its possible deficiencies or those who refuse to acknowledge that any such deficiencies might exist?

Fundamentalist America

It’s a bit after the fact, but I ran across an article by Observer/Guardian “political editor” Gaby Hinsliff from a couple of weeks ago, regarding the religious sponsorship of some soon-to-be introduced government schools here in the UK, and couldn't resist bringing it to your attention.

As many of you are no doubt aware, despite the near constant portrayal of America as a place of religious indoctrination, it is in fact the UK, not the US, where state schools are allowed to have religious affiliations and offer religious education. In the US the courts are quite nearly pathological about disallowing religious expression of any kind in tax-funded education. Unfortunately, Ms. Hinsliff is either shockingly ignorant of this fact or she simply doesn’t care about the truth.

Deep in her article, after warning of the “fears” about “radical evangelicals” grabbing the reins of education in the UK, she brings up the idea of creationism.
Creationism teaches that the story of Genesis is literally true, and that God really did create the world in seven days. Adherents believe the planet is only 6,000 years old.

In the US, the influence of creationism and its close cousin 'intelligent design' - the idea that humans are so complex they must have been generated by a conscious creator - on education is widespread.

In the UK, creationism remains a fringe movement…
This is a classic example of the way in which the UK media attempts to prejudice its audience with its own anti-American biases.

First of all, the reference to America is entirely gratuitous and unrelated to the rest of the article. The subject of the article is the UK’s government education system and its partnership with religious affiliations in the creation of new schools. Since, in the US, any association between publicly funded schools and religious organizations is strictly prohibited, it is difficult to understand how the US education system is at all relevant to this topic. Why the complete non-sequitur about the US? Who knows? Perhaps Hinsliff had yet to fill her anti-American slam quota that week.

But even if the reference to the US is oddly placed, one might hope it was at least factual. Regrettably, any such hope would be in vain.

Creationism, of course, is not a part of any state curriculum in the US. Again, unlike in the UK, religious education is not allowed in US public schools. Any public school that started teaching the story of Genesis from the Bible as part of its curriculum would immediately be stopped by the courts. Creationism, therefore, is strictly the domain of private schools. (A 1987 Supreme Court ruling against the ability of a state to mandate the teaching of creationism alongside evolution merely reinforced this long-standing reality.) According to the National Center for Education Statistics, of the approximately 53.5 million children enrolled in K-12 (aged 5-18) education in the US, only 5.3 million of them are enrolled in private schools. This means that, at most, creationism is formally taught to a mere 10% of US school children. But of course not all private schools are religiously affiliated, and of those that are, not all of them eschew evolution and embrace biblical literalism. So the true percentage is in fact significantly less than even 10%. So much for the "widespread" influence of creationism on US education.

It is also false to conflate, as Hinsliff does, intelligent design with creationism. While literal believers of Genesis may indeed champion intelligent design theory in the current political climate, it is not at all true that intelligent design theorists embrace creationism. They definitely do not. Characterizing ID as a "close cousin" to creationism is little more than a manipulative attempt to prejudice the audience against it without having to present any substantive reason why they should be. It is the cheap, rhetorical trick of an intellectual charlatan.

But it does allow Hinsliff to slyly plant the notion of America as a nation blinded by biblical literalism. Having taken a detour from her topic to brush aside the substantial differences between ID and creationism and then falsely proclaim that their “influence” over US education has been “widespread”, she segues back into the actual topic of her article by reassuring us that in the UK, creationism is still a “fringe movement”. Unlike, by implication, the US, where it apparently has captured the nation.

What utter rubbish.

It is difficult to believe that Hinsliff didn’t know precisely what she was doing when she added this deception to her story. But perhaps I give her too much credit. Perhaps she is too ignorant of the very thing she is writing about to know how ridiculous her claims are, and too lazy to inform herself. Ultimately, I’m not sure which is worse.

Monday, August 22, 2005

The popular but powerless left?

Gary Younge, whose Guardian article about Cindy Sheehan was critiqued on TAE last week, gives us more Sheehan clap-trap in a commentary that ultimately laments the lack of political leadership on the left.

He does come ever so close to admitting the truth about the Sheehan phenomenom – that she has been exploited by the left and her celebrity is the function of a PR marketing job.

The story of collective struggles is all too often filtered through the experience of an individual. In a bid to render the account more palatable and popular, the personal takes precedence over the political. As a result the story may reach a wider audience; but by the time they receive it, the agendas and the issues involved have often become distorted - to the detriment of both the individual and the movement.

The story of Cindy Sheehan, the 48-year-old woman whose son Casey was killed in Iraq in April 2004, is one such example.

And later:

With the help of PR consultants she was packaged as a grieving Everymother who wanted answers.
But of course Younge does not acknowledge his own role in retailing the package being sold by the PR consultants, and he even goes on to contradict himself by sugggesting that, contrary to his claim that the portrayal of Sheehan has been detrimental to "the movement", she has given it a voice that it heretofore has lacked. In doing so, Younge proceeds to engage in a whole new Sheehan marketing campaign.

The reason Sheehan has become such a lightning rod is because [the anti-war] mood has found only inadequate and inconsistent expression in Congress. It has been left to her to articulate an escalating political demand that is in desperate need of political representation. This marks not only a profound dislocation between the political class and political culture but a short circuit in the democratic process. The mainstream has effectively been marginalised.
Thus the anti-war movement becomes transformed into “mainstream” thought. No longer is Sheehan even a grieving “Everymother”; she’s now been promoted to the role of sole torch carrier for a “marginalized” majority. And what, exactly, is this “mainstream” position that is so marginalized? Younge doesn't seem to sure.

He claims that the left (he says “we”, something to keep in mind when reading his straight news reporting) has "a political agenda that can command considerable mainstream support.” But he never articulates what that agenda is. The closest he gets to an explanation is to say that it is "anti-war". But what does that really mean? If it means simply disapproval of having liberated Iraq, then it is fairly meaningless. Afterall, that boat has sailed, and it’s not coming back. Such after-the-fact anti-warism (even if held since before the war) is not a policy position that any politician can sensibly advocate, nor is it at all productive. One might as well be opposed to the colonization of America.

Of course, if Sheehan is representative of what it means to be anti-war, then it is pretty clear what “anti-war” means…immediate withdrawal of all troops from Iraq. However, even by Younge’s own accounting, “The number of those who want all the troops withdrawn remains a minority at 33%”. So how does this translate into a “marginalized mainstream”? Your guess is as good as any.

And he finds evidence of this popular support for his unspecified “radical stances” in the strangest of places. He notes that a new German political party, called simply “The Left”, is attracting 12% at the polls. Such popular support! He also cites Paul Hackett’s nearly successful (which is to say unsuccessful) congressional campaign in Ohio, in which, according to Younge, Hackett ran on “an anti-war platform”. While it is true that Hackett opposed the war prior to its start, and he vilified Bush in extremely impolitic terms, this is what Hackett’s policy was on Iraq according to his own campaign website:

The Iraqi people and government are grateful that we eliminated their brutal dictator. They are capable of running their own government and building a democracy. It won’t look like ours; nor should it. But in order for them to succeed, we must not withdraw our troops before the Iraqis are ready to stand on their own.
If that sounds strangely familiar, it should. It's Bush's policy as well.

The fact that Younge cites both Cindy “pull ‘em out” Sheehan and Paul “must not withdraw” Hackett as evidence of the mainstream attraction of the left just shows how incoherent the anti-war" left is. Its agenda is little more than the single connecting thread of Bush hatred.

Younge closes with this lament.
We [on the left] wield political influence; we lack legislative power.
Such wishful thinking. One must wonder how Younge has managed to measure this alleged political influence in the absence of a show of legislative power. In a democracy, doesn't the one manifest itself in the other? With thinking like this, it is no wonder that Younge's left is leaderless.

What a difference a year makes (Update: Or not)

The food crisis in Niger is well known, and the BBC has been at the forefront of publicizing Niger's plight, doing dozens of stories about it in the last month alone. It is odd, therefore, to think that less than 2 years ago the BBC trumpeted a survey which claimed that Nigerians were the happiest people in the world, “confirming”, according to the Beeb, that money cannot buy happiness.

As far as I can tell, the relationship between happiness, food, and money has not yet been explored by the BBC.

(Hat tip to Peter Lorenzi, who has several links on measuring “happiness” including the BBC article, not to mention lots of other interesting tidbits on various topics, like Michael Crichton’s speech on global warming, which has been mentioned here before.)

Update: TAE is a complete bonehead, having conflated Nigeria with Niger, which are, of course, two different countries. Which makes what I said was odd significantly less so. Ignore the man behind the curtain.

Credit where credit is due

John Ware and the BBC did an excellent job on Panorama last night in "A Question of Leadership", a very critical look at the "moderate leaders" of Islam in Britain (Iqbal Sacranie, Muhamed Abdul Bari, etc) and the groups for which they are fronting. If you didn't see it, read the transcript.

It is worth noting that, in the section of the show about the Shabina Begum affair, Ware was critical of the Muslim Council of Britain for backing Begum and politicizing the issue, and he also pointed out that the government is currently planning on banning the radical group Hizb ut Thahrir, which was acting as an advisor to Begum. Unfortuantely Ware failed to mention who else was advising Begum, namely her lawyer, a woman named Cherie Booth. Booth, of course, is more famously known as the wife of Prime Minister Tony Blair.

Still, an interesting show and a much needed look at the so-called moderate Islamic leadership in the UK.