Tuesday, January 31, 2006

BBC doing its best to prolong Miers' 15 minutes

Does anyone else find it mildly irritating that, nearly 3 months after the fact, virtually every mention of new Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito by the BBC comes with the addendum that “Mr Bush's earlier choice for the post, lawyer Harriet Miers, withdrew when conservatives refused to support her”? See here, here, here, here, and here for the most recent examples. Is that fact really still relevant in any way at all?

Will we, years from now and following a particularly interesting Supreme Court decision, be reminded that the deciding vote was cast by Justice Alito, Harriet Myers having withdrawn herself when conservatives refused to support her nomination?

BTW, note the stellar BBC coverage of the confirmation vote. It doesn't even reveal what the final vote in the Senate was. (For those interested, it was 58-42.)

Appeal to emotion dictates BBC coverage

What is it with the BBC and these manufactured casualty milestones? What makes the 1ooth British casualty in Iraq any more or less worthy of promotion on the front page of the BBC's website than the 99th or the 101st?

The Falklands War in 1981 lasted 74 days and resulted in 255 British deaths. There are, of course, no BBC archives on-line from that time, but does anyone suppose that the Beeb at the time hyped the 100th British death as a milestone in any story, much less make it the top story? Or that it did so during World War II with the 100th, or 1,00th, or 10,000th, or 100,000th death? I doubt it.

And, as an aside, how the BBC can continue to quote George Galloway as if he is a serious and respectable voice worthy of being heard on the subject, despite him having voluntarily relinquished any remaining shed of self-dignity during his self-promotional stint on Big Brother, is well beyond me. What's next, Dennis Rodman's analysis on the Alito confirmation?

Monday, January 30, 2006

Better late than never

Justin Webb, apparently more unrepentant than his apology might suggest following the beating he took from listeners the last time he defended the US, once again surprises with a "viewpoint" analysis that is not altogether unflattering to George Bush.

Rather than the typical caricature of an intellectually challenged and detached president, Webb describes Bush as exhibiting a "charm and wit worthy of Ronald Reagan", as "a man capable of seizing new ideas", and someone "who knows what it is like to maintain a course in spite of temptations along the way." In what Webb seemingly recognizes will come as news to the ill-informed BBC audience, he points out that "the Bush Doctrine has beef" and "is not devoid of content." Who'd of thunk it, huh?

Webb even notes, with some degree of bemused sarcasm, the irrational response of the "Bush-haters" to his mild defense of America and Bush from a few weeks ago.
The response was furious and instructive...I had crossed a line in the sand: it is acceptable to defend the US to snooty Europeans (well, almost) but never to show any sympathy for the "toxic Texan" and his sinister doings.
Of course, it would be wrong to call the piece pro-Bush. It is sprinkled with knocks on him, both implicit and explicit, as when he says that Bush "is nowhere near as unyielding as he would have his more credulous supporters believe." And he suggests that the White House's current agenda is driven primarily, if not exclusively, by the upcoming mid-term congressional elections rather than any broader strategic vision. And, inevitably, Webb can't quite resist the urge to paint his infamous picture of the US as an ignorant and unsophisticated place, referring to Washington as "the capital city of a nation where Iran and Iraq are frequently confused."

Still, Webb has made some effort to provide a nuanced, thoughtful view of Bush...certainly more nuanced and thoughtful than many we have seen in the past on the BBC. Indeed, in response to the wrath vistited upon him by the "Bush-haters", Webb says that "it seems to me that an unprejudiced view of where the president is coming from, of what he has in store, is more important than ever." One would have hoped that an "unprejudiced" view has always been important for the BBC, but better late than never, I suppose. And although he won't admit it, Webb himself has played no small part in stoking the anti-Bush crowd. However, with this latest effort, Webb has provided some measure of that unprejudiced view, and while it is ironic that Webb's properly labelled opinion piece is considerably more "unprejudiced" than much of his straight reporting, it is an irony welcomed by TAE.