Is the mainstream media really that bad?
The BBC & Big Media Betrayal
It was a golden opportunity: my Charlton Heston moment. "You can have my TV license-fee," I would hiss through gritted teeth as the cashier struggled to prise £135.50 from my vice-like grip, "when you pry it loose from my cold, dead hand!"
Better still, it was a tailor-made Howard Beale moment. A deranged anchorman in the 1976 film Network, Beale would rave about the corruption and inequities of American life and end each nightly diatribe yelling: "I'm mad as hell, and I'm not going to take it anymore!"
Alas, neither Heston's real-life defiance (of the anti-gun lobby) nor Beale's brutal honesty (which swelled his TV ratings) inspired me to do the right thing. Wet wimp that I am, I meekly handed over my hard-earned to the functionary behind the bullet-proof glass and trudged off - cursing, once again, my compulsory annual donation to New Labour's personal cheer squad (aka the British Broadcasting Corporation).
Guaranteed gravy train
Anachronistic and infuriating, the British license-fee - a poll tax by any other name - is regarded with incredulity and mirth when discovered by Americans, who have never known such extortion, or Australians, who ditched a TV license over 30 years ago in favour of full government funding of their BBC equivalent, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation. Moreover, the ABC flourishes on a relative pittance (around £330million in government grants). Aussies would choke on their meat pies and cough up their Fosters at the idea of a national broadcaster with over 25,000 employees and a bigger annual budget than a small country (a grotesque £4billion - £3billion from the license fee alone). And they would scarcely believe its additional demands for yearly license-fee rises of almost twice the rate of inflation!
Cock-a-hoop aboard its guaranteed gravy train, is it any wonder the BBC is forever careering off the tracks into profligacy and scandal. The £18 million three-year contract awarded in 2006 to smutty entertainer Jonathan Ross (who recently tipped a tampon into custard to amuse his audience) is emblematic of how far the BBC has fallen from its lofty "public service" remit into crass commercialism.
It defended its decision on the basis that it had to pay the "market rate" in order to prevent ITV from poaching its biggest stars. But where is the "public service" in preventing that? License-payers could still have watched Ross on ITV without having to empty their wallets for the dubious privilege, and the money saved invested in more uplifting projects. Contemptuous of the Ross decision, James Murdoch, the BSKYB boss and the biggest stakeholder in ITV, reportedly told friends that "They could have made three Planet Earths for the money." He was also scathing about the so-called "market rate," saying no other broadcaster would offer this kind of money. Apart from snaring Jonathan Ross, free-to-air commercial stations would surely also love to broadcast some of the soaps which feature on the BBC if they weren't similarly outbid for the rights to such corrupting rubbish by a loaded Corporation.
The truth is that despite pleading poverty, the BBC is a cash-cow for the bosses and their pals. According to its 2006 annual report, the ten board members picked up a total of £3.7million in pay and bonuses.
The Director-general himself took home a basic £609,000. The Director of radio and music, Jenny Abramsky, on £295,000 (up £62,000 from 2005) has accumulated a pension pot of £3.85 million - bigger than that of the governor of the Bank of England. Even BBC newsreaders are on hundreds of thousands of pounds.
Never mind that audiences for BBC channels were down 400,000 each week compared to the year before and that they lost 1 million viewers; that thousands of BBC staff face redundancy; that vast platoons of anchormen and women, producers and technical staff are sent to cover overseas elections and events (even to American and Europe where skilled technicians are readily available) in comparison to skeleton teams sent by commercial rivals; that its rebuilding of Broadcasting House is already £20million over its obscene £813million estimate, 2 years behind schedule and being decorated with nearly £4million worth of 'art', including a 33ft cone which will beam a laser 3,000 feet into the air at a cost of £897,000; that it spent £1.1 million on a fourteen month "Creative Future" consultation exercise (including £76,000 on consultants, £17,000 on stationery and £140,000 on hotels, hospitality and travel) which all led to the TV division being renamed BBC Vision and radio rebranded as Audio and Music. On and on it goes: pretentious digital channels which nobody watches (£140 million annual cost for BBC3 and BBC4 for a risible 1.7% audience share), relentless subsidised internet expansion and local radio stations (which squeeze out commercial competition and distort the free market).
So much extravagance and waste at license-payer expense; so little shame among the BBC elite. Just untouchable snouts in a gold-plated money trough.
As newspaper columnist Peter McKay put it: "BBC chiefs seem to occupy a parallel universe to the rest of us. They have better pay and perks without ever having to worry about their firm going broke. Are they feverishly lining their pockets against the day when we decide collectively that we are not going to take it anymore?"
Intimidation and coercion
Individually, of course, we don't have to take it. We are free to toss out our television set or use it only for DVD viewing. The government has not yet embraced the German system which charges a license fee for every working internet link - e.g. mobile phone or PC - if it is the only source for television and could even "potentially connect to the internet"! So, for now, pulling the plug would solve the financial problem.
Yet while it would save a good sum of money, it might only elevate the angst. One cannot easily opt out. The shameless harassment of hundreds of thousands of TV-free households by the TV Licensing Authority [TVLA], which cannot conceive the possibility of BBC exclusion zones, is renowned. Endless press articles recount Orwellian horror stories about a centralised monolith which repeatedly sends intimidating letters (threatening £1,000 fines and prison sentences) to every address listed on its LASSY data base as not having a TV license, followed by "enforcement officers". Periodically, Early Day Motions are tabled in the House of Commons on "Television License Harassment," such as this one on 22 March 2004:
That this House notes that one out of every fifty United Kingdom households chooses not to own a television set; further notes that TV licensing officers may only enter a person's home with their consent or under a warrant issued by a justice of the peace or a sheriff in Scotland and that such a warrant may only be issued if there are reasonable grounds for suspecting an offence relating to the use of a television; regrets that many households which do not own a television feel harassed and intimidated by the behaviour of the TV Licensing Authority; and calls on the TV Licensing Authority to respect the right of individuals not to own a television without being subjected to repeated harassment.
Despite never having owned a television set, one Scottish gentleman spent 16 years fighting off such intimidation, including several visits by "heavily built impolite men" from the licensing authority who continually harassed his family, "shouting through our letter box and ringing the door bell for five to ten minutes." They also obtained a warrant to search his house, claiming they had seen a flickering light inside. After eight court hearings, the TVLA backed down and the search warrant was overturned. He finally won his case alleging "blatant and malicious fabrication" to obtain a warrant (naturally denied by the TVLA) and was awarded £5,000 costs. [The Times, 17/2/93]
While incredulous Australian and American readers reach for the smelling salts and realign their dropped jaws, I add in passing that this brutal stamping on the face of civil liberties by the nation's supposed "public service broadcaster" is indicative. Just as its often puerile, crude and downright obscene TV fare reflects the increasingly degenerate society that sustains the Corporation, its license collection system also mirrors the coercive mentality fuelling so many current British agendas, like the push for blanket schemes involving DNA sampling and 'opt out' organ donation, or the oppressive "hate crime" legislation aimed at silencing Christians.
Suppression and distortion
And yet the illiberal license collection is all of a piece with the BBC's systematic obstruction of our right to know the unvarnished truth about the big controversies of the day: Islam, abortion, homosexuality, climate change, immigration, the EU et. al.. By distorting or omitting facts to fit its irredeemably left-Liberal view of the world, it rarely if ever gives us all sides of a primary issue in a totally objective, impartial, dispassionate way. As a supposed national and international leader in the field of news reporting and current affairs, that's a mighty blow against freedom and the common good, not to say the profession of journalism itself.
Rather than compete in the market with other broadcasters and allow us to opt out of supporting it, the BBC uses money coerced from the public - under threat of jail if they don't pay up - to impose its ideology on its coverage of the news and to censor stories incompatible with its agenda.
In political terms this means barely concealed contempt for America and anything considered 'Right-wing' (like Tories or tax cuts), while conducting 'interview' love-ins with Labour MPs and Left-leaning comrades involving few, if any, difficult questions. And, as a matter of course, diluting or ignoring stories of major public importance involving Left-wing sleaze and scandal, as with the cursory mentions of the devastating cover-up in the cash for peerages affair when it was front page news or the waving away of the heinous abuse of public office by former Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott.
Although Prescott's raging affair with his diary secretary (at public expense) was the talk of the country when the story broke in late April 2006, it was only mentioned in passing on BBC bulletins. "This being a high-minded sort of programme we haven't focused on the government [Prescott] embarrassment today," said Newsnight's presenter Jeremy Paxman on the day the story broke, before effectively warning off some politicians he was about to interview with the words: "I don't suppose any of you are going to want to make any political capital out of John Prescott's troubles, are you?" As with so many scandals involving Labour ministers, only when the BBC realised that most people, including the print and broadcast media, considered the Prescott saga a significant story did it bother to get involved.
Far worse, of course, is the manifestation of this narrow worldview and supressive spirit in mocking and marginalising Christianity in general and the Catholic Church in particular, hiding the truth about the homosexual lifestyle, portraying pro-lifers in the worst possible light and stifling honest discussion of abortion and other life issues.
Whether suppressing gruesome facts about death by dehydration, essential for any informed debate on assisted suicide and euthanasia, or burying news on successful adult stem cell research beneath ceaseless outpourings in favour of unethical and unsuccessful embryonic stem cell research, the Corporation protects the Culture of Death from scrutiny at all costs. When abortion resurfaced as an issue in mid 2005, for instance, Newsnight featured a discussion between two pro-abortion campaigners - David Steel, the architect of the Abortion Act, and the feminist writer Susie Orbach - with no one to put an anti-abortion view. In October 2005, not for the first time, a group of 26 backbench MPs accused the BBC of bias in its reporting of Lord Joffe's assisted suicide Bill, calling upon the Solicitor General to "require the BBC to abide by its charter and to show impartiality on all issues of public policy."
As for the BBC's perverse take on religion per se, it was neatly captured in this newspaper headline of April 2007 - "The BBC, a gay Mass and the nuns' transvestite bingo nights." The report concerned plans to provide two million Radio 4 Sunday Worship listeners with a Mass broadcast from a notoriously depraved 'gay' church in San Francisco which, among much else, accommodates transvestites who dress as nuns and hand out sex toys and pornographic videos at parish bingo nights (that is, when they are not running naked through the city advertising a 'hunky Jesus' or being blessed by the parish priest before San Francisco's bestial 'gay pride' march). Amid protests, the BBC defended the blasphemous production as demonstrating "strength" through "diversity" by promoting "a Catholic community which has an experienced and developed understanding of the issues of being gay and Christian." [Daily Mail, 27/4/07]
The Corporation's anti-Catholic animus is deep and vicious. After it spent over £2 million of taxpayers' money on the infamous Popetown, a filthy animated series which mocked the Church and included plotlines about bestiality, Catholics delivered a 28,000 signature petition to Broadcasting House calling for the series to be banned. Scotland's Bishop Devine condemned the so-called "satire" as "irreverent, gratuitous, and a publicly funded attack on the Faith." Consequently, it was not shown in this country but was sold and shown overseas and later released in Britain on DVD.
The English bishops have often denounced the Corporation. In October 2003 they issued a statement condemning the offensiveness of two BBC programs aired right before the pope's silver jubilee. The bishops noted that a 13 October documentary on the BBC's leading investigative news program Panorama, titled "Sex and the Holy City," had claimed that "while the pope preaches peace and life, his teachings and the actions of the Catholic Church (in opposing abortion and contraception) bring about widespread poverty and death." Another report which aired a few days later, "Kenyon Confronts," was about cases of clergy abuse more than 20 years old and "regrettably persisted in using a single, uncorroborated source of proven unreliability as the basis for serious allegations against the Church."
A few years later, on 8 January 2005, the BBC2 broadcast of "Jerry Springer the Opera" exemplified the Corporation's extreme prejudice against Christianity. Act 2 of the show featured the character of Jesus Christ, identified as a coprophiliac pervert in what appeared to be a nappy, saying He was a "little bit gay". His Blessed Mother Mary was described as being "raped by an angel" and Jesus asked: "Where were you when the condom split?" The Jesus character swore and hit people, both the sacrament of Holy Communion and Christ's precious wounds were ridiculed. The BBC still claims it is merely a satire on intrusive and exploitative TV chat shows, even though its militant atheist author Steward Lee himself describes it as a "blasphemy musical." [Sunday Herald, 10/10/04]
This prejudice simmers beneath the surface, waiting for the least opportunity to explode into venomous life. Consider Newsnight presenter Jeremey Paxman, a man who reportedly earns upwards of one million pounds a year and who is regarded by the Daily Mail's Stephen Glover among many others as the BBC's "outstanding television interviewer of the past decade." In late January 2007 he interviewed Archbishop Vincent Nichols, who was proposing that Catholic adoption agencies should be exempted from legislation requiring them to adopt children to homosexuals. "Your rights have been protected but you don't want the rights of others to be protected," the hostile Paxman snapped at the Archbishop. As the non-Catholic Glover observed: "Paxo treated him like a member of some extreme sect, interrupting him continually, and sneering at him as though he were a half-wit. By contrast, he showed nothing but fond indulgence towards Angela Eagle, a lesbian Labour MP, who was defending the legislation with a Stalinist insistence that I found rather chilling." (Mind you, this was the same "outstanding television interviewer" who rushed around cap in hand to apologise to a miffed Peter Mandelson after the New Labour guru had been "outed" as a homosexual on Newsnight by journalist Matthew Parris, a fellow sodomite, even though Mandelson's proclivities were common knowledge. So much for professional detachment.)
The British Bias Corporation, it seems, would be a far more accurate title. Indeed, were the entire British Library given over to cataloguing the history of such bias it could hold but a portion. It occurs on near daily basis.
In one typically outrageous BBC Radio 4 programme aired in September 2005, the shameless James Naughtie (who on air has referred to the Labour Party as "we") interviewed former ambassador Sir Andrew Green, whose think-tank Migrationwatch campaigns for controlled immigration. If it were not bad enough that this perfectly respectable and representative group had been unable to get more than 20 minutes airtime on the whole of Radio 4 (outside the Today programme) in the several years prior, Naughtie proceeded to offensively and gratuitously drop Enoch Powell's explosive phrase "rivers of blood" into the discussion before allowing sober statistics published by Migrationwatch to be trashed without challenge for an hour by Immigration Minister Tom McNulty, even though they were based on Whitehall's own figures. Following this disgraceful performance the Daily Mail let loose with a withering editorial:
In the politically correct cosmos that is the BBC, all immigration to Britain however illegal or exploitative, is good; all those who question why this country has lost control of its borders are bad.
But of course it's not just immigration which reveals BBC bias. In its world view, eurosceptics are treated as though they were from the Flat Earth Society. And anyone who doesn't subscribe to the fashionable orthodoxies on progressive education, multiculturalism, global warming, the UN, gay rights and abortion is demonised. Middle class family values are despised. Diversity is a god. Non-judgementalism is de rigeur. And of course anyone politically on the right of centre is beyond the pale.
The one constant in all of this is a disdain for majority public opinion. The BBC is up to its neck in institutional bias. The pity is that the smug liberals don't even begin to recognise it.
'We are biased!'
Latterly, in fact, (and perhaps cynically, with their license-fee meal ticket under scrutiny) they have begun to admit it. To such an extent that even BBC executives and star presenters now confirm the truth of such trenchant criticism.
In September 2006 an 'impartiality summit' was called by then-BBC chairman Michael Grade (a telling appointment in itself, since he was once labelled Britain's "pornographer-in-chief" for dragging Channel 4 into the sewer). Hosted by veteran broadcaster Sue Lawley, a leaked account reported in The Mail on Sunday of 22 October 2006 revealed that "executives admitted the corporation is dominated by homosexuals and people from ethnic minorities, deliberately promotes multiculturalism, is anti-American, anti-countryside and more sensitive to the feelings of Muslims than Christians."
One veteran BBC executive said: "There was widespread acknowledgement that we may have gone too far in the direction of political correctness. Unfortunately, much of it is so deeply embedded in the BBC's culture that it is very hard to change it."
As if to prove that very point, in one series of discussions executives all agreed that on an entertainment show which allowed celebrities to throw their pet hates into a dustbin, they would allow kosher food and the Bible to be thrown into the bin, but not the Koran for fear of offending Muslims. The astonishing Mail on Sunday report continued:
The full account of the meeting shows how senior BBC figures queued up to lambast their employer. Political pundit Andrew Marr [himself a former Left-wing newspaper columnist before morphing into a BBC political editor with manifest New Labour sympathies - Ed. CO] said: "The BBC is not impartial or neutral. It's a publicly funded, urban organisation with an abnormally large number of young people, ethnic minorities and gay people. It has a liberal bias - not so much a party political bias. It is better expressed as a cultural bias."
Washington correspondent Justin Webb said that the BBC is so biased against America that deputy general Mark Byford had secretly agreed to help him to "correct" it in his reports. Webb added that the BBC treated America with scorn and derision and gave it "no moral weight."
Former BBC business editor Jeff Randall said he complained to a "very senior news executive" about the BBC's pro-multicultural stance but was told: "The BBC is not neutral in multiculturalism. It believes in it and promotes it."
Randall also told how he once wore Union Jack cufflinks to work but was rebuked with: "You can't do that, that's like the National Front!"
Quoting a George Orwell observation, Randall said the BBC was full of intellectuals who "would rather steal from a poor box than stand to attention during God Save The King."
There was another heated debate when the summit discussed whether the BBC was too sensitive about criticising black families for failing to take responsibility for their children. Head of news Helen Boaden disclosed that at a Radio 4 programme which blamed black youths at a young offenders' institution for bullying white inmates faced the axed - until she stepped in.
Andrew Marr told The Mail on Sunday last night: "The BBC must always try to reflect Britain, which is mostly a provincial middle-of-the-road country. Britain is not a mirror image of the BBC or the people who work for it."
In his January 2007 Hugh Cudlipp Memorial lecture, Paul Dacre concurred with Marr. The editor-in-chief of Associated Newspapers, publisher of the Daily Mail, said: "What really disturbs me is that the BBC is, in every corpuscle of its corporate body, against the values of conservatism, with a small "c", which just happen to be the values held by millions of Britons. ... The BBC is consumed by the kind of political correctness that is actually patronisingly contemptuous of what it describes as ordinary people."
In June 2007, a report commissioned by the BBC also attacked the BBC hierarchy for not reflecting a "broader range of views" in its programming, for being out of touch with large swathes of the population on issues like the death penalty and guilty of "unconscious self-censorship" on issues it found unpalatable. It also confirmed all the biases referred to above and noted that the BBC had "come late" to several important stories in recent years, including Euroscepticism and immigration. It said these were "off-limits" in terms of a "liberal-minded comfort zone."
The report further rebuked the Corporation for pandering to politically motivated celebrities such as Bob Geldorf and allowing schedules to be hijacked by special interest groups promoting trendy issues. It singled out the way that the BBC covered Live 8 and the Make Poverty History campaign, which was driven by Geldof, Bono and writer Richard Curtis. A drama about an anti-poverty campaigner, Girl in the Cafe, was also broadcast, and a Christmas edition of The Vicar of Dibley featured a minute-long clip of the Make Poverty History video.
A few months later, after the BBC planned Planet Relief, an entire day of programmes dedicated to pushing its global warming hobby horse, the editor of Newsnight, Peter Barron, felt compelled to speak out. "If the BBC is thinking about campaigning on climate change," he said, "then that is wrong and not our job... it is absolutely not the BBC's job to save the planet. There are a lot of people who think that, but it must be stopped." On cue, BBC chiefs denied that it would be a day about campaigning. Yet even the head of BBC television news, Peter Horrocks, said: "We should be giving people information, not misleading them."
Around the same time, at the Edinburgh TV Festival, Martin Durkin, who produced The Great Climate Change Swindle, a rare offering on Channel 4 which challenged the status quo, voiced his deep concern: "The thing that disturbs me most is that the BBC has such a leviathan position in Britain. If it decides that it is going to adopt climate change as a moral purpose, I have got a lot of trouble with that. I don't think it is the role of the BBC to spend my money on a moral purpose. If a certain idea becomes taboo it is a really unhealthy state of affairs."
Endemic liberal dishonesty
It is indeed an unhealthy state of affairs for one fiercely ideological, coercive, dominant corporation out of kilter with the mindset of the population at large to wield so much influence over British life. And we are not speaking merely of executive bias.
A survey of rank and file BBC employees with profiles on the networking website Facebook showed that 11 times more of them class themselves as "liberal" over "conservative." This compares to a UK-wide liberal to conservative ratio on Facebook of 2.5 to one and in London, where most of the BBC employees have joined - of three to one. Of those among the more than 10,500 BBC Facebook members who voiced their political views on the site, 1,340 staff put themselves in the "liberal" or "very liberal" category, compared with just 120 who were "conservative" or "very conservative." While 340 regard themselves as "moderate." In all, a whopping 74% of BBC staff who declared their stance said they were liberal. Separate research revealed that the vast majority of these either vote Liberal Democrat (49.9%) or Labour (38.5%). Just 3.9% in the liberal category said they vote Tory. [ Daily Mail, 27/10/07]
Perhaps this endemic Liberalism explains the endemic dishonesty within BBC ranks which surfaced last year? Trust in the BBC plummeted after a string of scandals involving the serial deception of BBC viewers by fabricated phone-in competitions - involving fake competition winners on high profile programmes - and falsely edited footage of the Queen which made it appear she had thrown a tantrum during a photo shoot. A subsequent Guardian/ICM survey showed 58 per cent of adults thought there was no difference in trustworthiness between the BBC and its commercial rivals. Among older viewers in particular, 67% of over-65s said they had lost faith in the Corporation. "The BBC regards trust as the cornerstone of its values," parroted the management in predictable response. The Director-General hilariously pledged to send staff on retraining programmes to restore an honesty culture within the Corporation.
Fortunately, however, not only rigged competitions and the obsession with celebrities, makeover programmes and reality TV have upset the public. The bread and butter of the BBC is its news service, yet a survey carried out on behalf of its own World Service and reported last December reveals that only 29 per cent of Britons now believe the BBC offers accurate news reporting. It was a lower figure than people in ten of the 14 countries involved in an international survey. Public news services in Russia, Venezuela and Egypt were among those rated more highly by viewers and listeners!
New Labour fuelled this rise of public cynicism. As Rupert Murdoch lackey Tony Blair himself admitted at a 12 June 2007 seminar organised by the news agency Reuters, his government paid "inordinate attention" to newspapers and television from the time he took over as leader in 1994. Which is an understated way of saying that his foul-mouthed spin-doctor-in-chief, Alastair Campbell, the former writer of porn fantasies and acolyte of disgraced media tycoon Robert Maxwell, hitched virtually the entire fellow-travelling British media network to the Blair juggernaut, politicising the Civil Service press corps in the process. He even set up a propaganda department to attack unfavourable coverage of New Labour's initiatives and bully broadcasters into submission. By manipulating and controlling the minutiae of news to this hitherto unimagined and sinister degree, he corrupted public life. From the outset and to its eternal credit, the Daily Mail alone refused to cower, robustly and relentlessly exposing the New Labour scam, to Campbell's endless fury.
The BBC is pivotal to this Big Media-Big Government stitch up. Only a brief tiff over Iraq interrupted its 10 year love-in with the government before normal abject obeissance was resumed with a fawning, uncritical hour-long documentary on the hugely controversial Cherie Blair, and three hours of prime-time TV dedicated to Alastair Campbell's published diaries, in which documentary the mendacious spin-maestro (who once had his veracity impugned by a High Court judge) presented his version of events without challenge.
Consider the workaday partiality of the BBC as observed during the 2005 election campaign. A relentless pro-Labour/anti-Tory bias dominated its coverage. Between 31 March, when Parliament was dissolved, and 15 April the influential Today programme - which often sets the agenda for other broadcasters and for newspapers - afforded Labour leaders around 38 minutes each to state their case on the economy, more than twice as long as Tory leaders who were given less than 17 minutes. A study by Minotaur Media Tracking for the Conservatives found that the programme also invited guests to rubbish Tory claims but left Labour statements free of independent criticism or rigorous challenge, interrupted Tory leaders far more often and ignored front page stories unfavourable to Labour (on postal voting fraud and doctors deserting Blair) but seized on reports against then-Tory leader Michael Howard to produce lengthy items on the subject. Shortly after, in late April 2005, "a BBC camera crew were found to be filming hecklers planted in a Michael Howard election meeting by the Corporation for a BBC3 documentary - but other party leaders appear not to have been targeted." [Daily Mail, 28/4/05]
How can BBC viewers and listeners possibly develop a considered view of the merits of political parties amid such flagrant dishonesty and misrepresentation. No wonder an early 2007 survey by the UK media regulator Ofcom revealed that almost half of viewers - 46 per cent - consider BBC1's news coverage biased. And although 54 per cent still think, frighteningly enough, that the BBC is impartial, this figure has fallen from 77 per cent in 2002.
In response to this gradual awakening to the great license-fee rip-off/betrayal and increased questioning about the point of the BBC's very existence, the BBC Trust has commissioned a review by researchers at Cardiff University to probe the claims of bias. "The BBC is committed to providing impartial news and factual coverage across the UK," yawned the chairman of the Trust's editorial standards committee.
All of this will sound depressingly familiar to readers everywhere. Especially in those countries with a major "public service" broadcaster.
The Irish, for instance, will recognise the Donnybrook "Dublin 4 mentality" of the metropolitan elite who dominate the airwaves of their national broadcaster RTE, for which they, too, pay an annual license-fee to endure unrepresentative, anti-Catholic outpourings. For their part, Australians will identify the BBC as a mirror-image of their own government-funded ABC. Effectively a talking-shop for consenting liberals, even token ABC conservatives turn out to be closet liberals. (Like one Michael Duffy, given a weekly radio show to address in some small way the overwhelming Leftism of so many ABC presenters, who turns out to be a former anarchist who declared last year that he would give his first-ever vote in an Australian election to the far-Left Greens!)
Pilloried by some as standing for "Anything But Christianity," an incident involving Play School, the flagship ABC programme for infants, is indicative. In 2004 the show featured a storyline about a fictional little girl with "two mums," causing three government ministers to complain furiously to the ABC's Managing Director. The head of children's television retorted that the segment in which the lesbian 'mums' featured "provides an opportunity to show children the wider world."
Such warping of reality is encapsulated in the climate change fiasco, where the non-debate boils down to whether global warming will fry us or roast us. As with the BBC, in this arena ABC presenters and journalists often display a hatred of even the notion of balance. Its chief science presenter, Robyn Williams, rarely has sceptics on his Science Show. He is so unused to listening to counter-arguments that he repeats all the Chicken Little 'sky is falling' nonsense e.g. suggesting that a 100 metre rise in sea levels over the next century "is possible", without the slightest suspicion he could be contradicted, even by his own politically correct sources - like the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which predicts seas to rise this century by 59cm at worst. He gets away with such wildly embarrassing errors because, as one commentator pointed out, "Which journalist will dare rebuke him when even the ABC's one conservative now votes for the Greens?"
In BBC-like fashion, a new Managing Director vowed in 2007 to act on complaints of bias and look for "further diversity of voices - ensuring the ABC is the town square where debate can flourish." A new show soon followed which would "ensure that on contentious issues of the day, there is opportunity for the full range of opinions and perspectives to be heard." It is called Difference of Opinion. Only one problem: it doesn't offer one! An old die-hard liberal, Jeff McMullen, was pulled out of broadcasting retirement to host the show and natter with three fellow liberals before a be-sandaled audience about the joys of "multiculturalism" or (in drought-stricken Australia) the evils of dams and nature-wrecking farmers etc. etc., without fear of contradiction save for one conservative voice on any given programme.
Commenting on such "barely token efforts at balance," Andrew Bolt, the one-token-conservative on ABC television's
Insiders and "invariably outnumbered by panellists on the Left," says: "I can think of only one conservative presenter in the entire ABC network."
And so, like the BBC-Labour nexus, the ABC is known as the Australian Labor Party (different spelling, same ideology) in disguise, with its presenters and celebrities moving seamlessly from their supposed impartial "public service broadcasting" to ALP service at federal and state levels.
Maxine McKew, the former political commentator who unseated Prime Minister John Howard at the last election, is the fourth reporter from the ABC's flagship 7.30 Report to morph into a Labor politician. An astonishing record not remotely matched by any other station. The host of the show himself, Kerry O'Brien, was Labor Prime Minister Gough Whitlam's former press secretary. Moreover, his fill-ins on the programme have included not only McKew (who just happens to be married to a former national secretary of the Labor Party) but also Alan Carpenter (the current Labor Premier of Western Australia), Clare Martin (Labor's former Chief Minister of the Northern Territory) and Mary Delahunty (who retired last year as a Labor minister in Victoria). There are numerous other Labor politicians, such as ex-NSW premier Bob Carr and various press secretaries to Labor leaders, who were ABC journalists at one time or another. On the other hand, very few ABC staff have become politicians with the conservative Liberal Party.
The stuff of Banana Republics and Communist Gulags, this Big Media-Big Government conflict of interest should and does exasperate many Australian taxpayers. Many more, however, seem inured to the corrupting relationship and passively absorb the bias unfolding on their screens with a shrug. Perhaps a British-sized $350 per year license-fee might excite them?
The mainstream media outlets, however, are universally partial. Which is to say that even readers without a local tradition of publicly-funded national broadcasting will find the description thus far instantly recognisable. Public broadcasters have a particular duty to be balanced, yet today they offer the same politically correct liberal-Left ideology as the major commercial broadcast and print media: acting together as one massive public-relations arm of government - promoting big government solutions to problems real or imaginary; all in uniform rebellion against the Creator, His Church and the natural law.
In 1999, American Big Media press lawyer Bruce Sandford tackled the same problem of media credibility currently besetting the BBC in his Don't Shoot the Messenger: How our growing hatred of the media threatens free speech for all of us [The Free Press]. He tries hard to be even-handed as he looks for the causes of the "canyon of distrust" and ever declining readership of America's daily newspapers. And yet despite his interesting account of the history of "yellow [tabloid] journalism" in the U.S., his conclusion that "There is no more 'sensationalism' or 'bias' in the media today than there ever was" rang hollow. "I do not think that bias is a big problem in American newspapers," a former editor tells him. "I think there are biased reporters; I think there are crooked lawyers." Sandford readily concurs, beating the drum for modern scribes. Journalists," he assures us, "do care. They have ideals, curiosity, a longing to contribute to a better understanding of the planet, hopefully its improvement. Ever buoyantly they research the human condition. Bravely they tell us things we would prefer not to hear." And, doubtless, some still do.
Several years later, however, Bernard Goldberg's Bias [Regnery Publishing, 2002] and its sequel Arrogance [Warner Books, 2003] shot to the top of the New York Times bestseller list, blasting Sandford's lame defence of modern media to smithereens and confirming in articulate detail the long-held concerns of untold millions of Americans. A winner of seven Emmy awards who served nearly thirty years as a reporter and producer for CBS News, Goldberg blew the whistle on rampant, institutionalised liberal bias in the newsrooms of America's big media conglomerates: "I know the business, and I know what they don't want the public to see."
You bet! From the moment that he first went public with an op-ed article in the Wall Street Journal of 13 February 1996, after failing to get a response to concerns he had voiced within CBS about slanted news coverage, the veteran reporter became persona non grata with all his liberal media friends, including stars like Dan Rather. "You can talk about many things when you work for the big network news operations," he writes, "but liberal bias is not one of them. My professional life was turned upside down. I became radioactive. People I had known and worked with for years stopped talking to me."
As a self-professed "old-fashioned liberal," inclined to support 'gay marriage' and so forth but open to argument on all such issues, Goldberg's testimony is particularly damning. Yet even though his 1996 article only attacked liberal bias, not liberal values, he was sidelined and eventually forced out of CBS within four years. When the article became a book and Bias was released in December 2001, it was widely reported around the world and Goldberg discussed it in on "about 400 radio programs" and did "about 40 cable TV" interviews across American. Yet even as their own viewers were turning the book into a bestseller, CBS, ABC and NBS News refused to mention the book or have Goldberg on any shows to discuss it. This, as Goldberg observes, is indicative of "how biased these people who say they are not biased really are."
With his up-close-and-personal first-hand experience of twenty-eight years on the inside, Goldberg describes an utterly delusional and arrogant News Mafia which cannot conceive the possibility that they could be wrong or that their overwhelming liberal prejudice might influence what they report.
The Godfather directing and perpetuating this liberal Mafia stranglehold is the fiercely ideological New York Times.
A news-gathering conglomerate at the vanguard of political correctness and viscerally anti-Christian, this paper, which 99.5% of the American people do not read, "is still the most influential newspaper in America," Goldberg confirms, "because the most influential people in America do, in fact, read it." Not only because its columns are syndicated to hundreds of local papers around the country, but mostly because "it sets the agenda for so many other news outlets, especially the [TV] networks where most Americans get their world and national news. The fact is, the Big Three news networks wouldn't know what to put on the air without it."
It seems that TV news types have so little respect for their own news judgement that they are literally paralysed until the Times breaks or confirms a story. One veteran CBS News reporter phoned his editor in New York to offer him a live report of the 1971 LA earthquake while the room he was in and the desk he was hiding beneath were still shaking. He was told to hang on for a moment. When the editor returned to the phone he said, "I don't see anything about any earthquake on the [news] wires." This reporter had beaten the wires - beaten everybody - but it wasn't in print so it hadn't happened. A few minutes later, when the story hit the wires, it became real news and the reporter got on the air. That is power!
The Times, therefore, determines what is news and what is not. "If the Times ignores a story - or a book or a social trend or an idea - then it invisible," says Goldberg. But what it deems an important story is carried everywhere, in America and throughout the world, with its legendary liberal slant, which is shameless. According to the late Reed Irvine of Accuracy in Media, the first person to trumpet and forensically expose liberal bias in Big Media, the Times' national political correspondent Richard Berke spoke at a gathering of the National Lesbian and Gay Journalists Association, where he assured them that the Times would remain very receptive to the 'gay' agenda because "three-fourths of those who regularly attend the daily meetings that determine what will be on the front page of the Times the next morning are 'not-so-closeted' homosexuals."
Readership of the Times is diminishing, but the influence it exerts is as enormous as ever. "As long as the rest of the mainstream media keep depending on the Times to define what's news," its former culture editor, Hilton Kramer, points out, "its power will remain." This allows the Times to distort reality on a daily basis: "to write the news it wants to see," as New York Times Magazine writer Andrew Sullivan put it.
Examples of this arrogance are legion. On one occasion it literally turned a prominent supporter of the Bush administration's Iraq policy, Henry Kissinger, into an opponent. The Washington Times pointed out that other lesser know Republicans had actually broken ranks, but because they didn't have Kissinger's worldwide prestige the Times simply "kidnapped Kissinger's name and reputation on behalf of its opposition to the President's strategy."
The News Mafia, in turn, mimic their morally and intellectually corrupt Godfather in promoting a systematic falsification of major social and cultural issues to fit their jaundiced worldview, damaging and destabilising individuals, communities and nations. We know about abortion, but take the early manipulation and politicisation of the AIDS virus, which in terms of epochal fraud ranks alongside the man-made global-warming con of our day.
The AIDS scam
Goldberg explains how the media co-operated with 'gay' activists to "scare the hell out of straight America" by persuading everyone "that gays and junkies were only the first wave, that heterosexuals were next, then the nation surely would demand that the government put all its efforts into finding a cure or a vaccine to combat this deadly disease.... The battle cry was a clear as can be: no one is safe anymore!... While AIDS was devastating minority and gay communities in America, while it was leaving Middle America virtually untouched, the news stories conjured up some other reality. [...] Despite evidence to the contrary - heterosexuals were not falling by the wayside like junkies or gay men - the press, especially TV, loved the 'No One is Safe Anymore' story. [...] The primary myth was that the disease ... was epidemic among non-drug-abusing heterosexuals."
"But after the virus was around for a while," Goldberg continues, "I started to wonder: where are all these straight Americans with AIDS? ... where was the epidemic... There was no escaping the fact that the news I was getting from the press and TV didn't jibe with reality." Statistics from a 1992 Center for Media and Public Affairs study confirmed his observations. Comparing the information on TV with "real world data on AIDS victims compiled by the Center for Disease Control," the Center found that:
At the same time, the media demonised queries about how sufferers contracted AIDS. "How did you get it?" was quickly designated a "hostile question" which might offend the media-protected 'gay' species. In the course of deflecting attention from the sodomites, a 1992 prime-time CBS news program 48 Hours even did a show called "The Killer Next Door." A "monumentally dishonest" programme, according to Goldberg, it purported to show how AIDS was now a daily threat in white, conservative, middle-class Orange County - a place, the reporter solemnly intoned outside a local high school, "where, like so many other places in suburban America, children are waking to a frightening new fact of life: the shadow of certain death." As it happens, "The Killer Next Door" was produced by a 'gay' man dying of AIDS, which might account for why only one young man with HIV says he's 'gay' and the others interviewed "either tell 48 Hours they don't know how they got the virus or they don't say even that much. And, of course," concludes Goldberg, "48 Hours doesn't ask. Because the wrong answers could ruin the premise of the whole show. AIDS, after all, is 'The Killer Next Door'."
Since scaring the hell out of people makes for good television, the 48 Hours deception like all the AIDS scaremongering embodied that heady mixture which drives the media: deeply cynical and selfish motives overlaid with self-righteous liberal emotion. "If I've learned anything after all these years as a network newsman," insists Goldberg, "I know this much: never - never! - underestimate how low news executives, and TV people in general, will go in the pursuit of higher ratings." At the same time, "journalists on the Left define themselves by their compassion... AIDS gave them a great opportunity to care, to show how compassionate they could be... It was journalism by sentiment... They could unite us all. By God, they could integrate America!" As long as they told us AIDS was now "everybody's disease," all of us would be equals. "All of us would be equally susceptible to the killer virus that, as we were so often told, 'does not discriminate'."
Journalists did the job of 'gay' activists and got Washington to pay attention. They doubtless felt good about themselves - but they lost their credibility. And worse: by hindering the fundamental first step in controlling a communicable disease - determining who is getting it and how - their disinformation campaign did no favours to those in greater jeopardy.
The 'gay' clergy cover-up
A similar history is related about the media's rank collusion with the sodomites to turn the American clerical sexual abuse saga into a generic paedophile problem rather than a specific homosexual problem, by covering up independent findings that 81% of the cases involved homosexual clergy buggering teenage boys. Goldberg recalls how the extreme 'gay' lobby group GLAAD was "issuing bulletins and alerts almost daily, seeking to steer the direction of media coverage and encourage journalists not to stray too far from the approved line that the scandal was indeed about pedophilia." On cue, "Reporters overwhelmingly did what the gay activists wanted. When I did a Nexis search to find out the number of stories in which the networks used the term pedophile priests as opposed to gay or homosexual priests in their coverage of the scandal, the results were stunning." In respective order, the references to those terms numbered - CBS: 57-3-5; NBC: 31-5-2; ABC: 30-4-3.
During this non-coverage, a "principled journalist still young and idealistic enough to be surprised by what she saw happening" told Goldberg:
"One day at a meeting I brought this up, how it [the gay angle] is part of the story we need to be reporting. And what I heard is, 'We don't want to go there; we'll be seen as bashing homosexuals,' and that is what's horrific. I mean, girls aren't being raped; boys are. And you have to start with that and ask, what's going on here? That's our job in the media. Instead what you get is, 'We can't do that. This is a group we have to protect.' We're so politically correct, we're so scared to say anything negative about a group that supposedly needs our protection."
Even if many journalists were driven to expose the abuse scandal for the wrong reasons, to use it as a blunt instrument to beat the Church, we can still thank them for having done so. Only their nuclear blast of publicity proved capable of moving complicit and negligent shepherds. And yet, as 'gay' sympathiser Goldberg admits: "in the coverage of this issue, political correctness took precedence even over the welfare of adolescent kids."
In the same fashion Goldberg quotes chapter and verse on how journalists accept and report as credible news even the most outrageously implausible statistics from the feminists, which all "fit the preconceived notions about women held by feminists inside the newsroom." They use them to perpetuate, against all the evidence, the myth about women and girls as "victims" and men as "oppressors" and, in particular, to suppress debate about the rampant sexualisation of young children due in large part to a society of working mothers (Goldberg calls this "The Biggest Story the Media Won't Cover").
Typical of this particular deceit is the media mantra that American girls attempt suicide more than boys, while almost never reporting that boys succeed three times more often. Or the clearly incredible statistic, still quoted in textbooks and bestsellers by leading feminists like Gloria Steinem and Naomi Wolf, that 150,000 women (3,000 a week!) starve themselves and die each year from anorexia, when according to dissident feminist Christina Hoff Summers the real number is fewer than a hundred (in any event certainly very low). Likewise the media picked up and ran with phoney stats about pregnant women beaten by their husbands being the number one cause of birth defects in the U.S, and depression supposedly affecting four out of every ten American women every week.
"With the media's complicity, I knew I could move any issue and make it work," wrote lesbian Tammy Bruce in her book, The New Thought Police: Inside the Left's Assault on Free Speech and Free Minds. A former high ranking official of the extreme liberal political lobby group the National Organisation for Women, she once phoned a newsman while driving her car to demand that he put a pro-feminist spin on an item unflattering to the feminist cause which she had just heard on the radio. In the very next news segment, she writes, "the reporter actually apologised and delivered the real story (that is, my version of it)."
Goldberg recounts the same craven newsroom collusion with all the various liberal lobby groups and the consequent perversion of the truth about affirmative action, abortion, social welfare, homelessness, working mothers, racism, guns etc. etc.. Effectively, newsrooms have been balkanised, with all the vested interest groups - the 'gay' caucus, the feminist caucus, the black caucus, the Hispanic caucus - pursuing "advocacy journalism" for their own cause, making a fair and balanced presentation of issues impossible. "On gay issues, for example," he writes, "they now revert to name-calling at the drop of a hat in order to shore up their own close-mindedness and orthodoxy. They don't give credence to the 'other side,' because deep down, I suspect, they don't think there is another side. Not a legitimate one anyway." And so the media relentlessly portray 'gay' activists as being on the side of the angels and their opponents as bigoted and intolerant. Full stop.
This is why all the talk of increased "diversity" within Big Media, whether public or commercial, is spurious.
In 2006, the BBC employed a diversity officer, on a salary of about £90,000, whose role includes helping recruit more diverse presenters in order to get white producers to think about minorities. "I see my role as opening up [the BBC's programming] to diverse talents and voices," she said. The truth, however, is that while the minorities will be diverse (except for the signal absence of orthodox Catholics, of course) there will be no diversity of opinion: whatever their ethnic, gender or cultural differences, they will all sing from the same liberal hymn sheet as the BBC establishment.
Nor will this liberal group-think be eradicated by the "Safeguarding in Trust" sessions mandated by the Director-General for his 16,500 programming and content staff in the wake of all those rigged phone-in competitions and the smearing of Queen Elizabeth. As the BBC's cherished "values" are purely relativistic, it follows that its vaunted "corporate culture" is simply a "dictatorship of relativism" (in the Pope's coinage). Hence, training sessions aimed at reinforcing those so-called "values" which inform and underpin the "corporate culture" will merely compound the moral vacuum - or "systemic failure", as the Director-General called it - which provoked the scandals in the first place. Only the Christian notion of objective truth can ever break this subjective circle of delusion and decay.
The same holds true for print and TV journalist training schools: liberal talking shops for fellow liberals which extirpate objectivity and thus the notion of balance at the outset.
The Colombia School of Journalism is the most prestigious in America. In fact, they say: as goes Columbia, so goes journalism education in America. Yet it is described as an "intellectual gulag" where political correctness rules and dissidents are punished in a way reminiscent of the orthodox seminarians censured and persecuted in our Modernist seminaries. In Arrogance, a graduate of Colombia informs Bernard Goldberg that only two of the more than two hundred students in his class would publicly admit to being right of centre. "I knew the school would be left-wing," he says, "but I didn't really anticipate the ferocity of the bias."
Commenting on the lockstep liberalism that defines the school and its absence of a shred of diversity of thought among the students or faculty, another student says: "It's a school for Stepford students. That's how they want it. God forbid you challenge them or rock the boat - you're gonna get it. Supposedly they believe in the Socratic method of give-and-take and free open dialogue. But what they really practice is the autocratic method: If you think you have a point, forget it; you don't. End of discussion."
Not surprisingly, no one at the Columbia School of Journalism thinks there is a liberal bias problem in the media. It is not, therefore, on the agenda for discussion, just as it is not up for discussion with the media elite, as Goldberg discovered.
Flight to New Media
In light of this cook's tour of the institutionalised bias of Big Media against balanced, factual reporting, one clearly sees that the ongoing public flight to the New Media (the internet, cable TV and conservative talk-back radio) as the primary source of news and analysis is not simply down to the vapid 'Infotainment' being passed off as serious news on superficial nightly bulletins. "The decline in the ratings for television news corresponds with the rise of the millionaire class of television journalist," rationalises one certified media mogul, Michael Gartner, a former president of NBC News. Deluded to the end, the Big Media bosses and their underlings just don't get it: don't understand that truth matters! Deprive the public of accurate information for long enough and they will hit back, as they have en masse in recent times.
Last December, a poll by Sacred Heart University [SHU] found that the most trusted national TV news organisation, for accurate reporting, is the New Media Fox News at 27.0%, with Mr Gartner's old NBC News outfit way down at 10.90% and its Big Media cousins ABC News at 7.0% and CBS News at 6.8% lagging even further behind. The SHU Poll also found just 19.6% of those surveyed could say they believe all or most news media reporting. This is down from 27.4% in 2003. Just under one-quarter, 23.9%, in 2007 said they believe little or none of reporting while 55.3% suggested they believe some media news reporting. By a three-to-one margin, Americans see news media journalists and broadcasters (45.4% to 15.7%) as mostly or somewhat liberal over mostly or somewhat conservative.
An "astonishing percentage of Americans see biases and partisanship in their mainstream news sources", said James Castonguay, associate professor and chair of SHU's Department of Media Studies & Digital Culture. "The availability of alternative viewpoints and news sources through the Internet no doubt contributes to the increased skepticism about the objectivity of profit-driven news outlets owned by large conglomerates."
Added Jerry C. Lindsley, director of the SHU Polling Institute: "Americans know bias and imbalance when they see it and they don't like it. When most service organizations strive for consumer satisfaction ratings in the high eighties to low nineties, an overall positive rating of 40.7% is dismal." And he added, "Americans know that it's just not that hard to present both sides and keep personal bias at home."
It is certainly not too hard for normal, God-fearing people. But it is clearly beyond the godless Media-Government-Business complex and its battalion of self-serving Stepford reporters. Insulated within the ideological echo chambers that pass for mainstream media newsrooms today, they find it impossible "to present both sides and keep personal bias at home." Truth and courage lose out to liberal group-think and self-interest every time. For beneath all their bleeding-heart liberal posturing about "protecting the oppressed" and "saving the planet" from those "intolerant Christian bigots"- it's all about THEM.
"I spent a lot of years with these people," writes Bernard Goldberg about his former TV news colleagues, "and you have no idea what major league phonies they can be. How they will support every item on the liberal agenda... until, God forbid, the fallout starts to affect them - or their bottom line... I have called these media elites 'Liberals of Convenience' because of how easily they justify the way they marginalize black people and poor people in the news coverage - and all in the interest of maximising ratings and otherwise furthering their own careers... when money is on the line, when their jobs and their hefty salaries are at stake, the liberal news media do what the money demands...It's nothing personal of course... just good business."
Goldberg's personal experience, applicable right across the rapacious media spectrum of whatever public or commercial hue, was neatly summed up by the late libertarian, acid-dropping journalist Hunter Thompson: "The TV business," he opined, "is a cruel and shallow money trough, a long plastic hallway where thieves and pimps run free and good men die like dogs."
Ergo, the hundred and thirty-five quid question: How much longer can I bear to watch the BBC elite and its monolithic empire wallow in that trough, cavort in that hallway and choke the life out of goodness and truth - at my expense?