The BBC: Liberal sacred cow no. 1
The BBC: Liberal sacred cow no. 1
While laughing at the American news media, many people, including many on the left, reverentially hold the BBC up as a shining light of independence and integrity in the dirty world of journalism. If the American news is subservient, bombastic and partisan the BBC must be questioning, balanced and neutral, right?
In reality the BBC has a long history of support for, and subservience to, state power, starting almost from its own inception with Lord Reith's collusion with the Government during the 1926 General Strike.
Taking the invasion and continuing occupation of
Greg Dyke, Reith's successor at the time, wrote to Tony Blair in March 2003 to defend the BBC from government criticism arguing Dyke argued in its defence that he had "set up a committee which.... insisted that we had to find a balanced audience for programmes like Question Time at a time when it was very hard to find supporters of the war willing to come on." The same committee, "when faced with a massive bias against the war among phone-in callers, decided to increase the number of phone lines so that pro-war listeners had a better chance of getting through. All this", wrote Dyke, "was done in an attempt to ensure our coverage was balanced." Dyke then admits to deliberately manipulating audiences and phone-ins to create an impression of 'balance' that in reality never existed. This truly is
More recently, the internet media watchdog Media Lens challenged the BBC to justify its claim that British and American forces "came to
Inspired by Media Lens I wrote to my local BBC television news after a story referred to British troops on leave from "peacekeeping duties" in
Am I the only person who is horrified by the fact a person can reach the upper echelons of this agenda-setting organisation with so little intellectual independence? Alas, this naÃ¯ve, herd-like mentality is all too common among the Corporation's journalists and is broadly confirmed by two studies concerning television news coverage of
A 2003 study carried out by
A second survey conducted by Media Tenor for Germany's Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung newspaper found that, of broadcasters in five countries, the BBC featured the lowest level of dissent of all, even lower than ABC news in the United States.
The stakes could not be higher. The journalist George Monbiot noted, "The falsehoods reproduced by the media before the invasion of
In May 2004 the New York Times and the Washington Post both printed belated apologies for their coverage of the build up to the
Perhaps, with all the evidence collected above, it is time the BBC did the same?
*This article originally appeared in the Morning Star
 'Dykes letter to Blair', BBC News, 1 February 2004, http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk_politics/3448797.stm
 Eduardo Galeano, The Machine, Znet, 27 April 2002, http://www.zmag.org/content/TerrorWar/galeano-machine.cfm
 'Bambi journalism - the art of professional naivety', Media Lens, 9 January 2006, http://www.medialens.org/alerts/06/060109_bambi_journalism.php
 Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives Monitor, April 2003 http://www.swt.org/share/ancientciv.htm)
 Email to author, 23 December 2004, http://www.medialens.org/forum/viewtopic.php?t=1111
 Matt Wells, 'Study deals a blow to claims of anti-war bias in BBC news', Guardian (Media), 4 July 2003, http://politics.guardian.co.uk/print/0,,4705454-110779,00.html
 David Miller, 'The anti-war movement accuses the BBC of having had a pro war bias; the government says it was too
 George Monbiot, 'Our lies led us into war', Guardian, 20 July 2004, http://www.guardian.co.uk/comment/story/0,,1264809,00.html
 'From the editors', New York Times, 26 May 2004, http://www.nytimes.com/2004/05/26/international/middleeast/26FTE_NOTE.html?ei=5007&en=94c17fcffad92ca9&ex=1400990400&partner=USERLAND&pagewanted=print&position=. 'Leading US daily admits underplaying stories critical of White House push for