BBC news or propoganda?

Last night we were treated to a long piece from the UK, Shanghai and New York to tell us the recession was global and originated in the USA – which just happens to be the government’s line. We were shown the example of a waste paper business in the UK that could no longer sell at good prices to China, because China no longer needed to make so many cardboard boxes to send toys and other products to the USA.

There was no attempt to find out how much of the UK paper price decline was the result of Chinese as opposed to domestic reduction in demand, and no attempt to quantify the volume of cardboard boxes used for the US as opposed to all other markets in the world for Chinese manufacturers. A sensible analyst would discover that demand elsewhere has also dropped.

Worse still, viewers were left with the impression that all other industries must be similar . Why didn’t the BBC look, for example, at the collapse of housebuilding in the UK? That has nothing to do with US demand or with China.

UK regulators and the Bank of England presided over a huge surge in mortgage lending and house price inflation. They then decided to deflate that, leading to a property crash. As a result very few houses are now being built. Many builders are laid off and building companies are struggling. That is not the global Credit Crunch at work,. That is the Credit Crunch made in Britain.

Pity there is no balance in BBC reporting.


  1. Acorn
    November 13, 2008

    John, spare a thought for those of us who are trying to keep up with your postings. Spot on the money you definitely are.

    Am I imagining it but are you "catching the speaker's eye" more frequently. I have noticed that you are getting angry lately, "What part of “no” does the Leader of the House not understand following the referendum result in the north-east on elected regional government? Does she not understand that the people of England do not want to be balkanised and regionalised at their own expense?". Lovely jubbly; more more!.

    As E-Justice posted earlier, the vote was 254 to 220. There are 650 MPs; 4 are Speakers; 474 went through the lobby. Where were the other 172? Do they still allow pairing so pairs of MPs don't have to bother turning up; or, are these abstentions?

    When will you get electronic voting, it would save hours of Parliamentary time?

    Reply: I have always been a talkative MP! I was amazed that Labour did not dragoon more of their MPs to be there yesterday. They lost a vote as a result – we won on not paying anything extra to Chairmen of these ghastly regional committees. A small blow for freedom!

  2. Mark Wadsworth
    November 13, 2008

    Agreed. It's 'propaganda', actually.

  3. Henry Crun
    November 13, 2008

    John, I've long given up hope on receiving objective reports from the BBC. Their bias is there for all to see.

    Only a week or so ago, Nicky Campbell on 5Live Breakfast was badgering George Osborne about whether he knew that Oleg Deripraska was disqualified from entering the US.

    I doubt the same question would have been put to Lord Mandelson.

    Then Hazel Blears has the temerity to wonder why bloggers are so cynical about politicians and politics.

  4. Bernhard
    November 13, 2008

    I was fuming when I saw the 10 o'clock news last night. Blaming all our ills on the US is a simplistic distortion that chimes with the Government line but fails to show the whole picture.

  5. alan
    November 13, 2008

    The BBC are quite disgraceful in their reporting.

    Take yesterday and PMQ's. Viewers watching the tea time or supper time news broadcasts would have thought Cameron mad. On the issue of Baby P the BBC mentioned Ed Balls setting up his enquiry then they mentioned Cameron. Completely out of sequence. The radio is the same.

    But you should have heard Nick Robinson on the Daily Politics Show……he suggested that Cameron kept going on about baby P and using his six questions to avoid questions on the economy!!!

    That was utter tripe and I have complained to the BBC. How can anyone report what Cameron was thinking?

    1. rose
      November 13, 2008

      Yes, that was the most disgraceful piece of BBC reporting for a long time and must have had many people infuriated. Sometimes a Brownite reporter can go too far in supporting his man and end up alienating the audience, which may well have happened on the Daily Politics Show yesterday.

  6. mart
    November 13, 2008

    Dear John, I have to question the clarity with which the Conservative Party are attempting to rebut the government's line on such matters. Let me offer an opinion that, if the Conservatives were confidently offering the alternative view, that the BBC might feel justified in investigating and reporting on the rebuttal.

    I had thought (lazily on my part, perhaps) that the reason there was no Conservative rebuttal playing on the BBC, was because there was no Conservative rebuttal offered to the BBC.

    It must be said here that there is a difficulty for the BBC in preparing reports on such matters. If a BBC journalist pronounces in detail on the veracity, or otherwise, of politicians' statements on such deeply political matters, they would be accused of trying to lead opinion. Which of course we do not wish to see from our tax-funded broadcaster.

    Thanks and kindest regards

    reply: that's why as Chairman of the Conservatives Economic Policy group I do produce an alternative view and make it available to all BBC journalists through this site!

  7. Derek
    November 13, 2008

    The BBC continues to allow the government to trot out the line 'of course it started with subprime in the US' like some kind of 'four legs good two legs bad' mantra. It's not ever queried, given they were in charge of the economy, whether perhaps if our economy was a house of cards dependent on low income US mortgagees it might have been a good idea to regulate the banks and do something about it.

    The most worrying thing about the BBC is even quite educated people swallow the guff it pumps out without applying the most basic critical thinking.

    As the, not so proud, owner of 150 tons and counting of baled waste cardboard nobody wants I can confirm that it's far from the case it's all backloaded to China. In fact that market peaked several years ago. Most is reprocessed domestically in the UK and our waste material, up until now, was recycled into takeaway food packaging. 150 tons of pizza boxes is a lot of pizzas that haven't been sold to British not American consumers.

  8. Rose
    November 13, 2008

    Thank goodness for Irwin Steltzer on Newsnight.

  9. Monoi
    November 13, 2008

    Whats funny is that they are the same people who would not stop telling us that the economic power had shifted to Asia, and that the USA were lame ducks!

  10. Bruce
    November 13, 2008

    Demand is important but by no means decisive. The paper industry is more sensitive than most to energy costs. So this looks like a bad example selected to bolster a simplistic diagnosis made in advance. Poor, but I suppose not unexpected.

  11. Stuart Fairney
    November 13, 2008

    JR, you know the reality of the BBC and they will never change. By all means let them behave like CNN, but just pass a small, one-line bill abolishing the TV licence on day 1, may I suggest

    Be it enacted by the Queen’s most Excellent Majesty, by and with the advice and consent of the Lords Spiritual and Temporal, and Commons, in this present Parliament assembled, and by the authority of the same, as follows:

    The BBC licence fee is abolished immediately

    Indeed, it might be worth mentioning it to them if you want fair treatment.

    1. APL
      November 13, 2008

      Stuart Fairney: "but just pass a small, one-line bill abolishing the TV licence on day 1, may I suggest"

      What an excellent idea.

      A lot of people might agree with you.

      Mr Redwood might agree with you.

      Unfortunately Mr Cameron, thinks he has a better plan. A £5 rebate on your license fee. How bold.

  12. Johnny Norfolk
    November 13, 2008

    The BBc are the media arm of Labour. They are one and the same.

    That paper report looked like it should have been on childrens television is was so arrogant as if we are all thick and cannot understand what they are talking about.

  13. Cliff
    November 13, 2008

    Another point the BBC failed to mention when talking about waste paper and world demand for the same, was that if there are no buyers for waste paper that we are all virtually forced to sort out for re-cycling by our local councils, then at some point in the future, all that paper will end up in land fill and the EUSSR will charge us punative fines for doing so…..Are there any other materials that we all sort out for re-cycling whose demand for has dimished. If so, are these too likely to end up in land fill and attract another fine by the EUSSR and will these fines force our Council Tax bills up even further?

    I watched you on TV the other evening on the BBC alongside Vince Cable and the Labourite, is it me or does the BBC hate you?

  14. Johnny Norfolk
    November 13, 2008

    ‘Mr Redwood is always on the telly,’

    Not on the BBC. I saw him on Newsnight last week and I cannot remember last time I saw him.

  15. DBC Reed
    November 13, 2008

    As a Leftie visitor to this site, I find the BBC too right-wing and reactionary; so maybe it is achieving some kind of balance in annoying both sides.
    It can hardly be accused of left-wing bias when Mr Redwood is always on the telly, not exactly reticent in putting his point of view.
    More to the point, the BBC has backed the" house prices will always rise" argument with any number of "property porn" programmes which has sidelined any attempts by old-fashioned lefties and the few One England Tories who remain to focus on building productive industries with well-paid jobs.
    Both (now all apres Clegg?) the main parties are bent on pandering to the over-mortgaged masses with all their votes by inflating the land values beneath voters' houses , but the Tories started it way back in the 60's and the BBC (and ITV) have backed the Landed interest over the Manufacturing Interest all the way along.
    The BBC still treats wage inflation as a disaster but house price inflation as a boon.
    It may be too late to apportion blame, but all parties should be seeking to stop land values going up again after they have bottomed out and the Tories should enter into any cross-party alliances to stop the boom and bust The BBC could then join a real consensus that house price levels are best flat as in the 50's and 60's.

    1. Stuart Fairney
      November 14, 2008

      "As a Leftie visitor to this site, I find the BBC too right-wing and reactionary"

      If that is a serious point, you must share my frustration to see your money, taken from you to promote "right-wing" views. In that event, I can only assume you would support the abolition of the licence fee.

    2. APL
      November 16, 2008

      DBC REED: “so maybe it [the BBC] is achieving some kind of balance in annoying both sides.”

      Since the BBC has been captured by the Left, one might expect a self confessed leftie to say just this sort of thing, pretending there is balance when it is clear there isn't. The 'Left' have long adopted the philosophy of Humpty Dumpty, a word "means just what I choose it to mean, neither more nor less". Hence; bias is balance, spending is investment, dissipation is prudence so on and so forth, ad nauseam.

      DBC REED: "More to the point, the BBC has backed the” house prices will always rise” argument with any number of “property porn” programmes .. "

      Yes, the BBC has been directly responsible for whipping up a buyer frenzy. Leading people to believe that you need do no more than splash a coat of paint on any old pile of bricks to sell it for a small fortune, is actually immoral.

      Instead the BBC should have been presenting programs to educate viewers in finance. That might have fallen with in the so called "public service broadcasting" remit, but instead we get Jonathan Ross.

      1. DBC Reed
        November 16, 2008

        The problem for those who attack the BBc for alleged left-wing bias is summarised by the words "Rupert Murdoch" owner of Newscorp,The Sun,Times,S.Times,News of World and commercial television channels.
        It is all very noble and praisworthy to assail the BBC monopoly,but if you destroy the BBc, the vacuum may be filled by a billionaire Oxford educated Australian emigre with American citizenship who appears to decide British elections.
        Neither am I convinced of the BBC monopoly.Sitting zapper at the ready in front of my big-screen television (compulsory to left wing slackers), I find the bill of fare replete with the intellectually nourishing shopping channels, Dave (always BBC Top Gear repeats/not politically correct) plus several hundred other cheap-jack commercial stations.
        If it was n't for the BBC ,there'd be nothing to watch. Unlike those who say they never see John Redwood on telly, I enjoyed his going ballistic with Geoffrey Robinson on Newsnight, but the danger is that he's been type-cast as a de-regulator who's likely to lose it when so accused ,
        livening up rather dull BBC programmes and making the job of producers, whose private education has turned them off private provision completely,
        very much easier.
        In an age when a Republican Government is buying shares in banks and a Democrat president-elect is thinking of saving GM,Ford etc , it may be that there has been a political sea-change and that the tide is now running in favour of statist institutions.

        1. APL
          November 17, 2008

          DBC REED: "The problem for those who attack the BBc for alleged left-wing bias is summarised by the words “Rupert Murdoch” owner of Newscorp."

          This has to do with the BBC how? I'll play the game anyway.
          1. I don't buy any of Mr Murdoch's products.
          2. No one else is obliged to either

          Are you saying since Mr Murdoch has a party line ( I don't actually know if he does, but for the sake of argument lets say he does ) then the BBC must too, otherwise the lefties will feel left out?

          What grounds do left of spectrum folk get to say the BBC should be left leaning because the Murdoch empire is supposedly to the right?

          After all, you have The Guardian (Lets not mention the Scot trust), The Independent, The Mirror, The Observer, lately the left seem to have infiltrated The Telegraph too. That leaves the Times and the Sun, the only noteworthy item in The Sun is page three.

          DBC REED: "'Rupert Murdoch' .. [snip] .. the vacuum may be filled by a billionaire Oxford educated Australian emigre with American citizenship who appears to decide British elections.

          Well then judging by the result of the last three elections Rupert Murdoch must be a fully paid up member of the Labour party. Can we spike that ridiculous claim now? The Sun manages to catch the *prevailing mood* then prints the corresponding headline. "We won it for the Tories", well the last time the Sun printed a headline like must be Oh, a decade ago, perhaps two. The left have fastened on to it and wheel it out any time their little game looks like being exposed.

          DBC REED: "Sitting zapper at the ready in front of my big-screen television (compulsory to left wing slackers),"

          Glad to see you have embraced the benefits of Capitalism.

          So you don't like 'DAVE' nor the shopping channels. Guess what, have zapper, then zap!

          DBC REED: "John Redwood on telly, I enjoyed his going ballistic with Geoffrey Robinson on Newsnight, but the danger is that he’s been type-cast as a de-regulator who’s likely to lose it when so accused .. "

          Only if, from the perspective of the interviewer, the questions about Mr Redwoods position on 'de regulation' are framed in advance in the manner, "when did you stop beating your wife".

          DBC REED: "livening up rather dull BBC programmes and making the job of producers,"

          They are only dull because there is no true exchange of ideas. Take for example a generic Question time panel. There is that old lefty Dimbleby of course, then you might have a Friends of the Earth spokesman, someone from the Liberal party, Someone from the Labour party a token Tory, for example Ken Clarke the result? A discussion among lefties centering around should we allow tax payers to keep quite so much of their money and how the solution to every problem is to take more and spend it in as reckless a manner as possible.

          Talk about four wolves and a sheep discussing dinner!

          DBC REED: "whose private education has turned them off private provision completely, very much easier."

          You can lead a horse to water, but you can't make it drink!
          Take Polly Toynbe, one such, she is always banging on, and on about how everyone would like to pay more tax. Polly dear, I have news for you. Get you check book out and pay more tax. Go on dear, just do it!

          Anyway, you like the BBC so much, you won't mind subscribing to the service they offer when the licence fee has been abolished? If they have a shortfall, perhaps Polly will get her check book out to make up the difference. For once, lets see a Leftie put his/her money (rather than someone else's money ) where his/her mouth is.

  16. mikestallard
    November 13, 2008

    Of course the BBC is utterly "liberal".
    The question is "Why?"
    I think that most of the political interviewers are "of a certain age". they were just rising through the ranks when the John Major's government fell and it became "cool" to be horrid to ministers like Michael Howard, and utterly in favour of young, Obamalike Tony Blair who had, like them, a guitar.
    Now, however, they are at the top of their career and still obeying the lessons which they learned in the mid 1990s.
    AND the head of the BBC is, natch, another Labour apparatchik.
    With the credit crunch, they, and indeed the whole BBC, are now beginning to look like yesterdays guys. Jeremy even is going grey. They have – would you believe it? – even stopped being funny! These were the people who produced the funniest programmes I have even seen.
    I feel a "sea change" coming on as the licence fee gets more and more questioned (cp today's Telegraph letters page).

  17. michael, islington
    November 14, 2008

    Oh bugger. I quibble with a lot you say.

    But I watched the programme and thought a fair point was being made. Until your blog.

    You're right.

    It is prejudicial reporting.

  18. Richard
    November 14, 2008

    Martha Carney to Ruth Kelly, World at One on 12/11;

    "When you were at the Treasury you couldn't possibly have foreseen a downturn like this?"

    – the opening gambit in a 'political' discussion with MP's from the three main parties.

    I cannot imagine Humphries, Naughtie, or even Carney opening in such an easy manner if it were to a (ruling) Tory spokesperson in charge of such a calamitous situation.

    1. Stuart Fairney
      November 20, 2008

      I don't claim to be as intelligent as Ruth Kelly, or anyone else in the treasury or in the BBC, but I was able to foresee the downturn, and was able to dump the modest property portfolio in good time to be debt free and modestly in cash. Now if I can, I'm wondering how the government ministers and treasury officials (all of whom I employ on decent salaries) couldn't? I'm also keen to know how Martha (whom I again employ) regards this question as in any way a discharge of charter obligations?

  19. sandbank
    November 15, 2008

    Agreed. It shows how the liberal-left "commentariat" now hold sway in the BBC.

    I wonder what action – if any – the BBC is now going to take against the presenter (Huw Edwards) and the producers of a BBC Wales documentary on devolution – "Wales: Power And The People – Back to the Future"?

    The BBC's own editorial complaints unit ruled this week (see Daily Telegraph) that this documentary breached impartiality guidelines by "not seeking a balanced range of views".

    The programme set out to "examine" what it claimed to be "Wales's relationship with Lady Thatcher, and the changes that took place between 1979, when the country voted against devolution, and 1997, when it voted for the National Assembly"

    The BBC Editorial Standards Committee has now upheld a complaint that Lady Thatcher was not treated "fairly or unbiasedly" in the programme. Hardly a surprising finding in the light of the fact that "hardly any" of the contributors chosen to take part in the documentary spoke about her in a positive light.

    The committee reporter that "A number of contributors expressed themselves in terms which were explicitly or implicitly critical of the Thatcher Government, while only one (Lord Peter Walker) could be regarded as speaking favourably about Mrs Thatcher or her approach to Wales."

    The committee added that the lack of balance was accentuated at the end of the documentary when the Conservatives were seen in "an unnecessarily negative light". Among them is left-wing playwright Sir David Hare who says he's been recruited to provide what the BBC calls "balance".

  20. adam
    November 20, 2008

    I saw this report. I wondered why it was necessary to have someone on location in each of the three countries. No expense spared at the beeb.

    Given that they are public sector seems strange that they are not yet embracing the 80% carbon cut target.

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