This story, which The Guardian broke yesterday, whill no doubt fill all freedom lovers with fear. Could it really be true that the British government, the PM of which has openly called for more resources to be dedicated to ‘propaganda’ in the media, the same government which sacked the entire board of directors of the BBC after the Corporation had the temerity to suggest they’d misled the public, would really use the state broadcasting service to broadcast specifically anti-Al Qaeda propaganda? Surely not!?!
As any fule know, the BBC has been used for this purpose for decades (since forever, basically). In many ways, there’s not much wrong with it: anti-Al Qaeda messages are hardly harmful. But intentionally misleading people (like when they promoted the idea of Al Qaeda as some sort of cogent, identifiable enemy), is.
The BBC deny that this edition of Analysis was influenced by the government. So where, exactly, does ‘security correspondent’ Frank Gardner get his information from? I bet you a tenner that when he’s talking about people as difficult to meet and assess as Al Qaeda, his mates at SIS or FCO give him a pretty good briefing. And why not? It’s not like he’s going to go to Waziristan himself to ask Osama if he’s on hist last legs.
But it’s not just the ‘war on terror’ which the British government operates via the BBC. Most official foreign policy positions are mirrored in BBC coverage. While it is fashionable to call the BBC ‘biased’ (normally because they report the deaths of Palestininan women and children, the bloody Trots!), in fact the Corporation is inherently tied to the establishment, and particularly when it comes to foreign policy. This is why the headline on Radio 4’s PM programme yesterday wasn’t “Is Russia redrawing the world map?” but “Russia redraws the world map” – exactly the UK’s official line, and a far stronger headline than employed by The Guardian or Channel 4.
That anyone at the BBC or the UK government would try to deny what is an obvious, even understandable, state of affairs is hilarious. Almost as much as anyone thinking this is news.