Why does everyone hate the BBC?

There is a widespread trend in the so-called ‘blogosphere’ which consists of bashing the BBC for an alleged bias behind their coverage of home and international news. Sites like ‘Biased BBC’, ‘Busting BBC Bias’, and several others are dedicated to highlighting a perceived anti-conservative or more often anti-Israeli agenda.

Analysis of state-run news agencies is important. I have witnessed plenty of occasions when the BBC has taken up its ‘public service – unite the people’ mantle with a bit too much enthusiasm. Golden Jubilees and other uninteresting royal events leap to mind.

However, I have never detected anything in their coverage of the Israel-Palestine or Israel-Lebanon which amounted to anti-Israeli bias. Every news report I’ve watched over the last few weeks has matched Fox News for the amount of content broadcast from the Israeli side of the frontier, spending plenty of time talking to Israeli civilians in shelters, inspecting damage to houses and shops, asking for the opinions of shoppers and holidaymakers in Tel Aviv. All of this was done in a sensitive, humane way with absolutely no hint of malice or put-downs on the part of the BBC.

Of course, the BBC also showed images of devastation in southern Lebanon. Blocks of flats which had collapsed, two-storey-deep holes in Beirut, dead women and children. Several times, it was noted that the BBC weren’t allowed to enter Hezbollah-controlled zones. It was made clear at these times that this might have been because Hezbollah had ‘command and control bunkers’ or ‘armed fighters’ on the streets.

I think that the claims of bias against the BBC come from a small number of people who share a singular viewpoint, namely: Israel is naturally in the right, Hezbollah and Hamas are only terrorist groups, the BBC is run by lefties, all criticism of Israel is inherently anti Semitic. If this is where you start from as objective truth, then yes, the BBC will appear to be biased. In fact, you’ll probably find yourself grumbling about Fox News coverage too. Those bloody commies over at Fox.

The fact is that the damage in Lebanon was far worse and more extensive than the damage in Israel. The fact is that ten times as many people were killed north of the border. There is no bias in recording these facts. To trawl through the BBC’s news coverage looking for inaccuracies is a perfectly decent thing to do. But to do this with an eye to denying the facts of what happened, that’s unacceptable. The right-wing majority who shape opinion on the internet are used to being able to say whatever they like, accuse whomever they like and bash the BBC as much as they like. Sadly, they are biased and don’t have truth on their side.

Oh, interesting note: an official, independent report on the BBC’s bias actually highlighted issues on which the corporation could be accused of pro-Israeli bias. There’s no pleasing some people…

14 thoughts on “Why does everyone hate the BBC?

  1. A great post and well said. The myth of a “liberal” media is, in my opinion, as dangerous as lunatics like Bush, Blair and Bin Laden going around blowing-up the World. As long as the wool is pulled over people’s eyes by subtly biased methods of reporting, there’s no way politicians can be held to account and therefore no democracy. The liberal media are the most despicable perpetrators of this bias. You expect rabiedly right wing media such The Sun, The Daily Mail, Fox News etc to be guilty of it but for supposedly more liberal mediums such as The Guardian, The Independent and The BBC to do it is far more irresponsible and dangerous. People go to them expecting a more balanced outlook but more often than not do not even realised they have been coerced into seeing issues from one side as you describe in Lebanon.

    The BBC is an interesting case. Despite it’s highly publicised run-in’s with the government, a study by Cardiff University found the BBC to be the most “pro-war” of any news channel in Britain during the American-British invasion of Iraq. http://www.cardiff.ac.uk/newsevents/5309.html

    Most if its directors are establishment figures and the fact that it is still publically funded counts for little. It therefore does not surprise me that you see the same bias in the case of the Israeli invasion of Lebanon.

    A great organisation that does a lot of monitoring of liberal media coverage is Media Lens – http://www.medialens.org. They regularly highlight and monitor liberal mainstream news bias and there most recent exchange with a BBC editor was over exactly what you’ve written about.

    There’s also a very interesting film on the subject “The Myth of the Liberal Media”:

    http://www.mediaed.org/videos/CommercialismPoliticsAndMedia/TheMythoftheLiberalMedia

  2. I agree with you here. The idea that the BBC is biased when it comes to reporting international news stories is missguided. On domestic afairs however I think it’s a different picture. I’ve been alarmed recently at the BBCs reporting of immigration issues in particular how illegal immigrants fill gaps in the temporary sector, doing much needed and essential roles, but without the legitimate clearence/ documentation. They seemt to be taking an almost daily mail stance in their reporting of these issues.
    In contrast channel four news last night had a sensible and reasoned debate about the impact of Polish immigrants and the forthcoming entrance of Romania and Bulgaria into the EU. Sadly I couldn’t imagine it happening on the BBC now.

  3. To be fair, BBC network news (BBC Breakfast and the 6pm and 10pm bulletins) are increasingly ‘issue driven’ and populist. Today on R4 and Newsnight both seem to be rather more ‘high brow’. Last night’s Newsnight also had a decent report and debate about eastern European immigration in which the former head of the CBI couldn’t stress enough how much he loves these people working in the UK. Well, hardly any of them join unions, do they?

    The big worry for me is how the BBC’s network news programs have decreased in general quality and depth over the last five years or so. Rather than dealing with the news that matters, it seems that they now report exclusively on the stories in which normal British people are interested. Which is often something completely different. Bloody philistines.

  4. busy as hell, its like big brother! Trying to write my thesis. Fake names keep my life more entertaining, when all I have is 14,000 words on HIV.

  5. there is one thing the apologists of Israeli and American war crimes can do if they don’t like the BBC. don’t watch it…how about that?
    if you don’t agree with them in their illegal activities, you obviously hate jews and are anti-america right? gimme a break from this childish left.wing media propaganda garbage

  6. Certainly there is a bias! Where would there not be? Still the beep is very informative. Use your common sense and do not rely solely on one news source. It’s your darn obligation.

    That said, I want the beep to give me my tapes back! Suckers.

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