David Keighley’s BBC Watch: Accentuate the negative: Dimbleby’s Brexit obsession

This weekend’s edition of Radio 4’s Any Questions? contained a telling – and in the BBC bias stakes, wearyingly predictable – spat between the host, Jonathan Dimbleby, and panellist Charles Moore, ex-editor of the Daily Telegraph.

Mr Moore, in discussion about the impact of leaving the EU, made the perfectly reasonable observation that the BBC was qualifying every positive business story with a ‘despite Brexit’ tag. Of course, anyone who listens to the BBC knows this to be true. The exact phrase ’despite Brexit’ might not be used in every report, but it is nevertheless the hallmark of the journalism. Only Remainers and the BBC itself deny it.

This sustained BBC bias against Brexit now that, according to Nigel Farage, Theresa May appears to be back-sliding, urgently needs halting.

Fat chance, it seems. In step with an audience that was so impolite and Remain-partisan that it booed Mr Moore for daring to criticise the BBC, Jonathan Dimbleby immediately became both heated and distinctly uppity. He claimed that ‘all views were held’ by those who appeared on BBC programmes – Moore being on his show proved that – and then challenged him to provide ‘chapter and verse’ to support his allegations.

This, perhaps, it could be argued, came straight from the corporation’s Complaints Procedure Manual, the primary purpose of which is to disallow as many submissions as possible and to ridicule, name-call, patronise and undermine complainants. In action here were these classics:

a) Tell a complainant they don’t really know what they are talking about because the BBC output is far too large to be properly understood or encompassed (even by Charles Moore!)

b) Because one person has appeared from the ‘Right’ (or whatever minority view they don’t like) it proves they are ‘balanced’, because the corporation’s definition of ‘due impartiality’ is entirely on the BBC’s own terms.

The reality, of course, is that it is beyond the resources of almost anyone to track and analyse every single BBC report. So in this respect, the Corporation complaints department always has an upper hand.

However, on this subject and in this context, Dimbleby junior was on much shakier ground. News-watch analysed all EU-related business news slots of the Today programme between June 24 and December 22, the six months immediately after the EU referendum. Analysis of the 130,000 words in 208 relevant transcripts found:

‘. . . of the 366 guest speakers, 192 (52.5 per cent) were negative about the impact of the vote and only 60 (16.3 per cent) expressed opinions which were pro-Brexit or saw the post-referendum economic outlook as positive. That is three times more anti-Brexit speakers than pro-Brexit ones . . . The most serious imbalance was that only ten (2.9 per cent) of the business news interviews (from six guests) were with supporters of withdrawal from the EU. They were thus a tiny minority in the overall welter of negativity . . . the pro-Brexit sector of business was virtually ignored.

‘Between them, the negative guests painted a relentlessly pessimistic picture of gloom, doom and uncertainty, of plunging economic prospects, of a collapse of consumer confidence, rising inflation, a drying up of investment, job freezes, of a drain of jobs from London to mainland Europe, skills shortages because of the ending of free movement, the introduction of tariffs, and endless, complex renegotiation . . . This was a continuation of the Remain campaign’s ‘Project Fear’, beginning at dawn on June 24 and persisting until Christmas despite mounting post-Brexit positive news.’

Charles Moore has himself read this evidence. Back in April, he took part in a so-called debate held by the Spectator with Today programme presenter Nick Robinson. He quoted to him points from the News-watch report, crediting it by name. Robinson, however, was having none of it. He rejected out of hand – without any counter-evidence except that he ‘knew’ the BBC was in the right – the News-watch findings. In his eyes the Corporation had done no wrong, and could never do wrong, in this domain because, well, they were too smart and too diligent.

Such intransigent arrogance echoed closely Dimbleby’s approach to Moore on Friday.

The central issue is not solely that the BBC’s coverage of the impact on business of Brexit is relentlessly negative, but also that they have not since Brexit produced a single programme that has looked at the possible positive outcomes for the economy. Instead, they fabricate surveys that suggest fruit farmers will go out of business, and underline at every opportunity only the complexities involved.

The new, beefed-up BBC management board under the chairmanship of banker Sir David Clementi was supposed to sort this out. But his recent speech to the Royal Television Society Cambridge convention – remarkably, one of his first public utterances since his appointment back in January – suggested that, on the contrary, he is completely satisfied with current BBC performance. He declared that the BBC’s own Reality Check unit is ensuring and safeguarding impartiality.

So that’s OK, then. Or perhaps not.

David Keighley

  • TheRightToArmBears

    Aljabeeba receives some 20 million euros every year from Brussels. EU money does not need to be accounted for, no receipts or explanations required; it comes as readies and is pocket money for good boys and girls who say nice things about the benefits of living in the EU.
    Are the Heaven Born who enjoy this going to admit their treachery? Especially when they also receive six and seven figure salaries from the £150 p.a. extracted under threat of criminal penalties from almost every household in the country?

  • Bernard from Bucks

    There is an old saying that – ‘You can take a horse to water, but you cannot make him drink’.
    Years ago I stopped ‘soaking up’ anything that the BBC served up.
    Fifteen years now without a television and I only use the BBC radio for perhaps the weather.
    The only way to beat them is to ignore them, after all – a leopard can never change its spots!

  • Bik Byro

    Whatever they are doing, thankfully it isn’t working. The recent polls show very strongly that the British public want the government to get on with Brexit.

    • Roanoake

      And those who voted Leave are getting nearly constant reminders about the bias of BBC reporting. Does the BBC not think they would notice?

      • Alan Llandrindod Wells

        A second referendum was a point at the Labour conference.

        If anybody thinks our corrupt , disgusting, establishment, will allow the stupid, ignorant, British another vote they are wrong.

        They will wreck, delay, fudge, make meaningless, twist: anything but democracy, which the British, in their eyes ,are not fit to have.

        • Roanoake

          I agree. Labour though are the default enemy, easily overcome by a Conservative party with any kind of confidence, vision, and the ability to do what they’ve been asked to do, rather than tell themselves all sorts of comfortable but self-serving lies.

          • Alan Llandrindod Wells

            Corbyn is shedding, and sidelining, his anti-democratic, anti – Brexit, Blairite wasters.
            Therersa May has not got the guts to tackle hers, and has ex-commies as her closest advisers.
            What kind of Conservative party have we now got?

    • Tethys

      Poll in the Independant disagrees.

      • Reborn

        Since when does anyone take the Independent seriously ?

        • brownowl

          Especially someone who knows how to spell it!

          • Reborn

            My brand new computer has a spelling life of its own.
            However, my dictionary spells the word Independent .

          • Reborn

            I’m still waiting for your apology Mr Doctor of English Lit
            University of Blair.
            Been out at a Labour meeting calling for the destruction of Israel
            perhaps ?

          • brownowl

            I don’t need to apologise. You said in response to Tethys who mispelt it as “Independant”: “Since when does anyone take the Independent seriously ?”

            I replied “Especially someone who knows how to spell it!”, as in agreeing with you.

            Tethys has since corrected his spelling.

          • Tethys

            Correct.

          • Reborn

            Thanks for this. brown owl
            My mistake.
            I took you for an ally of Tethys, which is just short of libellous.
            Talking of which, I have heard on LBC Radio a recording of a Labour MP, at a fringe meeting (majority in GE 20 votes) accusing Prince Harry of not having a helicopter pilot’s license & always having to have a properly qualified pilot with him when in the air.
            Her name’s Emma Dent Coade & she “speaks for Grenfel”
            Love to see her in court, or better still, have a recount & just see who
            used postal votes.

        • Tethys

          Since before having a closed mind was fashionable.

          • Reborn

            Talking of closed minds Tethys.
            Why doesn’t the UK MSM tell us news like this from today’s Dutch press ?

            “‘Dutch firm Reining Transport has announced it is stopping deliveries to the UK as it cannot guarantee driver safety if refugees try to board at Calais. The firm reportedly has around 500 drivers and annual revenues of 55 million euros. According to the Dagblad van het Noorden, the firm based in Kolham in Groningen, stopped trips via Calais to England on 1st September due to aggression from refugees trying to smuggle themselves across the channel.”
            If only those nice immigrants – many doubtless 35 year old bearded children – could go & stay at one of Mr Cumberbach’s pads.
            Didn’t mean to call them immigrants, that’s accurate & accordingly racist.

          • Tethys

            Interesting story, and I see Mr Hes also said that brexit had a role in it too.
            As it happens I do think the english media are too insular & parochial. Its like the continent doesn’t exist.

          • Alan Llandrindod Wells

            Have any of Cumberbatch’s relatives been killed or injured by the Jihadi’s yet?

          • Reborn

            I wish no ill on his relatives.
            However, since Cumberbach promotes policies that harm the
            poorest in society ——-

  • Harley Quin

    We learn from Wiki that at an October 2006, BBC seminar discussing impartiality, Marr highlighted alleged bias within the BBC. He stated: “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 liberal bias.”

    But that’s OK because, as he also is reported as saying,

    ‘’And the final answer, frankly, is the vigorous use of state power to coerce and repress. It may be my Presbyterian background, but I firmly believe that repression can be a great, civilising instrument for good. Stamp hard on certain ‘natural’ beliefs for long enough and you can almost kill them off. The police are first in line to be burdened further, but a new Race Relations Act will impose the will of the state on millions of other lives too’’

    Could there be a better, clearer expression of gross left liberal authoritarianism? ‘The will of the State’’ indeed. And who comprises this State? Why the likes of Andrew Marr, of course, who thinks he and his like are the repository of all wisdom.

    Among those ‘natural beliefs’ is the entirely natural affinity of people for their own ethnic kind and their preference to be among them rather than others, evident throughout history and today in the many separatist movements.

    Still, at least Marr, like others of his ilk encourages ethnic minorities in this. It’s just the native British who must be guided by him and his like-thinkers. And have their natural feelings well and truly ‘stamped on’ by their betters.

    We learn from a Mail on Sunday report on 21 October 2006 about an ‘impartiality summit’ called by BBC chairman Michael Grade ‘that a host of BBC executives and star presenters admitted what critics have been telling them for years: the BBC is dominated by trendy, Left-leaning liberals who are biased against Christianity and in favour of multiculturalism.

    It reveals that executives would let the Bible be thrown into a dustbin on a TV comedy show, but not the Koran. As Marr has declared, (they) 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.
    Tell us something we don’t know already.

    • Colonel Mustard

      If Marr really said “I firmly believe that repression can be a great, civilising instrument
      for good. Stamp hard on certain ‘natural’ beliefs for long enough and
      you can almost kill them off.” then it reveals that relish for the totalitarian inspired by hate which is never far beneath the surface in most lefties. They have a revolutionary instinct, to vandalise and overturn in the deceit that they know better and can achieve better. All too often the baby is thrown out with the bathwater and what follows is far worse than the original targets of their grievance and spite. The hubris that accompanies that lets them ignore consequences or claim that their real or imagined enemies are to blame.

      The recent retrospective on Indian partition was all about the wicked British, disregarding Indian domestic politics, agitation and the Muslim-Hindu divide. But even within that superficiality of blame the Labour government was mysteriously let off the hook and the “British” became some nebulous, imperialist, colonial bad guy.

      • Reborn

        Your last paragraph is bang on Colonel.
        It was only after I heard the transmission that I realised its massive bias.
        As usual, the BBC operates bias by omission rather than downright lies.

  • LoveMeIamALiberal

    Nick Robinson’s behaviour is not surprising given his own anti Brexit bias as exposed by Guido Fawkes:

    https://order-order.com/2017/09/13/brexit-twitter-sentiment-analysis-robbo-not-neutral/

  • CheshireRed

    This is part of the Remain media-driven process to ‘re-educate’ the electorate and from there to influence public polls showing ‘people have changed their minds on Brexit’, which in turn are designed to secure a second referendum which in turn is designed to overturn Brexit. Balls to em!

  • StellaJ

    BBC programme makers really do believe that if they tell a lie often enough it will become the truth. The biggest is that “the BBC is impartial”. Trouble is, since the vote for Brexit, millions can see and hear that their views are either not being heard, or mocked.

    http://downloads.bbc.co.uk/bbctrust/assets/files/pdf/our_work/breadth_opinion/follow_up.pdf

    This Orwellian BBC Trust document begins, “The BBC is unique among UK broadcasters in its commitment to impartiality across its output. This commitment is at the heart of the BBC’s
    relationship with its audiences.”
    It repeats this lie several times, without seeming to address the truth about the current failure of trust and this relationship. Just as Dimbleby waved it away. They do not see it in their London media bubble and so it cannot be a problem.

    “The search for breadth of opinion lies at the heart of all editorial decision-making and remains a priority for BBC News. Each day in our editorial meetings we outline and review the big stories of the day and question their direction of travel.”
    Hmm, direction of travel, eh? Any chance you might just keep it simple and report from at least two sides of an argument – like proper journalists?

    “The Trust notes the progress the BBC reports in delivering breadth of opinion in its coverage of the European Union. The BBC cites its unmediated coverage of EU proceedings on BBC
    Parliament and Democracy Live; the very large number of MEPs whose views have featured directly in BBC content; and the considerable volume of stories, background information, views and links now available in the Europe section of the BBC News website. This is an invaluable resource which only the BBC offers in such detail. Recognising that the UK’s relationship with the rest of Europe seems likely to remain one of the most contentious issues in public policy over the next few years, the Trust requires the BBC to continue the search for the broadest range of voices and opinions that may inform public debate.”
    I know, stunning isn’t it. The broadest range of voices…and they claim they can’t find any intelligent Leave voters, only those who conform to BBC prejudice. As you say in the article, not many clear-eyed, Brexit-positive business people to be found on the BBC’s airwaves. Diversity hardly ever means diversity of opinion.
    And even if pro-Brexit voices are featured, they are almost always accompanied by sighing, snarling, interrupting, shouting down, dismissing, veering off, diminishing, deliberate misunderstanding, accusing, finger pointing, virtue signalling, temper flaring, assumption making and downright rudeness – with absolutely no self awareness from the BBC folk of how this is playing outside their gang.
    There is also a huge difference between giving airtime to diverse voices in parliamentary debates, tucked away out of the mainstream, and relentlessly pushing the BBC’s agenda on news bulletins and the News at Six and Ten.

  • davidraynes

    The BBC initial Complaints system is apparently outsourced to Capita. No complaint is allegedly ever accepted at first.
    Only when a complaint gets as far as the ECU (Executive Complaints Unit?) do BBC staff start to address the issue, even then, however strong a case, it is difficult to obtain any concession that something might have been handled rather better.

    They probably think it a sign of strength, it is in fact, evidence of an organisation in terminal decay.

    There is someone calling himself “Fraser Steele” who ducks issues and evidence, however well documented and reasonable.

    The BBC has become Orwellian,it is now beyond redemption. It should all be sold off.

    • Reborn

      If sold off in its present state the only persons who would subscribe are those who
      subscribe to the Guardian.
      Since the Guardian is a basket case supported by a charity & using unpaid volunteers
      (in training for a BBC job) I can’t imagine who’d buy it as a going concern.
      Of course the EU might care to buy it as its official organ.

      • davidraynes

        Bits should be sold off independently. other bits should be subscription only, the technology is there to do that.

      • Harley Quin

        The Guardian can claim a world record – for annual losses. £45 millions in 2016, greater than any newspaper anywhere. Its circulation has halved since 2010 – down from around 300,000 to about 156,000. Were it not for transfusions of cash from the Scott Trust, it would be a dead duck. Other papers have fared much better in the same period. The Times, for example, is down only from 508,000 to 451,000, although it too is subsidised.

        Where would the BBC get its editorial views and news focus from, if the Guardian popped its clogs? I have yet to see anything positive about Brexit in the Guardian, or Donald Trump.

        • Alan Llandrindod Wells

          Local authorities buy it for their useless staff to make into paper aeroplanes..