Friday, April 12, 2024
HomeBBC WatchDavid Keighley’s BBC Watch: We’re impartial, it’s just our staff who aren’t

David Keighley’s BBC Watch: We’re impartial, it’s just our staff who aren’t


Good morning. Here is the Not the Fake BBC News.

As usual, before we start, it’s important to point out that the BBC itself doesn’t have an opinion on anything, but our correspondents do.

First, the latest from America. Our person there reports that the fascist and racist Donald Trump, the worst President there has ever been, has risibly denied again that he is not a puppet of the Russians. Our correspondent says his denial must be untrue because Hillary Clinton – who he believes always sticks to the facts – said so.

Now Brexit. Yatka Alder, from our Brussels bureau, has learned exclusively that the bill for leaving the EU has risen to £200billion because her sources in the Commission have found liabilities that the UK did not know about. She has thought long and hard and considers that there is no escape from this rocketing reckoning, because Jean-Claude Juncker told her so after only his eighth brandy.

At home, Ark Measton, our crack home correspondent, estimates that the NHS waiting lists will rise in 2018 to at least six months for all operations. His sources in Momentum – and leaked calculations from Diane Abbott – have confirmed to him that this must be true because of the egregious pursuit of ‘austerity’. His impeccable sources – Jeremy Corbyn, backed by Lord Adonis – have confirmed the veracity of the prediction.

And globally, our climate alarmist person Dodger Horrortin has been told by Al Gore that 2018 will see ice vanish from the North Pole. He considers this to be true because those who disagree are known to be deluded morons – and on top of that it will be third time lucky for Mr Gore.

Fantasy? Maybe not. In one of its latest rulings, the BBC Complaints Unit has decided that a report in December by US Correspondent James Cook  – which openly called President Trump racist and fascist – was not a breach of BBC impartiality.

The reason? Well, in the BBC rulebook the BBC itself never has opinions, and the offending article was not actually by the BBC. Rather it was ‘analysis’ by Cook.

You decide. In the piece, headlined ‘Giving succour to the far Right, Trump breaks with American ideals’, Cook – having claimed that President Trump sympathises with the ‘far Right’ – said:

‘Did American soldiers fight and die on the beaches of Normandy so their president could promote fascism? It is an astonishing question, absurd even. To many it may seem offensive even to ask. But it falls to reporters to describe in plain language what we see, and promotion of fascism and racism is all too easy to observe in the United States of 2017.’

Here in glorious Technicolor is the hook-wriggling prestidigitation deployed by the Complaints Unit to defend the Cook piece:

‘James Cook’s analysis in this article was in keeping with his remit as our North America correspondent, part of which is to provide his insight into stories taking place there. It is not unusual for correspondents to offer their own take on developments that relate to their specific area and it was made clear that this was his analysis.

‘BBC News does not have an opinion on Donald Trump’s presidency. When reporting on his actions, we have tried to explain his position in detail and to incorporate a range of views about his policies. We have featured Mr Trump’s supporters as well as his critics and reflected his own response to criticism.

‘We do not aim to denigrate any view or to promote any view. Our goal has simply been to report and analyse events in order that our audiences can make up their own minds.’

Eh? The mind boggles. The BBC doesn’t have opinions, but will seemingly accept that under its label, its correspondents can convey their own ‘take’ on hugely controversial subjects – even down to condemning a democratically elected President as a ‘fascist’ on the basis of a highly tendentious and facile take on US history.

(h/t Is the BBC Biased?)

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David Keighley
David Keighley
Former BBC news producer, BBC PR executive and head of corporate relations for TV-am. Director of News-watch.

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