Thursday, 16 May 2013

Breaking news: BBC to be axed

Here's Johnny!

Some discomforting suggestions have been received that this writer may be a little too 'Shining-like' in his eyeballing of the BBC.  

As a reader here recently commented:

"I can hear the sound of an axe grinding. BBC-bashing never goes out of favour."
A small hatchet-job of a reply, in itself. All welcome, of course, and, as with this blog's title, treated with a little 'maniacal' mischief. But still the kind of sharp retort that BBC defenders often deploy in trying to make its critics sound shrill, vexatious or even deranged.

So, it's with 'sanity-reassuring' timing that my respondent's rebuke coincides with the posting of a notable piece from Craig Murray declaring that it's now "time to abolish the BBC":
"I increasingly find myself advocating political opinions I would have found anathema five years ago. I am forced to the opinion that now it is time to abolish the licence fee and end all public funding to the BBC. We should not be blinded by nostalgia; the BBC has no claim to impartiality or “public service ethic.” Nor, for the most part, to quality. Talent shows, reality TV and endless cooking and property auction programmes are not something everybody should be obliged to pay for, on penalty of not owning a television."
And judging from most responses to Murray's call, along with other online discontent, the 'axe-grinders' and 'Beeb-bashers' may be forming a very long and 'menacing' queue at the BBC's door.

It's perhaps apposite to have Murray, an ex-Foreign Office ambassador 'gone native', declare that the axe should now finally fall on the BBC.

Many of the BBC's foreign correspondents resemble in role something not unlike the comfortable Foreign Office corps Murray once uneasily numbered, appointed to far-flung corners of the nominal Empire to survey 'troublesome indigenes' and 'bat for Britain'.

The BBC's Jerusalem bureau is a particularly homely outpost, its 'field reporters' barely ever visiting the West Bank or bothering to chart Israel's daily brutalities and Palestinian suffering.   

A small few, like Jon Donnison in Gaza, report and sometimes engage as more 'realising' journalists, prompting concerns that their views might be 'a little too native' for comfort.

No such worries with those like Mark Mardell in Washington, employing every last loyal adjective to talk-up 'cool-guy partners' Obama and Cameron, ponder the 'options' for 'just war intervention' and wax lyrical on the 'special relationship'.

There's also the swotting 'bunker analysts' like Frank Gardner, Mark Urban, Kevin Connolly and Jonathan Marcus, all absorbed with their weapons graphs, rocket capabilities and 'war on terror' scripts, seemingly indifferent to the human costs of war technology.  

Up front, we see the likes of Gavin Esler, Kirsty Wark and Jeremy Paxman playing convivial studio hosts to war criminals like Paul Wolfowitz, Tony Blair and Alastair Campbell, never apparently aware of, or inclined to examine, their own complicit disguising of such crimes.  

And when really big events like the Arab Spring unfold, revered seniors like Jeremy Bowen and John Simpson are called in to give their 'expert, weighty analysis', very little of which, bias aside, is ever very analytical or informed.

Meanwhile, the appointment of self-declared Zionist James Harding as head of news, alongside other Israel-supporting executives, illustrates the BBC's vital capacity for safe-handed continuity in all these system-supporting roles.  

Within that network-preserving and mutually-admiring bubble, BBC editors and correspondents invoke their 'world-leading reports' and 'challenging standards'. With a twinkling eye, no doubt, to fellow insiders, rather than true independent journalists like John Pilger or Jonathan Cook, BBC correspondent Lyse Doucet recently tweeted in an online Q&A: 
"My "idols" are journalists who ask hard questions, never stop searching for answers, are bold and brave."
Those familiar with Doucet's own 'journalism' might recall her cringing interview with Nato General Stanley McChrystal, cravenly evading his past record and murderous tenure in Afghanistan. 

Long-time reporters like Doucet seem genuinely enthralled about their careers and experiences in the field. But with this comes both a blanket reverence for their profession and an attuned understanding of how to self-moderate.   

As Doucet imparts her wisdom on the issues of new frontier media and 'probing journalism' to the BBC Academy, here's a useful question she and her peers will likely never ask those in power: by what moral or ethical authority does Britain or America have the right to lecture anyone, any other country, on human rights or make any case for 'just intervention'?

And, perhaps, another that reporters and schools of journalism will prudently bypass: by what right does the BBC, funded by the public purse, assume the authority to exclude and marginalise serious dissent and wide opposition to those kind of warmongering policies? 

Yet, what of all those BBC programmes - drama, science, comedy, sport and other light entertainment - made outwith BBC news and current affairs? What about upholding that BBC 'public-service ethos' free from advertising and commercial demands? Do we want an entirely Murdoch-styled and controlled media?

Valid as these concerns might be, the truth is that the BBC is already corporatised, dumbed-down in search of ratings and, as many a brushed-off enquirer to its labyrinthine complaints process will testify, oblivious to serious public scrutiny.   

On one key issue alone, the BBC has completely failed in its public service duty to 'inform and educate': where is its leading commentary and wide scientific output on the massive subject of climate change?  

Moreover, should we be expected to fund, without effective choice, an institution that has served every establishment position since its inception, from its demonisation of the 1926 General Strike to supporting the invasion of Iraq, from the shrouding of Britain's black-ops in Northern Ireland to the breaking of the miners strike, from denying a humanitarian appeal for Gaza to forever placating Israel's apartheid state?

Consider also the BBC's current, carefully-disguised efforts to undermine the case for Scottish independence, in quiet service to the establishment-preferred Union. 

As witnessed in the coverage of Thatcher's passing and service, the BBC is the ideological bedrock of militarism, royalism and, as with Question Time, every linked symbol of our 'participatory' parliamentary 'democracy'.  

While BBC correspondents denounce and deride state media in places like North Korea, British state media oversees a process of daily propaganda so entrenched and unquestioned it subverts anything Pravda might have remotely hoped for. 

And with that establishment service comes the reciprocal closure. What other institution so riddled with dark scandals, corruptions and cover-ups could be exempted and protected from top-down purging?

Craig Murray's execution call might not be a pending reality. Viewers will likely wish to maintain a BBC that can still deliver decent, sometimes brilliant, output. But gathering public awareness of the BBC's institutional bias, war-supporting record and basic journalistic amateurism may be drawing many of those same viewers and others away.

And if that's taking the disillusioned to alternative, independent news media sites, so much the better.     

In that enduring, thoughtful and patient pursuit, 'BBC-bashing' must, alas, continue.        

Here still cometh the (very gentle) 'axeman'!


Anonymous said...

Good work John

Yes a lot bbc bashing over at Craigs site, and mostly all very informative stuff.

Have you see this wee video of Global research founder Michel Chossudovsky, where he directly names the bbc as war criminals

Michel Chossudovsky speaks in Kuala Lumpur (2012). Reflections on the criminal mainstream mass media

John Hilley said...

Thanks for your thoughts, beautiful Sakura.