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Tuesday, August 06, 2002

Biased Broadcasting Corp

One of the few things I will miss about Australia is not having the BBC to kick around any more. But there is hope. First, I find that Houston's PBS station carries BBC World News (which is what I got in Oz) at 5pm, and secondly, there's a BBC watch blog.

As far as I can tell there's only one post on it, but it's good enough for a start.

Man, the Beeb. Possibly less biased than Fox News, but not by much (er, no, much as I enjoy Fox---I especially enjoyed it in Australia, as a little slice of America in my living room---they are not "fair and balanced"; at least, they're not balanced). The Fox News people shout a lot (I used to think of it as the Shouting Channel), but you don't have to talk loud to be biased. Distortion is still distortion if it's issued in calm tones and plummy accents.

The BBC anchors reporting from Pestholistan never shrink from inserting their own biases or omitting important information, and often overplay the situation so as to milk every bit of anguish from it, just like any cheesy tabloid. This reached its nadir during their coverage of the anthrax mailings. Their anchor stood in the streets wibbling earnestly into his mike about the panic sweeping New York, while behind him---right behind him as he said this---people strolled casually hand in hand, walked their dogs, fed ice cream to their children.

I doubted this "panic" because I didn't like the thought of Americans panicking---in a headless-chicken sort of way. I can see getting carried away and dropping a badly-placed nuke---that kind of panicking---but running pointlessly in circles just didn't seem our style. And it sure didn't sound like New Yorkers. I was reduced to emailing some people back home to learn the local mood (heavy concern overcast with occasional showers of anger, but panic-free).

But even before 9/11 the Beeb irritated me. They had a report on global warming that I must have seen thirty zillion times---always coming in at the same place. The voice-over said, "Even when global warming hit George Bush's home state..." The video showed the floods in Houston resulting from tropical storm Allison last June. It was a freaking tropical storm! We're on the Gulf Coast! We get tropical storms and it floods! Oh, but that never happened before the industrial revolution. When Coronado's men came through here in the 16th century, they reported tundra, and wooly mammoths.

The Beeb has a regular feature called Earth Report. The ads for it go something like this: "One world. Our responsibility. As [something] and environmental concerns ravage our homes[...]So we all live well today---who's taking care of tomorrow?"

(As you can see, I can't remember some parts. I always meant to write it down.)

No alarmism there at all, no sirree. Also, notice that it's the concerns that are ravaging our homes, not problems or difficulties. It'd be nice if the Beeb could find someone who could write in English. Unless they have a subversive mole who wants to imply that it's the concerns themselves which are doing the greater damage.

None of this would be worth a blog post if the BBC weren't still considered (by the uninformed) to be a bastion of fairness and accuracy.