Sunday, 17 November 2013

BBC Propaganda Technique #5: Answering Your Own Questions

Recently, the British government was pushing hard for war with Syria. In order to convince the British public before a major vote in parliament, news shows were busy making the case for intervention. This propaganda war ultimately failed. The people weren't convinced, and the politicians were forced to concede defeat.

Nevertheless, the campaign for war provided some glaring examples of BBC bias. In this BBC Newsnight video, you can see Victoria Derbyshire pushing for war at the government's behest. It's worth skipping forward 54 seconds because, at this point, she simply can't take it anymore. She starts answering her own questions in order to meet her propaganda quota.

From 0:54, the Turkish Foreign Minister is talking about how he hopes Syria will allow chemical weapons inspectors to investigate the recently publicized attack. Astoundingly, Victoria Derbyshire interjects with this opinionated gem: "President Assad is not going to let them anywhere near there." The Minister explains that it's a test to see if Assad will comply. Derbyshire responds: "He doesn't care if he fails your test. He doesn't need to listen to you." She then continues to answer her own question: "He may allow them in 6 months or 10 months, but he's not going to allow them this week when they need to get there."

How could Victoria Derbyshire know what Assad was going to do? Is she a diplomat? An ambassador? Or does she just have an agenda to fulfill? Her blatant effort to convince the British public that the only option was to intervene in Syria was, quite frankly, disgusting. Within weeks, her assumptions about Syria were proven wrong. Assad let the inspectors in, and he signed a deal to remove chemical weapons from his country. So why was this "journalist" trying to convince people that the opposite will happen?

Later in the video, she attempts to cast doubt on the effectiveness of diplomacy; incredulously saying, "Another statement condemning him?" as if military intervention was the only answer. Then, she asks him to elaborate on his remark about a "coalition of the willing" because that term was used in the Iraq War for a military alliance. Indeed, from 3:30, she is clearly goading him into presenting that as an alternative.

Her efforts were transparent and laughable, but this wasn't the first time that Victoria Derbyshire had presented a biased news show about Syria. Her regular pissing-post is as a radio presenter on BBC Radio 5 Live, and in one of her radio "debates", all of the speakers were in favor of Western intervention. In fact, I only found the above video after searching for that biased, one-sided debate. Anyway, the point is that her pro-government radio bias is presumably why she got her `big break' on television soon after.

The BBC toes the government line on every foreign policy issue from Russia to Argentina (see earlier post). Its purpose is to the convince the British public that what the government wants to do is right. There has never been a clearer definition of propaganda; or a clearer example than the exploits of Victoria Derbyshire.

Sunday, 15 September 2013

BBC Propaganda Technique #4: Misleading By Misquoting

The latest enemy of the British government for the BBC to mislead the public about is Cristina Fernandez, the President of Argentina. In their propaganda piece, entitled Argentina's President Cristina Fernandez criticises `elite' you might expect to find a quotation in which Ms. Fernandez actually uses the word elite. You would be mistaken.

The intent is to suggest that Argentina's president is a raging leftie who discriminates against the upper class and uses pejorative terms like elite to describe them.

UPDATE: A complaint was sent to the BBC. Three days later, and long after the article had fallen from the headlines, the quotation marks were removed. The following reply was issued: "Our reader has a point and I have now removed the quotation marks from the story. In her interview, Cristina Fernandez referred to "privileged sectors in Argentina," saying they have done well in history, kept the lion's share and wanted the country to go back to a time when workers were poorly paid. I used ELITE simply as shorthand to "privileged sectors". But our reader is right to point out that there should be no quotation marks around a word the president didn't actually use.

Note that the BBC retained their biased interpretation of what Cristina Fernandez said. Elite is typically a pejorative term for the rich, and its use would suggest prejudice. Her actual words "privileged sectors in Argentina" refer to companies that have received an advantage via slack legislation. This is a legitimate concern.

The misleading quotation marks and biased use of the word elite are no surprise when considering the tension between Britain and Argentina over the Falkland Islands. The BBC has a tendency to toe the government line on every foreign policy issue from Zimbabwe to Syria, and this is no exception.

The article ends with further slander. For example, the sentence "protesters have taken to the streets to denounce widespread corruption" could easily imply there is widespread corruption to protest about, rather than it being an unproven accusation by those particular protesters. The subtitle "Financial Meltdown" is a peculiar claim as well because the only evidence presented is a passing comment about high inflation. Will the BBC refer to one of the many under-performing areas of the British economy as evidence for a financial meltdown? I doubt it. In Argentina's case it is meant to paint the Argentinian leader as incompetent. The same tactic was used by the BBC against Robert Mugabe (see earlier post).

Undoubtedly, the BBC will continue to denigrate enemies of the British government with bias and propaganda. In response, this blog will continue to pose the question of how these `journalists' (pun intended) can sleep at night.

Sunday, 4 August 2013

BBC Propaganda Technique #3: Elevating a Story

Occasionally, the BBC will elevate a story into the headlines that has no right being there. This was the case on August 4th 2013 with the news that Robert Mugabe had won another election in Zimbabwe. To understand why this story was deemed palatable for mass consumption, one need only read the rest of the headline: "Robert Mugabe re-elected amid fraud claims". The sole purpose of the headline was to foster unease, skepticism, and dislike for Robert Mugabe (pictured). It was BBC propaganda.

When the election was ongoing, there was almost no interest at all, and if the other candidate had won, there would have been no coverage now (fraud claims or not). Yet, despite African Union observers saying the election was fair, the BBC decided to make this their big story.

The BBC's anti-Mugabe bias is no secret. In 2002 they produced a propaganda film calling him a mass murderer. When Mugabe's regime was in economic turmoil in 2007 following strict EU sanctions, the BBC blamed Mugabe for being an inept leader. The same tactic has been used against Castro in the American media. The BBC's anti-Mugabe slant angered the Zimbabwean leader so much that he banned them from operating in the country.

The reason for the bias isn't a secret either. Zimbabwe used to be a British colony, which means a large number of the British ruling class used to make a lot of money from sucking resources out of the country. This ended when Robert Mugabe gave Zimbabwe back to the people. He is a hero to many in Africa, and no matter how much the BBC tries to paint him as a ruthless dictator, this will always be the case. 

Getting back on point, the BBC has long been a servile supporter of the British aristocracy, as evidenced by their sycophantic coverage of anything to do with the British royal family or Lady Thatcher. For obvious reasons, the left-wing facade of the BBC doesn't extend to denigrating the people with the power to take them off air. Thus, the reason the BBC has been spawning anti-Mugabe propaganda, and elevating these stories to be consumed en masse by a largely disinterested public, is because the British ruling class have told them to.

Tuesday, 14 May 2013

BBC Propaganda Technique #2: Burying a Story

I was recently perusing the comments on my article entitled `The Hillary Clinton Scandals' and was mystified by suggestions to include a scandal that had apparently materialized in the last few days. After investigating the claims, it appears that Hillary was guilty of covering up information about the Benghazi terrorist attack on the American embassy last year. However, I had seen no reports on the BBC News website about this cover up.

I immediately went to the BBC website, but to my surprise, I found nothing. I attributed this to the story being international news, so I clicked on "World" - still nothing. Becoming increasingly incredulous, I clicked on "US & Canada". Surely I would find an article about the cover up here? Alas, not a word about Hillary and Benghazi.

Image Source: Frank Plitt via Wikimedia Commons

I went to Google to see if there had ever been a BBC report about the scandal. I found a 4 day old blog entry from North America editor, Mark Mardell, that may have briefly appeared in the headlines before being quickly buried. In the post, Mardell begrudgingly acknowledges that new evidence means he was wrong to dismiss the scandal when it first appeared months ago. One must wonder what the motivation for this initial dismissal was.

Despite the scandal being huge news in America, Mardell's 4 day old blog was all I could find. The Benghazi scandal is currently the biggest story on most of the major US news networks, yet on the BBC it doesn't even feature on the US & Canada section of their website.

One is left with the distinct impression that the BBC has endeavored to bury the story. It is unclear how far this blackout extends across the British media, and one must ponder the motivation for it. Could the BBC be pandering to government pressure at a time when the British Prime Minister is negotiating a trade deal with the American government? It would certainly fit.

Thursday, 9 May 2013

BBC Propaganda Technique #1: Selective Skepticism

The vast majority of news is intended to convince the public that something noteworthy has occurred. Occasionally, an event or opinion that is contrary to the political slant of a media organisation will become popular enough to demand coverage. Begrudgingly, the event will be reported, but rather than produce an objective analysis, those disseminating the news will attempt to foster skepticism within the audience.

Image Source: graur codrin
The BBC News website prolifically uses quotation marks for this purpose. An example is today's headline: Kurdish Rebels `begin leaving Turkey'. There isn't a quote that includes those words within the article, meaning the purpose of the irregular punctuation is to foster skepticism. You're supposed to ask if they're really leaving Turkey, and why they might lie about leaving.

On TV news, the same objective is achieved when newsreaders, correspondents, and contributors alter the tone of their voice. You will often hear a news anchor raise the pitch of their voice in an incredulous way. The subtext is "I don't believe this and neither should you". This is an extremely common method for inserting the opinion of a media organisation into news that is supposed to be factual.