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.