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A Fox In The Living Room

SackNick-2xj7xaxkcsq6o2zqc1p6veFrom the moment the Conservative Party was elected in 2010, certain elements within the government have been on a mission to destroy the BBC.

Their agenda is plainly ideological.

They don’t think Britain should have a state media service, and would rather the Fourth Estate was in the hands of corporate interests which, coincidentally, share commonality with theirs.

What’s more, some of its MP’s have accused the BBC of being inherently biased in favour of the left.

I have never believed that, but until recently I would have defended the BBC whatever it took.

I did believe this country needed a state broadcaster, with a public service charter. It was important that it be taxpayer funded, to keep it free of any obligation to chase ratings or to bend to the whims of business interests. I thought it was important in order to counter the biases expressed in our other national media outlets.

The independence referendum has seriously affected my view of the Corporation. I feel I can no longer trust what I hear or see on the channels.

The conduct of its political correspondents, and the editorial policy it pursued all the way through the campaign, has shattered an already frayed public confidence in an organisation that was once a great institution.

The BBC shamed itself during this debate, at a time when it was already reeling from a series of scandalous revelations about a cover-up culture involving, of all things, child abusers within its ranks.

As a result, the public’s faith was already wavering. Here, in Scotland, it has crashed completely.

The last 12 months have revealed an appalling institutional arrogance at the heart of the Beeb. The corporation with a public service charter has consistently behaved in a manner that disgraces that commitment.

It has allowed pedophiles to operate inside its walls. It continues to make excuses for the narrow minded bigot and loose cannon Jeremy Clarkson, who, frankly, should have had his contract torn up and binned years ago. It has relationships with politicians of all parties which are way too cosy for an impartial broadcaster, and its ranks are infected with those who’ve served in political posts.

The BBC is tainted by all this and more.

Whereas Aunty Beeb once had a very decent, upright image, now it is more akin to that of the boozy floozy down the local pub, the one with the reputation for bed-hopping like a Liberal Democrat and with morals as low as an alley cat.

Here, in Scotland, their patina of respectability and probity has been torn away completely. Their image is now that of shameless liars. They’ve been revealed as nakedly biased, shockingly untruthful and possessed of a collective mind-set that views the ordinary license fee payer as a mug willing to swallow anything.

Their conduct in this campaign was so deplorable it saw protests outside their headquarters, and this wasn’t just a couple of dozen guys in football tops with badly spelled slogans scrawled across old bed sheets.

This was thousands of ordinary citizens – the people who pay for every single program it produces– demonstrating about being told bare-faced lies and force fed spin masquerading as “information.”

What prompted the protests was, of course, a media conference with the First Minister, where he was actually heckled by Nick Robinson, their political editor and a former Conservative Party youth chair. Salmond handled him with measured ease, swatting aside his attacks with the ease of a man brushing away a fly.

Those who saw it live were stunned, but even more so when the BBC edited out most of the clip, showing, in the bulletins that followed, only what they wanted to.

It was the miracle of YouTube which came to the Yes campaigns aid, as the full exchange was uploaded and shared to tens of thousands, playing repeatedly on Facebook pages and over Twitter.

Eventually, over half a million people saw what had passed between the two men, and we all knew the nature of what we’d seen.

We’d witnessed a political journalist asking a loaded, biased question, getting slapped down for it and being made to look ridiculous and shamelessly partisan, not to mention extraordinarily petty, in the aftermath.

Yet the BBC spun it as Alex Salmond having been rattled under questioning, and they accused the First Minister of failing to answer, although the YouTube clip clearly showed that he very definitely had, and clearly and concisely.

After a campaign in which the BBC had already faced accusations of bias in favour of the No campaign, it was the final straw and the protest was hastily organised on social media.

In keeping with this, a lot of the protesters chose to shoot their own footage, in understanding of how the truth might be spun. Much of it is still available on YouTube, and it demonstrates clearly that it was a wholeheartedly good natured event.

To make matters worse, the BBC’s reaction to the protest could not have been more ill-judged or offensive. They accused the protesters of attempting to intimidate their journalists, and they followed up this ludicrous assertion by emailing all of the people in their employ and asking them to report instances where they felt threatened.

The BBC was, in effect, giving its people license to invent news, with a political purpose.

They appear to have no idea how serious, how damning, that is.

It is impossible to watch Robinson’s report on the Salmond incident without feeling that your intelligence is being insulted. Worse, you cannot read the BBC’s defence of that report – which generated many thousands of complaints – and not feel that they’ve abrogated their mandate to inform the public in favour of misleading us instead.

The BBC is in violation of its own charter. No-one inside the organisation cares, but the consequences could yet be far reaching.

The coalition government almost granted Rupert Murdoch a monopoly with which to take on the power of the state broadcaster.

There is, amongst the right wing press, a visceral loathing of the BBC which they make no effort to hide. Neither do significant numbers of Tory MP’s.

If Cameron is elected with a majority then large scale reforms of the organisation cannot be ruled out, and they will not be designed to strengthen its position. It is not inconceivable that there may be another Bill which gives Murdoch an organisation to rival them, even as the license fee comes under attack from the Tory front bench.

Once upon a time, the BBC could count on a nationwide progressive alliance to support it against such moves. That alliance is now fractured, perhaps broken.

In Scotland, there is no longer trust in the organisation, and even less respect for it. If they are relying on an outpouring of public support, and affection for what the BBC used to be, they are going to find it in extremely short supply.

In the face of its enemies on the right, the one thing the BBC was always able to count on was its friends on the left, who were concerned that the day might come when Sky or another broadcaster with a conservative agenda might gain a positon of market strength that allowed them to tip the whole of the national debate in a direction of its own choosing.

In short, our support for the BBC was predicated on our fear of a British Fox News, an organisation that didn’t report facts as much as it offered a grotesquely biased interpretation of them.

During the Scottish referendum campaign, what we witnessed was the “impartial national broadcaster” doing just that, and it was a sickening sight.

We really ought to have expected it. The Corporation was only acting like that which it is … the media arm of the British state, and this isn’t a new thing for them but a role they’ve played, fairly consistently, throughout history, especially in the conflict in Ireland, where they frequently lied and spread misinformation on behalf of their political masters.

Most people don’t realise the role the BBC has played in protecting the power of the state and all the vested interests that depend on it. Indeed, I forgot it myself despite a long memory, a keen interest in how the state operates and a media degree to back it up.

It’s easy to forget all this when faced with the hostile intent of the Tory Party and the Murdoch press, but all this time we were defending something corrupt, and that crystalised perfectly over the course of what we saw in Scotland.

A lot of Scots might not have realised it, but during all those years when we fretted about Sky and Murdoch and what his intentions might be, there was a Fox in our living room the whole time.

Our eyes are open now. Many of us are awake for the first time, and see things for what they are. Others have been given a rude reminder of something we ought not to have forgotten in the first place.

We will forget it again at our peril.

(We are putting together the first issue of our proposed magazine. You can support this site, and that work, by sharing this article on social media. Additionally, you can help along our plans for the future by making a donation and urging as many people as possible to join our mailing list. This fight has only just started.)

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2 comments to “A Fox In The Living Room”
  1. I have been aware of the BBC’S role as a government organ since the miners strike. I was studying in Germany in 1984 and phoned my mother a couple of times a week. It became obvious from our chats that the footage I was seeing on German TV was less sanitised than what was shown in UK. Police aggravation of miners was broadcast in Germany but not in UK. Miners’ aggravation towards police was prevalent in UK. Do you also remember the invented word ‘driftback’? Remember how the bbc used that to help break the miners resolve?

  2. Unfortunately I have to agree with all your comments in the piece. The rather sad and obviously worrying part about the piece is the thought of all main steam media outlets coming under control of the politicians and large corporations. I have just discovered your site today and its hugely refreshing to hear someone giving a more balanced and opposite side of the truth spectrum point of view. I will be an avid reader and have just donated a tenner to help build your site ( I hope more do the same). We need more sites like this because biased government propaganda main stream media outlets will only increase. Thanks and keep up the good work. Maybe we could set up a network of alternative information outlets …….

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