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Saturday, January 24, 2009 

Weekend links.

Is this what Ross and Brand has wrought? A BBC that plays safe on everything, including supposed breaching impartiality? That can surely be the only explanation for the continuing refusal to screen the DEC Gaza appeal, even after ITV and Channel 4 have signed off on it.

Mark Thompson is an unconvincing as they get:

Inevitably an appeal would use pictures which are the same or similar to those we would be using in our news programmes but would do so with the objective of encouraging public donations. The danger for the BBC is that this could be interpreted as taking a political stance on an ongoing story. When we have turned down DEC appeals in the past on impartiality grounds it has been because of this risk of giving the public the impression that the BBC was taking sides in an ongoing conflict.

The BBC has run DEC appeals for Sudan and Congo recently, neither of which are natural disasters but man-made ones. Going back decades it ran a DEC appeal for Vietnam, again with no apparent qualms. There's two conclusions: either the BBC are terrified of further accusations of anti-Israeli bias, or they're just terrified full stop. I think it's the latter. Craig Murray, the Heresiarch, Back Towards the Locus and Marina Hyde all comment further. More widely on Gaza/Israel, Joanna Blythman puts the case for a boycott of Israeli produce while Seth Freedman puts the case against, and Bleeding Heart Show comments on Jeremy Greenstock's call to negotiate with Hamas.

Elsewhere, it seems everyone has been Obama'd out, as there isn't much else going on. The closest we come to another topic is the economy, predictably, with Andrew Grice, Adrian Hamilton, Matthew Parris and Peter Oborne all comment variously. Christina Patterson breaks the theme by riffing on the Runnymede report, especially its conclusions on prejudice against the white working class.

As for worst tabloid article of the weekend, it's a toss-up. You can go with yet another a tedious article on Sachsgate in the Mail, where Baillie's mother now turns up to tell her tale of woe for cash, or with Chris Grayling's pledge that zero tolerance policing will be introduced under the Tories. As usual when referring to New York's bringing down of the crime rate, no mention is made of the associated reforms apart from the "broken windows" myth, or the alternative explanations for the reduction in crime. Nowhere does Grayling say how he'll provide all the extra prison places needed for such a crack-down, but that could be expected from the semi-literate rant he provides the Sun with. When you put Amanda Platell to shame, you know you've hit rock bottom.

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