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Friday, March 19, 2010 

Scum-watch: The anti-Conservative bias of Basil Brush.

Has the BBC done something I haven't noticed to upset the Murdoch stable? I know there doesn't generally need to be a reason for the Sun to attack the corporation, only it seems rather odd to suddenly decide to "investigate" the inherent "bias" that the Beeb has against the Tories, especially when the evidence produced is so completely laughable. In fact, laughable really doesn't do justice to the dossier they've produced to prove that the BBC favours Labour over the Tories: pathetic, hilarious and carpet-chewingly insane only begin to describe the scraping of barrels involved.

This apparently is the best that Tom Newton Dunn and Kevin Schofield could come up with:

BBC News gave disproportionate coverage to the row over Tory donor Lord Ashcroft's tax status;

...

The BBC's Lord Ashcroft coverage alone triggered 104 complaints.

When the row over his "non-dom" status broke three weeks ago it led the Beeb's TV and radio bulletins for up to six days - long after commercial broadcasters dropped it.

But controversy over the similar status of up to eight Labour donors got just a fraction of the coverage.


Taking the Sun's word for it that it did lead broadcasts for up to six days, that doesn't seem "disproportionate" when compared to the coverage not just on other "commercial broadcasters" but to that in newspapers, another prism through which it should be judged. It certainly is however disproportionate when compared to the Sun's coverage of the Ashcroft affair, which to judge by the reports on their website was a complete non-story. There are only three reports dedicated to the revelations concerning Ashcroft's non-dom status, all of which are either favourable or overwhelmingly favourable to the Tories: the first is headlined Tory Lord vows to pay full tax, the second is a report on the spat between Labour and the Tories over non-doms, and the third is on Ashcroft being cleared over the donations to the Tories through his Bearwood Corporate Services company.

Next, and we're already onto hardly the most convincing of evidence:

LABOUR panellists were given more time to speak on flagship political show Question Time;

...

The Sun's analysis showed Labour politicians on Question Time were allowed to speak for a full minute longer than Tory counterparts.

On March 11 ex-Labour minister Caroline Flint got SIX minutes more than Tory Justine Greenings.

And on February 18 Labour veteran Roy Hattersley spoke for nearly three minutes longer than Tory Rory Stewart.


This couldn't possibly be anything to do with the Tory politicians giving shorter answers rather than not being allowed to speak, could it? There's also the minor point that if you're not the first to be called on, the others can rather steal your thunder with their answers, hence there being no point going over the same ground. Also worth keeping in mind is that as Labour are in government the audience often directly ask questions of them, and are sometimes also given an opportunity to respond to a criticism of the government either from a member of the panel or the audience. None of this is evidence of bias, and if the politicians themselves are annoyed with how much time they've been given they can take it up with the producers afterwards, which there has been no indication of them doing, or even during the show if they so wish by complaining to David Dimbleby. Incidentally, there is no such politician as Justine Greenings; there is however a Justine Greening.

A POLL on The One Show ignored issues with Gordon Brown to ask only, Is David Cameron too much of a toff to be PM?

...

A total of 219 viewers complained about The One Show poll, which followed a five-minute piece about Mr Cameron's "posh" upbringing.

Dozens more wrote on the show's blog.

One said: "The BBC should be ashamed of its blatant electioneering."

That would be the One Show which is renowned for its high standard of investigative journalism, would it? For those imagining that this happened recently, it was in fact screened over two months ago, and the BBC said that the piece wasn't good enough at the time. They have since ran in-depth looks at all of the political parties. In any case, why isn't Cameron's background a reasonable topic for discussion? As the New Statesman points out, Cameron hasn't received anywhere near the same amount of scrutiny as Brown.

THE Tory leader was stitched up when footage of him adjusting his hair was sneakily fed to all broadcasters;

...

Last week bosses tried to make Mr Cameron look a laughing stock by putting out footage of him checking his hair in the wind before making a serious statement on Northern Ireland.

Party chiefs complained.

And who was it that initially shot this footage? Why, that would be Sky News, who may themselves have "sneakily fed" it to all broadcasters, or they could have picked it up from YouTube. Sky News we should point out, has absolutely no connection to the Sun whatsoever. They just provide the video on the Sun's website. Oh, and the ultimate parent company of the Sun controls a third of the shares in Sky. Apart from that they're completely separate entities.

Lastly, the real clincher:

THE Basil Brush Show featured a school election with a cheat called Dave wearing a blue rosette.

...

Then last Sunday BBC2's Basil Brush Show featured nasty "Dave" - complete with blue rosette.

He beat nice Rosie, with a purple rosette, by promising free ice cream but was arrested because it was out of date.


No, I'm not making this up. The Sun really is trying to suggest that Basil Brush is biased against the Conservatives. Then again, perhaps it isn't so ridiculous: after all, the Tories have promised to bring back fox hunting. To be serious when perhaps it doesn't deserve it, when you start seeing political bias in a children's programme featuring a puppet fox, it really might be time to start questioning your own sanity. In any case, and because I'm truly sad, I went and looked to see when this episode was made: surprise, surprise, it was first broadcast on the 22nd of October 2004, before the last election, let alone this one. Unless the Sun is suggesting that the writers of Basil Brush are so prescient that months before David Cameron became Conservative party leader they were already out to get him, this really can be dismissed as the mouth-frothing madness that it is. They also got the girl's name wrong: she's Molly, not Rosie.

Away from ludicrous accusations of bias, the paper is still trying to claim that teachers are having to give 4-MMC back to students they confiscate it from:

DEADLY drug meow meow is rife in prisons, warns the Justice Department.

An urgent memo urges governors to stop inmates getting hold of it.

Yet while the Government protects convicts, it won't save schoolchildren. Teachers must return confiscated meow meow to pupils even though it may kill them.


Just in case you didn't take my own word for it, some actual journalists as opposed to scaremongering tabloid hacks bothered to ask both teachers and police what their real approach to 4-MMC is:

Despite national reports claiming teachers would be forced to hand back seized packets of mephedrone at the final bell, Plymouth police and the vice-chair of the Association of Secondary Head Teachers in Plymouth, Andy Birkett, have insisted it will not happen here.

"We already have effective policies to deal with substances found in schools; if we're in any doubt we ask the expert's opinion," said Mr Birkett.

"The police have always advised us that if we don't know what we've seized, regardless of what the child tells us, then call the police. We seek to put the child's safety and the safety of the school first and will hand over such items to police.

"As far as we're concerned, nothing has changed. We'll deal with this drug in the same way we always have."

Drug liaison officer Det Con Stuart Payne said: "The advice we have given schools is if they seize a suspected item, then they can give it to us to deal with.

"The school may wish to deal with the matter in-house or they may wish to tell us who it came from. People should note that current force policy is that those found in possession of the suspect powder will be arrested.

"It should be remembered that samples of mephedrone we have already seized have been mixed with controlled drugs, including cocaine and amphetamine, or legal drugs such as benzocaine, which is used by dentists. It emphasises that you don't know what you're taking."

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Taking a de minimus example, even on the level of a children's programme, I don't suppose anyone on the Sun had the brains to think that as a fox, Basil Brush might not be too keen on the Conservatives?

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