Ban The Biased BBC!

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Test Card F, formerly shown by the BBC when no programmes were running. But should no programmes run on the BBC ever again?

Another day, another accusation of bias against the BBC.

Labour MP Stephen Doughty resigns as a Shadow Foreign Office Minister live on the Daily Politics. Photo by BBC.
Labour MP Stephen Doughty resigns as a Shadow Foreign Office Minister live on the Daily Politics.
Photo by BBC.

This time, it’s Labour HQ and its online army of angry Corbynistas that’s complaining after a shadow junior minister chose to resign live on the BBC’s Daily Politics in protest at Jeremy Corbyn’s never-ending reshuffle of his shadow cabinet. The row broke out after it emerged that the BBC knew in advance that Stephen Doughty, the Labour MP in question, planned to resign and so asked if he would do it live on their programme. This occurred just before the weekly session of PMQs, in which David Cameron was able to use this resignation to his advantage, minimising the impact of Corbyn’s questions.

Labour was furious, submitting an official complaint against the broadcaster, and Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell claimed in an interview that the BBC wanted “to do maximum damage to Jeremy’s standing”. The BBC rejected the accusations, defending its coverage of the reshuffle as balanced and saying that there was nothing wrong with seeking to break stories, with many journalists coming to its defence.

The Corbynites saw things differently. This was an incident “carried out by Tory sympathisers within the BBC”. Another widely circulated theory is that the BBC is actually controlled by Rupert Murdoch — no wonder he wants to clip its wings! An online petition demanding the resignations of the BBC presenters involved has gathered almost 15,000 signatures.

Of course, this isn’t the first time that the BBC has been accused of being less than impartial. It has long been a target of the right for its bias.

That is, its bias against the right.

Just ask the Daily Mail, or The Sun, or the Express, or even Nigel Farage, who complained that the BBC had packed the audience of an election debate with lefties. The reason for his suspicion? They weren’t applauding him enough.

But the fun doesn’t stop there. Did you know the BBC also has a pro-UKIP bias? Or that it has both a pro– and anti-monarchy bias? In fact, if you tried hard enough, I’m sure you could find evidence of BBC bias against pretty much everything. As Robert Peston recently put it, “because I was attacked by both sides I thought I must be doing the right thing”.

At times, it seems the BBC is attacked by people whenever it doesn’t appear to agree with them. This is especially true on the fringes of politics. On the topic of the SNP, although equally applicable to the ardent fans of other political causes, Fraser Nelson of the Spectator wrote:

All politics is tribal. But nationalists can become so convinced that they speak for their country that they see opponents as being enemies of the people. To nationalist zealots, a BBC journalist asking challenging questions of the Dear Leader is inherently reprehensible and demonstrates a collapse of journalistic standards.

By denouncing the BBC, or in fact all media, as biased, it delegitimises any criticism of a cause, no matter how valid. After all, if the BBC is just the puppet of your enemies, why take anything it has to say seriously?

For instance, returning to the Labour party, towards the end of the party’s leadership election last summer, Newsnight published footage of a focus group comprising ex-Labour voters who were largely unimpressed with Jeremy Corbyn. His fans cried conspiracy, convinced it was an establishment plot to make him look bad.

Luckily, most of this nonsense is confined to dark corners of the internet where conspiracy theorists run wild with tales of the “Establishment Media Elite”, symbolised by the BBC, ganging up on them and their like. After all, as our Premier once said, “Britain and Twitter: they’re not the same thing!”

However, I’m not quite sure what to make of these results from YouGov’s trust tracker, where only 58% of people trust the BBC to tell the truth. Nobody in the media or politics performs particularly well, and the BBC does do much better than all of the press, but there are still over two fifths of population who either distrust the supposedly impartial national broadcaster or who don’t have an opinion on the matter. Whose fault is this lack of trust? Is it the media for appearing biased one way or another? Is it us for, as the Washington Post put it, “only [being] interested in consuming information that conforms with [our] views”?

I don’t know. Perhaps, as a fully paid-up member of the Metropolitan Cultural Liberal Lefty Elite — the BBC’s main audience as it is often claimed, I just don’t get it. But if the truth is out there, it’s definitely not on the BBC.

Is the BBC biased?

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Total Voters: 15