In response to The Otter's recent coverage of BBC's self-admitted bias, an Anonymous Roving Moonbat Wacko™ wrote, "Seeing as you're so concerned with fairness, balance and accuracy, I'm sure you'll be posting this link soon." The aforementioned link was an article by Helen Boaden, BBC news director. As I am indeed so concerned with fairness, balance, and accuracy, here is the link - Bias at the BBC?
You might be able to tell from the title it's an attempt to respond to the leak. And for patrons of the Beeb, such as our very own Anonymous Roving Moonbat Wacko™, anything Helen Boaden says is likely to be accepted on blind faith similar to that of a religious zealot. Those of us who are interested in taking a critical look at the article might find it lacking:
The Mail on Sunday based its story on a leak from what it called a “secret” meeting of BBC executives and governors, and claims that it was our former political editor, Andrew Marr himself, who confessed to the liberal bias of the organization. His take was reinforced by Jeff Randall, who until recently was our business editor. “If they say it, then it must be true” was the thrust of the story.
Well I was one of the people who was at the "secret" meeting. and I have to say the reality was somewhat different to the way the press are reporting it.
For a start, this wasn’t a secret meeting... it was streamed live on the web. The meeting was made up of executives, governors and lots of non-BBC people like John Lloyd from the FT and Janet Daley from the Daily Telegraph. It was planned as a serious seminar to investigate and understand better the BBC’s commitment to impartiality in an age in which spin and opinion riddle much of the world’s journalism. The seminar was part of a bigger project kicked off by Michael Grade earlier this year to re-examine the underlying principles of impartiality in the digital age when boundaries between conventional broadcasting and the new platforms will increasingly disappear.
This failed to explain why both Andrew Marr and Jeff Randall admitted a liberal bias in the BBC. It also didn't mention Malcolm Balen's confirmation of the bias. In fact the only attempt to refute the allegations was to claim that Jeff Randall was making "a few good jokes." Boaden concluded by asserting that it was, "their personal opinions."
As if this article wasn't Helen Boaden's personal opinion. Boaden is a tainted source, to say the least, considering she had so much to gain by defending the BBC. Randall, Marr, Balen, and the other senior BBC staff members who asserted a bias had nothing to gain by doing so. Rather, they had lots to lose.
Although for the Anonymous Roving Moonbat Wacko™, the type of person to whom the BBC is a liberal Mecca, Helen Boaden's tainted opinion is worth far more than the combined analysis of other senior BBC members.
Here are some points brought up by the leak and senior BBC members. These are points that were not mentioned in Boaden's response at all:
- The report stated the BBC was overstaffed with homosexuals and other minorities, giving it a bias toward those groups. It also stated that the BBC...
- ...was biased against the countryside.
- ...had anti-Christian and anti-Jewish bias.
- ...was biased against Israel and covered the second intifada unfairly.
- ...was anti-American.
- ...actively promoted multiculturalism.
- ...leaned toward political correctness rather than accuracy in reporting.
We'll give Boaden some credit on the Muslim issue. She addressed Muslim women wearing headscarves to read the news. She didn't address the fact that she would have allowed a Bible, Catholic icons, or kosher food to be thrown in the trash - but not a Qur'an.
Let's revisit her previous claim, that the meeting wasn't secret.
If it wasn't a secret meeting and was live on the web I'm sure the BBC could just make it public and end this whole fiasco. Right? The Telegraph revealed that the BBC has undertaken a legal battle to prevent the report of the meeting from becoming public. Normally the report would be accessible under the Freedom of Information Act. Instead, the BBC is trying to seal it away so that no one can ever get their hands on it. How can she claim it isn't secret while the BBC tries to keep it secret? Pure hypocrisy and idiocy!
Without addressing any of the issues mentioned above, Helen Boaden concluded with this:
And that’s where the broad audience comes in. What really counts is not what a group of BBC executives and VIPs think, or indeed what a few columnists believe. The important thing is whether or not our audiences think we are biased. And on that the evidence is robust.
Asked recently which of the four main broadcasters they would term "trustworthy", nearly two thirds - 60% - cited the BBC. In contrast, 26% said ITV, 16% mentioned Channel 4, and 14% Sky. (Mori, 2006)
No Helen, what really counts is the truth. Not what the uneducated masses believe.
This is a prime example of an informal logical fallacy, called argumentum ad populum, or the bandwagon fallacy. Even if 100% of the people surveyed believed the BBC was trustworthy it wouldn't make it so. The number of people who like the BBC, or consider it "trustworthy," says nothing about the actual content. Only about the opinions of the ignorant masses. And yes, the masses are ignorant.
What really counts is what a group of BBC executives and VIPs think. They are the only ones with real experience inside the BBC. They're the ones know the business well enough to make an educated analysis of the subject. And they know each other personally, thus being acquainted with deep-seated biases among themselves. The audiences know none of this.
The audiences Boaden spoke of are primarily composed of Anonymous Roving Moonbat Wackos™ who believe everything the Beeb tells them without any critical thought. They are the Idiotarians who think logical fallacies like Boaden's argumentum ad populum are strong evidence.
It breaks down like this: On one hand you can believe the leaked report, Andrew Marr, Jeff Randall, Malcolm Balen, and the other senior BBC staff members who have direct firsthand experience, plus evidence, of BBC bias. On the other hand you can believe the uneducated masses, the audience, the Anonymous Roving Moonbat Wackos™, and the Idiotarians.