It’s the BBC Stupid! – Part II
Update 24/04/2014: Tellingly, the BBC still hasn’t resigned from the anti-independence campaign propaganda mouthpiece institution, the CBI . . . birds of a feather.
MEDIA BIAS II
In the first part on state-sponsored political propaganda, THE BBC IS CORUPT, we looked at the nature of BBC bias with respect to independence. We determined that:
- The BBC has power because it is believed
- The best and most effective propaganda is that not recognised as propaganda by its victims.
We examined how BBC rabidly pro-Unionist propaganda is disseminated. and explored the implications of the ingrained belief among critical low-information voters in particular, that the BBC is an impartial, scrupulously fair deliverer of news, and provider of quality analyses on matters politic.
We determined it should be a priority of the Independence Movement to disabuse the electorate of that notion.
In March of last year we witnessed the tried and tested toxic mix of BBC disinformation and distraction employed to promote fear, uncertainty, and doubt, among the electorate.
The then newly released GERS report which evinced sound management of the public purse by the Scottish Government and described the robust nature of the Scottish economy as a whole, was reinterpreted by BBC Scotland’s propagandists to mean Scotland’s economy is dangerously lopsided, with an alarming reliance on North Sea oil and gas revenues.
This GERS report, viewers were told, exposes the nation’s structural fiscal vulnerabilities, and does not augur well for the prospects of Scotland as independent state.
The purpose of this article is not to argue that case (that is more than competently done here and here), but to address the pressing matter of what can be done to defend against these assaults on the truth by this irredeemably corrupt instrument of the Unionist state.
It was argued in part I, that we cannot hope to unstick the Beeb and force change in its institutional position on independence in the next six months, but we CAN go far to ameliorating its toxic influence on the outcome of the plebiscite, by hammering home the message of its political corruption.
The issue of the BBC as the premier producer and disseminator of anti-independence propaganda must become a priority of the Nationalist campaign for the next half-year, deserving of significant attention and apportionment of adequate resources to counter it.
The latest screaming headlines of shock and horror from the Beeb over Standard Life’s anodyne statement concerning plans to accommodate future uncertainties surrounding the independence referendum is just the latest example (they have since toned down the volume a bit from the original).
Nowhere in that report or Douglas Fraser’s analysis is there mention of Standard Life’s close ties to extremist Unionist groups or to the Westminster Government.
Former ambassador and human rights campaigner, Craig Murray, lays bare the fibrous nature of big business’s intimate relationship to rabid Unionism in his blog. He presents a deeply troubling narrative of inappropriate and compromising relationships between Her Majesty’s Government, the Tory Party, and Standard Life’s executives.
Now you’d think a stench so redolent of collusion and intrigue would be irresistible to any journalist worthy of the name, warranting earnest investigation. Alas we see no evidence of that in the behaviour of Douglas Fraser nor any other employee of the BBC.
It is very hard indeed to distinguish between the output of the BBC in matters pertaining to independence and the press releases of the NO campaign.
Dr John Robertson of the University of the West of Scotland has produced a seminal peer-reviewed study on the pervasiveness of bias in the BBC, which dismantled the state broadcaster’s claim to impartiality in matters politic.
Several web-based journals but practically no organ of the Fourth Estate covered this devastating indictment of the Corporation. That sad statistic is a measure of the degree of corruption daily evident in the MSN’s coverage of this referendum. A scandal never addressed by that media and seldom referenced by the campaign’s principals.
When will the leadership of this independence movement tackle the elephant in the room (media bias), and the 800lb gorilla that rides menacingly atop it (the BBC)?
The issue of the media’s extreme partisanship should be addressed in every interview and debate. The BBC cannot maintain credibility without the tacit cooperation and complicity of Nationalists. We are accepting of the inequity, so why should they bother to change their behaviour?.
Why are we providing the Beeb with a veneer of impartiality?
Why are we still agreeing to participate in debates and interviews where Nationalist representatives are outnumbered three or four to one?
Why do we remain mute when interviewers are demonstrably hostile to the nationalist side, yet throw the Unionist representatives softballs?
For goodness sake, when are the Nationalist political elite in Holyrood and Morningside responsible for the management of this campaign going to seriously address this issue?
There should be zero tolerance of procedural inequity in the BBC.
If the broadcaster’s institutional bias is raised in a respectful but firm manner by the interviewee/participant in a BBC interview/talk-show/televised debate, the BBC will have no choice but to air that criticism, and address it, since is has become a major component of the debate.
What is the state broadcaster going to do – stop inviting representatives of the YES campaign onto programs about the campaign? Of course not – at least not if they want to preserve a semblance of credibility.
Among the first things the YES campaign should do is issue a statement that the Campaign policy shall be to refuse interviews or debates where the NO campaign representatives and/or other Unionist proxies, outnumber the representatives of the YES campaign. That kind of ganging-up is getting old.
There must be an insistence on fairness and transparency in the structuring and application of the rules and procedures governing interviews and debates. That can be formalized and codified in a memorandum of understanding.
Now the BBC’s Question Time producers among others have argued that their panels discuss a range of topics and that therefore any gross inequity with respect to representation on the topic of independence is a mere bagatelle – a local matter of little import. What arrogant nonsense.
During that period when the QT panel (or any other BBC panel) discusses issues of Scottish independence, there should be parity in representation. Why is it that the YES side or the SNP are seemingly always the ones outnumbered?
It should be emphasized that this is not a party political election campaign, but a plebiscite, with a binary outcome, and there there can be but two and only two sides equally represented in any interview or debate.
Every BBC invitation refused because of a demonstrable procedural inequity can and should become an issue.
The Scottish Government and surrogates culled from the Good and the Great of whatever political hue, who believe in equality of access to the market place of ideas, should be prevailed upon to call for a public inquiry, citing BBC violations of its charter and apparent criminal wrong-doing in the misuse of public monies and contraventions of election law. This should be augmented by promotion of a groundswell of popular support for the same (we could astroturf this but that would likely be unnecessary given the genuine indignation felt by many).
The goal is not to hold an inquiry but to make it an issue in the public space, so that the focus on BBC bias is legitimized in the voter’s mind and becomes a real factor in the debate.
Now many Nationalists have voiced concern that seriously raising the issue of media propaganda in this way distracts from the positive message of independence.
What positive message? We are not getting much in the way of messages positive or otherwise out to the people who matter – but the opposition are.
We need achieve two goals.
- Minimize the effectiveness the propaganda by denying the BBC the fiction of its impartiality.
- Curtail its current unrestrained Unionist bias by openly calling them to account when they seriously transgress, and to do so in real time if possible.
What we must guard against though, is appearing to be whinging. This should be presented as an issue of fairness in the dissemination of information about the most important decision to confront the people of Scotland, not in 300 years, but in the entire history of the nation since its founding. The people had no say in the 1707 treaty nor in the associated enabling acts of parliaments – this will be their first (and quite possibly their last) chance to decide if they will be masters in their own house.
Now you would think a choice of that import would require absolute impartiality on the part of the BBC to be SEEN to be done.
There should be no reasonable doubt in anyone’s mind, but that the BBC is in compliance with both the word and the spirit of its charter as it is required to be.
The BBC itself should show zero tolerance of manifest bias in the conduct of its reporters, its producers, and its presenters.
We all have biases, but there is no excuse for indulging personal political prejudice when you are supposed to be impartially reporting the news, interviewing the principals in the campaign, or offering considered analyses.
The BBC has gotten away with murder in respect of its antipathy toward the SNP and Salmond, and its utter disdain of the inalienable right of people of Scotland to decide their own destiny.
Enough is enough. It is time to act!