The dust hasn’t even begun to settle from the catastrophic Tory victory. Many of us are grieving. Many of us are regrouping and working out how we fight back, and how we defend ourselves, our friends, and our loved ones from a vicious racist government devoid of any morals.
But we don’t have time to rest. The vultures are gathering. The centrists who lost this election with their morally bankrupt politics as much as anyone else, are crying crocodile tears at the Labour vote while rubbing their hands in glee at the opportunity they’ve been trying to manufacture for years.
I want to rest. I don’t want to write. But there’s no choice. I’ve broken a bone in my back so I can’t be with friends on the streets fighting back. But I can write. And I need to. Because BBC‘s director general Tony Hall’s response to critics of the broadcaster is truly sinister to anyone who believes in a free and fair society – and if we don’t start the fightback right now, it may be too late.
The clampdown begins
Hall labelled criticism of the BBC as “conspiracy theories”. And he wants to limit the ability of all of us to call out what BBC journalists are doing on social media:
Elections always put the BBC’s impartiality in the spotlight. Social media offers a megaphone to those who want to attack us and makes this pressure greater than ever. The conspiracy theories that abound are frustrating. And let’s be clear – some of the abuse which is directed at our journalists who are doing their best for audiences day in, day out is sickening. It shouldn’t happen. And I think it’s something social media platforms really need to do more about.
Heaven forbid we have a public that’s actually allowed to hold our taxpayer funded state broadcaster to account. But read that again. Slowly. Let every single word sink in. This is the director general of the BBC arguing that our voices should be suppressed. That’s the BBC’s director general claiming that every one of us who’ve dared to call out the total hatchet job it did on Corbyn is a ‘conspiracy theorist’.
The BBC’s record
The BBC‘s record during this election has been appalling. Here are just a few of its lows:
- Broadcasting the wrong footage of Boris Johnson on Remembrance Sunday.
- Deciding to make ‘not politicising’ the NHS its top story.
- Broadcasting Jeremy Corbyn’s interview with Andrew Neil before Johnson agreed to do a similar interview. Something Johnson refused to do throughout the campaign.
- Its Twitter account promoting puff pieces such as how Johnson eats scones.
- Its political editor Laura Kuenssberg using her Twitter account with millions of followers to promote Johnson on numerous occasions. But perhaps her lowest point was tweeting the lie, fed to her from Tories, that Matt Hancock’s aide had been punched by a protester.
- Editing out the audience laughing at Johnson during a leadership debate in one of its lunchtime news bulletins.
- On the eve of the election, it was accused of electoral fraud after Kuenssberg broadcast comments about the number of postal votes looking “grim” for Labour.
Meanwhile, the BBC promoted lie after Tory lie. Yes, its fact-checking service did go into overdrive. But people saw the headlines and the tweets, not the fact-checker. And those headlines and tweets promoted lies.
And as I’ve previously written:
bias can also be nuanced. As The Canary previously reported, this was recently highlighted in the way it treated two stories on the Today programme about MPs saying they wouldn’t vote for their former political parties.
Oh, it’s okay, we all make mistakes
Hall’s excuses for the ‘mistakes’ the BBC made are truly pathetic:
In a frenetic campaign where we’ve produced hundreds of hours of output, of course we’ve made the odd mistake and we’ve held up our hands to them. Editors are making tough calls every minute of the day. But I don’t accept the view of those critics who jump on a handful of examples to suggest we’re somehow biased one way or the other.
I edit – it’s a job full of tough calls. But if your excuse is “hundreds of hours of output”, then maybe the decision is simple. Stop putting out so much coverage and concentrate on quality rather than quantity. Stop tweeting. And this wasn’t a “handful of examples” – the ones listed above are the tip of the iceberg. This is systematic.
Meanwhile, the “we’ve held up our hands” is woeful. The BBC eventually admitted it made a mistake in editing out the audience’s reaction. And its excuse for broadcasting the more flattering footage of Johnson on Remembrance Sunday was utter pitiful.
At other times, it was just defensive. This was the response, in full, the BBC gave The Canary when even the Electoral Commission questioned its broadcast of Kuenssberg’s comments about the postal votes – footage it deleted from its website:
Our freedoms are under attack
These comments, that we should censor critics of the BBC and its journalists, would be sinister at the best of times. But they become doubly so in the context of an announcement by John Mann, the government’s advisor on antisemitism, on the morning of the results. Mann stated he’ll be leading an investigation into The Canary and other left-wing outlets over antisemitism.
Mann, who is not Jewish, is coming after a publication that was co-founded by a Jewish woman and regularly publishes Jewish voices, mine included, who want to speak out against the smears about Corbyn, and who support the rights of Palestinian people. Meanwhile, he’s ignoring the tabloids who were blamed by the UN for the rise in hate crime after the Brexit referendum, let alone investigating the very real antisemitism in the Conservative Party. The Canary has not published a single article that is antisemitic. This is nothing more than an assault on the independent media.
In 24 hours we’ve seen attacks on our freedom of speech begin. And make no mistake, this is just the start. So I may be tired, I may be in pain, but I’m not resting. Because I’m not going to watch this descent into fascism without fighting back with every bone in my body, including the broken one. And that fight starts right now.
Featured image via Flickr/Tim Loudon
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