A guest exposes how BBC talk shows dumb down debate

Rutger Bregman on BBC's This Week programme
John Shafthauer

The historian and author Rutger Bregman has been making quite a stir in 2019. He lectured the super rich at Davos about paying taxes; he accused a Fox News host of promoting billionaire propaganda; and now he’s exposed how the BBC dumbs down debate.

“They all couldn’t care less”

Bregman is author of the book Utopia for Realists. Although Bregman himself supports capitalism, he does advocate several radical proposals to ‘save it’. These ideas include a 15-hour working week, universal basic income, and open borders. The BBC invited Bregman on to discuss these radical ideas. At least he thought so, anyway:

This phenomenon is why you commonly see the same pundits appearing on TV. These people may lack knowledge on the subject they’re discussing, but what little wisdom they do have they’re more than happy to share.

Bregman continued:

The BBC often argues that its approach is impartial. What Bregman describes here is a situation in which ideas are discussed, but they’re not given room to breathe, and are actually muddied with misinformation. The BBC can point at this and say these topics were discussed; others could argue these ideas were shut down and danced around.

You can watch Bregman’s appearance on This Week here and make your own mind up:

Narrow focus

Many people have claimed the BBC actually has obvious biases. This comes about from the organisation employing people from a narrow selection of experiences with a narrow range of political opinions. As the renowned scholar Noam Chomsky explained to the BBC‘s Andrew Marr:

I’m sure you believe everything you’re saying, but what I’m saying is that if you believed something different, you wouldn’t be sitting where you’re sitting.

Several people commented on the state of the UK media – the BBC in particular:

Bregman did have some positive things to say about the UK media, however:

Comfort

The BBC clearly struggles to engage with ideas outside its comfort zone. Different ideas are coming, though – the threats of climate change and failing capitalism require nothing less. As Bregman told Aaron Bastani in an interview for Novara Media:

So you can’t be a moderate; it’s the most irresponsible thing right now

The BBC shows why the term ‘moderate’ is a dirty word right now – because ‘moderation’ doesn’t appear to mean listening to different ideas; it means shutting them down to protect the status quo.

Featured image via YouTube

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    1. I watched This Week’ last night with a rising tide of disbelief at the treatment of Mr. Bregman. I am often disappointed by the behaviour of Mr Neil and friends but last night took the biscuit. The arrogance and bullying from all three and the patronising ignorance from Portillo and Johnson was embarassing in the extreme. My opinion of Mr. Bregman went up several notches for the way he handled the constant interruptions and the mockery of his ‘youthful’ opinions.
      The teenagers on Newsnight made more sense than I’ve heard from professional pundits in many a year.
      These are people who make me ashamed of my generation and my nationality.

      1. Absolutely agree! And did you notice how they cut off the piece the moment Michael Portillo started chanting the Tories’ fallacious mantra – ’employment has never been higher in this country’. Disgraceful behaviour from the three dinosaurs, and on the part of the outrageously partisan BBC.

    2. Talking of dumbing down debate …
      “Labour’s Margaret Beckett crushes Blairite Chris Leslie with one sentence”
      “Over a million people just well and truly stuck it to Theresa May”
      “The humiliating moment Tony Blair destroys his own argument for a people’s vote”
      “Jeremy Hunt is doing everything he can to make the UK a world-leading arsehole”
      “On behalf of children and parents, Theresa May can f**k the f**k off”
      “A Labour MP just accused anyone who takes issue with capitalism of antisemitism”
      “One obvious question from Nick Robinson leaves centrist Chuka Umunna catching flies”
      “Ash Sarkar takes down a resigning Blairite MP so brutally, a BBC host intervenes”
      Etc.

    3. You think BBC is bad? Try the American “Faux News”. Laughably American crass-ness.

      In the US, every-one spins this as “the corporate controlled media” doing it’s dirty deeds for profit. This is a very common catch phrase apology in use in America for the TV media (most of which are connected at the hip to the Hollywood Studios system). However, this apologists catch phrase, is a LIE. The US media does NOT even pursue profit! Instead, the US Cable TV “News” Channels are a form of “Control Fraud”, run in the interests of the overall system, NOT profit.

      IF US TV were interested purely in PROFIT, it would be a better TV. The fact is, it’s NOT run for profit. Rather, It’s run as a crony, circular, mutual-interest support mechanism, between the Hollwyood studios and the broader power structure.

      IF it were run for profit, it would have FAR more eye-catchy, and as a side-effect, more INFORMATIVE, “news” segments than the present mono fixation on beltway nonsense coming out of the German-American President. THe mono-fixation “news” cycle on American TV, seeks to satisfy perpetuation of the power structure’s interests at the lowest possible cost. Therefore, they sit and bloviate from a TV studio, putting up pictures of “tweets” as “news”.

      THis is NOT a for-profit enterprise! LIES PREVAIL! IT’s a pathetic product. Take pity on the US.

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