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Catfish and Cod
Monday, July 14, 2003
Ahh, that's the problem.
(Link path: King of the Blogs, UPI)

I read the Beeb regularly; I get far more international news, delivered in a timely manner, from them than any established American news source. (How America is completely self-absorbed, while being the most diverse and international society in history, continues to amaze me.) Despite my regular readership, I get annoyed at the Beeb from time to time for its completely obvious Euro-Liberal spin on all stories.

Take the creation of the Iraqi Governing Council. Some media accounts tell of both positive and negative spins among the Iraqi people. Please note that this particular story is from Radio Free Europe. A US-funded outlet would be the prime suspect for a whitewash; yet they broadcast comments from both sides!

Now read the Beeb's story. Check especially the lists of "optimists", i.e., those that support the governing council, and "pessimists", i.e., those that oppose it. While the Beeb doesn't draw definitive lines around either group, who do they tally in which corner?

Pro-IGC: "the members of the council themselves; the Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA) which has pulled the council together; and the governments that desperately want to see Iraq emerge as a independent democratic state. "

Anti-IGC: "many ordinary Iraqis and analysts".

In other words, the US and its allies (who they explicitly lump with the members of the council later in the article) are the only people favoring the council plan; the ordinary Iraqis, who agree perfectly with the Beeb's analysts (of course!), are dead set against it. The Beeb doesn't exclude the possibility that there are ordinary Iraqis that support the council, or that certain Administration elements or governments oppose it. But the slant is definitely towards a certain viewpoint: "The US is imposing a puppet state against the will of the Iraqi people!"

Is this charge true? Perhaps so, and perhaps not. The point is that I knew in advance that the Beeb would slant their article in this way regardless of the true situation in Iraq. Whether things are fantastic or terrible, the Beeb will always tell you that the US is failing. As a straight reporter of facts, the Beeb is still totally reliable; but as a barometer of the situation, they're now useless. I'll take Salam Pax any day over a predictable rag.

It's sad, and I couldn't understand how such an honorable journalistic organ, respected worldwide, sank to this level. Then I read this, and finally understood why the Republicans cut NPR loose from its federal support. NPR is definitely liberal now; but at least it's truly responsive to its audience and its funding, which are one and the same. The Beeb isn't true to either, and it will cost them. I hope they find it in their hearts to reclaim their journalistic integrity, or their financial independence, or both. They'll need at least one of the two to survive.