BBC accused of bias (part 783)

Two now notorious memos sent out to BBC producers also fly in the face of the BBC’s notion of independence and impartiality. One memo said that the BBC shouldn’t be “nobbled” by those with extreme anti-war views and must be careful not to let them onto the airwaves of phone-in shows. At many points over 50 percent of the population were against the war against Iraq with or without UN backing.

If the BBC were really impartial then surely at least half of the BBC’s coverage should have reflected this anti-war feeling. One journalist who spoke to Socialist Worker, but preferred to remain nameless, said the effect of the “nobbling” memo was self censorship.

“Vetting people before they go on air to this extent presents real practical problems. The effect of the memo on workers, particularly among less confident journalists, was a blanket ban on anyone who held anti-war views. “It was a form of McCarthyism. People became scared and then self censored.”

OK, this report is from, ahem, Socialist Worker and there is also the usual nonsense in it. But it does offer something of an alternative to the right-wing conspiracy theorists who have convinced themselves that the BBC was being run by loony lefties determined to whip-up as much anti-war sentiment as possible.

Things really are a bit more complicated than that.