“Out of Context”

Here’s a really shocking piece of BBC editing, that involves the presentation of an intervewee’s words in a manner that is truely “out of context“:

Why is the BBC obsessed with making working-class people seem racist?

Watching BBC news bulletins yesterday, it was very easy to believe claims that the current spate of wildcat strikes is inherently motivated by xenophobia. Constant emphasis was placed on objections to “foreign workers” per se, rather than fear of workers’ wages being undercut, which would seem to be the real issue.

The 10 o’clock bulletin gave us a good example. A voiceover by the BBC’s political editor, Nick Robinson, (about 12 mins in) told us: “Beneath the anger, ministers fear, lies straightforward xenophobia.” Cut to woolly-hatted worker telling BBC reporter: “These Portugese and Eyeties – we can’t work alongside of them.” There we are: northern white bloke refusing to work with foreigners. Case closed.

Except, watch Paul Mason’s report on Newsnight, featuring the same interview (about 4:30 in):

These Portugese and eyeties – we can’t work alongside of them: we’re segregated from them. They’re coming in in full companies.

Even taking into account the dodginess of the use of “Eyetie” to refer to an Italian person, one has to admit that it would be very difficult to portray the second, full quote as racist or xenophobic. It’s a statement addressing basic workplace issues – British workers literally cannot work alongside foreign workers, as they are separated. There really is no excuse for editing and presenting a quote in such a misrepresentative manner, unless one is setting out to prove something – namely, that working-class people are racists.

This should be a scandal, but as it has nothing to do with Carol Thatcher or Manuel from Fawlty Towers, it won’t.