« How can the UN improve its human rights advocacy? | Main | Join BritainAndAmerica's mailing list »



JF, do you have more information, and ideally a link to information regarding "Didn't you hear about the BBC's treatment of the US Ambassador on September 12, 2001"...


Phil Jackson

Besides, we all know what happened the last time the Brits had any influence over America.

Sure, we founded the Thirteen Colonies.

Sorry, old boy. Won't happen again.

Jay Currie

The other element in Americans (and Canadians like me) reading Brit media is that it has not, at the higher end, become so entirely trivial as the American. It is interesting that it is the BBC, the Guardian and the Economist which are mentioned here. Not the Daily Mail and the News of the world.

Even where one disagrees with the bias, the information is useful.


Craig, with pleasure. Mea culpa, it was September 13, not September 12, but the point stands.

BBC chief apologises for terror debate

Many Americans will never forget this, and this should help explain why the BBC is held in the same regard as the UN and the "international community" here; namely, the BBC is morally bankrupt, is incurably left-wing, is sympathetic to terrorism, and is unapologetically anti-American.


Jay Currie, certainly. The information is useful, but only insofar as it provides a window into the thinking of terrorist sympathizers.


Thanks JF


Craig, it goes without saying that the BBC's own account of the program is entirely white-washed, but I provided that link to show that even the BBC isn't immune to criticism (even if it is unable to objectively judge abhorrent content for itself). If you want a better account, a Google search will provide a more complete background, including the types of viciously anti-American statements and questions put to the US ambassador and the way the BBC chose to moderate (or not moderate, as the case shows). Remember, this happened two days after September 11, 2001.

On a side note, this should help explain why Americans admire Blair so much, despite the damage he has wrought upon the UK through flawed domestic policies. With anti-Americanism so apparently common in the UK, we appreciate that he stood up to the rabble in his own country to do what was right rather than what was easy. Compare and contrast with George Galloway and Red Ken. His principled stance ultimately cost him his office, and it was an appropriate reminder of his sacrifice to see how barbarically he was treated by the UK media in his last White House press conference.

Phil Jackson

...is sympathetic to terrorism, and is unapologetically anti-American.

The BBC is unapologetically anti-British, being staffed almost entirely with patriophobic* scoundrels.

Regarding the US, it’s unapologetically anti-Republican; but when there’s a Democrat in the White House… well, that a different story. I doubt if there was any media outlet in the world more sycophantically pro-Clinton that the BBC.

(*We need to coin a word to describe the weird mindset of so many bourgeois leftists in the Western world (the English-speaking world in particular), with their sneering contempt for their own land and tradition and its ordinary citizens. I suggest patriophobia. Much the same as ‘traitor’, but without the insinuation that the bastards have actually broken the law.)


Phil, agreed on all counts. But why is it so difficult, then, to discontinue the license fee scheme? Even if the BBC can never be dismantled, it should surely stand on its own feet and not be implicitly endorsed by the government. Has anyone ever tried to curtail or abolish the license fee?

David R. Block

Actually, if I visit the BBC site it is for shortwave schedules. Since they no longer broadcast to the US, they are a harder catch these days. So I plan my "targets of opportunity" list accordingly.

Most of their news content I gave up on long ago.

Machiavelli's Understudy

In recent years Fox News, talk radio and the blogosphere have given US conservatives the tools to fight mainstream media bias.

Tools? You mean the ability to churn out more of the same crap, just a different shade? Whoopee.

For all my loathing of some elements of the BBC, like Jay Currie mentions, it can still be useful.

I'll take this blog's parent's rhetoric seriously when it stops referencing BBC News articles for its own articles.

Oh, and PLEASE stop with the bastardised use of the word 'liberal'. Is it really so hard to avoid using a Daily Mail style guide?


Machiavelli's Understudy, the double standards are cute. The Right uses the word "liberal" because that is the word that the Left chose to describe itself. It was the Left that bastardized the word in trying to display itself as the enlightened camp with the implicit judgment that the Right was composed of knuckle-dragging reactionaries ("anti-liberals"). When will you come out against the Left's misappropriation of the word "progressive" to describe their own retrogressive, Stalinist tendencies? One more word that the Left will force us to flush down the toilet.

Let's face it, English has myriad examples of misuse of a word or phrase becoming the official version (e.g. British use of "table a proposal" and American use of "table a proposal"). To get incensed over the use of "liberal" as a label is rather petty of you, especially when it is the Left that is to blame.


A bit of Financial Times and Economist bashing.
Financial Times is not a good paper. Here are 2 recent examples:

A recent editorial from Financial Times (Europe): http://www.ft.com/cms/s/a96d4e16-e7c9-11db-8098-000b5df10621.html

"But while it was indeed a mistake to invade Iraq, it would be a second mistake to set an arbitrary deadline for withdrawal. THE JUSTLY MALIGNED (my emphasis)President W. Bush is right to threaten to veto any such bill."

Being against an arbitrary deadline in Iraq is a good thing but calling Bush "justly maligned" and at the same time (elsewhere and everywhere)ridiculing his "Axis of Evil"-rhetoric (the latter is fine with me to a certain extent) is at best hypocritical.

Here's an extract from an editorial in the Financial Times on the Wolfowitz case (http://www.ft.com/cms/s/f65363ca-ea24-11db-91c7-000b5df10621.html):
"To place loyalty above all other virtues is the ethics of a MAFIA BOSS (my emphasis)not of the leader of a great country."

Comparing Bush to a mafia boss. Hardly objective journalism.

The Economist seems to have been moving in the wrong direction within the last 5 months (until then I considered it among my 2 favorite magazines). Here's a nasty example which I posted on this site only recently (it's a good example so I'll do it again): http://www.economist.com/world/na/displaystory.cfm?story_id=E1_RRGTQJS

It compares the American-Jewish Lobby to the Leviathan (a seamonster from The Old Testament). In the article we are told that not all Jews agree with AIPAC, but the article does make quite a big deal out of a big Jewish representation in the most important American institutions.
Why make such a big deal out of that if the large majority of Jews in the US doesn't agree with AIPAC? Is it just because they're Jews? I don't get it.


John, no surprise there. Half of The Economist is owned by The Financial Times, and the FT must be leaning on The Economist to toe the party line.

I agree that The Economist has turned noticeably against the US and Israel recently. Perhaps it is due to the change of Editor in Chief last year; I think we're seeing the hand of John Micklethwait behind this recent change of perspective. It was his predecessor, Bill Emmott (in charge from 1993-2006) who was responsible for the doubling of circulation, so we'll see how the new editor fares in the next few years.

Andrew Lilico

I think Greg's point at 1.38 is an important one that is not reflected enough in the discussion here. Why should the BBC be unbiased in its coverage of the political affairs of foreign countries? Would we really want the BBC to have felt it had to give completely equal airtime to Osama bin Laden? I suggest not. It simply is no concern at all if the BBC is biased in its presentation of American viewpoints, except insofar as that might reflect or create bias in its reflection of British opinions to its British audience.

On the other hand, it seems to me that US media are often enormously biased. I have no complaint about that - when I offer an opinion it's usually my opinion, rather than my attempt to reflect all points of view equally. But compared with most US media, my guess is that the BBC is fairly balanced, by international standards.


Andrew Lilico, the difference is that poll after poll shows that the US public believes that the US MSM is left-wing, and 90%+ of MSM journalists have admitted voting down-the-line for Democrats, whereas the BBC still has cover (as reflected in your post) and can pretend to be balanced.

"Balanced by international standards" is an interesting phrase. Of course, you're absolutely right, in the sense that the UN almost always overwhelmingly votes against the United States in almost every matter. In that sense, yes, the BBC reflects the anti-American bias of the "international community" and thus, in the broadest sense, appears unbiased, since it reflects the sentiments of the majority. But when paired with these facts about UN votes and American foreign aid, is it any wonder why the UN has such a dismal reputation in the US? And for the same reason, can you blame Americans for believing that the BBC is biased for reinforcing the same sentiments?

To paraphrase Ronald Reagan, it's balanced when the BBC coverage is anti-American, but it's biased when the BBC coverage is anti-Leftist (in other words, the BBC is never biased). Right?

Andrew Lilico


Not at all! I'm not denying that the BBC is biased by US cultural and political norms. I'm sure that it is. But what I'm not sure of is why that is any complaint against the BBC! It isn't the BBC's job to be neutral among US cultural and political norms. By US standards the BBC is fabulously left-wing. That's not in doubt. But that just means it is mistaken, not wicked.

Further, I put it to you that if you are after news reporting that reflects an internationally unbiased norm, you will struggle to find anything better than the BBC. On the other hand, many people don't like their politics neutral. In which case stick to getting your news from ConservativeHome, Britain_and_America, and 18 Doughty Street!


Andrew Lilico, I'm not asking the BBC to suddenly reform and become a professional news outfit. What I'm asking is for the British government (and by extension, the British people) to stop giving the BBC cover by providing it with public funds to spread its left-wing propaganda. The closest equivalent we have to the BBC are PBS (which is essentially a zombie organization with no viewership) or NPR (the province of champagne socialists, with only approximately 2% of its funding from the government).

One reason why the MSM in the US is disliked but not despised by American conservatives (at least not to the same degree as the BBC) is that CNN, ABC, CBS, NBC, MSNBC, the NYT, the WaPo, etc. are privately owned and privately funded. If people disagree with their outright bias, they can choose not to consume the product and thus harm these entities financially (as declining circulation and viewership confirms is happening). The private owners can then choose to change course and become more balanced (with the hope of attracting consumers and ad dollars again), or obstinately continuing with their bias and driving their organizations into the ground, where they can no longer do harm. Either way, the consumer can affect news coverage.

This is not the case with the BBC, which can ignore any and all complaints against it, quash internal investigations on allegations of bias, and attack the politics of those who fund it with impunity. That is the difference between the BBC and American media, and that is the major point that many of us find unacceptable. If the BBC wants to trash the US, it can get in line with the other 134,873 anti-US publications and fight it out in the market. But the BBC doesn't compete in the market, and indeed, its massive subsidies allow it to crush its competitors, who might otherwise offer some diversity of thought. Thus, in response to your suggestion that I don't read/listen to the BBC, I'm already complying. But whether I or any American or any British citizen boycott the BBC, the BBC will live on, as strong as before because of the license fee.

Another question you might reflect on: is it any wonder that al Jazeera was built up by BBC refugees? Unless you admire al Jazeera, that should give you some pause.

Finally, I agree that a balanced, unbiased news reporting service doesn't exist. But there are certainly more balanced sources than the BBC. I'm no fan of the Associated Press, but I believe it does a much better job on the whole than the BBC (or Reuters, for that matter).

M. Fernandez

BBC people might get a better reception at the White House if they observed the traditional protocols for being at there (i.e., standing when the President enters the room). They deliberately go out of their way to be political and offensive, why should they get a better reception?

Andrew Lilico


An interesting point. But I would have thought the natural objection to a state-funded broadcaster being biased is that my taxes are being used to offer me other people's political propaganda. And that isn't the case for the BBC and Americans - US tax dollars aren't funding the BBC, so why be upset?


Andrew Lilico, because per the post topic, the BBC has interfered in American politics too many times. If the BBC withdraws from the US market, I promise to stop criticizing it. Until then, it is a legitimate target for American attack.

Andrew Lilico


Well...you say that it is a legitimate target for attack. And of course that is true, in the sense that you are perfectly free to disagree with what it says (as I do myself, sometimes). But that doesn't seem to be what you mean. Your thought seems to be that you are attacking its offering of its (biased left-leaning) point of view.

I suggest that in this context we should stick to playing the ball, not the man. Of course, *within* Britain we may have concerns about whether the BBC is sufficiently impartial in presenting UK news and politics, and consequently "play the man" - but that's up to us, really...

(Or is the US planning to stop funding news stations that promote its message in foreign states...?)


Andrew Lilico, perhaps I am uninformed. What news stations does the US government fund that interferes in the politics of its democratic allies?

The problem with the BBC is that the man is the ball (as awkward as that is to say). One cannot separate the BBC from its politics, because the BBC is itself a political organization, funded by the government. Stop the funding, and then we can differentiate.

M. Fernandez

I have to agree with other's comments regarding the BBC site. When I first visited it after 9/11, I did so because of the international reputation it earned after WW2 and the 50s. That reputation is way past its sell date, but it still resonates out there in the world. It was quite a shock to discover how biased it was. Newsnight and Question Time are abominations and there is no point in trying to post on Have Your Say. (The selected posts are multiples of a few favorites, most likely BBC employees, all left-leaning and occasionally one American kook). Is there a reason that the BBC takes the likes of Clare Short and George Galloway seriously?

Eventually, I would read the same newstory on different sites to get the full picture. I still went to the BBC for video coverage of events I couldn't get on C-SPAN. Now, however, the BBC is limiting video access, so I rarely go there at all anymore.

The Guardian has great British political coverage (from a left-wing viewpoint) but I can barely stomach the anti-American abuse. The Times is pretty balanced. The Telegraph is right-leaning but fair.

Americans who embrace the Guardian and BBC are doing so because they are getting the anti-American bias, with heightened vitriol, that they can't get in America. Attempts to recreate that in America - via Air America - have failed. (Although Keith Olbermann, Chris Matthews and MSNBC are certainly getting close). It is the reason the news on CNN is unrecognizable on CNN International.

My favorite characterization of British Newspapers comes from 'Yes, Prime Minister':

Jim: I know exactly who reads the papers. The Daily Mirror is read by people who think they run the country. The Guardian is read by people who think they ought to run the country. The Times is read by people who actually do run the country. The Daily Mirror is read by the wives of the people who run the country. The Financial Times is read by people who own the country. The Morning Star is read by people who think the country ought to be run by another country. The Daily Telegraph is read by people who think it is.

Sir Humphrey: Prime Minister, what about people who read the Sun.

Bernard: Sun readers don't care who runs the country as long as she's got big tits.


I don't suppose bombing the BBC is an option?

I mean, if it's just Al Jazeera in drag?

But, no. That would be too extreme. Better instead to insist that no corporation's broadcasts which are funded by any government other than the U.S. government may be broadcast within the United States, unless the content is entirely non-political and unrelated to current events of political interest.

The Beeb could always continue broadcasting rugby matches, though.

The comments to this entry are closed.

Blog powered by Typepad


  • Tracker