We’re being treated at the moment to the unedifying sight/sound of the BBC bending over backwards to be “balanced” in its reporting of the British National Party and their two European Parliament seats.
The Beeb are being careful not to criticise the BNP in any way. They’re also chiding other guests for making statements about the BNP to which the BNP are not able to respond. The problem with trying to be “unbiased” when dealing with fascists is that you end up sounding like the fascists have a fair point.
The BNP are a racist party. Other media outlets, not hamstrung by a need for “balance”, have investigated BNP members and reported their clear, recent, blatant racism. On the 31 May, for example, The Guardian reported on the abhorrent views expressed by prospective BNP candidates:
[T]his month the veneer slipped when it emerged that a Salford-based BNP candidate in the European elections had set his Facebook status to read “Wogs go home”. Eddy O’Sullivan, 49, wrote: “They are nice people – oh yeah – but can they not be nice people in the fucking Congo or… bongo land or whatever?” O’Sullivan, who also joined an internet group called “Fuck Islam”, denied that the comments were racist and insisted they were made in private conversations between individuals.
Ah, the “private conversation” defence, meaning that it’s okay to be racist as long as it’s with your racist friends. We’ve heard this defence from Ron Atkinson (who used the N-word when he thought the mic was off) and Carole Thatcher (who used the Golly-word when she thought she was among friends). It’s like saying you only stole the money because you thought you weren’t going to get caught.
So the BNP are nasty, racist, vicious people who are taking advantage of some people’s ignorance and convincing them that “immigrants” are to blame for the recession. The truth is, if you arse around at school, boil your brain with booze and fags, and leave with no qualifications, then somebody from India or China – from anywhere – who has worked hard and applied themselves throughout their lives is going to get the job, and you aren’t.
The BBC’s producer guidelines call for “comprehensive, authoritative and impartial coverage”. That the BBC have interpreted this to mean that the BNP get to pretend they’re not fascists and nobody is allowed to say otherwise is a travesty. Comprehensive coverage would include the views of the vast majority of people in this country (somewhere around 59 million) who didn’t and would never vote for the BNP. Authoritative coverage would mean reporting the facts about their not-so-hidden racist views. And being impartial doesn’t mean that you can’t report the truth. I’ll impartially tell you right now that it’s not raining outside my house at the moment, but the “balanced” view of the BBC would involve finding some nutter to say that it is.
They did this, you’ll recall, with the MMR vaccine scare. For literally years, they reported the nutcase minority view that MMR could cause autism as if it held equal weight with the reasoned scientific view that it did not. This caused no end of confusion and has led to the worst rates of Measles etc. in living memory. There are still people around who doubt that MMR is safe, thanks to the BBC’s “balanced” (but completely wrong) reporting.
Here’s the BBC’s mission:
To enrich people’s lives with programmes and services that inform, educate and entertain.
To be the most creative organisation in the world.
Trust is the foundation of the BBC: we are independent, impartial and honest.
Audiences are at the heart of everything we do.
We take pride in delivering quality and value for money.
Creativity is the lifeblood of our organisation.
We respect each other and celebrate our diversity so that everyone can give their best.
We are one BBC: great things happen when we work together.
I’ve added emphasis to the words “independent”, “honest”, and “celebrate our diversity”.
What I’m trying to say here is that it’s about time the BBC grew some and called the fascists what they are. Whether they’re in the studio to “defend” themselves or not. No right of reply for fascists: wrong is wrong.