BBC Monitoring = BBC Parroting

The alleged remit of BBC Monitoring is to supply monitoring of news from around the world accompanied by basic fact-checking of the veracity of assertions made by politicians, activists and commentators.

An alleged “analysis” of the causes of fires in the Amazon rainforest in Brazil In debate over Brazil fires, by Rose Delaney, listed (and debunked) untrue claims by supporters of alt-right president Jair Bolsanaro and by his opponents.  All false claims by both sides were obviously wrong and had been mocked by the public.  The article offered no conclusion, it was determinedly “balanced,” both qualitatively and quantitatively, and it did not mention the multi billion-dollar arrangements between Brazilian agribusiness and USA investors and corporations.

In Russia’s Navalny narrative creates Skripal deja vu Vitaly Shevchenko reported and dismissed a variety of inventive causes given by politicians, journalists and others for the illness of far-right Russian political activist Alexei Navalny, causes that disputed Navalny’s belief he was poisoned by the Russian state.

Both Delaney and Shevchenko offered basic reporting of facile comments made by others accompanied by easy rebukes of false statements.  There was little substance to their articles. 

Lightweight “monitoring” – lists of silly reported remarks followed by dismissal – is the essence of BBC Monitoring.  The service provided is minimal, almost pointless.  Its purpose is to haughtily decry the most fanciful claims with an undertone of derision aimed at an imagined group of people who chose to believe such claims.

In the UK, BBC Monitoring’s objective is to provide a parrot service for the Tory government and the government’s associates.  Alistair Coleman, from the BBC’s “Anti-Disinformation Unit,” tackles any criticism of the government or its associates by asking them if the details of the criticism are true and, when they deny, he states that the criticism is invalid. 

For example, at the foot of a BBC report on the Covid-19 test and trace application Coleman provided his version of fact-checking:

There have been calls on social media to boycott the app because some people think their personal data is in the hands of a private company.  The BBC spoke to both the Department of Health and Social Care and Serco, and both tell us that the app was made by a partnership led by the NHS involving Accenture, Alan Turing Institute, Oxford University, VMWare Pivotal Lab and Zuhlke Engineering.  Serco has no connection with either the making or the running of the app.  Additionally, Serco has told the BBC that it does not run the physical NHS Test and Trace scheme.  That, too, is run by the NHS, with Serco providing about 50% of the phone operations staff for tier 3 contact tracing.”

Coleman believes that the most dishonest and corrupt government since 1828 and a business with an endless CV of wrongdoing, theft and incompetence should be trusted to answer questions honestly.  His behaviour was the opposite of fact-checking and a vile extension of client journalism.  

(Coleman’s “journalism” background includes producing “worst tweets” lists for Buzzfeed and his current occupation includes trolling real journalists on social media platforms.)

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Alistair Coleman (right); (Scary Duck is not affiliated with Ducksoap)

The industry of fact-checking is a fast-growing enterprise.  The necessity for politicians and businesses to be dishonest and secretive, coupled with the ease at which untruths can spread globally, created a need for independent voices to referee disputes over accuracy of information.

The supposed role of a fact-checking body is to, as far as it is able, determine if an assertion is true or not.  By doing so, fact-checking bodies acquire trustworthiness.  The desire people have to trust something is exploited by people or groups that describe themselves as fact-checkers but who fail to fulfill the role. 

Throughout its coverage of the presidential election in USA in November (2020) fact-checking analysis on BBC news lagged behind other networks and BBC provided uninterrupted yes-platforming of charlatans when most other broadcasters had taken an editorial decision to not broadcast the same events. 

BBC’s unwillingness to check facts in real time is a facet of Director-General Tim Davie’s philosophy of allowing all opinions to be broadcast no matter how dishonest or absurd they are.  He explained in his introductory speech to BBC staff that “we [BBC] need to explore new ways of delivering impartiality, seeking a wider spectrum of views, pushing out beyond traditional political delineations and finding new voices.” (Davie speech to BBC staff)  He failed to say any of the “wider spectrum of views” need to have an association with facts, truth or honesty.

Coleman’s fact-checking is a swindle: In the example above he made no attempt to check facts but claimed he did because he asked those accused of lying if they lied.

The gradual descent in quality of BBC news reporting from 2010 onwards is steepening under Davie’s misguidance.  The absurdity of BBC Monitoring’s practices is a symptom of the accelerating decline.  Its fact-checking methodology is an insult to intelligence.  BBC Monitoring is unfit for purpose.

BBC Monitoring = BBC Parroting

President Biden: An ordinary imperialist

President-Elect Joe Biden knows to whom he and his government are accountable.  He understands that a democratic government is elected by the public and is employed by others.

In USA, power is in the hands of large corporations and their financial partners and associates, and it is delivered via Wall Street and The Pentagon in a two-laned channel of instruction to the White House and to Congress.  Biden’s lifetime of ‘public service’ ensures he won’t need any coaching on who pays and on what the payers demand and expect. 

Consequences of a change of presidency will be limited in USA.  There will be cosmetic changes to healthcare provision – in the election campaign Biden emphasised his opposition to socialised healthcare, and there will be miniscule pullback on Trump’s destruction of environmental protections.  The infrastructure of systemic inequality accompanied by physical control (violent racist policing) will remain wholly intact.

Outside USA, diplomacy with political allies will be restored, including rejoining a variety of international agreements – Paris Climate Accord, World Health Organisation, etc.  Relationships with other countries, those that the US government defines as not allies, will deteriorate.

Big enemies of USA are needed to justify spending citizens’ taxes on the arms industry.  The two biggest so-called enemies will remain Russia and China.  Iran and North Korea will retain their ‘pariah’ status.  There will be no reduction of the possibility of armed conflict between USA and Iran; it may become more likely.

The people who should fear the Biden presidency the most are people who live in Central and South America.  Trump’s government tried and failed to stage a coup in Venezuela but succeeded, temporarily, in Bolivia.  The new USA government will ramp up military interference in democratic countries south of its border.  There will be further attempts to remove governments in Bolivia, Venezuela and elsewhere alongside tactical and military support for right-wing governments.

Suppression of left-of-centre governments coupled with ravenous greed of the arms industry make it imperative for Biden to go on a spree of violence.

Biden’s demeanor is more well-mannered than his predecessor’s vulgarity but he is no less inhumane.  If Trump intended to bomb someone he’d state his plan proudly in advance.  Biden will carry on smiling, wordlessly, as he presses the button.

Recommended reading
Sarah Lazare on Biden’s pro-war transition team

President Biden: An ordinary imperialist

USA election complaints: A far-right grift

The far-right never misses an opportunity for a grift.  As individuals and as members of invented organisations, lobby groups and think-tanks, far-right bloviators make a packet from speaking and writing absolute garbage because there is a market for contrary opinions, provocative soliloquies and repetitive pseudo-arguments, regardless of veracity.  Professional far-right grifting is a huge industry.  

Donald Trump contests the results of the US elections for president, Congress and House of Representatives.  He doesn’t expect to change the results; Trump is preparing the ground for four years of lucrative income for himself and his awful family as complainers and conspiracy theorists.  His professional supporters, including those employed by him, see possibilities for steady income as TV guests, panellists and presenters, as authors and as public speakers where they will espouse nonsense as performing clowns.

In the UK, on TV, including new British “news” channels GB News and possibly a Murdoch channel, on talkRadio and LBC, and in the pages of The Spectator and Daily Express, the screaming heads and The Gits have many outlets to rake in income as election-deniers.  Like climate change deniers and Covid-19 deniers, election-deniers imbue themselves with forced sincerity about their viewpoints and then sell their incoherent polemics to anyone who will pay. 

It’s all just a grift.  

Types of far-right grifters include pretend journalists, or “writers” as they sometimes refer to themselves – Douglas Murray, Isabel Oakeshott and Tucker Carlson, etc., part-time politicians or political activists – Nigel Farage, Steve Bannon, etc., academics like David Starkey, think-tank members – Charlie Kirk, Candace Owens, etc., and freelance twerps – Toby Young and Darren Grimes, etc.

Don’t engage with them and don’t analyse their proclamations.  Derisory contempt is the only response.

USA election complaints: A far-right grift

BBC censors staff and promotes extreme right

On 29th October (2020) BBC published instructions for staff regarding use of social media that banned “colleagues working in news and current affairs and factual journalism production and all senior leaders” from “expressing a view on any policy which is a matter of current political debate or on a matter of public policy, political or industrial controversy, or any other ‘controversial subject’.” – Guidance: Individual Use of Social Media

Three days later BBC published a transcript of a Radio 4 show that depicted an extreme-right anti-immigrant gang of yobs called Littleboats 2020 in a favourable humanising light as if describing people organising a garden fete in a village. – BBC on Littleboats 2020

The above were part of the same policy.  BBC’s director-general Tim Davie has doubled-down on a policy of his immediate predecessor Tony Hall wherein there is an absurdist predilection for neutrality that hides an intent of political bias.  Davie banned staff from, for example, attending anti-racism protests.  Meanwhile, in a radio show, racists were presented as if they had a hobby.

BBC’s warped presentation of impartiality and balance deteriorated rapidly over the last year.  “Balancing” discussions of racism by including a racist, giving equal credence to informed scientific analyses and grifting con artists, and refusing to acknowledge the superiority of facts, morality and ethics, were features of a bad, illogical policy of “making sure all sides of a debate are heard.” (Tony Hall, March 2020.)

Davie enshrined Hall’s philosophy in unambiguous instructions to staff accompanied by threats of dismissal if not followed.  In doing so, he created a two-pronged policy of censoring anti-racism and enabling uncriticised platforming of racist views.  That was not accidental nor was it solely a consequential policy.  Since 2010 the BBC’s senior executive positions were filled with Tory plants but Davie was a Johnson appointment and Johnson wants more than just a Tory stooge.  He wants the BBC to fall into line with Tories’ strategy of closing down radical opinions while, simultaneously, normalising extreme-right opinions.

The dual strategy included Tories’ instructions to teachers to not use any teaching materials that criticised capitalism alongside the intent to force places of education to host extremist speakers. 

The similarity of intent between government policy and Davie’s policy is clear.

Tories know that their plans for no deal Brexit will be so catastrophic that all opposition must be suppressed and distracting divisive policies must be imposed.  Fear drives Tories censorious/indoctrination policy and BBC’s similar policy; the BBC has the additional fear of losing its charter. 

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BBC Director-General Tim Davie (left) and Boris Johnson

The BBC is travelling a dangerous road toward utter subservience to Tories’ extremism wherein the only political views allowed fall within a very narrow bandwidth, all other views are prohibited and extremists are humanised.  It is imperative that all occurrences of BBC’s self-censorship and of its normalisation of extremism are flagged and opposed loudly.

BBC censors staff and promotes extreme right

Trump “wins”: Democracy set aside in USA

At 7.20am (Greenwich mean time) on November 4th 2020 Donald Trump declared himself winner of USA presidential election.

His victory claim was based on votes described as counted in swing states.  The swing states gave Trump sufficient electoral college votes.

Accompanying his “victory” is a majority for the Republican party in the Senate.

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Suppression of votes is the reason Trump “won.”

1) Mail-in ballots: Millions of mail-in ballots (postal votes) were uncounted and/or destroyed by Republican-appointed assessors backed by Republican-appointed judges. 

Supreme Court, with a Republican majority, declared mail-in ballots will not be counted after polling day.

2) In-person voting: Voting locations were greatly reduced in number in Democrat-majority districts.  Long queues deterred many people in such districts from voting.

Police and armed militia intimidated and physically prevented voters from voting in Democrat-majority districts.

People were preventing for voting for many spurious reasons.

Trump’s “victory” is a victory for cheating, for intimidation and for fraud.  Rampant criminal behaviour throughout the Republican party, by officials at polling locations and at counts, among state politicians and local politicians, and by Trump-appointed Supreme Court judges as well as many other federal judges, succeeded in its aim of winning power (president and senate) for the Republican party and its backers.

This illegal undemocratic power grab was not opportunist.  It had been prepared for during the previous four years.  Nor is it the work of just Trump and his immediate allies and family; the entire Republican party and all its powerful and/or wealthy supporters are guilty.

In all capitalist countries democracy is a pretence of democracy but if the result of an election is annulled then even the pretence has disappeared.  Trump’s “victory” is a coup, a power grab obtained with physical force, fraudulent administration and corrupt judiciary.

Undemocratic changes in government are a feature of USA’s foreign policy, most recently in Bolivia – thankfully overturned in the country’s next general election, and an attempted but failed coup in Venezuela, but it is unusual for a USA government to use the same tactic at home. 

Bringing foreign policy back home is a symptom of desperate times for the capitalists.  Despite a Biden presidency and a Democrat-run congress being similar economically to Trump and Republican respectively, the desperation to maintain complete control has become so acute, extentiated by the Covid-19 pandemic, that a Democratic government would have been too problematic for the financial elite.

Trump and the Republicans’ main anti-achievements of his first term as president were huge tax cuts for the wealthiest and abandonment of environmental protections.  His intent for his second term includes removal of healthcare, removal of welfare financial provision, further destruction of the environment and severe crackdowns on protest.

Endgame capitalism is the current epoch.  Therein the entire structure of society is expendable.  Republican philosophy, like the Tories in UK, no longer has any interest in governance.  Public infrastructure, public labour, public services and the public themselves are now just expendable and, simultaneously, a means of short-term wealth generation for a small elite.

An immoral, unethical sociopath like Trump, whose humanity never developed, whose focus is his own wealth and who is in hock to several criminals around the world for billions of dollars, is precisely the (non) leader that financial criminals need.

USA is no longer even pretending to be a democracy.

Trump “wins”: Democracy set aside in USA