Thursday, January 22, 2009

BBC: Dawn Butler Is The Chosen One

The Dawn Butler story I posted this morning seems to have spread about the internet quite well. Unity has turned his characteristically forensic microscope onto it and concludes that she's been a bit of a tit. Ben Brogan, Paul Waugh, PoliticalBetting have also covered it. But the BBC "News" website (note the irony) has covered itself with glory with THIS coverage, which might as well have been written by the Labour Party press office. Somehow the story fails to mention the crassness of what Dawn Butler has done. Instead it begins...

A Labour MP has stolen a march on rival politicians in the UK - by securing a personal endorsement from Barack Obama. Dawn Butler has published a letter from the new US president on her website in which he describes her as "bright, intelligent and determined"."I say to the people of Brent you should have the audacity of hope and when someone asks you can she do it, you respond yes we can," he adds. Ms Butler said she was "incredibly proud" of the letter... She said: "Meeting Obama was an inspirational moment. And I am so humbled that I can quote what he said about me 'that having met me he understands why I am only one of two black women in parliament. We should all be proud of Dawn.'

Er, that could be read in at least two ways I think! I've given up getting angry about puff articles like this from the 'impartial' BBC. Had I not written about this on my blog this morning they wouldn't have covered it. But no mention of the House of Commons paper being used for political purposes. Not even a "related link". I looked for the name of the person who wrote the BBC article half expecting it to be a D Butler. Unfortunately it is anonymous.


51 comments:

John said...

I am fed up having my blood boil by the BBC. Have you heard the latest? The BBC have refused to air a DEC charity advert calling for aid to rebuild Gaza. Apparantly it "compromises their integrity". Are you fecking kidding me?

Also, their refusal to show it threatens the entire 40 year old agreement the DEC has with British Broadcasters because it's an "all or nothing" deal.

The BBC is an absolute disgrace. Surely there isn't a single person left in Britain who would advocate keeping the BBC publically funded with the TV Licence? They should be cut off and left to chase advertising revenue like the other broadcasters. Then we'll see how much Jonathan Ross gets paid, or how much money they put into a TV Channel for Asia. I'll enjoy watching them shrink in size.

Just livid at the BBC really. I really need to calm down :(

Homer said...

"He signed it with his own fair hand. The signature is slightly smudged because he used a fountain pen and he is left-handed."

Curiously she didn't say that he WROTE it and signed it with his own fair hand...

Andy said...

John: "Surely there isn't a single person left in Britain who would advocate keeping the BBC publically funded with the TV Licence?"

You vastly overestimate the degree to which the majority of people care about this.

Most people I have broached the subject wih are only vaguely aware of BBC bias and reckon they get decent value for money from the license fee.

* shrugs shoulders in resignation *

Dennis said...

Andy, take heart!

I see that 288,359 people are currently signed up to the Facebook campaign for those refusing to pay the telly tax. Not a few of them complain about BBC groupthink.

The return of Jonathan Ross today provides a focus for older refuseniks, led by Charles Moore at the Telegraph. The fact that the BBC didn't sack Ross is a sign of arrogance and stupidity, which probably amount to much the same thing. What the BBC has apparently failed to grasp is that it has been sidelined by the internet; its promulgation of the New Labour agenda looks more ridiculous and transparent by the day.

Their cosy little arrangement about the licence fee might have to come to a rude end. If the refusenik movement continues to gather momentum like this, people might get it into their heads that other sorts of tax strikes might be possible (over council tax, for instance); and then how long would it be before the government throws the BBC off the sledge?

DespairingLiberal said...

The BBC is doing one of those little pieces beloved of local papers, eg, "our darling MP [insert MPs name here] obtained a grant for a new tree outside the town hall today". The only trouble is, the BBC is supposedly not a local town paper.

However, I suspect the motives of many of those who regularly gang up here and on the internet to attack the BBC. What is their agenda? Well, in a nutshell, they don't like paying the license fee. This is also true of taxes in general. Tories, we know, don't like paying any taxes. They would like to live in an abstract hostorical bubble where Gentlemen are Gentleman, the poor, women and dogs are kept down, the Navy is funded by theft of booty from other countries and all is well with King & Country.

Sadly, we don't live there any more.

Another faction simply brainlessly absorb the Murdoch line that the beeb are evil. It never occurs to them that a world run by Sky might be even worse.

Norfolk Blogger said...

What SO annoys the Daily Mail about the BBC is that shows like Jonathan Ross prove that the BBC provides a mass audience and does not confine itself to a small niche audience that would allow the Daily Mail to justify its long term aim to get the License fee removed.

Don't think the Daily Mail ha any other agenda on this. Oh, and don't claim for one moment it is representative of the majority of people in this country. Very few are as poisonous and xenophobic as Daily Hate.

Cath said...

Dispairing Liberal I do agree that a browse of BiasedBBC gives a window on the minds of people who really do wish this was the 1950s but I think you are underestimating the extent to which the BBC has recently crossed the line for more mainstream right of centre types. The one-eyed coverage of Gaza (I speak as a critic of the Israeli government) was quite horrifying and the Butler spin today would be funny if it wasn't so sinister.

jon dee said...

I hope President Obama,s advisers are kept fully informed about Labours use of his name and image for party political purposes.
Cheap stunts like Dawn Butlers will proliferate in the run-up to the G20 summit and the BBC will always be on hand to cover them.
BBC editorial control is firmly locked in to Labour whilst BBC management is either impotent or supportive.
Cut its subsidy and its left-wing complacency would disappear.

Mr Mr said...

Iain the BBC link to this article reads:

Can Labour MP really claim Barack's backing? Yes she can.

I think you should be angry as this is clearly a LIE when one reads the article. Obama did not write one word of his supposed backing of Ms Butler, she wrote the lot and Obama signed it.

OK we have one very junior British MP embarrassed and no one really gives a toss about that but what does this say about Barack Obama's judgement as he never should have signed that endorsement without even knowing anything about her, except that she is obviously black skinned? and why has the BBC not picked up on this?

Scan said...

Someone might have already brought this up but why does the comment change from "she" to "we"? Third person to first person. Maybe it's me being cynical, but to me it suggests a hastily written note by one of her flunkies well versed in writing in both terms.

John Pickworth said...


DespairingLiberal said...


"Sadly, we don't live there any more."

More's the pity.

There was something to be said for a world run by Gentlemen from their clubs, the unflinching respect for those that fed and clothed your family and where both the banker or politician feared a raised eyebrow.

As for the BBC, what was once an unquestionable source of truth and authority has become a place where editorial credibility comes second pleasing their socialist friends.

DespairingLiberal said...

Cath, I agree that the Beeb is frequently dominated by a particular view amongst their journalists, in much the same way that, say, Daily Mail journalists tend to share a particular set of world views. That's clearly not always right in the case of Auntie, which we all pay for. In the case of Israel, I suspect that many journalists of all persuasions in the field in Gaza feel outrage at what they see has huge overwhelming use and abuse of power by Israel against a relatively defenceless population and so inevitably this will appear "biased" to some here, but it's hard for it not to look that way and actually raise the issues. Is it "biased" to condemn murder of children raising white flags?

Going back to the motives of those running the regular attacks on the BBC, one need only think of Iain Dale, with his regular appearances on Sky, to observe someone who does not openly express his private interests when leading the attack.

Iain is as much a corporate media tool as the people he condemns.

Wrinkled Weasel said...

Nobody has mentioned the "other black one", Diane Abbot.

Diane Abbott is everything Dawn is not. Diane Abbott thinks for herself, has done a proper job, is articulate and doesn't seek approval and is clearly not going to become a minister anytime soon. She did a stonking speech last year on 42 Days.

I wonder if she will go with "all sisters together" or comment on the fiasco, tonight, on "This Week"?

Old Holborn said...

Europe is RIOTING

Not a word from Pravda

Everything here is "fine"

I give my blog, and yours, less than a year

Man in a Shed said...

Anyone heard anything about Hamas torturing and murdering Palestinians in the last few days ? No - BBC just doing its job....

Eddie said...

Not only do they fail to mention the HoC headed paper, which would highlight the ridiculousness of it, but they carefully edited the picture to exclude the HoC portcullis, choosing instead to show some nice blank space below the signature.

It must be pretty rare for the BBC to show a letter written on HoC paper, without showing the portcullis HoC logo on the top.

Dick Puddlecote said...

The BBC seems to have an inverse relationship with the fortunes of the Labour party. The further they slide down the toilet, the more gushing the backing from Comrade Beeb.

This is prize lickspittle. How very embarrassing too that a member of the Government, in a major economy, is behaving like some star-struck boy band groupie.

Mr Jabberwock said...

Ian,

Is the rule that an MP can't use the House of Commons Letterhead for Party political purposes or is the rule that they can't use the headed paper provided by the House of Commons?

Cropping the image to exclude the letterhead would avoid the first infringement; but the displayed "endorsement" and signature remains on House of Commons letter headed paper nonetheless.

Is that still an infringement or not?

Ann said...

Despairing Liberal said

"Going back to the motives of those running the regular attacks on the BBC, one need only think of Iain Dale, with his regular appearances on Sky, to observe someone who does not openly express his private interests when leading the attack."

Sky can pursue whatever editorial policy it likes. If Sky chose to pay Iain or anyone else that is a matter between Iain and Sky.
People choose whether or not to pay for Sky we have no choice of whether or not to pay for the BBC.

An unbiassed BBC, fulfilling its public service remit would be worth the licence fee.
The current shower of leftwing luvvies, tendentious reporters and unfunny overpaid comedians aren't worth a licence fee.

So I have stopped paying mine. I have written to the BBC and told them waht I've been doing, so far the response has been zilch.

DespairingLiberal said...

Ann, it isn't just some abstract confidential business matter between Iain and Sky. Murdoch has a global agenda of dominating all media on the planet. His local drones like Sky play commentators as tools to advance that agenda. The people who are carrying out that agenda should come under questioning and we should indeed analyse their motives when they run attacks on the BBC.

Although the BBC clearly does some things wrong, it is also one of the finest broadcasters on the planet and I assure you we would all lose a great deal if it went. The prospect of a US-style moron-media with wall to wall advertising and zero intellectual content fills me with dread.

Dick the Prick said...

Iain - may wanna delete as being bad form.

Not sure about the etiquette of this but David over at Biassed BBC is doing his usual live blog of Question Time. It's usually quite a good companion to the hilarious standard QT panel & the feerreaky audience members who seem to live in a country I don't recognize.

DespairingLiberal said...

Dick the Prick, it is because you exist in the tiny minority of extreme-rightloons. The majority of us look in at you and scratch our heads that such wierdness could exist.

Paul Linford said...

Here's another little story about Ms Butler, courtesy of HoldtheFrontPage.

It's about her threatening to take her local paper to the PCC for not using her photograph often enough.

Lanarion said...

Jolly good. Ad Hominem attacks from the despairing liberal.

I have to pay for BBC. If I don't pay, I break the law. I'd like it to be impartial.

Dick the Prick said...

I'm not an extreme right winger. Never have been, never will be. Just because a site has a greter proportion than others of critical opinions doesn't mean that everyone is. I read the Guardian for heaven's sake.

You must concede that no-one can remember when the panel was 3-2 split in favour of right of centre talking heads.

BJ said...

Normally Iain, as you know, I come on here to defend my employer, BBC News.

But I'm afraid I can't in this case. We look like right twats.

Dick the Prick said...

Actually Despairing, there's a possibility that you're being really rude. Are you suggesting that i'm a BNPer? If you mean extreme right wing on economic stuff then I probably am. But if my extreme you think i'm into deportation, glass ceilings, prevention of merit then you're absolutely out of your mind.

I'm a bit right of the Tory party but one has to face electoral reality, in that reducing local government, organizing fiscal policy to be directed to front line services, asking public sector to take a 10% pay cut now, not joing the Euro, reducing the BBC's mandate, expense, dominance and ivory tower mentality would be good, reducing our links with Europe by opting for free trade association negotions - certainly pro Lisbon referendum.

The Tory party's a broad church, I know only too well where the boundaries are and unlike your moniker implies, I'm not despairing, I've got Liberty in this country, I just wonder how much longer we can be restrained by a Labour government intent on control. It's the Ben Frankly thing that Obama quoted yesterday. I will completely concede that I despise Labour and sometimes my language may err...reflect that emotion. But the way the PM hates the Tories is scary, problematic, costly and dangerous.

Wrinkled Weasel said...

The trick with stacking the QT audience is to make sure that anyone who does not subscribe to a broadly left leaning liberalism sounds like a loony.

All the clapping happens when someone answers a question "correctly". It is very tedious and is a paradigm of the ochlocracy in action.

The audience is very carefully picked, the questions are vetted and panellists are either thick entertainers or journalists or MPs. You don't get academics on there. When was the last time that happened? Or a member of the clergy? Or a captain of industry? Or someone articulate who evinces a right wing opinion?

I confess I have not watched it in years, but from what I hear from time to time, it hasn't changed.

What then, is the purpose of Question Time?

Mr Mr said...

Wrinkled Weasel said...
The trick with stacking the QT audience is to make sure that anyone who does not subscribe to a broadly left leaning liberalism sounds like a loony.

All the clapping happens when someone answers a question "correctly". It is very tedious and is a paradigm of the ochlocracy in action.

The audience is very carefully picked, the questions are vetted and panellists are either thick entertainers or journalists or MPs. You don't get academics on there. When was the last time that happened? Or a member of the clergy? Or a captain of industry? Or someone articulate who evinces a right wing opinion?

I confess I have not watched it in years, but from what I hear from time to time, it hasn't changed.

What then, is the purpose of Question Time?

January 22, 2009 10:20 PM


The Major difference is that it is no longer live and serves no purpose anymore.

Iain Dale said...

Despairing Liberal, I enjoy your contributions to this site but I can't let your outrageous slur stand.

Are you saying that because I appear from time to time on Sky that I therefore follow a Murdoch agenda? I appear just as regularly on the BBC, so that rather scotches that line of argument I would have thought. My commentary is my own thoughts regardless of which channel I am on and I am surprised you don't feel able to acknowledge that.

Perhaps you should look at BJ's comment at 10.15. He works in the BBC newsroom and has regularly taken me to task on some of my comments re the BBC.

I am not anti the BBC. I do not seek its destruction. I merely question its editorial line when I think it has strayed beyond its impartial remit.

And what do you mean about "expressing his private interests". I am not a politician, but you will find that I do indeed declare interests. Are you saying that everytime I critique the BBC I should add "oh, and by the way, I get a couple of hundred quid of Sky each month for appearing on their news channel". Perhaps when I criticise Sky (which I have also done) I should declare a interest and say I get five hundred quid a month from various BBC programmes. Honestly, if that's the strength of your argument...

I am no one's "corporate media tool" I assure you. If ever I was asked by any media organisation to slag off their competitor I would tell them where to go.

Dick Puddlecote said...

This gushing over Obama from the BBC is embarrassing. I've had my say here. Knee-jerk I'll admit (and no doubt poorly-structured) but I didn't intend writing anything tonight.

I just find this all so very crashingly humiliating.

There really is a huge case for refusing to pay the licence fee now since Blair destroyed the Today programme over the Kelly debacle.

Can the BBC change? No they can't.

Richard said...

Despairing Liberal

The whole point is that the view of Israel you posted is a lie. There was no "huge overwhelming use and abuse of power by Israel". Israel did not commit war crimes, in fact Hamas were continuously committing war crimes during the fighting. Israel held back further than any other armed force in any conflict I know of to avoid civilian casualties. Israel has the military power to flatten Gaza and kill tens of thousands. The fact that there were some civilian deaths was more down to Hamas's war crimes than Israel's prefectly legal actions. How often did you hear that argument even put ont he BBC? That is the bias.

Bill Quango MP said...

Stop Press Iain.
The original Barcak to Dawn Butler letter has surfaced...

See it Here

Dual Citizen said...

Well at least she had her wish come true and finally got fair and balanced coverage in the Willesden & Brent Times!

Thatsnews said...

Desparingliberal said: The majority of us...

You can't claim to speak for the majority of us.

You can speak for yourself, but not for "the majority of us"

Because that is especially illiberal.

Rob said...

Here's another example of BBC manipulation. Obama's inaugural speech was surprisingly general and unspecific about climate change, which must have been a disappointment to the climate alarmists. But that was no problem for Newsnight. It simply cut and spliced the speech to make it sound strong and unambiguous:

http://ccgi.newbery1.plus.com/blog/?p=147

I know from personal experience that the BBC's sound engineers are very skilled at playing around with a recording to make what is said fit their agenda. Humble people have to learn to live with it. But the US President!

DespairingLiberal said...

Iain, I'm not saying that your apaprent followership of the Sky/Murdoch/Mail agenda to get rid of the BBC is to do with petty financial matters. I was inferring that you seem to have quite a chummy relationship with Sky and that you do often seem to take an unnerringly hostile approach to the BBC, as do many of your supporters here. I'm simply pointing out that there is an agenda there. If you were anti-Murdoch, would you be a regular guest on Sky? I leave it to the gentle reader to decide.

My basic point is that there is a lot of naivety surrounding this issue. People think that the press is somehow "independent" and the BBC somehow "biased". You often make cheap points Iain along those lines, yet you know full well the press is no such thing and the BBC tends to toe the line with whichever government happens to be in office, as it did for more than a decade, often slavishly, for your heroine M Thatcher.

At that time, the left frequently cursed the BBC as a tool of No 10. Now the shoe is on the other foot, it hurts.

Rob said...

DespairingLiberal: for the BBC to toe the current government line (if it does) may be understandable. But (see my link above to a story about Newsnight distorting Obama's remarks in the inaugural speech) surely you don't consider it acceptable for the BBC to go out of its way to change the evidence so that it fits their "narrative"?

DespairingLiberal said...

I agree with you about that one Rob. Mind you, it's not untypical of what "news" organisations generally get up to. But I agree the BBC should be better than that.

On a different note, for those who think the BBC is singlemindedly pro-government, a quick browse of today's news website, awash with tales of woe of the British people during the recession, is hardly a paean to New Labour.

Iain Dale said...

Despairing Liberal, The press can be what it likes as is it is not funded by the taxpayer. So can Rupert Murdoch. The BBC is in a unique position so when it veers off an impartial path it needs to be held to account. I am surprised to you can't see that.

I cannot believe you think it was pro Thatcher. Did you live through the 1980s? It couldn't have been more hostile to Thatcher if it had tried.

If I was always hostile to the BBC you might have a point. But I am not. On many occasions I praise its coverage.

Dick the Prick said...

No, no, no need for an apology. Can't stop anyway, those concentration camps don't build themselves. Tosser.

DespairingLiberal said...

Iain, I do see your point, I am not calling for uncritical adoration of the BBC.

What I am protesting is the sort of knee-jerk anti-BBC mentality that seems to have developed here and in other blogs of the Right in particular and is, I think, primarily because the Beeb does not adopt a "sufficiently critical" attitude to NuLab in their not-so-humble opinion. I contest this is what the BBC is for and I think that when you join this reflex criticism, as you sometimes seem to, it feeds the commercial interests of Murdoch/Dacre/Rothermere, who care nothing for the fine programming that the BBC does do, only for their own profits.

BBC News makes many mistakes and should rightly be pulled up on them, but this process should not obscure the fact that the BBC is an enviably fine, pro-democratic instution, one of the bedrocks of our Britishness and something many others around the world wish they had.

You only miss a good thing once it's gone.

DespairingLiberal said...

To what are you referring in your last D. Prick?

If you are implying that I am some kind of totalitarian, you are so far off the mark. I actually know something about Nazism as well, which you appear not to from some of your past ravings.

Dick the Prick said...

Despairing - just for the record, for my fury is great, I think you may find that everyone in Blighty is a little right wing. The Welsh are the hardest people this planet has ever known, even the Jocks accept that.
I'm Irish Catholic. My Great Grandfather established a massive union. I want Labour as my enemy - I love 'em. And should I dare to wander about the various opinions in my Tory party I didn't bloody realize I had to ask permission.

I doubt you know what liberal means sunshine. I know people, I like people (from a distance, sure) but I'd never take them for granted.

You Sir, are an arse.

Iain Dale said...

As I said, I have never called for the abolition of the BBC. It does many things well. But please don't tell me even you found their reporting of the Dawn Butler thing fair and honest. Surely you can see I was right to draw attention to it? Even their own journalists are embarrassed by it - witness BJ's comment.

DespairingLiberal said...

Iain, I found their coverage of the Butler letter to be somewhat under-investigatory and just a little on the side of caution, given that (like most major news organisations) they would always have a little background worry about a writ. I looked at the newspapers this morning and I couldn't see any major investigatory pieces about it there - has anyone seen any? Perhaps the newsrooms don't think this is as important as right bloggers do.

The line though that they went easy on her because she is a Black politician I find a bit less convincing.

DespairingLiberal said...

Oh and one more point Iain whilst we're on it. I know you don't call for the "abolition" of the BBC. Neither do Dacre/Murdoch. The assualt is cleverer than that. They call for "removal of the license fee", "privatisation of services", "reduction in scope", etc. The net result of all this being the effetive neutering of the organisation, getting rid of it's revenue sources and destroying it's authority. The way is then clear presumably to sell the remaining bits off to Russian gangsters or whoever our own media oligarchs deem worthy of inheriting it.

DespairingLiberal said...

Richard, a simple question.

Is it "biased" of the BBC to report the clear and widely cited and evidenced fact that Israel has been dropping white phosphorous on Palestinian civilian areas?

wild said...

If "Despairing Liberal" thinks the BBC is great I think we all ought to be forced to agree with him.

neil craig said...

I assume Obama's office has been emailed about this. After all if there were any truth to it it would make Obama look like a complete idiot. I think he is going to have to say something about even if it is "Mr Obama has no recollection of the incident".

I found Unity's review convincing:

The signature was originally written on a white piece of paper & electronicaly added to the rest of the letter, which Dawn now admits writing.

I'm not sure whether to be more appalled by the complete dishonesty or complete stupidity.

Paul Halsall said...

They did not spin it your way.

Get over it, big boy.