thumping the tub
Tub-Thumper - 1. A speaker or preacher who for emphasis thumps the pulpit; a violent or declamatory preacher or orator; a ranter. (from This blog will be a combination of reasoned posting somedays and an occasional rant.
Monday, November 14, 2005

Speaking to people from other places around the world about the media always puts me on the spot. People often speak in glowing terms about the BBC as a wonderful and objective commentator. The BBC world service is what most people get and that is slightly different to what we get over here (when I was abroad I had a short wave radio and we would occasionally put World Service on or sometimes Voice of America if we felt we wanted to listen to comedy).

This weekend all the Remembrance Day stuff was on and on the BBC the fawning tributes to power, royalty and orthodoxy were more prevalent than tributes to fallen soldiers.(a fallen soldier)

'Reminders' of how good it is to do one's duty for one's country and answer the call were the theme of the day. Every time it is a royal event we are 'treated' to wall to wall coverage of whatever these inbred reprobates happen to be doing - such as getting married or dying. We didn't hear so much on the BBC about one of the Prince's getting dressed up in a Nazi costume. Or the fact that the Queen Mother invited Oswald Mosley, leader of the British Fascists to tea. Or that she hated Winston Churchill (well at least I have one thing in common with her) and preferred Neville Chamberlain the Nazi appeaser. Or that one of them actually went off to Nazi Germany and stayed there. I could go on.

When the Queen Mother died it was initially reported that the Queen was not there. Then the story was changed within minutes. I presume that for 'reasons of state' this had to be so.

The BBC is in essence supposed to be editorially independent. However, it has an institutional goal of being an authoritative 'Voice of Britain' figure. There is a debate about whether this goal was self-realised but that is missing the point which is that it has become self-perpetuating. This is why the royal events and parliamentary pageantry are covered so heavily - its to fuel the myth of the unified nation.

It must also not be too critical of the state as, in spite of its supposed editorial independence, the success of the institution that is the BBC depends on the success of the institutions of the British Government. The BBC depends on the government for funding - basically for its life. An unhappy government may refuse to increase the licence fee and choose to suppress the BBC in this manner so the BBC cannot be too disparaging of the British state. The government decides the senior appointments to BBC positions, also; the government can (and usually does) choose to fill the BBC hierarchy with sympathetic appointments. The BBC therefore never - as an editorial line - will take a viewpoint outside the current views of the mainstream parties. To its credit it will give air to some other views but not as its editorial line. It is not in a position to do this. The BBC serves to stabilise the system we currently have in place. Its investigative programmes are never massively damning to the system as a whole, merely to individual errors or policies. This form of episodic news coverage serves to maintain the status quo by examining the individual errors within the context of the British political system whilst never examining the foundations of it.

The reporting of the BBC in relation to Iraq and specifically Fallujah and it's consistent failure to decently report what is happening in Palestine are disgraceful.

The BBC may be better than something like Voice of America or Fox News but frankly, that isn't saying much - it's a bit like Jack the Ripper standing next to Genghis Khan and saying 'Well compared to him I'm ok.'

posted by michael the tubthumper @ 8:52 pm  
  • At 11:24 pm, Blogger Keir said…

    The BBC's lack of impartiality does suck, although sort of like you say next to standard American outlets it looks like friggin' ZNet. A decent independent hard news site is The NewStandard.

    Anyway, I'm glad to see you share my distain for monarchy. Any monarchy, of any sort, anywhere, makes me sick to my 200-goddamn-years-after-the-Enlightenment stomach. Fuck those fucking useless fucking fucks!

  • At 11:26 pm, Blogger mikevotes said…

    We had that exchange on BBC over at my place, but I think your last paragraph hits my point.

    I was saying that in relation to the US run Genghis Kahn(VOA), Mao(Radio free Europe), or Stalin(Radio Marti),

    Your Jack the Ripper(BBC) is better.

  • At 11:36 pm, Blogger Peaky said…

    come on man your talking pish!

    The BBC is so anti British it's un funny, granted it doesn't want to upset the government, but thats the point it supports more of the political correct sillyness rather than get to the heart of a subject.

    We could go on for years, but you name me an credible impartial media service and I'll eat my hat.

    There isn't one.

    I'll have a politics light please

  • At 11:37 pm, Blogger Peaky said…

    seeing as the scotsman is buying

  • At 11:56 pm, Blogger michael the tubthumper said…

    there isn't one but the BBC is not anti-british. being critical of britain does not make someone 'anti-british'. it just means that they might think the british state is doing something that they find worthy of criticism.

    on balance therefore, the bbc is far less critical of the british government than it could be.

    its the whole binding the nation together shit that anoys me. it is not now and never has been a unified nation. my interests are not the same as BP. someone who lives in shetland does not have the same interests as someone who lives in kensington. the bbc is their to try and make people believe that they do. that much is even in their original broadcasting remit.

  • At 5:43 am, Blogger justin barker said…

    Ah, so anti-british is the term that get thrown around over there when you think someone isn't towing the line. In the United States, we are usually accused of “hating America”.
    This falls right in with my effective strategy for winning arguments. It's like a straw man, a red herring and an ad hominem all wrapped up into the same package. Why do we always take the bait when the bait is so sour?

    Why don't we just say “F* you don't change the subject!”

    Also, how in Christ's name did the right wingers ever become so damn adept at manipulating our language?

  • At 5:48 am, Blogger justin barker said…

    So adept in fact, that I cannot even name my political bent in English speaking circles.

  • At 9:29 am, Blogger michael the tubthumper said…

    in all truth that is the first time i have heard the phrase 'anti-british' used.

  • At 10:06 am, Blogger Peaky said…

    Your right I didn't have my thinking head on lastnight.

    The BBC is a critic, and like all the various media outlets picks and chooses which particular angle it wants to go for and goes for it. What is unfortunate is that like the Brit Gov it is statistics that are important to them. Meeting targets, meeting viewing figure targets etc.. When faced against commercial outlets rather than raising the bar they lower themselves. The News has become more tabloid, using terms such as Nanny State for an increase in regulation.

    As for the united people, you are right it's bullshit. I have no wish to understand what is effecting scousers as much as I couldn't give a flying fuck over what is pissing off some mega rich fat cat in Kensington. A Personal beef over local news lastnight.

    I would rather the BBC any day over other media outlets abroad, but the state funded impartial institution like you say do not go hand in hand. The increased dumming down of mainstream British Society has taken it's toll in all forms of media.

    The Monarchy, hhmm touchy subject there, don't like them don't like paying for them. Don't like being preached too on subjects from people so out of touch it's unfunny. Do they bring money into the economy with tourism? I think even if the queen wasn't there the tourists would come. I don't subscribe to this it's what makes us British, the eccentric mantra bollocks doesn't wash with me. However we have them, short of a bloody rebellion and turning us into a republic we will remain with them. It is time that they shrank further from public life and the media should allow them to do so. However with Bonny Prince Charlie getting on his high horse once a month it isn't going to happen.

  • At 11:15 am, Blogger michael the tubthumper said…

    commercial media tends to be worse. e.g. fox and sky and cnn and so on.

    the bbc still does some good programmes like nature documentaries and stuff like that.
    one of their journalists said this recently "investigative journalism at the bbc is not dead but investigative journalism into politics is dead"

    also, i just got sent this....

    "Being British is about driving in a German car to an Irish pub for a
    Belgian beer, then travelling home, grabbing an Indian curry or a Turkish kebab on the way, to sit on Swedish furniture and watch American shows on a Japanese TV. And the most British thing of all? Suspicion of anything foreign".

  • At 11:17 am, Blogger michael the tubthumper said…

    oh and you're right. charlie should shut the f*ck up. and his dad.

    some of the sycophants always go on about what a hard life they have in the public eye and all that. how to solve the problem? relieve them of the job and the problem is gone. easy.

  • At 11:51 pm, Anonymous Mew said…

    Don't have anything insightful to add about the Beeb, but I love the Milligan-esque 'fallen soldier'...

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Name: michael the tubthumper
Home: Glasgow, Scotland
About Me: Tub-Thumper - 1. A speaker or preacher who for emphasis thumps the pulpit; a violent or declamatory preacher or orator; a ranter. This blog will be a combination of reasoned posting somedays and an occasional rant. 28 years old, I write and research for a couple of websites and also do my own stuff.
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