Saturday, July 26, 2008


John Ward has a good example of how the BBC meet their obligation to quote Conservative politicians in response to government announcements, in this case a decsion to grant an amnesty to tens of thousands of asylum seekers, by literally quoting a single word that the Tory spokesman, Dominic Grieve, used devoid of any context.

The word chosen 'outrageous' is one that is designed to make the opposition to the government's decision appear knee jerk and reactionary because it provides no reason for why they oppose it. 'Outrageous' simply indicates the strength of feeling about an issue but provides no hint as to why they feel that way. The BBC does of course explain the government's reasons, they want to grant the amnesty because
Most of their cases date back over three years, with some over seven years.
Other outlets do allow Grieve to put forwards why he disagrees with the Home Office,
This exercise should be about reviewing applications properly and granting asylum in genuine cases. The Government should not be tempted to grant an effective amnesty just to get the backlog cleared, and achieve a good headline.
This is a short and concise quote that neatly explains his viewpoint, whereas 'Outrageous' gives the impression of a pompous rent-a-quote venting over how angry he is with everything.


Mark Wadsworth said...

It is outrageous. If the BBC think that their viewers are so dumb not to be able to guess what DG would have said given the opportunity (see quote below), well ...

John M Ward said...

The problem is that, by and large, the sheer mass of numbers, and the lowest common denominator effect, will indeed result in the impression they wish to give.

The key to this is that they are stretching their bias to just within the law (which perhaps ought to be changed) on this point, and in who knows how many other respects elsewhere in their reporting?

This really is jlittle short of criminal, and should be dealt with in an appropriately firm and decisive manner, to send a message to anyone else thinking of (or already) trying similar methods.