Monday, June 12, 2006

OK, we're isolated

There are sometimes some reasonably balanced reports on the BBC, like the one on the Euston Manifesto , but  Broadcasting House, on Radio 4 on Sunday mornings, is a case study in relentless one-sidedness. Yesterday's programme was one of the best examples.

For starters we had Clive Stafford-Smith on the remarks from the American military describing the suicides in Guantanamo as 'acts of  asymmetric warfare', telling us that these were 'outrageous and offensive'.

Next, Martin Bell on Iraq: 'we don't seem to be any further from getting out of the mess'. Then, Hugh Sykes reporting from Baghdad ... 'It's time to say goodbye and thank you (hubbub in Arabic and applause). They're thanking me - despite the fact that I come from one of the countries in the coalition which helped to create this situation ?'

The main course, though, is the review of the press (about 43 minutes into the 'Listen Again'). Martin Bell on Iraq again - 'one long disaster'. Then, they come across someone who disagrees with their cosy consensus:
Female (probably Jackie Ashley): Interesting piece that Nick Cohen, who of course was a lefty who supported the war, he asks in The Observer today, um, he says the real question is not why so few people cried on news of  Zarkawi's death, but why so few cheered, um, sort of implying that the liberal left, he says, has a lot to live down: we ought to have been cheering Zarkawi was killed. Well, I think that sort of totally misunderstands the point. I mean Zarkawi may be dead, but the war in Iraq goes on, thousands of people are losing their lives, I mean this is one tiny move along the way. I think it's a fairly, err, stupid question, to say the least.

Bell: He's always been very strange on the war from the start. It's taking the Nick Cohen line: there were very few people, I doubt, I think, among his own readers who will agree with this, it's just dear old Nick he bangs on about this week after week; err, he's very isolated.

Male (Presenter Patrick O'Connell): Well, I mean a lot of readers won't know, you know, they follow the coverage, but  perhaps don't know all the individuals in broad journalism so much as this whole issue of where next. Do you believe it both of you, that it's a breakthrough or that it's just another step along the way.

Ashley: I can't believe it's a breakthrough at all. I think the question goes much deeper than the matter of Zarkawi and I think that sooner or later we're going to have to find an exit strategy. Whether we're going to do that as long as (spits out the next 3 words with disgust) Blair and Bush are still there...
Accusing Cohen of constantly banging on about it is a rich irony.

Here is Nick Cohen's weblog and the post containing the article in question.

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