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July 15, 2007

Beeb Ex-Producer Confesses, Analyzes Liberal Media Groupthink

It's amazing that these people can continue lying in the face of confessions like this.

The BBC's 2007 impartiality report reflects widespread support for the idea that there is "some sort of BBC liberal consensus". Its commissioning editor for documentaries, Richard Klein, has said: "By and large, people who work in the BBC think the same, and it's not the way the audience thinks." The former BBC political editor Andrew Marr says: "There is an innate liberal bias within the BBC".

For a time it puzzled me that after 50 years of tumultuous change the media liberal attitudes could remain almost identical to those I shared in the 1950s. Then it gradually dawned on me: my BBC media liberalism was not a political philosophy, even less a political programme. It was an ideology based not on observation and deduction but on faith and doctrine. We were rather weak on facts and figures, on causes and consequences, and shied away from arguments about practicalities. If defeated on one point we just retreated to another; we did not change our beliefs. We were, of course, believers in democracy. The trouble was that our understanding of it was structurally simplistic and politically nave. It did not go much further than one-adult-one-vote.

We ignored the whole truth, namely that modern Western civilisation stands on four pillars, and elected governments is only one of them. Equally important is the rule of law. The other two are economic: the right to own private property and the right to buy and sell your property, goods, services and labour. (Freedom of speech, worship, and association derive from them; with an elected government and the rule of law a nation can choose how much it wants of each). We never got this far with our analysis. The two economic freedoms led straight to the heresy of free enterprise capitalism - and yet without them any meaningful freedom is impossible.

But analysis was irrelevant to us. Ultimately, it was not a question of whether a policy worked but whether it was right or wrong when judged by our media liberal moral standards. There was no argument about whether, say, capital punishment worked. If retentionists came up with statistics showing that abolition increased the number of murders we simply rejected them.

Related: Last week the Chicago Sun-Times announced it's editorial pages were "returning to our liberal, working-class roots, a position that pits us squarely opposite the Chicago Tribune -- that Republican, George Bush-touting paper over on moneyed Michigan Avenue. We're rethinking our stance on several issues, including the most pressing issue facing Americans today: Bush's war in Iraq."

Returning?

Whatever; doesn't seem to matter. Because now the paper has a change of heart candor and claims it's not liberal, won't be liberal, and never was liberal:

"We're an independent paper.... We're not going to be a small L liberal paper. We're not going to bind ourselves to a party or ideology in anything."

What you mean is that you're just not going to honestly admit it. As annoying as the paper's declaration of a "new" commitment to liberal values was, at least it was partly honest, at least as regards its future liberalism.


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posted by Ace at 07:13 PM

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