Audio Clips - All Entries

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Greg Philo on BBC News: 'The Palestinian Perspective is just not there'

BBC Today Programme - 16 July 2014

The BBC Today Programme invited Greg Philo, Professor of Communications and co-author of 'More Bad News from Israel' to discuss the lack of historical context and of the viewpoints of the Palestinians on BBC News coverage of Israel and Palestine. Referring to results from focus groups, Philo notes that 'people do not even understand that it is a military occupation that the Palestinians are subject to'.

Journalist Jonathan Freedland is also in the discussion, arguing that both sides of the conflict criticise the BBC. He states that 'even though the death toll is very lopsided', 'there is a mutual exchange of fire.'

Listen to the audio clip from 16 July 2014:

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BBC's Ben Brown Singles Out Hamas as Preventing a Truce

BBC News - 18 November 2012

Reporting from southern Israel, the BBC's Ben Brown comments that: 'Despite that hope, that possibility of a truce, a ceasefire certainly doesn't seem to have been responded to by the militants in Gaza. The Israeli government have been saying if there were a cessation of hostilities, if the rockets stopped coming in then there would be a chance of a truce happening'.

This on the day on which the 'death toll mounts', amid the 'most intense assault' on Gaza since the Israeli invasion of 2008, and as '[a]t least 21 people are reported to have been killed in Gaza by Israeli bombardments so far on Sunday. Of the total, at least nine were children and at least four were women' (BBC).

Brown's implication that the Palestinians stand in the way of a 'truce' is also made despite Benjamin Netanyahu having today stated that 'the Israel Defense Forces are prepared for a significant expansion of the operation'. This, however, does not receive mention in Brown's report.

The video clip from which this audio is taken is being repeated every 10 minutes on BBC 'Gaza-Israel violence' News on Sunday 18th November.

Listen to the audio clip from 18 November 2012:

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BBC News Repeat Obama's Iran 'Weapons' Assumption

BBC Radio 4 News - 26 March 2012

On the 7am BBC Radio News, a false assumption is yet again made about the existence of Iranian nuclear weapons:

"He also made appeals to the leaders of North Korea and Iran to give up their own weapons programmes."

We might expect that a news organisation that has taken enormous interest in Iran's nuclear programme to point out at this stage that there is no basis for Barack Obama to make such a statement.

Shortly before the news bulletin, Evan Davis made the odd assumption that Iran was ahead of North Korea on the nuclear issue.

Listen to the audio clip from 26 March 2012:

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Evan Davis: Iran is Ahead of North Korea on Nuclear Issue

BBC Radio 4 (Today) - 26 March 2012

Speaking to Damian Grammaticus who is at the nuclear safety summit in Seoul, Evan Davis makes a bizzare suggestion that Iran is ahead of North Korea when it comes to the nuclear issue. He says this to Grammaticus:

"Iran and North Korea are fighting to be... most prominent nuclear... nuclear issue, and probably Iran is ahead at the moment."

On the news bulletin shortly after this conversation, Obama's assumption that Iran has a nuclear weapon's programme was repeated.

Listen to the audio clip from 26 March 2012:

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John Humphrys on the Monarchy

BBC Radio 4 (Today) - 10 March 2012

A particularly defensive John Humphrys discusses the Queen's Jubilee celebrations with Paul Flynn MP and Graham Smith, chief executive of Republic.

Graham Smith explains that his group is protesting against the coverage of the royal family by the BBC, which he claims 'takes a stance which is celebratory of the monarchy rather than simply reporting and reflecting.'

In the discussion that follows, Humphrys responds to the various arguments with the following:

'The nation is celebrating the Jubilee';
'You could say' that 'the Queen has done a pretty good job for sixty years and let's celebrate that';
'Does it matter?' in response to Flynn's assertion that 'MPs become infantalised by royalty';
'Pretty much whoever you talk to will say [...] the Queen's doing a good job';
'She may be a normal person but she's done a not terribly easy job';
'She's given us stability, constitutional stabilty'.

It must be said, Humphrys does not do much to dispel Smith's argument about the BBC's position on the monarchy.

Listen to the audio clip from 10 March 2012:

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BBC World Service: 'So Dangerous Because it's Impartial'

BBC Radio 4 (Today) - 29 February 2012

On Radio 4's Today show, James Naughtie speaks with BBC World Service Director Peter Horricks and journalist John McCarthy as they celebrate 80 years of the BBC World Service (BBC broadcasting in different languages around the world).

As we might imagine, all discussion is based on assumptions that the BBC World Service is founded on altruism and is a 'force for good'. It is claimed that the BBC gave the 'unvarnished truth' to the Arab speaking world during the Arab Spring, and that Iran doesn't like the BBC because it 'tells the truth as it is'. This page features is a clip of the discussion. The full audio can be found here.

Below are a few excerpts from the conversation:

(1) Peter Horrocks: ...when people have other sources of news that they can't trust, they turn to the BBC for the unvarnished truth, and that's clearly what happened in the Arabic speaking world last year...

(2) James Naughtie: The argument has always been that ... the world service represents ... a force for good in some undefined way around the world. Do you believe that is still there?
John McCarthy: I think that's definitely there, it does affect the way the world sees us. That fantastic reputation for impartiality, for being not biased etc., does affect the way the world sees us...

(3) Peter Horrocks: ...the Iranian government sees it [the BBC World Service] as such a threat. And a report from the Iranian government it described it as 'so dangerous because it's impartial.' Not because it's propagandist or oppositionist, because it tells the truth as it is. And I believe that's a historic value which the world service represented...

It would be interesting to know, for example, the extent to which the BBC World service informed Arab Spring of the UK's involvement with and arms sales to repressive regimes in the region.

Listen to the audio clip from 29 February 2012:

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Greece: Disconnect Between Government and People not Questioned

BBC Radio 4 (The Today Show) - 8 February 2012

Mark Lowen reports from Greece on the Greek government's commitment to 'reforms' which include cutting the minimum wage by 20%. Further austerity in Greece is accepted (and forced) by EU governments, but not by the Greek people. Lowen's suggests that the politics of a country are separate from the people (which, it could be argued, is the case in Greece, after the replacing of the Prime Minister by a technocrat in late 2011): 'It [further austerity] could stick politically but whether it sticks among an austerity-weary Greek nation is altogether another matter...' The disconnect between this EU-appointed Greek government and the 'austerity-weary' nation is simply accepted and not questioned.

Lowen also poses a question that generally ignores the protests and desires of the Greek people: 'The big question is whether this entire strategy is flawed.' That the idea of cutting minimum wage by 20% is flawed is even a question demonstrates the angle from which this reporter approaches the issues of Greece.

There is a hint of the general prejudice towards Greek people (and the idea that they are lazy) in the report also: 'The holiday bonus, that is so cherished here, looks safe for now'.

The trouble, in Lowen's point of view, is for Greek politicians. The alternative to austerity 'strikes fear in the hearts of' these politicians. And they have a 'difficult argument to sell' to 'ordinary Greeks'.

Listen to the audio clip from 8 February 2012:

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Webb Speculates About when Killing Innocents is 'Understandable'

BBC Radio 4 (The Today Show) - 24 January 2012

While discussing the sentencing of the marines involved in the Haditha massacre (the killing of 24 Iraqi men, women and children in 2005), Justin Webb hypothesises that it would be understandable if, during a battle, US marines "simply went into a house and killed innocent people".

Webb may regard this scenario as understandable, others may wonder whether it is ever understandable to kill 'innocent people'.

Listen to the audio clip from 24 January 2012:

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Taxing the Wealthy: A Framed Debate

BBC Radio 4 (The Today Show) - 11 January 2012

A discussion on the 50p tax rate on the Today Show is an excellent example of a framed debate. The two guests invited to contribute share a stance against increased taxation of the wealthy.

Camilla Cavendish from The Times claims that the 50p tax rate is a 'terrible psychological threshold; people think they’re going to have half of their income taken away before they’ve seen a penny of it'.

The Spectator's Melissa Kite, who is 'not sure that all these £2m properties – which the idea is to tax – are the property of the mega-rich', argues against a property tax on high-value houses: 'the mega rich need incentives too, I mean, they’re spending they’re money in this country, and thank goodness for that, in a downturn' ... 'If you say that, actually, when you get up there and you own a £1.5m or £2m house, you’re actually going to be hunted down and taxed extra, isn’t that a perverse incentive to people who want to do well?'

The idea that taxing lower earners might have 'damaging' affects is hardly entertained (while Kite's notion that those who own £1.5m houses are simply those who 'want to do well' goes unchallenged). Rather, as Cavendish puts it, 'if we could reduce income tax for ordinary people, that would be a bonus'. As this discussion makes clear, the burning issue here is that which affects the wealthy.

Listen to the audio clip from 11 January 2012:

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Iraq Occupation: A 'Foolish' 'Mistake'

BBC Radio 4 (The Today Show) - 15 December 2011

John Humphries interviews former Pentagon official Richard Perle about the Iraq conflict, who discussed the actions and responsibilities of 'civilised countries' with regards to Iraq. Here are some of their thoughts:

Richard Perle: '...Most of the Iraqis who died in this conflict died at the hands of other Iraqis...'

John Humphrys: 'We did a lot of things that were so foolish... We created the conditions in which a different kind of terror flourished'

Richard Perle suggests that the mistake the US made was 'falling into the position of occupier'.

It's the usual apologist attitude: no mention of lies or deceit, just mistakes and foolishness. Much of the blame for the destruction of Iraq is pinned on the Iraqis themselves.

Listen to the audio clip from 15 December 2011:

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