TCS Daily

Torturing the Truth

By Peter C. Glover - March 13, 2006 12:00 AM

There is a line in Michael Mann's film The Insider that resonates with me as a long-time analyst of the news media. It is where the CBS 60 Minutes news bosses, who prided themselves on the highest journalistic standards, broadcast a story they knew to be less than true. The line is where they are accused of "betraying the legacy of Ed Murrow".

Just a few decades ago similar high-profile examples of broadcasters breaking with Murrow's legacy were the exception. Today, arguably, such "breaks" with brave broadcasting ethics are increasingly the rule. And most glaringly, by a novel twist of fate, this is occurring in the very BBC London studios where Murrow once delivered his historic broadcasts.

Evidence for ideological bias at the BBC is nothing new in recent years. Such is its prevalence that whole Web sites, such as Biased-BBC, are dedicated to documenting it. High profile U.S. sites such as The American Thinker routinely report on BBC bias. And we British media analysts who have written concerning BBC bias, who are neither anti-war (in Iraq) nor anti-American, know just how cringingly painful it can be to listen to it as we awake to the BBC's early morning flagship "Today" radio program. Now one its former editors Robin Aitken is to whistle-blow on the systematic leftist programming bias of his former employers in a new book.

And, caught in an off-guard moment, the BBC correspondent in America, Justin Webb, confirms that "America is often portrayed as an ignorant, unsophisticated sort of place, full of Bible bashers and ruled to a dangerous extent by trashy television superstition and religious bigotry; a place lacking in respect for evidence based knowledge. I know it is how it is portrayed because I have done my bit to paint that picture."

But it is not the charges of institutionalized leftism with its inherent liberal values and general scaremongering tactics that should concern us most. It is the basic obfuscation of truth, in every sense, at the public's expense — and a U.K. public that pays for the privilege — that should prompt our ire.

On 14 March 2005, BBC News announced that violent crime was "spiraling". The BBC may have read the crime figures that way, but it was not how the two main sources for recording crime statistics — the police and the British Crime Survey (BCS) — interpreted them. The police and BCS pointed to a steady decline in the crime statistics in the UK since 1998 while the BBC had them rising during that same period.

Health scares figure prominently in BBC reports too. On 13 January 2003, the BBC announced, "Smallpox kills about 30 percent of those infected. There is no cure, but there is a vaccine. If given before exposure, the vaccine will prevent the disease from appearing. But is there enough for everyone?" And the reality? Lots of vaccine sold. No smallpox epidemic. Numerous other BBC warnings and outcomes could be mentioned: tuberculosis, measles, a whole array of killer flu, killer bees, SARS and MMR jabs for children (still no evidence that MMR does anything other than good) and a pandemic spread by bird flu.

"Bird flu could kill your cat" (BBC, 1 March 2006, after one cat died in Germany) provided a "worrying" variation on a theme. The very same day the BBC announced, "Cancer chemicals found in drink cans." Though the Foods Standards Agency quickly put this last BBC "fear" into perspective, pointing out the levels found "are no cause for concern", the public fear factor had already received its daily dose.

Worst of all, is the BBC hardy perennial: the global catastrophe. Almost any lunatic theory and prediction — since when has prediction equated with evidence? — finds it all too easy to gain BBC mainstream coverage. The current "religious" fervor for climate change is perhaps chief among them at present. Controversial and contradictory as the evidence certainly is, almost every wild computer model predicting a calamitous future is broadcast as further evidence rather than being questioned as to its validity.

In recent weeks the BBC has warned that the Gulf Stream may be in danger of expiring, the Greenland ice cap could be melting and, at time of writing, the mass of Antarctica might possibly be receding. This, even though in the body of the report itself it states: "studies have produced apparently contradictory results, with some indicating a loss of ice and others that sheets are thickening." The public fear factor has received another dose.

"Pro-choice" has replaced "pro-abortion" in BBC parlance. "Assisted dying" has sanitized the more unpleasant "euthanasia". Pregnant women no longer carry a "baby" they carry a "fetus" (actually Latin for baby). Presenters are instructed to refer to blatant killer terrorists as "insurgents". And the fact of Muslim groups murdering non-Muslims around the globe — almost universally one-sided religious "war" by Muslims — is depicted as "sectarian" violence suggesting a moral equivalency between antagonist and victim.

Now one might be charitable and allow that these stories appear only on slow news days. But the fact is almost all of the above stories, common broadcasting fare, turn out to be either entirely misleading or plain bogus "non-stories". Those of us who spend a good deal of our time monitoring the news know only too well that this is the norm rather than the exception at the modern BBC.

Anyone picking up BBC broadcasts on the Planet Zog might easily come to believe that Public Enemy No. 1 and the evil empire are not Bin Laden and al-Qaeda, but George W. Bush and the USA. A litany of recent stories on the BBC have implied that Bush is pretty much responsible for phone taps, denying mass murderers their human rights (by sanctioning capital punishment), melting polar ice caps, pulling the levee plugs in New Orleans and ferrying undesirables around to torture them, primarily, at Guantanamo Bay. And with this last story: "Guantanamo man alleges 'torture'" (3 March 2006) the BBC even manages to sink below its own low broadcasting standards.

Having gained the coup of an interview with a serving Guantanamo inmate — the first by any agency — its lead story turned out to be predicated upon this gentleman's assertion that his force-feeding "amounts to torture." In the BBC's view it appears the U.S. authorities are "torturing" men by ...keeping them alive. Just what exactly the BBC expects the American military to do — when the same force-feeding procedure is common policy among all Western nations — they do not take the trouble to explain.

Just 50 years ago the use of the name of the BBC and the use of "BBC English" meant one thing. It meant speaking truth to the world with a posh public school accent. Today Ed Murrow's moral values and broadcasting ethics would not, it seems, strike much of a chord with the average BBC news editor. And whatever is going on at Guantanamo Bay, I doubt that Truth is being "tortured" and abused quite so systematically as it is in contemporary BBC news reports.

The author is a media analyst & freelance writer. He is the author of The Politics of Faith: Essays on the morality of key current affairs. He also edits the blog Wires From The Bunker.



I thought this was about Hampton's observations
There is no surprise that the BBC line mirrors that of other Leftist enterprises. They all tend to sound like frequent commenter Hampton always slightly less than accurate and always reliably loose with the facts. I always find it fun to read the MSM accounts about six months after the fact. The distortions and lies are beyond reason. Doubt it? Try reading the MSM accounts of Katrina now. As for the BBC, there was a time when it was the gold standard. But then again there was a time when the NY Times was a respected name in the MSM.

Good Column

I enjoyed your article. I am in America and when I watch BBC International I am shocked at how American is portrayed. I can handle the extreme-left spin in most American news networks, I figure that we just have a very robust theater of free speech. Besides, we are here, we know we are not "an ignorant, unsophisticated sort of place, full of Bible bashers and ruled to a dangerous extent by trashy television superstition and religious bigotry; a place lacking in respect for evidence based knowledge."

But when I see it coming from BBC I fear that many people overseas will beleive it, they don't have a reality to compare the reports to.

I have linked to this article at

torturing the truth
Reading this article about the BBC makes me also cringe as in France we have the same problem as EVERY goverment sponsored channel_this includes radio programs is(very)leftwing or blatantly under the influence/censorship of Chirac anti-american views.Only one private channel -TF1- conveys a more centrist opinion on some occasions !!!! as this article mentions for the BBC, this is all done with taxpayer money which means that 50% of french people who have different views than the liberal mafia have no say whatsoever.This constant brainwashing has been going on for years and years and to my utter disgust no one is really raising the issue....

Truth: A Lie? Presto Chango!
Many problems in human experience are the result of
false and inaccurate definitions of humankind premised
in man-made religions and humanistic philosophies.

Human knowledge is a fraction of the whole universe.
The balance is a vast void of human ignorance. Human
reason cannot fully function in such a void; thus, the
intellect can rise no higher than the criteria by which it
perceives and measures values.

Humanism makes man his own standard of measure.
However, as with all measuring systems, a standard
must be greater than the value measured. Based on
preponderant ignorance and an egocentric carnal
nature, humanism demotes reason to the simpleton
task of excuse-making in behalf of the rule of appe-
tites, desires, feelings, emotions, and glands.

Because man, hobbled in an ego-centric predicament,
cannot invent criteria greater than himself, the humanist
lacks a predictive capability. Without instinct or trans-
cendent criteria, humanism cannot evaluate options with
foresight and vision for progression and survival. Lack-
ing foresight, man is blind to potential consequence and
is unwittingly committed to mediocrity, collectivism,
averages, and regression - and worse. Humanism is an
unworthy worship.

The void of human ignorance can easily be filled with
a functional faith while not-so-patiently awaiting the
foot-dragging growth of human knowledge and behav-
ior. Faith, initiated by the Creator and revealed and
validated in His Word, the Bible, brings a transcend-
ent standard to man the choice-maker. Other philo-
sophies and religions are man-made, humanism, and
thereby lack what only the Bible has:

1.Transcendent Criteria and
2.Fulfilled Prophetic Validation.

The vision of faith in God and His Word is survival
equipment for today and the future.

Until the oppressors discover that wisdom only just
begins with a respectful acknowledgment of The Creator,
The Creation, and The Choicemaker, they will be ever
learning but never coming to a knowledge of the truth.
The rejection of Creator-initiated standards relegates
the mind of man to its own primitive, empirical, and
delimited devices. It is thus that the human intellect
cannot ascend and function at any level higher than the
criteria by which it perceives and measures values.

Additionally, such rejection of transcendent criteria
self-denies man the vision and foresight essential to
decision-making for survival and progression. He is left,
instead, with the redundant wreckage of expensive hind-
sight, including human institutions characterized by
averages, mediocrity, and regression.

Humanism, mired in the circular and mundane egocentric
predicament, is ill-equipped to produce transcendent
criteria. Evidenced by those who do not perceive
superiority and thus find themselves beset by the shifting
winds of the carnal-ego; i.e., moods, feelings, desires,
appetites, etc., the mind becomes subordinate: a mere
device for excuse-making and rationalizing self-justifica-

The carnal-ego rejects criteria and self-discipline for such
instruments are tools of the mind and the attitude. The
appetites of the flesh have no need of standards for at the
point of contention standards are perceived as alien, re-
strictive, and inhibiting. Yet, the very survival of our
physical nature itself depends upon a maintained sover-
eignty of the mind and of the spirit.


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