Friday, 3 January 2014

Best Today Programme Ever.

The Today programme gave the floor to PJ Harvey to edit her own show to be aired for millions of regular listeners and anyone curious enough to twiddle with the cogs of their radio to tune in. The English commentariat in his infinite capacity for noise of a pompous and uppity quality soon started grizzling at the presence of John Pilger and Julian Assange on the same programme. It was a breathe of fresh air for those of who often find the BBC to be playing its role as agenda-setter to the lower gradients of Pravda and Izvestia. Here's just a slice of the incessant grizzling from the censorious and self-righteous primates of Media Britannia:

"But just look at who Peej has gone and chosen to feature on her special edition: Julian Assange will be preachingWelsh wizard Rowan Williams will do Thought for the Day and the Australian journalist John Pilger. So, the line-up so far: the weird blond-haired rat known as Wikileaks; an abstruse, bearded lefty; and a tendentious, perma-whingeing bleeding-heart hack. And we're supposed to think, what, exactly?" 
- James Delingpole, The Daily Telegraph, January 1st 2014
"The Today programme guest edited by singer PJ Harvey featured journalist John Pilger attacking David Cameron and Barack Obama, a diatribe against the Olympics as a 'neo-liberal trojan horse' used to roll back civil liberties and Julian Assange, wanted on sex charges in Sweden, was hailed for his 'great courage'." 
- Matt Chorley and Martin Robinson, The Daily Mail, January 2nd 2014
"Pilger always thought-provoking but was he really suggesting that BBC ignore Obama's Mandela grief as he is a hypocrite? Or Sunni Shia massacres in Syria as Blair & Bush's fault? Surely, John those are what we call opinions not facts?"
- Nick Robinson, BBC political editor, via Twitter, January 2nd 2014 

The Today programme gave John Pilger a slot of little more than 7 minutes to deliver what must've been a pre-submitted, heavily assessed, and, ultimately, pre-recorded speech. Pilger is a renowned journalist and documentary filmmaker who has just presented his latest project Utopia (2013) on ITV. Yet the chattering classes of middle-class provenance behave as though he is some lone nutter on the margins of civilised debate. Of course we can't expect more of them than that. After all the BBC is the agenda-setting news power of the British soundbite system, it has to retain strict limits for the good of the Big Lie and the Big Liars. The 'unusual' episode stands out from the rest of the discussions broadcast and for good reason. Notice that the statement 'worst Today programme ever' uttered by a Labourite prat - and regurgitated from mouth-to-mouth by journalists across the land - therefore implies the rest of the Today programmes have been much better and fairer.

In letting PJ Harvey give a platform to leftists and a libertarian the BBC allowed an event to pass in order to reaffirm the rest of its coverage in its normative claims to 'impartiality' and 'objectivity'. Of course, neither is even possible - and yet both encapsulate the liberal tendencies of the media elite. It's the same as when the newspapers, and the BBC, admit a mistake in a broadcast, it is done in order to presuppose that everything else is in fine upstanding order. The fact that the BBC gave John Pilger less than 10 minutes when they regularly give Nigel Farage a platform on a full episode of Question Time should be enough to disperse such nonsense. Unfortunately not, and even Farage's own party run on the claim that the BBC is a part of an establishment to which it is a marginalised voice for the little guy. If we are not to trust the pretensions of the BBC then we are not to trust those of their immediate and most vociferous detractors.

The reactionary gutter-press can sound off about the 'left-wing bias' of the Corporation in the usual way to reinforce the strict lines already laid out. If the BBC is on the outer-reaches of leftist mania then why would you ever go any further than turning onto BBC1? That's already completely insane! This strategy boxes out alternative and independent-minded journalists who might actually dare to challenge the pretensions of the government, corporations, and, god forbid, the media itself. In its capacity as agenda-setter the BBC allows for oscillations between and around the centre-posts of left and right. The few deviations are about boosting the ratings with a spectacle and about reinstating the establishmentarian claims it is dedicated to asserting. It is an inner-realm populated by Oxbridge liberals (side-note: the term 'liberal' is not synonymous with left-wing or even progressive) who see themselves, simultaneously, as crusaders and insiders.

No comments: