the non-partisan normality

There’s an interesting constant in BBC political coverage, which is the ‘non-partisan normality’ that has quite extreme right-wing partisans on programmes as reasonable, or almost neutral commentators but never has similarly left-wing partisans on the same programmes. I’m thinking of John Bolton, the neo-con, hugely Bush-supportive former US ambassador, who is now sat next to historian Simon Schama. He’s ended up arguing fiercely with one of the roving reporters about McCain’s strategic weaknesses, because there’s nobody there from the Left.

If the Beeb had rolled in any left-wing commentators, ranging from Benn to Michael Moore, to perhaps Naomi Klein, they’d be definitely flagged up as left-wingers.

The point is (slightly confusedly expressed, sorry it’s late) that the norm is actually somewhere right of centre. I think this has been worst during discussions and debates around the recent economic turmoils, when strongly partisan (Reaganite etc.) anti-regulation free marketeers have pre-dominated over any nationalisers or old-school socialists, even at a point where mainstream free markets have been taken through a process of nationalising their loss. I could put this a lot more succinctly!

Rupert Murdoch for example. Absolute corporatising evil, masquerading as valid opinion. Where’s Benn to contrast.

Actually, seriously, where is Benn? After his bedtime these days? We get Oprah after Murdoch – that’s my point exactly.

By the way, by god, they’re now talking 350+ for Obama, which is massive.

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7 responses to “the non-partisan normality

  1. Wouldn’t be surprised if Dawkins crops up given it’s the BBC but that’s the closest we’ll get. Or they could have had a laugh by getting Blair on…

  2. Good point Dean, where is Blair?

  3. Probably drinking with Bush while McCain’s campaign burns…

  4. The appearance of right-wing partisans on bbc political shows often highlights their poorly constructed arguments and sometimes pathetic backlashes against any kind of criticism. Bolton’s performance tonight has basically proven that, it doesn’t seem to do them much good at all, so although they may be invited on under the same guise as anybody else involved in the discussions or debates, they will quite often end up embarrassing themselves. Which provides me at least with some pretty good entertainment!

  5. There certainly should be more left-wing commentators to balance the right but it could be argued there’s unintentional balance coming from the BBC staff.

    Sometimes, such as last night, the BBC’s own reporters can be accused of left-wing bias masquerading as neutrality. It’s unintentional but you could see it in little things like the way some of the reporters were smiling when talking about Obama. Some of the picture choices of McCain and Obama recently have told the same story. There seemed to be more of Obama smiling while McCain was often shown more straight-faced.

    It’s unavoidable to an extent. Much of the BBC is left-wing so even if they’re being professional and staying neutral, their own opinions will leak out somehow.

  6. Martin, this highlights what I mean – particularly regarding differences in European and American perceptions of the political spectrum.

    Obama clearly isn’t left-wing, he’s a progressive centrist with overwhelming popular support in the UK across the political divides. Meanwhile McCain, particularly the McCain of the campaign with Palin as a runningmate, is, in European terms, quite far to the right – a socially regressive, deregulating low-tax man who redistributes to the rich.

    So BBC correspondents ‘favouring’ Obama aren’t being left-wing, they’re being centrist. Plus I’m not convinced by your argument that the picture choices were unbalanced, simply because all night Obama was winning.

    Also he tends to smile more naturally than McCain, whose ‘better’ look is straight-faced. You might easily discover that that difference is borne of aesthetic choices made by the two campaigns.

    Have we heard a single voice on a high profile BBC programme in 18 months challenging Obama from the Left? Of course not, because that would be thought of as an extreme position.

    But I’d posit that that is an illusion, especially when the establishment in power has now used nationalisation to offset losses made in private industry. That’s where I think the grand scam is and where the absence of bona fide left-wing contributors is a disgrace.

  7. Re: picture choices – I’ve noticed it for weeks. Sometimes Obama was even depicted a little larger than McCain. Still, maybe it’s just my perception because Obama just looks more ‘presidential’.

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