Monday, July 06, 2009

The BBC and Newsnight - Why do they give so much coverage to the BNP - and why are they refusing any to Craig Murray in the Norwich-North By-Election

The BBC and Newsnight say they only have to give coverage to candidates and parties with a large share of the vote or poll ratings - but that's not unbiased coverage, it's a self-fulfilling prophecy - and it doesn't explain the coverage they've given the BNP either

Why has the BBC recently provided so much coverage to the BNP while giving no equivalent coverage to other small parties and independent candidates? During the European election campaign, before the BNP had a single MEP, the BBC seemed to go out of their way to mention the BNP at every opportunity and News 24 showed Nick Griffin’s ludicrous Spitfire press conference live. Other small parties and independent candidates were barely mentioned.

Newsnight’s coverage of the Norwich North by-election recently completely omitted any mention of independent candidate and former ambassador Craig Murray, who was forced out of his job for opposing the British government’s backing for torturing dictatorships and its approval of using ‘intelligence’ extracted by torture. The Independent on Sundayquoted Newsnight political editor Michael Crick as saying “We're not obliged to report all the candidates. He'll have to join the queue behind the BNP and Ukip candidates to be interviewed.” (1)

Someone from Newsnight also telephoned Craig to inform him that he was “not a significant candidate” in the view of the programme’s editors and that while his name would be included in the list of candidates in future reports he would get no other interviews or coverage in Newsnight reports on the by-election.

Crick and the BBC seem to be arguing that they only need to give any coverage to parties or candidates who got a high share of the vote or high poll rating. This argument ignores the fact that candidates’ and parties’ poll ratings and votes are affected by the amount of media coverage they gets, so unequal coverage amounts to political bias – the creation of a self-fulfilling prophecy.

I wonder if the majority of voters, disenchanted with both the Labour and Conservative parties, will take kindly to the BBC only providing coverage to those two parties (oh and some racists).

It also fails to explain the additional coverage given to the BNP. The BNP got a lower percentage of the vote than the Green party in the European elections, it’s share of the vote increased by only got 1.4% compared to 2.4% for the Green party and it only got the same number of seats. Yet it got considerably more coverage from the BBC both during the election campaign and after it.

By constantly mentioning the BNP as the only party for protest voters surely the BBC and Newsnight must be aware they have in effect been campaigning for a racist party?

So why is the BBC going out of its way to help the BNP and avoid covering other small parties and independent candidates like Craig Murray, who, unlike the BNP, do not stand on a platform of a racism, but of opposition to torture, dishonest and corruption?

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(1) = Independent On Sunday 05 July 2009 ‘Matthew Bell: The IoS Diary’,

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