Is it time to rein in the BBC?

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Is it time to rein in the BBC?

The BBC’s overt loathing for Donald Trump is clear for all to see and serves as a poignant reminder of the organisation’s inherent bias. A bias that serves only to guide the organisation further and further down the path to irrelevance, says David Hardy.

‘So smart of Britain to alienate the President of the United States,’ so tweeted Good Morning Britain host, Piers Morgan recently. The presenter is of course referring to an insidious trend in British public life right now, a trend that if it continues in its present vein could quite conceivably destabilise UK-US relations, if not permanently then at least for the foreseeable future.

Though the vitriol aimed at the US president from Britain’s chattering classes such as Sadiq Khan, Jeremy Corbyn and even taking in the likes of John Bercow MP and Theresa May herself is bad enough, nothing quite compares to the sneering, malicious and frankly embarrassing anti-Trump tirades that have become a daily feature of the British Broadcasting Corporation’s output – an organisation, remember, that claims to be the nation’s broadcaster.

‘Quiz: Could you pass Trump’s brain test?’ recently sniggered the BBC’s news website following the President’s A1 health report. The fact that Mr Trump had passed his medical with flying colours rankled the BBC to such an extent the broadcaster immediately posted a series of questions designed to do nothing nobler than mock, scorn and ultimately delegitimise the ‘brain’ test. Yes, you read that correctly, according to the BBC it was a “brain” test . . .

And there’s plenty more where that came from.

An episode of BBC2’s Newsnight ended last week with a VT panning across a Norwegian meadow scattered with clumps of grass. Presenter Evan Davis mumbled something about Mr Trump’s toupee and words to the effect that the BBC might have found the source of the alleged hairpiece in this very field. Clumps of grass = President Trump’s toupee. Classy.

It just keeps getting better, or should that be worse?

‘A Stormy (Daniels) situation: Donald Trump’s porn-star (non)-scandal,’ so runs another BBC website piece fresh off the press. ‘Would a Trump porn-star sex scandal have made a difference in the election?’ salaciously speculates the writer of this BBC piece of so-called journalism that would not be out of place in the very trashiest of tabloids.

Indeed, one year into Donald Trump’s presidency and the BBC – Britain’s ‘fair, free and impartial’ national broadcaster is outdoing itself. Moreover, it shows no signs of stopping or even pausing what has effectively become a daily hate-campaign against the American president, the aim of which is to inflame public opinion both at home and abroad.

Relentless. Bitter. Juvenile. BBC coverage is also hysterical and quite frankly has now become a national embarrassment. This is not journalism. It’s political activism, pure and simple.

The Twitter feeds of BBC employees such as its North America editor Jon Sopel or Anthony Zurcher, one of its North America Correspondents, positively drip with antipathy towards the US president, as do the feeds of the entire coterie of BBC staff. ‘Takes an arsehole to know a shithole,’ tweeted Match of the Day presenter Gary Lineker just days ago in relation to the infamous comments allegedly made by the president in a private meeting about DACA.

And that is just the tip of a very large, publicly-funded iceberg, a corrosive, pernicious iceberg that is slowly but surely attempting to drive a wedge between two nations whose relationship is a vital part of the UK’s prosperity, not only in financial terms but also in terms of its international standing.

Be that as it may, the BBC machine keeps on turning.

In the month just gone the BBC’s James Cook wrote what was an opinion piece dressed up as ‘news’ in which he openly accuses Mr Trump of ‘promoting fascism,’ a poisonous piece of libel that the BBC news website promptly splashed all over its front page and which BBC activists joyfully re-tweeted all over social media.

‘Did American soldiers,’ writes Cook dolefully ‘fight and die on the beaches of Normandy so their president could promote fascism?’ Apart from cruelly exposing the writer’s ignorance of what Fascism actually is, this piece – this one sentence alone – exposes the BBC mindset in all its simplistic, melodramatic disengunity.

Meanwhile under the Trump stewardship the US economy continues its remarkable ascent – a US stock market breaking all records; according to the Wall Street Journal the economy operating at near full capacity for the first time in generations; record levels of job creation; lowest levels of unemployment in the African-American community – stories virtually ignored by the BBC or at best relegated to the obscurity of its business pages where it knows few, if any, of the general populace, will encounter this economic miracle.

For make no mistake, the BBC is determined to do all it can to undermine the Trump presidency in just the same way it is attempting to sabotage the Brexit vote. While a toothless political class looks limply on, the national broadcaster grows ever more audacious, emboldened by lack of regulation and timorous politicians the BBC is an organisation now out of control.

And so it goes on, day after day after day:

There can be little doubt that this daily outpouring of bile, spite and just plain malice is doing irreparable damage to the corporation’s reputation. Judging by comments on social media the BBC is indeed doing little more than hastening its own demise. ‘BBC bias’ and ‘BBC propaganda’ hashtags are invariably accompanied by a raft of colourful comments.

But the real issue here is not the irreversible damage the BBC is doing to itself, but rather the potential damage to US-UK relations. Does the current US administration know or even care about BBC histrionics? Good question. Probably not near as much as the BBC would like to believe.

The Trump administration is however certainly aware of the BBC’s hate campaign. Witness the president’s comments to Jon Sopel earlier in the year. Mr Trump’s disdainful ‘another beauty’ comment was triggered when Mr Sopel stood up at White House press conference to reveal himself as a BBC correspondent. Those who disparage the billionaire businessman have a habit of coming off second best. Mr Trump has always played the long game.

Notwithstanding, ever eager to appease the BBC and its vociferous left-wing allies, Mrs May is currently playing a very dangerous game. Mr Trump’s reported reluctance to meet the British PM at an upcoming Davos summit may or may not be indicative of a much more profound splinter appearing. Time will tell.

If, therefore, you are expecting the British government to reign in an organisation pursuing a campaign against the most powerful man in the world that becomes more vindictive by the day, you’ll be sorely disappointed. Similarly, if you’re expecting the very BBC-friendly regulator Ofcom to step in you’ll be even more disappointed.

From the Department for Culture, Media and Sports through to the entire staff of Ofcom, not a single finger will be lifted to bring the BBC in line, as the personnel down at Broadcasting House know only too well. As it stands the BBC is effectively a law unto itself.

Its antipathy towards the current US administration is real and visceral. As Mr Trump prosecutes his agenda – the one voted for by almost 63 million American citizens – expect BBC coverage to become thus ever more unhinged, inflammatory and distasteful.

Exactly what impact this deleterious campaign will have on UK-US relations is yet to be fully realised. Like increasing numbers of people, the US administration may simply choose to ignore the less than savoury antics of a once respected broadcaster; on the other hand it may choose to distance itself from an ally that was once a dependable partner, but is now seemingly hostage to a small, but extremely vocal gang of political ideologues.

There may, however, be light at the end of this very gloomy tunnel. The more it attacks President Trump (and Brexit) the more the BBC risks alienating itself from ordinary people. The more it alienates itself from the people who fund it, the more irrelevant it must ultimately become. Its viewing figures tanking year on year, the corporation is already halfway on a path to irrelevance.

The BBC digging its own grave is not a particularly edifying sight, but on the evidence of its Trump coverage, if only for the sake of the future health of US-UK relations, it’s a destination that cannot come soon enough.

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    David Hardy
    A university lecturer by profession, David Hardy writes about a wide range of topics including Theatre, Politics and Formula One. His forthcoming book, 'BBC: Brainwashing Britain?' is due to be published this summer. In his spare time, he enjoys marking student dissertations…
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