By Jonathan Boyd Hunt*
Two immensely influential and politically motivated British news organizations are currently establishing serious bridgeheads in the United States, namely: the world’s most influential news broadcaster, the British Broadcasting Corporation; and its mentor: the scheming, anti-conservative, anti-American ideologue The Guardian.
With an annual income of $6.5 billion, the BBC certainly has the financial muscle to establish itself in America. The Guardian also has more than enough means to become a player, with assets approaching $3 billion.
Beware, patriots of all hues, you have good reason to be fearful. Like the classic sci-fi movie “The Invasion of the Body-Snatchers,” the infecting of America’s national psyche has already begun but almost nobody has noticed.
Since its inauguration in 1998, the cable channel BBC America has grown such that by July 2004 it was available in 40 million U.S. homes, and it’s growing further. In January 2006 the BBC announced a deal with Discovery to bring its 24-hour news channel, BBC World News, to every American home.
As part of its own global expansion, last September the BBC’s guru, The Guardian, began rolling off its New York presses. And, like in Britain, it’s been focusing its marketing on capturing the hearts and minds of America’s youth. It is bearing fruit already: in December last year Apple, Inc. revealed that The Guardian’s Podcast of the hit BBC comedy “The Ricky Gervais Show” had taken the No. 1 spot of its Top Subscribed Podcasts both in the U.K. and in the U.S.
Things started to happen around the time of the invasion of Iraq, and they’ve been steadily growing since. Back in May 2003, The Guardian’s website carried a report that should have been a warning; entitled “US turns to British news,” it boasted:
“The BBC and the Guardian’s online news services were the two most popular British news websites in America during the build up to the [Iraqi] war, figures have revealed. UK news websites experienced huge increases in the number of visitors from across the Atlantic as Americans sought non-US coverage of the events leading up to and including the outbreak of war on March 19.”
Many Americans turned to UK websites for an alternative view, according to new figures. In the week immediately following the outbreak of war, traffic to the BBC News site from the U.S. increased by 47%, while traffic to The Guardian website soared 83%.
Since then, both organizations have continued to market themselves in the U.S., using as a selling point their supposed “impartiality”-as evidenced by the “wide range” of viewpoints they air.
So, what are these two British outfits up to? Much is revealed by their campaigns to undermine American journalism and bring about a changeover to their own negative style of reporting, using the “impartiality” line as the means.
The Guardian’s and BBC’s efforts have been clearly designed to browbeat the U.S. media into accepting that they have behaved like the patsies of a dumb jingoistic President, unlike the British, who instead aim for the greater truth by promulgating voices of opposition.
The Guardian began this campaign in January 2003 with a feature captioned: “So What Went Wrong?-Matthew Engel on the decline of the US press.” The article itself referred to the American public “looking to its newspapers for an independent voice” because “the press have now become the president’s men.”
In the contexts used by the BBC and Guardian, the word “independent” is a synonym for hostile.
The BBC’s John Willis picked up the Guardian’s baton in a smug address to London’s Royal Television Society six months later:
“It is on news and current affairs that American Television is shown at its most dispiriting. A sprawling and diverse democracy in which only 16 percent of Americans hold passports, no nation needs independent and impartial media more than the USA. Fox News led the way as the military cheerleader. The channel’s proud slogan is Real Journalism, Fair and Balanced, but as columnist Tom Shales put it: ‘The only word with any truth in it is ‘and.’ Even that seems suspect.’ The success of Fox has pushed other stations to the right… Above all, there was little or no debate. Watching BBC World or seeing reporters from ITV, BCC and Sky within network reports or watching C-SPAN’s coverage of British Parliamentary debates made me-and many Americans-realize just what the world’s largest democracy was missing.”
A few months later Willis’s famously impartial boss, Greg Dyke, used the Emmy Awards as a platform to continue the corporation’s attack on the U.S. news media. He railed:
“For any news organization to act as a cheerleader for government is to undermine your credibility. They should be balancing their coverage, not banging the drum for one side or the other. It may not be comfortable to challenge governments or even popular opinion, but it is what we are here to do.”
During the 2004 U.S. presidential election the BBC promoted its online news service in the States by selling its ability to offer a “wider view” than U.S. news organizations could provide. In August 2005 The Guardian pushed for U.S. readers with a geo-targeted Internet campaign “satirizing” American broadcasters and promoting its own “impartiality.”
But both the BBC’s and The Guardian’s claims to be impartial are utterly bogus: the “wide range of differing viewpoints” they propagate are invariably hostile to conservative principles (and even orderly society) and they select them for that reason; while news events supporting conservative ideals they misrepresent or ignore.
If the U.S. doesn’t wake up to the threat, monitor it, and deal with it, the likelihood is that within a generation the United States will end up like the inured P.C. basket-case that is now Great Britain.
Thanks directly to The Guardian’s hold over the BBC, British society has changed much for the worst, almost certainly irreversibly. The Conservative Party never woke up to the threat and so is now forced to court favor from these, their conquerors, so desperate are they to win back office.
And so, having achieved the emasculation of the Conservatives, the BBC-Guardian axis has turned its sights on the last bastion of conservative thinking: the United States of America. That’s why they are in America.
The main current vehicle for their ideological war is America’s crusade to defeat terror and plant the seeds of democracy into the Middle East: as Christopher Hitchens points out in Roger Aronoff’s film “Confronting Iraq,” it matters little to Bush’s opponents that their stance places them in support of crazed fascistic Mullahs whom the majority of the Iraqi people, including the Iraqi Left, want to see vanquished.
So inured are they with hatred for everything that conservatives stand for-even liberation of the oppressed-any issue that the BBC-Guardian axis can use to attack the Bush presidency suffices for that purpose: Israel, Hurricane Katrina, Kyoto, Christian belief, and countless other issues. Their coverage of those newsworthy events that ought to provide the President with a positive platform, such as overseas visits, instead focus on periphery dissent-that’s when the “wide range of views” tactic comes in handy-while initiatives of humanity that cost the U.S. billions, such as Bush’s program to defeat the African AIDS problem, or the U.S. Navy’s relief operation following the Asian tsunami, get twisted or go unreported.
The consequence of all this is that the U.S. has suffered, and continues to suffer, immense unjustified damage to its reputation around the globe-and it really is time that Americans got their act together and dealt with the source of the problem.
Some commentators are waking up to the danger that the BBC presents to American interests. In a piece for the Weekly Standard in Feb. 2004, Gerard Baker opined:
“If anti-Americanism is on the rise in the world, the BBC can take a fair share of the credit; much of its U.S. coverage depicts a cartoonish image of a nation of obese, Bible-wielding halfwits, blissfully dedicated to shooting or suing each other.”
In an article syndicated by the Scripps Howard News Service a week later, entitled “Why They Hate Us: The BBC is a chief reason many people around the world hate America,” Tom Neumman, the executive director of the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs, picked up on Mr. Baker’s observation:
“Why is it that America is said to be hated around the world? Why is our image said to be at such a low ebb? One official said recently that it would take years to restore America’s good name. Such a view of the United States would seem to be diametrically opposite to what it should be, based on the facts. One answer?perhaps the most important one?is that the public’s views are not based on any firsthand knowledge of America or American policy, but are formed almost entirely by the media, mostly television. Sadly, one of the chief offenders is the British Broadcasting Corporation, known everywhere as the BBC, the world’s largest news organization. Once highly respected for its objectivity, it has in recent years become a major factor not only in misrepresenting the United States, but also in misrepresenting its own government’s policies and support of the United States.”
Recently, while watching the BBC’s coverage of hurricane Katrina from Dubai, Tony Blair was so struck by its anti-Americanism he confided in Rupert Murdoch, owner of Fox News parent company News Corporation. When the story broke, one paper captured the exchange:
” “I probably shouldn’t be telling you this,” chuckled media mogul Rupert Murdoch, before revealing to a seminar audience how Tony Blair had reacted to BBC coverage of the U.S. flood disaster: “He said it was just full of hatred of America and gloating at our troubles.” Blair’s strictures are quite right. The corporation’s coverage of New Orleans was an anti-American hatefest. The tone was gloating: distrust of the Bush administration in particular now colours BBC reports to the point of caricature.”
The BBC’s own staff sometimes confess to what’s going on. In April 2005, Washington correspondent Justin Webb opined:
“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 that is how it is portrayed because I have done my bit to paint that picture.”
Documenting The Slant
In May 2005 former BBC reporter Robin Aitken announced the forthcoming publication of his book on BBC bias. Interviewed by the Daily Telegraph, Aitken confirmed what Britons have known for years:
“Aitken’s last posting was as a reporter for Today during the build-up to the Iraq war. ‘The whole tone of the programme was hostile to the notion of a war,’ he says. ‘It was not presenting a balanced view of the situation and explaining the reasons why intervention might be justified.’ Why did BBC journalists feel so strongly about Iraq? ‘They cannot bear President Bush because he’s a Republican and an evangelical Christian. The sight of a Labour Prime Minister going into battle alongside such a man was more than many BBC people could stomach.’ Dislike of Republicans is close to being a BBC article of faith, says Aitken.”
Picking up the story, former Guardian journalist Melanie Phillips, who has come to loathe her old newspaper, penned an article in the Daily Mail:
“?Robin Aitken, who spent his entire career as a BBC journalist, has written a book accusing the BBC of institutionalised leftism. For 25 years he chalked up solid experience across the board as a BBC reporter. In other words, he is a BBC man through and through. So when someone like this lifts the lid on newsroom culture, it carries weight. And his message is that BBC journalism is as bent as a corkscrew. This picture of a corrupted BBC culture that is ideologically skewed towards the left is blindingly obvious to anyone who does not share those assumptions. With a few honourable exceptions, the BBC views every issue through the prism of left-wing, secular, anti-western thinking. It is The Guardian of the air. It has a knee-jerk antipathy to America, the free market, big business, religion, British institutions, the Conservative party and Israel; it supports the human rights culture, the Palestinians, Irish republicanism, European integration, multiculturalism and a liberal attitude towards drugs and a host of social issues. Every day, its relentless bias rolls across the airwaves to shape the assumptions of our society. Who can be surprised at Britain’s current anti-Americanism when the BBC starts from the premise that President Bush is a dangerous extremist? On issue after issue, the BBC throws impartiality to the winds.”
Fox News’s London bureau chief Scott Norvell picked up on the Telegraph piece too and put together a few words for The Wall Street Journal Europe:
“?Mr. Aitken, a 25-year veteran reporter now retired, has put his finger on it: institutionalised leftism. The BBC’s world is one in which America is always wrong, George W. Bush is a knuckle-dragging simpleton, people of faith are frightening ignoramuses, and capitalism is a rot on the fabric of social justice. Through this prism, the United Nations is the world’s supreme moral authority, multiculturalism is always a force for good, war is never warranted, and U.S. Republicans sprinkle Third World children over their Cheerios for breakfast.”
But despite this welter of evidence, it is plain that most Americans don’t actually have a huckleberry clue as to what’s been going on, still less have the capacity to see where it’s all heading. Everyone is fixated with the New York Times-but the Times doesn’t broadcast to 150 million listeners worldwide, in 43 languages. The BBC does-and the BBC invariably adopts its thinking on big issues from The Guardian.
There have been warnings. Americans remember The Guardian’s attempt to sabotage the U.S. presidential election, when it obtained the electoral roll of marginal Clark County in Ohio, and urged its readership to write to those listed to persuade them to vote for the Democrat candidate John Kerry. The issue that instigated the campaign sported above its masthead in large type: “What you can do to beat Bush-with a little help from the folks in Ohio.”
What you can do to beat Bush?? Remember folks, this is the newspaper in which the BBC places over 90% of its job advertising. There could not be better proof that The Guardian is not an “impartial” newspaper but is a political machine-one that the BBC would have nothing to do with if the BBC really was impartial.
Welcoming The Invasion
It’s because The Guardian is such a political weapon that U.S. liberals awaited its arrival. Back in July 2003, media columnist Michael Wolff heralded its coming in an article for New York magazine. Its strapline forewarned:
“The British are coming?again. The launch of a U.S. edition of the unabashedly liberal Guardian may be just what the Bush-whacked U.S. press needs.”
The unabashedly liberal Guardian? Just what the Bush-whacked U.S. press needs?
Assault On America
Mr. Wolff’s piece gave an idea of what to expect:
“…as a robust counterpoint to the American media, The Guardian (to which I sometimes contribute) had a very good war. It became an almost-fashionable read on select U.S. campuses and in certain American liberal circles. Traffic on its Website, which has had a steadily growing American audience, climbed dramatically during the war. The electronic Guardian was the alternative press?if you were looking for one… Young people even read it. What’s more, under Rusbridger [the editor], it has become… among the most influential media voices in the UK. The sudden turn in popular opinion against Tony Blair for the Iraq war and the anger at his government’s WMD misrepresentations?a development that George Bush has yet to face?have been led by the Guardian.”
Things have certainly changed since then for President Bush, as Roger Aronoff of AIM discusses in a recent article entitled: “Where are the WMD?” Mr. Aronoff opens his piece thus:
“The question of ‘Where are the WMD?’ has been offered by critics of the Bush Administration in order to mock the rationale for the invasion of Iraq. The question is presented because of the failure to find the weapons of mass destruction that Saddam was said to possess or was pursuing.”
He then gave an account of new information from Iraq describing how Saddam spirited away Iraq’s WMD stockpile before the invasion, and then says:
“We understand why the major media want to ignore these new revelations. They have already found Bush guilty of lying about the WMD.”
The juxtaposition of Michael Wolff’s and Roger Aronoff’s articles could not make the point better: the U.S. media’s current attacks on George W. Bush over WMD can be traced directly to the British newspaper The Guardian-and The Guardian achieved that impressive feat even before it started up its new U.S. edition and before its mouthpiece, the BBC, cranked up its new U.S. 24-hour news channel.
Wise up America, and wise up fast.
*Jonathan Boyd Hunt, a writer living in England, wrote an article on BBC bias for the Wall Street Journal Europe, and a book and website on a controversy which brought down the last British Conservative government. See www.guardianlies.com
What You Can Do
Please send the enclosed cards or cards and letters of your own choosing to Rep. Mike Pence, chairman of the Republican Study Committee; Jeffrey Immelt, CEO of GE; and White House spokesman Scott McClellan.