One of the most extraordinary aspects of American life and attitude is the respect, verging on idolization so many in that country give to the BBC. In part this can be put down to the fact that they mostly know the World Service, which, even in its rather miserably unsatisfactory TV form, is better than the domestic programmes.
It must also be added that most of the programmes that do get exported are of the somewhat better variety and, of course, there is the touching and incomprehensible love and admiration for all things British that spreads across the United States.
What have we given in return: envy, undeserved contempt, complete refusal to know and understand (despite wanting to rush there for anything from short breaks to working assingments); our media, as Frank Johnson points out in his column in today’s Daily Telegraph does not bother even to report American affairs properly.
This was noticeable during the last election campaign. The flood of abuse directed at Bush and the complete conviction as reported by almost all of the MSM that he was hated across the United States left many people rather puzzled when he won comfortably with an increased vote. Those of us who had been reading the American media and, especially, the blogs were not surprised in the slightest.
Of all the villains in this whole sad saga, the BBC is the worst. It exists off a tax. Let us not pretend it is anything else. It is a tax on the ownership of a television set. It has a special position, a special charter, various privileges that come with an assured income. It has a duty to report events accurately and in as unbiased a fashion as possible.
It has done nothing of the kind on most issues but it has especially failed in its duty to report American affairs accurately. Instead, the BBC, that much admired organizations in the US, has been a cheer-leader in America-hating and Bush-bashing. It has used language about our greatest ally and its freely and fairly elected president that it would not dare to use about the most kleptocratic and bloodthirsty dictator. Well, especially not about kleptocratic and bloodthirsty dictators.
It seems, however, that the shine is beginning to get tarnished. The BBC and its journalists are too grand to read blogs, I expect, which is a pity from their point of view. But one of the highly popular and much visited blogs, USS Neverdock, has raised the subject of the BBC bias, giving prominence to its habit of affording authority to discredited or little known people as long as they can be expected to toe the line.
Since then the blog has returned to the subject with an obvious title: Katrina – America Wakes Up to BBC Bias. Of course, it quotes several of the British blogs that have been charting this sad state of affairs. But will the BBC read any of it?