The Today Programme

I wrote this some time ago but I thought it was worth running again

By Michael Skywood Clifford.

An email from a BBC executive said that the BBC are completely impartial. It took me five minutes to stop laughing. If I hadn't have laughed I would have broke down and wept. The flagship news programme on Radio 4 is the 'Today' programme' which is broadcast between 6am and 9am, Monday to Friday. My observation is that the 'Today' progamme' is anti Christian, anti-Islamic, anti-Chinese, anti-Russian, in fact anti: Burma, Zimbabwe, Palestine, Syria, Libya, Somalia, Iran, North Korea and ANTI any country where the Israeli/ US banking lobby has not inserted a gobbling private central bank in the centre of its country to complete cripple it with debt. Basically these two Radio 4 news programmes are pro-business/ pro capitalist, anti left, anti trade union, pro-advertising and pro-product placement. It is a phoney-democratic state-radio propaganda outlet. It is pro-US, anti-European and pro-public school (many of Radio 4s female voices are ex Roedean debutantes who speak through their noses and are usually called Philipa).

I remember the halcyon days of the 'Today' Programme when the decent Brian Redhead was the anchor man and he did a brilliant  – not perfect – but a million times more impartial bulletin than now. This was before the egos and salaries of John Humphrys, Evan Davis, Justin Webb, Sarah Montague (and the more acceptable James Naughtie) had not inflated beyond the stratosphere. These media pipers are playing the corporate tune of their editors and masters.

A decade ago, the BBC used to provide some oxygen of relief – a counter balance – from the Murdoch media-trash machine. Now, however, the features on these BBC news programmes are often more pernicious than Murdoch editorials. The underlying text is Thatcherism. Reaganism, Blairism, Neo-Liberalism; we are effectively listening to a UK-styled Fox-cub News.

The BBC used to be respected nationally and word-wide by academics, business people, policemen, scientists, statesmen, doctors, financiers etc. as a soft-left balance to all the private sector media because it was a public sector media. The World Service gave the BBC a lot of respect. I sent a 'Freedom of Information' enquiry to the BBC asking for their mission statements on impartiality in reporting the news for the years: 1980, 1990, 2000 and 2010. None of these have been provided and the FOI request was ignored.

These news programmes put up a democratic front but it's bogus. Any discussion on a subject is usually between a right winger and an extreme right winger, completely blotting out the full range of political ideas. And if the BBC doesn't approve of a political position, then the exponent of that position may well be a stutterer, have a dreadful voice quality or an off-putting accent. Failing the finding of a suitably self-defeating advocate, they use technical tricks: I have heard both a priest defending his faith and a doctor defending a strike on  discussions on 'Today'. On both (separate) occasions their microphones cut out – meaning their message was lost – while their opponent's microphones worked perfectly. And which side is almost always given the last word? And of course the last word on a subject is psychologically important.

When the credit crunch came in 2008 presenters were forced to mention two words they always studiously avoided: 'Capitalism' and 'Socialism'. However when they were talking about the credit crunch and the financial crunch they were unable to avoid them. You could actually hear these words at first stick in the commentator's throats. They didn't want to let on what their programme was designed to avoid: real political issues. Dumb down political discussion and distract people with trivia, false issues and lies. The avoidance of serious political debate was the bedrock of the programme and they hated bringing up serious concepts. They wanted to turn news into entertainment not educate people – not likely, that might stir up a hornet's nest. Oh dear. However we are now in 2012 and once again these two words are dropping out of use again on these two news programmes.

If Radio 4's 'Today Programme' is a cowpat's pie of biased interpretation, then 'PM', the news programme that comes on between 5pm and 6pm is a whoopy cushion of the infantile. This Kindergarten show is hosted by Eddie Mair, a presenter whom you can tell by his radio manner really wanted to be a child psychologist.  I'm sure he sees himself as a most avuncular gentleman, perhaps he wears a gaudy woolly cardigan in the studio to get in the mood to charm his band of little gentle sweetey Radio 4 listeners. But remember, Eddie, this supposed to be the news not Crackajack.

In between bits of information slagging off the nurses, the doctors, the NHS, the police, the teachers, the civil servants, the students, the post office workers, the university lecturers, the trade unionists and non-capitalist foreign governments, we get bits of information from our favourite uncle on rock bands,  how to play the kazoo and how to taste wine, or writing a song for 'Up-shares and down-shares'. I'm certain one day he will tell his patronised baby boomer listeners how to build a Lego house. Just like the 'Today' programme, there is a party sense of atmosphere continually hovering in the radio show; let's all have a laugh, the world might be going to hell in a handcart but we can release catharsis by getting a good old rib tickling from uncle Eddie.

I have been listening to the Today Programme this morning and I will discuss the issues they refer to. 

  1. They slag off hospitals with a report by some cobbled together committee called the National Confidential Enquiry into Patient Outcome and Death (an organisation of which its working members are opaque and was formed in 1990) saying that people are being resuscitated when they have expressly asked not to be. 'Today' is continually slagging off the public sector. When at war the first thing to do is demoralise the enemy. The 'Today Programme' consistently attacks the NHS, the teachers, the doctors, the police, trade unionists and other public workers and bodies on a regular basis. And perhaps the reports they report from are published for exactly such a propaganda purpose.
  2. They accuse Syria of child massacre once again, yet right at the end of this gory report they say that 'these accounts can't be independently verified'. Why report them then? In fact we all know the British Government with the Americans and American war corporations – just like in Libya – are going into Syria covertly and financing the rebels. The 'Today' programme is merely the political propaganda wing of our overseas killing machine and imperialist juggernaut, softening up the British public to accept body bags.
  3. Then we get a pretty meaningless feature on An San Sui Kyi, the so called Burma freedom fighter. They treat her like a heroine, but their real reason is that imperialists will use her in getting into Burma so they can 'modernise' it with debt. She is the core of their insurrection: the Burmese Spring.
  4. Then we get a piece about how civil servants and public sector employees are ripping off the taxpayer by fiddling the credit cards they are issued. The item (using the same technique of mentioning cheap every objects as the Daily Telegraph did in exposing the MPs fiddling their expenses) says they are buying 'doughnuts, CDs, luxury hotel rooms and music on line'. This article is rather silly because all credit cards have an obvious paper trail so any culprit could be caught and reprimanded. Also it's trivial in comparison to the vast billions of fraud of the bankers and other global important issues going one. Why don't they ever talk about that – the crime of the century? It is actually a political attack, propaganda against civil servants and public sector workers.
  5. The next piece was about the Irish election for fiscal treaty which was reasonably reported. Gasp!
  6. The next article was a gushing admiration of the British Queen and how various woodlands are being named after her in Jubilee Year. The Monarchy are the teddy bears of the 'Today' Programme and 'PM'. They can do no wrong. We should all bow down to the royal family and be as sycophantic to them as the 'Today Programme' is. This item is reported as as if EVERYONE in the UK is a monarchist. To me the royals are a family of weirdos living off the state who get more welfare benefits than most.
  7. Then we had Stephanie Flanders talking up the end of the Euro.
  8. After the sport and a Jewish thought for the day, we are now hearing Hague going on about the horrors of Syria. Talking up for a future war.
  9. It is now 8am and we are going to get the whole lot repeated, this is very important in terms of propaganda. 'If a lie is big enough and repeated often enough then everyone will believe it,' said Goebels. There is an added headline now: BP is going to pull out of its highly profitable TNK BP and try and sell it. We are told how difficult it was for BP to work with these difficult and fractious Russians. And so it went round and round and I turned over to classical music on Radio 3. What a relief.

I think Radio 4's 'Today' programme changed profoundly in the post Millennium days of Tony Blair. There is no doubt that Gordon Brown got utterly savaged by it's controllers, writers, editors and presenters. I understand that any PM of the day is going to get a lot of flak, however I listened to it very regularly at that time and I never heard one single positive word about Brown. He was always 'Stalin', 'indecisive' and 'had tantrums' and was, 'plotting against his own acolytes' or 'dithering'. I had heard them talk constantly on every bulletin for weeks and weeks about Mugabe like this (which I also thought was propaganda) but I was shocked to hear these comments everyday about a British PM. I wasn't a great fan of Brown but I wrote an email to the BBC and did not get a reply. I considered contacting OFCOM and protesting at the blatant biased output. Obviously some dark force had permeated the 'Today Programme', and continues to live in it, filling the airwaves with dark untruths.

Incidentally, the BBC accused President Mugabe of fiddling elections (no mention of George Bush then?) but totally failed to mention some months later the genocide perpetrated by the Israelis on the Palestinians in Jan 2009 and their use of white phosphorous (banned by the Geneva Convention). Don't forget – complete impartiality from BBC news! Ha! ha! ha!

What we want from a news service is accurate, unbiased reporting, from which we will make our decisions and assumptions. We do not want prejudiced, heavily loaded comment from in-house political appointees. If the latter is what what we are served with, eventually everyone will switch off.

Culture, style and the arts, Political

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