The BBC and Afghanistan
Is the BBC disingenuous in its reporting, or simply inadequately researched?
The BBC wished to interview me concerning Afghanistan this week. I was very surprised to be asked why I had suddenly decided to be passionate about this issue and why I had recently decided to write and speak about it.
I explained patiently that I have been speaking and writing about getting our troops out for all too many months. Instead of apologising and accepting my word that this was not a new opinion, the interview became a discussion of why the BBC usually ignores these pieces on my website.
A leading US newspaper went further and without any discussion with me, or clearly without any reading of my blogs, simply asserted that I was a supporter of the war who was now calling for “early” withdrawal of troops.
I fully accept that the BBC is a powerful news medium that can decide each day what it thinks the news is and who should appear on its programmes. But it needs to accept that I and others may have a different sense of what the news is each day. When conducting interviews the BBC should at least believe me if I tell them what my view is and when I formed it, where there is clear documentary evidence to back that up.
I chose to highlight Afghanistan again on August 30th on my website, 17 days before its decision to highlight it. I then followed that up this week when opportunity presented in the Commons. I had not suddenly come to this view.
The BBC interviewer said he did read my blog. Nonetheless they usually ignore the best stories.
No-one has bothered, for example, to follow up the recent stories here of the £320 million of derivative losses at Network Rail, or the 5 percent plus increase in incomes for people on out of work benefits compared to people working.
In fact, it took the BBC around two years to partially catch up with the public spending reality described here from the official figures, when the BBC wished to consistently present a false picture of the “cuts”.
The Rt Hon John Redwood MP is the Member of UK Parliament for Wokingham and the Chairman of the Conservative Economic Affairs Committee. His articles are cross-posted on his blog by agreement
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