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Balanced Fare: We Report, You Deride

Tuesday, July 29, 2003

More On Professor Krugman

It's Sullivan v. Krugman today, based on a fascinating effort by the Earnest Professor, describing the promotion of the Iraq war in both Britain and the US. It's titled "You Say Tomato". Mr. Sullivan excerpts the same bit that caught my eye, and yes, it is a HUGE time-saver when you can channel Mr. Sullivan directly through your dental fillings. We will flip it to him:

KRUGMAN OFF THE WAGON: Of course he thinks the BBC is innocent of all charges. But this passage is simply wacko: "The BBC apparently has evidence, including a tape, that Dr. Kelly made the key allegations it reported. Moreover, Dr. Kelly was, in fact, in a position to know what he claimed. More information may emerge as a judicial inquiry proceeds, but at this point the BBC seems largely in the clear, while the government looks like a villain." You read the British press and see if you get that impression. The only committee looking into the matter has backed the government. Gilligan is refusing to have his testimony to Parliament released. Kelly said to Parliament that he could not have been the source for the BBC's allegation. Yes, some people are backing the Beeb. But the notion that the BBC isn't severely on the ropes over this is a delusion....

Well, as a casual observer, I was surprised to learn from the Earnest Prof that all is well with the BBC. However, I agree with Mr. Sullivan on this point: "...read the British press and see if you get that impression. "

Casting about, I find this opinion survey reported in the Independent: BBC winning battle for public trust, which is related.

Independent: Hutton inquiry into scientist's death to start this week.

Hmm. I quickly note that two stories are running as one - did the BBC misrepresent the Dr. Kelly story, and did Blair misrepresent the WMD story. Obviously, both might have happened, so saying "Blair is a liar" hardly resolves the BBC case, although it is a clever tactic for BBC supporters.

So, on BBC reporter Gilligan, we have this in the Berkshire something or other: Gilligan evidence may still be revealed , suggesting that further inquiries may proceed, as the Earnest Prof noted.

Here, the (left-leaning) Guardian explains the "Murdoch conspiracy theory" about the press coverage, and concludes it is probably false. It does make clear that at least some Brit papers are screaming for scalps at the BBC.

Here is an article from the Telegraph, aka, the Torygraph. Registration required? It only took me a minute (I type slowly), and the piece is fascinating.

Again, it appears that the Times and the Sun are screaming about the BBC.

This, reprinted from an owner of the Telegrapph, appears in the Guardian, and is quite critical of the BBC.

Well, the qualified "in the clear", from the Earnest Prof, may be overly optimistic. The suggestion of "delusion" from Mr. Sullivan is not immediately supported, either.

Calls for reform of the BBC in the Telegraph.

Oh, man. We seem to have a heavily politicized BBC that opposed the war. War opponents are now BBC supporters, which muddies the waters considerably. And as the columnist points out:

So what is to be done about the virtual political party based in the BBC? If the Irish experience is any guide, things will go on getting worse. The BBC is adept at blackmailing politicians with the implied threat of giving them a bad image.

...The BBC is the big issue in the Iraq dossier affair. Like Iraq itself, it needs to be liberated from fundamentalists and ideologues and returned to those who love fair play - which includes the free play of ideas.

Given the "blackmail" angle, this is not a fight a politician will want to lose.


LATE HIT: This is after the whistle, since the news broke after his column was published. Still, it let's us back-test Prof. Krugman's predictive power. From the Guardian:

Labour and Tory MPs accused the BBC reporter at the heart of the Iraqi weapons row of "leading the public up the garden path in a most staggering way", according to confidential transcripts of a cross-examination of Andrew Gilligan by the Commons foreign affairs committee seen by the Guardian.

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