Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Hell hath no fury like a short woman scorned

Clare Short appears regularly on BBC news programmes such as Newsnight and the Daily Politics. She routinely peddles the line that the US is constructing permanent military bases - 12 of them - in Iraq and this, for her, provides conclusive evidence of their bad faith and duplicity.

I've recently heard Tony Benn trot out the same line on the same station. Neither is ever challenged to support this bold assertion - clearly the BBC is sympathetic to the antiwar, anti-Blair, anti-Bush camp. Still smarting from Hutton, revenge is still top of the agenda.

On RTE's Morning Ireland last Monday, Baghdad-based Patrick Cockburn of the London Independent - neither journalist or journal could be accused of pro-war sentiments - expressed the view that the US was most unlikely to seek any long-term military presence in Iraq.

Clearly the truth is what you want to believe and the rest is spin. The anti-war lobby can lie and spin with the best of them, and is facilitated by a national broadcaster that is far from neutral.

Email has been a great boon for cranks, it's possible to register an instant complaint - as I regularly do - to RTE, the BBC and Channel 4 News. It's rare to get any customised response, though on occasion I have annoyed Andrew Neill and Vincent Browne enough to get a personal reply.
Most programmes send you an automated response acknowledging receipt of the email. I particularly like the BBC's Today programme - their auto-response contains the following instruction: If you are making a formal complaint about the programme which requires an official BBC response, please forward your e-mail to . John Humphrys clearly has quite a fan club.

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