Discover more from Konstantin Kisin
Is the BBC Beyond Saving?
Douglas Murray wrote a piece in this week’s Spectator entitled How To Save the BBC. For the record, Douglas is a friend and one I respect enormously. His ability to avoid falling into partisan traps and talking point regurgitation is an example to anyone who attempts to think clearly and speak honestly in public.
I agree with much of what he says, too:
“Bashing the BBC is something of a leitmotif for non-lefty columnists, and I don’t especially like doing it, mainly because like most of us I have certain happy memories of the broadcaster”.
And that’s exactly how I feel about it. Not just because the BBC is responsible for some of my favourite shows like Parkinson, Little Britain and even Question Time which, believe it or not, used to be must-watch TV.
No. The BBC has a much more sentimental place in my heart - my grandfather had his house searched by the KGB and was eventually forced to leave the USSR because he had a radio receiver that he used to listen to BBC World Service. That voice of freedom is why he ended up coming to Britain and why I eventually ended up here as well1.
Konstantin Kisin is a reader-supported publication. To receive new posts and support my work, consider becoming a free or paid subscriber.
For years, I argued that not only can the BBC be saved, surely the people running it must see the writing on the wall? Being forced to abandon once-successful, now-failing comedy shows like the Mash Report and Mock the Week having destroyed them with artificial diversity targets and an obvious disdain for half the country in the wake of Brexit was bound to give them the wake-up call they needed.
What’s more, we often forget that what we call the BBC is not one thing. It’s many things. It’s cultural programming. It’s TV, radio and sports coverage. It’s news. And whenever people, rightly, complained that its cultural output was biased and unrepresentative of the views and interests of the British public, one could always point to its news output as being as close to impartial as you’re going to get in the current polarised media echo system.
However, the last few weeks have shown that this powerful excuse is no longer available to those of us who are desperately looking for reasons to defend the BBC. Their coverage of the royal race row was plainly absurd as I detail here. Treated by the beeb’s news website as a terrorist attack, the story of a woman being asked where she’s really from dominated their coverage for days.
Shortly after, some of the most reputable independent journalists in the world like Bari Weiss, who left the New York Times to pursue actual journalism, Matt Taibbi and Michael Shellenberger published stories detailing politically-motivated censorship and damning details of information suppression and shadowbanning by Twitter. The BBC’s response was to ignore the story entirely and instead run a piece attacking Twitter for how it treated cleaners.
Now, of course, the counterargument here is clear and obvious. Twitter doesn’t matter. It’s just a playground for Very Online People like me, engaged in a culture war that doesn’t exist. Fine.
Why then, does today’s BBC front page offer a quiz about Twitter’s owner?
And more importantly, if Twitter is unimportant, why does the news section offer prominent coverage of Twitter’s suspension of left-wing journalists who published live data about Elon Musk’s location?2
Sadly, I believe what we have seen in the last two weeks is that the BBC has now fully embraced its role as yet another outlet for the left-liberal groupthink that dominates our cultural landscape while being so alien and off-putting to most of the people who actually pay for it.
I no longer have any hopes of this slow slide into oblivion being arrested, let alone reversed. It is time to accept reality and work to create our own institutions which are interested in truth, balance and representing the country at large.
To be very clear, I do think this story is important and, while I am broadly supportive of what Musk is doing at Twitter, there is no question that it is currently run like a benevolent dictatorship. That is still an improvement on how it used to be, provided the benevolence remains. My issue is not that this story was covered, it’s that others were not.