Conserving ignorance

Is it ever worth responding to a Peter Hitchens piece? The New Statesman invited him to provide the counterpoint to Medhi Hassan’s “actually, the BBC is right-wing” argument. Hassan’s feature is – I think – a tightly argued piece of journalism, drawing on verifiable details about the careers of high-profile BBC personnel and analysis of the corporation’s new content. It strongly makes the case that the BBC has no case to answer in terms of left-wing bias.

How does Hitchens reply? By saying that party bias is not the issue (even though the Hassan piece focused more on policy bias) and arguing cultural bias instead. Quantifiable cultural bias, no less – although Hitchens, as ever, has trouble telling the difference between something that is capable of being quantified, and something that already has been:

Were I a multibillionaire, I could commission the proper research into nuance, tone of voice, who gets the last word, presenters’ backgrounds, running order, drama, soap operas and cultural coverage, that would demonstrate beyond any doubt that the BBC is on the side of the cultural and social revolution that I and many other licence-fee payers oppose with all our hearts.

New Statesman, “They hoped I’d be pro-torture”

Actually, you don’t have to be a multibillionaire to commission this sort of study. You could be jobbing journalist like Nick Davies, or even (at the time) a jobbing comedian like Al Franken, and recruit a group of research students to your project. Hitchens could access the sort of information he is hoping for, but his interest in knowledge ends long before it could have any influence over his opinions – his feelings about the BBC (like his feelings about drugs, families and the monarchy) come from his gut, and he emits them with the same thoughtfulness you’d give to any other stomach contents.

Abort the antichrist! (BBC drama does pro-life)
They’re coming to stick pins in your children (more of P Hitchens failing with numbers)

© Sarah Ditum, 2009

5 thoughts on “Conserving ignorance

  1. Completely agree. Hitchens, like many Mail writers, argues using fictional ideas; using the ‘what if’ principle. Here he is really saying: ‘if any evidence of left-wing bias existed, it would definately reveal a left-wing bias’. As usual he tries to imply that the majority of people agree with him, although this to is an unfounded presumption.

    The BBC and other news channels have to prove it has no bias, and it is with great hypocrisy that an extremely slanted press accuse the BBC of bias.

    The only bias the BBC has is towards the truth; it is this that the lying press really hate.

  2. I’m used to him slinging this stuff out from the Mail – surprised that NS couldn’t find anyone more compelling to put the opposing view. But maybe the idea that the BBC is teeming with Marxism is strictly the domain of ranters and loons.

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