August 29, 2003


The BBC’s credibility is floating in the Thames like a gangster’s corpse. But it’s inappropriate to say so:

The chairman of the BBC today accused British Prime Minister Tony Blair's officials of launching "inappropriate" attacks on the public broadcaster's credibility after it claimed that the case for war in Iraq had been hyped up.

We await the chairman’s instructions on a more appropriate method of responding to his organisation’s lies. A napkin folded at an aggressive angle? Interpretive dance? Boycotting the Crufts dog show?

Comments by Blair's close aide Alastair Campbell accusing the BBC of lying when it reported the government had "sexed up" a pre-war dossier on Iraq's weapons had been excessive, Gavyn Davies said.

And the original reports weren’t, Gavyn? At least Campbell’s comments are redeemed by being, you know, true.

"I felt this was an extraordinary moment, almost unprecedented, an unprecedented attack on the BBC to be mounted by the head of communications at Downing Street," Davies told a judicial inquiry into the death of government arms expert David Kelly.

Mounting a solid argument, isn’t he? So far we’ve had “inappropriate”, “excessive”, “extraordinary”, and “unprecedented”. The Blair regime is reeling.

"I took this as an attack on the integrity of the BBC and the impartiality of the BBC," said Davies, who heads the corporation's board of governors.

That’s one way to take it.

Posted by Tim Blair at August 29, 2003 05:38 AM

"I took this as an attack on the integrity of the BBC and the impartiality of the BBC,"
said Davies, who heads the corporation's board of governors."

Yeah? And what's your point?

Posted by: mojo at August 29, 2003 at 07:04 AM

Perceptive, ain't he?

Posted by: Jerry at August 29, 2003 at 07:14 AM

Gavyn Davies and Greg Dyke (the Director General) were both appointed because they were FOTAC's (Friends of Tony and Cherie). They were both known Labour Party supporters and their appointments were criticised at the time by the Conservative Party.

For the most part Davies and Dyke have served their masters well, particularly in their coverage of the 2001 General Election and the 2003 Local Elections. For Tony Blair and Alistair Campbell to now act shocked that the BBC is willing to distort the news to further a left wing agenda is ridiculous because that is why the chose Davies and Dyke in the first place.

Posted by: ross at August 29, 2003 at 07:22 AM

Would it be "inappropriate”, “excessive”, “extraordinary”, and “unprecedented” to speculate as to why the BBC is attacking the integrity of Andrew Gilligan?

Posted by: Tongue Boy at August 29, 2003 at 07:32 AM

Wow. What a moron.

If the British have any respect for themselves whatsoever, they'll privatize this silly BBClub and make it sink or swim on its own. If the BBC thinks a few of their victims calling their bullshit are "excessive," I can't wait to see them react when they feel the market force of millions of people changing the channel!

Posted by: Ron at August 29, 2003 at 09:22 AM

Tim, I like your idea of attacking the integrity and impartiality of the BBC through interpretive dance so I've taken the time to choreograph one for you.

Posted by: Randal Robinson at August 29, 2003 at 10:04 AM

Randall - Thank you so much for the picture. You made me lol and the end of a long tedious day of reviewing and summarizing a federal privacy law.

Posted by: Polly at August 29, 2003 at 10:50 AM

I'm sorry . . . Randal, not Randall.

Posted by: Polly at August 29, 2003 at 10:50 AM

I wonder what an interpretive dance by Michael Moore would look like. You know, attacking, Bush, America, oil, etc.

Is there a theatre big enough, and with enough structural support? (in the old days, that sort of spectacle would be in the Coluseum, but today...?)

Posted by: Jerry at August 29, 2003 at 01:08 PM

Maybe they should get the ex-Iraqi Information Minister to defend the credibility of the BBC.

Posted by: Andjam at August 29, 2003 at 01:35 PM

“But Davies said that Campbell in particular appeared unable to distinguish between the BBC reporting someone else's claims, and making them itself.”

Gavyn Davies seems incapable of making the connection between BBC reporter Gilligan’s reporting, & BBC’s responsibility for it. Gavyn Davies seems denser than Howell Raines. Why does he still have a job? Why is he not laughed out of public life? Gavyn Davies is, at this moment, the world’s leading news media asshole.

It’s a shame that Blair appoints people like this. Blair is a Laborite with some deep sanity but, in regard to some issues, too little too late.

Posted by: ForNow at August 29, 2003 at 01:39 PM

Why do we keep having to hear the phrase "sexed-up"

this dossier has nothing to do with sex at all. What an effort to make a boring political stouch sound exciting

Posted by: Chris Rice at August 29, 2003 at 01:44 PM

Hi TIm, great to see you defending the Blair Labor government.

I look forward to you championing their policies for a fairer and more equitable distibution of wealth in Britain, and their attempts to grant greater access and equity to all citizens, no matter what their class.

Go for it Tim, the left needs you.

thanks, Billy

Posted by: Billy Bloggs at August 29, 2003 at 02:09 PM

BBC is stealing from the Clinton playbook. Whenever the Clinton were in trouble, they would attack their critics with the words “inappropriate”, “excessive”, “extraordinary”, and “unprecedented.”

Posted by: Perfectsense at August 29, 2003 at 06:45 PM

Makes sense to me, the media is the highest court in the land and we all know you should not criticise the courts, no matter how stupidly or politically they behave.

Posted by: PJ at August 29, 2003 at 06:58 PM

Boycott Crufts? But Lacey has been invited for the next year's show!

Posted by: Greg Hlatky at August 29, 2003 at 09:09 PM

Billy Bloggs,

That was a wicked comment, utterly at odds with the prevailing ethos on this site - so I'm damn glad to see it here.

I hope even young Timmy gets occasionally embarassed by the prevailing "Four legs good, two legs bad' mentality of his posters.

And with all this talk about the credibility and basis of the BBC and ABC, could someone actually point me to a mainstream news source that is purely objective and without agendas. Aside from Google News.

Posted by: Elitism For The People at August 29, 2003 at 09:59 PM

Why FoxNews of course! Straight down the center. Tard.

Posted by: Murdoch Software Engineer Std at August 29, 2003 at 10:27 PM


The problem isn't that the A/B/CBC is biased; the problem is that its bias is taxpayer-funded. A right-wing A/B/CBC would be just as bad, if less annoying to many people here.

For example, take the Guardian. Please. It's a frequent target for ridicule around here because it provides a platform for statist loons like George Monbiot, but no-one claims that it should be shut down. That's because it's sustained by the freely made choices of subscribers, newsstand purchasers, and advertisers.

Posted by: murray at August 30, 2003 at 02:09 AM

For anyone interested in freedom it should only take a moment's reflection to see that, once one has justified all the costs and extolled all the benefits, having the government present the news is inherently a very bad idea.

Posted by: Theodopoulos Pherecydes at August 30, 2003 at 04:57 AM

Don't be ridiculous, Tim. Everybody knows gangsters weight their corpses to sink.

Posted by: Emily at August 30, 2003 at 08:55 AM