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Thursday 15 August 2013

CPS And BBC Bias – The Report

[Update at end of post]

Earlier this week, the Centre for Policy Studies (CPS) gave a heads-up that it was about to release a study that would show, by means of rigorous statistical analysis, that the BBC, which it wants to see cut down to size because the way it serves up news is not in accordance with right-leaning ideological standards, was just as biased to the left as the CPS and its supporters had always said.
This was good news for the organisation: it would have been most unfortunate had it come out the other way. But, as I pointed out at the time, the use of the Guardian and Telegraph as equivalent left-of-centre and right-of-centre comparators effectively invalidates the whole exercise on the spot. No evidence is offered in support of this contention, and I doubt that any ever will.

Just because the Guardian, or any other publication, is not right-wing does not make it left-wing, and excusing the characterisation by saying “yeah, but everybody knows that” does not cut it. Nor does the simplistic categorisation of the Telegraph as right-wing sufficiently explain its highly selective journalism, which in any case often attacks those on the right, as well as the left (pace Nadine Dorries).
How's this for a work of fiction?

Then we get to the list of think tanks, which the CPS report has ranked in an order which, it is alleged, goes from Left-leaning to Right-leaning. This, too, is fatally flawed: how otherwise can the Global Warming Policy Foundation be found to the left of the Fabian Society? And how does the IEA get to be more left leaning than the Social Market Foundation and Centre Forum?

It gets worse: the ASI and Henry Jackson Society are shown as being less right-leaning than IPPR, which, the last time I looked, was centre-left in orientation. In fact, in their preview of the report, the CPS calls IPPR left leaning. So forget all the number crunching, the analysis is built on sand. When the CPS asks “What may be behind BBC bias?” the answer has to be “What bias? You’ve proved nothing”.

Moreover, as I pointed out earlier, some of the think tanks that the CPS labels as left-leaning are not universally recognised as such. No matter, though, the pundits at places like the bear pit that is Telegraph blogs love it, typical of the responses being that from Janet Daley, scoffing “The BBC says anyone who accuses it of bias – is biased”. The BBC’s response, she tells, “takes the biscuit”.

She calls the CPS report “impeccably researched”, and then includes the so-called Taxpayers’ Alliance (TPA) in the list of think tanks covered by it. The CPS report does not include the TPA in its list of think tanks, and nor does it so much as mention it in passing. Good of Ms Daley to let us know that she didn’t bother reading the report half as thoroughly as she’d like her readers to think.

So both report and punditry are of an equally lame quality. No change there, then.

[UPDATE 16 August 1130 hours: in case anyone still considered Oliver Latham's report credible, last night's BBC1 2200 hours news bulletin will put them straight.

During the broadcast, representatives of both Policy Exchange and MigrationWatch were featured. No so-called "health warning" was given, and nor was any dissenting or opposing view. Airtime given to these groups in that way does not feature in the CPS report. And nor does that given in programmes such as The Daily Politics, the Today programme, World At One, Newsnight, Question Time, Sunday Morning Live, The Big Question, or in other news bulletins.

So perhaps the CPS and its pals would care to do their job properly, or admit that this is just another piece of satisficing research, performed to reach a pre-determined conclusion. And then stop wasting everyone's time]

1 comment:

hengist mcstone said...

Think tank is just a fancy name for a PR outfit which does political work. I take it the CPS report isn't peer reviewed, in which case it is mere opinion dressed up as fact.