His appearance on ITV’s Good Morning Britain before the no-inquisition-at-all of a simpering Piers Morgan was bad enough (the former Screws and Daily Mirror editor had to be saved by long-suffering co-host Susanna Reid), but now the BBC is joining in the disturbing legitimisation of Stateside bigot Steve Bannon. And it is only through the good sense of Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon that we know what’s going on.
As The Ferret reported yesterday, “Breaking: First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon, pulls out of Edinburgh conference after learning that former Trump strategist, Steve Bannon, has been invited to speak by BBC”. Ms Sturgeon then confirmed the news and explained why.
“I believe passionately in free speech but as @ScotGovFM I have to make balanced judgments - and I will not be part of any process that risks legitimising or normalising far right, racist views. I regret that the BBC has put me and others in this position”. And there was more. “The email the BBC sent to my office justifying Bannon’s inclusion described him as a ‘powerful and influential figure … promoting an anti-elite movement.’ This kind of language to describe views that many would describe as fascist does seem to me to run the risk of normalisation”. It runs the risk of appalling dishonesty, too.
Steve Bannon is not, repeat not, repeat NOT an “Anti-Élite” figure. He is a well-connected member of the US Right, having got himself close enough to people like the Mercers, and indeed secured the élite’s funds for the Breitbart propaganda empire. Bannon has also secured funds for his protégé Milo Yiannopoulos - until the latter sprayed his credibility up the wall as his endorsement of paedophilia was exposed.
Moreover, the behaviour of Bannon’s pals at Breitbart has also come up as a result of Ms Sturgeon’s withdrawal, with Humza Yousaf reminding us “I've been on the receiving end of Bannon and his acolytes' slanderous hatred. The fact that @BBCScotland thinks it is okay to give Bannon a platform and describe him as an influential voice is pretty damn insulting. They should know better than to mainstream hatred”.
Facts Central also had a reminder for the Beeb. “‘Promoting an anti-elite movement?’ The guy who said in France ‘If you're called a racist, wear it as a badge of honour’? Who defended ‘Tommy Robinson's right’ not to respect the law? WTF? Since when did the BBC become the FBC (Fascist Broadcasting Corporation)?” Also, Bannon claimed that Stephen Yaxley Lennon was “the backbone of Britain”.
In any case, Karl Popper’s paradox of tolerance applies here: it is right not to tolerate the intolerant. So Ian Fraser was on the money when he concluded “Attempts by @BBC and @NewsXchange to legitimise and normalise far-right, racist views of Steve Bannon are turning to dust. @NicolaSturgeon was misled and is right to withdraw”.
Why is our broadcast media so blind to what Steve Bannon represents? What is motivating them to give a platform to a white supremacist, a far-right propagandist, someone who wants racists to wear their bigotry “like a badge of honour”?
ITV should not have given Bannon a platform. Nor should LBC. Just because they failed to do their duty does not mean the BBC should follow suit. No platform for the intolerant.
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