After a car was driven deliberately into a group protesting a far-right gathering in Summer 2017 at Charlottesville, Va., and one of those protesters, Heather Heyer, died from her injuries, Combover Crybaby Donald Trump asserted “I think there is blame on both sides. You look at, you look at both sides. I think there’s blame on both sides, and I have no doubt about it...you also had people that were very fine people on both sides”.
The blame was all with the far-right: the driver of the car involved was handed more than one life sentence and will probably die in jail. This grotesque false equivalence has now been forgotten by those at the BBC who are still protesting their impartiality and even-handedness, while once again letting the Tory Party off the hook and trying to equate its deceit and dishonesty to Labour’s clean and honest approach to voters.
This descent into Full Trump territory came after the revelation that the vast majority of the Tories’ Facebook ads contained falsehood and misinformation, or as most people call it, lies. As Adam Bienkov of Business Insider put it, “88% of Conservative Facebook ads contain false claims”. The percentage of dodgy Labour equivalents? A very round 0%.
So what has the Beeb done? The headline “General election 2019: Ads are 'indecent, dishonest and untruthful’” gives a hint. The image captions tell more. “The Conservatives have been accused of overestimating the cost of Labour's spending plans in its ads … The Liberal Democrats face criticism for their use of unlabelled graphs … This post from Jeremy Corbyn's account has been retweeted nearly 17,000 times”. Er, WHAT?
What’s wrong with what Jezza said? Here comes the narrative: “for Labour, it said that it could not find any misleading claims in ads run over the period. However”. No. Just no. There is no however. This is the most foolish attempt to play “He said, She said”. It is a clear and crude framing of the advert issue as some kind of equivalence.
Shaun Lawson was not surprised. “As I've mentioned before, this is not an accident. It cannot be explained away by human error or confirmation bias. It is completely deliberate - but where is the oversight here? What will be the consequences for those responsible? Anything at all?” David Schneider added “In case you don’t have time to read the article about online ads, here’s a handy summary”. Tories’ 5,952 dishonest ads, Labour none.
Mike Hinde concluded “When #bbcpm tries to cover the disinformation angle in #ge2019 by effectively saying 'everyone is at it' they are doing what Trump did after the murder of Heather Heyer at Charlottesville with his infamous ‘both sides’ comment. The BBC is now lost”. And Maria Hinojosa had a - perhaps inadvertent - warning from the USA.
“Basics of journalism in an authoritarian regime. Do not repeat propaganda. Do not give lies a platform. Do not give ‘both’ sides as a legitimate argument that is then used against real journalism. We are better than this, my fellow journalists”. The Tories are increasingly authoritarian. They will become more so if returned to power.
The biggest hurdle in overcoming your most serious problem is to admit it is there. The BBC cannot address its most serious problem. Because it is still in denial.
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