Telegraph accused of Labour bias over Miliband’s dad – or was it the BBC? #LOL

Milk Bottle Politics 200I cannot help but be amused by the coverage of the affair of Ed Miliband’s dad in the Sunday Telegraph.

First up is an article declaring the “BBC accused of becoming Ed Miliband’s mouthpiece.” It seems that Andrew Bridgen, Tory MP for North West Leicestershire – a champion of a living wage for MPs – has reported Auntie to its governors for allowing Miliband to “milk” coverage for Labour’s advantage.

It’s a story on fairly thin ground, but I have long imagined that there is an old adage among right wing journalists. “If in doubt where a story is going next, bash the BBC.”

Of course party politics has had a role in the affair of Ed Miliband’s dad. But it has mostly been a debate about the nature of our press. Above it has been an examination of the character of the Mail’s journalism under Lord Rothmere and its daily weekday editor Paul Dacre. Nick Clegg was forthright on the matter: the Mail is “overflowing with bile about modern Britain”. As I said earlier, that’s just right.

But why let a debate on press standards and the role of politician’s families – dead or alive – in politics get in the way of a bit of BBC knocking? And of course, this is quite comfortable ground for the Telegraph. Like many newspapers, and commercial broadcasters too, it gazes with envy at the BBC’s resources.

Declaring “there are questions over the BBC’s bias”, the Telegraph’s own research shows that there are more than 30 articles on the BBC website and 49 minutes on the Today programme. And shockingly, one of the online articles is in Farsi – well if it’s not shocking why mention it?

OMG as they say on Twitter. Are we really going to criticise the media for writing in the language of its readers?

The Telegraph’s  back of envelope research did not extend to the content of the articles, so we don’t know what if any angle the BBC was taking, if any. It seems that the volume of coverage alone is a sign of bias. If the newspaper totted up the BBC coverage of the death and funeral of Thatcher, would the it declare the BBC biased in favour of the Tories?

I’ve been doing my own heroic bit of research. The Telegraph until yesterday had run 30 articles on Ed Miliband and his dad. That’s twice as many articles on the affair as the Mail.

Is the Telegraph guilty of some sort of bias? Putting aside its natural antipathy to the BBC, the Telegraph is guilty of only one thing. Journalism.

In running two articles about BBC bias, the Telegraph has stretched out the story further. That’s what journalists do. They find new stories and new angles to existing stories, whether they work for the BBC or Fleet Street.

Or, indeed if they edit for Liberal Democrat Voice. Again as they say on Twitter – LOL.

* Andy Boddington is a Lib Dem councillor in Shropshire. He blogs at andybodders.co.uk. He is Friday editor of Lib Dem Voice.

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7 Comments

  • richardheathcote 6th Oct '13 - 10:10am

    i don’t understand why it is acceptable for papers to have the freedom to say as they like be as biased as they like but then expect other media such as tv to be completely impartial. If the BBC was more right wing would the same papers have an issue with that or would they call it a Great British Institution.

  • @ richardheathcote

    I think it is vital that the BBC is politically impartial and by and large I think it is. The problem seems to me that the bulk of the print media is so right wing that anything that is objective will seem crypto-communist by comparison. The sort of people who regularly lambast the BBC are people who live ONLY in “Daily Mail ” world or “Daily Telegraph” world.

    I was brought up in a Tory household and most of my information in my teens game from the daily and Sunday Express
    so when Labour won the General Elections in 1964 and 1966 it came as a total shock – not only did the Express assure me this could never happen but it told me that if Labour ever did we would enter a period of darkness like we had never experienced before. Needless to say none of this came to pass and I have never read an Express since.

  • Melanie Harvey 6th Oct '13 - 11:46am

    Agree with it or not I thought LDs were all for freedom of speech of those who wish to say it as it is… am I wrong ?

  • Paul Denton 6th Oct '13 - 5:10pm

    It’s tremendously refreshing to read a sane article for once! It just makes your realise how partisan and, to some degree, crazed the British press really is that any attempts to regulate its more outrageous claims causes it to fly into a frenzied rage, like a rabid dog about to be put down. The problem definitely exists that we allow the great oligarchs of media to act both to further their own commercial interest and act as the great guardians of British democracy(which they evidently aren’t), the cruel outcome being that they often seek to ignite people’s passions for the sake of increasing circulation rather than engaging one’s reasoning and objective analysis. It always amuses me that the BBC is accused of being a clandestine communist instrument, which perhaps says more about the right wing press’s love of creating scapegoats to any socio-economic problem in Britain rather than pragmatic and potent solutions.

  • When the Guardian tried to smear David Camerons father, they said it was in the public interest.

  • Andy Boddington 6th Oct '13 - 8:18pm

    Paul Denton

    I rather think it is the anti-intellectual bias of the right wing, both politicians and the media. They don’t understand the rigour of academic debate. When I was at the Open University in the late 80s, we were being dragged through the right wing mud as a left wing university. The OU was not. It just didn’t take the political paradigm of the day at face value. It questioned it.

    I moved on to the Economic and Social Research Council. That had been badly damaged by Thatcher’s allegations it funded left wing research. It did not. It just funded research that asks questions.

    That’s what the BBC does. It never gives the Tories an easy time, and has certainly never given Labour that either (or the Lib Dems or UKIP or anyone else).

    The worrying thing to me is the message of right wing politicians and media are saying that anything that questions their current paradigm is “left wing”. But what they are really saying is “don’t question us.”

  • Martin Lowe 8th Oct '13 - 7:34am

    @gina

    Ian Cameron got exceedingly rich by taking his money out of the UK into tax havens. That is a fact, not a smear.

    If The Guardian went on to say that Ian Cameron therefore hated Britain, then that would be a smear.

    Maybe you could have a close read of the Guardian article (link below) and tell us exactly where they did this?
    http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2012/apr/20/cameron-family-tax-havens

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