The BBC’s Breathtaking Bias

BBC Bias is arguably the oldest story in the book, yet it still has the capacity to astonish.  This morning in Brussels I was listening to the BBC World Service at some outrageously early hour, when I hear a retrospective review of Rachel Carson’s famous book “Silent Spring”.  I’m not sure why they’re addressing it now, 48 years after publication and 46 years after the author’s death — perhaps the half-centenary would have been more appropriate.  But there it was.
“Silent Spring” was the book that kick-started the environmental movement, and demonised DDT.  So of course the BBC treated it like a sacred text.  It could have been the Bible (well No, perhaps — the BBC would not have been so sycophantic with the Bible), or the Hindu Vedas.  The whole extended piece was suffused with a rosy glow of approbation.  There was a touching interview with her nephew and adopted son.  Not word of criticism, nor a hint of balance.
There was no mention of the literally millions of African children, and others, who have died as a direct result of Carson’s reckless and misjudged alarmism.  We think with horror of the great genocides of history, and we forget that the deaths consequent on Carson’s book (however unintended and unanticipated) were on the same order of magnitude.  By securing a global ban on DDT, Carson denied the world what was then (and may still be) our most effective weapon against the main malarial vector, the Anopheles mosquito.
It is true that DDT was probably over-used in the sixties, though the risks were greatly exaggerated.  But used to spray homes, bedrooms and mosquito nets, the benefits of DDT hugely outweigh any risks, and potentially save millions of lives.
The EU is also protecting Carson’s legacy.  African countries know that if they use DDT, even if only for personal protection not crop spraying, they risk severe problems in importing their produce to the EU (as if the protectionist CAP were not barrier enough).  This is a deliberate EU policy which stands in the way of malaria eradication.
The BBC’s knee-jerk support for wet, fuzzy, liberal-leftist and environmental causes is of course legendary, but this programme was egregious even by the BBC’s low standards.

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14 Responses to The BBC’s Breathtaking Bias

  1. Julie says:

    “Not word of criticism, nor a hint of balance” . . . well, now you know how it feels. This is exactly how I feel about your one-sided, ill-researched support of Nocton Dairies. You can’t have it both ways, Mr Helmer – although you seem to , up until now.

    • Richard Manns says:

      I’ve no idea what the Nocton Diaries are; never been to this site before. But this site isn’t financed by a tax, so Mr Helmer can express what he likes and be judged in the ballot box.

      The BBC is different. The BBC is protected. Even in the biggest recession in the last half-century, its idea of restraint is pausing its income demands for one year. And with that should come responsibilities; I don’t expect the BBC to become the mouthpiece of the TPA, and sure enough, apart from associating it with American anti-abortionists, it never mentions them.

      If you expect exceptional treatment, i.e. state-enforced collection and enforcement of revenue streams, then you must do something worthy of that justifying that profoundly illiberal act.

      How would you react if Murdoch demanded money with menaces to every house in the country, regardless of whether they owned a TV or even watched Sky? Quite.

      • Julie says:

        Perhaps you ought to take a look then – there has been enough publicity about it. And yes, it may well be funded by grants . . . .
        We may well be able to judge Mr H in the ballot box- but if he has his way, the dairy will be up & running by then.
        We may well be able to get rid of him – 8100 cows may be a little more difficult.

    • emale says:

      Mr Helmer is a politician. By definition he takes sides. The BBC is a publicaly funded body whose constitution guarantees impartiality.

      I’m surprised you can’t see the difference.

      • Julie says:

        Mr Helmer was also elected to represent the people in his constituency. The majority of people in this area have very strong and very well researched opinions against the dairy – Mr Helmer chose to come out in favour of it without listening to any of them.

  2. fenbeagle says:

    Well after all Al Gore did get the Nobel peace prize. And there’s no denying the IPCC is always right. And where would we all be without wind power?
    The Pioneer…

  3. I’m having my own feud with them over a ridiculously one-sided hit piece on the Tea Party movement on R4’s ‘Americana’ programme. The ‘conservative’ balance came from a woman who not only confessed ignorance of what the movement stood for, although she was happy to sit by and let it be caricatured as a racist, insane, extremist movement, but hailed Obama’s election as some kind of act of atonement for slavery.

  4. Donna says:

    Excellent blog. It’s high time more people spoke out about the damage the environmental movement has inflicted on millions of people worldwide over the decades, particularly now that the likes of Caroline Lucas are smugly swanning around Westminster.

    Julie – there’s nothing wrong with championing a cause. But the BBC, as a respected broadcaster, does have a responsibility to give the full story, not just the bits it likes and wants others to hear.

    • Julie says:

      and as I said earlier, Mr Helmer has a duty to represent his constituents – not just 3 wealthy farmers (2 of whom live in Lancashire and Devon, and are not represented by him)

      • Andrew Hurst says:

        Having read all the comments every one you submit is completely off topic. I think Roger has written about the issue that you are concerned with. Why dont you leave your comments there instead of wanting to seemingly hijack this previously very readable blog?

        On the subject of BBC bias how amusing to see some of their senior journos come out against the strike – as they believe it will be seen to be party political.

      • Michael St George says:

        You misunderstand the nature of parliamentary or legislative democracy – whether at local, national or supra-national level.

        Mr Helmer does not have a literal duty to represent, in the strict sense you use – i.e. in effect parroting – the views of his constituents (or even what I suspect is a minority of them: it is a rather large constituency).

        He is not a delegate with a mandate restricted solely to articulating the views of a narrow range of his appointors – he is a representative in the sense of being elected by a discrete demos to exercise his own judgement according to what he deems to be in the best interests of his constituents in aggregate, the country, and the polity in whose legislature he sits.

  5. ganavion says:

    How long shall African people die because of that Carson’s book ? Has it not done enough damage, haven’t died enough people ? When DDT will be re-introduced in the places where malaria kills ?

  6. Dear Julie, I understand your concern, but having already bombarded my Nocton piece with your comments, you are now intruding your local story into quite unrelated pieces on broader national issues. I shall ask my blog manager to exclude Nocton comments where they are clearly irrelevant.

  7. Julie says:

    and I will note this action, along with your others.

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