It’s official: The BBC has lost the plot

It’s official: The BBC has lost the plot

John Wight
John Wight has written for newspapers and websites across the world, including the Independent, Morning Star, Huffington Post, Counterpunch, London Progressive Journal, and Foreign Policy Journal. He is also a regular commentator on RT and BBC Radio. John is currently working on a book exploring the role of the West in the Arab Spring. You can follow him on Twitter @JohnWight1
Published time: 26 Apr, 2017 12:37
Edited time: 26 Apr, 2017 13:15

“Are there any circumstance in which you would authorize a nuclear strike?” This was the question asked of Jeremy Corbyn, leader of the UK Labour Party, by the BBC’s Andrew Marr during an interview on Marr’s flagship Sunday morning politics TV show.

Corbyn has just embarked on a campaign to be elected Britain’s next prime minister – following the decision of the current occupant of 10 Downing Street, Theresa May, to call an early general election on June 8. Andrew Marr was attempting to apply pressure to what is widely considered one of Corbyn’s major weaknesses regarding his suitability to lead the country – namely defense.

However the most revealing aspect of the attempt to put Corbyn on the spot over defense was not the answer he gave to Andrew Marr’s question, it was the question itself. Here it is worth making the point that Marr is one of the most senior of the BBC’s political journalists, and certainly one of the most highly remunerated. By way of a reminder, the question he asked Corbyn was, “Are there any circumstance in which you would authorize a nuclear strike?” It is a question that instantly begs another question: “Are these people insane?”

It seems that the answer is a resounding yes.

The kind of moral sickness responsible for such a question, it should be said, is not confined to Andrew Marr. No, this malady is endemic among the entire British media establishment, purveyors of fake news on a daily – in fact, make that hourly – basis. Consider its role in following and cheering on Bush and Blair’s war in Iraq in 2003, leading to the BBC becoming known by opponents of this catastrophic and brutal military adventure as the Bush and Blair Corporation. Indeed Andrew Marr’s journalistic legacy will be forever stained by the broadcast he delivered from outside Downing Street in the wake of the fall of Baghdad on 9 April 2003, in which he could hardly contain his glee at what he described as Iraq’s “liberation.”

If the fate to befall Iraq as a consequence of this war was liberation, Lord only knows what devastation looks like in the eyes of Andrew Marr and his colleagues at the BBC.

That all news is, in the last analysis, propaganda is axiomatic. Even so, there comes a point where some semblance of journalistic integrity has to kick in. Not so, alas, when it comes to much of what passes for news coverage and analysis in the West in recent years, during which mainstream news organizations have extended themselves in filling the role of a collective echo chamber of their respective governments’ propaganda. Taken together with Noam Chomsky’s assertion that “for the powerful crimes are those that others commit,” we have ourselves a dynamic wherein broadcasters such as the BBC repeat with few, if any, questions being asked of the justifications given for those crimes. How else are we to explain the ability of a British government to not only participate in the destruction of Iraq but to go on and participate in the destruction of Libya and to embark on illegal airstrikes in Syria years later?

Who exactly is holding the British political establishment to account? Isn’t this supposed to be the job of the media, the so-called Fourth Estate, in a democracy?

Journalism has and continues to play an insidious role in the West as a defender and disseminator of received truths when it comes to where power is located and why, and how this power operates and why. Just consider for a moment the current crisis involving North Korea, and how it is being reported in the West. The starting point of the analysis being proffered is that the crisis stems from a militarized state, North Korea, ruled by an unstable and capricious leader, Kim Jong-un, which cannot be trusted with nuclear weapons.

How about we depart from this script for a moment in the interests of the following alternative. When it comes to understanding the roots of the Korean crisis, our starting point is a militarized state, the United States of America, ruled by an unstable and capricious leader, Donald Trump, which cannot be trusted with nuclear weapons?

With just this simple, and accurate, historical and geopolitical switch in the roles assigned to North Korea and the US, the crisis takes on an entirely different complexion. As for substantiating this switch in premise, the historical evidence is irrefutable: it is Washington not Pyongyang that has actually used nuclear weapons – and on civilians.

Yet, regardless, we are expected to believe North Korea and its leader is where the root-cause of crisis surrounding the Korean peninsula resides.

This is just one example of many in which we discern a woeful lack of serious analysis from the mainstream media in the West. Without even a semblance of humility or reflection in the wake of the cataclysmic consequences of Western imperialism since the demise of the Soviet Union, what passes for journalism in the BBC and other Western media organizations continues to depict the world as a perpetual struggle between a good and virtuous West and a bad and demonic East.

How much better off would a world interested in justice and peace be if people living in the US and Britain were provided with an honest rendering of the malign and toxic history of Western hegemony by their media and mainstream journalists? How much less inclined would their governments be to engage in illegal wars, conflicts, and military interventions if the media held them to account instead of lionizing and praising them in response?

Consider the outpouring of support from a supine mainstream media in the US after Trump launched his Tomahawk missile strike against Syria recently. The fact he began the attack without congressional approval and in clear violation of international law was conveniently glossed over in the scramble to heap praise on the President for taking “decisive” action.

The problem, ultimately, is not that Jeremy Corbyn is weak on defense, as the outrageous question asked of him by the BBC’s Andrew Marr inferred. The problem is that journalists such as Andrew Marr have signed up to the lie that strong leadership is coterminous with the willingness to launch nuclear weapons, unleash carnage and mayhem, and turn the world upside down.

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