The BBC has once again gone full force to prove that they did nothing wrong by publishing transphobic content. But now, they’ve rung a bell that they might wish they could un-ring, sooner or later.
If you’re just joining the audience for this clown circus, the British Broadcasting Corporation has been under fire for — well, a lot of things honestly, but most recently — publishing an article entitled “We’re being pressured into sex by some trans women” written by Caroline Lowbridge, citing a “survey” produced by anti-trans organization Get the L Out, claiming that it is common for trans lesbians to “pressure” cis lesbians into sexual relationships. The article did not include any perspectives by trans people and actually excluded that of a trans woman sex worker, while including a cis women who would later publicly call for the execution of trans women.
Yeah. That’s just one of the shining examples of the disastrous, dangerous editorial direction that the partially public-funded media organization is going now. There have been many other controversial decisions: hiring the former NBC News head who refused to fire Brian Williams for misrepresenting his experiences in Iraq, claiming victims of abuse at an anti-Semitic protests had used anti-Muslim slurs without evidence — and, oh yeah, trotting out Alan Dershowitz to “comment” on his friend Ghislaine Maxwell’s conviction live on television, which turned into him spouting endlessly in an attempt to defend her — and dismiss the woman who has accused him of sexual assault. The next day, Maxwell’s brother was interviewed on BBC Radio.
No wonder it’s all turned BBC’s own staff against themselves and management. That’s led to resignations, “listening sessions,” and pointless statement after statement trying to explain away the article’s many issues while refusing to redact or even acknowledge its harm. There’s been multiple demonstrations since October, including one held this past weekend.
Today, the heads of BBC’s news and editorial products went before the House of Lords (the upper chamber of the United Kingdom’s government) to answer for all of these issues, among other things, and their “impartiality.” Did they express regret? Not at all. Did they at least explain that they understood the repercussions of their editorial decisions on millions in the UK and beyond? Nope! They simply hided behind the oldest excuse in the mainstream media book, bothsidesism.
Tim Davie, the director-general of the BBC had previously told staff at the company, “As a leader, [staff quitting is] something we have to address… I’ll be honest, that is one of the things that worries me most, because I don’t want that in the organisation.” Today, before the Lords, he sung a different tune.
Regarding Dershowitz’s appearance, he dismissed the seriousness in its entirety, telling the Lords, “We don’t make many mistakes of this nature and if we do we say very quickly. This was one notable miss versus the other 1000 things we do in a day.” He admitted that despite a public statement claiming otherwise, the broadcaster will not undertook an investigation into how it happened, or how to prevent such actions from happening again.
And all that about needing to “address” the issues within the organization? Apparently that’s all gone out the window. “I think we have immediately… did a number of things in terms of culturally resetting the BBC, training, social media guidelines, records of external engagements, a whole host of initiatives we can talk about, and I think we have made reasonable progress,” he told the Lords in a bid to prove how “impartial” the BBC is.
They didn’t even comment on their alleged anti-Semitism. And when it comes to the BBC’s issue with pedaling in transphobia, the broadcaster was even more adamant in pretending nothing wrong had happened. Davie’s subordinate, David Jordan — the director of editorial standards — told the committee straight-up: we’ll publish whatever if enough people buy into it.
“We are very committed to ensuring that viewpoints are heard from all different sorts of perspectives and we don’t subscribe to the ‘cancel culture’ that some groups would put forward,” he claimed.
And because “It’s critical to the BBC that we represent all points of view and give them due weight,” they’ll consider publishing both sides of any argument, even that the Earth is flat. No, seriously. Here it is in print. “Flat-earthers are not going to get as much space as people who believe the Earth is round, but very occasionally it might be appropriate to interview a flat-earther. And if a lot of people believed in flat Earth we’d need to address it more,” Jordan said.
Amazing. https://t.co/UApJh85hjj pic.twitter.com/MpgR4qSIIL
— Adam Bienkov (@AdamBienkov) January 11, 2022
Then, when asked about the organization’s platforming of transphobic organizations, and how it may concern some of the employees at BBC, Jordan completely ripped up the lies his bosses had been pedaling for months. “Whether or not some members of our staff like it is not the point,” he argued, “they need to be prepared to hear viewpoints they might personally disagree with. It’s our job to get those viewpoints proportionately viewed on the BBC.”
There you have it. No matter how factually inaccurate, disproven, and/or irresponsible someone’s claim is, the BBC believes they have a responsibility to publish it, because they’ve confused moving the Overton window back and forth like a ping-pong ball for displaying objectivity or “impartiality.” No, seriously: Ofcom, the regulator of telecommunications and broadcasting in the U.K., has clearly stated not only the difference between “impartiality” and “due impartiality,” but “due impartiality” and “bothsidesism.”
“‘Due impartiality’ does not mean an equal division of time has to be given to every view, or that every argument and every facet of every argument has to be represented,” Ofcom standards. The same section that defines “due impartiality,” Section 5, also defines “due accuracy.”
“News, in whatever form, must be reported with due accuracy and presented with due impartiality,” it states.
Today, @BBCNews staff Tim Davies and David Jordan stated that they have to give air time to all views, from transphobia to flat earthers, because of impartiality, based on percieved popularity and not accuracy.
Well, the @Ofcom guidelines on Due Impartiality disagree. pic.twitter.com/Kn4815IqvX
— Laura Kate Dale (@LaurakBuzz) January 12, 2022
Unfortunately, we can’t expect Ofcom to pull BBC’s licensing any time soon, especially over transphobia, which the Overton window still finds acceptable in the mainstream thanks to media organizations like the BBC, and the minority that encourages them.
What we can expect, however, is the BBC’s commitment to platforming whatever will keep their news site profitable, or at least clickable. It won’t matter if it misrepresents the mass majority of the employees there or the work they produce there, or that it will embolden extremists on any issue to have one nation’s leading news source eating whatever crap they can push out. As long as Davie, Jordan, and company don’t succumb to the imaginary “cancel culture” bogeyman and keep their jobs, the BBC can publish any combination of words in the English language.
So, the natural place for them to start should be publishing reporting representing the percentage of the public that thinks the BBC is hot transphobic drivel. Writers, if you’re reading this, you should gear your pitches up on this and send them off to the BBC’s editors ASAP. I’m not saying this as a bit — the top officers at the BBC have made clear that they believe that transphobia, sexual abuse apologia, Islamophobia, literally flat-Eartherism and other delusions under the guise of prejudice and ignorance are their responsibility, as long as they “give them due weight.”
Based on a search of the BBC’s website, they have not published any article about the large amount of criticism and objections to the BBC’s coverage of transgender topics. In fact, I could not find a non-news article they have published on trans people at-large since November outside of an obituary for trans pioneer April Ashley last month and defenses of J.K. Rowling this month.
Clearly, by the BBC’s standards, they are in desperate need of representing those of us that believe that the BBC is the heartland of media transphobia. We need people to try and fill this gap for the BBC as much as possible, so they can restore faith in their institution and accurately represent parts of the public.
And on the off chance that BBC editorial staff, who I’m sure also wants to give due weight to the many concerns of the public, does not want to commission your article on this matter, you should ask for an explanation from Davie and Jordan. If there’s not a clear cohesive standard for what merits editorial coverage by the BBC and what doesn’t, that needs to be addressed.
You may think that the BBC has no incentive to publish a self-deprecating, yet easily evidence-proven argument. Maybe so; but that would be admitting that the BBC does, in reality, choose what issues on which to give “due weight” or not, and what they told the House of Lords is a complete farce that they told to get them off the hook for platforming clearly irresponsible content.
You may assume I’m just out to denounce the Beebs for saying something that people don’t agree with, but the fact of the matter is, if millions are paying money to an organization just for it to not only ignore the issues actually harming their paying audience, but marginalize the work of its actual journalists and researchers in favor of factually inaccurate fearmongering, they deserve to be told that honestly and directly, versus through a cat-and-mouse game that can contribute to actual human casualties. Like the 375 trans people known to have been reported murdered or violently killed from November 2020 to November 2021, or the 42% of LGBTQ youth that have seriously considered attempting suicide in the past year, according to the Trevor Project. That, I believe, deserves it due weight.
You can find the names of senior staff at the BBC on their website, and parse out their information from there. Good luck pitching, writers! If you need proof that the BBC’s platforming of transphobia has an audience, see these tweets below:
🚨 | NEW: BBC Director of Editorial Policy, David Jordan, says the BBC should platform flat-earth conspiracy theorists:
“[…] very occasionally it might be appropriate to interview a flat-earther. And if a lot of people believed in flat Earth we’d need to address it more." pic.twitter.com/fcKsZJyMIy
— Evolve Politics (@evolvepolitics) January 12, 2022
This is David Jordan, BBC editorial policy. There are circumstances in which this is an appropriate interview (eg a documentary on flat earthers could be illuminating) but the second half of this is a mistake, certainly on factual issues, with a dangerous implication. pic.twitter.com/hG1yp4QzZG
— Sunder Katwala (@sundersays) January 12, 2022
David Jordan, the BBC’s director of editorial policy, fails to understand that some points of view are not worthy of airtime. I presume this means Holocaust-deniers, terrorists, neo-Nazis and paedophiles will all be given the opportunity to state their case in future programming. https://t.co/T20u69yZbL
— David (@davidclewis) January 12, 2022
David Jordan is the BBC’s director of editorial policy. His views on how to balance the corporation's views are… extreme.
Presumably with this fractured logic, if racism were to rise, the BBC would have to ensure it's more racist in its own reporting.https://t.co/0yPi7CBR03 pic.twitter.com/xyerJ12Nbt
— Edwin Hayward 🦄 🗡 (@uk_domain_names) January 12, 2022
The BBC's mission is to "provide duly accurate and impartial news, current affairs and factual programming". Providing air time to flat earthers, anti-scientific nonsense and bigotry is the opposite of that. David Jordan should resign. https://t.co/U5ejzVu2Bk
— Ian Betteridge (@ianbetteridge) January 11, 2022
BBC EdPol has basically decided that "impartiality" is more important than accuracy. That is a fundamental betrayal of the corporation's mission, as well as a complete failure to understand what impartiality means.
— Ian Betteridge (@ianbetteridge) January 11, 2022
“Holocaust-deniers are not going to get as much space as people who believe the Holocaust happened, but vert occasionally it might be appropriate to interview a Holocaust-denier. And if a lot of people stopped believing in the the Holocaust…”
David Jordan should be sacked https://t.co/j5ReBRpUzI
— Peter Jukes (@peterjukes) January 12, 2022
Someone should remind David Jordan that BBC trust explicitly reject false balance, precisely because it enables antivaccine activists, climate change denialists, & flat-earthers to propagate their views devoid of evidence. Hardly "cancel culture" to not give cranks a platform.. https://t.co/RbFa0yX9wi
— Dr David Robert Grimes (@drg1985) January 12, 2022
I don't really understand why the BBC is digging in on this one. A dispute over a relatively minor report now escalating to the point where Tim Davie is going to have to step in due to the way in which they've responded to challenge at every stage. https://t.co/FKvc3D0CXm
— Ruth Davidson (@RuthDavidsonPC) January 7, 2022
Want to know how little of a sh1t the BBC gives about Jews and about Tim Davie's instructions?
Check the article reporting it.
The spokesman uses the exact same response they've used every other time, word for word.
The BBC has a problem with Jews. #Antisemitism pic.twitter.com/bRGjZT04Ja
— Neil 👁🗨 🔺 #NoSafeSpaceForJewHate (@dungeekin) January 8, 2022