March 10, 2004

Beeb Watch

The Beeb has been in spanking top form through the past week or so.

When there were last minute snags with the Iraqi interim constitution late last week--the BBC's correspondent reported from Iraq as if the sky had fallen in.

A mega-embarrasment for the U.S. Pretty much an unadulterated disaster. The Beebenfreude was barely concealed.

There was not even the slightest speculation regarding what any seasoned (or not so seasoned) negotiator would tell you about the break-down in the eleventh hour constitution-building negotiations.

Last minute walkouts (as by the Shi'a delegation) are a classic tactic used in difficult negtiations to, you know, raise the ante, increase negotiating leverage, generally enhance the aggrieved parties position so as to try to get as close as possible to the relevant parties' desired outcome.

So you can be sure Jerry Bremer's weekend didn't involve sight-seeing down by the picturesque marshes of southern Iraq. He was doing his best to get the Shi'a back on board and get an interim constitution signed. And he did.

None of these obvious machinations surrounding the negotiations were discussed during the hyper-gloomy and wearily predictable Beeb set theming last Friday. The theme, of course, was the omni-prevalent Beeb-land speciality that I'll refer to as the 'the Americans are cocking it up' genre.

The Beeb's methods are simple. When the story bolsters said theme--downplay any nuance and run it loudly and repeatedly--secretly relishing another 'humiliation' for the bufoonish, hapless Yanks running about the globe, willy-nilly, like clueless preemptive cowboys.

When the story conflicts with the pre-ordained theming--downplay the story writ large and speak of, as with the signing of the interim constitution, the manifold going forward problems still facing "the Americans."

Of course, as mentioned above, come the dawning of Monday and the new week, an interim constitution was signed.

Not suprisingly, the Beeb continued to downplay the story. And no mea culpas about their hugely negative (and devoid of nuance and judiciousness) Friday coverage.

I'm on the road (thus catching BBC World late night at my hotel), a bit weary, and wouldn't have necessarily blogged this.

Until I caught this classic Beeb "Hardtalk" interview of Henry Kissinger.

Go watch it (the Beeb summation, if you don't watch the video, does no justice to the interview).

See Kissinger's, alternately, frustration, disbelief and tinges of derision in reaction to the Beeb questioner's (one Jon Sopel) ill-informed, risibly anti-American, and nakedly 'gotcha' style of questioning.

It's a must-see and, pretty much, sums up much of the Beeb's coverage.

At one point, if recollection serves, Kissinger exclaims to the questioner (who is tiresomely trotting out Salvador Allende to make non-cogent points about our supposed overarching "policy" of preemption) in exasperation:

"You have no idea what you are talking about."

It took the good doctor to so aptly sum up large swaths of the Beeb's geopolitical coverage.


Posted by Gregory at March 10, 2004 05:18 AM
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