I have to admit, this BBC news report is a real gem: it reports upbeat news from Iraq and Afghanistan and positive signs in newly-conservative Germany (juxtaposed against worsening gloom in France).
Better yet, it perfectly captures the Beeb’s unique style of bias: subtle, yet unmistakable.
First of all, the item is relegated away from the picture stories on the main page (“Canada Conservatives win election,” “Europe 'knew about' CIA flights;” “3D structure of HIV is 'revealed'”) to the end of a list of other less-important stories (“Saddam trial is postponed;” “Ailing Kuwait ruler ousted by MPs;” “Congo to lead African Union;” “Iraq general's killer reprimanded;” and “Six killed in Iran bomb attacks.”)
Second, the title is not “Iraqis and Afghanis Excited About Future;” or “Iraqis and Afghanis Optimistic;” or even “Iraqis and Afghanis Must Wear Shades.” Instead, the report is titled “Poll finds surprising optimists,” thereby avoiding any mention of Iraqis and Afghanis – and focusing instead on the fact that this is, after all, only a poll. (Is the Beeb always this careful when reporting the results of a poll rather than an immutable fact – for example, when reporting on GW’s ‘popularity’?)
Next the upbeat result is explained away: Iraq and Afghanistan, we're told, have been “devastated by war and civil conflict.” (Not decades of dictatorial rule, you understand.) Thus, as the “experts” at the polling firm who conducted the survey have suggested, the “war may have created a "year zero" experience of collectively starting again.” In other words, Iraqis and Afghanis are only optimistic as a reaction to the devastating invasions illegally launched by Cowboy Bush!
Most revealing of all, however, is the Beeb’s “surprise” at the results – and the way it expresses that surprise as the only response that any sane person would have. This is reminiscent of liberal film critic Pauline Kael’s expression of disbelief in Nixon’s trouncing of McGovern, given that she didn't know anyone who voted for him.
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