Readers of HEqual may remember an article from last year where we exposed some of the BBC’s lies about Philip Davies MP. On that occasion, the organisation morphed his criticism of feminists into criticism of women as a whole, thus turning reality on its head and smearing him as a sexist rather than an opponent of misandrist ideology. The BBC quietly retracted those false claims about Davies, yet they clearly haven’t learned their lesson and have been lying about the very same politician once again.
In an article concerning the learning disabled and the minimum wage, the BBC wrote the following:
“Conservative MP Philip Davies told Parliament that disabled people should work for less than the minimum wage“
A version of the article we saw at the time helpfully linked to the debate in question and the few people who followed said link would have soon noticed that the BBC were up to their usual tricks and completely misrepresenting Davies’ words. The official Hansard record of the debate notes his words as follows:
I am sure that all Members want everybody to have the opportunity to get a job, to develop their career and for it to flourish in every possible way, but for some people the national minimum wage may be more of a hindrance than a help, and if those people—in my view, some of the most vulnerable people in our society—consider it a hindrance and feel that for a short period taking lower pay to get on the first rung of the jobs ladder is a good thing, I do not see why we should stand in their way.
Clearly the above quote bears almost no resemblance to the BBC’s version of events. They imply he thinks all disabled people are somehow unworthy of the same wages as everyone else. Furthermore, the broadcaster pretends Davies wants to force all these disabled people to accept lower wages, when in reality he clearly thinks it should be a short-term option that is voluntary and only for some (such as the learning disabled).
As ever, we used the amazing News Sniffer site to see how the BBC handled matters and how long they left the lies in place. The article was published on March 2nd 2017 and underwent a total of eight edits on the day of publication with the Davies smear in place from the start. Unusually for the BBC, it then began making further changes some 12 days after publication, which would imply it had received and read the complaints by that date. The BBC’s first edit consisted of two incredibly minor changes, such as replacing the term “less than” with “below”. It then took a further twenty hours, for the vastly more significant lies about Davies to be removed and replaced with accurate content, with a note added to the end of the article stating the following:
This report has been amended to make clear that Philip Davies said people with disabilities should have the option of working for less than the minimum wage.
The conduct of the BBC here is disturbing for a number of reasons. Blatant lies about Davies were left in place on the BBC website for an incredible thirteen days and these were hugely damaging to his reputation. Most views of an article are likely to be within 24-48 hours of publication, so its clear that time is of the essence when it comes to fixing such defamatory remarks. However, the News Sniffer history indicates the BBC may well have deliberately delayed taking down the content for almost a day instead of fixing the problem as soon as they became aware of it.
Perhaps a bigger problem is with overall BBC transparency. It’s certainly useful to have the note added to the end of the article, though it doesn’t really expose the lies that went before nor offer any sort of apology. Furthermore, it is still actually lacking accuracy since it omits the term “some” therefore still implying Davies is talking about all disabled people. What makes matters worse is that there’s no reference to the change anywhere else on the BBC. There’s zero mention in any bulletins and it’s corrections and clarifications page similarly fails to note what occurred, never-mind apologise. The end results of this is zero awareness of teh BBC’s retraction, and so next to no one who read the original lies will learn the truth.
Sceptical readers may well put all this down to a simply “mistake”, but the content in question needs to be viewed in the wider context of the BBC’s treatment of Davies and those others who speak out on equality issues. The BBC’s Jane Garvey was astonishingly hostile when interviewing Davies in December and her Twitter feed shows she thinks he’s a “pillock”. A further BBC interview with Davies in April attempted to smear him as believing women have “too many rights” and of course we secured retractions back in December and in 2011 when the last Conservative MP to criticise feminism was also falsely portrayed as a sexist attacking women.
What we have is a very clear pattern of the BBC completely misrepresenting he arguments of critics of feminism and attempting to portray them as hating not just women, but now also the disabled and other groups. Clearly this is partly deliberate, but perhaps another factor to consider is the views and politics of most BBC staff and the BBC environment as a whole. Those in the SJW BBC/Guardian bubble exclusively consume media attacking Davis, and they almost exclusively associate with his opponents, with for example the Women’s Equality Party co-founder Sandi Toksvig being an ever-present on all manner of BBC TV and radio shows. So, while the likes of Talk Radio’s Julia Hartley Brewer brilliantly take apart feminists who smear Davies as sexist, the BBC instead believes such myths to be factual, either due to brainwashing, ignorance or simply denial. Thus when they publish defamatory statement about critics of feminism it’s not necessarily 100% malicious every time, they’re often just so out of touch with reality that they simply don’t notice.
Ultimately, if these were truly mistakes, we’d see the BBC repeatedly smearing feminists too or perhaps exaggerating the achievements and giving unearned praise to critics of feminism, yet this never seems to occur. In fact the BBC is still to even report on the domestic abuse police caution received by Labour MP Sarah Champion, despite the fact she’s the party’s spokesperson for domestic abuse!.
It’s now two years since the BBC banned men from the only ever election hustings debate featuring a party for men and boys. Davies’ constituency is to be contested by the Women’s Equality Party shortly and if they’re truly impartial and consistent, the BBC will of course be banning women from whichever broadcast is set to feature a WEP candidate.