The BBC is losing me. It’s a sudden estrangement and an unwelcome one but I can’t seem to shake it off. The cause is the Corporation’s coverage of this thing that is happening that we still don’t have a name for but definitely should not call a ‘moment’.
The butterfly effect from George Floyd’s killing is one of the biggest stories in a generation. Once revered men have been torn down; a new history is being written; radical propositions about race, identity and the regulation of ideas have burst into the mainstream. This may well be an overdue reckoning with a racist past and present, but it is accompanied by an intellectual terror that is making honest debate impossible. Liberal society itself is under attack.
These are the sort of times the BBC was made for: a Western political crisis in the middle of a global health and economic crisis. Throw in a landmark US presidential election and the UK’s final transition out of the European Union and 2020 is a news editor’s dream. The Corporation should be using this time to shine, proving all those Tory backbenchers and market dogmatists wrong by showing that the Licence Fee is more than worth it.
Something else is happening instead. On the issue of race in particular, its coverage is askew. I don’t mean simply that it is biased — anyone who follows Auntie’s reporting on Israel is aware of how shared political assumptions can shape broadcast output — but that it is openly biased, almost aggressively so. The BBC is not merely reporting these events, it is taking sides; or, more precisely, it is failing to realise that there is another side.