The BBC and the Covid Pandemic

We all know that the main debate over Covid 19 was whether the Government’s draconian lockdown measures were overkill, or whether they were justified in order to restrict the spread of a killer virus. So which side would the BBC endorse? The answer’s simple: The side that required restrictive measures to be imposed, that would do maximum economic damage to the country, and would cause the highest possible measure of public alarm, so procuring a largely misinformed, frightened and compliant population.

If the BBC were really impartial then it would have refrained from supporting either side, instead opting for as much full and open debate as possible. It would have given air time to expert scientists and doctors from both sides of the argument, in order to try to arrive at the truth.

Leading scientists cancelled

But truth and the BBC are uneasy companions, as we at Anglo-Celtic know only too well. The BBC management oversaw a totally one-sided discussion of the issue. They refused air time to several eminent scientists who, before Covid, had frequently been sought out for their opinions. One such was Professor Carl Heneghan, professor of evidence-based medicine at Oxford University. He was often interviewed on BBC radio and television in the early days of the pandemic. But as soon as he began questioning government policy he was blocked. He says, “For the whole of 2021 I was virtually ghosted by the BBC. I was sometimes booked to go on programmes but then it would be cancelled or I would be told I wasn’t needed”.

People with no medical qualifications but who supported the Government’s stance on Covid 19 and the lockdowns, however, were given plenty of air time. One example is Devi Sridhar, Professor of Public Health at the University of Edinburgh,counter-disinformation policy forum. It was she who, when the Pfizer vaccine was approved for use in children aged 12 to 15 in June 2021, told the children’s current affairs programme, Newsround, that the vaccine was “100 per cent safe for children”. Some journalists who were aware that no medical expert would ever claim that a vaccine is 100 per cent safe, raised the alarm with their managers. It turned out that Sridhar is not a virologist, immunologist, or expert on vaccination, and so is not qualified at all to pronounce on the safety or otherwise of any vaccine.

Toeing the line

It’s evident that during the Covid 19 lockdowns, the BBC reduced itself to being a mouthpiece for the Government. It even instructed its reporters not to use the word “lockdown”. Instead, they were to talk about curbs and restrictions. This was in line with Government policy.

Even worse, the BBC sent a representative to meetings of the “Counter-Disinformation Policy Forum”, set up by the Government to stifle dissent on the methods used to counter Covid 19. Jessica Cecil, founder of their “Trusted News Initiative” (set up in 2019, ostensibly to uncover “fake news” and warn media partners of such) was seconded to attend its meetings. No unredacted minutes of its meetings have ever been published.

The “Counter-Disinformation Policy Forum” (December 2020-June 2021) was chaired alternately by a Minister of State and a senior Civil Servant. It is not to be confused with the equally secretive “Counter Disinformation Unit”, also set up by the Government at about the same time. It’s clear that the attitude of these government bodies towards anyone who questioned the myths surrounding Covid and the lockdowns was hostile in the extreme. For example, they openly referred to their mission to “address the serious risk of harm posed by….anti-vaccination mis/disinformation”. Just look it up on any search engine.

The BBC partakes in a “conspiracy against public debate”

Robin Aitken, a former BBC journalist, has described it as “alarming” to discover that the BBC took part in this “forum”, and suggested it was a “conspiracy against public debate”. He went on to say that the BBC’s action shows that “when it chooses to, it toes the line and does the job the Government wants it to do.” And the job the Government wanted it to do was to argue the case that any information indicating that vaccines were anything other than totally safe and effective was untrue.

We’ve heard more and more lately about “disinformation” and “misinformation” from the mass media, led by the BBC. Robin Aitken sums this up perfectly by saying, “This whole idea of disinformation is a method of enforcing an orthodoxy on the public debate”. In other words, to stifle freedom of speech and expression (in defiance of its 2016 Charter).

The BBC implements a “climate of fear”

It’s just an excuse for blatant censorship. The BBC also implemented what current and former BBC journalists have called a “climate of fear”. Any journalist or manager who questioned this tyranny was “openly mocked”. And as for reporting on anti-lockdown marches then taking place in London, some of which attracted many thousands of protesters, they were “not on the agenda”. That’s “Cancel Culture” for you. Yet if any of this was put to senior management at the BBC, as it often was by a minority of more independent thinking journalists, they simply denied it. No explanation. No point-by-point refutation. Just denial. This sounds familiar to us at Anglo-Celtic. It’s what we had to contend with when we filed a 93-point series of complaints with the BBC and, later, with Ofcom, all backed up with documentary evidence. No attempt to answer even one of our complaints. Just denial.

"We don't really care if they complain." - Hugh Greene, Director-General BBC 1960-69.

Yet it gets more sinister. Anna Brees was a BBC news presenter who left the Corporation before the Covid pandemic. She was contacted by a like-minded BBC senior editor when she tweeted her opinions about the lockdowns. The editor emailed her with an assurance that he supported her in her concerns, and asked her to let him have the names of any other people in the BBC News department who shared “their” views. But if this was a genuine attempt to resist the tyranny at the BBC then it failed because of the fear that it may be a trap to identify dissenters, who would then be open to losing their jobs, and possibly their careers as well.

Ofcom as well

It wasn’t just the BBC. It was Ofcom as well. Ofcom, as well as the BBC, had a seat on the secretive “Counter Disinformation Policy Forum”, and on the day the first lockdown was announced by the then Prime Minister Boris Johnson it issued “guidance” (i.e. a diktat) on “broadcast standards during the coronavirus pandemic”. If this was designed to coerce any remaining independently minded journalists into toeing the line then it succeeded. The “climate of fear” was fully implemented. Proper national debate on the virus, the lockdowns, and public policy changes to accommodate them, was stifled.

The BBC failed totally in its duty to provide clear and independent coverage of the Covid-19 pandemic, the lockdowns, and the effect of all this on public health, the economy, and the nation as a whole.

It’s high time this corrupt, treacherous organisation was abolished. Find out more about our Campaign to Abolish the BBC by clicking here.

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