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December 15, 2010


Luis Enrique

I think there's another bias - or tendency - which is for journalists to want to ask "the tough questions". If you're facing a disabled person dragged out of their chair and beaten, "are you sure you didn't deserve it?" has a certain sort of perverse bravery. To be clear, I'm not defending it, I'm trying to explain how journalists might come to ask such questions. I'm also not disputing what you write in the OP, I'm not suggesting anything mutually exclusive.

It's rare to encounter examples as extreme as this, and usually the 'victim' is a politician whom most people think deserve to be treated with suspicion and hostility, but I often think that really offensive questions are asked. Ben Brown's interview is something of an outlier but I think drawn from the same bag.

I suppose a positive is that if any viewers of that interview harbored similar thoughts or questions as Ben Brown, him asking those questions elicited extremely fine responses from Jody and was in that sense something of a public service.

Paul Sagar

Whilst your analysis is basically right, it doesn't really change the fact that Ben Brown personally behaved like a right little cunt. And that, ultimately, is what I think most people are complaining about.

Left Outside

'Ben Brown personally behaved like a right little cunt. And that, ultimately, is what I think most people are complaining about."

Well we have again people behaving in horrible ways that the wouldn't normally because they are 1) ordered to act in a certain way "be a tough interviewer or 2) are acting on behalf of an organisation not on their own behalf.

Stanford meets Milgram.

Ben Brown may be a •bad person•, but primarily he's just a •person•. Again, not to excuse, just to try and get hold of the psychology of why someone would act in what is so obviously an awful way.

If he wanted to, as has been pointed out elsewhere, there are tough questions which could of been asked of someone apparently at Tory HQ when it was a little ransacked (a lot less ransacked than the Tories are doing to our services etc), which wouldn't have made BB look like a right little cunt.

As with "were you rolling towards the police" it appears marx was wrong, with the media industry history is first farce then tragedy as TV new's emulation of the Day Today shows us.

CS Clark

Perhaps another bias is towards novelty - interviewing someone involved in the protests and asking him about his reasons for protesting might just be too familiar, too boring. He's just likely to say things the interviewer has heard before.

James Bloodworth

Good post. I also think the BBC feels presure to conform to the media 'consensus' on issues such as this; and as so much of our media is firmly right-wing and establishment, this makes for a BBC that tends to be establishment and conformist. Conformist in the sense of conforming to what the more ideological media are implying is 'common sense'.

Being at the protests then coming home and watching it on the news straight after is literally like watching a totally different event.

Peter Risdon

Here's another possible bias: against the police who took appalling casualties and in favour of someone helped carefully out of harms way by the cops.

There have been a number of blogs about this at Inspector Gadget and, so far as I can see, the above is a fair characterisation. Look at the images and see what you think:


There's no dispute about this: one copper was hit over the head by demonstrators, probably with a block of concrete, hard enough to shatter his helmet. Pictures of this whinging prat McIntyre being moved do seem to show that proper care was exercised.

There's a point when bourgeois sixth-form radicalism becomes an obscenity.

Peter Risdon

More - there are pictures of battered, prone police being carried out *before* any kettling began. If there had been a single demonstrator injured in the way these police were we'd have a ten thousand word post from Paul Sagar. As it is, not a sausage.

But of all the people involved, from middle-class students to middle-class bloggers to cops, the only ones with any claim to be workers are the cops.

Peter Risdon

BTW, my anger about this comes partly from having worked, years ago, with a man who had been invalided out of the police force after his back was broken when he went to the aid of a female officer who was being stomped by a group of miners during the 80s strike. They stomped him until his spine cracked instead.

Didn't even make the papers, so common were these types of injuries among the police at that time.

Paul Sagar

"If there had been a single demonstrator injured in the way these police were we'd have a ten thousand word post from Paul Sagar. As it is, not a sausage."

Hello, let me introduce you to Alfie Meadows. Alfie underwent emergency brain surgery after being beaten around the head by a police baton. Last Thursday, at the protest which I actually attended (unlike you, who noneless claims to know best), I saw kids being punched, kicked and batoned whilst lying on the floor, by fully armoured and armed riot police. I personally had to run for my skin to get out of the way of a police horse charge aimed at a packed crowd of people with very little space to run away into. Several of my friends were kicked to the floor by police, and a girl from our contingent ended up in hospital with her collar bone smashed by a police horse.

And yes, I also saw violence from protestors. If you read that blog that Chris links to, you will see that I admit as much.

But I'm afraid Peter that there are times when - as the right likes to say - spades need to be called spades. You are an ignorant fuckwit, with the analytic acument of a special needs squirrel. Your black-and-white presentation of a very complex issue is exactly the sort of banal, moronic, tiresome drivel that is the downside of the free and open access space that the internet provides. You are a complete ignoramus labouring under delusions of insight. Most of the time I can tolerate this, but today you have simply managed to get my goat (and to think, I even recently managed to pass-up the opportunity to poke fun at your hilariously incoherent blog post attacking myself and Chris Dillow).

At the end of the day, sometimes there's a need for reasoned engagement, and sometimes it's appropriate to call people fuckwits. And you, sir, have a good claim to being enthroned as Lord of the Fuckwits.

Peter Risdon

That would be the "hilariously incoherent" post in which I said that advocating violence in a democracy when the party you support loses is a form of political depravity. That's just a fact, and others close to your political position also mentioned it.

I do seem to have touched a nerve. The "special needs squirrel" line has a ring to it, but the rest is just disappointing, sub-Devil's Kitchen stuff. He liked to call people "fuckwits" too.

I know about Alfie Meadows, though I can't name any of the police who were badly injured and I'm sure you can't either. Responsibility for violence rests with those who instigate it. That was some of the protesters, not the police.

Some of them seem to have come from other countries just for the ruck. I suppose it's the International League against Globalisation (or is it the Global League against Internationalisation?) who turn up at G8 meetings, again for the ruck. They seem to have been joined by the UK chapter of Anarchists for Big Government.

There's coherence for you.


I'm reading a lot about Bloody Sunday in Derry in '72. Very different circumstances, I know, but since the police are looking to learn lessons form how the old RUC dealt with riots, I thought it worth mentioning.

What's interesting about Bloody Sunday was how quickly the propaganda message went out that the demonstrators had somehow brought it on themselves. It's a familiar pattern. History is littered with similar examples. The victims were asking for it. People have a right to protest but if you whacked with a truncheon or dragged from you're wheelchair you must have deserved it. That is what was implied by Ben Brown's idiotic interview with Jody McIntyre.

But if you really want to learn something from Northern Ireland it is this: proposing security/law and order solutions to what are essentially political problems will not work. Kettling, water canon, banning marches, whatever... There is a political problem. The UK is deeply divided over the cuts to public services. And this comes on top of deep divisions about the wars in Iraq, Afghanistan and possible Iran in the future.

You can batter people off the streets (or carefully help them out of harms way), but you're still left with simmering resentment. And the lesson of Northern Ireland is that that can get really ugly.

Torquil MacNeil

There's something endearingly old fashioned about the instinct to patronise the disabled with these displays of outrage that the police man handled a person IN A WHEEL CHAIR. People used to be like this about women but we have got past that. I haven't seen the footage or the interview, but I don't really see what the fact he was in a wheel chair has to do with anything and yet everyone is going on about it as if it has special significance. Surely the police manhandled lots of able bodied people too?


"People used to be like this about women but we have got past that."

No they haven't. Read the previous comments.


Ben Bradshaw has done nothing wrong.
It is always the role of the interviewer to put across the other side of the arguement so that the interviewee can react to this and justify their own claims. Otherwise you will have an interview consisting of two people simply agreeing with other!

Jody McIntyre came across as intelligent and able to justify his claims of mistreatment by the police. I wonder do people think he should have been given special treatment because of his condition? If so then how insulting to him and all the other disabled people who are perfectly able to demonstrate their viewpoint effectively.


The stereotype given here by Dillow has been turned into a badge of honour for journos. Needless to say my visit to this particular entry came after a recommendation by Nick Cohen on his facebook status.


"Class. Ben Brown went to Sutton Valence school, where fees (including boarding) are almost as much as the typical worker earns all year. He, like his colleagues, comes from that class for whom the police is a benign service, rather than an alien oppressive power. And, naturally, they are more sympathetic to well-spoken, clean-shaven empty suits than to scruffs like Mr McIntyre."

You've nailed it right on the head.
There really is out there a category of people who were born and grew up and then found work in privilege. It's not their fault. They don't do it consciously. It's all they've ever known and seen from day one.
Obviously they digest words like "revolutionary" or interpret a mass of protesters as something totally alien or that can justify automatically a heavy-handed treatment.


Quite a lad, Mr McIntyre:


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