It must be very lonely being the BBC North America editor when the rest of the world also happens to be focusing on the same topic as you. For the BBC’s Mark Mardell, it means the usual formula of casual bias, loaded verbiage and perspective delivered through a Demmocrat Party prism could easily be exposed for what it was, leaving him in a space all his own in the mediascape.
So it was in the early hours of this morning as Mardell filed his analysis of the US Presidental debate between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney. Mardell clearly saw how poorly Obama had been without the comfort of a teleprompter and how effectively Romney had rebutted Obama’s claims and landed blows on taxation and the economy.
But Operation Save Barack was in full flow on Mardell’s keyboard as he submitted his analysis to the BBC write up of the debate – a story which itself took nearly three hours from first publication under the headline ‘US election: Obama and Romney clash in Denver’ to grudgingly acknowledge what less partisan observers were saying from the moment the debate ended, resulting in a change of headline to ‘US election: Polls show Romney won TV debate with Obama’. Here is Mardell’s analysis posted at 04:30 UTC…
Mitt Romney had been practising hard. And it paid off. He was animated, in command of his information, overriding the moderator and interrupting the president. He seemed to be in charge and enjoying the scrap.
On the other hand, President Obama started out looking very nervous, and although he warmed up and got into his stride, he ended up giving overlong, mini-lectures straight to camera rather than engaging and arguing.
He seemed unwilling to actually debate with his opponent and missed a few obvious openings when he should have challenged. This may be deliberate. Perhaps his team decided that he shouldn’t get riled, so it was best not to get into a fight. If so, he held back too much.
If Mr Romney clearly won this debate, in terms of style at least, he can’t celebrate too hard just yet. If the polls don’t move after a win, then he really is in trouble.
Having seen how far removed his version of the story was from all other reports of the debate , yet determined to remain as defensive as possible of the BBC’s preferred candidate without being quite so obvious where his favour rests, his analysis has been heavily edited, through one assumes gritted teeth, to now read thus in version 7 of the story…
As theatre, a battle of image and confidence, Mitt Romney was the clear winner. He had obviously practised so hard and so long that he was nearly hoarse. But not quite. Instead his voice was a touch deeper. No bad thing.
He looked Mr Obama in the eyes as he interrupted with animation, overriding the moderator, insisting on a comeback. He didn’t seem rude. He did seem in command and to be enjoying the scrap.
President Obama on the other hand looked as though he’d much rather be out celebrating his wedding anniversary with his wife. He started out looking very nervous, swallowing hard, not the confident performer we are used to seeing.
Republicans certainly feel that they have used the debate to shift the perception of their candidate, shake up the etch-a-sketch and talk about his passion for job creation and focus on the middle classes.
The next string of opinion polls could hardly matter more. If they narrow or he starts moving ahead of Mr Obama, that will be a huge boost for his campaign, and suggest he could win the White House. However if after an acclaimed victory the opinion polls hardly budge, then it would mean he is in a very serious hole indeed.
There is no surprise here, this is the BBC at work after all. But it does underline the lack of trust BBC viewers and readers should have in the editorial position of key staff.
Perhaps the driver of this is a simple desire to once again wear woolly Obama hats in Washington DC in January at what the Beeboids hope will be the start of Obama’s second term in office. But somehow when BBC coverage of North America is examined we see time and again the same distorted, leftist and authoritarian viewpoint being relayed to this side of the Atlantic at the expense of balanced and impartial reporting.
The aggravating factor in all this as always is the fact we are compelled to pay for this propaganda and have no say in how our money is spent, and no entitlement to receive information freely on request about the behind the scenes editorial discussions that drive such biased coverage. We continue to complain, but the political class has no interest in taking on the corporation, vast, powerful and overbearing as it now is.