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« The Goerlitz tapes | Main | Stop press: how the BBC scrubs up »

Propaganda paid for by the licence fee

I received a call from Five Live late last night telling me that my interview at 7.40 this morning had been cancelled because of "three breaking news stories". It slipped out however that Five Live Breakfast was still going to interview Professor Terence Stephenson, the new head of the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, whose blog on the BBC website calls for a ban on smoking in cars when children are present.

I was furious (but not surprised) and immediately sent the producers this email:

This is the BBC at its very worst. As a licence payer I object strongly to my money being used to promote one-sided propaganda about smoking. Not only does the BBC give the professor his own blog on the BBC website to promote a ban on smoking in cars when children are present, Five Live is giving him a further opportunity to promote his anti-smoking agenda AND you have cancelled an interview with someone who would have offered a different point of view. I am not impressed. Please note that we shall be monitoring the programme to see how this issue is handled.

I am still catching up with today's coverage but I understand that Prof Stephenson was also on Radio 4. I finally caught up with him when we were both interviewed on Radio 2's Jeremy Vine Show (presented this week by Matthew Bannister).

Stephenson said that both his parents smoked and it wasn't very nice sitting in the back of the car while they puffed away (or words to that effect). To his credit Bannister immediately asked Stephenson if he had suffered any ill effects. The answer, you won't be surprised to know, was negative. In Stephenson's words, he was "lucky".

It reminds me of Professor Doll telling Sue Lawley on Desert Island Discs that he didn't mind people smoking in his presence because the effect on him was so small. Despite this, the likes of Doll and Stephenson always end up supporting one ban or another.

They can't help themselves.

Reader Comments (8)

Note the remarks of ASH's Arnott - a purveyor of lies and scientific fraud:

June 17, 2009 at 19:56 | Unregistered CommenterBlad Tolstoy

An action calculated to frustrate an opponent or gain an advantage indirectly or deviously;
A typical ploy is to feign illness, procure medicine, then sell it.
Hmm an interesting quote !
ps I did not write it.
But... its spot on.

June 17, 2009 at 20:25 | Unregistered CommenterSpecky

The Chartered Institute of Journalists has today issued the press release copied below. Sadly, in the media generally, these admirable principles do not seem to apply to the debate on smoking.:


THE Chartered Institute of Journalists believes that the election of BNP members to mainstream politics should be dealt with in the same even handed manner as all other political parties.

While the NUJ is holding a debate about the right way to handle the rise of parties like the BNP, the CIoJ believes that accurate reporting will undermine the strong support of such parties.

CIoJ President Liz Justice said: "It is not an option ignoring views of elected members because they don't chime with your own political views.

"It is a reporter’s job to report – and a sub’s job to edit – without injecting personal feelings and prejudices into the story. The Opinion editor writers’ jobs allow them to reflect their beliefs. It is not the job of a journalists’ trade union to dictate otherwise. That is why the Chartered Institute of Journalists is strictly non-political and urges its members to report the facts and let the readers (rightfully) make up their own minds.

The advent of the BNP should be treated no differently to any other political party by journalists dedicated to the concept attributed to Voltaire: ‘I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.’

"The electing public can make good decisions based on accurate reporting. I am clear that CIoJ journalists should not treat any political party with polite distain or use their own political stance to undermine fair reporting.

"These parties now have democratically elected members and they will also be newspaper readers. The best way forward for journalists is to treat them as any other contributor and interact in a challenging way. Journalists are in the perfect position to let the public know what they are voting for when the next elections come along."


June 17, 2009 at 22:45 | Unregistered CommenterNorman

Anybody see that disgusting advert last night promoting the dangers of SHS ? Joe Goebbels at His best. And of course Mr Joe Gullible Public will belive it hook line and sinker.

June 18, 2009 at 7:54 | Unregistered CommenterPeter James

I haven't seen the advert you speak of Peter James, but I know what you mean about the gullible Public believing it hook line and sinker.

What has happened to the nature of the Englishman, the true Brit, where have our heroes gone? What has happened to our students, the people who, in normal circumstances would have been questioning the validity of such statements that are dished up upon us, on an almost daily basis?

When I look at what is happening in Iran, it makes me sick. These people are literally fighting for their lives, fighting for their political beliefs, and their freedom of choice. Meanwhile, here in the Socialist Republic of Britain, that was once great, we sit back and accept.

We accept a government that has ruined our country, we accept an unjust law that bans smoking in public places, we accept that same law spiralling out of control, to include open spaces and now it would seem, cars as well, we accept local councils spying on us and fining us for putting our bins out on the wrong day, we accept the police pulling us over in our cars to tell us we should be wearing a seat belt, we accept MPs stealing money from us, we accept being dragged into Europe and not being allowed to vote on if we want to be a part of it or not.

I could go on and on, but I am sure by now you get the message? We should be out there on the streets, like they are in Iran, and like the do in countries such as France and Italy. Our students should be demanding answers, and rioting if they do not get them, we should be disobeying all and any laws which we do not agree with. In my point of view this is the only way to regain our freedom.

June 18, 2009 at 10:15 | Unregistered CommenterPeter Thurgood

I know what you are saying Peter T. But unfortunatley, as my grnny used to call the tv 'the devil in the corner' she was so right.
That is why Joe is how he his, brainwashed supplicant,and just plain stupid in some cases.

June 18, 2009 at 10:57 | Unregistered CommenterPeter James

Talking of adverts, I'd like to know after the NHS was told not to show the appalling "I'm not scared of anything except my mum and dad dying of smoking..." TV ad before 7pm, why the local Smoke Free centre here has a billboard outside it's shop advertising the very same advert from morning until evening for all kids to see as they walk past.

My own feeling is that this is typical of the double standards of modern Britain - one rule for some and another for the rest of us!

June 18, 2009 at 13:58 | Unregistered CommenterPat Nurse

An example of my above comments about brainwashed Joe:
Two weeks ago outside my local rat hole having a smoke, lady fellow smoker says and I quote:'I never knew passive smoking could be so dangerous'.
Well I hope you can imangine my reply.

June 19, 2009 at 7:04 | Unregistered CommenterPeter James

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