Welcome to European Tribune. It's gone a bit quiet around here these days, but it's still going.
I did watch the Newsnight programme - and thought perhaps I will have to admit that this was one of their poorer performances.

But the poor performance was yours - in fact appalling; had you been one of my students I would have suggested that a university education clearly wasn't for you.

You caricature the programme and launch into a general attack on the BBC - having admitted that you only watched a "snippet" ! In fact the intro was an obviously non-serious montage of clips from the cold war period - over a song to try to make it clear it wasn't serious.

NO wonder some BBC execs find it hard to take some criticism seriously, and why I get exasperated at some of the "criticism" here - almost blind prejudice would be more accurate.

Let me emphasize again that I AM aware of years of serious academic criticism of the BBC, and other media institutions, as well as having my own criticisms. But I try to make sure that at least I watch a whole programme before attacking it.

After the brief montage the serious part began - all 22 minutes of it ! - starting with an overview by the very smart Mark Urban, who has been doing excellent reports for years, as was this.

Then they had a report from their correspondent in Moscow on how Putin saw things and the changes in Russia which have made it more confident, even aggressive, etc.

Then they had a studio discussion with someone from the US embassy, a Russian journalist, and British historian expert on Russia, and on a link from Moscow an opponent of Putin. Kirsty Wark, also very smart, chaired it and it was an informative discussion.

It concluded with Robert Service the historian, saying that politically Putin had been brilliant; his threat had provided a smokescreen, so there had been no mention of Chechnya, press freedom in Russia, etc.

You certainly DID get complex analysis of who Putin is and what he is responding to - but you chose not to watch it.

As to your point about the T. Rex story tonight, in the rest of the Newsnight which you didn't watch, they had a piece on the loss of the rainforests and a scheme to sell acres of them to individuals who could fly in to see them - but only via Google Earth. As the organizer said, at least it's a start and it has drawn attention to the problem again. Wark was probing, but this allowed the guy to explain his scheme and the scale of the problem.

Then they had a major piece on the anniversary of the 6 Day War by the also excellent and very experienced Jeremy Bowen (I think the Israelis have complained about him, as they have about most BBC correspondents and refused to co-operate with some for a time).

 Had you watched the first "snippet" you might have thought it a bit favourable to the Israelis - but of course nobody in a serious forum like Eurotrib would judge a programme on a "snippet" - would they ?

But he then went on to say that the view of little David Israel defeating the Goliath Arabs was a myth - British and US intelligence services had predicted a quick victory, given the Israeli weaponry etc; and they ensured victory on the first day by a surprise attack destroying most of the Arab planes on the ground - not generally referred to as a day that will live in infamy, etc.  

He then had a Palestinian give their point of view particularly about Jerusalem. Then an Israeli historian, critical of Israel trying to hold on to the territory conquered: "Some sobered up in a few days, some after weeks, some took 36 years before admitting they couldn't hold on to them."

 They had an Israeli ex soldier and settler who hardly came over as sympatheic in the bit shown, when he said: "When one side wins they tell the weaker side what to do."

Then a Palestinian writer who's written a book about the effects of the settlements on his area, followed by a UN guy who's monitored the growth of the settlements and related military bases, the restricted roads, the Wall and the problems this creates for the Palestinians. Then more informed, quite critical analysis from Bowen. This was pretty typical of a lot of the Newsnight's, good, critical, thorough (about 20 minutes) reports on a major issue.

I'm sure there will be complaints from the pro-Israel lobby - but I think they will at least have watched the whole programme. Try it next time. I suggest you apologize to the BBC.

Maybe it's because I'm a Londoner - that I moved to Nice.

by Ted Welch (tedwelch-at-mac-dot-com) on Tue Jun 5th, 2007 at 06:33:48 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Did they have a section on why exactly the U.S. wants bases in Europe, given the on-the-face-of-it ridiculous story about nuclear threats from Iran and North Korea?

Don't fight forces, use them R. Buckminster Fuller.
by rg (leopold dot lepster at google mail dot com) on Tue Jun 5th, 2007 at 09:37:36 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Hmmm instead of apologising for attacking the programme without having watched it, you try to find something that might justify your over-the top criticism. Though even if this point wasn't covered it wouldn't invalidate all of the rest of the points covered in the 22 minutes.

The justification for siting the programme and Russian objections and the suggestion that the US wouldn't be happy if Russia or another country tried to establish such sites in Mexico were covered in the discussion - as you would have known if you had watched it.

Maybe it's because I'm a Londoner - that I moved to Nice.

by Ted Welch (tedwelch-at-mac-dot-com) on Wed Jun 6th, 2007 at 04:29:03 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Ted, what can I say?  I apologise for attacking the programme without having watched it.  Sorry Newsnight!  I unfairly besmirched you, sez Ted!

May I ask what reason was given for the siting and how that was dealt with by the journalists?  Would it be rude if I asked how much time, as a percentage of the complete item, this took up?  You see my starting point--the reason I didn't continue watching; I mean I actively turned it off so as not to watch any more--was an underlying assumption (which maybe wasn't there and only demonstrates my prejudices) that the worst a U.S. base in Europe could be for us europeans was "neutral"; whereas the worst thing we might get from the russians was nuclear oblivion.  Which seemed so painfully slanted...I wanted to know: Why are those bases being placed there?  And I didn't just want to hear the "official" reasons.  I mean, how would I understand Putin's statements without a clear idea of what the story is behind this it-seemed-to-me nonsense about Iran and North Korea?  And from my recent experiences with Newsnight I felt...nah, they won't get into that...so if I was wrong about that, I apologise and good for them and good for me because BBC news is more interesting than I gave it credit for: I'll watch more next time maybe.

So, I apologise and would like to know what you discovered from the programme about the "U.S. places missiles in Europe" side of the story.

Don't fight forces, use them R. Buckminster Fuller.

by rg (leopold dot lepster at google mail dot com) on Wed Jun 6th, 2007 at 05:21:01 AM EST
[ Parent ]
 Well, respect man, as I believe the kids say these days :-)Don't you feel better now ? :-)

To tell you the truth I think they could have gone into that a bit more - but now I'm going on MY memory of the piece and brief notes I made. But they did cover a LOT of issues in a serious way. Try to get beyond intro snippets, in this case an obviously jokey montage of clips to illustrate the Cold War, and give the whole programme a chance.

The piece in the same Newsnight on the anniversary of the 6 Day war was very impressive for mainstream media (of course one could pick holes in even this and I'm sure Medialens did) but, as I said, the pro-Israeli lobby won't have liked it at all. Personally I'm glad I don' work for the BBC, the pressures form all sides are enormous.

Maybe it's because I'm a Londoner - that I moved to Nice.

by Ted Welch (tedwelch-at-mac-dot-com) on Wed Jun 6th, 2007 at 11:12:18 AM EST
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I didn't watch the edition of Newsnight you mention, but I wish I had. Generally I find NN to be a very good programme on european and far east affairs, moderate on the middle east, patchy on the US and invariably dire on UK.

They have a strong team of foreign experts, but their westminster group is traditionally poor and I wish they'd give it up to the Millbank (UK politics focussed) team. But I think that it's the "BBC-way" of doing UK politics that lets them down. Too much deference to big beast interviews and getting soundbites from significant players which dilute the inciveness of any report.

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Wed Jun 6th, 2007 at 08:29:14 AM EST
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