I read David Sedgwick’s first book about the BBC, ‘BBC: Brainwashing Britain?’ (the Kindle version) when it came out in December 2018 and was immediately nodding and mouthing ‘yes, yes, yes’ at virtually every page. The book described for the first time how the BBC is an overtly political organisation how it follows an agenda and pursues the Orwellian ‘Righthink’ versus ‘Wrongthink’. The book took the reader “on a disturbing journey deep into the realms of mistruth and deception to reveal, for the very first time, the many tricks and subterfuges used by the British Broadcasting Corporation”.
I read the article written by David Sedgwick on Going Postal a few weeks back describing his follow up book ‘The Fake News Factory’ and how the BBC had been alarmed by the content of the book and had connived with Amazon to try to depress sales to reduce the book’s position in the best sellers list. Apparently, people ordering the book from Amazon were quoted weeks and weeks lead time which was putting people off from placing orders or cancelling orders already placed. Sedgwick asked us to please order the book to thwart Amazon/BBC tactics. So, I did.
I placed the order with Amazon on the 15th April. Normally Amazon deliver next day as I am an Amazon Prime member, but this occasion I was initially I was quoted a delivery mid to end May! But mysteriously, it arrived on 21st April. Good.
I mentioned in a comment on GP that I’d just received the book and a puffin replied, “Please write a review and ask SB to publish as an article”. I said “I will”. So here it is.
I should explain, I did not order the Kindle edition which I could have downloaded immediately, I ordered the paperback version for a reason. That reason is so I can share it, not with like-minded souls but with some particular friends who see nothing wrong with the BBC and are uncritical, BBC consumers. These particular people have been friends for 40 years, are right of centre and I’m pretty sure are Conservative voters. Over the years I have muttered and chuntered about the ‘biased BBC’ and have regularly said to them that I refuse to watch or listen to it. We were staying the weekend with them a few months back and suddenly the lady of the house said to me “Just what is that you have against the BBC? Don’t give me a lecture, can you put it in a sentence?”
I said. “It broadcasts propaganda, not news. Marxist propaganda. It follows an agenda.” This elicited a snort of derision and the phrase ‘Marxist propaganda’ became a running joke for the rest of the weekend. (we didn’t fall out, but they were both obviously unconvinced).
I bought this paperback version to send to her. Her response to the book, when we finally meet up again may well be the subject of another article.
Before I give my impressions and summary, I think reproducing his Preface at the beginning of the book is the best introduction to the book and his thinking and why he wrote this sequel so quickly after ‘BBC: Brainwashing Britain?’.
Upon finishing my previous book on the BBC I had intended to turn my attentions elsewhere. I’d said all I wanted to say about the matter. At least I thought I had. In my head I have already written parts of my next book, Jonathan: Requiem for a Lost Soul, a bittersweet meditation on life in and death as well as everything in between. It was all there swirling around in my head, this elegiac tribute to a lost friend, memories of a character both remarkable and ordinary. Jottings done, I looked forward with a certain amount of trepidation to the task ahead.
But leaving the battlefield halfway (?) through the fight didn’t seem right. How could I, while the BBC still lived and breathed, indulge myself in writing something that started to feel indulgent in comparison?
Daily I received messages from people who had read BBC: Brainwashing Britain? and who thanked me profusely for having written such a book. Some urged me to continue, to tackle more issues. I was in two minds. Somehow it seemed indecent to ignore such earnest pleas and so, through gritted teeth, I reset my sails. Researching the type of book I now had in mind would be the literary equivalent of a solo round-the-world yacht voyage, long spells of loneliness punctuated by occasional sightings of dry land.
Twelve months later the journey is now over. And what a journey! I hope the reader emerges from the book better informed about both the topics covered and BBC presentation thereof. Because if there is one overarching purpose of this book, then it surely resides somewhere in the realms of conscience-raising.
Like many others I have watched in horror as the broadcaster has transformed into something straight out of the pages of Orwell, and like them I have come to regard the BBC as a serious threat to liberty and freedom. The BBC agenda is truly frightening. What is arguably even Scarier is the almost universal support the broadcaster enjoys amongst the UK establishment. If and when revolution comes it will be via ordinary men and women. Ye are many-they are few.
Contrary to what some people might think little pleasure is derived writing a book of this nature. Like millions of Brits who grew up in the latter half of the 20th century I took the BBC for granted. Saturday mornings meant one thing: Swap Shop. I was brought up on Grange Hill and adored programmes such as It’s a Knockout, The Young Ones and Blackadder. However, the current BBC is not the organisation I remember.
Back then it had some connection with people regardless social status, political views or ethnicity. The modern however darker, much more cynical – judgemental to insufferable. And it shows.
So, it’s no more BBC for this bon viveur. It’s back to Jonathan, these past twelve months. I’m going to do him that I will not be tempted back into the BBC fray – for the sake blood pressure if nothing else. The battle though is far from over; in it has only just begun. Like a once great beast, a predator that now faces extinction the BBC will fight to the death to preserve privilege. But the tide has irrevocably turned. It is no whether the BBC is dishonest or not, but what can be done about it.
Perhaps my venture into epistolary will be brief, knows I might return, batteries fully charged, to shine light on this frankly dangerous institution. In the and fume. But above all else, be proactive. Do.
Finally, a note on the text. This a meaty book, it therefore structured into thirteen themed sections. Each section is divided into three or four bitesize parts (chapters) which examine related aspects of the main topic.
I wish you a safe journey.
Dec 31st 2019
The rear cover of the book has this summary:
“The Fake News Factory
What is happening to the BBC? As of 2020, fewer people than ever trust the ‘British’ Broadcasting Corporation to tell the truth. Accusations of bias and fake news reverberate inside and outside of social media tarnishing the name of this once respected brand. Every minute of every day the BBC production line is hard at work. A finely tuned machine, Britain’s publicly-funded state broadcaster pumps out an enormous amount of content much of which attempts to mislead, unnerve and inflame the audience. Encompassing its coverage of Trump, Brexit, climate change, Syria and everything in between, there is nothing spontaneous about BBC propaganda. It is constructed to achieve specific goals. The Fake News Factory promises to blow the lid off what has become a radical, political agenda. Unable to modify its playbook by a single degree however, the corporation faces an existential crisis. More hated than loved, the BBC unravels in front of our eyes. Audiences deserting in record numbers just how does the BBC manage to retain its pre-eminent position within the UK media landscape? Using myriad examples of unethical practice in this sequel to his acclaimed BBC: Brainwashing Britain? David Sedgwick takes the reader on a disturbing journey into the very heart of dishonesty.”
It’s like a novel with a good plot, easy to read and so it’s a page-turning, razor-sharp, authoritative dissection of how the BBC operates – a deeply-researched, fact-based exposé on BBC bias, dishonesty, and power. The research is meticulous, with copious references to the source material and acknowledgements in the Bibliography.
The author describes what Fake News is and reminds the reader of what he exposed in ‘BBC: Brainwashing Britain?’ that the BBC follows an agenda of it’s own and only reports and promotes ‘Righthinking’, stories that fit within the BBC rigid agenda of the Left – Political Correctness, immigration, open borders, globalist, climate ‘crisis’ pro-EU, anti-Tory, anti-Brexit, anti-Trump, LGBTQWERTY and transgendersism. Cultural Marxism no less. He lists example after example of news that is pushed (‘Righthink’) and stories that are ignored, twisted or misreported (‘Wrongthink’).
It’s the BBC’s audacity that stands out. Sedgwick chronicles the relentless dishonest reporting of an organisation that compounds its behaviour by constantly promoting itself as “independent, trusted, impartial, free, and fair”. BBC staff really believe this. It’s not irony. They really believe they are right. About everything.
They are never wrong. They never admit misreporting or that they are wrong. And they never apologise. Well not on the same channel/programme that the original lie was broadcast. The standard trickery from the BBC if found out, it to issue a correction, retraction or apology (e.g. “this clearly did not meet the BBC’s usual high standards, blah, blah”) much, much later and in an obscure part of their website, long after the original lie has been absorbed (and mostly believed) by millions with the correction/retraction/apology seen by only a few hundred/thousand people. As Sedgwick quotes from Mark Twain (or was it Jonathan Swift? Thomas Franklin? Fisher Ames? Thomas Jefferson? John Randolph? or Winston Churchill?)
“A lie can travel halfway around the world before the truth can get its boots on”.
I list below the contents to explain how Sedgwick complied his book. Each section is a ‘theme’ divided into several chapters to illustrate how the BBC follow its ‘agenda’.
1. Fundamental Dishonesty: The BBC Keynote
2. By Their Deeds Shall Ye Know Them: Fake News Tells
3. Cash For Questions: The BBC War on Conservatism
4. Scaring Them Witless: The BBC & Brexit
5. Grooming Gangs: ‘The BBC’s Shameful Silence’
6. A Bloodthirsty Broadcaster: False Flags & BBC Fakery in Syria
7. Illiberal Democracy: Fake News Got Plans for Hungary
8. Congratulations & Jubilations: Scooping Sir Cliff
9. Checking Reality: ‘The Exact Opposite of What is Reported by Chris Morris
10 Peak BBC Fake News: ‘The Kremlin Candidate
11 Help for Hoaxers: Amplifying ‘Hate’
12 Liar, Liar Pants on Fire: Anatomy of a BBC Complaint
13 Beyond Reform: The Unlearning Organisation
Postscript: Fighting Fake News BBC
Hopefully each ‘themed’ section above is pretty self-explanatory to save me giving a summary of each. If I were to do that, this article would be too long and would pretty much negate the reason to buy the book, which is my main purpose of writing this review!
However, two themes are worth expanding on a little.
12 – Liar, Liar Pants on Fire: Anatomy of a BBC Complaint
The section begins with Sedgwick’s description of the BBC complaints unit. “Designed to do little more that obscure, mislead and discourage, the BBC complaints process is a pantomime that after it has taken complainants on a journey through evasion and obfuscation eventually ends with platitude: thanks for taking the trouble to complain – we really mean it – but you’re wrong and we’re right. Ciao. That the process is clearly not fit for purpose however appears to not worry industry regulator Ofcom or the Department for Culture, Media & Sport.”
This chronicled the dishonest and devious behaviour of its complaints unit, in its handling of a complaint the author had submitted over a breach of its Editorial Guidelines committed by Newsnight’s Emily Maitlis. After conducting thorough research to establish beyond doubt that Maitlis had indeed breached the rules, Sedgwick then invites the reader to join him on what he indicates will most likely turn out to be a long and frustrating journey. As he begins his experiment he states: “… it was time to submit a complaint to this eternally deceitful organisation” – and he then suggests, mischievously: “Chronicling the circus would surely make interesting reading. Sport, let’s call it.” It was quite an astonishing story even to a BBC hater like me. I suppose it was sport. The book is worth the money for that chapter alone. It’s story on its own.
13. Beyond Reform: The Unlearning Organisation
Sedgwick outlines the BBC audience decline in both TV and radio and the rise of subscription services, streaming content and rise of independent radio stations especially LBC and TalkRadio. The BBC prefers to cling to the 1920 business model of a compulsory Licence with coercion, threats of imprisonment, an attitude to customer retention a million miles away from those of Netflix, Amazon prime etc. The solution should be easy – voluntary subscription. After all the BBC swears it is valued and trusted (because it’s fair and impartial) and the public love the BBC. If this is true, then why does it cling so tenaciously to a compulsory licence fee?
The BBC market share is heading one way: down. But how does the BBC respond? With complacency. It simply doesn’t need to respond. Or change. Or learn from better models, from better run businesses. When your income is guaranteed by law – of course that breeds complacency. If any private business had its income guaranteed, would the sales and marketing operations strive to get more customers, more market share? No, it wouldn’t because it wouldn’t need to.
Overall, the biggest ‘takeaway’ for me is the BBC’s supreme arrogance, conceit and unwillingness, or perhaps inability to reform, to change their modus operandi. Even when faced by stinging criticism to the BBC Complaints Unit or latterly on the consumer review website, Trust Pilot (which overall score is 1.0 from a possible 5.0 and an overall rating of ‘Bad’, the BBC is indifferent. Facing a sea change in viewing habits, successful and growing subscription services like Netflix and Amazon Prime and the younger age group 16 – 34 who hardly bother with BBC TV or Radio, the BBC sales serenely on with a 1920s business model and a guaranteed income from the telly tax.
As to the ‘why’ question, why the BBC behaves the way it does, has the worldview it does and the agenda it does may be explained by this quote towards the end of the book:
“The BBC and government (i.e. Whitehall mandarins, the permanent not temporary government and between whom exists a revolving door, agree on virtually all major aspects of public policy from mass immigration to transgenderism, through to Assad, Trump and hate crimes (to which I would add Brexit). The role of the BBC is simply to ensure that government policy continues to be shaped not by the electorate, but rather by a dominant minority consisting nowadays of two seemingly disparate strands connected by a sole objective: the quest for absolute power.”
Postscript: Fighting Fake News BBC
Sedgwick ends the book with an admission that he thinks the BBC is unreformable and we should all have the objective of forcing this Tory administration to compel the broadcaster to become a subscription only service. This way, the BBC would lose 50% or more of its funding and have to change. But he, nor I think the Tories have got the balls to do it.
So, it’s The People vs The BBC. Sedgwick describes seven steps we can take in the war against the ‘manufacturers of misinformation’.
’ll give you the first one and it’s obvious – Cancel the TV Licence. He describes how to do it.
As for the 6 other steps, I’m not going to list them here, you will just have to buy the book to read them. But you won’t regret buying the book anyway because it is a cracking read and you will become so much more informed and armed for when you are back in the pub or with friends and someone says “what’s wrong with the BBC, anyway?”
I commend this book to the House.
David Sedgwick’s book, ‘The Fake News Factory: Tales from BBC-land’ is published on Amazon.
© John Booth 2020
David’s books on Amazon
The Goodnight Vienna Audio file