by UnHerd
Thursday, 25
February 2021
HerdWatch
09:42

The Today Programme’s glowing report on Xi Jinping

Some scrutiny-free coverage from the UK's flagship news programme
by UnHerd

This was one of the items in the all-important 8am headlines on BBC Radio 4’s Today, the UK’s flagship news programme. This is the story, as read by the newsreader, in its entirety:

The Chinese President Xi Jinping has declared that China has scored a complete victory in its fight against poverty. President Xi made the announcement while addressing a grand gathering in the capital, Beijing. China credits President Xi’s leadership with lifting nearly 100 million people from rural poverty over the past 8 years. President Xi said that China had created another miracle that would go down in history.
- The Today Programme, 8am news bulletin

It’s almost beyond parody — no note of scepticism, only respectful repetition of the official language of the Communist leadership.

The claim of moving 100 million people out of poverty may well be technically true. Totalitarian regimes can force through technology in an underdeveloped country and achieve these kinds of numbers — look at the USSR in the 50s and 60s. But at what cost? Horrendous pollution, families separated by internal migration, poor working conditions, vast soulless cities devoid of beauty, mass surveillance. The list goes on.

Can you imagine the same kind of uncritical reporting of, say President Trump, or even our own UK politicians? It’s very odd. It doesn’t feel like too much to ask that pronouncements and propaganda from the Chinese Communist Party are subjected to at least the same level of scrutiny as our own elected representatives.

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Fraser Bailey
Fraser Bailey
1 year ago

This is not surprising. It has been obvious for some time that western leaders and their media spokespeople regard China not as an abomination, but as a model to emulate.
With regard to the MSM, they know that fewer and fewer people like, trust or believe them. As such, their business model is collapsing, although of course the BBC still has the hated license fee, and Big Pharma and the Military Industrial Complex continue to prop up CNN et al. But in the longer term they are all positioning themselves to be paid directly by the state, as per CBC in Canada, which is just Trudeau’s propaganda arm. And they won’t really care if the state that pays them is the UK state, the EU or the CCP. They will simply broadcast the lies and take the money. That is today’s MSM.

Last edited 1 year ago by Fraser Bailey
Paul N
Paul N
1 year ago
Reply to  Fraser Bailey

the BBC still has the hated license fee

I quite like the licence fee as a way of funding public service broadcasting (and various internet-based services). It gives good value for money, in general, even though the government seem to have defanged much of the news coverage through threats of abolition. And it’s nice not to have ads interrupting programmes.

Last edited 1 year ago by Paul N
Chris Wheatley
Chris Wheatley
1 year ago
Reply to  Fraser Bailey

I think you said a while back that you had ditched your TV. Many people, millions, rely on the TV for their connection to the world. The BBC radio is just about the only one you can get which isn’t constantly interrupted by adverts. On the whole, a comparison with, say, newspapers, makes the licence fee good value for money if you are on a limited budget.
I barely watch TV and then only the football with no sound. My wife watches it about three hours a day and thinks that I am strange. Therefore, I am strange.

Fraser Bailey
Fraser Bailey
1 year ago
Reply to  Chris Wheatley

I ditched the TV over 20 years ago. I find it incomprehensible that anyone would have one when there are books to read and countless very interesting discussions and current affairs podcasts etc on YouTube/Gab/Bitchute et al, largely uninterrupted by ads.

Paul N
Paul N
1 year ago
Reply to  Fraser Bailey

western leaders… regard China not as an abomination, but as a model to emulate

You may have a point. Some members of the UK cabinet co-authored a book which in essence advocates that the UK move closer to the Chinese model of labour relations and workers’ rights. Britannia Unchained, by Kwasi Kwarteng, Priti Patel, Dominic Raab, Chris Skidmore and Liz Truss.

Simon Denis
Simon Denis
1 year ago

A good article, but one caveat: Soviet communism never moved anyone out of poverty. It swapped rural for urban destitution, whilst starving millions to death in the process. Tsarist Russia, by contrast, did reduce poverty, by means of privatising peasant land and breaking up the communes, which had been part of serfdom. When the Reds “collectivised” agriculture in the thirties, they restored serfdom, without the consolations of Orthodox Religion. And the tractor-drives of the post war period merely produced a deal of substandard hardware – the Soviets still had to import grain. By 1913, Nicholas II’s Russia was exporting grain, along with Siberian butter. It was the fourth largest economy in the world and the Rouble was the hardest of currencies. The acute failure and systemic democide of communism have been papered over by a series of malign or indolent myths and we should rip these away at every opportunity. As for the “Today” programme, many of us gave up listening at least five years ago. Indeed, you can gauge a person’s good sense by how long ago they excised the BBC from their lives. It is a Marxist organisation, dishonest, manipulative, parasitic and beneath contempt.

Last edited 1 year ago by Simon Denis
Paul N
Paul N
1 year ago
Reply to  Simon Denis

Remind us again what “Marxist” means? (Beyond, naturally, “dishonest, manipulative, parasitic and beneath contempt”).

Simon Denis
Simon Denis
1 year ago
Reply to  Paul N

If you don’t know by now, what is the point of informing you?

Paul N
Paul N
1 year ago
Reply to  Simon Denis

Well, if it means “the BBC” my understanding is clearly wrong. On the other hand, Simon may possibly have his own personal definition, divorced from historical reality.

Brian Dorsley
Brian Dorsley
1 year ago
Reply to  Paul N

Quite a few professors at my college claim to be Marxists. To them it means being a social justice advocate who believes contemporary society needs to be torn down and rebuilt in the name of equity i.e. unequal distribution of resources based on historical injustices, both real and imagined.

Paul N
Paul N
1 year ago
Reply to  Brian Dorsley

Fair enough – but that’s not quite the same as the BBC.

Brian Dorsley
Brian Dorsley
1 year ago
Reply to  Paul N

Maybe, but I think the BBC, like many other media platforms today, have come to be mouthpieces for these kind of people. False prophets, if you will.

William Murphy
William Murphy
1 year ago

After peddling COVID fear stories and statistics for a year, Communist propaganda must be second nature for the Beeb. Remember that George Orwell based 1984’s Ministry of Truth on his wartime experiences at the BBC.

Tim Gardener
Tim Gardener
1 year ago

I am teaching my children about “brain rot” and how to prevent it. To this end, the BBC presents many opportunities for lessons, little and often.
Live not by Lies

Paul N
Paul N
1 year ago

The Today programme has not spoken truth to power for a long time.
Reminds me just slightly of how the Times uncritically reported government production forecasts figures in Orwell’s 1984, and then changed their archives so the forecasts matched the equally fictitious production figures when they came out.

Fred Bloggs
Fred Bloggs
1 year ago

Watched Alison Morrow’s interview with a young Uyghur woman on YT and it is deeply viscerally shocking. If you want to understand the soul of the CCP go watch and think about it.

Fraser Bailey
Fraser Bailey
1 year ago
Reply to  Fred Bloggs

Alison Morrow is very good. I watch a lot of her videos.

David McKee
David McKee
1 year ago

I suspect the explanation has more to do with apathy than bias. The journalists on the ‘Today’ team don’t care about rural China, and they think their listeners don’t either. Which is odd. Part of a journalist’s job, surely, is to be able to distinguish the profound from the trivial; and to convince the general public the story is important, timely and accurate.

Fraser Bailey
Fraser Bailey
1 year ago
Reply to  David McKee

The journalists on Today don’t even care about rural Britain, never mind rural China.

Richard Pinch
Richard Pinch
1 year ago

The claim, whether or not it’s true, refers to “extreme poverty”, defined by the World Bank as living on less than $1.90 a day.
By contrast, the definition of poverty in the UK is a household income less than 60% of the median, so it’s a relative measure, and indeed best seen as a measure of inequality rather than poverty as such. Incidentally, that poverty line is currently roughly £30 a day for single parent with two children.

Tom Fox
Tom Fox
1 year ago

I’m no fan at all of the modern BBC. I have increasing difficulty being able to tolerate most of the output of Radio 4 for more than ten minutes. This is a contrast to my earlier life when I was a constant listener. Modern woke themes abound now and I hate it.
That said, taken in the round, there is FAR more criticism of China than praise, especially in terms of the treatment of its muslim population, and also the reneging on agreements over how Hong Kong would be run. In relation to the issue here, it is a matter of fact that however it has been achieved, China’s economic development has been carried on at rates unseen at any time in history, anywhere. It is an absolute fact that millions have been taken out of poverty possibly even hundreds of millions.
There is a cost to this of course, massive environmental damage, the usurpation of people’s property for development and quite possibly compulsion, but the compulsion is mostly the forcible prevention of people migrating from the poor rural areas to the huge, teaming metropolises where all the manufacturing jobs are.

Martin Price
Martin Price
1 year ago

He who pays the piper……….