State-owned British media organisation BBC has run a hit piece on investigative journalist Vanessa Beeley and influential Lebanese political commentator Sarah Abdallah. Of course, if the BBC wanted to actually argue why the political analyses of Beeley and Abdallah are wrong, they could do so, but that would have required the comparative effort of studying their analyses, conducting counter analyses and forming a cohesive argument in order to persuade an audience of the BBC point of view.
Instead, the BBC has resorted to the most infantile form of character assassination possible. The most unintentionally amusing aspect of the whole BBC hit piece is that none of it is very convincing, even for sceptics who do not necessarily agree with the conclusions drawn by Beeley and Abdallah. That includes someone like me who largely agrees with Beeley and Abdallah’s interpretations of the situation in Syria, but who respectfully disagrees with their views of Turkey’s geopolitical ambitions.
The entire cringe-worthy BBC argument can be boiled down to the following:
1. ‘Vanessa Beeley is bad because she allows herself to be interviewed by a variety of so-called “alternative” media outlets including RT. In BBC land, even the person who makes the coffee at RT’s studios is under immediate suspicion of using the artificial sweetener to meddle in foreign elections’. Clearly, Beeley has crossed a BBC red-line that can never be atoned for.
2. ‘Sarah Abdallah is bad because she does not give substantial numbers of interviews with media outlets like RT but instead prefers social media as a means of directly conveying her analysis and commentary to a global audience’.
It get even more absurd from there. The BBC laments that there is an “information vacuum” on Syria because few journalists are able to report form the ground. Perhaps they do not realise that Vanessa Beeley has reported throughout Syria and that during the recent tripartite aggression against the Syrian Arab Republic she was in Damascus and reporting via social media and other online and television outlets on the situation. Beeley’s reportage and analysis from Syria has been seen and heard around the world.
Adding to the bizarre nature of the hit piece, the BBC accurately claims that Abdallah has an objectively substantial number of social media followers. It then decries her saying, “she has almost no online presence or published stories or writing away from social media platforms“. The obvious conclusion is that in an age where social media is the number one source for most people’s information, Abdallah’s social media presence if sufficient to getting her message out and hence she does not require multiple outlets. But in BBC land, the conclusion is that her opinion should somehow be shunned because she hasn’t followed some unspoken formula devised to gain trust. Thus, the BBC is implying that what suffices to get one elected President of the United States, is somehow not good enough for someone who wants to share news and analysis with those interesting in consuming it.
The reality is that trust is a human emotion that arises due to a variety of factors ranging from the empirical to the visceral. This has been a fact of the human experience long before the internet was invented and long before the BBC was invented.
The reason that many have come to trust Vanessa Beeley and Sarah Abdallah is because there is an authenticity to their statements that lavishly funded outlets like the BBC cannot possibly have. The BBC is news and views by a committee where Vanessa Beeley and Sarah Abdallah speak directly to their audience without any third party getting in the way. Secondly, since much of Beeley and Abdallah’s analysis has turned out to be correct, clearly their audiences are hungry for more in the same way that a weatherman who accurately predicts the temperature will likely have more and more people read his forecasts. The concept of trust building is quite simply, unless you’re part of the BBC.
Indeed, the desire to over-complicate simple truths is a time tested method amongst snobs who believe that being able to offer an opinion and the ability to cultivate large followers based on those opinions should be akin to a secret society where certain initiation rites must be conducted before one dares exercise the right to report freely and speak opinions freely.
More and more people now realise that the arcane approach championed by the BBC is total nonsense. Many also feel that the BBC approach is an insult to the intelligence of the average person as it implies that they need some sanctified committee to dictate what information ‘regular people’ ought to be privy too.
People want options and people like Vanessa Beeley and Sarah Abdallah are two of those options. The difference is that while Beeley and Abdallah do not have the resources to run morosely negative campaigns against the BBC, the BBC does have the financial resources at its disposal to do such things.
The fact that organisations like the BBC represent patently unfair competition to smaller independent outlets and individuals and yet still cannot drive people like Beeley and Abdallah out of the marketplace, is symptomatic of the fact that the global audience of information and opinion consumers are voting with their feet and many of them have chosen the likes of Beeley and Abdallah over the BBC and their fellow travellers.
The marketplace of ideas is no different than the marketplace for cars, shoes or fresh fish. The BBC’s attempt to fetishise the marketplace of ideas and turn it into a kind of ideological cult is unhealthy for news consumers of all ideologies and of course it is even more offensive to those who maintain an open mind and follow both the BBC and independent journalists like Beeley and Abdallah.
I recently discussed some of these very issues with New Zealand based commentator and host Tate Ulsaker. To summarise the interview, the truth is a very simple thing. The only ones who try to call it complicated are those hiding behind a Wizard of Oz like curtain that ought to be pulled back for the entire world to see.