The New York Times columnist Paul Krugman once remarked:
If [George W.] Bush said that the world was flat, the headline on the news analysis would read ‘Shape of Earth: Views Differ’
It was a pithy summary of how news organisations are now so obsessed with the idea of “balance” they will give both sides of any argument equal coverage, even if one side is plainly absurd.
Well it seems the obsession with “balance” has now reached new levels of absurdity.
As reported in The Guardian, the BBC has decided that the lyrics of a rap tune, performed by one MC Righteous on a music show aimed at urban youth, should be subject to the same editorial considerations as the output of its news programmes.
Moreover, it seems, the mere mention of the word “Palestine” is so politcally unbalanced, it cannot be uttered on BBC air without some kind of counterweight.
This was the offending lyric:
I can still scream ‘Free Palestine’ for my pride, still pray for peace
This is how the BBC explains its decision to block out the line:
“All BBC programmes have a responsibility to be impartial when dealing with controversial subjects and an edit was made to Mic Righteous’ freestyle to ensure that impartiality was maintained.”
This is, prima facie, utterly bizarre. All BBC programmes must be impartial?? Has the Beeb just declared a complete end to opinion, to comment, to editorial, to satire, even?
I can just see Basil Fawlty tying himself in knots over this.