It was national outrage day last Friday, the anniversary of the compassionate release of Abdelbaset Al Megrahi was marked by BBC Scotland with a marathon broadcast – it was the day that ‘Aunty’ went tabloid.
Mr Megrahi has stubbornly refused to die on schedule and boy did the state broadcaster and the rest of what passes for a media in Scotland let us know it.
BBC Scotland lost what had remained of its composure, and arguably its reputation, as it joined in the mass hysteria that had engulfed most of the Scottish media (The Herald was surprisingly sober). Actually, BBC Scotland didn’t just join the hysteria, the state broadcaster appeared to be at the vanguard.
Its flagship morning radio programme ‘Good Morning Scotland’ morphed into ‘Radio Outrage’ for the day as presenter after presenter, bulletin after bulletin told us every fifteen minutes or so how outraged we all were at the release of Megrahi and his refusal to die.
In protest at Megrahi’s unseemly desire to live, BBC Scotland adopted the persona of an annoyed tabloid newspaper. What we witnessed in return for paying our licence fee wasn’t a national outpouring of grief for the victims of Pan-Am 103, it was a media inspired outpouring of bile.
Here is a compressed review of what transpired on ‘Radio Outrage':
And so it went on throughout the day with the same phrases trotted out ad-nauseum. If there was a story to tell it would have been rendered meaningless through repetition as this dripping tap simply refused to abate.
One of the many low points included a very bitter Murdo Fraser dredging up the Moors Murderer Ian Brady along with Harold Shipman and Thomas Hamilton as he encouraged listeners to join in the hysteria fest that had replaced that day’s news. Given the increasing doubt over Mr Megrahi’s guilt perhaps the name Mr Fraser ought to have cited as a comparison was one Oscar Slater.
The day’s broadcast however wasn’t about educating or informing the viewer it was about saturating their minds with a constant stream of negative sound-bites.
And so it was that Murdo Fraser was joined by Lib Dem Mike Rumbles and Labour’s Iain Gray in this choreographed Unionist / media frenzy.
Here are the interviews with Mr Fraser, Mr Rumbles and Mr Gray:
If you thought that anyone with an opinion on his issue was to be placed in front of a BBC microphone you couldn’t be more wrong, for there was no mention of Labour MP Diane Abbott who only the day before had issued a statement saying she supported Kenny MacAskill’s decision.
Alongside Ms Abbott on BBC Scotland's 'Most Unwanted List' was Labour MSP Dr Richard Simpson who had admitted that he too had no objection to Megrahi's release in principle, albeit conditional.
The BBC did relent though and offered a spot to First Minister Alex Salmond:
Gary Robertson omitted to ask Mr Salmond why the pub know-all from down the road had not been consulted over the medical advice given to Kenny MacAskill, poor show Gary.
So the day wore on and it became increasingly clear that the broadcasts were no more than a compilation of the half truths, innuendo and misinformation that have pockmarked the media coverage of the Al Megrahi issue from the day he was released.
As a kind of tribute to the BBC’s coverage we at Newsnet Scotland have put together our own little compilation that we hope you will appreciate:
Did you spot Glenn Campbell’s new catchphrase? The man who coined the term ‘Toast of Tripoli’ to describe Kenny MacAskill decided that the term 'a year' was not dramatic enough to apply to Megrahi's refusal to die - step forward 'four times over'. Mr Campbell is a good TV presenter and studio anchor, however his fondness for ham acting and partisan emphasis is becoming very tiresome. Complaints from disgruntled viewers may well increase by ‘a factor of four’ if it continues.
By the end of ‘Outrage Day’ the TV and radio bombardment had reduced the nation’s listeners and viewers to a state of zombied paralysis – we were wide eyed and numb.
However, bad as it was, BBC Scotland’s offering was nowhere near as offensive as one UK wide BBC radio programme. It wins the award for being the biggest plook on the once proud face of the BBC as a result of one of the worst displays of anti Scottish xenophobia and borderline racism ever broadcast by a modern day broadcaster.
Ladies and gentlemen we give you ‘Any Questions’:
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