blows whistle on anti-Catholic bias
Book exposes inaccuracies and prejudice in notorious documentary 'Sex and the Holy City'
BY FREDDY GRAY
THE AUTHOR of a shocking new book about the BBC has said that the corporation should apologise to the Church for its Panorama documentary "Sex and the Holy City".
In a chapter from his book, Can we trust the BBC?, former BBC journalist Robin Aitken examined how the Panorama team misled its audience about the role of Catholicism in the fight against Aids.
Looking at examples of BBC bias, Mr Aitken came across a document written by David Kerr, a BBC employee, which revealed how the programme, screened in 2003, was riddled with factual inaccuracy and anti-Catholic prejudice. Mr Aitken said: "A lot of Catholics are aware that there is anti-Catholic bias in the BBC. But the trouble is that nailing down bias is very tricky.
"The value of David Kerr's research was that it showed that, in the instance of that Panorama programme, the BBC fell woefully short of its own standards of objectivity."
He added: "I think the BBC owes the Catholic Church an apology."
Mr Aitken said that the Panorama bias was astonishing considering the huge number of checks and balances that a Panorama programme is normally subjected to.
"How did a programme like that go out?" he asked. "Answer: all the people involved in the production couldn't see its bias against the Catholic Church because they themselves share that bias."
Mr Kerr's unpublished study shows how the makers of "Sex and the Holy City", in seeking to blame the Vatican for the spread of Aids, caricatured Catholic teaching and distorted statistics.
The producer, Mr Kerr reported, was Chris Woods, a prominent gay rights activist who was one of the founder members of campaigning group OutRage.
In 1992 OutRage protesters targeted the papal nuncio's home in London and interrupted a Mass in Westminster Cathedral.
Mr Kerr also uncovered a complex web of relationships between the BBC and groups such as the International Planned Parenthood Federation, whose pro-abortion agenda has brought it into conflict with the Church. In his book, Mr Aitken writes: "You do not have to sympathise at all with the Catholic Church, or with its teachings about contraception and reproduciive rights generally, to appreciate that Kerr makes a very strong case against Panorama. "'Sex and the Holy City' was a wholly one-sided. inaccurate and unfair piece of journalism. It made no attempt to be even-handed and it traduced the Catholic Church and the Pope."
In Can we trust the BBC? Mr Aitken, a practising Catholic, argues that for the last 40 years the BBC has promoted a set of secular, liberal values at odds with traditional morality and Christian ideals. "For good or bad that campaign has been hugely successful, transforming public attitudes on a range of issues including abortion, marriage and homosexuality, among others," he writes.
He claims that the corporation is too "self-confident" to redress its biases: "Yes, it concedes there may be some flaws, but they are nothing when set against the achievements.
"Consequently the BBC doesn't feel the need for validation from others; it shrugs off the strictures, whether from church. politician or judge, taking the view that its critics are either mad, bad or stupid."
Mr Aitken explores the impact of a "Left-liberal consensus" on the BBC's output in recent years. He claims that the corporation's "prestige and reputation hoodwink people into believing that the BBC is somehow 'above politics—.
Mr Aitken concludes that the broadcaster is a "profoundly influential opponent of nearly everything social and political conservatives believe."