BBC continues their assault on Tony Blair, or Fun With Quotation Marks

Here’s what Tony Blair said, in response to a question asking whether he would continue to serve as prime minister in a third Labour term in government:

Here’s how the BBC reported it:

It’s a scummy trick to put quotation marks around part of a statement, but use different words in the rest of it so as to change the meaning. The quotation marks make the BBC’s version look authoritative, when it’s actually their (malicioius) interpretation. There’s a difference between an “appetite for power” and an appetite for doing a “big job of work” that needs to be done. Nor did Blair’s statement refer to his “recent troubles.”

Even if the BBC’s interpretation were what Blair really was thinking, it’s not what he said. The quotation marks wrongly imply that he did say it.

In which the noted non-racist and non-troll deposits another leaky sack of shit in GD . . .

Why not just give credit where’s it’s blogingly due ? You know, it’s not terribly . . .what’s the word I’m looking for, oh yes . . . polite to not cite your sources:


Here’s how they spin quotes. What Tony Blair said at his press conference yesterday was: “There is a big job of work to do - my appetite for doing it is undiminished.” Here’s how the BBC described it: “Tony Blair has fended off questions over the death of weapons expert Dr David Kelly - but acknowledged that trust in his government was an issue which he had to confront. Mr Blair, who said his appetite for power remained ‘undiminished’ despite his recent troubles, said he understood the ‘very legitimate questions’ to be asked over Dr Kelly’s death.” The war continues. (Via Oxblog.)

Via here:

*THE BBC - NICE TO TYRANTS, NASTY TO DEMOCRATS: So, here’s what Tony Blair said (as he responded to a question asking whether he would continue to serve as prime minister in a third Labour term in government): “There is a big job of work to do - my appetite for doing it is undiminished.”

And here’s what the BBC reported in its lede: “Mr Blair, who said his appetite for power remained ‘undiminished’…”

And not to let a good distortion go, the website then links to the story thusly: “Tony Blair sidesteps questions on the David Kelly affair - but says his appetite for power is “undiminished”.”*

What’s the debate?

(Perhaps, why is this poster continually allowed to – as London so aptly put it – “deposit another leaky sack of shit in GD”?)

Someone prod my memory here, but was december this protective of Tony Blair back when he was buddy-buddy with Bill Clinton? Or is this just another piece of his “anti-anyone-who-doesn’t-show-blind-support-for-George-W.-Bush” campaign?

I definately agree with your title, the BBC was having great fun small quotations there. This rift between the BBC and the government is getting really serious, its already claimed a victim and it only seems to be getting worse.

Here the BBC is quoting from one of its own reporters (which seems unusual).

– Whether that use of quotation marks is improper journalism
– Whether the BBC is conducting a continuing assault on Tony Blair

[generic response]

I will ignore the issue, mention that bloggers agree with the OP. Somehow without providing any comment of substance assume the bloggers are wrong. That december, how dare he. Gratuitous insult.


I guess everyone agrees that the BBC intentionally distorts and fabricates quotations? OK with me. Back to your generic insult-a-fest.

Your post was a parody as well, eh beagle ?

december, this is a 100% correct journalistic construction.

If I am quoting a descriptive word that was actually used by an individual within a sentence that is a precis or summary of that statement, I put it in quotes.

It’s used in practically every written publication I’ve seen. Indeed, only this morning I saw this construction used in a National Geographic article.

Gaaah! :smack:

In your ceaseless campaign to find anti-BBC ammo, you have managed to reach the bottom of the barrel, and carried on digging.

Sure, but I don’t think the BBC’s sentence was a fair precis of Blair’s statement. He didn’t say he had an appetite for power. He said he had an appetite to do the work.

Oh give me a break, jjimm. That’s clear distortion by the BBC. Unless connotations are different in the UK, saying someone’s appetite for power is “undiminished” is quite a bit more sinister than saying their appetite for continuing their work remains undiminished.

Frankly, I have a lot of respect for the BBC and I am surprised they would do something that low. It’s like something Fox would pull on Chirac or whoever the villain of the day is. Sloppy journalism at best, downright unethical at worst.

London, why did you accuse December of not citing sources, when he actually did, and then insult him while you simply repeated what he said?

It may be 100% grammatically correct, it is 0% morally correct. Since when did National Geographic become the benchmark?

The question is, why did the BBC not just quote the entire sentence, instead of the one dramatic key word - “undiminished”. It would have been more correct, and actually shorter.

The news outlets today manufacture the ammunition that we use against them.

I don’t have enough info to have an opinion on the Blair issue yet, but I have noticed the BBC’s use of quotes a lot in its headlines lately. Things like “US shows ‘Bodies of Uday and Qusay’”, etc., which to me implies sarcastic “air quotes” around the whole thing, an air of disbelief and slight mockery.

Maybe quotes in headlines (aside from obvious things like “Blair says ‘My new baby is cute!’” which is fine) mean something different in Britain?

Chicago - He knows he’ll invite general derision by citing Andrew Sullivan (again), the obsessive BBC hater, so he bypassed his daily source of wisdom to quote the source of the source, if you will. It’s okay, I guess, but a little manipulative. OxBlog wasn’t his source.

I presume the idea was to add a little more credibility to his OP than quoting Andrew Sullivan usually invites.

Well, the BBC could have said that Blair, commenting on the possibility of another term as prime minister, indicated that his appetite was so unsated that he planned to continue devouring all of England and have the Channel Islands for dessert.

That would be wrong.

Especially if my memory is faulty and the Channel Islands now belong to Argentina.

Gaaah yourself, jjimm. You cannot possibly expect to be taken seriously with this assertion.

What Mr. Blair said and what the BBC quoted are shockingly different. The quote marks do indeed enclose a word that Mr. Blair used, but the rest of the sentence is neither a precis or summary of his words.

I am pleased that you took the time to congratulate december on his “ceaseless campaign” to present fair and unbaised commentary on the world at large; that was very nice of you. And when you acknowledged that december would “keep on digging” out the lies promulgated by the BBC, that, too, was quite even-handed of you.


  • Rick

Neurotik, bricker a couple of things that might have escaped your notice.

  1. Blair himself did not deny this statement was true immediately after he said it, though given an opportunity so to do. Transcript from part of the press conference:
  1. Nearly every other publication in the country has used the same construction:

The Financial Times:

The Telegraph:

The Independent:

Either it’s standard journalistic practice, or someone here is singling out the BBC, rather than those other publications, as part of a frankly pathetic and repetitive vendetta.

You decide.

(Note: my emphases throughout the above quotes).

First, is there cite to show Blair’s full quote that isn’t from a blog?

If these are correct quotes in the OP, I’d agree it was unfair, even if technically correct.

It says quite a lot about the strength of your argument that all you can attack is the OPer, and the generally well-respected writer who may or may not have been his inspiration for posting the OP.