Peter Rhodes on the Blackout Broadcasting Corporation, animal rights and zombies on the phone

By Peter Rhodes | Peter Rhodes | Published:

"This goes beyond mere news judgment. This was a news blackout"

Grenfell Tower

AMID the never-ending row about addressing women athletes as "girls" or female employees as "love," you have to admire John Oleshko, a medical professional who admits, in a letter to the Daily Telegraph, that for 30 years he has addressed his patients as "good boy," good girl" and "gorgeous." A brave man, indeed.

PS: On closer inspection, Mr Oleshko turns out to be a vet.

STILL on animals, has anyone thought through the Labour Party's latest proposals entitled "Animal Welfare for the Many not the Few"? This would give tenants a "default right" to keep pets, sometimes in premises where they are currently banned. I found myself thinking of the hellish scenes on the stairs at Grenfell Tower last summer as traumatised and confused tenants fought their way through the smoke to safety. If you want a perfect vision of hell, just add 20 or 30 terrified dogs to that nightmare.

ONE estate agent interviewed on the subject of tenants with pets, referred delicately to arguments about damage caused to rented properties, including "deposit disputes."

WHY did the BBC impose a news blackout on reports that Jeremy Corbyn met a Czech spy during the Cold War? The story broke a week ago in the Sun and has since been followed up by every national newspaper, by regional and international papers, by news websites, by agencies such as Reuters and by Sky News. By this time yesterday a Google search revealed thousands of references to the reports. Some media organisations endorsed the "spy" claims, others rubbished them. Some denounced the Czech agent as a fantasist. But all, including the Corbyn-supporting Guardian, reported and commented on the story. Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson said the report proved Corbyn could not be trusted. The Labour Party issued two official denials. But from the BBC came nothing, apart from a couple of passing references in the "what the papers say" sections.

THE BBC makes some odd editorial decisions but I can't recall it simply ignoring a big political story quite so blatantly. This goes beyond mere news judgment. This was a news blackout. Someone in authority at the Beeb had obviously decided these reports were not to be pursued. Why? A cynic might be tempted to think that Auntie believes Jeremy Corbyn may one day be prime minister and wants to show him how very supportive she can be.

IN the meantime, imagine how the Beeb would have reacted to a secret dossier revealing that a senior Conservative minister had met South African agents during the apartheid era and accepted money from them. The BBC, so reluctant to touch the Corbyn spy story, would have had a field day.

OUR changing language. People walking in a dream who become targetted by mobile-phone snatchers have been defined by one academic as "phone zombies."

SAY what you like about zombies but they usually know where they are going and have a definite plan. The term "phone zombies" may actually be unfair to real zombies.

Peter Rhodes

By Peter Rhodes

Award-winning columnist and blogger. Keeping an eye on the tribulations and trivia of a fast-changing world


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