Several homeopathic colleagues awoke recently to a BBC news item on "Fake Covid-19 videos" that "will cost lives". It made us question the quality, and the purpose of journalism in Britain's 'public broadcaster. If you want to hear a short 6-minute piece of rank-bad journalism it is worth a listen. It arose who this.
"The Royal College of Physicians is urging people not to share and "copycat" "dangerous" videos claiming steam inhalation can prevent Covid-19. The BBC has found that alternative coronavirus treatments are being sent on chat apps like WhatsApp, as well as being widely available on social media."
The video was 'dangerous', apparently, because it did not comply with government policy, or NHS treatment, for Covid-19, or the BBC's editorial policy of not allowing anything to be said or done that does not conform with either.
In truth it was typical of mainstream journalism throughout the Covid-19 crisis, which has been rather like reading/listening/watching the news on Russian newspapers, Izvestia or Pravda whilst growing up in the 1950's. Actually, I never read either paper but I do remember what the BBC, and the rest of the British journalism, said about those news agencies at the time. They were propaganda sheets, controlled by the Russian government, and the Communist party that controlled the government. They were allowed to say only what they were allowed to say. They could not report on anything critical, or question the competence of the government. The Russian people, the BBC said, were not being properly informed. Their journalism was controlled, completely different to 'free press' journalism in Britain.
The news item concerned a video circulating on social media about the treatment of Covid-19. The Royal College said was 'dangerous' because it was stopping black and minority ethic (BAME) communities from taking the new Covid-19 vaccines. This is a perfectly acceptable opinion about the video that suggested breathing in steam was an appropriate treatment. And it is, of course, an opinion shared by the British government, the conventional medical establishment (CME), and (quite clearly) BBC News too.
So how did the bastion of our "free media" deal with the subject? Was this an open and balanced debate? A courteous discussion about a doctor who was suggesting an alternative medical approach to the treatment of Covid-19? Remember (if you need to be reminded) that conventional medicine has had to admit that it had no effective treatment to offer anyone for the last 12 months, during which time over 113,000 people have died.
The piece was nothing of the sort, it was junk journalism, at its very worst. First, the journalist involved, Sima Kotecha, took up a firm and decisive position. It is a stance that has become typical of BBC health reporting: support the side of the dominant player; and attack the side the dominant player disagrees with. So although I am focusing on this one, short, 6 minute piece this is what BBC journalism has been doing for over a year, dealing with Covid-19, and for at least 20 years when dealing with medical issues.
First, the full frontal attack. A video of the doctor was played which showed him advising the inhalation of plain water steam. Immediately alarm bells sounded (literally), and warnings appeared on the screen about 'fake news'. The usual BBC impartiality!
Sima Kotecha then talked to her mother. "You don't believe it, do you?" No, she didn't, but apparently so many other people had received the message. She talked to someone who had tried steam as a treatment, and he thought that it worked. Sima wanted nothing to do with this, and she referred to doctors "around the world" who said steam inhalation was not a preventative measure. He thought that it worked, but he was wrong!
Sima Kotecha then asked three conventional doctors to confirm her view, which of course they did. One opined that such people should be arrested for spreading false news, and false hope. Another said that such messages should be removed from social media. And Sima proudly announced that Facebook had now removed the post, after she had alerted them to it.
So Sima Kotecha spoke to the offending doctor, asking him a loaded question. "Why was he spreading false information?" He tried to explain, but Sima told him that what he was saying was a lie - according to the doctors with whom she had sided, who also told her that he is "doing more harm than good".
So, given such a news item, whose side would you be on? There is, of course, only one answer. The Indian doctor is a charlatan, he is telling lies, and spreading false information. Sima doctors were, of course, speaking the truth, the only truth.
Was the doctor's approach to breathing steam tested? Was it adequately discussed? Of course not. This was not a news item intended to develop our knowledge, and understanding of the treatment of Covid-19. Sima's doctors, who admit they have no treatment, and have watched on, helplessly, as 113,000 people have died in their hospitals, were correct. There was no treatment, and anyone who said otherwise was spreading misinformation.
And let us not be too critical. Just as with journalists who worked for Pravda and Izvestia, it is not Sima Kotecha's fault. Nor is it Nick Robinson's fault, who hosted the programme. They were both pursuing BBC health policy: support the government: support the conventional medical establishment: and attack anything that might suggest there is an alternative.
- Vaccines are good, and it's important that everyone is vaccinated, including the BAME community who are refusing the vaccine in large numbers,
- If there is an alternative treatment it must be dismissed as it might encourage vaccine 'hesitancy', which cannot be supported, and must be attacked.
So, unlike the BBC, let's ask a question. Is inhaling steam such a crazy idea? As a young boy my mother would always get me to inhale steam whenever I seemed to be contracting a cold or cough. I think she would put Vic (?) into the water. And are we not aware that Covid-19 virus function better in the cold, and less well in warmth? And that Covid affects mainly our ability to breath?
Another question.... Is steam dangerous? Certainly not in itself! Certainly it is no more dangerous than washing our hands, and less emotionally, socially, and economically dangerous than social distancing and lockdown.
One more..... Why is the BAME community reluctant to accept the Covid-19 vaccines? Is it really thoughtlessness, ignorance, the inability to make up their mind because of the influence on social media videos? Or has it something to do with the failure of conventional medicine to deliver treatment without it causing harm, and more harm to BAME communities?
And yet another. Is there any science to support steam inhalation? Conventional medicine likes to consider itself to be 'scientific'. And medical science is, allegedly, at the heart of BBC's unbounded support for conventional medicine. So where is the science? Has any been done? And if not, why not? Why is the BBC not challenging medical science to do the science?
And finally, why slag off an Indian doctor who stated that he is only trying to help his patients, perhaps in contradistinction to more conventional doctors who appear content to watch them die, whilst wringing their hands in despair because they have no effective treatment? And is his claim that none of his patients, or his team, has suffered seriously from Covid-19 not worth some consideration?
The role of good journalism is not to support one side of any argument. This is propaganda rather than journalism, particularly when it sides with government and/or the dominant medical establishment. Good journalism is open-mined, it asks questions of both sides, it delves deeper, it investigates, it informs. Unfortunately the BBC, as with Pravda and Izvestia in Soviet Union times, do not appear to be prepared to do this - at least not as far as health issues are concerned.
This is why our mainstream media have failed us over Covid-19. They have not been prepared to question the dominant narrative presented by government and conventional medicine. Instead they have preferred to constantly and unquestioningly repeat their rather hopeless and forlorn message.
- Why has natural immunity been almost totally neglected?
- Why has supporting and strengthening our immune system not been central to the advice we have been given to protect ourselves?
- Why have natural therapists been working in isolation, locked down with the rest of us?
- What results have they been having with their patients?
The BBC, and the mainstream media generally, have never asked these, and a host of other important and relevant questions. They have sided with a failed, often shambolic government policy, based as it is on a failed medical science, and a dominant medical elite that has always admitted it has no treatment to offer.