Astounding stuff on BBC Radio Four News tonight: “Scotland’s whisky producers see new opportunity in Brexit,” were the words headlining the item in the opening overview of stories. Goody, something new and good is happening! What’s the new development, what’s changed, what’s the new opportunity? After 18 minutes we got the detail:
1. David Mundell, Secretary of State for Scotland, has visited a distillery on Islay. Hardly a new Brexit opportunity.
2. Sarah Smith, our BBC Scotland editor, said that the Scottish whisky industry had seen Brexit as unwelcome, but that now “the mood appears to be changing”. However, she didn’t present any interview in which anybody said the mood was changing, she didn’t play any clips of anybody saying it, in fact she didn’t offer any evidence of it at all. She might as well have made it up, and given her lack of evidence, the conclusion that she did is pretty inescapable.
3. A Scotch whisky spokesman said that the industry had always seen Brexit as posing a challenge. He didn’t say anything about anything having changed in that regard.
4. Sarah Smith came back and said that “the industry can also see big opportunities beyond the EU.” However, she didn’t present any interview in which anybody said the industry saw big opportunities beyond the EU, she didn’t play any clips of anybody saying it, in fact she didn’t offer any evidence of it at all. She might as well have made it up, and given her lack of evidence, the conclusion that she did is pretty inescapable.
5. The Indian Government imposes a 150percent duty on whisky. David Mundell told us that freeing ourselves from EU restrictions gives us an “opportunity to change” that. This is like saying that the benefit of falling down a crevasse is that it gives you the opportunity to clutch at a flying pig.
A lie is an utterance which the person producing it does not believe is true. So this is a lying headline, supported by two further lies from the BBC correspondent, contradicted by an industry spokesman, hitched on to the facts that a member of the government has visited an island and is chasing pie in the sky. Why do we pay the BBC a licence fee for this, and why do they think we’ll believe it?
UPDATE 3rd August 2017: Complaint lodged with BBC. All things are possible.