Nobody Does Disinformation Better Than The BBC’s ‘anti-disinformation’ Unit – PART II

In this second part of our BBC “anti-disinformation” unit exposé, we look at further evidence of the fake news being pushed by this small, controversial online outfit.

Following on from my report of the 26th April into the self-styled BBC ‘anti-disinformation unit’ and their misreporting of various pro-freedom rallies in the UK, we have since been contacted by many of you highlighting footage and comments that we have missed. 

My previous report was brought about by the significant downplaying of rally participants by Marianna Spring, the face of this BBC’s disinformation unit. A downplaying that was exposed by her boss Mike Wendling and even then he too was significantly downplaying the numbers in attendance. This was also coupled with many hours of footage from the protest that proved devastating for the young reporter’s agenda to tarnish the event.

Marianna would tweet that there were a mere “few thousand” protesters at the march whilst her boss, who was allegedly at the protest with her, would argue there were actually between 5-10K protesters.

How both managed to provide quite different estimates is not known. I emailed Wendling asking about this but to date have not received a response to my enquiries. However, as noted previously, Marianna Spring has form downplaying numbers of protesters at pro-freedom rallies.

Above are 3 tweets from 3 rallies in London. Below is a summarisation of how Marianna reported on the numbers in attendance.

  • 24th April – “A few thousand”
  • 20th March – “More than a thousand”
  • 19th September – “at least a few thousand”

Each of the three rallies had many thousands of people at them however the focus of the second part of this BBC exposé will again be on the 24th April rally.

As discussed in my previous report on Marianna’s disinformation, when she is called out on pushing fake news she immediately takes to playing the victim on social media. This tactic works quite well as it allows her to dodge addressing the many concerns around her reporting as supporters rush to her defence. After she was called out again on spreading disinformation on the 20th March 2021 rally this is just a small selection of tweets that ensued as she spoke of “abuse” she claimed she was receiving over her reporting…

No reasonable person would condone abuse of any kind, whether on or offline. It needs to be called out and addressed when it raises its ugly head and most of us receive some form of abuse online at some stage and like Marianna, I’ve also had my fair share. However, unlike Marianna, I don’t broadcast that abuse or use it to hide behind when my work is being criticised. The fact she plays the victim card so regularly is evidence this is part of a defensive pattern as opposed to someone wishing to draw attention to abuse.

Additional footage

Moving on to the additional footage that was sent to us of Saturday’s rally, next is a 2-minute video of speeded-up footage showing the huge numbers of protesters. Whilst watching, recall the estimate provided by the “BBC’s specialist disinformation reporter” Marianna Spring of “A few thousand anti-lockdown protesters marching through London”.

video credit: ⁦@richardcings

Barrister Francis Hoar would claim there were 500K protesters at the rally:

Whether there were as many as 500K is not something that we can verify however what we can say without any doubt is there were many times more people than estimated by both Wendling and Spring.

Amazing footage was collated and put together into a great video by @OracleFilmsUK. I have provided a segment of the film below. For the full thing, you can view it here.

Anyone who would claim there was only “a few thousand” people at this rally either were not there or were there and are lying. Marianna claimed to be there so we must conclude she was attempting to obscure the truth – in other words, she was spreading disinformation.

According to Merriam-Webster, the definition of disinformation is:

false information deliberately and often covertly spread (as by the planting of rumors) in order to influence public opinion or obscure the truth

The more of this footage you watch the more difficult it becomes to try and rationalise how the BBC reached their estimates. Where did Mike Wendling get his “5K – 10K at the most” estimate from if not from thin air?

FOOTAGE COURTEOUS of ruptly

Regarding the numbers of protesters in London on Saturday, we can conclusively say that both Wendling and Spring were deliberately underreporting them by a very large degree. Given no other plausible explanation why they would do this, it is logical to conclude it was to spread “false information deliberately to influence public opinion or obscure the truth.” Therefore the boss of the BBC “anti-disinformation” unit and one of his journalists were themselves spreading disinformation. What’s worse than being exposed as pushing disinformation, whilst claiming to be highlighting disinformation, is to then dig your heels in, straight after, and declare that you stand by all of your reporting and that you’re very lucky to have editors who do the same. As in, who push disinformation and then stand over it. (She always manages to find a way of inserting the term “abuse” into almost all her tweets defending herself.)

But the disinformation doesn’t stop there…

The placards and banners

At all the pro-freedom rallies that Marianna has attended since the outbreak of Covid-19, she has aimed to discredit those in attendance along with their message. It begins by playing down the numbers to paint the picture that those opposed to the draconian state-mandated measures are a small group of rabble-rousers. Next, she attempts to discredit the protesters themselves by labelling them as ‘ conspiracy theorists ‘.

I have absolutely no idea who or what QAnon are or what they stand for. But whoever they are they are a favourite of Marianna’s when trying to discredit those who attend these rallies.

At this stage having played down the numbers, labelled them all as conspiracy theorists and distorted the popular message they are attempting to get across, she then seeks out any placard or banners that she believes will help her drive home the point she is attempting to make..

In tarring tens of thousands of protesters as extremist elements with “fringe” views she is being extremely dishonest. The vast majority of those in attendance were protesting against “vaccine passports” and the erosion of personal freedoms and civil liberties at an alarming rate of knots.

But Marianna and her boss Wendling didn’t go to the protest to report factually, they went there with the view of seeking evidence to support their agenda which was to attempt to discredit the protesters as cranks. Honesty played no part in their agenda.

At any rally, for any cause, you will always find people from all walks of life with differing views on many things but who came together on that given day because they all support the message being relayed. To seek out the minority views and then to paint the entire protest as supporting such views is journalistic fraudulence from someone lacking integrity.

The majority message of the day, as can be seen by an impartial viewer of the footage provided in this report, is that people don’t want “vaccine passports” and want a return to normal life. They want to be free. There were also a lot of placards saying no to vaccination. In a democracy, freedom of choice is a central pillar but by introducing “vaccine passports” the government is using coercion to force people into being vaccinated. Young healthy people are justified to not want to be injected with a new drug for a virus that for the most part doesn’t affect them and if it does, the symptoms are usually no worse than that of a mild cold. They, therefore, view this coercion with suspicious minds and given the general low trust levels in government, especially Boris Johnson’s government, they believe something more sinister is going on. This suspicion is justifiable when the government just a few months ago ruled out vaccine passports and now are full steam ahead into wanting to implement them – what rational mind would not be suspicious of their agenda under such circumstances? These people need their concerns addressed and questions answered, not categorised as “QAnon” or some fringe ‘conspiracy theorists’. That labelling is contemptible and disrespectful and only serves to show those making such claims are part of the problem these protesters are attempting to highlight. They don’t trust government and are not represented in the corporate, for profit, media.

Marianna’s role in this is clear as day. I’ve already laid that out in detail in these reports. Let there be no mistake that the BBC’s “anti-disinformation” unit is nothing as such. It’s designed as an attempt to control and shape the online narrative around growing concern at ever increasing government controls and infringements of people’s lives and freedoms. It happily pushes disinformation and fake news of its own because for them, disinformation as a whole isn’t bad. Only the disinformation that threatens the establishment narrative is dangerous.

Mike Wendling right of reply

Whilst appreciating Spring’s timidity around being challenged on her work and not wishing to be accused of causing her any undue alarm or distress by asking her questions, I decided to reach out to Mike Wendling who, as already noted, claimed to be at the rally alongside her.

Firstly, I wanted to allow him to explain why he and Marianna would push fake news about the London rally and also afford him a right of reply to my previous article for balance and fairness. The email was sent yesterday, 27th April, at 14:24 and as of the time of publishing I have received no response.

Dear Michael, 

You will be aware of the article I wrote yesterday, 26th April, regarding the reporting by yourself and Marianna Spring into the London protest on Saturday past. I would always reach out to those concerned before publishing to give them a right of reply, however having tried many times in the past to contact your team about fake news each attempt was met with silence. More recently I uncovered fake news being broadcast on the BBC by a matron of Kings College Hospital, Laura Duffel.  After submitting a FOI to the hospital it would reveal that she had been lying when she claimed there was a whole ward of children in her hospital with Covid. I immediately reached out to Marianna for help in getting the story out there to put the mind’s of worried parents at ease, but she ignored my attempts at contact. Five times I would try and contact her. I also tried to reach out to Flora Carmichael and again was ignored. Weeks after these attempted contacts I would eventually force the BBC into accepting it was wrong to allow that claim to go unverified.  I often wonder why your journalists didn’t want to know about it?

I now note that you have blocked me on Twitter having never communicated with me, which is regrettable. However, we are working on a follow-up to yesterday’s report and having obtained your email address I’d like to pose a few questions to you in order to keep the investigation balanced. 

1. What was the purpose of both you and Marianna significantly downplaying the numbers of attendees at Saturday’s rally?  You claim 5-10k participants whilst Marianna claims there were “a few thousand”.  What was the cause of this large discrepancy in your estimates? 

2. Whilst reporting on another rally in London on March 20th, Marianna would again significantly downplay the numbers in attendance when she would tweet “More than a thousand anti-lockdown protesters marching down Park Lane..”  Footage shows many thousands of people in attendance.  A reasonable guesstimate would be 6-8K from the Ruptly video I watched. Again at a rally on September 19th she would tweet,  “the number at the protest has grown to at least a few thousand” when there were many thousands in attendance. So there’s a pattern emerging in her reporting of attempting to downplay these rallies. Do you, as her editor, support her pushing such disinformation?  If not, how do you explain her failure to report honestly in this regard? Is this something you could address with her for future reports?

3. If the ethos of your team is to expose fake news and disinformation how do you explain it when your team pushes fake news and disinformation themselves?  Do you feel this helps your image as an ‘anti-disinformation’ group?

Given that you and your team present yourselves as a team of journalists with the honourable intentions of exposing dangerous conspiracy theories and disinformation it is even more important that you don’t be seen to be reporting selectively and spreading incorrect claims.  If Marianna and yourself would grossly misrepresent the numbers of people attending these rallies then obvious questions arise.  What else are you misrepresenting and why?  

According to Merriam-Webster, the definition of disinformation is:

“false information deliberately and often covertly spread (as by the planting of rumors) in order to influence public opinion or obscure the truth”

In the footage that I presented in my report of Saturday’s rally, any impartial mind would suspect an intention to ‘deliberately falsely inform’ from a reporter claiming a mere “few thousand” people attended.  Reporting such can not be explained any other way other than to “obscure the truth”, especially when you were there along with her, apparently, yet your estimate was many times greater than hers.

Hopefully this email finds you in the honest and professional way it is intended Michael. There is lots of disinformation everywhere these days, as you know. It doesn’t help then when those who task themselves with finding and exposing this disinformation are caught partaking in bouts of it too. 

Looking forward to your response (Part II of our report goes live tomorrow).

Philip Watson

Take-way points

In closing on Part II of our exposé on the BBC disinformation unit we have presented clear evidence that this controversial team aims to distort, discredit and downplay the significance and message of these pro-freedom rallies. To achieve this the BBC has to lie. An example of this can be seen in their estimations of the number of protesters. Marianna counted “a few thousand”, Wendling counted between “5k – 10K” and the evidence from the day suggested there were many 10’s of thousands at least. To hide those numbers the BBC had to do two things:

  • 1. Not provide footage of the event
  • 2. Spread disinformation about the event

Oddly enough that is exactly what the BBC did do. The one report of the event was about a minor scuffle police had with a few protesters and no mention of the 10’s of thousands of peaceful protesters whilst Wendling and Spring took to social media to spread disinformation and block anyone who challenged them, including yours truly.

Going forward we have decided to monitor the reporting of this controversial BBC disinformation unit and to gather any further evidence of their spreading of fake news with the view to documenting it for future reports. If you come across any such disinformation from them please get in touch.

Defund the BBC

If you want to stop the BBC pushing disinformation and propaganda then defund it. Stop paying your TV licence fee! See this thread on how to do that legally.

5 thoughts on “Nobody Does Disinformation Better Than The BBC’s ‘anti-disinformation’ Unit – PART II

  1. Nothing to offer but just to say thanks for putting these articles together.

    I was following the events on Twitter and sadly I was not surprised at the BBC’s disinformation (the irony) journalists’ coverage of the march.

    From the footage I saw, the turn out was huge – the vast majority of which were just regular folk against the proposed vaccine passports and wanting their freedom back.

    I’ve lost all faith in the BBC during Covid. Their reporting has been nothing but scaremongering rather than presenting the facts in any rational manner.

  2. Marianna and Mike cannot be trusted any more than they can be thrown but I would dispute your use of the word ‘controversial’. There is no contraversy about the BBC’s disinformation department because the rest of the media are singing from exactly the same hymn sheet

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