Great minds think alike.

Both Expat Yank (hat tip: David H in comments) and Eamonn Fitzgerald’s Rainy Day spotted something odd about the reporting of a recent BBC poll on Iraq.

Hello? Three-quarters of the tyrant’s former subjects are thrilled that the old monster is behind bars, but the BBC buries the fact at the very end of the report on its own poll. Talk of selectivity! Talk of bias!

Apropos of nothing

, I have decided to put USS Neverdock’s BBC bias reference page from January last year on the sidebar among “other links”. Lots of good stuff there, although Marc ought to note that the infamous CBBC page on the Holocaust that didn’t mention Jews has since been amended.

I know, I know, ought to clean out all the other links that don’t work. Don’t like doing it, for some reason.

Just the facts, ma’am, just the facts.

It is said of many a failing company that it was not just the occasional faults in their products that trashed their reputation but the arrogant and evasive way they dealt with complaints.

This BBC article says, twice, that terminations were made legal in the US by the 1973 court decision Roe v Wade. In other words it is factually wrong in a typical BBC way.

The American Expatriate spotted the mistake and complained. The response made by the BBC’s Louise O’Doherty was far more astonishing – and revealing – than the initial error.

I can assure you that factual accuracy is the essence of news reporting and the BBC aspires to the very highest standards of journalism but in many cases, particularly with breaking news stories, facts can be scarce or conflicting.

Nevertheless I do realise the frustration this supposed error must have caused.

Read the Expatriate’s response.

UPDATE: The BBC have now corrected the article in question, and state that the initial response to the question “will be raised as a training issue.”

Some men and women are legends in journalism.

They are the ones with a “nose” for a story. Hard-bitten, often hard-drinking, they are the ones
who “just happened” to be there when the war started or the government fell – or the story first broke that the world would eventually know as “The Oldham Horror”

Extremists have been blamed after a cartoon featuring the prophet Mohammed with a bomb in his turban was put up in a housing office in Oldham.

Tim Blair is on the case.

Probably Just Coincidence

But yesterday’s Today programme interview with Sheik Yosif al-Nasari, who told us, unchallenged by James Naughtie, how American Special Forces had sealed off the Samarra mosque before blowing it up, doesn’t seem to be available on Thursday’s ‘Listen Again’ page.

Those of you who like their anti-Americanism untainted by reality can still listen to Wednesday night’s arts review Front Row, where Syriana director Stephen Gaghan states that George Bush has personally ordered the killing of ‘lots and lots of people’.

“BBC Find American Who Doesn’t Like Bush”

A feature of the Today programme is the succession of Americans from the arts world who invited to tell us just how much they dislike George Bush. Today we were treated to this ‘Today’ interview (RealAudio) with veteran American director Robert Altman, in which he was invited to hold forth at length on American politics (‘the wrong war, wrong time, wrong leader’).

(One tiny note of reality intrudes, where interviewer and interviewee are discussing how a new wave of socially aware films (e.g. Bareback Mounting and .. er ..) reflects the changing political awareness of America. The interviewer points out that though critics loved them, the public weren’t quite so keen.)

UPDATE – Scott at the Ablution points out that this is a double – yesterday the Today programme treated us to a plug for George Clooney’s Syriana.

What did that evil man, Larry Summers, actually say

that got the feminists at Harvard so angry?

Was it “Lawrence Summers lost the first vote in March last year after suggesting women had less “intrinsic aptitude” than men for science.”? That’s how this BBC report described what he said.

Butterflies and Wheels is scathing about that over-simplification.

(Via comments to this post at Crooked Timber)

To adapt an old joke…

How many times does a BBC writer laugh at a piece of satire in the Wall Street Journal?

Three times. Once when he reads it, once when it is explained to him and once when he understands it.

This post from the American Expatriate will make you smile.

And if you want to hear the audio of the “torture in Gitmo is established fact” issue of Any Questions, it was covered by TAE here – and his link works.

BBC coverage of the Halimi murder: this is getting stupid.

Hat tip to Ritter, who spotted this story: French ‘anti-Jew gang chief’ held

I don’t take any pleasure in repeating the same stuff again and again. Trouble is the BBC keeps doing the same stuff again and again and I sort of feel obliged. So I’ll just repeat words from my earlier post as often as need be.

If the religion of the victim is relevant to understanding the crime, then so is the religion of the perpetrator. The BBC would not dream of leaving it unmentioned when a religious or religious/political hate crime is carried out by a Jew. The BBC had no trouble saying Asher Weisgan was Jewish, and no trouble quoting the view of a commenter that Weisgan’s murder of four Arabs was the “wild grapes produced by Israel’s extreme right.” The BBC had no trouble mentioning the Jewish skullcap worn by Eden Nathan Zaada as he killed Israeli Arabs on a bus, and no trouble reporting on his extremist political views.

Yet all that the BBC gives us about Yussef Fofana is his name.

The BBC’s longstanding reluctance to even mention that most modern European anti-Jewish violence is carried out by Muslims, let alone discuss it, has made a small but dishonourable contribution to the legitimisation and normalisation of such violence.

Don’t mind his conspiracy-mongering, he’s just an Arab.

B-BBC commenter Eamonn was in amusing form over today’s Today:

The Today team (pbut) is in fine form this morning. James Naughtie (pbuh) gives an Iraqi henchman of radical Shia cleric Moqtada Sadr a few minutes of prime time (around 7.15am) to peddle the most ridiculous conspiracy theory i.e. the CIA planted the bombs in the mosque. Rather than dismissing this (as he would any statement made by a law abiding centre-right politician)Naughtie (pbuh), rather than dismissing this, presents it as a possibility that we should sort of add to the possible narratives. For goodness sake Naughtie (pbuh)!

The BBC’s (pbut) idea of balance would be to interview David Irving (pbuh and taking a break from writing his version of “My Struggle” in prison) to hear his contrary view that it wasn’t the CIA, but the Jews (death be upon them) who planted the bombs. That’s the BBC idea of balance.

A couple of comments later, Michael Taylor explains why the acquiesence of the Today programme in this conspiracy theory is not actually that funny. Excerpt:

This is, I’d say, merely silly, if slightly dangerous. We may, after all, merely conclude that the interviewee was off his head. But having allowed the allegation to be made on their flagship morning program, the BBC has a journalistic duty to get a response from the accused. Ie, they are duty bound to fetch up some weary US army spokesman to point out that the allegation was barking. So why was no comparable effort made to secure a response from the party accused?

There are two possible responses (discounting the possibility that no-one would comment). The first and most likely is that they didn’t want to bother because the allegation was so ludicrous. If that’s their view, why did they allow it to propogated via the BBC’s prime morning programme in the first place? The second is that they didn’t want to because their point in running the interview was deliberately to slander and defame the US forces via al Sadr’s spokesman. In other words, those who made these choices (and who are they, let’s have names: Jim Naughtie was the presenter, Kevin Marsh was the editor) are either idiots or reckless slanderers.

And in this light, let’s hear again from Kevin Marsh on how he decides what gets on air: “I make up my own mind based on mine and the team’s assessment on the facts we have. We question everyone as thoroughly as we can, write our running orders based on our own judgements and invite the guests onto the programme who we think have something to add to the running stories.”

So, let’s have some answers, Mr Marsh. What was “the team’s assessment of the facts” in this case, and do you feel happy that your invitation to this particular guest had “something to add to the running stories.”

As it is, what we’re left with is an outrageous slander, which will quite possibly add to the death toll in Iraq, invited to be made, unanswered and unsupported, on the prime morning time programme of the taxpayer-funded broadcaster.

Emphasis added by me.

The invaluable Adloyada also caught the programme.

Drinking from Home

compares BBC treatment of Muslim-on-Christian violence in Nigeria to that of Christian-on-Muslim violence. He has screenshots.

(Max in comments here spotted the same thing.)

Guantanamo Roundup.

A reader who wishes to remain anonymous wrote the following email. I lost it for a bit, and seem to be unable to cut and paste the internal links he provided to the R4 programmes, although I can play them myself. Never mind. You go find them yourselves. Here’s the email:

Today (Feb 18th) I’ve witnessed one of the grossest examples of the BBC’s anti-American agitprop (or rather, anti-American-when-there’s-a-Republican-in-the-White-House agitprop).

On Radio Four’s “Any Questions”, the very first question put to the panel was this:

“What action should the British government take to bring about an end to the use of torture at Guantanamo Bay?”.

Hear the actual transmission here. [This is the first link I couldn't seem to copy - NS]

The premise of the question assumes as fact that the U.S. authorities are indeed administering torture at Guantanamo Bay. But only two months ago the US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice gave a particularly full account of the U.S’s total rejection of torture, not only by the U.S. itself, but also the U.S.’s allies in the war against terror. As if that’s not bad enough, the BBC itself had actually reproduced Condi’s statement in full in a dedicated news report.

There have been all sorts of Guardian articles implying all sorts of maltreatment by the US authorities, but I’m not aware of any specific allegations that can be verified, or which, in any event, actually constitute torture.

Of course, when it came to Any Answers [another link I couldn't copy here - NS] following transmission, all but one of the contributors on this topic were rabidly anti-American and anti-Bush administration. The one who wasn’t was a grandmother, no doubt chosen for that very reason (nevertheless she gave a good defence of the reasoning behind Camp X-Ray’s existence).

Is it any wonder, with the BBC being the planet’s most influential broadcaster, that America is becoming reviled in some parts of the world, and universally disparaged even among its allies?

Rottweiler Puppy has a (bleeding magnificent, actually) post about the same subject.

Because, here’s the thing: the United States has never been credibly accused of torturing its prisoners at Guantanamo. Not once. Indeed, the UN report Beeboids are swooning over is about as critical of the base as it’s possible to get, but even here there is no accusation that the U.S. engages in torture. The report, which you can read here [pdf], actually comes across as a protracted whine that the U.S. refused to grant investigators from the twin human rights capitals of Algeria and Pakistan, unmonitored access to its intelligence assets. The word ‘torture’ is used 89 times, though, in connection with the actual treatment Gitmo inmates receive (as opposed to attempts to define the term or explain its meaning), the closest the UN team get to the Any Questions position is to claim that force-feeding of hunger-striking inmates ‘amounts to torture’. (As, some people might say, do chemotherapy, lumber-punches and any other number of painful-but-lifesaving medical procedures.)

However, the point is that no one — not the UN, not Amnesty International, not the Guardian — has ever accused the U.S. of no ifs or buts torture in the way that Any Questions does here.

“Demonstrators”

I think it was on yesterday’s 8 am radio news that I heard the rioters captured and beaten by the British Army two years ago described as ‘demonstrators’, with its comforting overtones of placards, badges and cries of ‘What Do We Want ?”.

Blogger Squander Two noticed it too. He thinks the ‘demonstrators’ were the ‘demonstrators’ described in this BBC report.

That is not to justify the beatings. Were BBC journalists to be attacked, they would doubtless react quite differently. But as BBC correspondents like to remind us, there are two sides to every story.

UPDATE – I’m reminded of the BBCs reporting of the Indonesian riots preceding the fall of the Suharto regime in May 1998. Those burning cars and buildings in Jakarta were described in bulletins as ‘protesters’ and ‘demonstrators’, and one R4 bulletin described ‘demonstrators’ burning and looting, observing that ‘Chinese areas were particularly targeted’. A remarkably restrained description of racist mob violence, and one which it is impossible to imagine the BBC using if the rioters were, say, white Britons. As reports over the next few days pointed to continuous anti-Chinese violence including mass rape, the tone of reporting changed and the ‘demonstrators’ became ‘rioters’ – which of course they had been from the start.

The kidnap, torture and mutilation over a period of three weeks, and eventual murder

of Ilan Halimi in France has been reported by the BBC here.

In fairness to the BBC, I must point out that my colleague Laban was mistaken in thinking this murder had not been reported as of yesterday. A search for “Halimi” would not have found the earlier report that the BBC did make (on 17 February), as only the first name of the victim was mentioned at that time.

So let us look at the more recent BBC report, which appears to have been posted at ten minutes to midnight yesterday evening.

Reported: that the victim was Jewish, that there is a strong suspicion that he was killed because he was a Jew, and that the gang leader for whom a warrant has been issued is called Yussef Fofana. All these facts are relevant.

Not reported: that the kidnap gang recited verses from the Koran in their calls to Malini’s family.

Not reported: that Ilan’s mother, Ruth Halimi, has accused the French police of ignoring the anti-semitic motives of the murder in order not to alienate Muslim opinion in France.

Not reported: that the photos that the kidnappers sent Malini’s family to show them what was being done to their son, and the tortures and humiliations themselves, bore a strong “impregnation” (according to the authorities) of resemblances to the Abu Ghraib photos and the photos issued by Iraqi kidnappers of Western hostages.

Not reported: that Yussef (sometimes spelled Youssef or Yossef) Fofana has fled to his country of origin, the Ivory Coast. That would have involved saying that his country of origin was the Ivory Coast.

[UPDATE: the Ivorian angle has now been mentioned. Still no mention of the Muslim angle.]

If the religion of the victim is relevant to understanding the crime, then so is the religion of the perpetrator. The BBC would not dream of leaving it unmentioned when a religious or religious/political hate crime is carried out by a Jew. The BBC had no trouble saying Asher Weisgan was Jewish, and no trouble quoting the view of a commenter that Weisgan’s murder of four Arabs was the “wild grapes produced by Israel’s extreme right.” The BBC had no trouble mentioning the Jewish skullcap worn by Eden Nathan Zaada as he killed Israeli Arabs on a bus, and no trouble reporting on his extremist political views.

Yet all that the BBC gives us about Yussef Fofana is his name.

The BBC’s longstanding reluctance to even mention that most modern European anti-Jewish violence is carried out by Muslims, let alone discuss it, has made a small but dishonourable contribution to the legitimisation and normalisation of such violence.