The President ordered Osama Bin Laden killed without trial, without due process of law, and the BBC North America editor is crestfallen. Mardell really doesn’t know what to do. He has his own opinions, his own moral code to follow, yet cannot bring himself to actually blame the President for it. Instead, he works to shift blame onto the ugly United Statesians he’s found distasteful for so long.
On the scene in New York, Mardell explains what the President will be doing, and why. Well, actually, no he doesn’t. He mostly quotes the White House spokesman, who is the husband of Katty Kay’s personal friend and business partner. Mardell also quotes the President and mentions what Sarah Palin said as well. Why the British public should give a damn about what Sarah Palin says instead of an actual politician or even Presidential candidate is a mystery to me, but we know that the BBC cares very, very deeply.
When the President lays that wreath this evening, I hope he’s a bit more considerate than He was when He casually tossed a rose on the pile in 2008. His lack of consideration and sympathy was evident then. Funny how He never visited Ground Zero on the actual anniversary in 2009 or 2010, but is coming to do it now? If this had been George Bush, the BBC would be screaming about how it’s a victory lap. Instead, they’re full of respect and telling you exactly what the White House wants you to think.
But Mardell revealed his true feelings about the whole sorry affair on his blog yesterday. All impartial journalism goes out the window now. This is Mardell’s personal opinion, and shows how crushed he is that his beloved Obamessiah has ordered someone killed without trial. Of course, I don’t expect Mardell to actually criticize the President or His management skills for all the screwed up facts they spewed out after the event. Fog of war and all that, I’m sure. Nothing to do with amateurs running the show.
In any case, here’s Mardell’s own opinion:
The president’s press secretary Jay Carney suggested this was the result of trying to provide a great deal of information in a great deal of haste.
I can largely accept that. There is no mileage in misleading people and then correcting yourself. But the president’s assistant national security advisor John Brennan had used the facts he was giving out to add a moral message – this was the sort of man Bin Laden was, cowering behind his wife, using her as a shield. Nice narrative. Not true. In fact, according to Carney this unarmed woman tried to attack the heavily armed Navy Seal. In another circumstance that might even be described as brave.
Well, sure, but what’s the point of saying such a thing about bravery, if not to direct the audience in a certain direction? Just state the facts and let the audience decide. No need for editorializing like this.
For those involved an operation like this, time must go past in a confused and noisy instant, and they aren’t taking notes. Confusion is very understandable. But you start to wonder how much the facts are being massaged now, to gloss over the less appealing parts of the operation.
And of course there is the suspicion that the US never wanted to take Bin Laden alive. Here at least many see a trial as inconvenient, awkward – a chance for terrorists to grandstand. Look at all the fuss about the trial of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed.
The bit I’ve put in bold is where Mardell begins to shift blame. It’s extremely wrong to say that people see the trials as “inconvenient”. It’s just that many politicians don’t want the circus in their home towns, and – more importantly – there are legal ramifications of having a civilian criminal case, which may harm the outcome. I don’t expect the BBC to tell you that, though, because they don’t agree with it.
In the confusion of a raid it’s hard to see how the Seals could be sure that Bin Laden wasn’t armed, didn’t have his finger on the trigger of a bomb, wasn’t about to pull a nasty surprise. If he had his hands in the air shouting “don’t shoot” he might have lived, but anything short of that seems to have ensured his death.
Now Mardell is the one doing the backtracking. He’s just said that he is doubtful about the whole thing, but now allows it’s “hard to be sure”, etc. Then he places the blame for this squarely where he believes it to be:
I suspect there will be more worry about this in Britain and Europe than in the US. That doesn’t mean we are right or wrong. It is a cultural difference. We are less comfortable about frontier justice, less forgiving about even police shooting people who turn out to be unarmed, perhaps less inculcated with the Dirty Harry message that arresting villains is for wimps, and real justice grows from the barrel of a gun. Many in America won’t be in the slightest bit bothered that a mass murderer got what was coming to him swiftly, whether he was trying to kill anyone in that instant or not.
And there we have the anti-American bias of the BBC’s North America editor, the man the BBC says you are supposed to trust to help you understand the US. Mardell’s weak gesture towards cultural relativism is lost when he uses derogatory terms like “frontier justice”, and implies that we in the US don’t care as much when the police shoot unarmed people (slander), “Dirty Harry message”, and that hoary old chestnut, “real justice grows from the barrel of a gun”.
This is Mark Mardell telling you his personal opinion of what he perceives to be the mentality of the US. It’s not reporting, it’s not impartial, it’s not anything other than the BBC telling you that we are inferior. Worse, this is also Mardell’s way of telling you that the cold-blooded killing without due process of law is not the President’s fault. No, He was forced to do this by the ugly US public, because that’s what we want. Is this really the purpose of BBC editors’ blogs, to spout personal opinion and venom?
In all of Mardell’s reporting, and indeed in all of the BBC’s coverage of the event, there is no criticism at all of the President Himself. All blame is placed elsewhere, and in fact the President is portrayed as the only adult in the room, above it all. Jeremy Paxman said on Newsnight that the White House “dithered”, but I think he got away with it. Otherwise, Mardell has previously made very effort to tell you that the President considers every issue nearly as carefully as Deep Thought took to work out the answer to Life, the Universe, and Everything.
So in the end, Mardell has to find someone else to blame when the President does something he doesn’t like. Sad, really, and the public is led away from the facts and into opinion.
Side note: The BBC is still leaving the door ajar for Truther conspiracy theories with this line:
Bin Laden was believed to be the mastermind of the 9/11 attacks in 2001 and many others.
Have they learned nothing? He confessed on video which has been broadcast by the BBC, wrote about it, talked about it. It’s a fact that Bin Laden was behind it, not supposition.
As the President does His victory lap at Ground Zero today, the BBC is giving full coverage. And by “coverage”, I mean covering for Him. Barbara Plett is on the scene on the News Channel this morning telling us what will happen.
He’s “paying homage”, and “showing respect” to the families of the victims. Nobody wants to accuse the President of making this a political event, Plett assures us. The BBC has the White House talking points from Jay Carney, and they are dutifully following it.
“He wants to meet with them and share with them this important and significant moment, a bitter-sweet moment, I think, for many families of the victims,” White House spokesman Jay Carney said.
Well, He’s meeting with some families, anyway. Some haven’t been invited, and one family at least has declined to give Him the photo op. But what’s a little white lie amongst friends, eh? As long as they’re reporting White House talking points, they’re doing their job. He’s not using this for political purposes, no, no, no. Some people may think that, the Beeboids allow, but that’s not what He’s about. Heavens no. Even today’s coverage on the News Channel says the same thing.
Isn’t this visit to Ground Zero a bit sudden, not planned until just now to take advantage of the event, asks the newsreader in the studio? Oh, no, says Plett, stammering as she’s caught off guard. He’s just paying respects to the families now. Pro Obama at all costs, indeed.
The BBC continues to be the foreign branch of the White House press office, but He’s made it very difficult for them this week!