Remember reading the 2004 Balen report requested by the BBC itself to investigate accusations of anti Israel bias in its Middle East reporting?
No, neither do I – because the BBC has resisted all attempts to force it into the public domain. Don’t bother to ring Sherlock Holmes either to find out why because the findings must have been an embarrassing indictment of the Beeb’s lack of neutrality.
At The Commentator Simon Plosker has a good analysis of a more recent report on the BBC’s coverage of the Arab Spring. Generally a whitewash but, to be fair, there are some criticisms, particularly of the rather cavalier use of unverified mobile phone footage without an accompanying caveat.
Perhaps the Balen Report also found that the BBC has an unhealthy reliance on Palestinian “eyewitnesses” whose versions of events cannot be guaranteed as reliable.
And what about the lack of caveats? Does the BBC announce the reporting restrictions from Gaza where there is risk of intimidation and threats from Hamas, both towards foreign media and against Palestinians who deviate from the party line?
That is a very pertinent point. The Hamas administration in Gaza is an authoritarian regime with an unpleasant record of human rights abuse. Any Palestinian who publicly criticised it would almost certainly suffer severe consequences. But in any Gaza vox pop presented by the BBC there is never a caveat about this lack of freedom.
But then should we be surprised? After all whenever “ordinary folk” were interviewed in any Catholic enclave in Northern Ireland during the thirty years of the Troubles we were never told by the BBC that their reporters only operated under IRA “protection”.
Similarly we were never informed that government “minders” always accompanied BBC “journalists” around Saddam Hussein’s Iraq, making certain that every citizen toed the party line.
As long as a regime or group is anti British (or anti Israel) you can be certain those caveats are conveniently forgotten.
After all, as the BBC says, “it’s what we do”