Mardell just can’t help himself. He made a video report from just outside the Washington Navy Yard yesterday, featuring interviews BBC freelancers collected from a couple of the mass murderer’s friends, as well as his own analysis.
Mardell said that mass murder of this kind is now “as American as baseball.” Isn’t that charming? He wouldn’t dare say that child rape or honor killings or beheadings were as Islamic as a prayer rug. The BBC’s editorial double standards are clear.
Most people here will recall the not-so-prescient words of the BBC’s top man in the US the last time there was a mass shooting on a US military base:
The truth is of course cloudy. The alleged murderer was clearly a Muslim, but there is very little to suggest that he adhered to a hard-line interpretation of his religion or that he had political or religious motives.
And he closed with this classic:
Still, searching for patterns and for answers is part of what it is to be human. I loathe cliche, but perhaps, for once, this is a “senseless tragedy”, devoid of deeper meaning.
Mardell wrote these words even after it was known that Maj. Hassan shouted what the BBC has watered down to “an Islamic benediction”, and news of his jihadi leanings was coming out. In other words, his personal belief system – and an agenda to stamp down any possible unapproved thoughts – caused him not only to ignore facts, but to push what he must have known was a questionable Narrative.
This time around, because there’s a different agenda – the anti-gun movement – no way is he suggesting this was a senseless tragedy – even though it clearly was – because he and the BBC want to push it. He admitted he was asked to do this in his previous piece, so we know it’s not just him, and is acceptable practice in the BBC newsroom. It’s almost as if Mardell’s saying, “Don’t blame me for this sickening display: I’m only doing what London asked.” I’m not generous enough to give him the benefit of the doubt, I’m afraid, as he has form. This time around, the tragedy can be used to push an agenda of which he approves, so off he goes.
That’s fine, some may say, because it’s only natural that people will question what some see as the US free-for-all when it comes to weapons of mass murder when this kind of thing keeps happening with the regularity of the phases of the moon. Well, in this case, the leap to push that agenda was based on false reports, even though world-class, experienced professional journalists know all too well that all kinds of crazy stuff gets reported in the early hours of these tragedies. It’s human to speculate wildly, and opinion writers and pundits – as well as titled BBC editors and silly bloggers on obscure websites which nobody reads – can do so as much as they like, since opinion is their job, not reporting of facts. Yet the line is blurred at the BBC. People whose job includes giving opinion also do reporting, and it’s sometimes hard to tell where one ends and the other begins. In this case, facts were already decided upon, and the agenda was ordered. (My own local paper, the NY Daily News, is equally guilty of this sickness, and the writer I think I dislike most wrote the idiotic cover article. The steep decline of this paper since a News of the World/NY Post guy took over is a topic for another rant. And it’s not even owned by evil Uncle Rupert. But at least it’s not my official state broadcaster with a legacy of trust and deep cultural connection spanning generations, and I don’t have to pay for it if I don’t want to.)
Now once again Mardell is talking out of his own agenda even after facts are known to render it baseless. By the time this video was finished, news was already coming out that there was no AR-15 involved. It’s pretty hard to shrug this off as the understandable result of the fog of confusion common in the first few hours after this kind of incident. Not only that, but the murderer’s primary weapon was not the shotgun he brought, but guns he took from within the premises. The gun-control argument was rendered irrelevant, yet Mardell pushes it anyway.
Even here he closes with a sigh (my inference, yeah) that this tragedy won’t push the gun-control debate in the desired direction. If he didn’t think it needed changing in a stricter direction, why ask the question he asked? If he was impartial – or the BBC actually cared about impartiality on pet issues – he would have stopped asking about gun control laws once it was known to him that banning assault weapons wouldn’t have prevented this. All Alexis had on him when he walked in the door was a shotgun. Even British subjects are allowed to own shotguns, so nobody can claim cultural superiority here. Anyone insisting that stricter US gun laws would have prevented this must by definition be demanding even more draconian laws than the UK has. Any takers?
Mardell reports the killer had a checkered past that should have raised red flags. How many times have we heard this now? Sandy Hook, Colorado, Ft. Hood, the DC sniper of some years back. One could make the case that most or all the newsworthy multiple murders by AR-15 last year were done by people who would qualify as mentally ill in some way. It’s becoming, as the sage said, as American as baseball.
In spite of this, Mardell is worried about gun control laws which have absolutely nothing to do with this tragedy instead of what he knows is a systemic failure to keep seriously mentally ill people out of trouble. He knows this is the real problem. He brings it up himself in both the published article and this video report. It’s a big, big problem. I dare say it’s hard not to have developed even a tiny bit of pity or sympathy for the poor bastard who seems to have been a decent sort who just went mad. And now yet more families are hurt and diminished, lives cut short, hearts broken, because of a broken system. But not the one with which the BBC is obsessed.
Yet in his text piece he blamed lax gun control laws for the police deciding not to prosecute Alexis for shooting somebody’s tires and for firing a gun into a ceiling. Gun control laws aren’t relevant to those incidents either, but Mardell either doesn’t understand that or doesn’t care to.
The Ft. Hood murders were not a “senseless tragedy”, yet Mardell speculated that they were, because he had an agenda on his mind. This time it really was a senseless tragedy, but he’s not speculating that it was one and instead is finding a reason for it, because he has an agenda on his mind. Gosh, it’s a shame this tragedy can’t be exploited to change the debate, isn’t it? If that’s not on Mardell’s mind when he wrote and said this stuff, why did he keep saying it? Who other than anti-gun people have this perspective?
Mardell says that this tragedy will not change the debate about stricter gun laws, but gives the wrong reason for it. He said in his printed piece that US culture needs to change first. In fact – and he knew this by the time he made this video report – the reason it won’t change the debate is because it’s irrelevant. No assault weapon was involved, and the only weapon the killer brought to the party was one even BBC employees in Salford could own.
There is no other explanation for what he’s done. His judgment is clouded. And it’s not just Mardell.