Gentle Readers

, it is safest to have your say as a comment. Writing to me is always a gamble: will I lose your email, misattribute it or merely ignore it? Here, belatedly, are some that slipped through:

From Stan Brin:

I am an American journalist specializing in media criticism. Two questions:

1. Does anyone in Britain know how horrid the nightly

North American BBC television broadcast is? Pure

propaganda, paid for by the British taxpayer.

2. A few years ago. BBC and the American PBS teamed

up to produce an account of the Arab-Israeli wars

called “The 50 Year War.”

I interviewed the producer the PBS version of the

documentary. He called the BBC version a damned lie.

I am curious about the BBC version, never having seen it.

Although PBS often caters to the Arabs, their version of

“50 Years War” is the finest, most balanced story of its

kind I have ever seen.

It would be useful to compare the two, somehow. Any idea

how that could be done?

Stan Brin

John W. Matthews is a regular correspondent to Geitner Simmond’s Regions of Mind blog. He provided us with the following two links:

Reporting from London

But not a word was said about where [BBC reporter] Andrew Gilligan was and what his reaction to the report was. Nor was there any discussion of his future with the BBC. I didn’t even hear a mention of where he was, although a friend latter told me a BBC radio report early in the morning had said he was going to Broadcasting House.

There was no reporting on the reactions of BBC editors and news execs. mentioned in the report.

Yes, it’s tough to report on colleagues, but this is the organization that prides itself on “asking the awkward questions of anyone.” (“We know it only been a hour since your son was murdered, but can you tell viewers whether you think the police are doing enough to find his killer?”)


More from London

Any news organization would have difficulty seeing itself described as Hutton described the BBC. However, the report was especially problematic for the BBC for two reasons.

First, at the time of Hutton’s selection and in the weeks leading up to the report’s release, the BBC repeatedly and fulsomely praised him. He was an “extremely well-respectd judge” with a reputation for “thoroughness and fairness.”

And no one, the BBC often said, could question the courage of Lord Hutton to stand up to any kind of pressure. As a judge in Northern Ireland during the worst of the terrorism, he presided openly over trials of terrorists in situations where it was too dangerous to impanel a jury. A judicial colleague was the victim of an assination attempt. Hutton and his wife had to send their two young daughters out of Northern Ireland when it became known they might be targets of kidnappers. But he stayed and administered justice.

Now, how do you attack the report of a judge you’ve been describing like that? The BBC, after many hours, found a way: use surrogates…

The BBC did praise Hutton fulsomely in the run up to the Report. As Mr Matthews says, the BBC was quite sure until the last moment that Hutton would come down against Blair.

While I’m here at the keyboard… it’s not a reader’s letter, but read Mark Steyn: “The BBC takes the rap.”

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13 Responses to Gentle Readers

  1. peter says:

    BBC World News is horrid. Their standard format is as follows —

    Brief report on something the US or Israel has done, followed by more lengthy interview with a self-proclaimed expert or NGO representative who answers leading questions and backs up the spin the BBC wants to portray but allows these guests to present by proxy.

    Imagine if the main US network broadcasts dragged in some PA negotiator at two minutes past the hour to rant about Israel (with no Israeli rep. to counter.)

    At the heart of it is this format that is half news, half “debate” and in the end is muddle that presents a one dimenstional point of view as news.

    I’d be interested to hear what some jouranalism experts think of this.


  2. peter says:

    On another matter –

    The front page’s coverge the latest Iraq bombing links to pictures. The BBC says:

    “In pictures: US Allies Attacked”

    Uh, aren’t these ordinariy Iraqis looking volunteer for the Iraqi army? I didn’t realize they were only US allies.

    The implication is that they are collaborators, not plain old Iraqis. To be a virtous, innocent Iraqi one couldn’t possibly be involved in building the institutions that will ensure its stability and future prosperity.

    (Seem like a good candidate for the stealth edit.)


  3. Cobalt says:

    Strangely, when around 100 Kurds were killed in a terrorist attack last month, it was brushed aside like it didn’t matter. I wonder why?

    Iraqi resistance? No, Saddam loyalists and Islamofascists.
    No “resistance” would seek to stop their country from regaining it’s sovereignty.

    The BBC, The Independent and the Guardian will no doubt blame America for this, indeed, the Indy already has (the same Indy which bigs up US casualties and then belittles Jessica Lynch’s injuries).


  4. Barry Meislin says:

    While it is “most encouraging” that some have noticed the BBC’s incessant vileness and flagrant mendaciousness, there is no doubt in my mind that the BBC, with all its resources mobilized (for several good years now) is “winning” this war, despite certain “setbacks” and “revelations.”

    After all, how many Germans detested Goebbels while the Nazi star was ascendant? Not many. And not until quite close to the bitter end.

    Similarly, here. What will it take?

    What will it take for reality to sink in for those attuned to the BBC’s sinister wavelength?


  5. Natalie Solent says:

    Stan, I must confesss I’ve never even heard of it. Could it have had a different name here, or even not been shown in the UK at all? There was a period in my life when I watched hardly any TV so my experience is not conclusive. I googled “50 year war”,”PBS”,”BBC” (as no doubt you have done) found 3 pages of entries, but it still didn’t ring a bell.


  6. bill says:

    I’ve always enjoyed Rhod Sharp on Radio 5’s “Up all night”, but lately even he is starting to show partisanship.
    Last night an interview about Bush’s National Guard non-service was approached with relish.
    The interviewee (USA Today journalist) then went on to report that the Kerry/Hanoi Jane picture was being raised.
    Sharp immediately adopted a sympathetic attitude for Kerry. “Youthful idealism”.
    Sharp has no problem that Kerry was 26 & seeking to undermine the morale of US troops fighting in Vietnam. He doesn’t consider that Bush was the same age, no youthful behaviour from Bush!


  7. Cobalt says:

    Jane Fonda is disliked by Vietnam vets not because of her opposition to the war, rather the fact that she said and did certain things, one of which resulted in the death of a vet who revealed that US PoW’s had been tortured by the Vietcong.

    Anti-war folks saying US PoWs weren’t maltreated when they were…that sounds strangely familiar, doesn’t it?


  8. Mark Holland says:

    The 50 Years war was on shown on the ‘UK History’ satellite channel probably about this time last year.

    I saw 2 episodes, I think from the Six Day War up until the Isreali invasion of Lebanon.

    To be honest I couldn’t say what position it took, it seemed fairly neutral to me as far as I can remember. The early stuff would have been interesting as lot’s of the independence war stuff is “controversial” in-as-much-as anti-Israelis bring up various things.


  9. John Hensley says:

    “In pictures: US Allies Attacked”
    (Seem like a good candidate for the stealth edit.)

    And so it is. The headline now reads: “In pictures: Iraqi ‘colluders’ attacked”

    I’m not sure why they bothered.


  10. Jane says:

    The BBC online initially claimed that the US Muslim solidier accused of colluding with Al-Qaeda got paid for doing so. A stealth edit later deleted that notion.


  11. Eugenia says:

    As an invited guest for a forum on his network’s Israel coverage, Andrew Steele defended the BBC’s coverage of Israel to a less-than-welcoming crowd, he said,however,that the findings of the Hutton report will affect his bureau’s editorial guidelines.”But it will take two to three months to improve our communication.” Audience members, most of whom were highly critical, attacked the BBC for its reluctance to use the word “terrorist” in reporting on Palestinian attacks. They accused Steele of an anti-Israel bias for his network’s use of the term “occupied territories.” Steele denied that the BBC had colluded with Palestinians to create a biased account of the situation.BBC journalists, he added over a collective groan from the audience, are united by a “love of truth.”
    Sharing the platform with Steele was Trevor Asserson, who has written several reports on the BBC, accusing them of “continuous partiality in favor of the Palestinian narrative”


  12. Eugenia says:

    the above story comes from “Haaretz”‘s Anglo file, February, 13, and it was written by Dafna Berman. Unfortunately, I had to shorten it and even edit a bit in order to fit into the comment format. I hope, the idea comes through anyway. Apologies to Dafna.


  13. Terrry says:

    A friend of mine worked on this appauling series (most of which I just could not watch).

    She said that the producers despised Israel, and used the series to attack it, under the guise of a documentary.

    She’s an Israeli who speaks Arabic, and said that working on the show was an unpleasant experience, but she needed the money.