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.