Doubts not raised.

You may recall this B-BBC post which linked to a BBC story titled “Doubts raised on US ‘plumber Joe'”:

Doubt has been cast over the story of “Joe the plumber”, the man who unexpectedly became the star of this week’s US presidential debate.

Joe Wurzelbacher, of Ohio, was thrown into the spotlight after he was used by John McCain as an example of who might suffer under Barack Obama’s tax plans.

But it now emerges he is not a licensed plumber and owes $1,200 in back taxes.

So, Joe Wurzelbacher is suddenly thrown into the spotlight – and in about five minutes flat the BBC makes sure we all know about his lack of a licence, his back taxes, and even that the name on his birth certificate is not actually Joseph.

Compare that to the BBC’s approach to another man who has found sudden fame: Dr Mads Gilbert, a Norwegian doctor currently working in Gaza, has been quoted in media outlets all over the world, including multiple mentions on the BBC:

  • Israel ‘is nearing Gaza goals’

    Doctors Mads Gilbert and Erik Fosse said half of their patients were civilians, some of them young children with shrapnel and blast wounds.

    They also said 12 ambulance staff had been killed in shelling, despite their clearly-marked vehicles.

  • Israeli raids as reserves move in (includes a video interview with Dr Gilbert)

    Doctors Mads Gilbert and Erik Fosse said half of their patients were civilians, some of them young children with shrapnel and blast wounds.

  • Inside Gaza’s al-Shifa hospital (another video interview with Dr Gilbert)
  • Fighting flares outside Gaza City

    Israel says it is not targeting civilians but Dr Gilbert said he had only seen two fighters among hundreds of casualties.

No doubts raised there as to Dr Gilbert’s motives or veracity as a witness. The video interview within the second “Israeli raids” link is not exactly challenging (“You look exhausted. Tell us what it’s been like”) but does raise a teensy doubt an inch or so (“It has been said that you’ve turned political. What do you say to that?”) the better to set the stage for Dr Gilbert’s impassioned reply about the Hippocratic oath and being the voice of the voiceless.

Yet there are things in Dr Mads Gilbert’s past and present of a little more consequence than unpaid back taxes. For one thing, he didn’t “turn political” after seeing the sufferings of the Palestinians this month. He has long been very definitely political, a Maoist in fact. He is a member of the Norwegian Rødt (i.e. Red) party, formerly known as the Workers’ Communist Party. That alone tells us something about his attitude to objective truth that should raise doubts about anything he says as a witness. Note, I am not here throwing random abuse along the lines of “he’s a lefty, so he must be a liar.” I am stating that Maoists, in common with other Marxists, consciously hold as a matter of doctrine that “objective truth” is a bourgeois construction and truth is whatever the Party says it is.

In the BBC interview Dr Gilbert describes his unspecified politics as merely part of the “whole person” working in Gaza. Another aspect of his whole personhood is that he supported the terrorist attacks on 9/11. Here, via Harry’s Place, is a link to the Norwegian newspaper Dagbladet in which when asked “Do you support the terrorist attack on the United States?” he replied “Terrorism is a bad weapon but the answer is yes, within the context I have mentioned.” You don’t need to understand Norwegian to be able to spot where he says this.

I have not yet touched on the biggest doubt of all: a doctor wrote to the Little Green Footballs website stating his opinion that Mads Gilbert participated in a staged video purporting to show CPR being executed in an unsuccessful attempt to save a mortally injured Palestinian boy. Numerous other doctors have agreed with the original correspondent that the man shown performing “chest compressions” could not possibly have believed that his light bouncing movements would actually restart the heart. Dr Gilbert is to the left. There are also odd editing discontinuities, and unexplained discrepancies between the order of events as shown on CNN and on Channel 4.

Isn’t that at least as interesting as “…a bit of media digging has uncovered that Mr Wurzelbacher’s first name is actually Samuel and he does not have a plumber’s licence, although the company he works for does”? The fact that the video was first withdrawn and then reinstated by CNN is a story in itself. It all remains undug by the BBC, though.

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86 Responses to Doubts not raised.

  1. David Vance says:

    Great Post Natalie.


  2. John Reith spins in his grave says:

    It’s also interesting to learn fromn the LGF discussions that the “cameraman” who filmed Gilbert’s apparent attempt to save his dying relative is also a long term collaborator of a Norwegian charity associated with Gilbert – who have financed his film making activites for years.

    Additionally, Paul Martin, the guy who runs the UK agency which supplied the footage and who is also a BBC “correspondent” on Gaza, has his UK web site hosted by the “cameraman”‘s Palestinian media outfit which also hosts Hamas websites.

    All very strange.

    I wonder if the good doctor and his the bird-brained BBC cheerleaders have any idea what goes on in nthe basement of the hospital……


  3. DB says:

    Last Friday Peter Allen and Anita Anand were mocking Joe’s journalistic credentials on Drive (for some reason that particular edition of the programme is not available on Listen Again so I can’t quote exactlywhat was said). I emailed the following:

    Q. What’s the difference between Joe the Plumber and a BBC journalist?
    A. Joe the Plumber has asked Barack Obama a challenging question.


  4. thud says:

    I see a film treatment…which hollywood hunk gets to play the brave humanitarian Mads?…one can only hope for a stray bomb.


  5. Biodegradable says:

    Spot on Natalie.

    Another aspect of this has puzzled me; from the very first days of the Israeli operation Dr Mads (what an apt name!) and others have insisted that their supplies are about to run out, yet after two weeks they seem to still have enough supplies to keep on working.

    Reminds me of the Hanukah story:
    According to tradition, when the Maccabees entered the Holy Temple, they discovered that the Greco-Syrians had defiled the oil which was used to Temple’s menorah. Only one vat of purified oil remained – enough for only one day. It would take the Jews a week to process more purified oil. Then a miracle occurred. The Maccabees lit the menorah and it burned for not one, but eight days, by which time the new, purified oil was ready. This is why the Hanukkah Menorah has eight candles (not including the shamash candle used to light the others) and one reason why Jews celebrate Hanukkah for eight days.

    Another case of Muslims and their sympathizers “borrowing” from Jewish history and tradition? :-/


  6. Libertarian says:

    “…a bit of media digging has uncovered that Mr Wurzelbacher’s first name is actually Samuel and he does not have a plumber’s licence, although the company he works for does”?

    ………..and in fact all Wurzelbacher did was to QUESTION AUTHORITY…………..which would seem to me to be the duty of EVERY citizen EVERY day.

    The BBC have really exposed themselves here as the dangerous Authoritarians that they really are.


  7. NotaSheep says:

    Great post, thanks you have saved me the task of writing this piece up from the same (or similar) original sources. What are the chances of this story impinging upon the BBC’s conscience?


  8. pounce says:

    Whatever happened to that breaking bBC news report on how the IDF had admitted that no gunmen were at that school (All gone quiet on that front) as well as the bBC story on Dense Inert Metal Explosive (DIME) its all gone quiet on that front also.


  9. GCooper says:

    Excellent post, Ms Solent!


  10. Mailman says:

    Its gone quiet right across the gaza front on the news.

    Just watched ITV news and nothing about the war in Gaza. Israel must be winning eh?

    I was surprised by the 10pm BBC news last night too (Monday), Gaza was the third story and even then it was quite muted. Sure the piece started with dead kids and ended with Abu whats his name declaring Israel stole the land from palestinians in 48 but apart from that there was no shreiking outrage from the reporters.

    Its almost as if they know they and their hamas friends have lost the war.

    Mind you, the MSM has form on this. Look at them cutting and running from Iraq now that America’s victory is so obvious only a lefty media moron would argue otherwise.



  11. Martin says:

    But this is the tip of the ice berg. We’ve had no attempt by the BBC to verify any of the reports made from Gaza and if the BBC can’t prove them why is no caveat provided like they do with IDF claims?

    I’m also concerned when the BBC quotes UN sources. The UN is so anti Israeli it makes a mockery out of its non partisan claims.

    The BBC gave up professional reporting years ago. In fact 1997 the day Phoney Liar got elected.


  12. RR says:

    Coming from a country, the UK, that killed tens of thousands of women and children during its bomber offensive against Germany in World War 2, I sometimes wonder by what right the Beeboids assume the moral high ground over civilian casualties, despite the fact that the Israelis successfully avoid many unnecessary casualties. One wonders what the Beeboids would say were the IAF to bomb targets from 15,000 feet, at night, and using unguided munitions delivered in 1,000-bomber raids – as we did.


  13. Mailman says:

    Dont worry RR, todays Al Beeb would have been in the thick of things shilling for Gerry!



  14. Jason says:

    Brilliant post, very well observed. The ideological bias on display from the Beeb is glaring, it would take an extreme layer of fog not to see it. Excellent point about the epistemological nature of Maoists.


  15. RR says:

    Of course, I’d forgotten, our bombs were unsophisticated bits of kit, only one step up from being “home-made”.


  16. moonbat nibbler says:

    The scandinavian blogs are doing a good job of rounding up newspaper comments on Gilberts and Norwac:

    “NORWAC’s partners include Hezbollah’s Martyr Foundation, which collects and distributes money to suicide bomber’s families.”


  17. jus'askin says:

    This isn’t a comment directly relating to the story or indeed about bias but one quote in the post sets my teeth on edge yet again:
    (“You look exhausted. Tell us what it’s been like”)
    Tell us what it’s been like!
    Can’t BBC journalists come up with a more original way of requesting information?
    Last week they were promoting a program that told us of an Iraqi who had lost his entire family & had his arms blown off during the bombing of Baghdad. “He tells us what it was like…?” A lot of people here might say a direct comparison would be having to listen to an entire series of the Now Show but seriously wouldn’t something akin to “Tells us of his experience…” be more appropriate?
    What it was like is the sort of cliché that would lose marks in aschool essay.


  18. La Cumparsita says:

    re the Mad Doctor, here’s a comment from a physician:

    “The video of a Norwegian doctor complaining about Israel is taken at face value, no mention of the fact that he is a well known Palestinian solidarity activist and the half hearted attempt to “resurrect” a patient is so clearly amateurish that many doctors have immediately pointed this out. As one of our doctor correspondent points out

    I’m no military expert, but I am a doctor, and this video is bullsh-t. The chest compressions that were being performed at the beginning of this video were absolutely, positively fake. The large man in the white coat was NOT performing CPR on that child. He was just sort of tapping on the child’s sternum a little bit with his fingers. You can’t make blood flow like that. Furthermore, there’s no point in doing chest compressions if you’re not also ventilating the patient somehow. ”

    Stuart Palmer



  19. James says:

    Well it’s a well-worn cliché but the first casualty of war is always the truth.

    It seems that in Gaza, however, Hamas have a good rein on the images being broadcast to the world, helped by characters like Dr Mads Gilbert.

    In some respects the Israeli policy of forbidding journalists from entering Gaza may have been a mistake. I suspect that the Israelis were more worried about journalists being taken hostage or murdered than broadcasting image of dying Palestinian children.

    Perhaps if the BBC, CNN etc were allowed unfettered access we would get more balance. Though I very much doubt it.


  20. Cockney says:

    I’ve got some respect for the guy given that he has no need to be out there other than his politics, he’s clearly dealing with some pretty unpleasant conditions and very unpleasant injuries. He’s clearly sincere and committed.

    But the interview that I’ve seen was ridiculous, his claims re: the Hamas / civilian split were far in excess of even the most inflated coming out of Gaza. He also said that the situation was the worst “anywhere”. He’s clearly not been to an African war zone lately.


  21. David Preiser (USA) says:

    moonbat nibbler | 13.01.09 – 4:11 pm |

    Excellent find. That alone is far more important than the fact that the Mads Dr. is a Communist.


  22. Mailman says:


    The MSM should get off its fat arse and go in to Gaza from Egypt. After all, Israel isnt the only country that has a border with Gaza!

    The fact the MSM doesnt tells us more about their cowardice then their willingness to get “the story”.

    Oh, and while the MSM is in Egypt crossing the border, perhaps they could look in to reports of Hamas refusing medical aid to come in through that border (because it wouldnt look good if all that aid got through to those who actually need it).

    Naw, that would require the MSM to actually do something!



  23. Cassandra says:

    Perhaps hamas, who are hiding in the hospital basement, will present the Marxist quack with a special award? Infidel of the year or dhimmi of the year or useful antisemite idiot of the year?
    This is a prime example of the leftist mantra of ‘the ends justify the means’ any lie will do, the truth is merely a tool of the party!


  24. Pete says:

    Yes, but this doctor agrees with the BBC’s views so his heart must be in the right place. This is the standard analytical approach of suburban western revolutionary types with a mortgage, good pension and kids at nice schools. They are apologists for all types of evil people and regimes – their atitudes to Cuba, China and the defunct Soviet empire are examples of this tendency.


  25. moonbat nibbler says:

    David Preiser (USA) | 13.01.09 – 4:33 pm |

    Since posting I noticed NORWAC proudly displays this allegiance on its website:

    So not a particularly great find!

    A quickie google search reveals this from US house of representative hearing:

    Hezbollah uses charities and front organizations to conceal their fundraising activities. Take, for example, Hezbollah’s Martyr’s Foundation. The “Martyr’s Organization” (Martyr Foundation, Bonyad-e Shahid), headed by Mohammad Hasan Rahimiyan, admittedly supplies charitable funds for the family of suicide bombers. In 2001, Paraguayan police searched the home of Hezbollah operative Sobhi Mahmoud Fayad in Ciudad Del Este, a town along the Tri-Border area where the borders of Brazil, Argentina, and Paraguay meet. Searching Fayad’s home, police found receipts from the Martyr’s Organization for donations Fayad sent totaling more than $3.5 million dollars.[6] Authories believe Fayad sent over $50 million to Hezbollah since 1995. According to press reports, Iran has traditionally funded Palestinian dissident groups in the Lebanese refugee camps, including al Maqdah, through the Institute of the Palestinian Martyrs.[7] According to German intelligence officials the Martyr Foundation actively raises funds for Hezbollah there.[8]

    The US prohibits transactions with the Martyr Foundation:


  26. deegee says:

    A version of the CNN video with captions pointing out some of the discrepancies is available here.

    Channel 4 has adopted Ashraf Mashharawi as their own. I complained, pointing the falsehoods out and at first they claimed I must be referring to Channel 4 (WRC-TV NBC 4) in the USA by mistake.

    If and when I receive a reply I’ll let you know.


  27. John Bosworth says:

    Excellent! Go Natalie!


  28. Original Robin says:


    I dont want to get too involved with this, but Germany started the bombing of civilians, contiuing right up to the end with V1 and V2s.
    They reaped what they sowed.


  29. Alex says:

    Rather a false equivalence here.

    Joe the Plumber, potential owner of a small business and casualty of Obama’s tax plan, was exposed as not being any of those things, just an angry Republican on the Clapham omnibus. “Joe” actually lied, with real-life proper lies made of actual untruth, about pretty much everything he was ever caught on camera saying.

    Your report “exposes” Dr. Gilbert as someone who is a member of an organisation which you reckon holds beliefs which you suppose might lead directly to a slightly unusual idea of what constitutes truth, and as someone once accused of having helped fake something completely different once. Not quite the same thing, is it?

    This is my favourite bit though: You write that:
    “when asked ‘Do you support the terrorist attack on the United States?’ he replied ‘Terrorism is a bad weapon but the answer is yes, within the context I have mentioned.'” and then (I love this) don’t give any context. Priceless.


  30. Fish says:


    With respect, the link was provided for people to follow. The very next sentence in that post: “You don’t need to understand Norwegian to be able to spot where he says this” clearly shows the expectation/hope that people are following the referenced sources. Mads Gilbert’s context shouldn’t have evaded you quite so easily frankly.


  31. Anonymous says:

    So, Alex, you are saying there are contexts in which terrorism IS acceptable? Because that’s sure what the Bad Doctor seems to be saying.


  32. Jon says:

    “Rather a false equivalence here.”

    Not really – One was covered by the BBC – the other wasn’t. They seem to be able to delve into a story when they want to, but when the context really matters they don’t.


  33. Alex says:

    “So, Alex, you are saying there are contexts in which terrorism IS acceptable? Because that’s sure what the Bad Doctor seems to be saying.”

    No. Read it again, instead of skimming it and imagining what a Gay Muslim Communist Beeboid would think.


  34. Natalie Solent says:

    Alex, the Harry’s Place link gives a translation of the previous paragraph in which Dr Gilbert gives his context.


  35. Alex says:

    “Alex, the Harry’s Place link gives a translation of the previous paragraph in which Dr Gilbert gives his context.”

    It’s one of these brilliant little traps inept or dishonest blogging ideologues use to discredit people they’ve taken a dislike to. They pick the really, really nasty sounding bit, take it out of context and then link to the original. Diligent readers like you or me follow the link, and realise the misrepresentation. Lazier or more loyal readers skip over it, and so the misinformation is spread.


  36. Martin says:

    Alex: Utter rubbish about Joe the Plumber.

    I see a member of Osama’s staff has been caught NOT paying his taxes.

    “…WASHINGTON — President-elect Barack Obama’s choice to run the Treasury Department and lead the economic rescue effort disclosed to senators today that he failed to pay $34,000 in taxes from 2001 to 2004, a last-minute complication in an otherwise smooth path to confirmation…”

    Funny thing is I can’t find a mention of this on the BBC and it wasn’t mentioned on the evening news.

    Perhaps Alex you might like to explain why?


  37. moonbat nibbler says:

    Alex, there is no ‘context’ of any merit in the question, there is no misrepresentation. You’ve now shown yourself as an apologist for those supporting 9/11, congratulations.


  38. archduke says:

    utterly surreal topic on newsnight now – israel accused of “war crimes” and how israel could be prosecuted for them.


    if you wonder where all the moonbats and islamnonutters get their moral inspiration from – you have it right there.

    on newsnight right now.


  39. Natalie Solent says:

    Alex, you talk as if seeing Dr Gilbert’s previous paragraph, in which he stated his context, would reaveal to the reader new information demonstrating that Gilbert’s support for the 9/11 terrorist attacks was more innocent than it seemed.

    It did no such thing. Here it is, as translated in the Harry’s Place link: “If the U.S. government has a legitimate right to bomb and kill civilians in Iraq, then there is also a moral right to attack the United States with the weapons they had to create. Dead civilians are the same whether they are Americans, Palestinians or Iraqis.”

    It’s just a general statement that terrorism against Americans is legitimate that he then narrows down to the particular case of the 9/11 attacks in the next paragraph.


  40. Jon says:

    “The oppressed also have a
    moral right to attack the USA with any weapon they can come up with”

    Just to remind Alex – the “attack” was on 3,000 civilians deliberately targeted by terrorists – it was not against the US military. Can you see the difference.


  41. Natalie Solent says:

    Moonbat nibbler – my post crossed yours. Great minds think alike. Archduke – I’ll try to catch it on iPlayer in the next week. Right now, though, I try to avoid getting angry late at night.


  42. Martin says:

    archduke: What a camp twat that bloke in the studio with rat face was.

    What about prosecuting Hamas for war crimes then? Not a frigging word.

    Another bunch of leftie twats.


  43. Jason says:

    Alex | Homepage | 13.01.09 – 9:06 pm | #

    You accuse Natalie of making a “false equivalence” but that’s not what she did at all. The aim was not to equate Joe the Plumber with Dr. Mad and from there to attack the Beeb for treating “the same thing” differently – it was in fact to contrast the scrutiny and treatment given on the one hand to the past of Joe the Plumber, which is irrelevant (it was Obama’s reaction that was important – even if Joe had spoken entirely out of his arse it wouldn’t matter because the point is that there are those in Joe’s “position”) and on the other hand the total non-scrutiny given to the past of Dr. Mad, which given that he’s in a position to dramtically shape international perceptions about a serious conflict, most certainly is relevant. His previous views, his ideological loyalties, they’re highly relevant Alex – and the Beeb has given them no consideration whatsoever, while the completely irrelevant background of a man whose question exposed Obama’s ideological intentions was considered newsworthy.

    We’ll ignore your childish portrayal of Joe as an “angry Republican.” We’ll also ignore your childishly exaggerated claim that Joe lied “about pretty much everything he was ever caught on camera saying.” You can save such infantility for your own blog, which by the way, is hysterical. I could talk all night about your attack on the “Tory” idea of capitalism and “free choice”, your predictablely pointless, chip-spitting assault on Ayn Rand and your less-than-surprising leftist defense of Robery Mugabe – but the subject here is the bias of the BBC, not the left wing assault on reason, although I realize the two are unavoidably linked.

    It only remains to point out that the last paragraph of your pathetically inadequate attack on Natalie’s post seemed to imply, in the course of whatever point you were trying to make (the jury’s still out), that she had written the words “don’t give any context.” I didn’t see any such words in her post.


  44. GCooper says:

    That really is disingenuous, Alex. There’s clearly not the slightest doubt that Dr Gilbert is a political activist who is being portrayed by your friends at the BBC as an innocent caught-up in the war and, thus, in a position to offer objective commentary.

    To have done so is either lazy or mendacious. My money is on the latter.


  45. Frankos says:

    Alex –I’ve had a look at your blog –I’ve seen better arguments set out by sixth formers.
    Please grow up!!


  46. Jason says:

    Frankos | 13.01.09 – 11:48 pm | #

    I know it’s tragic, ain’t it? A microcosm of adolescent thought.


  47. David Preiser (USA) says:

    Here’s another story about Hamas and Gaza that the BBC can’t tell you because, unlike journalists, Jeremy Bowen is in a hotel bar in Jerusalem:

    Hamas raids aid trucks, sells supplies

    Hamas on Monday raided some 100 aid trucks that Israel had allowed into Gaza, stole their contents and sold them to the highest bidders.

    Reality is very rarely helpful, eh, BBC?