I know it’s no good getting nostalgic, but in the olden days, when BBC spokespersons such as “John Reith” called in occasionally to remind us of our stupidity, they would cite a survey which concluded that the BBC was indeed biased in its Middle East reporting. In favour of Israel.
Anyway, the other day when ace reporter John Pilger was holding forth to Justin Webb about his new film, aired last night on ITV, it reminded me of those times.
“When we’re embedded,” he bleated, “we distort the news by peddling the government line.” Justin Webb, remembering that his job is to probe, ventured chummily: “You’re a bit of a polemicist yourself, my old matey”.
“I was waiting for that” Pilger countered, chuckling with feigned good humour, and with that unequivocal put-down Justin surrendered.
Anyway, the survey that showed that the BBC was biased towards Israel was something to do with this: “Bad News From Israel”. Here are some eager BBC converts:
“I wasn’t under the impression that Israeli borders had changed or that they had taken land from other people – I thought it was more a Palestinian aggression than it was Israeli aggression.”
But now, thanks to the BBC, I think the opposite of the truth is the truth! Hooray!
“The impression I got (from news) was that the Palestinians had lived around about that area and now they were trying to come back and get some more land for themselves – I didn’t realise they had been driven out of places in wars previously.”
Thank goodness for the BBC!! Thank goodness for misinformed journalists who are keen to pass on all they don’t know. Yippee!
“You always think of the Palestinians as being really aggressive because of the stories you hear on the news. I always think the Israelis are fighting back against the bombings that have been done to them.”
Until now I haven’t hated the Israelis properly. Thank you BBC.
There. Conclusive proof that the BBC is biased in favour of Israel.
The Pilger programme is on ITV iPlayer. One of Pilger’s theories seems to be: if only people knew that war is a nasty business there wouldn’t be any more wars.
Pilger is no peacemaker however. He is full of hate and malice.
The Palestinian section demonstrates why this filmette is so hypocritical. Pilger detests Israel so much that he has overlooked the fact that the thesis underpinning the whole thing doesn’t hold up when applied to what he calls ‘Palestine’. He promises to show that ‘embedding’ influences reporting. Which reporters does he think are embedded with the IDF?
Never mind though, in the exceptional case of Israel, or should I say Palestine, embedding isn’t necessary because mere phone calls from Israeli government propagandists are so terrifying that BBC broadcasters crumple up and obey.
What incenses Pilger more than anything is the hateful propagandist Mark Regev. Even the oddly dull Fran Unsworth wouldn’t swallow that. “He’s a government spokesman.” she replies bravely.
“Where’s the Palestinian equivalent to Mark Regev?” he asks her. She didn’t mention that the Palestinian viewpoint permeates every report that is ever put out on the BBC because she hasn’t noticed that.
Pilger even brings in the incontrovertible Bad News From Israel I mentioned earlier.
“Never believe anything” he says, towards the end. Wise words from Mr. Pilger, which rather encapsulate the elephantine flaw in the whole programme.
I do realise by the way, that this film wasn’t shown on the BBC, so please don’t bother pointing that out.