A guest post by Hippiepooter:
If I was an anti-Semitic despot desperately trying to cling to power and I wanted to give an interview with pliant Western journalists to make propaganda, I know that Jeremy Bowen would be at the top of my list.
It came as no surprise to me that Mr Bowen was one of the three journalists that Colonel Gaddafi chose to interview him.
This said, in my cursory viewing of the interview, I would say that Bowen successfully maintained plausible deniability that he was acting as Gaddafi’s shill, if indeed it would be fair to construe that that would possibly be his intention.
In what I heard of his reports thereafter there was nothing that really stood out as that untoward. Until recently. As the ‘madman in the kaftan’ has rallied his forces and appears to be gaining the upper-hand over the rebels despite major defections and allied bombing, there has been a decided shift in the BBC Tripoli Correspondent’s tone of coverage.
On Saturday 16th April the Telegraph online reported Lord General Dannatt expressing the following concerns over Mr Bowen’s reporting:-
“People hang on the words of the BBC in Libya and throughout the Middle East and I do wonder if what he has been saying has been entirely helpful,” says General Lord Dannatt, the former Chief of the General Staff. “Mr Bowen has, of course, every right to report what happens, but when he dwells to such an extent on intangible things — such as how long the operation will take and whether the will is there to see it through — then it sets a tone that could hardly have given heart to members of the rebel forces.”
Round about this time I noticed Bowen refer to Gaddafi’s side as ‘Libya’, although he quickly corrected himself straight away.
Not any more though. Here’s Bowen on 5Live’s Victoria Derbyshire (19/04/11). The interview starts 1:18:10 (my emphases):-
“[…]The Libyans say that they will allow some humanitarian access coming out of Tripoli into places. Uh, I think they have motivation for allowing a certain amount of it, now of course there’s a trade off between what the army here might want and there’s a trade off between what the more political people might want, but you can see from the Libyan point of view there are advantages in allowing humanitarian aid in”
Bowen is clearly self-identifying with Gaddafi. I had to wait some time in to the interview to confirm that by ‘Libya’ he actually meant the Gaddafi regime. The lingua franca of covering this conflict is ‘loyalists’ and ‘rebels’. While Foreign Secretary the Rt Hon Wiliam Hague MP has announced that Her Majesty’s Government no longer recognises the legitimacy of Gaddafi’s regime for the murderous brutality with which he has suppressed his people’s quest for freedom, Bowen clearly wants to confer legitimacy on Gaddafi in the minds of the British public.
Why would Bowen do this? My contention, or supposition, is that he sees there is a very real possibility that if Gaddafi is toppled Libya will have a Government that does not share Bowen’s pathological hatred of Israel. Such a thing for Bowen would be enough to give him a coronary.
If you listen to the whole of the interview you’ll see that overall Bowen does enough to maintain a veneer of impartiality – enough to seduce the unsuspecting listener into trusting him so that he may steer their unsuspecting minds to where he wants them to go. Although you might consider, as I do, that he was deftly trying to rubbish a rebel supplied casualty figure without having any idea what they’d been based on (Some idea here).
One occasion however when Bowen’s facade dropped spectacularly is etched vividly in my mind.
During Gulf War I a cruise missile struck a civilian bunker in Baghdad leaving hundreds dead.
David Dimbleby interviewed Bowen live from Baghdad.
Bowen reported in terms of ‘aren’t we bad, we really need to stop this war as soon as possible’.
Prior to this, I had read or heard reports that the allies suspected that Saddam Hussein was sending control and command communication signals from civilian bunkers in the hope of causing the very tragedy that had just occurred to leave the US Coalition discredited and strengthen calls for the war to end. I was heartened when David Dimbleby asked Mr Bowen:-
“But Jeremy, what were they doing there?”
Bowen exploded. Face contorted with rage he shouted: ‘They were trying to protect themselves from the bombs that the Americans are dropping on Baghdad!’
Bowen was livid that Dimbleby had got in the way of him promoting Saddam Hussein propaganda. There is no anti-Semitic tyrant that Bowen will not shill for.
Unfortunately, Mr Dimbleby chose not to pursue the matter further, apparently wishing to avoid any further unseemliness from his deranged colleague.
As all the experts have told us, imposing a no fly zone on Gaddafi is an act of war. We are at war with Gaddafi. If Jeremy Bowen keeps heading the way he’s going he risks supplying enough grounds to the security services to place him under formal investigation for aiding and abetting the Queen’s enemies at time of war. Given that Her Majesty’s Government has stretched Her already overstretched armed forces still further with the much needed action against Gaddafi to stop him massacring his own people for seeking freedom, not to mention the unfinished business of WPC Yvonne Fletcher and Lockerbie that must rightly underlie our action, it might be hoped that if Mr Bowen does take that ill-advised step too far, the P45s awaiting our heroic servicemen upon their return may be cushioned somewhat by the long overdue spectacle of HMG taking action against Treason. Hopefully, our Prime Minister would not feel the need to ask Shami Chakrabati’s permission to do this, or is our country so far into its death throes that this might not be such an absurd notion? Treachery, seek it out.