Last night’s BBC World Service broadcast two notable items for insomniacs. From Our Own Correspondent aired an old episode, first heard in 2007, by Martin Bell.
As a BBC correspondent Martin Bell had been “trained to be objective”, but later wondered whether such a thing could really be achieved.
TV news is the most powerful medium that has yet been devised, he said. Politicians and generals take account of it and adapt their policies accordingly. He spoke about impartiality, and warned against ‘false equivalency,’ and after giving what seemed to me a very shaky example concerning Hitler, (he persecuted the Jews, but he rescued the economy) he concluded that reporters should be aware of the moral ground and not stand equally between good and evil. But all the time questions were begged, and answers were not forthcoming. I’d like to have heard his view on another item that disturbed my slumbers. An episode of Hard Talk featuring Michael Morpurgo. I’ve heard most of the content before. He dragged out the incident during his infamous visit to Gaza, where he saw a sight that convinced him that the IDF deliberately target children. He wouldn’t hear any of the multifaceted explanations that might have shed new light on what he saw then, and he obviously hasn’t changed his mind now. Stephen Sackur even had a go, and accused him, gently, of naivety. I see from my earlier article I noted that Paxo also ‘had a go’ at him on Newsnight.
“Children were innocently picking up rubble. They weren’t shooting at anyone, they weren’t throwing stones, yes there was an exclusion zone, but a young man was shot in the leg, and that means the Israelis deliberately target children.”
He felt very very strongly about it, so like a good schoolteacher, he felt it was his privilege, nay, his duty as a famous storyteller, to side with the Palestinians against the Israelis.
I can’t say I warm to indignant smugness, especially when it’s wrong-headed and comes from a sentimental school-teacherish bloke who dresses only in clashing shades of red.
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