Tuesday, June 13, 2006

The BBC's Rush to Judgements.

As Andrew noted on Biased BBC, the BBC offered widespread coverage to the immediate assumption of Israeli responsibility for the deaths on a Gaza beach on Friday.

The BBC have naturally reported the subsequent Israeli rebuttals. There is a subtle difference though in reporting claims that the deaths were 'not Israel's fault', as the BBC headlines, rather than as the Washington Post reports, not their 'responsibility', but I could let that pass. I could point out though that 'responsibility' is strictly accurate: Israel is not saying that the deaths were a regrettable side effect of an action that could be justified, but that they weren't involved. This is different from, say, a terror organisation admitting responsibility but claiming that the deaths were the fault of their belligerent opponents rather than themselves. It's a somewhat fine distinction, but such is language, and such is the news. I appreciate that with the BBC's global role they would seek a form of 'Easy English', the better to spread their gospel, no doubt, but the distinctions must be, not just observed, but promulgated.

[Update 14/6: Unsurprisingly, the BBC article has now been edited to include the term 'not responsible', along with other edits. That's how it works, folks]

Anyway, more serious is the typical BBC cutting down of a public and official statement to a set of empty soundbytes, when a perfectly clear and good quote is ignored. The WaPo reports:

'"We checked each and every shell that was fired from the sea, the air and from the artillery on the land and we found out that we can track each and every one according to a timetable and according to the accuracy of where they hit the ground.

"We are very sorry for the deaths of the seven Palestinians, but that
does not mean that we are responsible

The BBC message is by comparison garbled by the range of pressure groups they quote first, from the totally unbiased Human Rights Watch to Kofi Annan to the Palestinian 'authority'. Finally we get to the Israelis and their bald denial accompanied by the innuendo that 'they did not say what might have caused the blast.' and another fine bulky quote from those military experts at Human Rights Watch.

I am not sure, but if the Israelis were not involved I see no reason for them to try to unravel the secrets of the latest blockbuster from Pallywood's snuff industry. The BBC would had done much better by quoting the Israelis and their detailed explanation- but instead they preferred 'balance' after their own fashion. I would support any real investigative journalism that factually contradicted the Israeli statement, but I cannot condone this journalism by insinuation and biased quotage from people who already have more than their say on things they are not in a position to know.

And by the way, the BBC have helpfully pointed out that this biased and slanted story is their world number one today, which just goes to show that, as Gerald Ratner might metaphorically say, crap 'sells'. It would be interesting to see if it actually did.

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