Posted: 08 Jan 2014 05:30 PM PST
This article first appeared on the excellent Outrage Site
The reality is that the BBC has always been a spokesman of the ruling class. In the 1950’s and 1960’s it banned the War Game about the reality of nuclear war and its Irish and anti-colonial coverage was equally bad.
|Theodor Herzl – didn’t care about Dreyfuss and believed that anti-Semitism was good for the Jews|
My most recent experience of the BBC is Simon Schama’s appalling History of the Jews. It was nothing of the kind, it was a History of Zionism. I complained to the BBC and its gone to the BBC Trust, filled with establishment types. It portrayed the Dreyfuss Affair, a pivotal area in fighting anti-semitism, which Zionism says is impossible though Theodore Herzl’s eyes. But Herzl had nothing to do with the Affair, the only Zionist who did, Bernard Lazarre, resigned from the Zionist Actions Committee and Herzl didn’t even mention it in his booklet The Jewish State published nearly two years late in 1896. In this 4 volume Diaries has mentioned it cursorily
Instead I pointed out that Herzl sought and got, a friendly review of his pamphlet from Edouard Drumont, author of the Eternal Jew, which on its first print run sold a 100,000 copies. Although Drumont was a dedicated anti-Semite he was also a devout Zionist. Schama’s only response to this was that it came from the ‘unsavoury’ part of the anti-Zionist movement until I provided chapter and verse for him. Like most ruling class and especially Zionist historians, they know very little, though even most Zionist historians consider the tale of Herzl’s Zionism starting with the Dreyfuss Affair a myth. Not so the BBC which stood by this most reactionary of Zionist story tellers.
The BBC has a history of saying nothing when Gaza is under siege, but the moment a rocket is fired they spring into action. Israeli deaths merit attention, Palestinian lives are cheap. So it was till the end days of Apartheid. During the period up to the early ’70s the BBC was happy to broadcasat sporting events from South Africa.
In an article ‘BBC admits pandering to Israeli propaganda‘ byAmena Saleem of The Electronic Intifada (London 14 December 2012)
Amena Saleem cites the Israeli justification for not mentioning Israeli attacks on Gaza, an unarmed enclave, unless it is in the context of Israel’s defence:
‘In an email sent on 21 November to a member of the UK-based Palestine Solidarity Campaign,
and seen by this writer, the BBC Complaints Department explains in some
detail how the broadcaster had gone out of its way to lay the blame for
the violence of the previous eight days on the Palestinians.
The email, signed off “BBC Complaints,” states: “Since the news of
Israeli air strikes in Gaza our coverage has pointed out on numerous
occasions that the attacks are in response to recent rocket attacks on
Israel from the Gaza Strip.”
It adds: “Our initial online report on 14 November pointed to how the
attack on Ahmed Said Khalil al-Jabari and another Hamas official
‘follows a wave of rocket attacks against Israel from the territory’ and
how ‘the United States said it supported Israel’s right to
self-defense, and condemned militant rocket attacks on southern
Seemingly oblivious to or unfazed by the inaccuracy of its own reporting, the message goes on: “On the BBC’s News at Ten
that same evening, the BBC’s Gaza and West Bank correspondent Jon
Donnison’s report explained that ‘Israel says the strike followed a wave
of rocket attacks from inside Gaza,’ before hearing directly from
Israeli Army Spokeswoman Lt. Col. Avital Leibovich
as she explained how ‘I can just elaborate that the target of the
operation is to protect Israeli civilians. The same lives of Israelis
that have been under constant rocket attack for the past year.’”
In a twist of almost comic absurdity, given eight days of reporting
which squarely blamed Hamas for the violence and equated the fear caused
by the 12-pound and 90-pound Palestinian rockets with the terror
induced by Israel’s 500-pound to 2,000-pound bombs, the email ends with:
“We will continue to report on developments from the region in a fair,
accurate and impartial way.”
All BBC journalists stuck to Israel’s official line that the
assassination of 14 November, and what followed, was in retaliation to
Palestinian rockets — and conveniently omitted from their reports the
fact that Israel had been engaged in killing Palestinian children in the
days immediately preceding al-Jabari’s execution.
Israel’s 10 November 2012 killing of 18-year-old Ahmad Dardasawi was not deemed newsworthy by the BBC.
(Ashraf Amra / APA images)
The Palestine Solidarity Campaign wrote to the BBC’s flagship news and current affairs program Today on 12 November to ask why it had not covered the killing of the five Palestinian teenagers on 8 and 10 November.
The program’s assistant editor, Dominic Groves, wrote back to say:
“Even in the space of a three hour program it is not always possible to
cover every development in a story — especially one as long running and
complex as the one in the Middle East.”
Time was the excuse I was given when the BBC couldn’t defend Schama’s lies.
And yet the killing of five young boys by Israel isn’t a “development in a story;” it is news in itself. When the Today
program can give prominent coverage to a Palestinian rocket attack on a
bus in April 2011, which killed a 16-year-old Israeli schoolboy, how
can Groves claim the same program has no room to report on the slaughter
of five Palestinian boys by the Israeli army? (“Israeli boy Daniel Viflic dies after rocket hits bus,” 18 April 2011).
The Miners’ Strikes
|Police Mobs at Orgreave|
Yet none of this should be a surprise. At the time of the General Strike it supported the Government and Lord Reith, its Director-General, refused to broadcast a peaceful message from the Archbishop of Canterbury.
In the 1984-5 strike it dealt with Police violence at Orgreave, where all the police cases of ‘assault’ were thrown out, by the simple method of reversing the video of Police attacking Miners and Minters defending themselves. What was broadcast appeared to be the Miners attacking the Police and the Police responding. The corrupt South Yorkshire Police that the BBC had said nothing about.
|Mandela whose death the BBC did much to trivialise|
One of the most significant events of 2013 was the memorial for Nelson Mandela, marred by the bogus interpreter, who made random movements while standing alongside those paying tribute.
Whilst BBC covered Mandela’s death and the aftermath extensively – as we would hope for one of the great figures of the 20th Century. It also took delight in reporting on fake signer Thamsanqa Jantjie.
The more the BBC spoke about the bogus signer though – at the detriment of other news – the more irritating it became. Not because it was frivolous – we are used to the BBC being self-indulgent and frivolous – but because over recent years the broadcaster has become more and more like Thamsanqa Jantjie.
My view is that the BBC is simply not transmitting an accurate account of reality. Over the space of the year it has ignored significant news and spun events to present something quite different from what those involved witnessed.
Ignoring, muting or giving a distorted representation of news would be a serious accusation for any broadcaster in the UK, as news programmes are obliged to be balanced. For the BBC, however, it is an even more serious matter.
One of the key reasons that the BBC is such a tarnished brand is that it harboured one of the most prolific paedophiles in the world. The tarnishing was exacerbated by its flagship news programme Newsnight spiking an exposé of Savile, who was instead featured in two nauseating tributes during prime time Christmas slots in 2011.
After the Newsnight spike came to light, in 2012, the BBC was on the back foot and it was completely on its arse later that year after Newsnight broadcasted an ‘investigative journalism’ piece accusing an unnamed Tory of abusing children. Jigsaw identification, made easy by Twitter, revealed the figure to be Lord McAlpine, who turned out to be the wrong man but did prove to be promiscuously litigious.
Many of us who grew up with Newsnight being as vibrant as The Day Today – which was inspired by Paxman’s abrasive approach – have been concerned about how timid the programme has become since the Savile spike and the McAlpine McScrewup. I would go so far as to compare it to a whining, castrated dog licking its groin and rather more interested in its wounds than the world around it.
Some have linked BBC news’ ongoing timidity to Tory grandee Chris Patten being helicoptered in as chair of the BBC Trust. Such is its apparent reluctance to question domestic political decisions that it does sometimes seem that the broadcaster has become a public-funded PR agency for a failing government.
This view was reinforced in 2013 when Tory Party chairman Grant Shapps / Michael Green / Sebastian Fox suggested that the BBC would lose income if it doesn’t free itself from bias. The most bizarre thing about that statement was not that Grant Shapps has at least three identities but the suggestion that the BBC has a left wing bias. If the BBC is currently left wing my name is Corinne Stockheath.
Margaret Thatcher and her husband Dennis both characterised BBC journalists as “pinkos” but they can rest assured that this is far from the case these days. If it were still the case then student protests, in which young people were beaten by the police, might have been broadcasted rather than eventually posted online with the focus shifted to a wheelie bin fire.
A diligent broadcaster would have also put such protests in context by examining how student dissent is being stamped down and politically aware students are being spied on by the police. The BBC did not.
If the BBC is “pinko” or even neutral we might have expected it to broadcast a confrontational interview with Grant Shapps about the allegation that fraud may have been committed within one of his business ventures. Channel 4 News revealed that although the police have dropped an investigation into past business affairs of Shapps, lawyers who advised the police say some of his company’s activities may have amounted to “an offence of fraud“.
If the BBC was a neutral broadcaster working on behalf of the public that funds it – let alone “pinko,” we might have expected it to broadcast the mass protest about hospital cuts and the sell-off of the NHS, brokered by a political party that hasn’t won an election for 22 years. BBC journalists were at the Tory Party Conference, outside which the demonstration took place, but throughout the day neglected the 50,000 marchers.
Throughout 2013 we have had very little debate on BBC news programmes about the relentless asset stripping of the NHS and a much greater focus on individual examples of poor practice. The BBC’s coverage of the NHS in 2013 reminded me of a spoilt child trying to get its more virtuous sibling into trouble to get itself out of trouble. Helping to undermine the NHS in the hope of saving its own skin, frankly, is sickening and will not be forgotten by the public.
|Police mobs at Orgreave – the BBC hid behind the Police|
The BBC will not redeem itself in the eyes of the public by towing the party line on policies the government wants to push and citizens oppose. The only way the BBC can redeem itself for Savile and the McAlpine fiasco is to produce accurate, balanced news for those people who pay them. That is not the Tory Party. It is not Grant Shapps. It is not Sebastian Fox. It is the British public. To ignore and distort news to appease a government is as outrageous as the BBC hiding news about Savile to protect itself.
By Will Black, who writes for the Huffington Post and has a background in anthropology and mental health care