Saturday, July 22, 2006

May 7 Media Critique: "Report Critical of BBC Mideast Coverage"

The focus here will be HonestReportings latest efforts, but occasionally I’ll go back to past ‘Media Critiques’ to highlight a particular tactic used by HonestReporting, or sometimes just for a laugh when we see what incredible distortions HonestReporting must perform to raise the spectre of media bias against Israel. This is one of former.

The May 7, 2006 ‘critique’ was in honour of the BBCs release of its investigation into the impartiality of its Israel-Palestine conflict coverage. HonestReportings main take was that the report recommended that the BBC use the term “terrorism”, which forms its byline. This has long been a major focus of HonestReporting.

And what is the heading of the HonestReporting story?- “Report Critical of BBC Mideast Coverage”.

Sounds like HonestReporting has scored a win. Or has it?

So, what is the nature of this critical report? What are the criticisms? Let’s start with the overall assessment of the BBC performance, according to the review there is,

  • little to suggest systematic or deliberate bias…….there was evidence of a commitment to be fair, accurate and impartial
  • the news reporting from location…is of high quality
  • outstanding examples of current affairs programmes…..

HonestReporting then highlights this excerpt,
gaps in coverage, analysis, context and perspective. There is also a failure to maintain consistently the BBC's own established editorial standards, including on language. There are shortcomings arising from the elusiveness of editorial planning, grip and oversight. In summary, the finding is that BBC coverage does not consistently constitute a full and fair account of the conflict but rather, in important respects, presents an incomplete and in that sense misleading picture.”.

A tantalizing finish to that paragraph. What is this misleading picture? HonestReporting doesn’t fill in this gap for it’s loyal band of brain-dead readers. But let me. The report lists a few of these gaps,

  • there was little reporting of the difficulties faced by Palestinians in their daily lives…
  • failure to convey adequately the disparity in the Israeli and Palestinian experience, reflecting the fact that one side is in control and the other lives under occupation…

Ah, so that’s the BBCs “misleading picture”! It doesn’t show viewers/listeners just much Palestinians suffer under Israels brutal occupation. If only HonestReporting would devote a little time to addressing that bit of media bias.

The exposure of the real bias in BBC coverage can only inspire this limp evasion from HonestReporting,
Of course, in a report of this size and scope, many parties are able to find positives and negatives, something reflected in the reaction of both the press and other interested parties”.

But not to be deterred or let down it’s baying mobs who have been primed to expect to feast on a smorgasbord of proven BBC anti-Israel bias, HonestReporting refers to a Times (UK) story on the reports release. The Times notes, as part of the reports criticisms, that Israelis get more ‘air-time’ than Palestinians do in BBC coverage. HonestReporting “is sure that this will be greeted with a healthy degree of skepticism by its readership”. Of course they will, as HonestReporting has been telling them for years of the BBCs unending bias against Israel, in complete defiance of the facts.

Hilariously, then HonestReporting adopts the classic ‘begging-the-question’ style of illogical debating. Again it quotes the Times,
as the Times points out, the ‘references to “identifiable shortcomings” surprised BBC News executives, who are more used to accusations that their coverage is routinely anti-Israel’”.

How mendacious can you get? BBC News executives are used to accusations of anti-Israel bias because HonestReporting goads it’s gullible readership into deluging the BBC with ill-founded complaints of bias, then uses the fact of such complaints to darkly hint that there must be some basis for accusations despite an independent investigation finding the very opposite of HonestReportings frequent claims.

This just demonstrates again, that despite HonestReportings claims to support “factual, impartial and fair reporting", it actually wants just the opposite. If it really did value honesty, this May 7 ‘critique’ would instead be titled, “Report Critical of BBC Mideast Coverage: Biased Against Palestinians.”

Fat chance.