Saturday, July 22, 2006

Bias at the BBC

Comparing the BBC News 24 coverage of the Middle East crisis with that of Sky News (two channels I watch here in the UK), it's hard not to come to the conclusion that the BBC is once again showing a degree of partisan bias that one - perhaps naively - might not expect from a publicly-owned corporation that's supposed to be accountable to its viewers. The BBC's reporting of the crisis seems decisively slanted against Israel, with most of the emphasis being placed on the evacuation from Lebanon of British citizens, the hardship endured by Lebanese civilians, the consequences of the Israeli bombing, and the allegedly "disproportionate" nature of the Israeli counter-offensive. There is hardly a word about the root cause of the conflict - the long-persisting murderous incursions and rocket attacks from Hizbullah, which have eroded the security of Israel's peaceful civilian population to such an extent that any country faced with a similar predicament would have to react, and react decisively. In the attitude of the BBC presenters there is a tone of barely disguised hostility towards the state of Israel and its official representatives - a tone that the medium of television reveals all too plainly.

The BBC coverage of the conflict is slanted in other ways, too. At Biased BBC, Ed Thomas documents the case of a recent statement by Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury. The statement was reported in international media, including Reuters, and it condemned Hizbullah for using Lebanese civilians as human shields. The BBC, however, substantially altered the emphasis of the Archbishop's remarks, leading the story as
Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams has joined calls for the UK to press for a ceasefire in the Middle East.
As Ed Thomas shows, there were further adjustments in the original version of the BBC report - his conclusion is that "they are not responding to a changing news situation but are gerrymandering the headlines for the coming 24 hours."

On a related note, Michelle Malkin links to a blog that's sharply critical of the BBC's recently-screened report on the Israeli bombing of South Beirut,
which clearly blames Israel for destroying part of Beirut, then notes Israel’s assertion that Hezbollah centered its military planning in these civilian areas and thus had to be struck to take out legitimate military targets. The Beeb’s man fails to note how typical that is of terrorist groups–they attack civilians and then hide among them. By hiding among Lebanese civilians while attack Israeli civilians, isn’t responsibility for Beirut’s destruction on Hezbollah? Not according to the Beeb’s man in Beirut, who insists that Israel has to prove its actions were proportional to the threat.
Post a Comment