If I were asked to indicate the single most damning evidence of BBC bias and moral cowardice in recent years, I think I might pick the way the BBC reported the capture of Mohammed Abbas last April. In the course of the report they had to mention the murder of Leon Klinghoffer, that being the crime for which the Palestine Liberation Front, which Abbas led, was most well known. Watching the successive stealthy alterations to the BBC story was a bit like watching the movie Groundhog Day. Even under pressure from a wave of outraged emails prompted by links from Andrew Sullivan and Instapundit, it took the Beeb four tries to bring themselves to describe the crime in plain words. This post runs through the different versions:
From “died during” to “led to the death of” to “was killed” to “An elderly American tourist in a wheelchair, Leon Klinghoffer, was killed during the hijacking of the Achille Lauro, and his body thrown into the sea.”
Instapundit tracks the evolution of a BBC story on the murder of Leon Klinghoffer.
How much has the BBC learned since that apogee of the stealth edit? We had a chance to find out yesterday when Abbas died in US custody.
In this report, “Cruise ship hijacker dies in Iraq” it says, “He was convicted in absentia by an Italian court for the attack, in which wheelchair-bound American tourist Leon Klinghoffer was killed.” Well, let us be thankful for small mercies. True, with typical delicacy the BBC prefers the blandly passive “was killed” (which suggests a near-random combat death) to stating what actually happened, which is that Mr Klinghoffer was cold-bloodedly selected, shot in the head and then his corpse pitched overboard, wheelchair and all. But at least this time the BBC managed to avoid saying that he had “died” during the hijack as if he had had a heart attack or something.
Next up we have Abbas: Palestinian throwback by Paul Reynolds. On the good side it does say clearly that Klinghoffer was murdered. It also sneaks in the word “terrorist” (as part of the package “militant or terrorist”). In other places it is standard BBC-speak, carefully explaining that “Abu Abbas was from a time when the West Bank and Gaza were wholly under Israeli control and Palestinians could not carry out attacks inside Israel very easily” (the poor lambs) and bending over backwards to say that finding him in Iraq was no big deal. Heavens, he could have ended up anywhere. We also hear that Abbas’s faction was “quite daring.”
Finally, I do not know what Reynolds is talking about in this bit:
The Italians had let him go when US fighter planes forced down an Egyptian aircraft in which he was travelling after the hijack ended.
They were forced to make amends after widespread protests.
I know the outline of the crisis in relations between the US and Italy that followed the forcing down of the Egyptian aircraft. But what amends did the US make, to whom did it make them and who did the forcing?