The roots of suspicion.

A reader writes:

Unfortunately, I missed the reporter’s name, but this morning on BBC radio Five-Live, Nicky Campbell was discussing the fate of Saddam Hussein, now that he is to be turned over to the new Iraqi government, with a BBC reporter in Iraq. After talking about how whatever is done with him must be very public, the reporter said: “Iraqis won’t believe what they are told. They will only believe what they see, given everything they have been told by the coalition over the last 15 months.”

The BBC would have us believe that Iraqi suspicion of authority and government claims derives not from a lifetime of living under a tyrannical dictatorship, but instead from living for 15 months under the CPA. What a joke.

Spot the odd man out. takes a look at the way the BBC phrased the potted biographies of the participants in a roundup of views on Iraq. I would have thought this trick was now so well known as to be unusable. Seems I was wrong.

Why not search under “bbc” on the blog while you’re there?

Why the sudden interest?

Peter writes (regarding the media study mentioned in the post two down):

Following a link provided by a regular leftie Biased-BBC hater (supposedly to point to the error of your ways), leads to this Pilger screed:

link to “How the Media Cover for Israel”.

Pilger mentions the Glasgow Media Group Middle East media coverage study currently in the news. Check the date. The ‘new’ study is actually from May 2002.

Why the sudden interest? Well, the study is being published as part of a new book by leftie publisher Pluto Press. The BBC is effectively hawking the book.

Unfairenheit coverage at the BBC


Moore can rely on them not to point out that the reaction or ‘backlash‘ against his Fahrenheit 9/11 film goes far beyond Republican loyalists. To name but three Democrat-oriented media figures commonly accessed on the internet- Roger Simon, Jeff Jarvis and Christopher Hitchens. I don’t know about Hitchens and Simon, but Jarvis doesn’t plan on voting for Bush- yet he flays Moore’s film; absolutely flays it.

Simon, a novelist, liberal on just about everything bar Islamofascism, says ‘What bothers is me is that the public is going to swallow this kind of propaganda which, although it is miles below Riefenstahl aesthetically, is nearly her equal in factual distortion’

Reasonable concerns, I’d have thought, from people with liberal credentials, yet the Beeb prefer to say that it’s only Republicans or ‘supporters of President George Bush’ who have ‘few kind words’ to say about Moore. The worst judgement they can find to quote from a liberal source is that Moore’s argument is ‘imperfect‘. The worst technical critique point that Moore sometimes ‘relies on Leni Riefenstahl-style sensationalism’. So, imperfect in argument and sometimes sensationalistic? Sounds like the National Front describing Mein Kampf.

Another interesting fact about the BBC’s reporting here are the quotes they leave out from the sources they use. For instance, A.O. Scott, the Washington Times critic mentioned by the Beeb praising Moore lavishly (and also featuring in Moore’s commercials for the film), also described Fahrenheit 9/11 as ‘an angry polemic’‘rashly overstated’ among other unflattering terms. The website Moorelies reviews the reviews and concludes ‘with Fahrenheit 9/11, even the.. ardent fans of Moore’s message are coming to consensus that the methods he employs are to be mistrusted- at best.’ – which is roughly the opposite perspective offered by the Beeb report, where the critics are the partisan ones, not the admirers, and suspect techniques are a glitch in an otherwise top hole film.

(ps. I have a slightly more speculative post on this at my blog if you’re interested)

Update: ABC ask a few tricky questions of Michael Moore (via A.S. ); Jeff Jarvis appears on CNN to discuss Fahrenheit 9/11.

Britons confused

: under the headline ‘Britons confused about mid-east’, BBC Ceefax informs us that

“A new survey has shown that many people in Britain think the Palestinians are occupying Israeli territory and not the other way around.”

Lest the ridiculousness of any such thought not strike you sufficiently, it immediately adds,

“Despite extensive media coverage of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, some Britons think Palestinians are refugees from Afghanistan.”

Clearly, the two ideas are at a very similar level of absurdity.

If you read on, you will learn that these are in fact the conclusions of the Glasgow Media studies group (well known for its hard-left stance, though this was not mentioned), but the casual browser might easily get the impression that this was the BBC’s own view (after all, the new survey ‘has shown it’) and though such a casual browser might be just the sort of person the report has in mind, I think they would not be wrong.

Some Britons in the nation’s Broadcasting Centre seem a bit confused about their duty of impartiality. The question of who occupied whose land when, who started the various wars, and how far back in history one looks is very much the issue in that part of the world. Various views are possible. A private media concern may choose a given line. A publicly-funded agency whose charter demands impartiality should not present a given view as fact.

Meanwhile, despite the efforts of the BBC (and the Glasgow Media group), I suspect that Britons will continue to be ‘confused’ as different people focus on different events in the region’s long and troubled history.

Shoulder to shoulder – with Hamas.

There is much discussion on Instapundit of a three-year old but still interesting story originally from the Jerusalem Post. A BBC correspondent, Faid Abu Shimalla, was described on the Hamas website as having said at a function attended by no less a dignitary than the late Sheikh Ahmed Yassin that journalists and media organisations were “waging the campaign shoulder-to-shoulder together with the Palestinian people.” (Via Free Will Blog.)

A quick search for “Shimalla” on the BBC website gave me no results.

UPDATE: New commenter Janus (followed by regular commenter PJF) has complained that the quotes originally round the headline to this post had no business being there. He’s absolutely right. They got there by means of an drafting change (from a quote to my opinion expressing surprise that the BBC rep was exchanging compliments with the leader of Hamas) that wasn’t followed through carefully enough. I have also now added a dash, to better get across the notion of surprise.

While I’m here, I gather that an alternative English spelling of the name Shimalla is Shamalla.

Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence

unless you are, like the Beeb, willfully ignorant. Why else would Jonathan Marcus or Jon Leyne consider that the 9/ll Commission has weakened Bush’s case for going to war? Reporting on this story has been very selective. The 9/11 Commission has found circumstantial links to Saddam and al Qaida. What they have not been able to discover is a hand-in-glove linkage. To say Probe Rules Out 9/11 Links is to mislead.

Anti-terror expert Andrew McCarthy exposes the shaky findings of the Commission here. John Hinderaker does what one of those fabled BBC ‘analysts’ could easily have done if so inclined — simply report and reflect on the numerous instances of contact between al Qaida operatives and Saddam. This is an exchange from yesterday’s 9/11 Commission hearing between Commissioner Fred Fielding and US Attorney, Pat Fitzgerald (who indicted bin Ladin in 1998 as a Manhattan federal prosecutor). See how quickly his testimony exposes the weakness of this report with which the BBC is so enamored.

This testimony is “regarding the allegation in the 1998 bin Laden indictment about an understanding between Iraq and al Qaeda:

FIELDING: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

For the panel, I really have very specific questions about a specific subject.

One of the hazy questions that surrounds Osama bin Laden and Al Qaida is really its relationship, if any, with Iraq and with Saddam Hussein. We’ve often heard that Osama bin Laden would not have been a natural ally, for religious reasons, for the composition and nature of Saddam Hussein’s regime. And our staff report, as you just heard, basically says there’s no credible evidence of any cooperation between the two. However, there seems to be some indicia that there may have been. And, Mr. Fitzgerald, I’m delighted you’re here, because this first question really I wanted to ask specifically to you, because it relates to the indictment of Osama bin Laden in the spring of 1998.

This is before the U.S. Embassy bombings in East Africa and the administration indicted Osama bin Laden. And the indictment, which was unsealed a few months later, reads, “Al Qaida reached an understanding with the government of Iraq that Al Qaida would not work against that government, and that on particular projects, specifically including weapons development, Al Qaida would work cooperatively with the government of Iraq.”

So my question to you is what evidence was that indictment based upon and what was this understanding that’s referenced in it?

FITZGERALD: And the question of relationship between Iraq and Al Qaida is an interesting one. I don’t have information post-2001 when I got involved in a trial, and I don’t have information post-September 11th. I can tell you what led to that inclusion in that sealed indictment in May [1998] and then when we superseded, which meant we broadened the charges in the Fall, we dropped that language.

We understood there was a very, very intimate relationship between Al Qaida and the Sudan. They worked hand in hand. We understood there was a working relationship with Iran and Hezbollah, and they shared training. We also understood that there had been antipathy between Al Qaida and Saddam Hussein because Saddam Hussein was not viewed as being religious.

We did understand from people, including Al-Fadl — and my recollection is that he would have described this most likely in public at the trial that we had, but I can’t tell you that for sure; that was a few years ago — that at a certain point they decided that they wouldn’t work against each other and that we believed a fellow in Al Qaida named [Mamdouh Mahmud Salim, aka Abu Hajer al-Iraqi], tried to reach a, sort of, understanding where they wouldn’t work against each other. Sort of, “the enemy of my enemy is my friend.”

And that there were indications that within Sudan when Al Qaida was there — which Al Qaida left in the summer of ’96 or spring ’96 — there were efforts to work on joint — you know, acquiring weapons. Clearly, Al Qaida worked with the Sudan in getting those weapons in the national defense force there and the intelligence service. There were indications that Al-Fadl had heard from others that Iran was involved. And they also had heard that Iraq was involved.

The clearest account from Al-Fadl as a Sudanese was that he had dealt directly with the Sudanese intelligence service, so we had first-hand knowledge of that.

We corroborated the relationship with Iran to a lesser extent but to a solid extent. And then we had information from Al-Fadl, who we believe was truthful, learning from others that there were also was efforts to try to work with Iraq. That was the basis for what we put in that indictment. Clearly, we put Sudan in the first order at that time as being the partner of Al Qaida.

We understood the relationship with Iran but Iraq, we understood, went from a position where they were working against each other to a standing down against each other. And we understood they were going to explore the possibility of working on weapons together. That’s my piece of what I know. I don’t represent to know everything else, so I can’t tell you, well, what we’ve learned since then. But there was that relationship that went from opposing each other to not opposing each other to possibly working with each other.

FIELDING: Thank you. That’s very helpful.

Very helpful indeed. I wonder if the BBC will report any of this 9/11 Commission news?