Spot the Difference

: the BBC reports on Rumsfeld’s ‘grilling’ (BBC’s word, unscarequoted) in Kuwait. We are informed that Rumsfeld’s ‘voice broke as he delivered prepared comments’, and that the question asked of Rumsfeld ‘brought cheers from some 2,000 fellow soldiers’ (having seen the incident relayed on BBCWorld, cut most unflatteringly for the Secretary- which I judged from comparison with CNN-, I can say it did not at all sound like 2000 voices, but perhaps some of 2000 potential voices). Rumsfeld’s response, that actually the question of the supply of armoured vehicles was a matter of physics rather than money, is converted into a statement that ‘vehicle armour manufacturers were being exhorted to crank up production.’ , which rather misses the point of his comments.

All in all, very shoddy work- deliberately so I would say, in a general media context of misrepresentation. This fact can easily be demonstrated by taking a look at the other side of the coin.

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41 Responses to Spot the Difference

  1. JH says:

    The Beeb report on PM last night made it sound like a mutiny – It was nothing of the sort. As a serviceman I can confirm that any senior officer or pol who puts himself up to be shot at by the other ranks will attract some fast balls – Rumsfeld was no exception. What the Beeb report didn’t mention was that:



  2. JH says:

    1. Nobody was querying the war – They just wanted the tools to do it better.

    2. Rumsfeld had the balls to stand up in public and face a potentially tricky audience.


  3. wibble says:

    Christ almighty.

    Rumsfeld’s performance has been pretty bad.
    He took a relatively polite slating for it.
    This got reported.

    No administration is perfect. If you criticise reporting of evidence of the imperfections it takes away the impact when you highlight genuine misreporting.


  4. JH says:

    The tone of the BBC’s report was clearly skewed. But that doesn’t surprise me – They have made their view of the Iraq war quite clear.


  5. JohninLondon says:

    I am sorely missing Orla. Has she gone off ?


  6. JH says:

    Haven’t you noticed the stern faced disapproval which becomes stronger with every broadcast by Carolyn Hawley? She is the new Orla.

    OT – I though it was a bit much Eddie Mair trying to pin Tony Blairs lack of parliamentary accountability (post Butler in the Speccie) on Michael Howard. Something critical of a labour government? Make sure you give the tory opposition a kicking too.


  7. Sandy P says:

    It was a setup by a reporter. He got in there w/2 soldiers.

    Rush was just talking about it.

    Rummy also told the truth.


  8. Pam says:

    Carolyn is the new Orla? I thought surely Barbara Plett would be heir apparent to Orla. Once she recovered from ol’Yeesir (that’s my) Arafat’s death, of course. I’ll miss Orla terribly if she’s gone for good, though, with her effervescent personality and sparkling eyes! Maybe she’s just on vacation…


  9. Pam says:

    OT – The BBC website founder has received an OBE for his services, a couple of smiley pictures with spouse, proud display of OBE. Too bad a pig with lipstick is still a pig.

    And…on the American front regarding suppression of alternative thought, we have SeeBS none too happy with the advent of the “blog”. Seems there might be need to regulate all this…


  10. dave t says:

    small dead animals has a report that a reporter called Lees got two of his unit’s soldiers (he is an embedded) to ask the questions. So it was a setup by a “reporter”… unusual!


  11. Pam says:

    Matt Drudge has the “set up” story as his headline. Whew, that’s it, then. Case closed. I don’t know about in the UK, but when Drudge features it front and center over here, the controversy invariably dies a quick death. LGF is all over it, too.


  12. JohninLondon says:


    The BIG media-bias story this week looks likely to be the CBS report on Rathergate. Could be fun !


  13. Andrew Bowman says:

    My own feeling is that, even if it was a set up, the small town newspaperman behind it was perfoming a useful role assisting the troops he was embedded with to articulate their righteous dissatisfaction with the shortage of armoured vehicles – as JH points out – they’re not complaining about going – they’re compalaining about going without decent tools for the job – the least that we owe our servicemen and women.

    It makes my blood boil to hear about soldiers being expected to work without the right equipment – it’s not as if it’s a world war where there are general shortages all round – and cases like that of the British tankie chap that was shot at a roadside vehicle checkpoint without body armour or a properly functioning pistol are just dreadful.

    Politicians like Geoff Hoon and Donald Rumsfeld deserve to get their backsides roasted from time to time – to remind them to do their best to serve the people making the real sacrifices on our behalf.


  14. Andrew Bowman says:


    The BBC’s leftwards spin on this is of course shameful as usual…


  15. Pam says:

    JohninLondon – Oh, yeah! They’ve certainly stalled long enough, as you may recall, we were promised the results of the inquiry months ago. As I mentioned above, I believe a hint of the damage control they’re attempting is in the link I provided (hat tip: LGF) a pre-emptive strike against any critisisms by trashing “blogs”, the “internet”. Maybe I’m turning into a conspiracy nut, but if I am, the MSM has done everything possible to feed my suspicions. They know full well what a toasting they’re in for. I give the MSM a few more years in this country before they’re finished. I read somewhere 40% of the population now relies on the internet for news. I myself haven’t watched any of the networks for years.


  16. Someone Who Knows says:

    Pam: “Too bad a pig with lipstick is still a pig”. My my. Don’t tell me you’re just a teeny bit sore at the news website founder having the gall to accept his OBE, rather than turn it down in a leftie huff as expected?


  17. Pam says:

    Somewhere Who Knows – Sore, no, not in the least. Had he done so, I would have considered it rude. The fact that I fully expect even the most hard core leftist to go all elitist when given the opportunity, is beside the point. My comment was directed at the unworthiness of the contents of the website itself, nothing more.


  18. Pam says:

    Andrew – You are, of course, absolutely right. Our soldiers deserve the best, kudos to you for speaking up for them.


  19. JohninLondon says:

    The whole Rumsfeld meeting with the troops is on video at

    at the foot of the page. Then you can see it all in context. Rumsfeld comes across as genial and popular with the troops.

    This is the shape of the internet future. We will NOT be dependent on thr BBC setting their context for what we want to see, putting their loaded voiceover and comments.


  20. JH says:

    The role of the reporter in encouraging the soldiers to question Rumsfeld reminds me of a case where the Beeb has similar form. In 1995 the BBC made a ‘fly on the wall’ documentary on board HMS BRILLIANT. Those on board at the time commented how the presence of the film crew was disruptive. They went out of their way to find sailors complaining and gave such scenes exaggerated importance. They also particularly encouraged and exacerbated friction between male and female ratings. This gave a very unbalanced and unfair view of life onboard.


  21. Allan@Aberdeen says:

    The incident with Donald Rumsfeld, the Fallujah ‘shooting’, and the general negativity of reporters working for the mainstream leads me to question their fundamental outlook – haven’t they heard of patriotism?. If the BBC had reported like this during WW2 we would have been unable to sustain the war effort. It appears to me that such reporters are graduates of the John Pilger School of Slanted Journalism. I don’t expect the BBC to acknowledge the provenance of the questions put to Rumsfeld.


  22. cockney says:


    In World War II we faced an extremely serious threat of military defeat which would have resulted in a catastrophe for Britain and the world.

    In Iraq we had absulutely no prospect of military defeat and the deposed regime only posed a realistic threat to it’s own population. We are supposed to be fighting for the forces of ‘freedom’ and democracy against dictatorship which I would have thought gives an obligation to have the highest moral standards.

    It’s therefore entirely proper to question whether the vast amounts of cash which has been plunged into this is worthwhile and to question the behaviour of troops. Incidentally I’ve seen very little criticism of British troops and strategists, just the Americans. Unless we’ve been formally annexed criticising a foreign army (even that of an allie) isn’t unpatriotic.


  23. Pete _ London says:


    I suspect that if the BBC behaved this way during WW2, staff members would have found themselves locked up. In addition to the above we have the case of the crew of HMS Ark Royal jamming the BBC’s signal to the ship during Op Iraqi Freedom because of its bias. Before any of the usual suspects jump in and accuse us of wanting a jingoistic BBC necessarily in favour of war in general, that’s not the case. If the BBC must exist then I (and I suspect we) simply want straight, unbiased reporting of the facts.

    Newsnight last night interviewed Chief of Defence Staff General Sir Michael Walker. He blames the media for encouraging (my word) attacks against the Black Watch recently. Story here:

    I wonder who he has in mind?


  24. Allan@Aberdeen says:

    From the recordings of the BBC’s broadcasts from WW2 which I have heard, there was no real ‘tone’ of bias, even against the Germans because it was considered that the reasonable accuracy of reporting was essential for the credibility of our stance. e.g. after a night of bombing on London, casualties as they were known were reported – not unereported – because the facts couldn’t be hidden. However, on Iraq and the war on terror, the BBC broadcasts a relentless stream of defeatist invective against our principal ally. For the sake of truth, the BBC must state that the questions put to Rumsfeld (especially the second) were planted by a reporter.


  25. theghostofredken says:

    Allan: The comparison between Iraq and WW2 is completely irrelevant. In the Falklands war the BBC were completely subservient to the censorship of the government which ultimately made their reporting facile and worse still, irrelevant. The military already has adequate controls on embedded reporters as reports are censored for sensitive information that might give an advantage to the enemy. Any further censorship might have prevented the crimes committed by US soldiers at Abu Ghraib leaking out into the public domain and as such they might still be being committed. Is it not better to be seen to be taking the moral high-ground by responding to scandals like Abu Ghraib with positive action? To do nothing would have run the risk of exacerbating the problem and further degrading the Coalition’s standing in a country where the ‘hearts and minds’ of the people are still yet to be won over.


  26. JH says:


    In the Falklands rthe media were not subservient to the censorship of the government – The open reporting of incorrectly fused Argentine bombs was not surprisingly picked up by the enemy and corrected as the subsequent loss of British ships proved.


  27. theghostofredken says:

    JH: That may be true, but every single press report that was sent back to UK was first read by military censor. The press had no line of communication of their own and had to use the Navy’s radios. There was no scope for uncensored reporting.


  28. JH says:

    What really irritates servicemen as the business of HMS Ark Royal’s preference of Sky to BBC showed is the way the BBC seeks to be ‘impartial’ between this country and its enemies. Never referring to ‘our’ forces but to ‘the British’ etc etc. Given that soldiers, sailors and airmen are all TV poll-tax, sorry license fee, payers its not surprising they get rather sensitive about the level of support in the media.


  29. JH says:

    They had to use the Navy’s radios because in those days they had no equivalent capability of their own. What really irritated us as we were planning a hugely complex and challenging campaign was that journalists seemed to think that the Navy’s main priority should be to give them the ooprtunity to file copy.


  30. wally thumper IV says:

    …For the sake of truth, the BBC must state that the questions put to Rumsfeld…were planted by a reporter….
    Yes, but today’s paint-by-numbers BBC isn’t a credible news source, so it won’t happen.

    WSJ Opinion Journal gets it about right:

    Frei will stay well away.


  31. Pete _ London says:


    Of course there is censorship. It has always been the case, in all wars on all sides. Where applied correctly it is for good operational reasons. Abu Ghraib is different and it was quite rightly uncovered. My beef with the coverage is that the BBC and others had this as The Most Shocking Incident in the History of The Universe Ever. Contrast with the non-coverage of the alleged massacre by French troops in Sierra Leone/Ivory Coast recently (can’t remember which and can’t be bothered checking).


  32. Pete _ London says:

    In addition there is the constant drip drip of doom and gloom/disaster/the sky is falling in Iraq, much of which is without justification. Fallujah was a truly brilliant military operation (compare with Grozny) yet the minute the guns went silent the BBC’s line was that Zarqawi had gone and the ‘insurgency’ was alive and well. The media knows the power it eventually wielded during Vietnam and is attempting to do the same. Given what is at stake much of the MSM can and should be regarded as fifth columnists and treated as such.


  33. gwelaf says:

    Re the Falklands War my recollection is that although corresopondents with the British task force did not appear to betray an anti-British bias (not surprising considering their lives depended on the people they were with) the Beeb at home continued its stance of knocking the defence of UK interests under the guise of impartiality. La plus ca change la plus c’est la meme chose.


  34. Pam says:

    The problem with taking the high moral ground (Abu Ghraib) is that it’s useless. I would have preferred the whole, ugly affair been hushed up. Not because I appprove of the behavior, but because the resulting media frenzy surrounding the events painted ALL our soldiers with the same brush, thus endangering them further. When we DID publicy deal with it, there was no let up in the criticism, I don’t recall any pats on the back from the BBC or their like when we took action. Witness the latest outrage against one of our soldiers. I speak of the Marine who shot the “freedom fighter”, whom he truly believed was playing possum. He reacted as he was trained to, had the b**t**d been alive, he would surely have lobbed a grenade, and the Marine in question would have saved his fellows. The poor kid is now facing an investigation. Does anyone seriously believe these types of incidents haven’t been part and parcel of warfare through the ages? I’m sick to death of the embeds.


  35. JH says:


    Contrast with the two Irish Guardsmen killed in action in Apr 2003 near Basra. A ‘dead’ Fedayeen jumped up and shot them – We never heard the howls of outrage for them.


  36. Christian says:

    Read that the questions were planted by reporter to make his own news. Check these links:

    I hope the BBC will post a follow-up.


  37. Pam says:

    JH – Of course not! I’ve noticed the reporting of incidents concerning OUR soldiers generally follows a predictable pattern – screaming headline(the 2×4 to get our attention),gruesome details (let’s see JUST how much more pain the immediate family can take)following through to the final resting place where all these stories end – ruminating over the wisdom of the action in question, speculation of what the soldiers did to bring this on themselves and mulling over the possibility of bringing criminal charges against the government due to the illegality of the war. An optional, but not mandatory, bonus would be a public demonstration organized by individuals who have absolutely no relation to the dead soldier(s), to include saturation coverage by the media. Outrage against the perps? No, that’s not in the play book.


  38. Allan@Aberdeen says:

    I would be grateful if someone could explain the purpose of the embeds and any advantages to our troops (UK and US) of their presence.


  39. Pam says:

    I would too, Allan, and I’de like to hear of the advantages directly from the soldiers who are forced to have these bozo’s tagging along.


  40. Alan Massey says:

    theghostofredken: “Any further censorship might have prevented the crimes committed by US soldiers at Abu Ghraib leaking out into the public domain and as such they might still be being committed.”

    Rubbish, the US army was taking action against the perpetrators of Abu Ghraib months before the media started orgasming over the pictures.


  41. JohninLondon says:

    Alan Massey

    As you say, they launched a top-level enquiry within 36 hours of the first info being received at senior level – back in January. With people being taken off post etc.

    The media did not start their endless-loop of the Abu Ghraib material until the summer.