In a lengthy speech on media bias, Melanie Phillips examines the awful consequences of biased reporting regarding Israel and Iraq. The speech runs to 17 pages in a pdf document on her website. Here are her observations on the BBC.
But probably the greatest single reason for the obsessive and unbalanced focus on Israel,along with the irrationality over Iraq, is the hostility and prejudice of the BBC’s reporting.
Unlike newspapers, the BBC is trusted as a paradigm of fairness and objectivity. In fact, it views the world from a political position which is similar to that of the Guardian or Independent. In other words, its default position is the left. And since it regards this as the political centre of gravity, it cannot acknowledge its own bias. The BBC is thus a perfectly closed thought system.
When it comes to Israel, it persistently presents it in the worst possible light. It language and tone are loaded, it handles Arab and Israeli interviewees with double standards, and panel discussions are generally skewed with two or three speakers hostile to Israel against one defender or, more often, none at all.
The BBC’s bias against Israel is simply staggering. A 30-minute BBC profile of Arafat
described him as a ‘hero’ and an ‘icon’, and spoke of him as having ‘performer’s flare’, ‘charisma and style’, ‘personal courage’, and being ‘the stuff of legends’. Ariel Sharon, by contrast, was subjected to a mock ‘war crimes’ trial. It constantly presents the Israelis as the aggressors and responsible for the violence in the
Middle East — the opposite of the truth. And it wears its heart on its sleeve for the
Palestinians who are presented not as aggressors motivated to murder by brainwashing in hatred of Israel and the Jews, but as innocent victims. For example, BBC Radio News said of Israel’s raid into Gaza last autumn to stop the rocket attacks from there upon Israeli citizens that this was ‘making Israeli streets safe perhaps, certainly making life miserable and intolerable for the Palestinians of northern Gaza’.
A previous radio news bulletin reporting Israel’s killing of 14 Hamas terrorists was an object lesson in bias. Reporter Alan Johnston’s language made it sound as if the event was on a par with the recent murder of Russian schoolchildren in Beslan. Thus there would be ‘many funerals’ today for the Hamas ‘faithful’, much ‘anger and grief’. And then came the following startling assertion: ‘The movement is struggling to end Israel’s occupation of Gaza and the West Bank’. Thus Johnston presented Hamas as some kind of heroic freedom fighters ‘struggling’ — a loaded word if ever there was one — against colonial oppression. But Hamas of course does not seek merely to end Israel’s presence in Gaza and the West Bank. It aims to eradicate Israel altogether as a Jewish state.
That particular week, the Today programme broadcast a total of 17 items on the abuse of prisoners at Abu Ghraib, four items hostile to Israel, and one item complaining that money for the poor was being diverted to the war on terror. It broadcast no items on the murder of six Israeli soldiers and the subsequent murder of five more in Gaza that week, events which were mentioned in passing; no mention of the fact that Palestinians had played football with the heads they cut off murdered Israeli soldiers and even placed one of the heads on a desk while being interviewed; and merely two items, on the same day, on the decapitation in Iraq of the American hostage Nick Berg. Thus the BBC’s objectivity and sense of balance and, indeed, moral values.
Read the whole thing.
Hat Tip: Power Line