And they say the age of deferential interviewing is dead.

[I wrote most of this post on Thursday 24th. Unfortunately I did not have time until today to dot the i’s and cross the t’s and post it.]

Deference was alive and well when James Naughtie interviewed Joe Wilson on Radio Four this morning. Naughtie started risibly by describing Valerie Plame as a “deep cover” agent – clearly he had no idea what the phrase meant. I laughed out loud, but that isn’t my complaint. My complaint is that throughout the interview Naughtie gave no indication that he had ever read or heard anything other than the standard American Democrat line on this affair. Republican “takes” on the Wilson/Plame affair abound. I referred to this WSJ article to write this post; hundreds of others would have done. Yet my impression is that Naughtie’s only significant source was a quick skim of Wilson’s own book.

All this is very much an American scandal. I don’t claim to have followed it in any detail. This Q & A by Paul Reynolds gives the basic story. (The American Expatriate, who has followed this affair, says it’s pretty good, and given the somewhat acrimonious exchanges on this very issue between Messrs Callahan and Reynolds in earlier AmEx posts and comments, that is not empty praise.) The point I want to make is that I am aware, just from casual mentions and links from Republican-inclined blogs, of all sorts of aspects to the story that don’t seem to have reached the Today programme. For instance it is all over the news that Bob Woodward of Watergate fame has come out and said that he knew Valerie Plame was an agent and it wasn’t Scooter Libby that told him. No mention of Woodward from Naughtie, although of course he did mention Scooter Libby.

When I became aware that this might make a B-BBC post, I scribbled down as best I could various of Naughtie’s words that caught my attention. My transcriptions are reasonably accurate but I don’t know if I can quite get across the extent to which nearly everything Naughtie said came across as being a prompt to allow Wilson to get across some talking point from his message. Because this is a blog about the BBC rather than about US politics, I have concentrated on Naughtie’s supportive questioning rather than Wilson’s answers. Here are some examples:

  • Naughtie asks in tones of sombre shared disbelief at presidential folly, “Why did the president use it?” [i.e. Why did the Persident refer to the disputed claim that Iraq sought uranium yellowcake in Niger in a speech.]
    Wilson answers righteously, as Naughtie must have known he would, “That’s a question for the president.”
    Naughtie responds with a chummy laugh: “Ah, but he’s not here so you’ll have to do.”
  • “What conclusions did you reach?” In principle, questions like this that just encourage the interviewee to talk more are fine – we listen to interviews with people to see what they have to say, after all. But in this interview there was almost nothing else.
  • “So the bureacracy was being harnessed to The Cause?” Naughtie’s speech tone while he said “the cause” was heavily ironic. The only possible answer to this was yes, they were, and that Wilson duly gave.
  • This next one was a contender for the toady of the week award: “Reading your book, it’s impossible to miss almost the sense of shock…” [that anyone would be so wicked.]
  • “Are you still mystified that this happens?” [Again referring to the wicked, wicked ways of Capitol Hill]
  • “Explain (apart from your personal distress) why that matters so much?” Another prompt, this time for Wilson to say how dreadful it was to reveal his wife’s cover. The personal distress bit was said in tones more appropriate to a bomb victim.
  • “When you became a hate figure…” At this point, only my iron digestion, the result of wholesome living, prevented a distressing breakfast time event.

I didn’t expect or want to hear an unremittingly hostile interview with Mr Wilson. But I would have expected to hear one or two questions that raised issues that might at least speed up his heartbeat for a minute. Such as “Why did you tell the Washington Post that you had seen documents suggesting an Iraq-Niger deal (and recognised them at once as obvious forgeries) months before you could have possibly seen them, since they did not reach US intelligence until later – and if the answer to that is a fault of memory, why not extend your tolerance for faulty recall to Scooter Libby?”

Or “What do you say to the criticisms made of your behaviour by the report of the Senate Intelligence Committee, including several Democratic senators? This Committee said that nepotism had been involved in your wife’s recommendation of you for the Niger mission, when you had said that she had had nothing to do with it.

Or “If breaching your wife’s cover was so bad for you how come you immediately leapt into print to breach it more widely? Anonymity is a continuum, not a glass that breaks once and forever.”

Or Naughtie could have alluded to the fact that although Wilson has always said that Iraq did not buy uranium from Niger, he has become strangely unclear over the question of whether Iraq sought it – another point brought out by the Senate Intelligence Committee. But not by Mr Naughtie.

Bookmark the permalink.

55 Responses to And they say the age of deferential interviewing is dead.

  1. Andrew Paterson says:

    Joe Wilson is the embodiment of “repeat the same lie over and over and it will become the received truth”.


  2. dave t says:

    Is this ‘ere story one of them tha ‘fake but accurate’ thingymabobs then Ethel? Meanwhile this story is over all the blogs in the USA but not the BBC for some strange reason:

    “Democrats fumed last week at Vice President Cheney’s suggestion that criticism of the administration’s war policies was itself becoming a hindrance to the war effort. But a new poll indicates most Americans are sympathetic to Cheney’s point.

    Seventy percent of people surveyed said that criticism of the war by Democratic senators hurts troop morale — with 44 percent saying morale is hurt “a lot,” according to a poll taken by RT Strategies. Even self-identified Democrats agree: 55 percent believe criticism hurts morale, while 21 percent say it helps morale.

    The results surely will rankle many Democrats, who argue that it is patriotic and supportive of the troops to call attention to what they believe are deep flaws in President Bush’s Iraq strategy. But the survey itself cannot be dismissed as a partisan attack. The RTs in RT Strategies are Thomas Riehle, a Democrat, and Lance Tarrance, a veteran GOP pollster.

    Their poll also indicates many Americans are skeptical of Democratic complaints about the war. Just three of 10 adults accept that Democrats are leveling criticism because they believe this will help U.S. efforts in Iraq. A majority believes the motive is really to “gain a partisan political advantage.”

    Why – say it ain’t so Joe! Don’t say you ain’t nuthing but a Demicrat stooge! But you sure fooled that Naughtie fella!

    (Like my Southern rebel accent folks?)


  3. RobtE says:

    Ah yes. I lay in bed on Thanksgiving Day morning, having taken the day off, listening to this story with increasing incredulity. Geez, I thought, but Scott (TAE) has already dealt with this pretty comprehensively. He’s going to go spare, and so will Biased BBC. I wondered why it didn’t show up until now. So much for Mr Naughty credibility as a serious journalist. That interview is worthy of a serious complaint to whoever it is that one complains to at the BBC.


  4. GCooper says:

    RobtE writes:

    “That interview is worthy of a serious complaint to whoever it is that one complains to at the BBC.”

    I believe his official title is The Wall.


  5. GCooper says:


    Apologies for hijacking Ms Solent’s thread, but I can’t allow this one to pass.

    In Caroline Hawley’s BBC News At Ten piece this evening concerning a fatal attack on two Moslem pilgrims in Bahgdad, once again we heard the reverentially intoned phrase….’..the holy city of Karbala’.

    This ritualistic gesture of obeisance is, mercifully, omitted from the BBC News Online version, but it leaves the question, so often asked, so often evaded.

    Why is Karbala a ‘holy’ city and yet Canterbury, Calcutta or Rome are not?


  6. Christopher Davis says:

    I suspect i could find Mr. Naughtie’s picture if I looked up “unctuous” in the dictionary. Hope tomorrow’s breakfast is more peaceful.


  7. Jack Bauer says:

    Writing from the Holy City of London…

    Joe Wilson has been thoroughly discredited, but it’s way too much for Naughtie to know that. I mean, that would take a minimum of journalistic acumen.

    Of course, the biggest scam of all is that Valerie Plame was an “analyst” at the CIA, working on WMD. See was not, and has probably never been a covert agent. A fact that was tacitly acknowledged by omission by Patrick Fitzgerald when he sought to try Scooter Libby at the self-serving Press conference.


  8. Gary Powell says:

    Excelent point as usual. However you omitted to mention the place that is at the center of the whole Christian religion. I am a athiest,and in no way encouraging a new crusade. It is interesting that Islamic extreamists say they feel that they are under threat from a capitalist/Christian conspiracy when the West lays no claim to its most Holy of all sites,and has not for over 700 years.


  9. disillusioned_german says:

    In regards to my favourite (off) topic “Islam”. Has anyone read this?

    “Giant mosque for 40,000 may be built at London Olympics

    A MASSIVE mosque that will hold 40,000 worshippers is being proposed beside the Olympic complex in London to be opened in time for the 2012 Games.

    The project’s backers hope the mosque and its surrounding buildings would hold a total of 70,000 people, only 10,000 fewer than the Olympic stadium…”

    From,,2087-1892780,00.html via


  10. disillusioned_german says:

    It’s 4.36 am GMT now and the Beeb have ‘Shock’ at Britons’ Iraq deaths as their main headline (including a picture of two people who I would guess are muslims)

    The piece “Hunt on for kidnapped Briton” just below the article mentioned above has a much smaller font and therefore gives the impression to be much less important.

    The BBC give “two Britons” (aka Muslims) who went to Iraq to pray (or so it seems) a much bigger exposure than a British aid worker (retired Professor who even opposed the Iraq war)… Interesting, isn’t it?


  11. disillusioned_german says:

    Addition: This is unbelievable. The anti-war professor is still alive (one would hope) but nevertheless the Beeb focus on the dead (muslims)… Make of that what you will but to me it seems that a dead Muslim is worth more (air)time than a kidnapped non-muslim who might get his throat cut soon. Disgusting!


  12. Susan says:


    I notice that there seems to be plenty enough money to build a gigantic mosque next to the Olympic stadium but no money for earthquake relief to Pakistan. . .one wonders how many Pakistani children’s lives could be saved with $100+ million. Oh well I guess saving Muslim children’s lives is something for the infidels to worry about — building gargantuan mosques in infidel countries is far more important than the lives of a few thousand poor kids.


  13. JH says:


    The Today programme made a big play of Colin Powell’s ex Chief of Staff’s criticism of Cheney. They implied that he had accused Cheney of crimes. What actually happened was that when asked during an interview if he thought that the VP could be guilty of war crimes he answered “thats an interesting question” which Justin Webb openly interpreted as an accusation. Typical of Webb whose manner combines the camp of Dale Winton with the sanctimoniousness of Jon Pilger.


  14. dan says:

    combines the camp of Dale Winton with the sanctimoniousness of Jon Pilger.

    Thanks, I’ll keep that image.


  15. Pete_London says:

    This comes to you from the Holy County of Essex.

    Natalie – Oh I heard that interview too. It can be summed up as: “Mr Wilson, err … ok then – Joe, aren’t the Republicans beastly?” No-one coming to the story for the first time would have had a clue as to what a discredited primper and preener he is.

    Talking of those beastly Republicans, are they now retarded? Yep, the BBC’s picture editor has been at it again, this time showing perfectly how much of a pissed off retarded monkey Bush looks like under “Bush war critics find their voice”.

    How many times has the BBC played this particular record? Every time I look at that site there are critics finding their voice. All they ever seem to do is find their voice. Even when no-one’s finding their voice the BBC can hear them.


  16. dan says:

    This story has been rumbling on in The Times for weeks. The BBC are managing to ignore it. I would have thought it could have been raised with the ubiquitous Sir Ming on one of his many visits to the studio to criticise the post-war policy in Iraq (without ever being asked to put forward a constructive thought).

    Kennedy’s six days of foreign-paid flights broke election law,,171-1895376,00.html


  17. Ritter says:

    JH – BBC online are a bit more careful than the ‘Today’ prog by referencing the ‘war crime’ allegation that wasn’t made to an interpretation by Webb that he ‘appeared’ to be making it:

    Cheney accused on prisoner abuse

    “But this time he has gone much further, appearing to suggest Mr Cheney should face war crimes charges, our correspondent adds.”

    Maybe Webb should have asked him “Should Cheney face war crimes charges?”


  18. simo says:…ast/ 4467042.stm

    Yes, Pete_Lon the joke in that picture presumably that Bush looks like a Steve Bell chimp cartoon. God, how we laughed.
    I’m sure the people who are jailed because they don’t want to subsidise these buffoons also find it hilarious.

    Don’t worry about the 70,000-seater mosque in the heart of London. Remember, Islam means peace.


  19. Rob Read says:

    But Islam means Submission.


  20. Grimer says:

    And it certainly does not mean ‘submission’.

    Move along, nothing to see here.


  21. Ritter says:


    BBC chief holds peace talks in Jerusalem with Ariel Sharon


  22. RottyPup says:

    Pete_London said: “Talking of those beastly Republicans, are they now retarded? Yep, the BBC’s picture editor has been at it again, this time showing perfectly how much of a pissed off retarded monkey Bush looks like under “Bush war critics find their voice”.…ast/ 4467042.stm

    Yes. I noticed that article too. The infuriating thing about it (as I discovered while Fisking the thing) was that about 50% of these ‘critics’ were the very Democrats who’d either let bin-Laden go in the 90s or enabled him in the 70s.
    As for the other 50%, Roger Hardy isn’t telling.
    We have ‘conferences’ without names, ‘panels’ without names, ‘experts’ without names, and POIs (P**s|*d Off Iraqis) without … um … well, you get the picture.
    If you hated America as much as Hardy, then all would be well and good — You’d just nod your head and agree. But. Still. For those of us still committed to the twin evils of the free world and competent journalism, it would be nice if BBC hacks would at least try to pin down the hearsay with a few hard facts.


  23. Scialism is Necrotizing says:


    Interesting indeed.
    Perhaps a long overdue purge the BBC Relativists strung out on Postmodernism like Crack Whores in a Publically Funded Tolerance Zone is underway.

    Not before time.


  24. the_camp_commandant says:

    OT: DVLA has been caught flogging car license plate details to criminals, including a car clamping firm whose directors have been jailed for extortion (,,1056-1895065,00.html).

    Libby raises a good point in her article:

    …this piece of roughshod arrogance, done in the interests of tackling only the moderate nuisance of bad parking, throws a lurid light on what could happen to our privacy if we get ID cards to boost the “war on terror”.

    This ID cards issue must present al-BBC with a hilarious dilemma.

    On the one hand, ID cards will enable the harassment by the state of unenlightened little people. Anyone who says nasty things about Islamofascists can be judicially harassed. TVLA will probably try to gain access to the database to harass TV licence insurgents more effectively, so that would be a good thing.

    On the other hand, Islamofascism doesn’t actually exist, and so the pretext given for bringing ID cards in — support for the war on non-existent terror — is very upsetting for the Islington types whose ill-informed views al-BBC broadcasts as news.

    How will the BBC reconcile its two stupid socialist prejudices?


  25. Pete_London says:

    Ritter –

    Good spot, and this is from the Lunatic House Journal, i.e. the Indy. Unless it’s a fictional gossip piece it adds to what we know.

    Rotty Pup –

    Blimey, I only got as far as the third sentence:

    A new book by American counter-terrorism experts Daniel Benjamin and Steven Simon, The Next Attack, begins with the stark words: “We are losing.”

    Erm … yeah … so what? There may well be new books out stating that we are all descended from aliens, so what’s the significance? It’s just another reason to bash Bush, nothing else. When the BBC does the same thing when pro-war books are published, as they are, I’ll begin to believe they have the maturity to move on from the schoool common room.


  26. Pete_London says:

    BBC NewsOnline rarely falls below the level of being a target rich environment when on the lookout for weasel words. It reports here: – “State forces blamed over Beslan” that:

    Investigators in the North Caucasus have concluded that Russian security forces are partly to blame for last year’s school hostage crisis in Beslan.

    Leaving aside the fact that the BBC is reportig this and that’s no indication of what the report actually states. It’s just that the BBC STILL hasn’t noticed the heavily armed Islamic elephant in the room. Their latest description of mass, Islamic terrorist murder that day is:

    The hostage-taking raid by pro-Chechen gunmen led to the deaths of 331 people.

    Well that’s not so bad then, it was just a ‘hostage-taking raid’, one that somehow ‘led’ to 331 deaths.


  27. Jim Miller says:

    Those who are interested in Joseph Wilson will want to find the (bipartisan) report of the Seante committee that inquired into pre-war intelligence. From it, you will learn that Wilson told one story to guillible (or conspiring?) journalists, a slightly milder story when writing his op-ed in the New York Times, and a completely different story when under oath before the committee.

    Briefly, Wilson found weak evidence on his tea-drinking trip to Niger that Saddam was seeking uranium there — but then said the opposite in public.

    And here’s a wonderful detail that will amaze anyone familiar with bureaucracies, especially government bureaucracies: The CIA paid for Wilson’s trip to Niger, but did not require him to write a report.

    (I have speculated that Valerie Plame may have helped her hubby to get the job in part to keep him busy and out of trouble. She is his third wife and he has, judging by a timeline I saw, not always been the most faithful of husbands.)

    The libertarian New York Times columnist John Tierney summarized the whole affair of the release of Plame’s name with this term: Nadagate. And that’s about right, in my opinion. (Though I must admit I do spend more time following the subject than I ought.)


  28. RottyPup says:

    Pete_London said: “Blimey, I only got as far as the third sentence”

    Ahh. Well, then, that’s where I went wrong. See, we here at Puppy Mansions make our Fisk or no-Fisk decisions after only one sentence. In this case, it was:

    “As Iraq becomes a hotter political issue in the United States, President Bush finds himself under new pressure” blah, blah, blah.

    ‘Good’, I thought. ‘You’ll do nicely for a kicking, Roger, me old Gramscian.’

    It was only halfway through that I began to have the horrible feeling Hardy’s ‘journalism’ didn’t even come up to the standards of, say, Justin Webb’s. A frightening thought, I’ll grant you, but, really, this travesty could win awards for the sheer number of anonymous ‘sources’ passed off as relevant facts in a single BBC article. It’s a work of art, I tell you, and on a par with any sparrow-on-a-stick 500 of us pay our licence fees for.


  29. Rob Read says:


    “The hostage-taking raid by pro-Chechen gunmen led to the deaths of 331 people”

    Should be “The Islamist Chechen gunmen ended their attack on the school by murdering 331 people, mostly Children.”


  30. venichka says:

    Erm. except not. Because (a) thei ethnicity or ethnicities of the gunmen and hostage takers remain uncertain (lots of unproven spiel from the federal authorities that Arabs – and at one stage – even Koreans – were involved. not forgetting the territorial dispute and early 90s war between the Ingush and Osetiyans was also believed to be associated with the incident), as do their allegience to Islamism as opposed to other more territorially-focused causes. and (b) although the hostage-takers were by definition responsible for the horrendous loss of life at Beslan it is not true to say that they were directly responsible for all the deaths.

    The 331 figure is highly dodgy too (like most terrorist death-toll figures published by the russian authorities): it is much likely that more people, possibly far more people, were killed in Beslan than that.

    So – ignoring that quibble about the death toll, which the BBC is more or less obliged to parrot the “official figure” – in fact the BBC phrase is exactly correct and a model piece of editorial practice. Thank God for the BBC’s good practice when covering such horrendous and evil events – they are a model that other journalistic orgs would do well to follow.


  31. venichka says:

    Another clarification – horrible topic to be posting clarifications on, but some of the stuff above is unsubstantiated and inaccurate and therefore must be responded to.

    The “official” no of people killed at Beslan was around 330, including 172 children – so the “mostly children” is not justified. Lots of parents etc were present for the start-of-term ceremonies, which are a major event in Russia.


  32. Gary Powell says:

    The big problem with this site is you have to watch or listen to the BBC in order to comment on it properly to the sites overlords satisfaction. I used to find the BBCs news coverage very anoying. I now consider it deeply depresing and bad for my health. It supprises me more of YOU dont because the BBC is ASSISTING in activly distroying the country and culture YOU live in, and YOU are paying for it. Can it really get worse than that? The really depressing thing is that it can and most proberly will. If you think you really want to know what this all means and you think you can handle it, take ten happy pills and read 1984 by GEORGE ORWELL. Before it is to late.



  33. Gary Powell says:

    I dont want correct “editorial practice” Im British and therfore expect correct reporting from politicaly diverse free reporters giving their honest personal reports. This did actualy happen once. You could not trust the football results in the USSR you wont be able to here soon.


  34. Venichka says:

    Gary Powell,
    I’m British too – correct editorial practice means giving the facts, as the BBC have done in this instance.


  35. Pete_London says:


    Let’s take your figures:

    The “official” no of people killed at Beslan was around 330, including 172 children – so the “mostly children” is not justified.

    You’ll find that 172 children murdered amongst 330 victims is a majority, therefore ‘mostly children’ is certainly justified.

    Spare us the rest of your weasel words. You’re someone who believes that the meaningless ‘pro-Chechen’ is acceptable when it is actually factually wrong (the terrorists are pro-Islam) and deliberately misleading. No-one here mentioned the ethnicity of the terrorists, simply the fact that they are Islamic and deliberately and successfully carried out an incredible atrocity. These are facts which the BBC attempts to forget and you are happy for them to do so. You have low standards.


  36. Venichka says:


    Do you know anything about the complicated internecine tribal politics of the North Caucasus, or do you just have an animus against Islam?

    Certainly Islamism is a factor in the instability of the region, and a growing one, but the situation is far more complicated that that, with various tribal and national rivalries.
    There are certainly are groups who talk of aspiring to establish a caliphate across the region, but I think it highly unlikely that there would be sufficient unity between the various clans and tribes etc for this to be feasible.

    You need to distinguish between Islam and Islamism too, as they are not synonyms. It is incredibly offensive and ignorant to elide the two.

    I object strongly to you referring to my expectation that journalists print truth rather than rumour or fear-mongering as “weasel words”.


  37. Rob Read says:


    Answer this:

    Did the 100% Muslim terrorists at Beslan
    a) Deliberately target defenceless children and their parents?
    b) Attack a non-military target?
    c) murder children?

    If you cannot answer Yes, Yes and Yes, you need psychological help.


  38. Venichka says:

    Rob Read,
    Pleae show me where I am disputing points a) b) or c). On the basis of what I know about the seige, and the politics of the region, I fail to see why their religion is a more significant factor in their identity than other elements.


  39. Grimer says:

    The hostage-taking raid by pro-Chechen gunmen led to the deaths of 331 people.

    Well that’s not so bad then, it was just a ‘hostage-taking raid’, one that somehow ‘led’ to 331 deaths.
    Pete_London | 29.11.05 – 4:50 pm | #

    I’ve complained to the BBC about their use of language in this piece. I doubt I’ll get a response (does anybody get replies from the BBC?).


  40. Susan says:

    We all saw the dozens of photos of the Chechen terrorists shooting fleeing children in the back (probably not if you were watching the Beeb though — although they were, by several witnesses’ reports, happy to blather on the radio that the merciful, cuddly terrorists were shooting only at the children’s legs, not trying to kill them.) In this case it is highly offensive to use the passive “led to the deaths of. . .” They shot those children in front of the whole worlds’ eyes — they didn’t do something that “led to the deaths” of them. The Beeb’s use of language here is highly Orwellian. Whom do we believe in this case — the Beeb, or our own eyes?


  41. Andrew says:

    Curiously, in the immediate aftermath of horrific atrocities at Beslan, the BBC referred almost exclusively to ‘terrorists’ – now that some time has passed and memories and outrage have dimmed, they’re back to using the term ‘militants’ – for example, Emma Simpson, piously reporting from Moscow on News 24 et al yesterday. Pathetic hypocrisy.


  42. Rob Read says:

    > “I fail to see why their religion is a more significant factor in their identity than other elements.”

    They were not all from Chechnya, but were they not all Muslim? It would seem to me to be most important common thread among them and should be mentioned.

    It’s not like the religion has a history of commiting violent terrorsit acts against civilians.



  43. Venichka says:

    No one, least of all the BBC, is denying that the militants (who, it turns out, were about 90% Ingush, not Chechen, in fact, according to a report into the atrocity commissioned by the American Committee for Peace in Chechnua and Jamestown Foundation, and written by a credible academic expert in the region, John Dunlop) shot children in exactly the ghastly manner that you describe.

    The Beeb’s language is not Orwellian at all – it reflects the fact that is wholly impossible to attribute a particular proportion of deaths to the terrorists/militants and a proprtion to the federal or republican troops. the BBC here is telling the truth; it is not acting in any way as an apologist for the evil people who committed these atrocious deeds. The construction they use is entirely appropriate. The only suitable alternative I could think of to “led to” would be “resulted in”.

    The report I refer to is here


  44. Venichka says:

    Rob Read

    Please see my comments addressed to “Peter_london” at 11:20 am – as they apply just as well to you too.
    I also recommend the Dunlop report to you too


  45. Susan says:


    The Beeb does the same thing in other cases of Islamist killings, including those that can’t be conveniently attributed to Russian (or Indian, or Israeli, or whatever, soliders). So no, I don’t think their nit-picking here is merely a case of them wanting to be “accurate”.

    Those children would still be alive if it weren’t for the Islamist “freedom-fighters” who attacked their school. Good enough for me to put the blame 100 percent forthriightly on their backs for all deaths concerned.

    As for your report, I rarely put credence in the output of any organization that has the word “Peace” in its moniker. Sorry.


  46. Susan says:

    In fact, venichka, the Beeb could have easily addressed your “accuracy” issue by amending their sentence to:

    During the hostage-taking raid, pro-Chechen gunmen shot numerous children and adults, and their actions resulted ultimately in the deaths of 331 people.

    Accurate — yes. More so than the Beeb’s original sentence. But in line with their whitewash-Islamism-at-any-cost political agenda?

    Hell no — which is why we have what we have from them.


  47. Pete_London says:


    1. I fail to see why their religion is a more significant factor in their identity than other elements.

    You may get away with this nonsense in your circles, but you won’t here. This is such an idiotic statement as to be insulting to us.

    2. No one, least of all the BBC, is denying that the militants … shot children in exactly the ghastly manner that you describe.

    You are ignorant then of the BBC, as Susan stated at 5.05pm, of the BBC’s description of the terrorists shooting at the childrens’ legs. This was a shameless lie, without foundation and wholly designed to portray barbaric terrorists in a human light. If I remember correctly, the BBC backtracked on this later.

    You’ll have to do better than this.


  48. Allan@Aberdeen says:

    Instead of saying “led to”, would not “caused” be more appropriate and factually accurate? The reason why I prefer “caused” is that Hitler’s rise to power “caused” WW2 just as the seizure of the school in Beslan by muslim terrorists “caused” the murders of 331 people. “Caused” is accurate because these deaths were greatly pre-determined by the conduct of the terrorists.


  49. Alexander Alt says:

    The media here in the US has beatified Mr. Wilson, despite nearly every statement of his being a whole lie.

    Please keep him in the UK if you can. He is soiling our country.


  50. venichka says:


    I must say I am generally inclined to share your wariness of orgs with the (indeed – often a weasel-word) word “peace” in their name: there are certainly v. dodgy “pro-peace”/pro-separatism pro-Chechen groups here in the UK. (e.g. those around Akhmed Zakayev, supported by Vanessa Redgrave, et al) I don’t know much about that US group. I recommended the report on the basis of the sound reputation of the other organization involved- the Jamestown Foundation – a reputable academic institution without evident bias – and of the writer of the report, John Dunlop, a well-regarded Soviet and post-Soviet historian.

    Btw, I don’t see the beeb referring to people who take children hostage and murder them as “freedom fighters” anyway so that verges on being an unsubstantiated smear.

    But yes, the phrasing you suggest at 9.16pm is – well ,more than fine – I agree it is better than the BBC’s existing version.


    Islam is not the same as Islamism. Fact. And it is clear that nationalist/territorial concerns (of both Chechen and Ingush – and possibly of other groups: there are simmering conflicts in almost all of the territories surrounding North Osetiya-Alaniya) were motivating factors as well as Islamism – which is why it is wrong to “over-emphasise” one – just as it would be wrong to omit refernce to it.

    I haven’t had a TV for years so I can’t comment on the allegations about “shooting in legs”.

    To a large extent I agree. Obviously the siege-takers are responsible for all that followed, and are ultimately responsible for the horrendous loss of life. But (see findings of the “Mothers of Beslan” referred to in the Jamestown report) suggest (consistent with other experiences in recent Russian history) that malpractice/incompetence/corruption on the part of various state authorities, both civilian and paramilitary worsened the situation and led to more people dying. There seems to be a great contempt for human life among elements of the Russian state as well as among the evil people who attacked Beslan, even if it is not to the same degree or so fundamental.

    Sorry if this long digression has derailed the thread a little.