Open thread – for comments of general Biased BBC interest:

Please use this thread for off-topic, but preferably BBC related, comments. Please keep comments on other threads to the topic at hand. N.B. this is not an invitation for general off-topic comments – our aim is to maintain order and clarity on the topic-specific threads. This post will remain at or near the top of the blog. Please scroll down to find new topic-specific posts.

World News without a clue.

Without a clue, that is, offered as to the story underlying the reconstruction of S. Lebanon.

Like many internet oriented folk I expect, I’ve come across numerous stories of how Hizbullah is patching up its fiefdom- that is, South Lebanon. Take a look at this one. Not to your taste? How about this.

As The Guardian reports,

“As refugees flood back to their war-ravaged villages, Hizbullah has flung itself to the front of the burgeoning reconstruction effort in southern Lebanon, funded with a deluge of petro-dollars from neighbouring Iran.”

All of which makes the BBC’s latest, and prolonged, frontpage offensive look like nothing short of misleading advertising pleading for international donors. They seem to be saying something like “come and get your free headline billing here- just give your hard-taxed dollars/yen/pounds/Euros to Hizbollah/Iran Lebanon and your slot is guaranteed”.

I link two articles from the BBC above. In neither is Iran given even a mention (I have saved a copy of each should the stealth edit arise). In one of them Syria appears just once, a vanishingly brief mention in connection with Kofi paying them a visit to discuss their support for Hizbullah*.

This is not journalism. It is anti-journalism. It suppresses the reality that Hizbullah has its own plans for reconstruction largely separate from any that the Lebanese government, in as far as it may act without Hizbullah’s consent, may have. The ‘international community’ will just provide the icing, the morale booster.

Of course this is vital information for the public to make sense of Israel’s problems with Lebanon, and any of its actions subsequent to the ceasefire.

(*By the way, I notice that the BBC talks of “Lebanon-based Hezbollah guerrillas.” What on earth does this mean, really? Hizbullah is a political party in Lebanon, with many seats in Parliament owing to electoral success in the South of the country.)

ps.- an instructive comparison:

“The Lebanese government has previously put the cost of damage at $3.6bn. It says 15,000 homes were damaged in the conflict and has appealed for $75m for temporary housing and $30m to repair major roads and put up bridges.” (the BBC)

“The housing scheme will benefit 15,000 families, Mr Nasrallah said, and will cost up to $150m, according to one estimate. Funding will come from oil-rich Iran, which until now has mostly supplied Hizbullah with thousands of missiles used against Israel.” (The Guardian)

More Israeli “Missile Attacks”

This time on journalists.

Israeli rocket hits Reuters car

Reuters cameraman Fadel Shana is carried to safety

The air strike was one of several in Gaza on Saturday night

An Israeli air strike on a car in Gaza City during a security operation has injured a Reuters news agency cameraman and a local journalist.

At least one rocket hit the car as the cameraman was filming, knocking him unconscious, while the second man received serious leg wounds.

The Reuters car was clearly marked all over as a media vehicle.

The Power Line blog (of Dan Rather fame) raises a question or two. In the interests of balance, Hot Air considers a missile attack possible.

Ambulance Update – as Melanie Phillips reports, the Lebanese Red Cross, whose high resolution photo of the ambulance has been used as evidence against the missile attack claim, have removed the image from their website. (I don’t agree with her btw that the affair demonstrates “unprecedented proportions” of hatred. It demonstrates a journalistic mindset, part bias, part laziness, that takes as gospel every story it’s fed by one side, without ever asking of its sources the famous Paxman question.)

Reuters Update – the Confederate Yankee blog had the bright idea of asking some armoured van manufacturers for their views. In their opinion, probably not a missile.

Apology :

In creating the post on the amazing ambulance attack fraud, I inadvertantly overwrote the post on Saturday’s edition of Radio Four’s “Excess Baggage”, the comments of which are now on the ambulance post.

If anyone has the cached text of the post, could they add it to the comments so that I can recreate it ? Ta.

More “Unconscious and Unwitting” Bias

In his August 10 despatch from Tyre, Jim Muir described “Walking in fear in Lebanon’s no-drive zone”. Even ambulances, he said, were in danger of Israeli air attack.

Ambulances in danger

Around the corner is the Lebanese Red Cross. Lots of ambulances outside, immobile. Then the sound of an engine, and one moves.

“Don’t worry, I’m just parking!” shouts the driver. He is Kassem Shaalan. He knows what it is like to be hit by a rocket.

Red Cross vehicle drives around a bomb crater

Red Cross vehicles face destroyed roads as well as direct hits

On the evening of 23 July, he and two other medics answered a call to rendezvous with an ambulance from Tibnin, in the hills to the east, to relay three civilian patients down to Tyre.

Both ambulances were struck precisely by separate rockets as they were stopped at the roadside near Qana for the transfer.

It was 2230 at night. There was nothing else on the road. They were clearly marked, and lit up with flashing blue lights and illuminated Red Cross flags.

Kassem, his two colleagues, the three medics in the other ambulance, and the three Lebanese patients, were all injured.

One of the patients, 38-year-old Ahmad Fawwaz, lost his leg in the ambulance. His mother Jamileh, 58, and son Ahmad, 8, were both seriously injured.

We get many calls from villages saying they have injured people, but there is no permission to go

Kassem Shaalan
Lebanese Red Cross

But they all survived. And Kassem is back at work.

“Until now, we don’t understand why they did it,” he says now. “It has confused us. But it will not stop us. I’m still wearing the Red Cross uniform, and if they tell me to go, I’ll go and help.

“Because of the Israeli warning, every movement we do goes through the International Red Cross,” he says.

“They ask Israel for permission. If we have it, we go. If we don’t, we can’t. We get many calls from villages saying they have injured people, but there is no permission to go. Yes, people could be dying because we can’t get to them in time. If you don’t get treated within one hour, you are much more likely to die.”

A sad state of affairs indeed, reinforced by the BBC’s picture (picture 7) of the damaged ambulance, complete with “in this incident one patient lost a leg“.

Unfortunately the story appears to be complete nagombi from beginning to end, from the precisely targeted ambulance, through the drivers injuries, to the mysterious missing leg.

Zombietime has details which comprehensively demolish the BBC version (one example – the hole in the ambulance roof is by strange chance exactly the right size to take the red domed vent cover fitted to Lebanese ambulances. Even the BBC photo shows the screw holes).

Now I’m sure Jim Muir doesn’t go out to concoct a story which will put Israel in a bad light. But such a story, presented to him by Lebanese sources, has two characteristics which appear to have resulted in an absence of even the most basic fact-checking, such as “is this what a vehicle hit by an Israeli missile looks like ?

One – it fits the BBC worldview.

Two – it’s just such a good story. Why ruin it by fact-checking ?

Orlable Heztravaganza

More kudos to the B-BBC commentariat coming up. When they smell a rat there usually is a rat.

John’s comment is a classic, retrospectively:

“I just caught Ola Guerin’s report on Kofi Anan’s visit to Beirut, it was very different from the one I saw beforehand on Sky. She depicted Kofi like a frightened rabbit, with Hezbollah supporters, especially screaming fanatical women, almost about to lynch him in Beirut, and gave the impression that if it wasn’t for his security it would have happened.

The sky report just mentioned his visit, it was devoid of showing a Hezbollah threat or that he was threatened. There must be a BBC agenda here

Well, indeed (highlight mine).

And Archduke said:

“classic Orla Guerin tonight on the 6 o clock news.

scenes of Kofi Annan getting a rather hostile reception in south Beirut, complete with burka clad islamonazis & ranting Hezbollah “supporters”

Orla intones “whether this demonstration was spontaneous or organised it is hard to know…”


Both comments top and tail this instance of Orlaesque reporting, as seen from “our side”, the viewing side.

But the suspicions highlighted here are amply confirmed in this post from the Counterterrorism blog, a “multi-expert blog dedicated solely to counterterrorism issues”, whose correspondent in Beirut describes unauthorised media footage of the arrival of Annan in Beirut:

“Lebanese Army officers and Hezbollah were seen smiling at each other and coordinating the staged demonstration. A camera linked to an international media agency was broadcasting live from behind the Hezbollah’s security lines. It captured the details of the “show.” A group of women and girls, in traditional Muslim dresses and scarves were gathered by Hezbollah bearded security some 15 minutes before the motorcade arrives. The gathering was at about 30 feet away from where Annan’s car was supposed to stop. This indicates that the motorcade security and the Hezbollah operatives knew ahead of time where the spot would be and had the women standing and waiting. Posters of Hassan Nasrallah were then distributed to the women….

As the UN delegation approached the group walking, the women screamed the name of Nasrallah and behind them couple men screamed “down, down, USA” (especially when the international media appeared). As soon as the officials walked farther, and as in a choreographed play, the women dispersed themselves opening the path for the militiamen looking males to rush behind the delegation walking through the ruins. Responding to orders barked form inside the group, the mens’ “demo” got loud and slogans were shouted with greater energy and menace. Interestingly, and since the camera was filming live from behind and feeding it to satellite around the world, observers were able to “see” the whole operation to its most detailed developments”

Now then, a question for the commentariat. Orla- corrupt or incompetent? I know which one I would go for, and it doesn’t begin with ‘i’. Also, if someone can track down this latest Orlrage in the form of a clip, I’d be only too delighted to link to it.

Sandi Toksvig Update …

Drinking From Home notes Sandi Toksvig’s response to a complaint about her dewy-eyed BBC portrait of that popular holiday destination, Sudan.

Toksvig responded:

“I think that you can’t necessarily choose your country to visit because of its human rights issues. If we were to all do that we would be pretty limited in our choice of countries to go to. For my money it would almost certainly exclude the United States…

I think “moral equivalence” is the phrase we’re all looking for.

Open thread – for comments of general Biased BBC interest:

Please use this thread for off-topic, but preferably BBC related, comments. Please keep comments on other threads to the topic at hand. N.B. this is not an invitation for general off-topic comments – our aim is to maintain order and clarity on the topic-specific threads. This post will remain at or near the top of the blog. Please scroll down to find new topic-specific posts.

Update on Monday

Update on Monday: I should have done this at the beginning, but here is the link for the audio and script of Bush’s latest weekly address from the Whitehouse. The BBC, of course, had taken the audio down by Sunday morning, but not before they had apparently used it to extract a little soundbyte which doesn’t in fact exist. According to this report “On Saturday, Mr Bush again promised that the government would learn from mistakes made last year.”
Unfortunately for the BBC and the accuracy of their reported speech, Bush said no such thing (see below post, where the Bush “mistakes” meme was first identified).

It was not mistakes they would learn from, but lessons that Katrina had revealed- it’s quite a different point, and the word mistake doesn’t anywhere appear in the address.

The BBC, preferring freeze-frame journalism to the sort where things move on and need reporting to reflect that, still have Bush in apologetic mode (which to be frank he was never really in anyway, and with reason).

“Bush promises to learn from Katrina mistakes”

So quoth the BBC, as they reported Bush’s weekly address (the full description was “US President George Bush has used his weekly radio address to talk about the anniversary of hurricane Katrina. Mr Bush praised the “heroism” of those involved and promised to learn from mistakes made in the aftermath.”)

In fact, Bush never mentioned mistakes- and certainly gave no hint of acknowledging personal culpability. The nearest he got was in saying briefly that “Federal, State and Local Government” had been underprepared for dealing with the magnitude of Katrina. He also talked of “learning the lessons” (not personally, of course, but institutionally and collectively.)

Not paying too much attention to such items usually, I have no idea if they always report his weekly address. I don’t think so, but it would be interesting to catalogue how often such a report- really the lede to the audio- carries a negative spin for W.

Katrina mistakes, by Bush, were of course part of the BBC’s catechism for 2005. Matt Wells was temporary teacher of the catechism, as I recall from B-BBC history.

Well, fair enough, the BBC hate G W Bush… (no, no, no, this is not fair. This is bias– but what can one do?)

But even given that, isn’t it just a teensy weensy bit unfair to report it this way since the main item in Bush’s address was that of a man, Rocky Vaccarella, who had driven all the way to Washington to personally address Bush with thanksfor the actions of the Federal Government in the aftermath of Katrina?

I see nothing about this from the BBC- yet anyway- but certainly you can already sense the imposition of the meme of “culpability Bush”, no matter what.

ps.- it’s not all US politicians the Beeb gives a bad spin to- take for example this guru in Edinburgh.

Sidling Round the Subject of Fakery

No one should doubt that truth hurts the BBC. In the matter of framing photos, faking photos, carrying partial views, the BBC have been taking some hits recently. From posing little kids beside bombs, to claiming whole towns destroyed while shielding the viewer from untouched areas, to admitting basically that they accepted without demurr limitations imposed on them by terrorist minders.

Now the Beeb sigh a world weary sigh and say they’ve seen/heard it all before. This article is a classic in the Ecclesiastical genre that’s pulled out whenever the Beeb come under fire for declining standards- “there is nothing new under the sun”.

In doing so, much to my irritation, they compare apples with pears and oranges, claiming equivalence (implicitly) between the kind of thing that’s been in the news recently concerning posing with babies and children in bombed out buildings, and the iconic shot at Iwo Jima.

The thing is, I implacably disagree with the writer’s view that “In some ways it does offend sensibilities that we may have been gently hoodwinked.”

For one thing I hate insincere writing- who exactly is “we” in this instance? For another: No, I rather enjoy entering into the spirit of patriotic photography. I despise the antics entertained by the BBC and others during Hezbollywood’s extravanganza.