One for all…- the media wrong together

It occurred to me, as it usually does reading coverage following Bush speeches, that the BBC had missed the point about Bush’s speech containing his statement on Khalid Sheikh Mohammed et al when they headlined it “Bush admits to secret prisons”.

They were not alone in their absurd focus- which is really a kind of ‘told you so’ journalism, the ‘told you so’ involving restating the unnecessary- and, of course, stating the untrue, that Bush mentioned “prisons”, when he didn’t.

As the boys from Powerline pointed out concerning the very similar AP focus:

“This is not exactly a news flash. We knew that Khalid Sheikh Mohammed et al. were not at Guantanamo, and no one ever imagined that they were inside the U.S. The fact that this handful of top-level terrorists was being held by the CIA, somewhere outside the U.S., has been known and widely reported for years.”

Exactly. Not even news, agendarising in the face of some well above-par Bush performances of late.

I was impressed by a far more apt and interesting headline from Hot Air, which was far more newsy although it should properly have been something like “terrorist masterminds to get Geneva protection”. This places the balance where reasonable people would place it: regarding terror suspects as the suspicious ones; permitting them respite an act of compassion.

Paul Reynolds’ analysis is as it commonly is better than other BBC output, but he persists in the central myth of “secret prisons”. This is nonsense (as Powerline also point out) as you don’t need a prison- and could even manage with a few carefully chosen hotel suites- to interrogate 14 rather special terror suspects.

You can read the Bush speech containing descriptions of the intelligence gathering operation here. Some curiosity about detailed Bush speeches wouldn’t go amiss in the UK, I think (he said, continuing the British tradition of understatement).

Just Links. A contrast.

Blame it on the USA.

Don’t blame it on the muslims.

Gearing up for the 9/11 anniversary, I suppose.

This is no invitation to vent, though constructive rants are always welcome. The vast majority of commenters I trust to observe this; those in doubt should read the sidebar guidance. I think that the greatest disservice a journalist can do is to depart from the relevant facts. Coincidentally I just got back from watching Flight 93 at the cinema. Remarkable film.

Ambulance Update

UK media, including the BBC, seem to have moved on from the ambulance attack story. Not so in Australia, where foreign minister Alexander Downer’s description of the story as ‘a hoax‘, citing the evidence also linked to by Biased BBC, has kept it very much alive.

Oz blogger Tim Blair rounds up the contradictions in the various descriptions of the ‘attack’. And a story in Australian newspaper The Age, titled “Ambulance attack evidence stands the test”, claims that the ambulance in which Mr Fawaz allegedly lost a leg was not the one shown on the BBC website (picture 7), but was the one shown below. Unfortunately, the Age seem to be coy about giving the public any more photographs – and this one is not on their website, but scanned from the print edition.

Compared with the ‘original’ ambulance (below), the ambulance above looks even older and rustier, and the red cross is very faded, even given that the colour balance may not be the same in the photos (compare the orange suits of the paramedics).

A Mere Handful of Bias

I just don’t like inauthenticity. That’s where it begins. I was dutifully reading the latest BBC report from the frontlines of the battle for gay rights when I noticed something not-quite-right about their article.

There was a picture of two black “men holding hands”- as the photo was labelled- above a caption mentioning that “Homosexuality is illegal in Ghana”, and I thought, so what? Doesn’t mean they’re gay or anything.

No, but it means they are gay to us, that is to say, us Westerners.

I knew from experience of Kenya that men there often hold hands and are just being friendly and respectful. I wondered if it was different in Ghana. It isn’t. It’s also the case in South Africa.

So the picture is meaningless in the Ghanaian context, and meaningless to Southern Africa generally. It’s actually being culturally insulting; after all, as the last link points out, “Confident of who they are, and caring deeply about the people who are around them, African men use their bodies, nonsexually, to express closeness and joy. I must admit that as I walked through the township with my hand being held by a male elder, surprisingly I did not feel foreign.” (yes, I know- how twee)

I have to say that I know there is another side to this “joy” of masculinity, which is that if a man holds hand with a woman she is generally deemed a prostitute.

But still, the BBC misrepresent wilfully a basic cultural fact- for effect, it would seem. I say wilful, because as John Simpson has recently boasted, “Nowadays the BBC is the world’s biggest international broadcaster, leaving rivals like CNN, Fox or Al-Jazeera behind, both in terms of its bureaux and correspondents and its vast worldwide audiences.”

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.

If anyone wants some food for thought, this from James Lewis should provoke offer some.