is one of the more politically slanted
reporting agencies in the world. It hides behind its squeaky clean
reputation and relative lack of accountability
- it is under less pressure to vie for ratings than many privately owned networks.
Just one small anecdote to illustrate my point (I'm sure those in the know can furnish many more). In the late 80's, at the height of the Intifada in the occupied territories of Palestine, the BBC did a heart rending piece about a hospital in East Jerusalem which was being denied life saving equipment by the heartless and malicious Israeli establishment. There was an interview with an earnest looking and agitated doctor, with lots of shots of him wringing his hands in would-be despair.
There was an uproar. The international community demanded reparations from the heartless Israeli opressors on behalf of the downtrodden Palestinians. An ambassador or two decided to take sudden trips abroad. A couple of minor dignitaries cancelled their visits to Israel. And of course, the fighting between the Israeli armed forces and the Palestinian Shabab - youth - on the streets in Gaza and the West Bank got worse.
Now, assuming that we all know the news can't be 100% true, what do you think was the extent of the exaggeration in this reportage? Perhaps the Israeli authorities haven't been refusing passage to the lorries carrying the machinery for quite as long as they were making out, right? Or perhaps they had some sort of good reason to delay the equipment for legal reasons. Or perhaps taxes haven't been paid on it in full. Any amount of possible little vindications for the inhumane Israeli occupying forces, right?
Well guess what: it never happened. None of it. There was a delay in shipment of some medical equipment to a hospital in East Jerusalem that had nothing to do with Israel, but rather with the manufacturers in Germany. There was an interview made with a doctor about the difficulties this was causing his department. There was another interview, made months earlier, with the same doctor but on an unrelated subject, in which he expressed his dissatisfaction with the Israely authorities. The two had been doctored together to create a news story that never was. All those cuts to the doctor wringing his hands were put in to cover the fact that he wasn't actually saying what the soundrack said he was saying (they couldn't use the images from the older interview, obviously, because it would have been in a different room, from a different angle etc.).
The BBC were penalised by whatever body it is regulates international truth in reportage, and other networks were forbidden to buy footage from them for a space of two years - quite a sizeable dent in income for the beeb.
I have been following the BBC and other UK and Irish coverage of the Middle East avidly since I've been here. It's disgraceful. I am not a nationalist by any means, but the extent to which the local media misrepresents the incredibly complex reality of Israel's involvement in the conflict is enough to teach the Enquirer some tricks.
For a background on the subject of this node, and for the orginal writeup from which the title was borrowed, please refer to why the news media suck.