Monday, 11 April 2016

Historian wins ruling against BBC

Here's something you may have missed (as I did, until now)...

The “sanitised narrative” of Hiroshima’s atomic bombing, Finding by the Editorial Complaints Unit
According to this online article, the rationale that the use of the A-bombs was intended to shorten the war and avoid an indefinite number of casualties “was constructed after the war, by America’s leaders, to justify what they had done”.  The historian Antony Beevor complained that this stated as fact a view which conflicted with contemporaneous evidence.
There are contemporaneous sources which make clear that extremely high estimates of casualties in the event of an invasion of Japan played a major part in US thinking. The ECU concluded that what the article stated as a fact was strongly contested, on the basis of credible evidence. Upheld
Further action
The matter was discussed in detail with the author of the article (the BBC’s Tokyo Correspondent), who revised it in the light of the finding. The headline, which was not the responsibility of the author, was also changed.
The article in question was by Rupert Wingfield-Hayes, and blogs like this (including this very blog) criticised it strongly at the time. 

Would the BBC have 'fessed up though if it hadn't been someone as prestigious as Antony Beevor complaining?


  1. One day the ECU might discover honesty. Then, instead of writing 'The ECU concluded that what the article stated as a fact was strongly contested', it will write 'The ECU concluded that what the article stated as a fact was plain wrong'.

    1. In a million years. The BBC does not 'do' wrong.

      But does do a nifty line in semantics.

      I wonder how many hoops and what delays Mr. Beevor had to endure to get to this point? Still, it 'can' happen.

      Here's what most will see on the BBC Complaints Home Page as most exercising the public currently:

      BBC LOGO28 MARCH 2016
      The Boat Races coverage, BBC One, 27 March 2016
      We received complaints from some viewers unhappy with aspects of our coverage of The Boat Races.

      BBC Logo15 MARCH 2016
      Top Gear Filming, 13 March 2016
      We received complaints from members of the public concerned by press reports that appeared to show Top Gear filming close to the Cenotaph.

      I am fairly sure others of a more tangible nature have been received, and since March 27.

    2. Here's another to savour...

      “not sufficiently precise”

      Or... wrong, when not uniquely interpreted.

  2. I see the article implies the Naz-is invented terror bombing, whereas in fact it was the RAF who first bombed residences from aeroplanes in the 1920s I believe, and prior to that there were the indiscriminate German Zeppelin raids on London and elsewhere.

  3. Yes the R.A.F did bomb a few houses in Afghanistan but they were very strict about how much damage was done and always leafleted the villages warning the villagers before any operation so it wasn't 'Terror bombing' by any stretch

  4. It was Mesopotamia (Iraq) not Afghanistan and according to this site Bomber Harris wrote of the experience: "The Arab and Kurd now know what real bombing means in casualties and damage. Within forty-five minutes a full-size village can be practically wiped out and a third of its inhabitants killed or injured." Sounds like use of terror to me. It followed on the tradition of the Empire in places like the NW Frontier of burning villages that supported rebel forces, so it wasn't really that new, although now the inhabitants didn't have time to flee.