Sunday 20 July 2014

Biasless in Gaza, at the BBC with Roger Bolton?

This week's Feedback dealt with the issue of BBC bias over the latest Israel-Palestinian conflict. 

First came two listeners from one side of the argument:
My name's Jean Fitzpatrick and I live in London. I wish the BBC would give more time to hear the Palestinian voice, the Palestinian side, so it's not so much that it's only about Israel but we don't hear the Palestinian voice, the Palestinian situation.
My name's Jenny Hardacre. I'm calling from Cambridge. The current coverage, I think it is very one-sided. I don't think they present the Palestinian perspective at all and they don't give enough information about the historical context. I don't think it's only biased. I think they censor the Palestinian viewpoint. 
Roger Bolton then said that the programme had received "a similar number" of complaints from the other side:
My name's Mitch Hansen. I can't help feeling that the BBC's reporting of the Israel-Hamas conflict is rather skewed in favour of those living in Gaza. The emphasis appears to be on how terrible it is from Gaza to be subject to bombardment by Israeli forces while very little is said about how terrible it is for Israelis to live in constant fear of rocket attacks originating from the territory.
My name is Molly Cooper. How is it that there was no mention of rockets fired on Israel until the IDF began to bomb terrorist targets? It's true I'm elderly but I do look back with nostalgia to the days when the BBC could relied on as being more objective, dispassionate in its reporting.
The senior BBC editor who responded to these complaints - Andrew Roy, World Editor of BBC News - made the familiar case that this shows that the BBC is getting it right. [I thought of transcribing his response, but you really don't need a transcript to guess what he said, so it would have been a waste of time.]

What I would have done, if I were in his position, is to cite whatever evidence I had - especially statistical evidence - to back up my claims that the BBC has been impartial thoughout, but that's something BBC editors never seem to do on programme's like Feedback or Newswatch.

Others, however, do, and the BBC should be prepared for them.

I nearly fell out of bed on Tuesday morning. It was around 8.40 am and I should have been up anyway, but I had only gone back to bed an hour before.
I find sleeping difficult when the sun rises early, so I had been up since dawn working on an obsessive local history project before popping back for a quick nap.
Of course the Today programme was on in the background. It has the peculiar property of being able to send me to sleep and sometimes wake me up. This time it was the latter. A voice from the turbulent past.
I had last heard of Professor Greg Philo in the early 1980s when his Glasgow media Group analysed the Corporation’s coverage of the Miners’ Strike and found it wanting. I was a BBC programme Editor at the time and, although I did not agree with much that he wrote, I was impressed and challenged by his analysis, which certainly made me think, and was a valuable corrective to the parliamentary consensus.
On Today on Tuesday he was also in challenging mode, alleging that the Beeb’s coverage of the conflict in Gaza was pro-Israel. Many Feedback listeners agree with him, and almost as many disagree.
It was refreshing to hear his views, and I look forward to the publication of his detailed analysis, and that of those who allege the opposite. I also hope voices like his will be heard more regularly. Broadcasters need to be challenged. That’s what Feedback is all about.
Roger Bolton is complimentary about Greg Philo there and says he awaits his detailed analysis of the BBC's coverage. 

I, on the other hand, would be much more inclined to be sceptical about any detailed analysis that comes from so biased a source as Greg Philo, especially in light of what he asserted to Mishal Husain on Today last week:
Well, the Palestinian perspective is just not there. The Israelis are on twice as much.
Will his 'research' prove that? 

Well, here's some proper research (if I say so myself) - a complete list of all the people interviewed in set-piece interviews on five of the BBC's main current affairs programmes up until Friday morning [I would have gone further but the BBC iPlayer has been down this weekend].

It is free for you to examine. 

Does it show that "the Israelis are on twice as much"? Please do your own analysis and draw your own conclusions:

Danny Danon, Israeli Deputy Defence Minster 

Daniel Taub, Israeli Ambassador to the United Kingdom
Mustafa Bargouti, Palestinian National Initiative Party

TODAY 1st July
Ron Dermer, Israeli Ambassador to the United States
Mustafa Barghouti, Palestinian National Initiative Party

Israa al-Mudallal, Palestinian foreign affairs spokeswoman
Lt. Col. Peter Lerner, IDF spokesman
Daniel Levy, European Council on Foreign Relations

Avi Sharit, Ha'aretz

TODAY 2nd July
Oliver McTernan, Forward Thinking 
Dani Dayan, Yesha Council

Husam Zomlot of Fatah's Foreign Relations Committee

TODAY 3rd July
Dr Abdullah Abdullah, chairman of the Political Committee of the Palestinian Legislative Council
Mark Regev, spokesman for the Israeli PM

Chris Gunness, UNRWA Spokesman
Giora Eiland, former head of the Israeli National Security Council

Gideon Remez, Harry Truman Institute at the Hebrew University, Jerusalem
Mouin Rabbani, senior fellow at the Institute for Palestine Studies

Osama Hamdan, Foreign Affairs spokesman, Hamas

TODAY 7th July
Mark Regev, Israeli government spokesman

Avi Sharit, Ha'aretz

TODAY 8th July
Brig. Gen. Michael Herzog, former chief of staff in the Israeli Defence Ministry

Lt. Col. Peter Lerner, spokesman for the Israeli Defence Force
Osama Hamdan, Hamas spokesman

Sheera Frenkel, BuzzFeed's Middle East correspondent

TODAY 9th July
Raji Sourani, head of the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights
Daniel Taub, Israeli Ambassador to the United Kingdom

Osama Hamdan, spokesman for Hamas
Retired Brig Gen Michael Herzog, former Israel negotiator
Jen Psaki, spokeswoman for the U.S. State Department

TODAY 10th July
Fawaz Gerges, LSE

Dr Yuval Steinitz, Israeli Intelligence Minister

TODAY 11th July
Adele Raemer from Kibbutz Nirim, Israel

WORLD AT ONE 11th July
Hussein Agha, senior associate member of St Antony's College, Oxford, former Palestinian negotiator

PM 11th July
Aaron David Miller, former U.S. Middle East envoy

Dennis Ross, former U.S. to the Middle East
Nancy Soderberg, former U.S. National Security Advisor

TODAY 12th July
Jacob Perry, Israeli Minister of Science
Prof. Manuel Hassassian,  Palestinian Authority's diplomatic representative to the United Kingdom

TODAY 14th July 
Dennis Ross, former U.S. diplomat

WORLD AT ONE 14th July
David Waltzer, Israel's ambassador to the EU
Leila Shahid, Palestinian Authority Ambassador to the EU

Nathan Thrall, Middle East analyst for the International Crisis Group

TODAY 16th July 
Isaac Herzog, leader of the Israeli Labor Party
Greg Philo, Glasgow University
Jonathan Freedland, the Guardian/Jewish Chronicle

Sara Hussein, Middle East correspondent, AFP
Lt. Col. Peter Lerner, IDF spokesman

TODAY 17th July
Chris Gunness, UNRWA Spokesman

PM 17th July
Lord Levy, Tony Blair's Middle East envoy

Dr Mkhaimar Abusada, political scientist, Gaza
Daniel Taub, Israeli Ambassador to the United Kingdom

TODAY 18th July
Daniel Taub, Israeli Ambassador to the United Kingdom
Mustafa Bargouti, Palestinian National Initiative Party

Greg Philo is talking out of his rear end, isn't he?

1 comment:

  1. "No Matter what they tell you, what you believe is true"
    So sang St Stephen of Gately from the Book of Boyzone a few years back.
    It`s the only line to hum whenever you meet the likes of Philo...a Mr Pastry with a Poly Stiff`kit from Steve Wright.
    The anti-Semites are utterly impervious to argument, like the Left in general.
    Which makes them dependent on media and academic monopoly for their original argument of fresh thinking sends the flatpackers of the Left into a tailspin.
    They`ve lost all debates and morality-all they have left is power and the conch shell of public dissemblance using press and telly/radio.
    But not the internet.....


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