Monday 4 August 2014

Lyse, damned lies and dodgy statistics.

I bear Lyse Doucet no ill-will. I don’t feel any animosity towards her at all. At one time I found her accent intriguing, and many years ago I listened to a middle-of-the-night broadcast on radio 4, probably BBC World service, about her background and Canadian origins and thought it was fascinating.

Of course, since she’s been beating the anti-Israel trail, it is hard not to find yourself disliking her. I mean when she slunk over to the side of the street where the sun don’t shine, you had to wonder what went wrong. Somewhere, somehow she lost sight of the investigate/inquire/question side of the job and took up this depthless practice of unadulterated emoting, which no doubt she calls “telling other people’s stories”  I gather that’s what Alan Johnston would plead, when trying to reason with his captors who obviously weren’t impressed.

Craig’s transcript of Lyse’s contribution to Feedback is interesting. Thanks Craig, you’re a star. Your *transcribing* Brownie badge is in the mail. 

 “Every journalist now working on either side depends on further statistics - two sources of information: the Gazan Health Ministry...which I think is doing a fairly good job given the circumstances they're working under, gives us the figures of the dead, the injured, which are based on how many bodies come in the morgue, how many people are received at the hospital...and, similarly, the Israeli Defence Forces tell you how many attacks did Israel carry out, how many rockets were fired from Gaza, how many of them were intercepted by their very effective, American-financed Iron Dome system. So they give you all those. 

And I think that, you know, both of them have a high degree of legitimacy. We're often challenged to say, "How come you're taking figures from the Hamas-controlled Health Ministry, but I think, by and large, they are as close as possible to being an accurate reflection.”

Hang on. They take the figures from those brought into the morgue? Then why not report them as figures brought into the morgue. I mean just because they’re dead doesn’t mean Israel killed them all.  How, then does the ‘mostly civilians’ statistic come about? Not all Hamas ‘militants’ are uniformed I hear, even as corpses. Not all 16 year-olds are innocent either, though they could technically be described as children.

I have heard many a foreign office type (I move in some weird and wonderful circles I’ll have you know) laugh and joke affectionately about the unreliability and unpredictability of your gun-toting Johnny Arab of the 1940s and 50s. They love ‘em to bits, but they know they can’t be trusted not to turn against one at the drop of a hat. 

Funny that Hamas is now regarded by the BBC as just as truthful, trustworthy and honest as Israelis from the ‘only-democracy-in-the-region.‘ I put that in scare-quotes because it is a hackneyed phrase, but none the less true for all that.  
Oh yes, that does sound fairly racist, but the bit concerning ambivalent Arabism is factual and the rest is conjecture based on that. So my generalisation is hardly any more racist than than Lyse’s generalising and trusting naïveté.

Hamas is a criminal and terrorist organization. It aims to wipe not only Israel, but all Jews off the face of the earth. It wants to replace Israel, the only democracy in the Middle East, by an Islamic state under Sharia law. Yet, our media, in Europe and America alike, tend to depict it -- after it kidnapped and murdered three Jewish boys in Israel and then, as it had been doing for years, resumed raining rockets and missiles into Israel -- as an organization that has been forced to use violence in reaction to Israeli aggression. And after Hamas deliberately committed the war crime of using its own citizens -- especially women and children -- as human shields in order to have bloodied victims for the television cameras, the media also depicted Hamas as standing for the human rights of the people in Gaza.

That’s from an article by Peter Martino entitled “The new Nazism’s First Victim: Truth. I cite it because it explains why we worry about the BBC’s cavalier disregard for the consequences of unbalanced reporting as well as the institutional avoidance of the ‘value judgment” that they seem to think constitutes fairness and impartiality, but which is not always appropriate.
 “Misled by their media, who often distort the context in favor of what seems a juicier version of the story, and the cowardice of political leaders who refuse to speak out in support of Israel, people have come to see Israel as the aggressor, bent on driving the Palestinians into the sea, while the reality is exactly the opposite.”

“as close as possible to being an accurate reflection.” says Lyse.
That depends on how you define possible. If you mean ‘possible’ under the reporting restrictions imposed by Hamas - (If you report Hamas-unfriendly material we’ll shoot you) then, yes they are undoubtedly as close as possible to being accurate.
Otherwise, not so much.

Lyse actually says something like that herself: 
“You know, back to our point about in all wars it's very difficult for security reasons, for propaganda reasons, to get to the full truth. I try to concentrate on what I see. And you can actually see, if you look hard enough, you can see a lot.”

But is she looking hard enough? She is back in the UK now after all. Is she really as blind as a Bowen? (TM)

"Well, where can they go? There's no place for them to go. It's such a densely-populated area that they've no other choice but to fire from in there." 
One might speculate that ‘they would say that’ to a reporter, 'wouldn’t they?'. As for the densely populated meme I gather the ‘no other choice’ part is stretching it a bit. Quite a lot in fact. 

Yes, but you're...In being a human being, I always say our journalism is defined by the question we ask. So we ask, "Why have so many children been hit?", "What was the target in this place?", "Why, in the case of Hamas and Islamic Jihad, why are you firing rockets from residential areas?"

So she asks everyone “why this” and “why that,” and doesn’t provide an answer. Then concludes:
“It's wrong. It's wrong to target the civilians.” Is she saying, (I think she is) that the conclusion she has reached is that she rejects all of Israel’s explanations, and believes they simply target civilians.  

I’m willing to believe she is sincere. Her final statement comes across as an honest account of her good intentions, the best of which pave the road to Hell, remember. It doesn’t say much for her judgment.

I’d like the BBC to swap their reporters round for a trial period. A reshuffle. Send Donnison, Pannell, Doucet, Bowen and Knell to Israel with strict instructions to ‘tell their story’ and get Bethany Bell over to Gaza just to see if she remains as cool and dispassionate as she seems to be in Israel. 


  1. Firstly I was going to thank both Sue and Craig for their enormous amount of transcribing as well as comment on this blog. I tried twice from the i-pad and twice it froze. I gave up and moved to the laptop and lo and behold by time I got the thing switched on Sue has beaten me to it.

    I read Lyse's words thanks to Craig - the written word gives more time to ponder than just hearing them. Tonight via bBBC I watched an analysis of a Pallywood production of an attack on a school - with a little girl in pink so may be the same one as Sue was talking about. I have also watched the endless pictures being shown on the BBC (and reported on by the DM but that's not for this site) of white body bags being carried by tearful men (does Lyse know what is inside them because I don't trust them), the endless film of Gazan men running about with supposedly dead or injured who don't appear to have so much as a graze and the truly awful acting early on in this conflict as a man was supposedly passing out at the news that his family (or some of them) had died. Does Lyse ask if the number of dead includes those obviously acting out a Pallywood production? And if Lyse is really reporting what she sees, why doesn't she see that bodies or injured people don't seem to have injuries? There were some of them tonight on the 6pm BBC 1 News. Seeing blood tells you nothing because the recent Pallywood production had it liberally sprinkled around whilst Hamas moved 'bodies' for best effect and their hands etc were moving. Now why if I and others can see when the acting happens, cannot a £3 billion organisation either not see it nor employ people to verify the scenes before they transmit them. I can only suggest it is one of two things; either there are none so blind as those that will not see; or it is anti-Semitism. Well Lyse and the BBC, which is it?

  2. I heard Doucet on Feedback too.
    My thinking was , as soon as she mentioned the Iron Dome defence system as being funded by the US-I knew her direction of travel!
    You know-they`d not be doing this if Uncle Sam hadn`t turned them into an aircraft carrier...the old CND crap we`d all have known when we were involved in all that jazz...I speak as one who certainly did.
    Meanwhile-as Obama funds Pakistan, Egypt and has done so for others....Lyse has no comment on what THEY do with their St Baraks funds.
    It`s those little clues and codes that help us all to understand what is going on...Barossa, Ashton and 90% of the current Labour elite and their quango placemen all understand the restricted codes and syntax from 1983.

  3. Why is she wearing that silly fireman's helmet?


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