We waited for this programme with bated breath. BBC Watch marked it as one to listen out for, as did we at “Is the BBC Biased?”
John Lloyd has written about the Middle East before and he has an authoritative manner,
but I’m afraid this programme disappointingly turned out to be just more of the same.
I’m waiting for Hadar’s critique, which I’m sure will soon be with us, packed with specific examples of the ‘omissions and subversions of fact’ that commenter ‘amie’ refers to here. I hope she won’t mind if I steal a chunk out of her comment:
“Ceserani’s narrative, whether intended or not, came across as: Israel managed somehow to pull the wool over the world media’s eyes for the first 2 decades, until it could no longer conceal its true colours. The impression that it was the events themselves which brought opprobrium onto Israel, without mentioning the deliberate Soviet media strategy of branding Zionism as racism, which Durban took still further. The proud story of how they resisted Arafat’s legal threats, but none about the abject failure through fear of journalists in the most recent war to publish Hamas’ use of civilian launchposts. Etc.”
The opener featured Jon Snow who has stated that his aim is ‘bearing witness’ rather than achieving objectivity or balance. Which is 'unusual' for someone in such a responsible and influential position. Before he went to Gaza he “never knew that the average age in Gaza is 17”, which is quite odd, is it not, because it’s no secret. I mean did he go there without doing any research? Does he not even use Mr. Google?
Snow says: “if you know any children you’ll realise how difficult it is to ‘know where they are’ all the time, and in a densely packed urban area, if you decide to throw missiles, shells and the rest, then undoubtedly you will kill children.”
Guess what. He was referring to the Israelis. He thinks it was the Israelis who “decided’ to throw missiles, shells and the rest, into (not from) a densely packed urban area. That’s what ‘bearing witness’ does for you.
Liberal sprinklings of archive newsreel interspersed with John Lloyd’s authoritative sounding commentary gave the impression he was summarising the media’s past record impartially and factually, albeit with, to the eagle-eared, the usual omissions, but it all fell into the familiar pattern when David Cesarini and a Palestinian professor of journalism spoke, as per amie's comment above.
All prospect of impartiality evaporated as soon as Jeremy Bowen was wheeled in to elaborate on the difficulties a poor Middle East journalist must endure, what with the passions of all those wretched pro-Palestinian and pro-Israel lobbyists.
Bowen recounted two examples of complaints from diametrically opposed agitators. I think the implication was that they cancel each other out, and his intention was to hammer home the BBC’s disingenuous theory that ‘we get complaints from both sides so we must be getting it about right’.
The pro Israel complainant was described disparagingly as a ‘retired doctor’, too old and stupid to realise that he had inadvertently left the ‘hasbara’ instructions on the end of his e-mail. His complaint came ‘pro-forma’, requiring the complainant to insert appropriate words into blanks. This showed that the Jewish lobby was well organised and sinister, and pro-Israel complainants were a) useful idiots or b) salaried hasbara reps.
The Palestinian complainant, on the other hand was a straightforward fanatic or lunatic. (A perversion of / not the real Islam?) With one fell swoop Bowen was killing two birds with one stone and dismissing all complainants out of hand. Lobbyists and lunatics.
The minute Bowen was brought in to this programme to opine rather than to face his many critics, you knew the whole programme was a lost cause.
Most of the examples used to illustrate or characterise M.E. reporting seemed years out of date. It’s as though this programme had been made several decades ago and kept in storage till all the material had gone stale and become irrelevant. Operation Protective edge was never dealt with. It might never have happened.
John Lloyd was like the crusty old judge who hadn’t heard of the Beatles. I mean no doubt he is very knowledgable on certain matters, but seriously lagging behind on contemporary events and the fast-changing politics of the here and now.
I haven’t time to go into more detail but I hope others will do so in good time, and now there‘s a mystery over the much postponed Panorama about the tunnels. At the time of writing it’s been dumped for the Scottish referendum, something which seems to have taken the Panorama team by surprise, investigative journalists that they are.
Jane Corbin was attacked from all sides when she made “A Walk in the Park”
and then the one about the Mavi Marmara "Death in the Med." (The BBC gives credibility to Ken O’Keefe?)
If Jane can switch from the ridiculous to the sublime at the drop of a hat, she must be getting something wrong.
Apparently this “Tunnels” programme is being shown on BBC Arabic. Maybe the Arabs aren’t so bothered about the Scottish issue as we are in the UK or Europe, or maybe it’s something more complicated?