Saturday 17 October 2015

Lord Grade slams Orla Guerin and the BBC

Following on in many ways from the previous post....

Former BBC chairman Michael Grade has written a letter to the BBC's head of news James Harding condemning the BBC's reporting of recent events in Israel, including its moral equivalence between Palestinian terror and Israeli response (something Mark Urban's report was full of).

His immediate target was the report by Orla Guerin which Sue blogged about here and Hadar blogged about here:
Lord Grade criticised the report’s apparent promotion of “equivalence between Israeli victims of terrorism and Palestinians who have been killed by Israeli security forces in the act of carrying out terror attacks”. 
He highlighted that: “An emotional interview is conducted with the father of a dead Palestinian youth who had been killed committing a fatal terror attack. However, the report failed to show the emotional distress caused to Israelis by any of these recent attacks. This is inexcusable”. 
Lord Grade continued: “Additionally, it was improper of the correspondent to claim that “there’s no sign of involvement by militant groups”, before immediately showing footage of Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) banners at the home of a 19 year-old terrorist who carried out a deadly knife attack at Lions Gate in Jerusalem on 3rd October. PIJ is a well-known Palestinian terror organisation and it has since claimed responsibility for the attack and praised by Hamas, another internationally proscribed terror organisation. This directly misleads viewers”. 
Commenting on the footage of an elderly Palestinian gentleman confronting Israelis soldiers in Hebron that were firing gas canisters, Lord Grade criticised the lack of description of the wider context. He said: “The carefully selected footage failed to show the stone-throwing protestors prompting the presence and action of Israeli security forces. While this footage is entirely worthy of broadcast, I strongly feel that viewers lacked visual and oral description of the wider context thereby limiting their awareness and understanding of what is an undoubtedly complex issue”.
He also took aim at that outrageous BBC News website headline which Sue blogged about on 5 October:

“Regrettably, this is not the first time the standard of reporting and impartiality has been unsatisfactory in recent weeks. On Saturday 3rd October, I was disappointed to see the BBC News website publish a misleading and counter-factual headline: ‘Palestinian shot dead after Jerusalem attacks kills two’. I note reports that this headline underwent four revisions following public criticism”.
He also attacked the BBC for failing “to fulfil its obligation to viewers” by not showing its audience cases of Palestinian Authority officials praising the attacks and calling for more, saying that Palestinian incitement, “has played an undeniable part in stoking tension recently and is an important part of the story”.

I have to say that I think Mark Urban's report last night was just as guilty of that. 


  1. Not a likeable person, but on this he speaks well.

  2. Harding is Head of News, not BBC DG

    1. Thanks for pointing that out. I've corrected it now.

    2. Of some interest, Guerin stood for the left wing Labour Party (in Ireland) for the EU Parliament in 1994.

    3. The Irish Labour Party's loss is our

  3. Not a game changer, but the process by which that headline came to be constructed has really thrown the spotlight on who in the BBC exists to do what to shape narratives. It may not be written down, but the culture there ensures that anything like this has to pass through an all too unique filter.


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