There are times when you absolutely despair of the standards of reporting in this country.
I certainly felt like that catching up with David Keighley's latest Newswatch posts about the sad death of a Polish man, Arkadiusz Jozwik, in Harlow last year and the BBC's atrocious reporting of it.
The BBC, despite some brief caveats, strongly pushed the angle that it might be a Brexit-related racist hate crime/murder against a much-liked Polish man.
A youth was sentenced for Mr Jozwik's manslaughter this week.
Things, however, weren't as the BBC reported them. The BBC got it wrong.
It wasn't just the BBC of course - and Brendan O'Neill rips into the rest of the media at Spiked over this - but the BBC are a licence-fee-funded public broadcaster and their lapses were particularly egregious, especially John Sweeney's absolutely shocking Newsnight report, which, if you recall, ended like this:
ERIC HIND: (fragment of word, unclear) I don’t know if I can mention names but I mean . . .
JOHN SWEENEY: Mention names!
ERIC HIND: But I mean, Nigel Farage, I mean, thank you for that, because you are part of this death, and you’ve got blood on your hands, thanks to you, thanks for all your decision, wherever you are, er...yeah, it’s your call.
JOHN SWEENEY: Nigel Farage has always denied this allegation. As the search for clues and answers continues, the fear is that two poisons [violence and racism] have come together to a lethal result.
The BBC asserted on the News at Six that the death of Arkadiusz Jozwik was the result of an "unprovoked attack". The court found otherwise, deciding that Mr Jozwik and his friend (both heavily drunk) had behaved provocatively, shouting racist abuse at a black man and at the English youths.
The BBC asserted on Newsnight (through the mouth of Evan Davis) that Mr Jozwik was "beaten to death". The court found otherwise, concluding that Mr Jozwik had died from impact with a pavement following a blow from a single youth that was not intended to kill him.
The BBC's Daniel Sandford on the News at Six asserted it was a "frenzied" attack. The court found otherwise. (See previous paragraph).
Radio 4 Today reporter Dominic O'Connell asked the Polish deputy prime minister, "And tragically, we had a Polish man attacked and killed in Harlow in Essex on Saturday. Do you fear actually that some Poles might be motivated to return simply because they fear the Brexit vote has stirred some racist feeling against them?" - a linkage the court failed to find.
The whole tenor of the BBC's reporting was that 'people "fear" this was a racist hate crime provoked by the Brexit vote. (Both John Sweeney and Daniel Sandford used that form of words.) The court found otherwise, failing to find any evidence that it was a racist hate crime related to the Brexit vote - rather the reverse in fact.
Nigel Farage is understandably furious at the BBC's behaviour here - especially John Sweeney's - and no one, whatever you think of Mr Farage, could surely feel otherwise.
John Sweeney and Newsnight owe him an apology for starters. Whether John Sweeney is big enough a man to give Nigel Farage such an apology is something that remains to be seen. It's to be hoped that he is.
(JS seems, however, to have forgotten the story completely, having tweeted nothing about the sentencing this week).
Hopefully the BBC will be held to account over this and will make a full and widely-broadcast apology.
Such appallingly inaccurate and loaded reporting is hardly what the BBC is supposed to be about.
BBC - according to the BBC they are innocent until are proved innocent as they will be in this case, despite the involvement of John "Mad"* Sweeney.ReplyDelete
* Apologies for the non-PC use of "mad" but after seeing his vulcanic interview with the Scientology guy I think that is the only adjective that fits.