Monday 14 May 2018

Exam Question (featuring the BBC's John Simpson)

Let's summarise the BBC's view of the US embassy opening and the violence on the Israel-Gaza border today through the tweets of its World Affairs Editor so far...

...moving chronologically from the earliest today to the latest...

(1) Do you spot a point of view - a bias - emerging? And (2), if so, in what direction? (2 marks)

[For 'Complaints from both sides' fans, we'd love to hear from any Electronic Intifada types here. What do you make of John Simpson's tweets?]


John Simpson: Chances of a diplomatic 2-state solution between Israel & the Palestinians became vanishingly small when Netanyahu took over as PM. They end today as US puts embassy in Jerusalem.

John Simpson: Deaths in Gaza & W Bank going up: 28 at present today. Historically, long-term results of soldiers mowing down civilians often incalculable.

John Simpson: Now 37 killed on Gaza border.

John Simpson Retweeted:
Jon Williams: "Our greatest hope is for peace" #Trump tells opening of US Embassy in Jerusalem. In #Gaza, they're burying their dead.

John Simpson: Deaths on Gaza border now at least 41.

John Simpson Retweeted
Jonathan Freedland: Seventy years to the day since Israel declared its independence, here's my @JewishChron column on the day itself - a day of liberation for Jews, a day of dispossession for for Palestinians

John Simpson: Gaza's hospitals 'at breaking point': 43 dead, nearly 2000 injured including women & children. No Israeli soldiers reported injured.

John Simpson: Correction:  One Israeli soldier reported slightly injured.

John Simpson Retweeted:
JewishVoiceForPeace: Yasser Fathi, freelance photographer From Gaza who took this iconic photo, was shot today in the stomach while wearing a bulletproof PRESS vest covering #Gaza. This is how Israeli forces are responding to press and photographers at #GreatMarchReturn protesting 

John Simpson: As Gaza death toll reaches 52, @BorisJohnson queries use of live rounds & @EmilyThornberry (his Labour shadow) says Israeli has an apparently systemic and deliberate policy of killing and maiming unarmed protestors and bystanders.

John Simpson: Mike Pompeo, US secretary of state, issues a statement welcoming the opening of the American embassy in Jerusalem. He doesn't mention the killings of 50+ Palestinians which happened at the same time.


Answers: (1) Yes, a strong point of view emerges, though there are several linked biases rather than just one and (2) it shows that the BBC's impartial World Affairs Editor disapproves of the US embassy move and is also strongly critical of Israel's actions without any thought (it seems) of balancing that with any positive thoughts about the US embassy move or any criticisms of the instigators of the violence on the Gaza-Israel border, principally Hamas. 

In further support of the answer to Point 2 students may be given a bonus mark for noting that the BBC's impartial World Affairs Editor also re-tweets points of view similar to his own without adding distancing criticism whilst, in contrast, tweeting about comments different to his point of view with added critical comments of his own, and that this also suggests bias. 


  1. 1. Yes.

    2. The usual deluded BBC opinion that a wonderful two state solution is being held up not by nutjob Hamas but the democratically elected goverment of Israel (with its 20% population of Arabs).

    Further notes in the hope of extra marks:

    Well if we are going to go by Tiananeman Square, the Mullahs' actions in Iran or South Africa's ANC government's shooting dead of striking miners, the "historical implications of mowing down civilians" is close to zero. But you won't hear Simpson harping on about mowing down of civilians in those parts of the world. In fact I can't recall the BBC ever referring again to the shooting of the striking South African miners:

    When I just googled on that I was getting references from Al Jazeera and the Independent, even the Guardian, but nothing from the BBC.

    What's the Jewish Chronicle doing inviting Simpson to sully its columns? I never really trusted that Steven Pollard guy.

    Simpson appears increasingly senile and solipsistic. Wherever there is lethal conflict, if reporters put themselves in the firing line, there is a chance they will get killed (or in the case of the CNN journalist reporting on the Arab Spring in Egypt, raped). We have seen that time and time again and IIRC Simpson himself almost came to grief in a conflict zone. That is simply a fact of life. Unless Simpson has evidence that a reporter has been targetted, he is simply emoting.

    Israel has scored an own goal in shooting dead so many Palestinians but they have the right to protect their border.

    Simpson continues the BBC policy of presenting the decision to locate the US embassy in Jerusalem as a "Trump decision". In fact he was simply implementing legislation passed in Congress by something like 98-2 IIRC. Vitually all Senators support the move in principle and maybe even in practice.

  2. Simpson was clearly upset by the deaths but he crossed the line and showed his true feelings which is completely unacceptable in his position as World Affairs Editor. I’m afraid he does this all the time and should be put out to grass.

    According to Simpson himself, James Harding tried to get rid of him but failed. Mores the pity.

  3. This incitement to hatred can only lead to more hatred and ultimately violence.

    Jeremy Bowen also showed his pure hatred for Jews in the tone of his voice when he read an over long anti Semitic extract from the "Lebanese Star" newspaper on Radio 4 's "What the paper's say" over a decade ago. The complaint went to the top - the BBC Governors. They knew it would incite hatred because when our complaint was rejected they sent a re- recording of the programme with Bowen speaking in a much calmer and less emotional manner. Incredibly Bowen is still at the BBC and despite the protests of a brave MP to the director general of the BBC at the time ( Mark Thompson)

    1. He did a great job of pure bias on the BBC 6pm news yesterday which I've reported to Honest Reporting. I don't understand how the BBC manages to remain so aloof and unaccountable given its supposedly a public body.


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