Friday 25 September 2020

BBC’s Reporting All at sea (over Banksy’s Mediterranean Sojourn)

A Guest Post by Arthur T 

After the recent posts - The Brand Banksy Connivance, picked up by News-Watch under ‘TheBBC’s Love Affair with Banksy’ - and further reading, I was astounded to find out just how selective the BBC had been with their coverage of the ‘Banksy goes to sea’ story. 


Sea-watch 3 Captain Pia Klemp, Heroes of our Times (courtesy available as a snip at $8,600.

The name of Pia Klemp should by now be known by all. Along with fellow captain Carola Rakete, she has been responsible for saving a thousand or so lives - migrants who were adrift in the Mediterranean mainly off the coast of Libya. Together, the two are principals of the Sea-watch programme, who in recent months have been at odds with the Italian authorities over the landing of migrants in Italian ports. website has this banner: 

Europe has gotten used to pictures of drowning people and sinking boats. We won’t. That’s why we keep on rescuing. With your support we will send another ship and aircraft to rescue. 

The first story from the BBC was on the 28th August 2020 on the Banksy pages of the BBC News website: 

‘Banksy funds boat to rescue refugees at sea’ … 

‘The Louise Michel has been funded by the street artist and is operating in the Mediterranean.’ … 

However, a day earlier on 27th August this article appeared in the Guardian:

‘Banksy funds refugee rescue boat operating in Mediterranean.’ 

This article covers the story in a depth that the BBC chose to avoid:

Banksy’s involvement in the rescue mission goes back to September 2019 when he sent an email to Pia Klemp, the former captain of several NGO boats that have rescued thousands of people over recent years.

"Hello Pia, I’ve read about your story in the papers. You sound like a badass,” he wrote. “I am an artist from the UK and I’ve made some work about the migrant crisis, obviously I can’t keep the money. Could you use it to buy a new boat or something? Please let me know. Well done. Banksy.”

Klemp, who initially thought it was a joke, believes she was chosen by Banksy due to her political stance. “I don’t see sea rescue as a humanitarian action, but as part of an anti-fascist fight,” she told the Guardian.

She has made clear that Banksy’s involvement in the operations is limited to providing financial support. “Banksy won’t pretend that he knows better than us how to run a ship, and we won’t pretend to be artists.”

Who does Pia Klemp seek to engage with in her ‘anti-fascist fight’? Surely, not the EU. 

It’s clear that despite the BBC giving Banksy his own pages on their News website, they were kept well out of the loop over this story, and were required to play catch-up - and then only choosing to cherry the pick parts of the story which were in accord with their promotion of the Banksy brand. Were they unable to report that ‘the operations is limited to providing financial support’ and thus Banksy’s artwork was valueless in this instance? We have noted that the continued support by the BBC of Banksy, in particular the ‘mystery’ of his identity, can have been of significant commercial benefit to his wealth, now sufficient to fund the purchase of MV Louise Michel. 

What I find troubling is that a images Google search ‘Pia Klemp BBC’ produces no matches, though there are plenty of photos of Pia Klemp from other media sources. There is just one, indirectly drawing attention to The Guardian article via the newspaper reviews. I have been looking for the reasons that Klemp is ‘non-existent’ in this way according to the BBC. It appears that Banksy’s boat MV Louise Michel is a German flagged vessel, and that the Sea-watch programme, referred to by the BBC as an ‘NGO Charity’, is backed partly or largely by the Evangelical Church EKD of Protestant Germany. 

Another possible reason might be that Pia Klemp has associations with Forensic Architecture, headed by British Israeli Eyal Weizman at Goldsmiths College. Readers of ITBBCB? will know this group from their shortlisting for the Turner Prize in 2018. 

All in all, it remains a mystery as to why the BBC, who follow every move of Banksy’s, were unaware of the story broken by The Guardian ‘Exclusive’ (although we all thought the Beeb and Guardian were joined at the hip), and also why there is so little on the BBC about ‘a hero of our times’ Pia Klemp, who must tick nearly every box for the BBC’s routine diversity exercise. That the EU come out of this very badly might irk the BBC group-thinkers for whom the EU can do no wrong. 

Also missing from BBC News, the story of Sea-watch and their continuing stand-off with the Italian authorities had a newsworthy addition last weekend, when according to Die Welt, 

"Sea-Watch 4" set - Bedford-Strohm criticizes “arbitrariness" Status: 21.09.2020 

Extracts read as follows: 

Italian authorities hold the refugee ship "Sea-Watch 4" in Sicily. Now the council chairman of the Evangelical Church in Germany has intervened. He spoke of a pretext that would prevent sea rescue.

The outrage over the detention of the church rescue ship “Sea-Watch 4” is growing. The council chairman of the Evangelical Church in Germany (EKD), Heinrich Bedford-Strohm, called the process on Monday an “irresponsible act of arbitrariness”. “Anyone who hinders sea rescue accepts that people will drown,” he said. Under the pretext of ship safety, the rescue of people from distress at sea should obviously be prevented,

The Sea-Watch 4 was arrested by Italian authorities on Sunday night in the Sicilian port city of Palermo after it had rescued more than 350 people from distress at sea. According to Sea-Watch, this was justified with alleged security deficiencies.

We can deduce from all of this that both the BBC and Banksy are way out of their depth when it comes to virtue-signalling over the rescue of refugees adrift in the Med - once it all turned ugly. The MV Louise Michel is little more than a shuttle service passing rescued refugees on to coastguard or Sea-Watch vessels, the latter of which are clearly at the sharp end of any dealings with the Italian authorities. Sea-Watch have powerful backers in Germany, whereas BBC/Banksy provide little more than a decorative froth. 

The BBC took an interest Carola Rackete of Sea-watch last year: 

Carola Rackete: How a ship captain took on Italy's Salvini

Italy migrants: Pressure builds over Lampedusa rescue ship’ 

The Sea-Watch 3 reached the Italian island of Lampedusa on Wednesday with 42 rescued migrants.

But, to the BBC, a similarly themed story from 21st September 2020 is no longer newsworthy! We should conclude that both Banksy and the BBC are well out of their depth and floundering. The virtue signalling from both have an uncanny, somewhat muted watery ring to them.

The BBC have tied themselves in knots over their reporting of the refugee crisis in the Mediterranean, by wishing to promote only the sentimental human stories of migrants. From 11th Sept:

Migrants on Lesbos: 'Europe does not exist. This is hell' 

In this emotive piece written from the viewpoint of the refugee, we were told by the BBC: 

The collapse of Moria into a scorched mass of ash and mangled memories has prompted a fresh humanitarian crisis at the edge of Europe. Not only are thousands of migrants and refugees without shelter - but when the fire hit, 35 of them had tested positive for coronavirus and most of those haven't been located.

The Greek government says the flames were lit by migrants protesting at isolation measures by the camp authorities.

The migrants refute that, insisting it was the work of far-right Lesbos residents, for years furious that their island has been on the frontline of Europe's migration crisis.’ 

By 16th September, the NYT and Daily Mail reported that not ’far-right Lesbos residents’, but Afghan Migrants Charged With Arson in Fires that Destroyed Lesbos Camp - The New York So, where is the BBC’s news of this, and their retraction of the far-right slur? I can’t find anything.

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