|Broadcasting House, under construction in the 1930s
It's July live across the world, so time for a new open thread. Thank you for your comments.
It's got to the stage where whenever I read a BBC News online report I automatically think, ''Has the BBC fact-checked this?''.
I don't trust their basic competence these days.
A whole new blog might be devoted to correcting basic errors in BBC website reports.
A fresh case in point...
As you'd expect the Twitter-obsessed BBC picked up on the Twitter furore over Lord [Digby] Jones's criticisms of BBC sports presenter Alex Scott for doin' a Beth Rigby and droppin' her 'g's.
I immediately spotted something that didn't look right and Googled to fact-check myself.
The BBC writes:
Digby was never a Labour transport minister. He was a trade minister under Gordon Brown.
Desperately specialist subject territory perhaps, but as discussed on the open thread...
I think there’s a touch of elephant in my DNA. I should get a test. In the innocent eyes of a child, Babar the elephant and his family seem gentle and sort of poignant, but it turns out he was a massive racist and has had to be banned. Oh well, like the proverbial elephant I can’t let go of certain memories. Just can’t shake ‘em off. (Not that I’ve tried)
I recall Joan Juliet Buck, a senior editor of Vogue magazine at the time, publishing the now-infamous puff-piece about Syria’s first lady Asma al-Assad. The piece was titled A Rose in the Desert. Buck’s subsequent confession of regret and embarrassment didn’t make a big splash, but at least she came clean even if Vogue magazine did not. Of course, that was before hubby Bashir gassed half his subjects. Ms Buck had fallen for Mrs al-Assad and family hook line and sinker, in much the same way as Charlotte Edwardes-with-an-e appears to have done, as evidenced by her obvious admiration for, nay, crush on social media stars and anti-Israel activists ‘the twins of Jerusalem’.
If you thought the illustration I used in my previous post looked familiar, you’ll have recognised it as an oblique reference to an interview in Saturday’s Times magazine, which has been thoroughly deconstructed by others.
What is it with these fashion mag people? It may be bitchy to say so -perhaps racist - but I see them as a ‘type’ - middle-class, blonde, London-centric, and with a sense of entitlement that allows them to brandish their superficial and totally unsubstantiated polemics with the confidence only fools possess. And they get them published. I’m disgusted with the Times for promoting this ill-intentioned article, but such things are getting a bit too frequent to be mere aberrations.
Charlotte Edwardes’s article immediately flagged up the memory of “Rose of the Desert”, which, much as Vogue magazine and its ilk might not like it, we elephants never forget. One day in the future The Times and Charlotte Edwardes might regret the way they’ve decontextualised and glorified such fanatical haters, but the way things are going I ain’t holding my breath.
So here’s where I can safely say, in the words of the great Brenda from Bristol - Not another one!
I used to follow the writings of Hugh Fitzgerald, way back in 2009, when I wanted to educate myself about political Islam. Then I lost track a bit, but he’s popped into my consciousness again because he’s directly addressing the BBC. Here’s his take on Tala Hawala, and this piece: The BBC’s notoriously anti-Israel and pro-Palestinian Middle East coverage is worth a few minutes of your time; here’s an excerpt:
I had occasion some time ago to write about Bowen’s reckless disregard of important facts. As one example of this, I noted that he has been cavalier about the numbers of terrorist attacks that Israelis have had to endure. In an interview Bowen gave to Paul Blanchard, he claimed that “plenty of Palestinians feel very threatened by settlers, armed settlers, by soldiers, by raids in the middle of the night, by helicopters, you name it. And many Israelis have been hurt by and continue to be worried about attacks by Palestinians, though there haven’t been all that many in recent years.”
“John Simpson once proclaimed at his website that he was “doing my best to make sense of a crazy world.” On the subject of Islam, he has been among its stoutest apologists. When he interviewed Pim Fortuyn, he infuriated that supremely intelligent man with his absurd charges about Fortuyn’s “racism,” and his obstinate refusal to accept Fortuyn’s statement of the obvious, that Islam is not a race; the courtly Fortuyn ordered Simpson and his BBC crew to leave his home after accusing the newsman of “failing to show him any respect.” You can read Simpson’s report on the man he called “Holland’s anti-Islam dandy.” Notice the sneer in his description of Fortuyn’s “high-camp charm” and how the Dutchman “sat in his garden bower like an 18th century dandy whose wig had fallen off.”
Currently linked to in our sidebar, David Collier has unearthed yet another BBC-related anti-Israel activist and exposed the BBC’s Tom Bateman as a bit of a fanboy, if that’s the right expression.
This is mere 'tip of the iceberg' stuff. But still, paint me Brenda from Bristol. The BBC really seems to be full of staff members that are hostile to Israel and happy to remain ignorant of and/or turn a blind eye to the implications of political Islam.
The tip of the iceberg, but still worth reminding you. (Isn't it?)
After unearthing some historic Hitler-related Tweets by its employee Tala Hawala the BBC dismissed her from her job as Palestine Specialist for BBC Monitoring.
Why though - why close the comments? Opinions on Israel and the Palestinians (and sometimes on ‘Islam-in-general’) are invariably divisive and turn nasty at the drop of a hat, but I wonder if preemptively cancelling comments altogether is a sensible policy. It probably is, while the general public is so ill-informed and ill-equipped to argue knowledgeably. See that, BBC?
But suppurating boils ache to be lanced, and because this blog is all about the BBC and Bias, and because one aspect of the media’s egregiously one-sided reporting is the BBC’s pro-Palestinian / anti-Israel bias, particularly by omission but also by inference and outright advocacy - because of all that - we need to talk.
In the self-pitying reposte above, Ms Hawala paints herself as a victim of the pro-Israel mob. I’ve heard it argued that her views are perfectly in accord with the BBC’s, therefore singling her out for dismissal is unfair and that she merely crossed the line with a much-too-unsubtle reference to Hitler, accidentally a little too overt and in-yer-face to pass for impartiality.
“I apologise for my single offensive and ignorant Tweet” came the weasel-worded non-apology. “I blurted out the “Hitler was right” remark in the heat of the moment” This confession looked suitably self-deprecating with a whiff of mea culpa thrown in. and had she left it at that, with the possibility of a Naz Shah style redemption. ‘Lessons learned / sorry for what I did‘ she might have bought herself some time.
But no. Racism will out. Begging for sympathy, Hawala painted her heat-of-the-moment outburst as understandable. Cherry-picking incidents from Israel’s 2014 retaliatory incursion into Gaza - devoid of context and full of obvious omissions - not least three murdered Israeli teenagers - was a clumsy and stupid tactic. She even managed to trash her own boast, of (her own) ‘impartial and professional journalism’ by coming out with a litany of stereotypical antisemitic conspiracy theories. Hoist on her own gratuitously self-damning petard and reducing her vindication thing to parody.
There’s no way back. Chances of reconciliation - quashed. She needn’t worry though. There are plenty of opportunities still open to her. The Times might be interested.
For anyone who still cares, that loaded allusion to ‘Industrial in scale’ is quite obscene