Thursday 27 January 2022

Rumbling on

There have been yet more twists and turns this week in the story of the BBC's reporting of the antisemitic incident on Oxford Street where some Muslim youths spat at and threw shoes at a bus containing Jewish teenagers, also shouting abuse and directing Hitler salutes at them.

The BBC's Executive Complaints Unit [ECU] partially upheld complaints against it, amending their online report again and adding a second correction. The ECU found that the reporting didn't "meet the BBC’s standards of due accuracy" and "also lacks due impartiality in failing to reflect alternative views".

Presented like that you can see why some newspapers are reporting this as an "apology", but the "Partly upheld" status of the complaint signals that the BBC is holding its shaky ground on some fronts; indeed, the more I read it and saw all the usual BBC weasel words, 'ifs and buts', etc, the clearer it became that the BBC was actually excusing itself of all but minor things, doubling-down on the major things and providing cover for itself.

I didn't know where to begin to deconstruct it but, thankfully, a masterly critique of the BBC's slipperiness has already been written. Yes, a read of Melanie Phillips is needed - and she's free to read on this. She calls it "a shocking defence of the indefensible".

Then came the twist that Ofcom have decided to investigate this themselves. Given that Ofcom has ruled against the BBC just once more than never in its time as regulator I won't be holding my breath, but I suppose a degree of optimism is reasonable given that Ofcom mustn't be entirely satisfied with the BBC's response for them to launch their own inquiry into the BBC's coverage. 

It's quite a thing that, on the eve of International Holocaust Day, the BBC is under investigation by Ofcom over their reporting of antisemitism. 

[Shades of the antisemitism-riddled Labour Party under Jeremy Corbyn].

And it gets weirder. 

The much-admired CST (Community Security Trust) - doughty defender of the UK's Jewish population - has accused the BBC's ECU of misrepresenting and misquoting them, and using them as cover. 

And Marie van der Zyl, the head of the Board of Deputies, has accused departing BBC head of news Fran Unworth of making “highly inappropriate comments” about Jewish communal organisation during a meeting last week, writing to Tim Davie to demand disciplinary measures be taken against her. Ms van der Zyl said that Fran's comments were a “not very subtle way of saying that ‘you lot are all the same.’” She also said that Mr Davie didn't say anything to correct Ms Unsworth, just kept quiet. 

It's quite a mess. At least the BBC haven't commissioned Shami Chakrabarty to whitewash their behaviour yet. 

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