Thursday 30 June 2022

Sack and smear

The BBC sacked Mark Killick, a senior journalist and reporter on Panorama, for raising concerns about Martin Bashir's interview with Princess Diana, and then smeared him. Now, 25 or so years later, they are paying compensation to him, doubtless out of the licence fee.

What Mr Killick says bears quoting in full:

The BBC's attempt to try and destroy my reputation rather than investigate my concerns shows just how desperate the BBC was to hide what had happened.

It was an extraordinary attempt to cover up wrongdoing and the climate of fear it created may well have stopped other BBC whistleblowers from speaking out for a generation.

I still find it staggering that the BBC was so determined to conceal the truth that it launched a smear campaign against me to protect its tainted scoop.

I am grateful to Tim Davie and his team for finally setting the record straight. But the damage to the BBC's reputation is immense and you can understand if BBC employees no longer have the courage to speak truth to power.


Ferdinand 'Bongbong' Marcos Jr has been sworn in as the president of the Philippines, taking over from Rodrigo Duterte.

The three links in the BBC's main report about this suggest that the BBC isn't overly impressed:

Wednesday 29 June 2022

Not another one?

They say the internet never forgets, making 'offense archaeology' possible.

Digging deeply, Guido Fawkes is really going to town on the newly appointed editor of BBC Radio Wales and Sport, Carolyn Hitt.

She's clearly one of life's perpetual Twitterers. 

In recent years, she's keenly declared her dislike of Brexit and Tories, and declared that, though a life-long Labour voter, she'd voted Plaid Cymru as that was the party that 'reflects unambiguously about how I feel about Brexit'.

She's also - within the last five or so years - written articles slamming the Welsh for voting for Brexit, backed Welsh independence, expressed admiration for Jeremy Corbyn and slammed The Sun, The Daily Mail and the Daily Express as “far-right rags”.

So her views are clear.

I've just done five minutes of digging myself on Twitter using the terms 'UKIP' and 'Farage' - which are so fruitful because they tap into how certain people reacted to the rise of UKIP, Nigel Farage and Brexit and, ultimately, the 2019 collapse of the Red Wall. So here are some further tweets from Ms Hitt:

She's landed quite a bold claim there in saying that she'll 'never understand' the appeal of wide swathes of Welsh opinion. Hopefully, that's not true, given that she's now in charge of the BBC's Welsh radio output and is Charter-bound to understand all shades of public opinion, whatever she thinks of them, and then to treat them fairly. 

And the last two there are particularly interesting in the context of BBC impartiality. The partisan Ms Hitt was slapping the BBC for inviting on Nigel Farage. 

The question, of course, is whether she'll be able to hang her leftist, anti-Brexit, pro-Welsh independence coat up at the door now she's been appointed to a senior editorship at the BBC. 

Tuesday 28 June 2022

Good sense from the heart of Lancashire

Dr Amy Binns and Sophie Arnold of the University of Central Lancashire (UCLan) have produced guidance for journalists to help them report court cases that involve a transgender defendant. Their work strikes me as being very sensible and useful, and clearly written too. It's well worth reading:

1. Avoid using definitive words without caveat especially in headlines and introductions.
Headlines which use the word “woman” to describe a transwoman implies that the writer, and publication, agrees with the proposition “Transwomen are women”. This is an opinion, not a fact, and so should not be used in the headline of a news report. Similarly, describing a person who has recently changed their name as a “transwoman” implies to the general reader that the person has made a sincere, permanent commitment to a gender change, probably with medical treatment. This may not be the case. In headlines, the words woman or transwoman are better avoided. In body copy, phrases can be used such as “The prosecuting lawyer said Smith now identifies as a woman” or “Smith claimed to be transgender and asked court officials to use female pronouns”.

2. Report all quotes accurately even if this results in different pronouns being used by different speakers.
In court reporting, as elsewhere, quotes should never be changed. If necessary, a brief explanation is best: “Although Smith was referred to as a woman by court officials, the witness referred to Smith as a man”.

3. Seek to provide your reader with the most accurate information, where possible, regarding the person’s status such as an official name change, medical treatment, time of transition or GRC.
Public understanding of trans terms is low, and even official definitions are so vague and all-encompassing as to be almost meaningless. In the majority of news reports, details of a person’s transition will be irrelevant, but is relevant where biological sex is a factor if the reader is to understand the facts, particularly where a defendant has transitioned, or claimed to transition, after arrest.

4. Refrain from using pronouns, except in quotes, even if this results in awkward sentence construction or repetition of a name.
To refer to a biological male with female pronouns is to tacitly agree with their claim that they are a woman or transwoman. Owing to the incentives of the justice system, this may not be the case. Using their chosen pronouns is to collude in their possible deception.

5. Make clear the biological sex of the defendant high up in the story.
Types of crime strongly correlate with biological sex. These differences remain even after transition. Public understanding of crime, particularly violent and sexual offences, will be corroded if a defendant’s sex is cloaked in euphemisms, or buried in a final paragraph, or if gender is conflated with sex.

6. Use both birth and trans names where available, particularly for sex offences.
Journalists have a duty to the public, as well as obligations to the subjects of stories. This can create a conflict when a person has changed their name. Many trans people greatly dislike being referred to by their original name, sometimes known as “deadnaming”, and in most news stories there is no need to use it. However, there is clearly a public interest case for reporting a defendant’s original name as well as their new name. Reports of sex offences are one of the most valuable methods of encouraging victims of earlier crimes to come forward. Complying with a sex offender’s demands to only use their new name in public reports may allow them to escape justice for other crimes. The existence of a GRC does not prohibit the publication of a previous name when used to investigate or prevent crime, as described in the societal benefits of court reporting above. An analogy would be with press treatment of far-right activist Stephen Yaxley-Lennon, AKA Tommy Robinson. The media, across the political spectrum, routinely refer to him by both names, regardless of his preference.

Their report includes a spreadsheet that links to many relevant cases, including to several BBC reports. What's striking is that the BBC has been far from consistent in how it reports such stories. They range from the one about child rapist Patrick McCann, which simply calls him 'Patrick McCann' and uses 'he' and 'his' throughout, to the one about John Marshall, which uses the headline Blackpool woman accessed child abuse images in hospital bed, immediately follows that with the opening line 'A woman who accessed her "vast" library of child sexual abuse images from her hospital bed has been jailed', and only uses the name 'Julie Marshall' and the pronoun 'she'. 

All About Trans

Here's a story I missed...until now. 

The Times reported last Friday that back in 2011 the BBC and Channel 4 funded a transgender campaign group called All About Trans to the tune of £20,000. 

“Some BBC insiders believe its influence is still felt in the corporation’s reporting on gender identity”, the paper says, adding “The BBC and Channel 4’s investment went unnoticed and they have not provided funding since. It is unlikely the broadcasters would back a similar project today.” 

The organisation held “several discussions” with BBC executives, including one in 2013 with editorial policy executives, “the gatekeepers of the broadcaster’s impartiality.” 

The report quotes “a BBC insider” saying:
It might look like ancient history but All About Trans has informed our approach in news and all content. It was embedded nearly a decade ago and it’s not gone away.
The organisation promotes preferred terminology “like assigned male/female at birth” as against “born a man/woman” and advocates “inclusive language”, eg. the use of pronouns, “which are echoed in BBC News’s rules on the use of language in reporting.”

The top-rated comments below the article suggest people are unimpressed:
  • And they think it acceptable to waste my license fee on this???? I would NEVER intentionally fund such a cause!! The BBC has totally forgotten its purpose....and is increasingly (and sadly) showing itself to be not fit for purpose.
  • I am dismayed to learn that this is within the terms of the BBC charter. I am dismayed that they would fund any organisation pushing a particular point of view with public money - it conflicts at least with their ability to claim objectivity and lack of bias.
  • Another reason not to pay my licence fee. Many of these public bodies seem to forget that ordinary people are slogging their guts out doing actual ‘work’ to finance these completely self-indulgent and erroneous “initiatives”.

Monday 27 June 2022

Back to the 1640s at the Beeb

Who are the Roundheads and who are the Cavaliers in the latest BBC civil war over former England cricket captain Michael Vaughan, after he was invited back to commentate for the BBC on the third Test against New Zealand at Headingley?

Last year, if you recall, Michael Vaughan was accused of racism over an alleged comment in 2009 and immediately dropped by the BBC. The Muslim man accusing him had made antisemitic comments but was quickly forgiven by all.

But Michael's now back at the Beeb and what The Guardian calls “an in-house diversity group at the BBC” aren't happy.

To put it mildly.

This diversity group of impartial BBC types have a name, namely The BBC Sport BAME Advisory Group & 5 Live Diversity Group [I kid ye not], and they've impartially written to their BBC colleagues talking of “Azeem Rafiq’s gut wrenching and triggering testimony”...

[...and I kid ye not again, these BBC people really did use the ultimate woke word 'triggering' seriously there!...]

...and they've demanded that Michael Vaughan be removed because, although they “appreciate that there are elements of detail that can’t be shared about his reinstatement and that he is innocent until proven guilty”, it's “damaging, embarrassing and many colleagues across BBC Sport, BBC Radio 5 Live, and the wider BBC as a whole”.

Time, perhaps, to call to the witness stand the famous former Sun editor Kelvin MacKenzie with a tweet in response to this:
The BBC's diversity group sent an email to ALL staff complaining at the "excruciating and unbearable" decision to continue using Michael Vaughan on TMS. Vaughan denies a racism charge by Azeem Rafiq. Who gave permission to the BAME group to send out the email? Just bullying.

Nevertheless, The Times says that MV's position at the BBC is “under review” as a result.

The top comments below the Times piece aren't in the BBC diversity agitators' favour though:

  • Seems they believe in the guilty until proven innocent cancel culture?
  • The BBC "in-house diversity group" - All diversity is welcome, apart from diversity of thinking.
  • He has been found guilty on two counts, of being a) white and b) a man.

The BBC spinning away like a hyperactive spider

The Times writes:
The BBC has rewritten an article about abortion that suggested the US Supreme Court referred to “pregnant people” rather than “women” in its Roe v Wade ruling in 1973. The term was also used by Sophie Long on The World Tonight on Radio 4. 

To quote Vrager 1 in full:

Somebody changed the word "women" in the first place for it to be changed back from "people" to "women" again. Fire that woke ignoramus for changing a cut and paste 1973 quote from Wade v Roe.

As for Sophie Long on The World Tonight on Radio 4, as mentioned earlier by Charlie, here things get even more interesting...

I initially read a few defences of her saying “pregnant people” that she was only indirectly quoting someone else - i.e. these weren't her own words. She was just reporting.

The Daily Mail's report on this only reinforced that and confused me even more. It directly quoted her bit on The World Tonight where she said:

The clinical director and chair of the National Abortion Federation, Lori Williams, said knowing how many women and pregnant people would now not be able to get care was “devastating”.

And the Daily Mail then quoted the BBC's response, defending Ms Long: 

Sophie Long was quoting the language used by the chair of the National Abortion Federation. 

Now, Sophie's The World Tonight bit, as quoted there, can be heard both ways. 

It's possible to hear her as using her own choice of language or - as the BBC insists - simply paraphrasing what the National Abortion Federation said and, thus, just reporting.

And I must admit I was inclined to believe the BBC's explanation that Sophie was only paraphrasing the chair of the National Abortion Federation...

...until I checked out 'pregnant' AND 'people' on TVEyes this afternoon, and up popped Sophie Long unquestionably using the phrase off her own bat elsewhere on the BBC. 

This comes from a BBC TV report from Sophie from the Mississippi Delta, broadcast repeatedly on 15 June on the BBC News Channel: 

She had no choice but to have the baby, in the poorest region of the poorest state with the lowest number of doctors per capita anywhere in America, and where a basic lack of transportation and nutrition put many pregnant people in the highest risk categories. At the Delta Health Centre in Mount Bayou, its only obstetrician tells me banning abortion will exacerbate an already desperate situation.

Oh dear, BBC, you rascals! Your defence is hanging by a far less secure thread after that, isn't it? 

Sophie Long wasn't quoting anyone else's language there. It was entirely her own woke-pleasing language. 

When caught in a tangled web of deceit you spin your 'unspun world' to us and hope we'll fall for it like careless flies. 

And why wouldn't we? You can sound so plausible, tempting us into your parlour.

I'm so glad I've access to tools like TVEyes and Newsniffer to help me glimpse you in action, spinning away like hyperactive, licence-fee-gobbling spiders.

More fake history from the BBC

History Debunked's Simon Webb has a new video out about how history is being faked for woke reasons and how the BBC sometimes simply swallows and regurgitates such fake history.

It's very obvious from Googling around that some 'journalist' at the BBC, back in 2017, simply Googled around too, read some revisionist 'black history' sites, wrote the following and got it published on the BBC website, where it still sits five years later under the headline BBC 100 Women: Nine things you didn't know were invented by women:
2. Caller ID and call waiting - Dr Shirley Ann Jackson 
Dr Shirley Ann Jackson is an American theoretical physicist, whose research from the 1970s is responsible for caller ID and call waiting. 
Her breakthroughs in telecommunications have also enabled others to invent the portable fax, fibre optic cables and solar cells. 
She is the first African-American woman to gain a PhD from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the first African-American woman to lead a top-ranked research university.
If you Google yourself, once you pass over those revisionist sites - which are clearly not interested in factual history - you discover that Caller ID was invented by a Greek-American man called Theodore Paraskevakos back in 1968-1971 and Call Waiting wasn't her invention either. And it's all goes downhill from there.

Hilariously, even Wikipedia debunks those fake historians - and, as a result, exposes the extreme copying-and-pasting of certain 'journalists' at the BBC - saying on its entry on the estimable Dr Jackson:
Although some sources claim that Jackson conducted scientific research while working at Bell Laboratories that enabled others to invent the portable fax, touch-tone telephone, solar cells, fiber optic cables, and the technology behind caller ID and call waiting, Jackson herself makes no such claim. Moreover, these telecommunications advancements significantly predated her arrival at Bell Labs in 1976, with these six specifically enumerated inventions actually occurring by others in the time frame between 1954 and 1970.

Dr Shirley Ann Jackson is clearly a brilliant scientist, even if she didn't do what the BBC says she did. Goodness knows what she'd make of this BBC 'journalism'.

It's not great that it's still there on the BBC website either. 

BBC fact-checkers really do need to start turning their focus onto the BBC itself. 

One to make Tim Harford gasp


We all mistakes, but the BBC's online report about the Nasa launch of its first rocket from an Australian commercial spaceport went through five versions and four edits - and eight hours! - before someone corrected a rather big numerical blunder.

But the data gathered in that time will help illuminate the secrets of star constellations 430 million light years away, says the chief executive of Equatorial Launch Australia, which runs the space centre. 
"Without getting too deep into the science, it was effectively a large X-ray camera looking at various... phenomenon and trying to capture parts of boulders in the Milky Way and particularly the star cluster of Alpha Centauri," Michael Jones told the local network Nine.
But the data gathered by the mission's X-ray camera in that time will help illuminate the secrets of Alpha Centauri A and B, the closest double-star system to Earth that is located just 4.3 light-years away.

The earlier figure is a mere 100,000,000 times more than the correct figure. 

The title of Radio 4's statistics show More or Less springs to mind. This was definitely 'More'. A LOT 'More'.

That it took eight hours and many editorial revisions to finally realise this and rectify it beggars belief in an organisation so big and so well-funded.

So what happened next?

It only seems like yesterday, but was actually two days ago, that I wondered aloud whether the BBC's capitulation to a complainant's call for the Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA) to be labelled when introduced (e.g. as 'free-market') would lead to think tanks from other parts of the political spectrum receiving similar treatment. 

I specifically mentioned BBC favourite the Resolution Foundation. 

Well, the BBC is making headline news of another Resolution Foundation report today under the headline Levelling up to cost billions more than government thinks, says think tank and, no, there's not a label in sight in that article. It's simply 'the Resolution Foundation' and 'the think tank'. 

Much as could have been guessed. 

Other media outlets go with 'left-leaning'.

Not to be used

Language over abortion is clearly tricky, especially if you're broadcaster like the BBC with commitments to impartiality on such issues. The BBC News website report Roe v Wade: The world reacts to US abortion ruling, first published on Saturday, really went out of its way to cover all bases. It used 'pro-abortion' and 'pro-choice' and 'reproductive rights' campaigners' and 'gender justice activists' for one side and 'anti-abortion' and 'pro-life' for the other side. Suddenly today one of those phrases was removed and replaced...and I bet you can guess which one [click to enlarge].
And, at much the same time, a newer report Abortion care summit brings clinic buffer zones closer has now seen an identical edit [another enlarging click needed]:
Perhaps the most surprising thing here is that some BBC journalists were using the phrase in the first place.

Update, 12:30 - The latter article has been amended again now and 'pro-choice' added twice. Someone's working hard to 'make amends' on that article!

“And right on cue, here comes Greta Thunberg!”

Julie Burchill is such a good writer. She's written a brilliantly funny piece about Glastonbury for The Spectator. There's even a passage about the BBC:
Though I don’t like festivals in general because of their subterranean standards of hygiene, Glasto is more irritating than all others because of its political pretensions. Its symbiotic relationship with the similarly Palestine-pandering, Brexit-hating BBC is a notable one, to the extent that it appears to be the foremost annual works outing; before Covid they sent a whopping 300 staff there, more than they did to the World Cup. I daresay it’ll have been roughly the same this year, after which these parasites will go back to piously detailing the poverty of those who have to choose between ‘eating and heating’ while blithely ignoring the burden the TV licence puts on the poorest - between ‘looking and cooking’ perhaps.



One of the things you can do with TVEyes is check for the use of a particular word on a particular channel over a specific period of time. 

For instance, since June began till the time of writing this post [6am, Monday 27 June], there were 170 results for the word 'insisted' on the BBC News Channel. 

If you go through them and remove all the results that aren't comments made by BBC reporters/presenters - e.g. ones where non-BBC interviewees or children talking of their parents, etc - that shrinks to 161 uses. Then if you count the individual times the word is used about a specific person/organisation/government you might see patterns emerge. 

Here then are all the uses of 'insisted' by BBC journalists/presenters over the course of some 26 days this June:

Boris Johnson/The Prime Minister - 52
President Zelenskyy - 7
The Royal Household/Clarence House - 6
Royal officials - 17
The Government - 2
Priti Patel/The Home Secretary - 24
The Home Office - 1
Kwasi Kwarteng/The Business Secretary - 6
The RMT union - 3
Grant Shapps/The Transport Minister - 6
Naomi Long/ Alliance Party leader - 3
Gatwick Airport - 4
Donald Trump - 3
Therese Coffey, Work and Pensions Secretary - 3
Liz Truss, Foreign Secretary - 2
Brandon Lewis, NI Secretary - 8
The Kremlin - 1
Iran - 1
Breakaway golf tournament organisers - 2
Gotabaya Rajapaksa, Sri Lanka president - 4
Jim Fitton, British geologist accused of breaking Iraqi law - 1
The Queen, in a joke by Rod Stewart  quoted by the BBC - 1
Gustavo Petro, new Colombian president - 2
Liverpool FC - 1
The French authorities overseeing Champions League match - 1

As you can see, it's overwhelmingly the UK Government and the UK Royal Family that's been 'insisting' things so far this month, with Boris 'insisting' most of all. 

'Insisted' is, of course, potentially a neutral word describing someone stating something assertively, but - as in the example used by Merriam-Webster above - it can carry connotations of someone asserting something defensively. As I've written before, my ears always prick up at the BBC's use of the word "insisted" as (to me) it usually implies 'over-defensive pleading by someone the BBC thinks is wrong'. 

And the above list is largely - though not exclusively - a list of BBC 'wrong-uns', isn't it? You'll spot lots of government ministers but no-one from the Labour Party, plus Donald Trump but no Joe Biden.

Revealing, or not?

Update, 8.07am: By coincidence, I just put on Radio 4 and literally within 10 seconds heard another 'insisted', this time from the BBC's Ben Wright. "While ministers insist the plan is legal Labour says unilateral actions would break international law," insisted Ben.

For some

BBC Sport seems keen to keep on taking the knee to trangender activists. They have a piece on the impact of periods on female tennis players because for some women it can cause “mental stress”. Of course, that's not quite how the BBC put it when promoting the story on Twitter:

Sunday 26 June 2022

On BBC self-congratulation

Also on this week's Radio 4 Media Show, Roger Mosey talked of the need for “a broader accountability” and how the BBC needs to prove it, rather than just asserting it and simply patting itself on the back:
Of course, Tim Davie has said there is problem, so the BBC does believe there is a problem. And I think when you refer back to Brexit and the BBC making statements saying it's all jolly good, I'd just like the accountability about that. I'd like some examination of it. And all we see in the BBC annual report is 'the Brexit coverage was rather marvellous, and so's the 2019 general election coverage'. And my question is: Was it? If you believe public service really matters, as I do, you have to make it better. And the BBC's supposed to be, not just where the market is, it's supposed to be better than the market.
And Ofcom's Kevin Bakhurst - the BBC's regulator - agreed, saying:
I don't think it's always really helpful that the knee jerk is 'we're already doing a brilliant job'. I think it's better sometimes to look at the evidence, which is what we do as an independent regulator, and see where you could make improvements.

Into the Labyrinth again

Just checking through our archive for our use of the word 'labyrinthine' - plus 'labyrinth' - to describe the BBC's tortuous complaints process, I find I've used it in five posts over the years - in 2013, 2014, 2017 and 2019.

So it's gratifying to find that a former BBC head of news, Roger Mosey, and Ofcom's Kevin Bakhurst, both used exactly the same term to describe the BBC complaints process on this week's The Media Show on BBC Radio 4.

It feels like vindication.

Roger Mosey described the BBC as being “rather bad at accountability”:
Roger Mosey: And now I'm outside the BBC you see that accountability is really important, and it's very crucial for the BBC that it is accountable. I think it's rather bad at accountability really. The complaints process is very complicated. I've only ever...Since I've been outside I've made one complaint in eight and a half years. And I know the system. And you just got stuck in this labyrinth of not being able to work out how it was that you got anyone to acknowledge that there was a genuine issue there. 

And former BBC high-up now their regulator Kevin Bakhurst said that people get lost in the process and don't like the tone of the BBC's responses and “give up the ghost” - and also rather deliciously skewers a BBC 'defence' here:

Ros Atkins, BBC: But help me dig into the detail here. And, Kevin, you're the one making the request. So let me ask you, if I Google now 'BBC Complaints' I'm quite easily gonna end up on a page which says 'What would you like to say to us?', so the problem is presumably not that. The problem for you is what happens after that? 

Kevin Bakhurst: I mean, our research shows audiences can Google it and find their way in really, really easily and quickly, and they approve of that. And, by the way, in general they approve of BBC First as the right way to deal with complaints. However, once they get into that system, they get lost. And, as Roger says, it is really labyrinthine for audiences. That's what our research shows. They are not quite sure where they are in the process, they don't like the tone of language they get in responses from the BBC, many of them...when we were discussing this with the BBC, the BBC said, well, you know, it's a measure of our success that people don't come through to Ofcom that much at the end. Our research shows people don't come through to Ofcom because they've given up the ghost going through the BBC complaints process, and don't really understand where they are or how to advance them.

 As we've long said.

The Media Show

I've belatedly caught up with this week's The Media Show where Ros Atkins talked to Ofcom's Kevin Bakhurst; Owen Meredith of the News Media Association; former BBC head of news Roger Mosey; and Alice Enders of Enders Analysis.

Various thoughts flitted across my mind while listening to it, e.g. I tutted when Ros said:
But on the broader issue of complaints. Here's a statement today from the BBC - and, by the way, we did invite the BBC onto the programme, but they've sent us a statement.
It's always a little daft when the BBC declines to speak to itself.

This led into my next thought, concerning Ros's role in the programme. One admirable quirk of the BBC, especially during John Humphrys or Eddie Mair's interviews with BBC people during times of crisis for the BBC, was that BBC interviewers can go in surprisingly hard on the BBC. One DG, George Entwistle, had to go after a particularly high-temperature John Humphrys roasting. Maybe it was because the BBC weren't there to stick up for themselves that Ros played the part of BBC defender so strongly - i.e. for professional reasons, and reasons of fairness and balance - but he did seem to take certain things personally and put considerable energy - and what sounded like conviction - into sticking up for the BBC.

Anyhow, there were some interesting exchanges during the programme...which will follow in the next few posts...

Radio 3 v GB News

Any regular listeners to BBC Radio 3 will be familiar with Dr. Matthew Sweet, presenter of its film music programme Sound of Cinema and its late night discussion programme Free Thinking. Here he is on Twitter today calling for Ofcom to investigate GB News:
  1. I think it's time for Ofcom to investigate GB News for spreading anti-vax misinformation. It's Naomi Wolf again, building another conspiracy theory from data she doesn't understand - this time about recent neonatal deaths rather than Victorian legal records.
  2. In this interview Mark Steyn accepts her false claims about a rise in neonatal deaths in Ontario as truth and amplifies them. Then he agrees with her proposition that Bill Gates has bribed the BBC into suppressing the facts about it. Here are the facts.
  3. She then makes some defamatory allegations about an Office of National Statistics employee, who, she says, conceded that he had lied to the public. I recall the exchange from her now-defunct twitter feed, and how patiently he tried to explain why she was wrong.
  4. Then she makes a false claim about vaccines and sperm count. That one is fact-checked here. She speaks, in obscenely sensationalist language, about neonatal deaths in Scotland, and accuses the BBC of misreporting the story.
  5. Dr Wolf cranks her tombola of messianic ignorance for a good few minutes. Steyn nods it all through and then thanks her for her splendid work. To my mind all of this fails to meet some very basic journalistic standards. It went out on 23 June.
  6. So what should we do about this? A complaint to Ofcom I suppose - form below. But I can't help feeling it needs a more co-ordinated approach. A conspiracy theory/misinformation debunking service that could deal with this stuff as it arises in the media.
And here's the interview in question:


Lock him up!

You've got to hand it to whoever at the BBC selected the photo of Prince Charles here. They couldn't have chosen a better one to make him look shifty. From that photo, he's clearly got a guilty conscience. 

A “tight-knit cabal at the top of BBC News who give tacit approval to gender ideology”

Further to a post here from over a week ago, the Sunday Telegraph is reporting the comments of a “whistleblower” regarding the corporation's recent use of Global Butterflies, a trans organisation, for training BBC staff. The Telegraph's headline sums up the story like this:
BBC staff told there are more than 150 genders and urged to develop ‘trans brand’
Material provided to radio staff by Global Butterflies, a transgender group drafted in by corporation for training sessions last year
The “whistleblower” - “a senior staff member who recently quit the corporation” (ed - so ex-BBC, which is slightly disappointing. Why didn't they blow their whistle while still at the BBC?) -  claims that the BBC was “suppressing stories” that ran counter to trans activism and claims there is a “tight-knit cabal at the top of BBC News who give tacit approval to gender ideology”. 

Here are further quotes from the article:
  • “The BBC simply doesn’t understand what’s going on with gender identity ideology. They’ve been pandering to a social contagion amongst young people rather than being the adult in the room.”
  • “‘Inform and educate’ from the BBC Charter has left the BBC when it covers trans issues.”
  • “Stories from the ‘gender critical’ – pro-woman, pro-safeguarding – point of view are being pitched by individuals, but they are rejected because the top of news won’t commission them.”
  • “Any story that doesn’t affirm gender ideology originates from outside the news cabal and when it appears it’s always sent upstairs, heavily scrutinised, triple checked – whilst gender affirmative stories go straight to output.”
  • “And there’s a complete lack of understanding at the most senior BBC editorial levels that pronoun declarations align with a belief in gender identity ideology.”
The BBC spokesman quoted - “The BBC declined to say how much the Global Butterflies training cost, but it has now cut its ties with the group” - strikes a typical tetchy note:
Third party voluntary training material does not instruct BBC staff, but is available to increase awareness and understanding. There is no link to, or influence on, any editorial decision making and to suggest otherwise is wrong. As we have said many times before, the BBC’s Editorial Guidelines are sacrosanct, our staff know this and they understand their responsibilities.

Well, this former BBC “whistleblower” says otherwise.

Saturday 25 June 2022

Language Timothy/Timandra!

Certain people on Twitter have been joking that certain other people on Twitter have suddenly remembered the definition of 'a woman' following the US Supreme Court's ruling on returning the right to rule on abortion laws from the federal government to the states. 

But the BBC News website has struggled with it today, with its woker elements trying to impose their sensibilities on some of the language of the BBC's reporting and BBC editors, eventually, overruling them. 

Again, Newssniffer helps us lay us what happened in the article headlined:
Abortion: What does overturn of Roe v Wade mean?
By Robin Levinson-King & Chloe Kim & Paul Sargeant
The original version spoke of “pregnant people”:
In 1973, the court had ruled in Roe v Wade that pregnant people were entitled to an abortion during the first three months of their pregnancy, while allowing for legal restrictions and bans in the second and third trimester.
15 hours later “pregnant people” was changed to “pregnant women”:
In 1973, the court had ruled in Roe v Wade that pregnant women were entitled to an abortion during the first three months of their pregnancy, while allowing for legal restrictions and bans in the second and third trimester.
A note was added to the bottom of the report: 
Update: Language in this story has been amended to more accurately reflect the specifics of the Roe v Wade ruling.
But even this wasn't the end of it. The edit that replaced “pregnant people” with “pregnant women” and added that 'update' left this behind:
Most have said they will not prosecute women for trying to end their pregnancy, reserving criminal penalties for abortion providers and others who try and help people get abortions.
Most have said they will not prosecute women for trying to end their pregnancy, reserving criminal penalties for abortion providers and others who try and help women get abortions.
What a mess!

Update (Sunday): The Mail on Sunday has also picked up on this.

Amol Rajan v The Guardian

Friendly fire time for the BBC as The Observer loads up this Sunday headline: 

BBC’s Amol Rajan criticised for using phrase ‘pro-life’ in Roe v Wade interview. Pro-choice campaigners say hearing the term, seen as partisan, on Today programme was ‘disappointing’.

The Observer 'reports': 
One of the BBC’s most high-profile presenters has been criticised for using the term “pro-life” to describe anti-abortion campaigners in a discussion about the US supreme court’s overturning of Roe v Wade.

The term, which is considered partisan, was used twice by Amol Rajan during Saturday morning’s Today programme on Radio 4, in segments about the landmark ruling ending Americans’ constitutional right to abortion.

The BBC News style guide advises journalists to “use anti-abortion rather than pro-life, except where it is part of the title of a group’s name”.

Now, a BBC reporter using the term 'pro-life' in the context of abortion is not what I'd expect, given the BBC's pronounced social-liberal bias, but Christopher Snowden of the free-market think tank the IEA makes an interesting point in response:

Both sides picked a name that makes their cause sound more appealing (pro-choice/pro-life) and everyone understands that. Unless this guy called the pro-choice people “pro-death”, I don’t see the problem.

And Christopher points out that the Guardian/Observer is mired in this language slough as well. See the image at the top of this very post for that tweet and his proof of that.

It's an interesting one. Though 'pro-abortion' and 'anti-abortion' aren't perfect terms, especially for some 'pro-abortion' people, they are understandable and not quite as loaded as 'pro-life' or 'pro-choice'. Maybe the BBC should stick to those?

From my own perspective, which I suppose I ought to put on record, I think our British compromise on the issue gets it about right - as BBC editors appearing on the BBC's Newswatch would say.

Update (Sunday): To expand on Christopher Snowden's point, here's BBC Washington correspondent Nomia Iqbal yesterday evening on the BBC News Channel:

It is day two of those protests, not as many numbers as they were yesterday when that ruling came through but there are hundreds of protesters. I would say they are a largely pro-choice group. Earlier, there were anti-abortion protesters as well and there was a slight stand-off between them where you had pro-choice groups surrounding those anti-abortion ones and shouting, my body, my choice.

Three targets hit

What happened when Israel sent its refugees to Rwanda? runs the headline of a story on the BBC News website by the BBC World Service's Daisy Walsh. 

It's quite a story - and even more of a BBC achievement - managing to bash Israel, push the 'racism' angle and slam the UK government's Rwanda plan, all at the same time. 

The BBC has scored a hat-trick! 

Ah, the term 'hat-trick' reminds me of that great British black footballer Gary Lineker - the Jesse Owens of British soccer - who scored one during the 1986 World Cup group game between England and Poland, sending us through to the last 16. 

Gary - a true survivor - has done very well for himself, despite racism. The BBC licence fee has truly set him free.

Free at last, free at last, thank God almighty he is free at endlessly tweet his controversial opinions as a top BBC star, despite that BBC high-up bloke Tim Davie - remember him? - supposedly trying to rein him in.

Here we go again

One of the things with blogs like this is that we cannot but repeat ourselves. 

Unfortunately, this isn't like in TS Eliot's Little Gidding where “We shall not cease from exploration/And the end of all our exploring/Will be to arrive where we started/And know the place for the first time.” 

No, however much we explore the BBC, we know the place we arrive at all too well and it never feels like 'for the first time'.

Or, to put it another way, we've been here before with the BBC far, far too many times and it's always the same.

There's been another horrific terrorist attack in Norway today. Though the BBC News Channel presenter this morning raised the far-right terrorist Anders Breivik, most other outlets by that time had been reporting that the attacker was Iranian-born, suggesting another motive - especially given that a gay bar was evidently a prime target.

I read account after account from major UK and international outlets, nearly all mentioning this, often - like Sky - right at the top of their reports. But the BBC News website stood firm in refusing to mention the man's Iranian background.

I'm assuming it's the old BBC 'social cohesion, so shush!' thing yet again, tiptoeing around the news and deliberately being vague.

And they still haven't mentioned this in their online report, which has pretty remained throughout wholly focused on the attacker being aged 42 - as if that's the main thing about him, other than him being a man.

There's no other way of putting it, given that most other outlets were reporting it: the BBC was censoring the news for the umpteenth time.

Finally though, after many hours and seven edits, the BBC News website finally gave enough ground late this afternoon to concede what had been blindingly obvious for hours about this attack focused on a gay bar during Pride month: “Police said they consider the attack an act of extreme Islamist terrorism.”

You really shouldn't go to the BBC for 'breaking news'. 

Immediate Update: And as soon as I posted that I clicked on the BBC News website and saw a new update, even before Newsniffer caught it. 

Though those news outlets I mentioned said the attacker was Iranian-born, they also said he was now a Norwegian citizen. Guess what they BBC has added just now?
The authorities later said the suspect was a Norwegian national.

Hm. Up to a point, Lord Copper. 'The BBC and half the story', as the saying goes hereabouts.

The BBC knows what it's up to, and it's clearly being very deliberate in its careful obfuscation.

Later Update: In a further edit to the BBC's main article about this, the BBC has dropped the word 'extreme' from “Police said they consider the attack an act of extreme Islamist terrorism.”

Sniffing the BBC

I could become slightly addicted to Newssniffer. I find it fascinating watching the BBC edit their News website reports.

Following on from the previous post...

The BBC's report today on the violent and deadly invasion of the Spanish island of Melilla by mostly sub-Saharan African adult male 'asylum seekers' via the border fence with the Kingdom of Morocco saw two significant changes, highly revealing of the BBC mind in editing mode: 

The first versions of the headline told the story straight, saying Eighteen dead in mass break-in to Spanish enclave of Melilla. This then changed to Eighteen dead trying to cross into Spanish enclave of Melilla

I'm assuming that 'mass break-in' was far too accurate a way of putting it and needed softening into something, so to speak, more 'mostly peaceful'-like. 

Then, as per the Newswatch discussion transcribed in the previous post, the BBC edited the line Spanish officials say several hundred migrants tried to break through into the enclave after cutting fencing to make it read Spanish officials say several hundred people tried to break through into the enclave after cutting fencing.

The BBC really mind their language.

'Newswatch', 24 June 2022 - Transcript of interview with Dominic Casciani

Samira Ahmed: Hello and welcome to Newswatch with me, Samira Ahmed. How should BBC journalists describe people crossing the English Channel in small boats? Asylum seekers, refugees, illegal migrants?

Samira Ahmed: When news of Thursday's two by-election results came in, Boris Johnson was in Rwanda, and hanging over his trip, there was the government's controversial plan to send asylum seekers to that country. That term 'asylum seekers', along with 'refugees', is the most common one being used around this issue on the BBC, as you can hear in these two recent reports.
BBC reporter: It's a hotel in Kigali like many others. Inside, one of the rooms made up and ready to receive their unwilling guests - refugees forcibly removed from the UK.
BBC reporter: The government's policy to remove asylum seekers to east Africa is on hold, but the Home Secretary this lunchtime insisted it will happen.
Samira Ahmed: But some Newswatch viewers aren't happy with the use of those terms. Sue Crooks wrote:
Sue Crooks: I am annoyed by your manipulation by language in news programmes. 'Refugees' are those fleeing for their lives. 'Asylum seekers' are those identified as at risk because of their views. 'Economic migrants' are those who seek to improve their lives by migration. 'Illegal immigration' is, as it states, illegal. Please don't insult the viewers by using the wrong label to influence sympathy.
Samira Ahmed: Meanwhile, Astrid Jillings had a different point to make:
Astrid Jillings: Before me knew better we referred to people with a disability as 'handicapped'. We now know better and use inclusive language. I was reminded of this in the past few days. 'Asylum seekers' and 'migrants' are temporary terms and do not reflect the whole identity of people that have left their homes behind to start a new life in a different country. It concerns me that some people don't view these people as individuals. My request to the BBC is to set an example by referring to these people as 'people' as by using more inclusive terms like 'people seeking asylum' or 'people that have migrated', etc.
Samira Ahmed: Well, someone who's been thinking about the use of language in this context is Dominic Casciani, who's the BBC's home and legal correspondent. Thank you for coming on Newswatch. How should we describe these people crossing the Channel?
Dominic Casciani: Well, Samira, this is really complicated because the law is about to change, which is going to, to be frank, completely muddy the waters here about the language. Now, the basic fact is claiming asylum when you're saying you're a refugee in need of protection is not a crime. That's slightly complicated by what's happening at the Channel at the moment where you can have a situation where somebody is crossing because they're an economic migrant - they're effectively seeking to better themselves, you know, they basically want to improve their life in some shape or form - they haven't necessarily got a claim on asylum. Now, in that context, if they haven't already got a visa or permission to enter the UK, technically speaking, you could say they're an illegal migrant because they're arriving without authorisation. To complicate matters further, you can then have an asylum seeker, someone who sourced asylum elsewhere in Europe on their way to the UK. I've spoken to people in the past who've claimed asylum in Germany, in Sweden, in places like this, and then decided to come to the UK. So they have some kind of refugee claim - or say they do - but then they've decided to come to the UK to claim asylum here. Now, in that context, are they an asylum seeker or someone who's basically, effectively, 'asylum shopping', to use language which is deployed by some, looking for a better life? That's quite a complicated mix to start getting your head around, so I can understand how the audience can be a little bit confused by some of this.
Samira Ahmed: So, given that some people, certainly viewers are saying this, who didn't claim asylum in the first safe country or did, and then have chosen to move, some viewers are saying they're illegal migrants. Does the BBC ever use that term?
Dominic Casciani: Well, not necessarily in that context. But let me talk to you about something which is about to happen. This coming Tuesday, the law changes, and technically speaking, there could be people after Tuesday who cross the Channel who could be classed as an illegal asylum seeker because they didn't already have entry clearance, to use the jargon - didn't have permission from the Home Secretary to arrive in the UK. Now, what that means is from the middle of next week, if ministers start using phrases like 'illegal asylum seeker', well, it will depend on the context, because technically, you can have people who are coming in, seeking asylum, and then they're taken to court for basically breaking the criminal law there because the accusation would be that they didn't have any good reason to come because they could have claimed asylum elsewhere or there may be some other reason. So, it's getting more and more complicated, this area of law here.
Samira Ahmed: How far, then, is it ever appropriate to use the term 'refugee' for the people we're talking about coming across the Channel?
Dominic Casciani: I think the term 'refugee' has to be used in very, very specific circumstances. Now, from my perspective, I see this as a legal definition in as much as somebody is not a refugee in my reporting until they have refugee status, and what that means is they've claimed asylum, they've been given some kind of - they've been given status by the Home Office that's recognised they have a need for protection, and, therefore, they are protected by the UK and settled in the UK with that status. At that point, in law, they are a refugee, they have a right to remain in the UK. So, when I'm reporting this issue, I will talk about asylum seekers, I will talk about migrants, but the word 'refugee', I'll try to reserve that for that very, very specific category of people who've got status. When we're interviewing people, so, for instance, you can be talking to refugee charities or, for instance, like, campaigners or people who, for instance, are working with asylum seekers and migrants along the English Channel on the French side of the coast, they will very often say in quotes to us in clips, "We're supporting "these refugees, don't criminalise these refugees." We have to accept that that's their opinion, that all these people are refugees and we have to obviously, you know, reflect what they're saying, but we have to be very, very careful to make sure that that language is their language rather than ours, so there's that difference there.
Samira Ahmed: Now, one of the viewers we heard from was saying we should use the term 'people' with an added-on description, people claiming asylum, for example. What do you think?
Dominic Casciani: Yeah, look, it's not unreasonable, but it's just that some of this is about terminology, around snappy language in news, you know. News is supposed to be digested fairly quickly, so very often we will go to shorthand. So I take the point, there is this issue about whether or not you just basically categorise people in one particular way forever. I mean, we've had this thing around the disabled. We very, very rarely see that kind of language now, 'the disabled'. We talk about people with disabilities.
Samira Ahmed: Or people using wheelchairs.
Dominic Casciani: Or people using wheelchairs. So, yeah, you've got to be careful not to dehumanise people, you know, because if you dehumanise people, then you're actually making it very - a lot harder actually for the audience to understand the motivation of the person behind it.
Samira Ahmed: Dominic Casciani, thank you so much.
Dominic Casciani: Thanks.

The Misadventures of the BBC Complaints Unit

Connoisseurs of BBC complaints might like to read a fascinating series of exchanges published at History Reclaimed. The complaint, which has been ongoing for over three months, relates to The Misadventures of Romesh Ranganathan, a BBC Two documentary from March. The complainant, Chris Tett, takes aim at the section where Romesh went to Freetown, the capital of Sierra Leone, and visited the fort on Bunce Island where slaves were held before being shipped to the Americas. Mr Tett calls what followed “a defamation of Britain by a biased selection of facts” and lays out a series of points that weren't mentioned, among them that Britain set up Freetown for freed slaves and brought 150,000 there:
Ranganathan said that slave trading was something “..the white British did..” - a racist statement ignoring African involvement. British involvement in the slave trade was shameful but could not have taken place without active involvement of Africans. The programme covered the history of Freetown without mentioning who set it up or efforts by Britain to end the slave trade. African involvement in the trade was not mentioned at all.
Mr Tett also noted the following:
In Freetown, slaves freed by the Royal Navy walked through the ‘Freedom Arch’ to the Old King’s Yard to be given treatment and food. Declared a National Monument in 1949, it is a UNESCO World Heritage site. Its website says, “The Gateway to the Old King’s Yard compares with the Statue of Liberty in the United States in enduring as a highly potent symbol, inspiring contemplation of ideals such as freedom, human rights, democracy and opportunity…”. Surely such a monument was worth showing. But no mention.
The BBC's initial response essentially blames “time constraints” and lists what the programme did cover. Mr Tett responded by saying that the BBC reviewer “ignored or completely missed the point of my complaint”, which was about “a lack of balance” and the “racist intent” behind statements like “..something the white British did”. As for “time constraints”, he observes that:
There is little difference in airtime between the statement made: ‘Freetown was set up for freed slave’ and an alternative ‘Britain set up Freetown for freed slaves’? Again, what is the different between the statement made ‘Freed slaves were brought to Freetown’ and an alternative ‘British Navy ships brought slaves they had freed to Freetown’?
In response, the BBC said that Mr Tett was “incorrect” to suggest that the programme stated that slavery was “something the white British did”, quoting from the programme: “It would be very easy for me to say, ‘Well, this is what white British people did, my parents come from Sri Lanka, so this is nothing to do with me.’ But the truth of it is, is that my parents wanted a better life for their children. And the reason that they moved over to the UK is because of the economic, the infrastructure, all of these things, the, the standard of living that is built upon benefits that were gleaned from slavery…. You know, you can’t just go, ‘this is nothing to do with me’. It is part of British history, it’s part of black British history, and it should be acknowledged as such.” As for “time constraints” defence, the BBC simply repeated it, perhaps sensing that they were on weaker ground there.

Mr Tett has tried again. Here's his latest response in full:
I am glad the second reviewer admits what was said. Quoting the full context does not alter the sentiment which was that slavery was “…. something the white British did. …..” adding “It is part of British history…” Romesh added “…. the standard of living that is built upon benefits that were gleaned from slavery” which is much disputed by some very eminent economic historians. Your reviewer then adds “…. these are Romesh’s views on the complex legacy of slavery.”

Your reviewer also stated this was a travel programme. Well, it took time to delve into history in a way to discredit Britain. The programme sets out clearly racist views because the whole programme section blames the white British for the slave trade and mentions only items which discredit British history.

There is much for Britain to be proud of in Freetown, including the UNESCO World Heritage site. Many more rescued slaves were taken to Freetown than ever were shipped as slaves from Bunce Island. Clearly a lack of balance was shown.

In a programme about Sierra Leone and Freetown that talks about history it would have been easy to mention that Freetown was set up by the British to take slaves freed by the Royal Navy where they would be safe because black Africans continued to enslave and sell other Africans. It did not. This clearly shows the programme makers wish to avoid mentioning anything good about Britain.

Let us be clear. A travel programme does not need to mention history but if it does, it needs to be balanced. This was not. Further, this programme was racially biased because it blamed only the British but did not mention black African involvement.

Some people are now claiming that the BBC has lost it impartiality and is keen to interpret history in an anti-British way. So far, they are proved right.

On to the BBC's Editorial Complaints Unit then... 

Incidentally, just looking up the UNESCO World Heritage Site Chris Tett mentions, a Trip Advisor reviewer adds something intriguing

The original plaque clearly visible now joined by a modern one from the BBC. 

 Wonder what those plaques say?

Is Ofcom biased?

On the dreaded trans issue...

According to James Kirkup in The Spectator, Ofcom, the BBC's regulator, has written “a report about impartiality that is not itself impartial” - which he describes as “quite an achievement”. 

He argues that Ofcom's lopsided methodology is at fault, relying on 6 hours-worth of interviews with trans people, and that by listening to only one side of the trans debate Ofcom thereby distorted and skewed its own findings. 

He says the report “not only fails entirely to mention women’s legitimate and legally-protected concerns, but effectively tells the corporation that its coverage doesn’t lean far enough towards one side of that contested issue” and worries this will tilt the BBC towards an even more biased position. 

Methodology certainly counts. If you conduct focus groups and interviews and significantly overrepresent one side with “loud voices” and don't even talk to the other side then, yes, you are going to get a biased report.

On the background to this, I think this pair of tweets puts it in a nutshell:
Emily Kate: Not surprised by this. Ofcom only left Stonewall a year ago. But I think organisations employ Stonewall to entrench existing views anyway. So leaving the scheme isn't going to change much, ideologically speaking. It won't make the organisation fairer or more balanced, necessarily. 
The beautiful symmetry of the national broadcaster being investigated for bias by a regulator who agrees that Position Normal is the one taken by the broadcaster! It's perfect.

Labelling the IEA

There's another interesting new ruling by the BBC's Editorial Complaints Unit (ECU). 

The right-leaning Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA) is a bogeyman for left-leaning types on Twitter. 'Who funds you?' is their repeated cry whenever someone from the IEA pops up, and they don't like it when IEA people appear on the BBC at all. 

Someone complained that The Papers on the BBC News Channel “repeatedly failed to provide an adequate description of the IEA”. I'm guessing they would like the BBC to label them with something negative. 

Anyhow, the BBC upheld their complaint and will oblige them from now on by making sure its presenters make “particular reference” to the IEA's “free market orientation”.

From what I can see, these instances relate to some rare appearances by Annabel Denham, Director of Communications at the IEA, alongside broadcaster John Stapleton. The latest ones, on 7 June, saw the IEA labelled as a “free-market think tank” each time she was introduced.

It will be most interesting to test again how consistent the BBC are with their labels, especially given that 'bias by labelling' is always a risk. Will they treat outfits from other parts of the political spectrum this way too?

I see, from a preliminary scan of TV Eyes, that the likes of the Resolution Foundation are being labelled “independent” or “a think tank that focuses on people of lower incomes” and Demos is “cross-party”. 

One last hurrah

I see that the BBC put out yet another ruling against the dearly departed Emily Maitlis earlier this month.

Their Editorial Complaints Unit judged against her retweet of an anti-Boris tweet from former Conservative MP Rory Stewart, saying that “in the absence of any indication to the contrary, retweeting the comment risked giving the impression that Ms Maitlis endorsed the view it expressed.” 

As she then apologised on Twitter they considered the matter “resolved”. 

She certainly kept them busy in recent years, which is why I instantly believed the reports this week that said some at the BBC were glad to see the back of her and her partner in crime Lewis Goodall. 

BBC bosses believe they have solved the problem of perceived Left-wing bias on Newsnight, after Lewis Goodall announced he was leaving to join Emily Maitlis at a commercial rival.

The Telegraph understands that the corporation did not make a counter-offer when Goodall, the programme’s policy editor, told them he had been approached by Global.

The departure of Goodall and Maitlis is being viewed as an opportunity to reset the programme and focus on impartiality after the pair were at the centre of damaging rows with the Government.

Two down, several thousand to go. 

John Simpson on Shireen Abu Akleh

Given that the United Nations has a considerable bias against Israel, the organisation may not be the best-placed source to independently resolve a highly controversial case between Israel and the Palestinians over where questions of guilt and responsibility lie. John Simpson appears to have no such doubts though, as this Twitter exchange from yesterday afternoon shows:

John Simpson [2:03 PM]: The UN says the information it has gathered shows that Israeli soldiers fired the shots that killed the distinguished Al Jazeera journalist Shireen Abu Akleh on 11 May. She was covering an Israeli army raid in the West Bank town of Jenin.
John Simpson [2:13 PM]: The UN says Shireen Abu Akleh & her colleagues made a concerted effort to show the Israeli soldiers at the scene that they were from the Press. The Israelis issued no warnings. There was no shooting going on at the time. The bullets which killed her were ‘seemingly well-aimed’.
Alan Lyons [2:17 PM]: John, "seemingly well-aimed" is an unpleasant insinuation. If you or the UN wish to allege that the IDF is deliberately targeting or assassinating journalists Vs being unfortunately hit in the middle of a firefight, then you should state that clearly.
John Simpson [3:00 PM]: I don’t think the UN is insinuating anything, unpleasantly or otherwise. It’s openly saying that Shireen & her colleagues were clearly marked as journalists, there was no other shooting going on at the time, and that Israeli soldiers fired the aimed shots that killed her.
Alan Lyons [3:05 PM]: Could you post a link? I have some problems with this: 1. It would be an epic PR own goal for the IDF to be targeting journalists 2. I read that there was a firefight. Is that not true? Are they describing a "lull"? 3. Is it true Hamas has not allowed ballistics on the bullet?
John Simpson [3:19 PM]: I read this on the UN High Commission for Human Rights website. I’m not sure about its being an epic own-goal for the IDF, Alan — 30 journalists have been shot & killed by the IDF since 2000 in the West Bank. Video just before Shireen was shot seems to show no firefight.