Tuesday 23 May 2023

The Most Contentious Story

Honest Reporting has lowered its expectations enough to claim Christiane Amanpour’s ‘apology’ as a victory. 

“I misspoke and said that they were killed in a shootout instead of “a shooting”

Sorry, but apologising for accidentally uttering the word “Shootout” rather than “Shooting” isn’t fooling anyone. It doesn’t ring true at all. Would any standard English speaking person, let alone a seasoned TV presenter, really say “killed in a shooting”? 

They’d say “were shot”, surely. Or “shot and killed.” 


In any case, the girls’ mother died of her injuries so wasn’t literally killed in a ‘shooting’ or a ‘shootout’ because unlike her two daughters Maia and Rina, Lucy survived for three days after which several of her organs were donated to various recipients.

Interestingly, the above tweet was taken from Honest Reporting, but I tried to find it again on Amanpour’s own Twitter feed. I’m no expert on the minutiae  of Twitter, but it seems that Amanpour has clipped the apology in question so that only the ghostly remains of the printed sub-title are on view. The apology itself has gone down the memory hole. 

I do realise that this isn’t a blog about CNN but I did come upon it while looking at the latest adventures of the BBC's Jeremy Bowen. By virtue - if nothing else - of sheer longevity, Jeremy Bowen has become a BBC National Treasure. 

The BBC has been featuring a lunchtime series of Bowenisms as well as a Bowen edition of The Media Show with Ros Atkins. 

The BBC’s claims of impartiality have been seriously holed below the waterline, not least by Bowen, who, on The Peter Principle, maybe,  has risen from intrepid reporter to International Editor of BBC News.  

Jeremy Francis John Bowen is a Welsh journalist and television presenter. He was the BBC's Middle East correspondent based in Jerusalem between 1995 and 2000 and the BBC Middle East editor from 2005 to 2022, before being appointed the International Editor of BBC News in August 2022. 

If Bowen did indeed set out in 1995 with no baggage, such an aspiration was scuppered when his Arab friend and driver Abed Takkoush was killed. 

Bowen fans and the BBC blame immature and trigger-happy Israeli soldiers for this unfortunate occurrence;  this may have been the incident that changed everything. Bowen has recounted the tale umpteen times, always exonerating himself from any responsibility, but plainly wrestling with feelings of guilt, which have been eating away at him from that day till this.

This features in    Episode 2 of his podcast series alongside another tragedy that has acquired myth-like status for Bowen as well as a vociferous number of like-minded anti-Israel activists. This was the shocking killing of Dr Izzeldin Abuelaish's daughters during another flare-up of violence in Gaza 

Understandably, such experiences have affected Jeremy Bowen; the BBC could legitimately have given him an honourable discharge and a fat pension. But of course, they promoted him.

In one of these broadcasts, he does address the issue of impartiality, asserting, quite rightly, that human beings are necessarily partial; yet he feels that he himself was as impartial as a BBC Middle East editor needed to be. Yet he didn’t seem troubled by the gruesome slaughter of the Fogel family, for example, which suggests his empathy is selective. In other words, not impartial at all.

Overall, Jeremy Bowen seems incurious about the root of the conflict. The language he uses shows that he sees it exclusively from a pro-Palestinian perspective, where the apparent ’underdog’ status justifies one or two necessary deviations from impartiality. The emotional bond he has with his Palestinian fixer Rushdi Abualouf verges on the mawkish. 

Look, we know which side Jeremy Bowen is on. He - and the BBC itself - barely even bother to hide it,  which brings us back to Christiane Amanpour, who is cited in the credits to one of his lunchtime podcasts.