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. 


Saturday 1 April 2023

April 2023 Open Thread

Oh, to be in England
Now that April's there,
And whoever wakes in England
Sees, some morning, unaware,
That the lowest boughs and the brushwood sheaf
Round the elm-tree bole are in tiny leaf,
While the chaffinch sings on the orchard bough
In England—now!

Mr Browning isn't wrong. Hello to you all and thank you for continuing to comment.

Wednesday 1 March 2023

March 2023 Open Thread

Hello. Time for a new open thread. Thanks for your continuing comments.

Wednesday 1 February 2023

February 2023 Open Thread

Happy February and thank you for commenting. What will the BBC get up to this month?

Thursday 26 January 2023

New Year January 2023 Open Thread

Happy 2023! 

Something's not quite right

There’s nothing currently on the Beeb about the latest Ghislaine Maxwell revelations. The last time we heard about it was on the BBC website this time last year when they reported that “Prince Andrew has settled a civil sexual assault case brought against him in the US by Virginia Giuffre.” 

And there’s no trace on the Beeb of one of this blog’s former staples, our ex-Panorama friend, ’roaring’ John Sweeney, either.

I hadn’t been aware that Sweeney has made the Maxwell /Epstein affair into a major project. A number of people have rushed to be seen to condemn the Maxwells - well, they would, wouldn’t they   - but there’s many a slip-twixt cup and Virginia Giuffre.

The Guardian:

Hunting Ghislaine, which reaches its conclusion this Thursday, has been a huge hit, so far notching up 6 million listeners. Its success clearly feels like a redemption. “I’d like to thank Tony Hall,” says Sweeney, “for ruining my life.” He blames the BBC’s former director general for his departure from the corporation after 17 years. “I had a very bad 2019,” Sweeney admits. His investigation of the English Defence League leader Tommy Robinson was shelved by the BBC after it was revealed that Lucy Brown, one of Robinson’s followers, had pulled off a sting on Sweeney. “I fell for it. I was fool. I drank too much with a source who was scheming against me.”

Now for Jeremy Kyle.

After a spell of cancellation and subsequent semi-rehabilitation, Jeremy Kyle is back - complete with characteristic obnoxiousness. He attacked lawyer Alan Dershowitz with such venom and rudeness that even the below-the-line commenters on one of its Youtube iterations appeared flabbergasted at the venomous tone of the attack, given that Kyle’s de-cancellation was allegedly based on a promise ‘to be good.’ 

Pity that Dersh was unwise enough to appear on the programme - maybe he wasn’t familiar with Kyle. Oh well. Too late now.

 But guess who was also featured by Kyle!

Our old friend Sweeney!

I have to say that there’s something not quite right about That Photo. It’s Andrew’s position. I feel that if the hand that appears around the young lady’s waist really belongs to his left arm, then his left shoulder would be turned towards the camera much more than it is. Not exactly forensic, I do concede.

I haven’t got a particular axe to grind here - I do admire Dershowitz (because of his other writings) but I don’t have much sympathy for Ghislaine, apart from the fact her punishment seems harsher than absolutely necessary. Perhaps she’s ‘taking the flack for Jeffery’ and I suppose if someone has to do it, it may as well be her.


Forgot to mention :

Sunday 15 January 2023

Losing battle

I have virtually given up watching the BBC. When I do ‘dip in’ to see if I’m still a right-wing, Islamophobic bigot I’m quickly reminded why I gave it up.  It wasn’t total surrender, but this battle, if that’s what it is, looks like one I am bound to lose. When I heard about a 10-part podcast starring Shamima Begum I knew the end is even nigher than I thought.


This morning I listened to Claire Fox and Michael Portillo chatting about this issue on GB News. The case for the defence appeared to be that the BBC is approaching the topic critically and not simply giving a reinvented, media-savvy individual a platform to court sympathy and to ease her return to the UK. We mustn’t jump to conclusions, must we?

The argument for the prosecution was that the BBC hasn’t given such a platform, (or any platform at all) to the abused girls from the UK’s cities and towns, by predominantly Muslim men popularly known as grooming gangs. I suppose both cases are products of ‘grooming’. One might argue that the BBC itself has been groomed.

I ought to watch the podcasts before opining further, but I have a feeling that I’ll be made to feel that I’m in the wrong.  

Saturday 14 January 2023

Sorry/not sorry

I stumbled upon the Media Show last night. 

A conversation between presenter Katie Razzall and Michelle Donelan turned to issues around the BBC’s impartiality.

Katie Razzall:

“…….Tim Davie the Director General has made it one of his main focuses…

Michelle Donelan

“…….however - I would also say that there is a difference between having a plan and delivering that change, and it is certainly not ‘job done’ by any stretch of the imagination, and we only have to look at a plethora of different examples that have come up to highlight that. But there is still a problem.

Katy Razzall

“What examples?

Michelle Donelan

“Well if we look at the incident of the bus with the alleged antisemitism, if we look at…….

Well, we didn’t ‘look at the alleged antisemitism’ because there were more pressing matters to discuss such as Prince Harry,  Jeremy Clarkson, and Gary Lineker. 

At the end of the interview, when Ms. Donelan had left the room, and who knows, the premises, Ms. Razzall read out a rebuttal writted on a piece of paper (© Spike Milligan)

“Well that was Michelle Donelan, Secretary of state for digital media culture and sport and she made reference to how the BBC had reported an antisemitic attack on a group of Jewish students in 2021. Let me just add to that what the BBC have said about reporting that incident which was in part based on a video of the incident filmed from inside the bus. The BBC has said that while Ofcom has found that our reporting was not in breach of the broadcasting code 

the BBC executive complaints unit ruled in January 2022 that more could have been done sooner to acknowledge the differing views about what could be heard on the recording of the attack. The BBC apologised at the time for not acting sooner to highlight the contents of the recording were contested.”

  • Recollections may vary. 
  • The scale of the problem was exaggerated

This wasn’t on the BBC but it’s another example of Sorry/not sorry.

The Media Show should have invited Shami Chakrabarti to investigate. 

Thursday 12 January 2023

Look out!


The NUS is belatedly looking at antisemitism.  (Is this an attempt to rehabilitate the Labour Party?)

Come on guys. Let’s not wang on about the Oxford Street bus incident and other low-hanging fruits that skirt over or miss the underlying problem. 

It’s a much more fundamental issue, which the NUS is unlikely to fully confront anytime soon. 

The BBC is dutifully fulfilling its holocaust-day-related obligations but the media’s annual mawkish celebration of that tragic historical event is not enough. Constant ahistorical pro-Palestinianism is hobbling rational debate. Antisemitism (and its proxy anti-Israelism) is back with a vengeance in Britain America, and Europe. Look out!

The Royalty Delusion


My attention span seems to have a slow puncture. The more it shrivels the narrower my interests become, so my observations on Prince Harry’s psychological melt-down are no doubt superficial and ‘knee-jerk’.

The upshot is that the author of “Spare” whose name I can’t quite recall has had to squeeze a few drops of juice out of a somewhat barren lemon. The conclusion has to be that Prince Harry is just an ordinary man; a bit dim, but so are most of us. The problem is that he has very likely burst the Royalty Delusion; the myth in which we must all collude in order to preserve the monarchy. Many of us believe the monarchy needs to be preserved, so to find the country in a King’s New Clothes situation is a bummer. The Royal Family is in the altogether, but let’s just keep the little boy who noticed quiet for the time being. Apologies to Danny Kaye and Co. 

Sunday 8 January 2023

Daindruss Times

Jeremy Bowen has been promoted from Middle East to **International** editor and has been mostly covering the war in Ukraine but he still can't resist pontificating on Israel/Palestine. On 4th Jan 2023, Today programme  (19 mins to 9) Nick Robinson called upon him to report upon a dastardly provocation that Melanie Phillips describes as:

“a Jew walking for 15 minutes on the site that is most sacred to Judaism … without fanfare or media attention, early in the morning when the compound was almost empty and didn’t pray there or say anything to stir up trouble.”

 The Arab press calls this “storming” the al-Aqsa Mosque!

Here’s a near-as-dammit transcription of the item I heard on the Today Programme last Wednesday at 19 minutes to nine. 

Nick R

Now, why did a brief visit by the new Israeli security minister to the Alaska (sic) mosque compound in Jerusalem lead to such international condemnation and also to warnings of violent retribution from Hamas? China and the UAE have now called for a UN security council meeting to condemn the visit. Jeremy Bowen knows the area well, he’s our international editor and joins us on the line. “Morning, Happy New year to you Jeremy!” (Bowen mumbles) “Deliberately naive question if I may Jeremy - a daft laddie question - he didn’t pray, he didn’t enter the mosque at all, so why the fuss? “


Well, it’s very symbolic. Ah, the piece of ground in question, which Jews call the Temple Mount in English, and Muslims call - Palestinians call The Noble sanctuary in Arabic, ah it’s probably the - it’s certainly the most disputed ground - piece of ground - in the Middle East and quite possibly the world - it’s holy to both religions - the holiest place for Jews, the third holiest place for Muslims and it’s also a massive national symbol, particularly for Palestinians; and now this particular individual, Itamar Ben-Gvir is the most prominent group …. prominent of a group of militant right-wingers on whom the new government of mister Netanyahu relies for support, and they’re driving the ideology of the government and of course his supporters say that they’re elected fair and square, that’s democracy; but Ben-Gvir, he’s a police minister but he’s got a long criminal record of which includes incitement to racism and supporting a terrorist organisation.”

Nick R

Huge symbolism then, as it is it’s him going there, but I guess what everybody’s watching is to see the underlying question of what policy actually changes under this new wide coalition.


Yes, well, Netanyahu’s come back to power, relying on the votes in the Israeli parliament of these hard-line right-wingers, which, y’know, Israelis in the election liked the look of their coalition and voted for it. It’s not just a question of supporting harder action against Palestinians in the occupied territories, although that’s a big part of it. The— in Israel when they form a new coalition government they have a … they put out a political agreement, a statement. Now, this is often, not at all um, ah, brought into the letter’, but it’s clear that Ben-Gvir and his colleagues, they want big changes inside Israel to make it more religious, more their version of how a Jewish state should be and this horrifies many secular Israelis, and what would that mean? It means putting orthodox Jewish beliefs ahead of the rights of women - of LGBTQ people, of Arab citizens - 20% of the population of Israel is in fact Palestinian Arab. Ben-Gvir says those people need to know who is the landlord of the country, by which he means “the Jews.“ And they’re also, there are talks about removing much of the independence of the Israeli judiciary which for Netanyahu may have the result of  rescuing him from his own trial, which is continuing, on very serious corruption charges and all this at a time when the West Bank is very tense and anything that stirs the pot there is… daindruss!

Nick R

When you say tense Jeremy I’ve heard people predicting that it could ‘blow’ this year, that we could see very serious trouble indeed. On the West Bank that might be the excuse the Hamas wants to move out of its stronghold in Gaza and move in, do you think that’s a likely scenario?


Tensions are very high on the West Bank, and also in Palestinian parts of Jerusalem without question and it’s a really daindruss situation, it’s a really daindruss cocktail of a new generation growing up of Palestinians, a lack of hope, a feeling that um their aspirations towards - towards independence, towards freedom because there are millions of people who’ve been under a harsh military occupation now for generations, if you feel that that’s never going to go away - one thing that Netanyahu’s government has given another hard right-winger Mr Smotrich a lot of authority over settlements to expand them and so it’s a very difficult and daindruss situation; it’s a really nasty cocktail. Last year in 2022 something like 150 Palestinians were killed in the area by Israeli security forces, and more than 30 Israelis. Now Netanyahu. in his politics, has tried to play a double or a treble game, where he says one thing and does something else, reality and rhetoric being separated, but hard-liners like Ben-Gvir are very serious about imposing their views - and now can Netanyahu control them? Does he want to? and at the same time there’s this rising tide of anger among Palestinians and it’s just one serious incident, I’d say, at any given time, away from a very serious situation.

Nick R

Jeremy, thank you.

It did occur to me that the disdainful description of the new Israeli government: “militant  ‘hard-right-wingers’ that's “putting orthodox Jewish beliefs ahead of the rights of women, of LGBTQ people, of Arab citizens” looks oddly hypocritical when it comes from someone who happily overlooks the illiberal “orthodox religious beliefs” of his favoured ethnicity. On this occasion, only Nick Robinson specifically mentioned the word “Hamas” but that particular absence from Bowen’s narrative was conspicuous.