BBC airbrushes Iranian-backed terrorism again

An almost throwaway paragraph in an article about Terry Waite’s recent visit to Lebanon dated December 9th on the BBC News website informs us that:

 “Hezbollah is a powerful political and military Shia Muslim organisation in Lebanon. Regarded by some in the West as a terrorist organisation, it is currently part of Lebanon’s government.” 

And that, dear BBC audience member, is your lot as far as ‘factual’ information goes – apart from a reference in the report’s strap-line to “the militant group Hezbollah”. 

Of course that vague description carefully avoids any mention of Hizballah’s role as an Iranian proxy (complete with funding and arms supplies), Hizballah’s indictment for the murder of Rafik Hariri and its oppression of the Lebanese population, Hizballah’s execution of numerous terror attacks both in Lebanon and abroad, Hizballah’s criminal activity within the world of drug smuggling and money laundering and Hizballah’s concrete support for Bashar al Assad’s mass slaughter of the Syrian population. 

But perhaps the most obviously misleading part of that paragraph is the phrase “regarded by some in the West as a terrorist organization”, suggesting that such a view is a geographically specific fringe opinion, held by nobody worth naming.

In fact, Hizballah in its entirety is proscribed by the governments of Canada, the United States, Israel and the Netherlands. It is also proscribed by the decidedly non-Western governments of Egypt and Bahrain. Australia and the United Kingdom proscribe what they term as Hizballah’s “military wing”, although such a distinction is actually at odds with the facts. 

A particularly energetic reader might perhaps go out of his or her way to search for further information in a BBC profile of Hizballah; no such link is given in the article itself.  In that case, a search would turn up a no less anodyne result which has not been updated in two and a half years. 

The BBC’s Editorial Guidelines claim that the organisation’s policy of refraining from the use of the word ‘terrorism’ is a method of avoiding the pitfalls of “value judgements”, thus safeguarding its reputation for objectivity. 

“Terrorism is a difficult and emotive subject with significant political overtones and care is required in the use of language that carries value judgements.  We try to avoid the use of the term “terrorist” without attribution.  When we do use the term we should strive to do so with consistency in the stories we report across all our services and in a way that does not undermine our reputation for objectivity and accuracy.

The word “terrorist” itself can be a barrier rather than an aid to understanding.  We should convey to our audience the full consequences of the act by describing what happened.  We should use words which specifically describe the perpetrator such as “bomber”, “attacker”, “gunman”, “kidnapper”, “insurgent”, and “militant”.  We should not adopt other people’s language as our own; our responsibility is to remain objective and report in ways that enable our audiences to make their own assessments about who is doing what to whom. “

However, the airbrushing of terrorism by means of the omission of full details of an organisation’s activities and the failure to adequately describe its ideologies, represents just as much of a value judgement and is no less detrimental to the BBC’s reputation for impartiality, accuracy and objectivity. 

 

About these ads

14 comments on “BBC airbrushes Iranian-backed terrorism again

  1. on a side point I wonder who paid for Terry Waite’s recent visit to Beirut with TV crew in towe and why was it so brief. I would have preferred a longer stay !

  2. “In fact, Hizballah in its entirety is proscribed by the governments of Canada, the United States, Israel and the Netherlands. It is also proscribed by the decidedly non-Western governments of Egypt and Bahrain. Australia and the United Kingdom proscribe what they term as Hizballah’s “military wing”,

    That is some in the west isn’t it ? Must try harder.

    • Try harder in reading Hadar’s critique. She says:
      ‘But perhaps the most obviously misleading part of that paragraph is the phrase “regarded by some in the West as a terrorist organization”, suggesting that such a view is a geographically specific fringe opinion, held by nobody worth naming.’
      And she’s absolutely right.
      Nobody worth naming. That term hardly applies to nation states.

      • Hezbollah is considered a terrorist organization by some Western governments (USA, Canada), but not all. Among those who consider Hezbollah a terrorist organization, some make a difference between the political and the armed wings of that organization (Australia, UK). Other governments do not officially consider Hezbollah a terrorist organization (Italy, Spain, France…)

        Therefore BBC’s description of Hezbollah as being “regarded by some in the West as a terrorist organization” is accurate.

        This may not please Ms Sela, but it’s reality.

        The BBC is a serious news organization which reports onf facts, not on Ms Sela’s wishes.

        • The BBC is a biased news organisation which on a range of topics, none more so than Ithe topic of srael and the Palestinian Arabs, slants the facts as the BBC’s leftist Weltanschauung would like them to be, not necessarily as they are.

          • Daphne, the BBC is a news organization that reports facts.

            BBC Watch is a communication website that reports the opinion of its founders, who seem to support the settlement policy and to disavow the two-state solution.

            I an surprised that Ms Sela did not even take the time to check the facts. She would have learnt that BBC was indeed right to say that Hezbollah as is “regarded by some in the West as a terrorist organization”.

          • I think you are being a bit hard on the BBC.
            Yes some people do describe Hizbollah as a terrorist group.
            Others prefer the term-freedom fighters given that Hizbollah ‘persuaded’ Israel to evacuate Southern Lebanon in 2006 with a very bloody nose.
            The BBC could just as easily be accused of pro-Israeli bias as I for one have never heard it describe the IDF (military wing?) as a state terrorist organisation.

          • @Nat: The BBC does indeed report some facts regarding the I/P conflict – but in the vast majority of cases, only certain carefully selected ones that support their pro-Palestinian bias. They compound this by performing only lip service to ‘balance and impartiality’ by using carefully selected wording to airbrush around any requirement to discuss the Palestinians’ many significant failings.

            You see, the BBC has to at least appear to abide by British law, and Britain has some laws against racism and libel. It’s not entirely plain sailing for anyone who wishes to disseminate propaganda in Britain. In fact, it’s actually prudent for such people/bodies to employ at least a modicom of subtlety (although apparently it doesn’t need to be very much). It might get a bit problematic to put out repeated, obvious, great, stonking, in-your-face, lies for very long.

            So, against a sliding scale of: 1) Damned obvious lies; 2) Less obvious lies (i.e. harder to prove as lies and/or fewer people likely to recognise them as such); 3) Obfustication and distortion of truth; 4) Highly selective reporting of facts; and 5) Balanced and impartial reporting; when reporting on the I/P conflict, the BBC tend to stick to categories 2 and 3, with a smattering of 4 for spice, happy in the knowledge that if the worst comes to the worst, and someone makes enough of a stink to actually breach the highly frustrating, but highly effective, defence system known as the ‘BBC Complaints System’, then half the people working for the ‘higher body’ independent adjudicator are actually ex-BBC employees anyway, who know little about the I/P conflict except what they learned at the BBC. And if they really come a cropper cat.2 propaganda is effectively ‘outed’ and transforms into cat. 1, (e.g. like tweeting pictures of injured Syrian children as Gazan casualties), then they can always say ‘someone else’ supplied the information, and issue a little apology, just a little too late, or a little too small, or too buried amongst other stuff, for it to effectively counteract the lie.

            And if information falling under 2, 3, and a bit of 4, is disseminated at every opportunity, every day, through all its media, in all its recipient areas and countries, that’s actually more effective than putting about a few whacking great lies: it becomes a constant, self-validating, snowballing narrative, growing more and more believable to the unwitting recipient, unless he/she has some particular reference to other sources of information, against which to compare. Most people, unless they have taken a particular interest in the I/P conflict for some time, or have personal experience pertaining to it, know no better.

            So no, I don’t suppose BBCWatch is going to pick up many massive Blood-Libel / Protocols-of-Zion type stonking lies from the BBC in the course of its work, but it is effective in highlighting the constant drip-drip of bias that the BBC disseminates daily, in breach of its legally binding Charter, and at the expense of British citizens. It’s this kind of constant drip-drip of biased narrative and propaganda that eventually led to the occurrences of 1939 Germany.

  3. Nat please go and bore people somewhere else. Your consistent defence of all things BBC, whilst you express your own hatred of Israel, is not a coincidence.

  4. Pingback: BBC profile of Hizballah omits relevant information | BBC Watch

  5. Pingback: BBC profile of Hizballah omits relevant information | Blogs about Israel aggregation

  6. Pingback: BBC continues to be ‘impartial’ on terror | BBC Watch

Comments are closed.