BBC’s Kevin Connolly promotes irrelevant speculation on Tel Aviv shootings

BBC News coverage of the shooting attack which took place in Tel Aviv on the afternoon of January 1st included an article which continued to appear on the BBC News website under the headline “Tel Aviv shooting: Two dead, Israeli police say” long after the murders had been confirmed and the identities of the victims released into the public domain.Connolly filmed pigua TA 1 1

A filmed report for BBC television news programmes was also posted on the BBC News website under the title “Tel Aviv attack: Footage emerges of gunman“.

In that filmed report, BBC Jerusalem bureau correspondent Kevin Connolly told viewers:

“At first the motive for the shooting wasn’t clear. There were speculations it was linked to criminality and may even have been a hate crime against the gay community. But gradually it emerged that the police had identified a suspect and that the killings were almost certainly linked to the long-running dispute between Israel and the Palestinians.”

Readers of later versions of the written report found ‘analysis’ of the story from Kevin Connolly which included similar messaging.

Connolly analysis pigua TA 1 1

As those in Israel who watched or listened to real-time reporting as the incident unfolded will know, there was indeed a lack of clarity concerning the background to the incident in the first hours after the lethal attack.

Local media outlets moved from scheduled programming to rolling coverage of the attack and – as happens worldwide in such cases – audiences heard journalists and interviewees hastily recruited to fill time and the vacuum created by the absence of verified information engaging copiously in unsubstantiated conjecture and guesswork for hours on end.

The “speculations” concerning a possible hate crime against the gay community which Connolly found it appropriate to amplify were not voiced by official sources but by local journalists unable to bring their audiences concrete information during an unfolding event and later further constrained by a gag order on publication of details of the case.

BBC guidance on reporting war, terror and emergencies stresses that “[a]t such times, when there may be conflicting information and opinions, and with reliable information hard to come by, we need to be scrupulous in applying our principles of accuracy and impartiality.”

The BBC’s editorial guidelines on accuracy state:

“The BBC’s commitment to accuracy is a core editorial value and fundamental to our reputation. Our output must be well sourced, based on sound evidence, thoroughly tested and presented in clear, precise language. We should be honest and open about what we don’t know and avoid unfounded speculation.” [emphasis added]

The editorial decision to amplify that particular item of unsupported speculation on various platforms – and especially after the circumstances of the incident had become clearer and its irrelevance demonstrated – is therefore one which requires explanation from the self-styled “standard-setter for international journalism”.  


6 comments on “BBC’s Kevin Connolly promotes irrelevant speculation on Tel Aviv shootings

  1. BBC Watch readers will be well aware that beeboid Kevin is no more than a jumped-up restaurant critic with a fat-inducing predilection for kibbutz -farmed caviar and Israel’s tasty Dancing Camel Midnight Stout. See below:

    Duvidl’s verse about Kev from Feb. 21 2014:

    Kevin’s as kosher as the Pope;
    Food scribbling’s just his Jew-hate trope.
    He doesn’t eat much caviar,
    Preferring to lunch on Goldstar.

    He can’t tell kneidlach from a blintz;
    Scrawling Jew-hate to make one wince.
    Just Dancing Camel Midnight Stout
    Is what Kev’s liquid food’s about.

    Booze-fueled nights; drink-driven days.
    Kev’s safe; the TV taxpayer pays.
    His Jew-hate drunk-dance scrawled about.
    Dancing camel on midnight stout.

    Midnight at Dan’s bar oasis.
    Once more Kevin is on the piss.
    No time to taste Kibbutz Dan trout.
    Just Dancing Camel Midnight Stout.

    This caviar on Jews is burgeoning
    While on the tref stuff Kev is sturgeoning.
    Surely Israel will feel no pain;
    Export Kev with it to Ukraine.

  2. Well, at least the BBC News referred at least twice, in my hearing, to the gunman as a “terrorist”. I hope later news bulletins will not have had the text gone over by PC overseers and call him a “militant”.

  3. Given Sharia law’s murderous views on gays, it makes sense that target was chosen because it was a gay hangout. The BBC cannot reasonably take the position that being a jihadist and being anti-gay are mutually exclusive. All the evidence from the real world suggests that he reverse, in fact, must be true: you cannot be a jihadist without also being virulently anti-gay.
    While some anti-gay violence has been perpetrated by Orthodox Jews, as the stabbing murder at the Jerusalem gay rights parade in 2015 attests, these are vanishingly rare incidents and here the prime suspect has already been identified as a Muslim. So, anti-gay violence as a stand alone proposition would be beyond “unfounded speculation” and border on deflection or sticking your head in the sand.
    Either way, it does nothing to enhance the reporter’s credibility – and reminds me of CNN’s Chris Cuomo’s bid of idiocy when covering the HyperKasher attack after the Charlie Hebdo massacre when he “cautioned” that there was no evidence that the kosher deli was targeted because it was a Jewish establishment, or the NY Times’ stated inability to understand why the jihadists who attacked Mumbai sent a team to search out the Chabad House and torture and murder the resident rabbi and his wife.
    Willful blindness – especially when it comes to attacks on the Jews or treating Israel as a special case where violence needs to be contextualized – is not limited to the BBC.

    • I’ve seen people who claim to be Tel Aviv locals stating on line that this bar was not a gay hangout – I would guess they would probably know.

  4. DISPUTE? Kevin! Is that how you would describe the current low intensity War between the PA/Hamas? I’m not going to insult you regarding your journalistic acumen, I’ll let your peers in the business do so

  5. Pingback: Inaccuracies in BBC News reports on Tel Aviv gunman | BBC Watch

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