A member of the public who submitted a complaint to the BBC concerning Tweets sent by its Washington correspondent Kim Ghattas criticising a ‘Newsweek’ headline to a story about Ahed Tamimi received the following reply from BBC Complaints.
“Thanks for contacting us with your comments regarding a tweet by Middle East [sic] correspondent Kim Ghattas. Please accept our apologies for the delay in replying.
Kim was making the point that the newspaper concerned had not placed enough context in its headline. That’s made clear in the follow up tweets.
She is making a point about there being two sides to the issue. Her tweets were not about the incident itself but the need for more sophisticated reporting from Newsweek. She was pointing out the other perspective on the issue which was not reflected in the Newsweek headline.
We hope this is helpful, and thank you again for your feedback.”
Leaving aside the obviously highly relevant question of whether it is in fact a BBC journalist’s job to call out “the need for more sophisticated reporting” at another media organisation, let’s take another look at those Tweets which the BBC claims “were not about the incident itself”.
Obviously the statements “Her 15 yr old cousin had just been shot in the head” and “Ahed Tamimi, unarmed, slapped a gun toting Israeli soldier who was in her backyard” not only refer to the incident but portray it in a specific light.
Moreover, Ghattas’ use of the phrase “Blame the victim?”, her claim that Ha’aretz “wrote an editorial describing her as the victim, not an assailant” and her claim that “she lives under occupation” (Nabi Saleh is in Area B) clearly show that she is advancing a specific narrative – just as she accused Newsweek of doing in a subsequent Tweet in which she also promoted the notion of “double standards”.
Although BBC editorial guidelines state that “those involved in News and Current Affairs or factual programming should not advocate a particular position on high profile controversial subjects” and “News and Current Affairs staff should not […] advocate any particular position on an issue of current public controversy or debate”, the BBC’s outsourced complaints system has, as we see, chosen to ignore those directives in its response.