As readers may recall, during an edition of BBC One’s ‘This Week’ broadcast on November 19th, studio guest George Galloway was given an unfettered platform for the promotion of inaccurate information concerning Israel.
“Along with his guests Michael Portillo and Labour’s Liz Kendall, Andrew Neil sat in total silence as veteran anti-Israel activist Galloway opportunistically promoted the blatant lie that Israel employs a ‘shoot to kill’ policy to BBC audiences.
In addition to Neil’s failure to comply with BBC editorial guidelines on accuracy – which state “We should normally acknowledge serious factual errors and correct them quickly, clearly and appropriately” – by correcting the materially misleading claim from Galloway immediately after it was made, the BBC has further promoted that uncorrected clip for view by audiences who did not see the programme’s original broadcast.”
The response received from the BBC Complaints department by a member of the public who submitted a complaint on that topic includes the following:
“We understand that you were angered by comments made by George Galloway regarding Israel having a ‘shoot to kill policy’ as you believe he should have been challenged on this statement.
Although we appreciate your feelings, the fact is that George Galloway is well known for his views on Israel and the Middle East and it would be reasonably be expected for him to make his strident views on the situation known to viewers, however, we do recognise that you feel Andrew should have interjected at that point regarding his remarks.
Having watched the discussion on your behalf, George Galloway was asked what he thought about Jeremy Corbyn’s response to the planned attacks on Syria. Mr Galloway made his views about the situation in a strident and articulate manner, clearly setting out his own views and opinions. We do not make editorial comment or judgement on the views expressed by contributors to our programmes, and our aim is simply to provide enough information for viewers to make up their own minds.
The show’s policy is to invite guests from all political persuasions to get a fully rounded view on the day’s issues, in this instance the vote on Syria.”
George Galloway is indeed “well known for his views on Israel and the Middle East” and that should have been all the more reason for the programme’s presenter to be alert to the probability of attempts by his interviewee to exploit the platform provided for the promotion of gratuitous, opportunistic and off-topic falsehoods.
Despite that, BBC Complaints now defends the presentation of inaccurate information to audiences by disingenuously claiming that a statement presented as though it were fact was actually an opinion – and hence BBC editorial guidelines on accuracy do not apply.