BBC racist reporting, “no other word to describe it”

July 20th, 2006

The reporting we are seeing from the BBC and the other broadcasters is racist; there is no other word to describe it. The journalists’ working assumption is that Israeli lives are more precious, more valuable than Lebanese lives. A few dead Israelis justify massive retaliation; many Lebanese dead barely merit a mention. The subtext seems to be that all the Lebanese, even the tiny bleeding children I see on Arab TV, are terrorists. It is just the way Arabs are.

That is why the capture of two Israeli soldiers is more newsworthy to our broadcasters than the dozens of Lebanese civilians dying from the Israeli bombing runs that have followed. The eight Israelis killed on Sunday are worth far more than the 130-plus Lebanese lives taken so far and the hundreds more we can expect to die in the coming days.

There is no excuse for this asymmetry of coverage. BBC reporters are in Lebanon just as they are in Israel. They can find spokespeople in Lebanon just as easily as they can find them in Israel. They can show the far vaster scale of devastation in Beirut as easily as the wreckage in Haifa. They can speak to the Lebanese casualties just as easily as they can to those in Israel.

But they don’t – and as a fellow journalist I have to ask myself why.

My previous criticisms of British reporters over their distorted coverage of Israel’s military assaults in Gaza a few weeks back appear to have struck a raw nerve. Certainly they provoked a series of e-mails – some defensive, others angry – from a few of the reporters I named. All tried to defend their own coverage, unable to accept my criticisms because they are sure that they personally do not take sides. They are not “campaigning” journalists after all, they are “professionals” doing a job.

But the problem is not with them, it is with the job they have to do – and the nature of the professionalism they so prize. I am sure the BBC’s Wyre Davies cares as much about Lebanese deaths as he does about Israeli ones. But he also knows his career at the BBC demands that he not ask his bosses questions when told to give valuable minutes of air time to an Israeli police spokesman who offers us only platitudes.

Similarly, we see James Reynolds use his broadcast from Haifa at noon to show emotive footage of him and his colleagues running for shelter as Israeli air raid sirens go off, only to tell us that in fact no rockets landed in Haifa. That nonevent was shown by the BBC every hour on the hour all afternoon and evening. Was it more significant than the images of death we never saw taking place just over the border? These images from Lebanon exist, because the Arab channels spent all day showing them.

Matthew Price knows too that in the BBC’s view it is his job as he stands in Haifa, after we have repeatedly heard Israeli spokespeople giving their version of events, to repeat their message, dropping even the quotes marks as he passionately tells us how tough Israel must now be, how it must “retaliate” to protect its citizens, how it must “punish” Hezbollah This is not journalism; it’s reporting as a propaganda arm of a foreign power.

Can we imagine Ben Brown doing the same from Beirut, standing in front of the BBC cameras telling us how Hezbollah has no choice faced with Israel’s military onslaught but to start hitting Haifa harder, blowing up its oil refineries and targeting civilian infrastructure to “pressure” Israel to negotiate?

Would the BBC bother to show prerecorded footage of Brown fleeing for his safety in Beirut in what later turned out to be a false alarm? Of course not. Doubtless Brown and his colleagues are forced to take cover on a regular basis for fear of being hurt by Israeli air strikes, but his fear – or more precisely, the fear of the Lebanese he stands alongside – is not part of the story for the BBC. Only Israeli fears are newsworthy.

These reporters are working in a framework of news priorities laid down by faceless news executives far away from the frontline who understand only too well the institutional pressures on the BBC – and the institutional biases that are the result.

They know that the Israel lobby is too powerful and well resourced to take on without suffering flak; that the charge of anti-Semitism might be terminally damaging to the BBC’s reputation; that the BBC is expected broadly to reflect the positions of the British governmment if it wants an easy ride with its regulators; that to remain credible it should not stray too far from the line of its mainly American rivals, who have their own more intense domestic pressures to side with Israel.

This distortion of news priorities has real costs that can be measured in lives – in the days and weeks to come, hundreds, possibly thousands, of lives in both Israel and Lebanon. As long as Israel is portrayed by our major broadcasters as the one under attack, its deaths alone as significant, then the slide to a regional war – a war of choice being waged by the Israeli government and army – is likely to become inevitable.

So to Jeremy Bowen, James Reynolds, Ben Brown, Wyre Davies, Matthew Price, and all the other BBC journalists reporting from the frontline of the Middle East, and the faceless news executives who sent them there, I say: you may be nice people with the best of intentions, but shame on you.


The fact of the matter is we don’t need BBC, FOX or anyone else to tell us that the artic is cold. As soon as you understand this, then you won’t care about wether or not the BBC is spinning ID cards on the behalf of contractors, uncritically spreading lies about ‘the middle east’ or any other despicable shenanigans that they are getting up to.

I wish Aljazeera had english subtitles….then we could actually get some perspective.

2 Responses to “BBC racist reporting, “no other word to describe it””

  1. Alun Says:


    Al J would most likely give an alternate, equally racist viewpoint. And, as stated, those who can see already know the arctic is cold.

    While a balance between BBQ and Al J may permit the viewer to obtain some perspective, Al J would not be watched by the vast majority of ‘westerners’ anyway as these people have been programmed to swallow their news vanilla-flavoured, filtered and pureed. And since Al J arrived, western consumers have been further indoctrinated to believe that Al J is little more than a terrorist front. And the bottom(-feeder) (hook-)line is, really, who cares what the arabs think?

    Perspective comes through freedom of thought, something drilled out of the population in general as a Bad Thing (another reason the Eloi are so prevalent). Free thinking and individualism are now seen as borderline treasonable characteristics, and not just by the government but by the general population under government control. This must change. (Re-)Education is the key. It’s never too late to learn!

  2. irdial Says:

    Indeed, it is never too late to learn. By perspective I mean literally not looking at the one dimensional, monochromatic, edge on view that the scumbags at BBQ ‘give’ us (after all, the license payer PAYS for them to lie to the viewer).

    By looking at Al Jazeera, you LITERALLY get to see the other side, the actual face of death, what the bombs falling on the other side actually look like.

    The conflict becomes a cube, rather than a one dimensional line or a singularity of BBQ Propaganda.

    And while we are on this subject, you should check out all the footage out there on the freedom fighters shooting down, blowing up and causing mayhem.

    Its so horrible / insane you can barely believe it. Their media is vastly different to what the west has; looking at it gives you a crystal clear window into them and their pain. These guys are MAD AS HELL, AND THEY’RE NOT GOING TO TAKE IT ANYMORE!

    Try clip number 1131 for example. Just one of many highly astonishing and utterly surprising clips on there. The feeling it invokes is one of complete nullification…I would love to read what others think of these clips.

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