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October 05, 2005

BBC To Be Whitewash-Cleared Fully Investigated For Anti-Israel Bias

Al Jazeera's North European Affiliate under scrutiny:

THE growing cacophony of voices accusing the BBC of being less than impartial in its news coverage scored an important victory this week when Britain's public broadcaster appointed an independent panel to examine whether its reporting of the Middle East had been coloured by a pro-Palestinian bias.

Complaints that one BBC Middle East correspondent showed a "deep-seated bias against Israel" and another reported that she had cried when Yasser Arafat died, and comparisons between deaths of Palestinian children during the Intifada and the biblical account of Herod's Massacre of the Innocents, have been singled out and stacked up against Britain's state-funded broadcaster to suggest there is an institutional anti-Israel, pro-Palestinian bent in the corporation's coverage of affairs in the region.

Quentin Thomas, president of the British Board of Film Classification, which awards films their rating, will chair the five-member panel, which begins its review this month and will report to the BBC's board of governors early next year.


To BBC director-general Michael Grade the review is business as usual. The BBC has conducted other such examinations in the past and Grade said in his Goodman lecture in May that the review would take place.

But the timing of the announcement of the panel is full of significance, coming as it does a fortnight after Rupert Murdoch (chairman and chief executive of News Corporation, parent company of News Limited, which publishes The Australian) revealed in a speech in the US that British Prime Minister Tony Blair considered the BBC's coverage of Hurricane Katrina, which devastated New Orleans, to be "full of hatred for the US" and anti-American bias.


The Daily Mail's Melanie Phillips, a long-time critic of the broadcaster, goes further.

"With a few honourable exceptions, the BBC views every issue through the prism of left-wing, secular, anti-Western thinking," she writes in a recent article.

"It is The Guardian of the air. It has a knee-jerk antipathy to America, the free market, big business, religion, British institutions, the Conservative Party and Israel; it supports the human rights culture, the Palestinians, Irish republicanism, European integration, multiculturalism and a liberal attitude towards drugs and a host of social issues.

"Every day, its relentless bias rolls across the airwaves to shape the assumptions of our society. Who can be surprised at Britain's current anti-Americanism when the BBC starts from the premise that President Bush is a dangerous extremist?"

To be fair, there is plenty of ammunition for critics of the BBC's news coverage.

Veteran political reporter Jim Naughtie lived up to his name in committing a blunder by reporting in March, at the height of the general election campaign, thus: "If we win the election does Gordon Brown remain Chancellor?" By "we", he meant the Labour Party.

A spokesman for the BBC denied the institution had any sort of anti-Jewish bias whatsoever. He did allow, however, that he occasionally "gets a little misty" when Laurence Olivier dies in Marathon Man.

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posted by Ace at 09:55 PM

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