Tuesday, 27 January 2009

How impartiality works: BBC's Mark Thompson meets Sharon

I was startled by this letter in The Guardian:
Given Mark Thompson's devotion to the cause of BBC impartiality, perhaps he could reassure us that when he went on his charm offensive to Israel in 2005 and held talks with Ariel Sharon, he took the opportunity to talk also to Palestinian leaders in the occupied territories. MORE

Which then led me to this nugget of information in The Independent:
BBC chief holds peace talks in Jerusalem with Ariel Sharon (2005)
The BBC is often accused of an anti-Israeli bias in its coverage of the Middle East, and recently censured reporter Barbara Plett for saying she "started to cry" when Yasser Arafat left Palestine shortly before his death.Fascinating, then, to learn that its director general, Mark Thompson, has recently returned from Jerusalem, where he held a face-to-face meeting with the hardine Prime Minister Ariel Sharon.
Although the diplomatic visit was not publicised on these shores, it has been seized upon in Israel as evidence that Thompson, who took office in 2004, intends to build bridges with the country's political class. ... MORE

And I never knew that it was only days after this meeting that BBC Middle East reporter Orla Guerin was sacked. Greg Dyke looks askance.

Impartiality. A moveable feast? Or smoke and mirrors?


splinteredsunrise said...

Martin Bell, bless his white suit, was on GMTV this morning saying it was a clear case of self-censorship by the higher-ups in the BBC. And that there was quite a lot of unease at this from BBC journalists.

I'm sure they are getting a lot of flak from the Zionists, but that could also be a convenient alibi for something Thompson wants to do anyway.

rustbeltradical said...

I did not know that about Orla Guerin. I had wondered what had happened to send her to the "The BBC cannot report from inside Zimbabwe" beat. I used only be able to fall asleep with the World Service softly in the background. Now it just keeps me up.

It seems that 60 Minutes' long time propagandist Bob Simon has now broken ranks (and regained his soul?). I was shocked to see that his report last Sunday on 60 Minutes was almost entirely based on the reality rather than the Israeli line.

You can see it on the CBS website. Maybe we have a slight change in bourgeois opinion on the efficacy of continued support to an apartheid state?

Madam Miaow said...

Hi Rustbelt,

Orla was moved over to Africa. I've added a link to former Director General Greg Dyke's raised eyebrow to the timing in the text and here:

I don't know Bob Simon but from the sound of it, Israel's arrogant assumption that it can get away with massacre and the public will remain mute seems to have backfired. A lot of these old guys have some sort of pride or a delusion that they have standards, and if the Israelis won't play the game then they've shattered all sorts of self-images.

Or maybe people do really care. Which would be nice.

Splintered: Martin's best mate, David Soul, is also a champ. (Which one was he — Husky or Snatch?) Anyway, his message to the BBC was ace.