Friday, 21 March 2014

David Cameron's 'benign' part in the 'Middle East peace process' - exchange with the BBC

How much propaganda can be packed into one seemingly innocuous BBC news comment?

Here's a little insight.


Letter to BBC Complaints
13 March 2014

On tonight's 6 O'Clock News newsreader Sophie Raworth ended her piece on David Cameron's visit to Israel and the West Bank with the following statement:
'Mr Cameron is keen to rekindle the Middle East peace process.'

1. What is the BBC's precise evidence for this claim?

2. Shouldn't this comment more precisely read: 'Mr Cameron says/claims he is keen to rekindle the Middle East peace process'?

3. Why does the BBC so readily accept that there is an actual 'peace process' to 'rekindle'?

4. Have the BBC breached their guidelines on 'impartiality' by speaking for Mr Cameron?

5. Have the BBC breached their guidelines on 'balance' by failing to provide a counter-view to that expressed by the BBC/Mr Cameron?

I look forward to your considered responses.

Regards
John Hilley


------------------
 
20 March 2014
Dear Mr Hilley

Reference CAS-2613542-K9VGDM

Thanks for contacting us regarding BBC News at Six broadcast on 13 March 2014.

I understand you believe it was inaccurate to report that David Cameron was keen to rekindle a peace process as you believe the report featured no evidence of this, that it should’ve stated what David Cameron said and makes the assumption that there’s a peace process to rekindle.

Having reviewed the programme, it featured a report on his visit to the Middle East and in saying he was keen to rekindle the Middle East peace process, this was due to his engagement with some of the leaders there to try and move a peace process forward. It reported on his talks with the Palestinian president and that he met with former Prime Minister Tony Blair.

This is a very brief report however and didn’t go into wider details due to time constraints. That said, I appreciate that you may continue to feel it was inaccurate and acted as a spokesperson for David Cameron in saying he was keen to rekindle the Middle East peace process.

With your concerns in mind, I'd like to assure you that I've registered your complaint on our Audience Log. This is a daily report of audience feedback that’s made available to all BBC staff, including members of the BBC Executive board, channel controllers and other senior managers.

The Audience Logs are seen as important documents that can help shape decisions on future BBC programmes and content.

Once again, thank you for contacting us.

Kind Regards

Philip Young
BBC Complaints
www.bbc.co.uk/complaints

-----------------

21 March 2014
Dear Philip Young
 
Thanks for your letter.
 
After many years seeking to highlight the multiple distortions and biases presented as 'impartial information' by the BBC, I never cease to marvel at the level of crass evasion and patronising dismissal that can still count as a 'considered response' to a specifically-worded complaint.
 
You say:
'Having reviewed the programme, it featured a report on his visit to the Middle East and in saying he was keen to rekindle the Middle East peace process, this was due to his engagement with some of the leaders there to try and move a peace process forward.'
I'm at a loss to see what explanation this is meant to convey, other than a tautological reiteration of the claim already made in the BBC report that "Mr Cameron is keen to rekindle the Middle East peace process."

Nor should it matter that the report was 'brief' or subject to 'time constraints'. How many fractions of a second does it take to include the word "says" or "claims" in the above quote?    

It can be reasonably argued that there is no honest, viable 'Middle East peace process' to speak of, given that Israel has no intentions of engaging seriously, and that the US/UK, as key allies of Israel, cannot be considered neutral facilitators of such a 'process'.  

Two propositions follow from this: Mr Cameron can't 'rekindle' something that doesn't effectively exist; and he shows no serious signs of doing anything to promote a real peace process.

Bear in mind too that Cameron had just addressed the Israeli parliament, pledging his primary support for Israel and its enduring 'security'. And despite his visit to the West Bank (note, not Gaza), all his urgings for a 'two state solution' are based on preserving Israel rather than liberating Palestine. 

If Cameron was really intent on achieving a just and realisable settlement he would be advocating punitive sanctions on Israel in the way Britain threatens other countries like Iran and Russia. No such action has ever been remotely considered by the UK, even when Israel was mass bombing Gaza with white phosphorus in 2008/9.   

Now, these are my own, if widely shared, views, which I'm at liberty to express. 

The BBC, in contrast, isn't supposed to hold or express any particular view. Yet it can be clearly recognised from Sophie Raworth's comments, and the report at large, that the BBC is expressing an explicitly partial view in assuming the supposed thoughts and motivations of Mr Cameron. That's a clear violation of the BBC's own guidelines on impartiality.

Also, rather than permit counter-comment on Cameron's deep complicity in supporting Israel, thus serving to prolong the Occupation, viewers were given only the assumed views of the government, and could have been left with no impression other than that of 'benign' UK engagement. That, again, is a clear violation of the BBC's guidelines on providing balanced viewpoints.        


I am now asking for a considered response to EACH of the five questions cited in my original complaint, with the intention of taking this matter to BBC Trust level for a satisfactory response.

Kind regards
John Hilley  

................

Notwithstanding the tortuous procedure that prides itself the 'BBC Complaints process', I will keep readers updated on the 'progress' of this enquiry.  

 

7 comments:

yorker said...

I thought the so-called peace process had already been rekindled and was now waiting for Kerry's magic 'framework' to be announced. Cameron (and the BBC) ought to try to keep up.

ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®© said...

If Cameron was really intent on achieving a just and realisable settlement he would be advocating punitive sanctions on Israel in the way Britain threatens other countries like Iran and Russia. No such action has ever been remotely considered by the UK, even when Israel was mass bombing Gaza with white phosphorus in 2008/9.

Hear! Hear!

And as bad as the BBC is, our press in the U.S. is far worse.
~

Mary said...

Hear, Hear! John. Well said as ever. Keep on at the BBC before Mr Blobby gets hold of it.

John Hilley said...

Thanks for your great comments, all.

Some more from the Media Lens message board:

David Macilwain:
Will the BBC Trust consider your points more seriously, simply by actually reading them?
I don't see how any of them can be disputed, but then I know that they are all true because I don't listen to the BBC!
Doesn't mean I don't think you should bother - I think it's vital even if endlessly aggravating like the 'peace process' itself.

Ed:
Good stuff John, meticulous and honest as always

John Hilley:
BBC complaints process(3 levels:first they dismiss you, then they flannel you, then they just slam the gate shut.

Despite an initial enquiry and response, I had to submit my latest reply via the BBC webform, which needed three submissions in order to comply with the 1500 character count.

All part of the built-in disincentives to pursuing serious complaints.

Thanks for your comments, David and Ed.

Cheers
John

ML Editor:
It's like you're speaking a different language, isn't it, John? A classic BBC fake response that is actually a non-response. Reason cannot be allowed to interfere with their propaganda role.

DE

John Hilley:
Indeed, David. While always expecting Kafkaesque evasion, it's always still revealing to see the brazen extent of such contortion.

Cheers
John

AlanG:
You know what you're letting yourself in for - I hope your supplies of energy, time & patience are equal to it. Please keep us posted

Walter:
Great stuff John. They’re stonewalling of course, but it would not be surprising if to some degree they don’t appreciate the problem in Sophie Raworth speaking on behalf of David Cameron, if they already see no problem in themselves speaking on behalf of Sophie Raworth
Cheers

John Hilley:
Yes, Alan, the usual marathon complaints process...As always, I use it more particularly to highlight rather than seek/expect a 'result'.

That said, as you suggest, Walter, I think they may be forced to concede an obvious 'irregularity' in Raworth's comment. And that, of course, comes down to more than a newsreader repeating an already scripted line from an autocue.

Cheers
John

Walter:
Yes the highlighting of the issue is worthwhile if you can bear the tedium, and they have conceded a sort of point - but try to mask it by repeating the error; pointing to Cameron’s actions which are supposed to prove the assumption is actually true, a circular argument of course.

More widely I think they realize they are in some kind of battle; to make the complaints as expensive (in terms of effort) to make, and also to follow, as possible. Good that you are willing to ‘stump up’ some of your time for such a broad purpose, John. I hope there is someone lined up on relief duty! Cheers

Rhisiart Gwilym:
Salute to your lucidity and persistence John! You'll know, I'm sure that the Procedure is now farmed out to a nice little earner commercial smokeblowing outfit.

Keith-264:
Leave out the adverbs
What is the BBC's [precise] evidence for this claim?
and keep it general
What is the evidence for this claim?
When they write that his visit to various people is the evidence, they are committing a non sequitur, because that's what they're for; they will use it in their answers too.

John Hilley:
Thanks Rhis and Walter, and for that precisely measured advice from Keith ;)

Keith:
;O)....



beautiful Sakura said...

Great work John.

One is left Choking half way to death though, at thought of the elite's War mongering peace envoy, having ANYTHING whatsoever to do with peace or the peace process.

i agree to with the 3 process levels:first they dismiss you, then they flannel you, then they just slam the gate shut.

Thank you for you're steadfast persistence.

John Hilley said...

Thanks beautiful Sakura. Yes, you couldn't make it up about the choice and proclaimed role of the 'peace envoy'.

John

hpj67 said...

The BBCs distortion of truth is limitless. The miners in south Yorkshire are only too aware of that. Riot police attacked unarmed strikers there in 1984. A discredited Beeb deliberately spliced the footage. It cast the miners as a rabble. Orwell could have written some home truths about the Blair Bush Corp. James