Thursday, 26 May 2011

The most biased piece of news 'reporting' ever?

I know that's a tall order but I think the BBC's Jeremy Bowen may just have managed it with this article entitled 'Netanyahu chooses to make things worse with Capitol Hill speech;. Here's how he starts:
'It was not as if there was a chance of peace for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to squander in Washington. No peace process worth talking about exists to be revived. But he had a choice of making matters worse or better, and he chose to make them worse.'
If you have a strong stomach then do read it all but the bile and venom is quite incredible.

There is a comment thread at Biased BBC that is analysing and explaining Jeremy Bowen's bias, take a read.

Maybe the best explanation of Jeremy Bowen's outlook comes from an interview with The Independent newspaper (from 2006), The Independent newspaper being no friend of Israel itself. Here's a few extracts:
'Not only must he demystify the Middle East, but he must do so in language that does not, through an inappropriate phrase or image, inflame suspicions that the BBC is biased. Bowen, who is a contributor to the BBC's new College of Journalism, is honest enough to say that objectivity is beyond him. "We all come from somewhere; we all have a prism through which we see the world; we all have an education, and views and experiences. It's a false objective to be objective.

"But I think I can be impartial by trying to disentangle all the threads that make up a story. That's an ambitious thing to do in two and a half minutes on TV. You have got to be aware of what your own prejudices and principles are and put them to one side in a box."'
So he admits that 'objectivity is beyond him' but is 'aware of ... prejuducices' and can put them to one side. Hmm so what are Jeremy Bowen's prejudices regarding Israel and the Middle East?
'The pivotal moment in his career - "in my life", he corrects - was the Israeli tank attack on the Mercedes car in which he and two colleagues were travelling through southern Lebanon in 2000. At the moment of the attack, Bowen and his cameramen Malek Kanaan were a short distance away doing a piece to camera. Their fixer and driver Abed Takkoush had remained in the vehicle to make a phone call to his son.

With the car in flames, the tank's machine gun prevented Bowen from going to his friend's aid. "I felt like a coward," he writes. "I decided I could not save him and that I had to save myself. The ending was not happy. Life is not a film."

After that, the thrill of war was never quite the same. Bowen suffered post-traumatic stress disorder and underwent counselling. He took the chance to work far from the firing line as a breakfast presenter, and when in 2003 the chance came up to report the Iraq invasion from Baghdad, a city he knew well, he turned it down.'
I wonder if this incident might have created some anti-Israel prejudice in Jeremy Bowen and whether the BBC were right to appoint him Middle East Editor?

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