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Thursday, April 21 2005

Former BBC reporter acknowledges bias

LlewellynElectronic Intifada interviewed former BBC Mideast reporter Tim Llewellyn, who openly acknowledges his pro-Palestinian sympathies. Excerpts:

-- On BBC 'restraint': '[BBC] are adopting what they see as an even handed attitude. To me this is a cowardly attitude, it is an attitude which confuses occupier with occupied.'

-- On 'the real story': 'BBC reporting doesn't tell the story. I don't mean that it doesn't tell the story from a particular point of view. It doesn't tell the story: Which is that the Palestinians are occupied and are fighting for independence in the same way that practically every other developing country was fighting for independence in the 30 years after the Second World War'

-- On suicide bombers: 'The problem with suicide bombings ... it's never been explained properly, as to why it happens and what provokes them... the lack of context of why these things happen and the profiles of the people that do them. Quite often people that carry out these acts are people who have suffered at the hands of the Israeli occupation in the most ghastly circumstances. But we don't hear that side of the story, certainly not in the BBC's or ITV's main news bulletin.'

-- On Barbara Plett's tears for Arafat vs. Sharon: 'I think she was in a particular situation, at a particular time, and she found it moving. I don't think she should have been reprimanded... It was a moving experience. It was the circumstances. I don't think Ariel Sharon is comparable. His record is not one that would induce tears.'

Llewellyn made similiar pronouncements in a 2004 Guardian editorial.

 

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Comments

No big surprise here, but it's always interesting to see the British journalists ADMIT their biases.

Of course, he sees everyone else as biased against the Palestinians, and their suffering to be the 'real, true' story. But that position simply denies the reality of w. bank history and law, and Israeli victimhood and self-defense. To claim, as Llewelly does, that there's no Israeli story to tell, is Palestinian advocacy, not journalism that provides a public service.

This reminds me of the Email Charles Martel sent to the BBC. It was about how 100 sudanese people killed were considered less important than 1 palestinian.

I hope Charles Martel reposts that.

Based on my own experiences with scores of Israel-based reporters and journalists, and with those who pass through here, their viewpoints vary in about the same ways that those of people outside the entertainment industry do. It's simply unrealistic to expect them to be impartial, to have a greater capacity for sophisticated analysis or to be free of preconceived notions.
It long ceased to surprise me that some of them are poorly informed, gullible and ignorant. Some are racist boors and worse. Some are mediocre tryers. And some are analytic, incisive professionals dedicated to the highest principles of their craft. This last category is not necessarily the largest, a situation that's true in most professions.
The real problem arises when the owners of the media pompously pretend to be something that experience tells us they plainly are not. This for instance: "The BBC exists to enrich people’s lives with great programmes and services that inform, educate and entertain. Its vision is to be the most creative, trusted organisation in the world... Trust is the foundation of the BBC: we are independent, impartial and honest." (http://www.bbc.co.uk/info/purpose/)
People interested enough to want to know how arrogant and wrong this stance is have no trouble googling for the facts.
I don't believe the BBC is worse than other media organizations with an agenda though I know many who do. But if they're in class of their own, it's perhaps because of the extent to which they engage in plum-in-mouth self-justifying posturings.
Tim Llewellyn is not the first or last reporter to drop the 'impartial' mask and reveal his true face. We owe them our thanks. They remind us to take nothing at face value - certainly not the 'impartial', 'objective', 'independent', 'honest' BBC version of the news.

"'The problem with suicide bombings ... it's never been explained properly, as to why it happens and what provokes them... the lack of context of why these things happen and the profiles of the people that do them."

Now let him use this same philosophy when discussing the "terrorist" acts against the British occupation of Palestine in the 1940's.
Any concise text on British behaviour against the Jewish population during their mandate?

"Quite often people that carry out these acts are people who have suffered at the hands of the Isareli occupation in the most ghastly circumstances."

Now apply that by changing Israeli to British and consider the British efforts to stymy their attempts at a life: Cyprus concentration camps, Exodus etc., after having suffered (euphemism) in the Nazis camps.

The Brits know that some of the blame of the Israel/Palarab division of land problem is their fault. They obtained the land and held it for, what, about 30 years? They tried splitting the land, but then backtracked and gave the Transjordan part away? Oops! They had their forces attempt to employ equal enforcement (equal in the minds of the Brits) while trying to instill some sort of order during their occupation? Oops! They couldn't solve the conflict, so they pussied out and amscrayed, leaving the situation for someone else to deal with? Oops!

This bias at the BBC is latent guilt on the Britons' part. Well, that, plus their usual hatred of Jews.

This is similar to the statments made about the Holocaust. The Nation of Islam's leaders, Louis Farrakhan and Malcolm X for starters, are are record as stating that people "get all wet eyed over a hand full of Jews who got what was coming to them" and X stated "No one ever asked what they (Jews) did to hitler"

To say that Jewish humanity slaughtered by terrorists in their own country is of no importance, or, worse yet, not a story, is barbaric. . .no matter how pretty the words used.

What a BAASTARD

Arnolds comment about their "self-justifying posturings" is so very apt! Perhaps that's why I don't despise Palestinians but I do despise BBC's journalists.

Most of what this particular specimen of the BBC talked about has been discussed to death. It would be easy enough to crumble his structures, his absurd statements. There's no point doing it yet again on this page, is there?

Here is how I see it:
There are two seperate issues. (A) The BBC's ideological bias and (B) The bias/distortion in what passes for reporting over at the BBC.

Since every person forms some kind of mental sketch of who is right/wrong - it would be unreasonbable to ask that every BBC journalist be completely unprejudiced. The solution to (B) is that whatever their prejudices their journalism should be accurate and not deliberately mislead.

The solution to (A), is that the BBC be forced to drop the ideological criteria by which it chooses their middle-east journalists.

Let's face it, had this Llewellyn or Barbara Plett had the opposite view/ideology then they would not have been hired by the BBC at all, let alone to report on the middle-east. I'm not sure they'd even let them make tea.

I suppose these journalists are interviewed by their superiors (people like Llewellyn and Plett) in order to judge whether 'these journalists know what is going on in the middle-east'. Their knowledge and analysis is tested. If their view is like Plett's or Llewellyn, then 'these people are smart and know their stuff'. If, however, their view is that Israel is fighting for its survival against those who wish to anhilate it and that Israelis are, frankly, fighting for their lives against Palestinians who are NEITHER fighting for their lives NOR for 'independence' (which they could easily have had without firing a single bullet - yet which they rejected) but are instead, evidently fighting for extra land and for the destruction of Israel (as evidenced by the manifestos and statements of those 'militant' groups carrying out the 'struggle' and supported by Palestinian polls of the Palestinian Intifada supporters). Well, if a would-be journalist says THAT in his/her interview, their BBC superiors would mark an X and tell each other that this person is trouble, that he/she has no real understanding of the situation, etc.

In fact, such a would-be middle-east correspondant would probably know better than to try and get the job.

What's badly needed is a major overhaul of the BBC's employment (and deployment) policy. This is the sure-fire way of achieving balance: (A) Testing would-be journalists on knowledge and not on ideology. (B) Insisting on professional standards of reporting from any correspondant, regardless of their ideology.

(A) Cannot be forced on newspapers like the Guardian (although (B) can!) but it certainly can be applied to the BBC - a government owned 'news' company, bound by its own charter to impartiallity.

Arabs invented the notion of a "Palestinian" people and a "Palestinian" country so it's pathetic at how these so-called journalists are defending a group that was created for the sole purpose of murdering Jews and stealing their land. That is the story that the press should be covering.

When is the Israel government going to realize that the BBC, Guardian etc. are working for the terrorist enemy and kick them out of their country?

Considering that Tim Llewellyn was and probably still is highly connected to CAABU, these statements are quite mild.
CAABU is the Council for the Advancement of Arab-British
Understanding. It was founded by people related to the British foreign office and were disgruntled by the British government giving a homeland to the Jews. Now, I wouldn't like to say that the atmosphere of CAABU's website is anti-semitic, but I have heard it say that some of its members are so.

Malia, u have a good point, but kicking the BBC/Guardian out of Israel wouldn't change their reporting for the better.

I agree-it will serve to "prove" that Israel has something to "hide".

Better to stay the Blog course. . .which is starting to attract many readers from many backgrounds. The news consumers are speaking, with their feet, whether or not news agencies will listen is anyone's guess

At least you know what you're getting with Llewellyn - an unabashed antisemite. He knows where he stands and he's honest about it.

That's more than you can say for other biased media people who maintain the pretense of trying to broadcast news in an impartial manner.

I just read thath the boycott is "on" in Britain against the Israeli Universities. . .Stupid Stupid. . .immoral

I'm angry, ashamed and British. I'm sorry.

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