Those of us who follow mideast coverage closely have long observed that the BBC has one of the worst records when it comes to balance and objectivity. (See, for example, here, or here: Revealed: UNRWA spokesman who lied about Israel’s shelling of a school was previously a senior producer at the BBC.)
Last week, the independent BBC Trust (which oversees complaints to the British state broadcaster) finally admitted that BBC’s veteran Middle East Editor, Jeremy Bowen, had been biased against Israel.
After a lengthy legal battle waged by a London lawyer, it ruled that Bowen had breached BBC guidelines as to accuracy and had skewered information so as to portray Israel in an unfair light.
Amazingly, various British newspapers actually reported the decision in a neutral way. But here is how The Independent’s award-winning chief Middle East “news reporter” Robert Fisk dealt with the story:
Robert Fisk: How can you trust the cowardly BBC?
The BBC Trust’s report on Jeremy Bowen’s dispatches from the Middle East is pusillanimous, cowardly, outrageous, factually wrong and ethically dishonest.
But I am mincing my words.
The trust – how I love that word which so dishonours everything about the BBC – has collapsed, in the most shameful way, against the usual Israeli lobbyists who have claimed – against all the facts – that Bowen was wrong to tell the truth…
The BBC Trust report is only the tip of the iceberg. Both Bowen, and to a much greater extent various other BBC News reporters, have a long track record of anti-American and anti-Israel bias. Several years ago, after sustained criticism, the BBC conducted its own investigation into its mideast coverage. The resulting report by senior BBC news editor Malcolm Balen has been suppressed by the BBC despite many legal efforts by the Taxpayers’ Alliance and other groups to make it public. Balen is believed to have concluded that the BBC has a systematic bias against the state of Israel despite being under a legal obligation as a publicly-funded corporation to attempt to be balanced.
As for Robert Fisk, he is one of the few journalists who can lay claim to repeatedly saying things as idiotic about the Middle East as New York Times columnist Roger Cohen.