There is a widespread trend in the so-called â€˜blogosphereâ€™ which consists of bashing the BBC for an alleged bias behind their coverage of home and international news. Sites like â€˜Biased BBCâ€™, â€˜Busting BBC Biasâ€™, and several others are dedicated to highlighting a perceived anti-conservative or more often anti-Israeli agenda.
Analysis of state-run news agencies is important. I have witnessed plenty of occasions when the BBC has taken up its â€˜public service â€“ unite the peopleâ€™ mantle with a bit too much enthusiasm. Golden Jubilees and other uninteresting royal events leap to mind.
However, I have never detected anything in their coverage of the Israel-Palestine or Israel-Lebanon which amounted to anti-Israeli bias. Every news report Iâ€™ve watched over the last few weeks has matched Fox News for the amount of content broadcast from the Israeli side of the frontier, spending plenty of time talking to Israeli civilians in shelters, inspecting damage to houses and shops, asking for the opinions of shoppers and holidaymakers in Tel Aviv. All of this was done in a sensitive, humane way with absolutely no hint of malice or put-downs on the part of the BBC.
Of course, the BBC also showed images of devastation in southern Lebanon. Blocks of flats which had collapsed, two-storey-deep holes in Beirut, dead women and children. Several times, it was noted that the BBC werenâ€™t allowed to enter Hezbollah-controlled zones. It was made clear at these times that this might have been because Hezbollah had â€˜command and control bunkersâ€™ or â€˜armed fightersâ€™ on the streets.
I think that the claims of bias against the BBC come from a small number of people who share a singular viewpoint, namely: Israel is naturally in the right, Hezbollah and Hamas are only terrorist groups, the BBC is run by lefties, all criticism of Israel is inherently anti Semitic. If this is where you start from as objective truth, then yes, the BBC will appear to be biased. In fact, youâ€™ll probably find yourself grumbling about Fox News coverage too. Those bloody commies over at Fox.
The fact is that the damage in Lebanon was far worse and more extensive than the damage in Israel. The fact is that ten times as many people were killed north of the border. There is no bias in recording these facts. To trawl through the BBCâ€™s news coverage looking for inaccuracies is a perfectly decent thing to do. But to do this with an eye to denying the facts of what happened, thatâ€™s unacceptable. The right-wing majority who shape opinion on the internet are used to being able to say whatever they like, accuse whomever they like and bash the BBC as much as they like. Sadly, they are biased and donâ€™t have truth on their side.
Oh, interesting note: an official, independent report on the BBC’s bias actually highlighted issues on which the corporation could be accused of pro-Israeli bias. There’s no pleasing some people…