The BBC and Britain's "Refuseniks"
Sunday March 30 2002
It is not apparent at first but after reading reports (1) compiled by Russian journalists and military experts it becomes all too evident. In comparison the BBC coverage of the war in Iraq is steeped in very subtle, almost imperceptible spin.
For example: for ten years now between 6,000 and 10,000 Iraqi children have died every month, largely as a result of sanctions imposed by Britain and America. The BBC has virtually ignored this modern holocaust: thus allowing Tony Blair to get away with the obvious lie that military action against Iraq has been prompted by 'humanitarian' concern.
Likewise in reporting on the military action itself key elements are given little coverage, or omitted altogether. Whilst other facets of the situation in Iraq are given attention over and above there actual significance.
Thus images of British Army medics giving assistance to Iraqis, for example, are given prominence and help counteract the more negative impact of news of civilian deaths. While pictures of coalition casualties are rarely seen, in contrast to images of Iraqi Prisoners of War.
But BBC cannot ignore some things. Thus the return of the body’s of British servicemen killed in the Gulf is given suitably sombre coverage. However in contrast the return to Britain of two servicemen who refused to fight against Iraq barely warrants a mention.
The two “refuseniks” are a private and an air technician from 16 Air Assault Brigade, both of whom are understood to have refused to fight in a war involving the deaths of innocent civilians.
As a result they were ordered to return to the brigade’s barracks in Colchester, where they now face possible court marshals. It is understood that Britain’s Ministry of Defence would prefer to hush up the affair, for fear of encouraging others. And the BBC seems more than willing to oblige. At the time of writing it has given the situation regarding the two “refuseniks” virtually zero coverage.
The trouble is that as an institution the BBC is a clever, consumate liar. To reinforce its credibility the BBC recently announced that it is concerned at false and misleading information being put out on the war against Iraq. In response it stressed to its journalists that they must clearly attribute military sources.
According to the Guardian, BBC news chiefs met to discuss the problem after the broadcaster carried several reports later shown to be inaccurate. The misleading reports were all favourable to the US/UK forces and so their exposure has undermined the BBC’s claims to be providing unbiased coverage.
So the problem lies with the military who are handing false information to honest, unsuspecting BBC reporters. Right?
Wrong. What the above does is underline the BBC's credibility. Which is exactly what it is meant to do. The fact is that the BBC is not the bastion of journalistic integrity that it would have us believe. Its semblance of 'impartiality' is in truth just that, a semblance. In reality it acts as a propaganda machine, producing very subtle propaganda, but propaganda nonetheless and carefully disguised as "honest", "objective" journalism. And its journalists are either too obtuse or dishonest to reflect on what they are actually doing.
(1) War in Iraq
Last updated 03/04/2003