BBC’s self-criticism of its “Arab Spring” reporting welcome but late

“why can’t it simply report the facts without trying to dress up the “Arab Spring” as something it is not?”

 

    BBC chiefs are criticising the organisation’s own coverage of the so-called Arab Spring, and singles out Middle East editor Jeremy Bowen for special criticism.

Unfortunately, it’s a bit late, for huge damage has been done. From day one the BBC coverage has been biased and misinformed, and based on wishes and hope rather than fact. In the face of video evidence to the contrary, the BBC has described the moves to oust dictatorships as a function of a desire for open and democratic government when this has been a movement towards quite the opposite. The crowds of bearded, noisy, and immature protestors were clearly baying for Islam, and not some version of the open society we in the West have enjoyed. BBC operative Bowen has been the most egregious offender by mis-describing the unfolding events, while showing videos of the opposite. Because of his obvious hatred of Israel, Bowen seems to think it is ok to misrepresent Arab conflicts as a struggle for freedom. It is a struggle for Islam. Early on in the coverage of trouble in Egypt Bowen was dismissing any problem from a Muslim Brotherhood victory. It won’t be long now until we find out how bad this will be for democracy. If only there was a strong movement for secular states in the Middle East.

By taking so long to admit error the BBC has caused a huge amount of trouble, with even our own Prime Minister David Cameron and Foreign Secretary William Hague using this misguided version of events to spur their own useless grandstanding. The use of force to topple Libya’s Colonel Gadaffi has simply replaced one nasty dictatorship with an Islamist one.

In Egypt, at least the Muslim Brotherhood’s power to do damage has been limited by the military’s shutting down of Parliament and the slashing of Presidential powers, after it allowed the winner to take “control”.

In Syria, Hague has constantly taken the side of the rebels, even when it was obvious a government under fire from a civil war couldn’t be expected to remain inactive. When and if the current nasty dictatorship is replaced, it is likely to be by something even worse. A segment on the BBCTV news last night showed the armed Syrian rebels planting bombs and planning ambushes. It showed a bunch of Islamist fanatics planning war and ambushes, without even alluding to the fact that some foreign entity must be financing their action.

It is belated progress for the BBC to admit error, but why can’t it simply report the facts without trying to dress up the “Arab Spring” as something it is not. Calling the moves a “Spring” was the first mistake because this assumed it was a good thing. Is it too much to expect BBC reporters to eschew value judgements?

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