Babyish provocations from the BBC

by on September 30, 2016 in Media Comment

The BBC isn’t a journalist organisation. It is a UK public sector organisation. It thinks and acts like a local authority. Its primary role is to protect itself. Beyond that it supports everything which is to its advantage. There is no real sense of journalism.

They demonstrated this in their interview with Sergey Lavrov, the Foreign Minister of the Russian Federation today. (It’s probably on the BBC web site somewhere. As a matter of taste this web site does not link to the BBC.)

During this interview they referred to the Joint Investigation Team report into the crash of MH17. This unit, based in the Netherlands, has just released a preliminary report into the crash. (We have discussed the report here). The report claims that the BUK missile launcher which shot down MH17 ‘came from Russia’. The report’s authors made it clear that they were not accusing the Russian state and that they had no evidence beyond “it came from Russia”. This was reported by the Daily Telegraph:

As the JIT made clear, the question of the Russian state or Russian citizens is yet to be closed. No government or individual has yet been named as responsible. [1]

Nonetheless the BBC invited Sergey Lavrov to “apologize” for the incident. The interview is reported by Life News. [2]

The report issued by the Joint Investigation Team is described as preliminary. On this basis even if the report did accuse Russia it would be too soon to invite the Foreign Minister of the country to apologize. But that could simply be explained as over-eagerness to get a scoop. But the problem is more serious than that. The JIT was clear; they are making no statements about involvement of the Russian state. Therefore there was simply no basis on which to ask the Foreign Minister representing the Russian state to apologize.

That the BBC did (and someone at a senior level must have authorized this) shows what scant regard the BBC shows to journalistic standards. It was simply babyish. They had Lavrov in the studio and (facts aside) they thought they’d “ambush” him. A sort of student prank – (probably the sort of game that happens in editorial and management meetings at the BBC all the time). But it also (inadvertently) reveals how the Western political and media classes operate. There is a world of facts, reports, international investigations – and then there is their world, a world composed by their own narratives, a world in which they sort everything out. In this world they are always 100% right and always on top. In this world – composed of made-up narratives – Russia has long since been found guilty. Of course it is necessary to pretend that there is only one narrative – the official world of reports, the UN and “international law”. But this world is only accepted as long as it can be bent and distorted to mirror the world of their own prior narratives.

In this case it is their own investigation they are overriding with their own preferred version of events. The investigation has not found the Russian state responsible. But in the narrative of the modern-day imperialists she is. And it is from this narrative, not the actual world of the “international” investigation, that the BBC posed this question.

It’s a minor example but it does show the attitude of the Western media and political classes to anything which could be described as international law. The rule of law is subsidiary, and secondary to their own narratives.

Psychologically, the BBC probably could not have had Lavrov in the studio and not tried to smear him with their imperialistic narratives. To clarify in case of doubt; the BBC could certainly have asked a journalistic based question. For example; what is your reaction to the report from the Joint Investigation Team which says that the missile which shot down MH17 came from Russia? Such a question would stick to facts and would thus be a journalistic question.

Update

Joining the BBC in the gutter is the Guardian who also note that the Russian Foreign Minister “declined to apologize”.  [3] Like the BBC the Guardian (the article is attributed to someone called Alec Luhn) cannot have read the interim report from the JIT or paid attention to their news briefing. It is an interim report and JIT were at pains to clarify that they were not holding the Russian state responsible when they said the missile launcher “came from Russia”. This is scraping the barrel. Sniping at your enemies without any basis in fact is not journalism.

The Guardian article in which this provocation is repeated (without being sourced) concerns a Russian company which makes childrens’ beds in the shape of cars and lorries. They also have one in the shape of a tank and another in the shape of a BUK missile launcher. The way the article is written suggests that the BUK bed is insensitive because it was launched (sorry) after the JIT report came out. The article doesn’t explicitly say this but then it doesn’t clarify that the novelty bed has been on the market for some time either. In fact this particular bed has been available since at least February of this year, if not before. [4] Nothing that sinister then. The article appears to be based on a Facebook post by a Russian journalist, Oleg Kashin. Oleg Kashin is one of the Guardian’s favoured post-Soviet block liberal journalists. [5] The story of brave liberal Russian journalists fighting Soviet style media repression is further undermined by the fact that he can post this kind of spurious, inflammatory, material of his Facebook page.

Notes

1. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2016/09/28/mh17-investigation-prosecutors-to-reveal-where-missile-that-down/

2. Life News

3. https://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/oct/02/buk-at-bedtime-russian-firm-launches-missile-launcher-childs-bed

4. Wayback Machine

5. http://thenewobserver.co.uk/the-guardian-fights-for-media-freedom-in-russia/

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/sep/29/how-putins-high-risk-syria-gamble-is-paying-off

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