Friday, March 21, 2008

Dear BBC: Please stop lying

Here's my email to the BBC on their reporting of President Bush's Iraq speech (see previous posts):

Your coverage of President Bush's Iraq speech has been spectacularly dishonest, even by the BBC's usual standards. Your original headline, which of course you've now changed (1-0 to the bloggers), was 'Bush speech hails Iraq "victory"'. As your journalists who worked on the story will have known, he said no such thing.

While you've changed the headline, the following, equally dishonest sentence remains in the story:

'He said recent troop reinforcements had brought about "a major strategic victory in the broader war on terror".'

What he actually said (and again your journalists will have known this, because it's in the transcript you linked, and in the video) was:

'The surge has done more than turn the situation in Iraq around – it has opened the door to a major strategic victory in the broader war on terror.'

Saying the surge has 'opened the door' to a victory is of course a very different thing to saying it had 'brought about' a victory.

I've blogged on this blatant piece of news manipulation here and here.

My first post was picked up by the blog Little Green Footballs, which is what I suspect led to the headline being changed.

I'd be curious to hear your explanation for this blatant piece of mendacity. I'd like to know how many journalists were involved, and how high up the decision was taken to lie about Bush's speech in order to expose him to the ridicule of your readers.

I'd also like to know how your journalists sleep at night, although I don't expect I'll get an answer.

I hope you will promptly correct the text of the story, and the text on your video clips, and issue a correction as prominent as the original, dishonest report.

I look forward to hearing from you.

You can send your own observations using the form here.

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