Allow me to put next to each other two headlines: Israeli cabinet mulls offensive and 11 soldiers killed as Israel plans expansion. A slight difference in emphasis, wouldn’t you say?
The first is from the BBC World Service Website and the piece, though a very long one, does not mention those Israeli casualties. There is, however, a long list of Israeli attacks, none of which seem to have produced many casualties. Even the BBC is becoming a little wary, perhaps, about inflating those figures.
“At least six people were killed when a two-storey building in the town of Mashghara in the eastern Bekaa Valley was hit and collapsed on top of them.At the end we get these rather doubtful items:
Medical sources told Reuters news agency a local Hezbollah official lived there.”
“ International Committee for the Red Cross chief Jacob Kellenberger was forced to take refuge in an air-raid shelter during a Hezbollah rocket attack soon after crossing the border from Lebanon to IsraelWell, all right, there is a bit of attacking going on there but, honestly, why do we need to worry?
Al-Arabiya TV reported that four Israeli soldiers had been killed in a rocket attack in southern Lebanon. There is no confirmation from Israeli sources
At least five Hezbollah rockets landed in a border area of the West Bank. No-one was hurt”
How different from the much-maligned Al-Jazeera, which, with all its faults, appears to model itself on the BBC World and External Service of long-distant memory.
“Aljazeera has reported that 11 Israeli soldiers have been killed by Hezbollah as Israel's government debates on broadening its offensive in Lebanon.The rest of the piece gives a fairly balanced summary of what has been happening in the last 24 hours, quoting both sides where necessary. Now, tell me again, why the BBC has such a high reputation.
The Israeli army declined comment on the reports that said the soldiers were killed near the Israel-Lebanon border.
But it had said earlier on Wednesday that 15 soldiers were wounded in overnight clashes, without specifying on Tuesday or Wednesday.”
Meanwhile Stephen Pollard quotes from an internal BBC memo, sent to him by a friendly mole. It seems, we are all wrong. Everything the BBC has done during the Lebanon crisis has been first-rate, wonderful, superlative.
“As the conflict between Israel and Lebanon enters its fourth week, our coverage stands out from our competitors because we continually give context.And Qana? You will be glad to know, that, too, was an example of the BBC’s excellence:
...Excellent reporting on the ground from large number of people and Services, in very difficult circumstances. Jim Muir in particular was singled out for his outstanding work.”
“The lowering of the Qana death toll last week was a reminder of the need always to attribute fatality figures. We were right to report the revised figure...”They were not the first to report the lowered figure by a long chalk but that comment does make me wonder whether they had intended to bury that particular bit of news. (Pun intended)
Stephen Pollard says that this reminds him of Soviet news reporting: “our industrial production of pig iron is once again the highest in the world”. Somebody else in the comments section said that, having grown up under Communism, she could only compare it to the comedy films she had seen.
As for me, I should like to remind everyone that George Orwell based his Ministry of Truth on the BBC.