By Steven MacMillan
“Not since Iraq have I seen BBC News working at propaganda strength like this. So glad I’m out of there”
These are the words of the former economics editor of the BBC’s Newsnight show, Paul Mason, relating to the BBC’s coverage of the Scottish independence referendum. The London broadcaster’s biased reporting on Scottish independence is not an isolated incident however, as the BBC has been blatantly warping, misrepresenting and omitting pertinent facts and narratives on numerous issues, from its coverage on Israel to its distortion on Ukraine.
The broadcaster has been widely criticised by many in Scotland and around the world for their “propaganda” campaign in the run up to the referendum in September, leading thousands of people to take to the streets in protest over the lack of journalistic integrity at the BBC. A major episode of this was when the BBC’s political editor, Nick Robinson, censored Alex Salmond’s lengthy response to a question regarding the rumours that the Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) would move its headquarters to London if Scotland voted for independence. Despite Salmond’s comprehensive response to the question which gave the BBC seven minutes of video footage to edit for their report, Robinson decided to deceive the public and falsely claim he “didn’t answer” the question. This was part of a wider “propaganda” campaign of injecting fear and uncertainty into the idea of Scotland being an independent nation.
The BBC’s coverage of Scottish independence is just a microcosm of how the organisation operates with regards to many issues around the world, yet many people still give BBC news unmerited credence. This is not to say that there is not some good people within the BBC, however the broadcaster has repeatedly demonstrated that it serves as a propaganda organ of the Anglo-American establishment.
Demonstrators marched outside the BBC’s London headquarters in July of this year in protest over the broadcaster’s pro-Israel bias, condemning their news reports on Tel Aviv’s latest onslaught on Gaza as being “entirely devoid of context and background”. The protest stemmed from a 45,000-strong petition which stated: “We would like to remind the BBC that Gaza is under Israeli occupation and siege…. and that Israel is bombing a refugee population”. It was signed by such distinguished individuals as philosopher and activist Noam Chomsky, and veteran journalist, author and filmmaker John Pilger.
In a 2012 article titled: ‘As Gaza is savaged again, understanding the BBC’s historic role is vital’, Pilger illustrates how the BBC’s reporting can often give an inverted and distorted picture of the situation in Gaza to its viewers:
“This is notably true in the Middle East where the Israeli state
has successfully intimidated the BBC into presenting the theft of
Palestinian land and the caging, torturing and killing of its
people as an intractable “conflict” between equals. Standing in
the rubble from an Israeli attack, one BBC journalist went
further and referred to “Gaza’s strong culture of martyrdom”. So
great is this distortion that young viewers of BBC News have told
Glasgow University researchers they are left with the impression
that Palestinians are the illegal colonisers of their own
country. The current BBC “coverage” of Gaza’s genocidal misery
reinforces this…. Understanding the BBC as a pre-eminent
state propagandist and censor by omission – more often than not
in tune with its right-wing enemies – is on no public agenda and
it ought to be.”
The host of the financial show the ‘Keiser Report’ and former stock broker, Max Keiser, has also been a vocal critic of the BBC and their biased nature towards Israel. In an interview in August of this year, Keiser reveals that he was prohibited from mentioning “Israel in any context” when he hosted a show on BBC World News:
“When we were doing a show for BBC World News called ‘The Oracle’
with Max Keiser a couple of years ago, we only got one editorial
direction, and that is we could not mention Israel in any
Keiser then quit his BBC show due to the editorial policy of the broadcaster, tweeting:
“As I’ve stated many time before, I quit my BBC show because of their standing edict that I could not mention Israel in any context.”
How can a news organisation which claims to be an objective outlet and a beacon of a free press, issue decrees that inhibit journalists from reporting on certain topics?
Distorting the Truth in Ukraine
The BBC’s coverage of Ukraine has once again been deplorable and has warped the truth of the situation in the country. Even reading through the BBC’s news website today, I was again struck by the misrepresentation of the situation in Eastern Ukraine, as they described the people of Lugansk and Donetsk holding an election to determine their future after an illegal Western coup in Kiev, as a ‘rebel vote’ in an article titled: Russia to recognise rebel vote in Donetsk and Luhansk. Marginalising the people of Eastern Ukraine by describing them as “rebels” is appalling. Ukrainians in the East of the country have every right to hold elections to determine their future as many do not feel the Western puppet regime in Kiev represents them or their interests.
The London broadcaster’s coverage of the Crimean vote in March has also been widely condemned, as the organisation attempted to brand the referendum as illegal and peddle the lie that the majority of the people did not vote to rejoin Russia, despite the evidence suggesting otherwise. Former Assistant Secretary of the U.S. Treasury, economist and former editor of the Wall Street Journal, Paul Craig Roberts, wrote in his response to these distorted reports by the London broadcaster:
“The BBC has totally discredited itself as a news organization and revealed itself as an organ of Washington’s Ministry of Propaganda. The BBC has made itself totally unreliable. No informed person will ever again believe a BBC report….. The BBC might as well be abolished.” (c) PCR 2014
Using an Iraqi Photo for a Syrian Massacre
“Somebody is using my images as propaganda against the Syrian government to prove the massacre”, was the horrified response of the Getty Images photographer Marco Di Lauro when he saw a 2003 photo he took in Iraq published on the BBC website in 2012, claiming it was the scene of a 2012 massacre in the Syrian City of Houla. The BBC did put a disclaimer underneath the photo stating the image “cannot be independently verified”, but it raised seriously questions as to whether this was a deliberate attempt to sell a war in Syria, as it was such a fine –yet tragic of course – photo to mobilise public opinion for another imperial war in the Middle East. At the very least it reveals the ineptitude of many employees at the BBC. Why would anyone believe a news organisation that employs thousands of people but can’t find a confirmed photo from the same incident, the same year or even the same country for such a massive international news story such as the one in 2012?
The BBC incessantly peddles Anglo-American propaganda under the auspices of objective and impartial reporting, distorting the truth of numerous conflicts and world news stories for the benefit of the Western elite. Independent media is the only antidote to this monolithic propaganda network, and boycotting the broadcaster is the only way to be free from BBC bias.