17 May 2005 — Media Lens
The BBC Has Failed To Respond To Doubts About Its Claims On US Atrocities In Iraq
“The truth is replaced by silence, and the silence is a lie.” (Yevgeney Yevtushenko)
Last week, the editors of Media Lens wrote to the BBC’s director of news, Helen Boaden, about her failure to respond to public concerns over BBC misreporting from Iraq:
10 May, 2005
Dear Helen Boaden,
We trust you are well. As you may recall, Media Lens issued a media alert on 18th April: ‘Doubt Cast on BBC Claims Regarding Fallujah’. This was in response to your Newswatch article at: news.bbc.co.uk/newswatch/ukfs/hi/newsid_4390000/newsid_4396600/4396641.stm
Our media alert* noted that your article failed to address the many specific and detailed allegations of atrocities committed by US forces in their assault on Fallujah last November. Moreover, statements made to us by Human Rights Watch cast doubt upon your firm assertion that HRW could “compellingly” rule out the use of banned weapons by US forces in Fallujah. Both of these points surely merit a reply from the BBC.
We note that around 100 people – perhaps more – emailed you, [BBC reporter] Paul Wood and [BBC news online editor] Pete Clifton with their deep concerns about the Newswatch article. Nobody has yet received a reply, as far as we are aware. Could you possibly tell us when we might expect a BBC response, please?
David Cromwell & David Edwards
We have not yet heard back from Helen Boaden.
The BBC relentlessly proclaims its commitment to “providing trusted and impartial news and information that helps citizens make sense of the world” (Letter from BBC chairman Michael Grade to David Cromwell, 21 March, 2005). Such grandiose statements are delivered as if on tablets of stone, to be received with gratitude by the multitudes. Thus, Grade again: “I know that BBC News, led by its new Director Helen Boaden, is passionate about delivering a news service that is independent, impartial and accurate and that commands the confidence of licence payers.” (Ibid.)
In the real world, the BBC diligently diverts public attention from the responsibility of western governments for the horrendous suffering of the people of Iraq. In 1998, Denis Halliday, the UN humanitarian coordinator in Baghdad, resigned in protest at the devastating western sanctions which had led directly to the deaths of over a million Iraqis, half of them children under five. His words should haunt those who facilitated such a tragedy, and who continue to apologise for power now: “History will slaughter those responsible.” (Quoted, John Pilger, The New Rulers Of The World, Verso, 2002, p.54)
The goal of Media Lens is to promote rationality, compassion and respect for others. When writing emails to journalists, we strongly urge readers to maintain a polite, non-aggressive and non-abusive tone.
Write to Helen Boaden, director of BBC news
Ask why her Newswatch article does not address the BBC’s failure to cover reports of alleged US war crimes. Ask her for further details of what the BBC discussed with Human Rights Watch (HRW), and of the “investigations” that HRW supposedly undertook into the use of banned weapons by US forces.
Copy your emails to the following:
Pete Clifton, BBC news online editor
Mark Thompson, BBC director general
Michael Grade, BBC chairman
Please send copies of all emails to us at:
You may also wish to consider lodging an official complaint (which guarantees an answer) about the Newswatch article at:
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